Twisted Tuesday – Foreknowledge

Hello all, I hope this post has found you doing well. As I mentioned in my last Twisted post, when I study and read Gods Word I’m often reminded of errant theology taught to me during my decade-plus time as a goat amongst the sheep. When I was first saved by Gods grace I had a deep desire to understand as much as I possibly could about this God that would rescue a wretch like myself. I wanted to know His attributes, to hear His word, to rid myself of all the misconceptions I had of Christianity. I never let go of the first verse I read as a new creation, 1 Corinthians 8:2.

We have a tendency, as sons and daughters of Adam, to sinfully let knowledge puff us up. I certainly was full of pride, and ego, before God rescued me from the chains of sin and death. I had no idea of the tremendous amount of knowledge that I didn’t know. Who God is, what He has done, why He has done it, how can we know, all these subjects to study and only one little me! I lost sleep, in my deep desire to understand, I let my daily ministry of serving my family slip. I skipped meals, prayer, devotion, I forgot to grocery shop, pay bills, and organize homeschooling lessons. I dug and dug, and frustratingly came back with opinions ranging from what I know today is rank heresy, to the actual truth. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I needed structure, discipline, and patience, but instead ended up falling into legalism. God is kind to His children, He prunes us, His rod and His staff comfort us, He patiently sanctifies us.

I had to throw it all out, friends, and start from the foundations of my faith, slowly building on the Rock. Everything I knew, or thought I knew, had to be checked against Gods Word. So, with that being said, you can imagine how overjoyed I am when I hear solid preachers teaching on the attributes of God! The Father’s foreknowledge isn’t discussed much in the groups I learned from before being born again. However, it was described exactly how Dr. Lawson says it is in the clip below. As if God had looked through time, learned what man would do, and went from there. Now, knowing that God does not learn, His attributes show that He is all knowing, I can see how wrong that perspective is. Twisting Gods Word often leads to a twisted view of God Himself.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/daily-video/2019/02/13/the-foreknowledge-of-god/

You see, dear ones, that God has not seen into the future, but that there is a much more beautiful exegesis for the verses referring to Gods foreknowledge. To know, in an intimate, or unique, way, those whom He has called. What is this love? What is this that God has done for those He calls? To save us, wretched, rebellious, God-hating sinners, by sending His only begotten Son to die in our place? To adopt us? To sanctify us? To justify us? Not a single sinner on Earth has ever deserved this love. And yet, as if to further shine a light on the darkness of man’s wicked heart, He reveals in His Word that He knows us? Intimately, deeply, uniquely, knows us? We’re talking about the one true God, creator of the universe, whose ways are always righteous and just, who’s loving kindness knows no bounds, whose power is beyond comprehension. That God, has known us? How can anyone twist such a beautiful doctrine into such a sinful one? Well, beloved, I did. Before I was saved I would have touted this exact heresy.

To make man more, and God less seems to be the purpose of every verse taken out of context. Brothers and sisters, God can not, and does not, learn anything. Everything that ever was or will be was already known to Him before the Earth was made. If you have repented of your sins, put your faith in Christ, and been born again by Gods grace, then you too were forknown. If you have not been born again, if there’s never been a time when you were made into a new creation that now loves what God loves and hates what God hates, then your sins of lying, lusting, coveting, and idolatry are a direct offense against this great God. That’s the bad news. The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, came and lived a sinless life, dying in our place, to save whosoever would believe. Repent, turn away, from your sins, and cry out to God for salvation. Only by one name, Christ and Christ alone, can man be saved. There is no other hope for sinners to be saved. As always, beloved brethren, be good Bereans, and study to show yourselves approved.

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Twisted Tuesday – The Pearl of Great Price

If you, my friends, have ever sat under man-centered preaching you’ve no doubt heard repeatedly how great you are in God’s eyes. Although this is the exact opposite of what Christ preached during His Earthly ministry, and all of Scripture agrees, it doesn’t seem to sell as well. As many of you know, I spent a fair amount of time in the Word of Faith movement, more than a decade. God saved me out of that by His grace, and while I’ll never understand that as a wretch completely deserving of Hell, I will be eternally grateful to my Lord! It still catches me off guard when in my studies, or devotional time, I find a verse that was often taken out of context. This is what has happened with Matthew 13:44-46.

First I want to clear something up that’s very important. The reason Jesus gives for teaching in parables is completely different than the reason often given today. While I researched this I found several groups, including LDS, teaching that Christ was speaking in parables to reach His listeners. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus was doing. Having been rejected by the Jewish leaders and accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, He spoke in parables so that they would not understand. He then explained them to His disciples privately. He tells us this prior to the parable in question, back in verse 13 of the same chapter. It’s also written in Luke 8:10 and Mark 4:12, and is a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Back to the parable itself, I can clearly remember being told that the man in this parable is Jesus, and of course, we’re the treasure He bought at a great price. While it’s true that our salvation came at a great price, that’s not what these verses are referring to. Over and over again, while I researched the different views of these parables attempting to find where the disconnect started, I found this same error. We’re the treasure in the field, Christ left heaven to purchase us. We’re the pearl of great price, Christ paid it all to redeem us. But a clear reading of the parables shows a very obvious picture. The kingdom of heaven is the treasure, we’re the ones that must count the cost. Ligioneer Ministries does an excellent job of fleshing this one out in this devotional here.

Mankind seems obsessed with bringing God lower and elevating man’s position higher. We love to hear how important we are, we feed on the twisting of Scripture with itching ears, so long as it builds up our inflated egos. Scripture is clear throughout, God is the only one who deserves glory, honor, and praise. Christ did not come to die for us because we are so great, but because our sins are so great. He is loving, kind, and merciful. He is also just, righteous, and holy. It would be entirely just for God to save none of the rebellious, God-hating, sinners on this Earth. It is an extreme example of His endless kindness that He saves some. The kingdom of God is of inestimable value, and when we consider this we willingly sell all that we have and follow Christ.

Please understand, dear ones, this does not mean that we need to be homeless and give everything away. It means the kingdom is worth turning our back on the worldly sins we once loved, like speaking wealth and fame. It’s worth humbling ourselves, casting aside pride, destroying the ego, and bowing our knee to the one true Savior. We must love Christ more than husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, because His kingdom is of endless value, and He is worthy! If you have repented and put your faith in Christ, then you have been saved, and adopted into His kingdom. That is a true treasure, that is what is of great price! It also does not mean that you are not loved. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him may not die but have everlasting life. But this text is not about us, it doesn’t give us any glory, there is nothing here for us to boast in.

We couldn’t even make our own heartbeat without Gods sovereign will continuing the electrical pulse pushing and pulling inside you. If you think that’s not true, go and search for the men and women who’s heart stops with no warning. We don’t even own the air we breathe, it’s borrowed from the One who created it. You, oh man, you think you are high and lifted up? Do you think you are of an inestimable price? What could we possibly offer God? Nothing. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling. God has saved us, not because of our worth, but because He is merciful. This man-centered preaching is designed to draw men in, make them feel good about themselves, and give them the impression that the man standing on the stage is such a good and kind man. For love of self, men preach falsehood! They want to be liked, they want to be adored, to hear their name spoken well of. Who is deserving of all honor, praise, and glory? The thrice holy God, or a hireling that calls himself an undershepherd? When the wolves come, and they will come, these men flee!

Let us avoid man-centered preaching and teaching, and rather take God’s Word seriously enough to read it in its context. If you have been saved you have no need of bolstering, you’ve already received enough kindness and mercy to carry you through eternity. We must spend our days here glorifying God and making Him known to the lost. We will give an account to God for every idle word spoken, every word my beloved friends! God is great, He is kind, He is worthy, but even our righteousness is as filthy rags! How can we ever consider ourselves to be pearls of great price? No, dear ones, humble yourselves before such a great God, and give Him all the glory! As always, beloved brethren, be good Bereans and study to show yourselves approved.

Twisted Tuesday – In Jesus Name

Hello everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means I’ve got the misfortune of discussing what is, for believers, a grievous topic. The twisting, misuse, misquoting, or taking of Scripture out of context. Today I want to talk about praying in Jesus name, what it means and what it most certainly doesn’t mean. For a little background into my perspective here, as you all might remember from my testimony, I was raised in a Wiccan household. There were books of spells, crystals, and incense often burning in varies rooms. We had a Bible, and my mother was mixing the two, although mostly it was goddess worship. She has thankfully been saved by grace, or so I hope, I don’t know her heart but can see some fruit. This childhood has given me a unique concern for the ever growing presence of New Agism mixing into the church. It seems to be affecting the way we view John 14:13-15.

Oprah’s Secret, the Word of Faith, and New Age beliefs all teach that you speak things positive to get positive in return. Each group phrases this differently, and many add Christian words to give authority to what they’re saying. This is, at the core, just repackaged Wiccanism. As a witch your words are the power, you speak it and believe it, then it’s supposed to change something within the universe. Nothing is new under the sun. This is how many treat prayer, as if it were an incantation, which has its final deal in the phrase ‘In Jesus Name’. For the Word of Faith in particular, this is how they command things to happen how they want them to happen. When things don’t go as they commanded, somewhere someone didn’t have enough faith. This is obviously not how our Savior intended this text to be interpreted. Anytime we attempt to use prayer, or the ending words to our prayer, as a formula to gain what it is we want, we’ve gotten it wrong.

So, now we know what it’s not, what does it mean? When we pray we are not coming before a genie who is waiting anxiously to hear what our next demand is. We are praying to a God so great that without Christ we could never stand before Him. This God is holy, perfect, just, righteous, and blameless in all His ways. We, as born again believers, come before Him as adopted children, who have been rescued and ransomed from the slavery to sin and death. As new creatures in Christ we should desire the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. As 1 John 5:14 explains, when we ask in His name according to His will He hears us. Scripture makes clear that God is not handing us a blank check needing only to signed In Jesus Name. This is yet another reason why it’s so imperative to take the full counsel of Gods Word, and not pull a verse we like out of context.

Throughout John 14 Jesus is comforting His disciples, who are distressed to hear that they will be without their Lord. He repeats two points more than twice in the chapter. The first is that if we love Him we will obey Him. The second is that the power the disciples would have would come from Christ, and not from them. This was an important point to humble these men who would be used by God to complete the Scripture. We see later in Acts chapter 4 Peter telling the Jewish leaders the very same thing, that they are teaching in the name of Jesus, that is where they receive their authority. In this way we see that ‘In Jesus Name’ is asking for things that are within the will of God, as the name of Christ stands for all that He is in Scripture, and to give God the glory for every answered prayer.

As a side note, to expound upon this a little further, I have many family members still in the WoF movement. They frequently tell of how their prayers healed someone, or how they were given material blessings, after they had prayed for it. This is a really good example of the misunderstandings that revolve around the purpose of prayer. These are people who, though they say the words, are doing anything but praying in the name of Jesus Christ. They’re not asking in His will, but in their own desires. They do not give God the glory, but brag about their own righteousness. Let us be careful not to abuse Scripture, or prayer, but rather to be humbled by Gods provisions. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Twisted Tuesday – The Hurt of Healing

Today, dear ones, my heart is heavy with the toll these false teachers take on our loved ones. It’s been a rough couple weeks in our home, as an upper respiratory infection took over. At the same time, we all had to bundle up in the negatives for multiple doctor appointments. I am happy to say I’m receiving excellent treatment now for my neurological disorder, you’ll hopefully notice a more organized BiblicalBeginnings writer! I have a phobia of hospitals, ironic that my husband works in them huh? It’s the lights, smells, sounds, all mixed together with telling a perfect stranger about my personal health. We got through it, and I’m very thankful to have a knowledgeable doctor that was so kind and understanding! God has richly blessed me, in the middle of the confusion and frustration, and used the experience to teach, rebuke, and grow me.

That being said, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I have family members who hold to WoF theology. This has caused medicinal issues to go unaddressed, and imperative medication to be neglected. Now, facing yet another life altering decision, this false teaching is causing doubt. The idea that getting treatment shows a lack of faith is one of the most disgusting twists of Scripture today. In light of this, I ask that you would all join me in praying for my family members, that discernment would win the day. I also leave you with Justin Peters Clouds Without Water: The Hurt of Healing. Please pray, beloved, and if you have need of prayer yourself please leave me a note in the comments. Dear ones, you’re a greater blessing to me than words can explain. As always, my brothers and sisters, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ9L_J-aMPA&index=7&list=PL4S19ubs2BxciWRGsjzz1DMuY7y9CYPJb&t=0s

Twisted Tuesday – Remind God of our Good Works?

Dear ones, this is going to be a quick and short refutation. Recently I heard, in a couple different circumstances, that when we face trials or our prayers have gone unanswered, we ought to remind God of all the good things we’ve done. Joel Osteen recommended this particular tactic for manipulating God into doing what you want. I doubt that he’s the first to suggest this, but seems to be the one popularizing it today. Others, such as Kenneth Copeland, have boldly proclaimed our ability to command God, and even said that he doesn’t ask but tells God what he wants. Both Copeland and Osteen come from the Word of Faith movement, though they take a different approach, it’s no surprise to see them aligned in a theological matter. This particular one just happens to be the ultimate height of pride and arrogance.

I couldn’t find a direct verse used to back this belief up, but it appears to be loosely based on James 2:18-22. This is one of those verses that frequently finds itself twisted to suit works based religions. It’s clear from the context, and a plain reading of the text, that James is simply explaining that there will be evidence of salvation in the heart of the believer. Those of us who have been given the gift of faith will have works, we will hate sin and love God, His commands, and His people. We don’t do good deeds as collateral for negotiations with our Lord and Savior. The very ability to do good deeds comes from God, as He graciously sanctifies us. He gives us love for one another, that is not something we are able to work in our own hearts.

Something that’s very important to understand in the WoF movement that makes these teachers so dangerous is their man centered theology. Faith is not a gift from God, it’s a force we wield at God. Good works are not an evidence of change within us, they’re points accumulated in a heavenly account to get money and health on earth. It’s not all of grace, it’s all of man. This teaching, that we should remind God of our good works, is the clearest example of this I’ve heard to date. Our righteousness, dear ones, is like rags, filthy rags. If you know the literal meaning of the word used in that verse you’ll know just how filthy without me having to write it. If we go before God to bring anyone’s good deeds to Him it ought only to be Christ’s. His righteousness is imputed unto us, that is why we are able to stand on the day of Judgement. If you’re going through a difficult time, consider that tremendous truth. Reject any idea of pointing to your own goodness. And as always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Easily Offended

Hello dear ones, I hope this Friday post finds you all doing well! Today, as you all know, is the one day of the week that I have yet to assign a specific topic too. It gives me the little extra space I need for subjects like today’s. I want to talk about being easily offended, and compare it with something that happened to me a couple of months ago. I mentioned very briefly in the post about my first NFL game that I have an issue with sensory overload. It’s actually a symptom of a larger neurological disorder that I’ll perhaps deal with at a later date. I only mention it now to give some context to how and why this all happened.

So what happened? Well, a couple months ago I found out that you can cook bacon in the stove and it comes out with the perfect crunchy consistency for topping delicious casseroles with. It has to be the thick cut bacon though, just in case you give it a try. You take a cookie sheet and place a cooling rack inside it. You put the bacon on top of the rack and cook it at 400 for about 20 minutes. In the end you have all the grease in the bottom and beautiful bacon on top. We save that grease, it’s the best way to get corn bread crispy on the bottom! If you’re not from the south of the United States this might all sound really gross, but trust me it’s yummy. All that to say, I made some bacon one night to go in dinner. I had an oven glove on the right hand and nothing on the left hand. I pulled my bacon out of the stove and noticed my eye had something in it. Ignoring my left hand, noticeably empty of any scolding hot grease, I used my right arm to rub my eye with. All that piping hot bacon grease poured onto my left arm. Sorry for the following image, if you have an uneasy stomach!

This is why I mention the neurological issues, otherwise that might not make any sense. Before I could work through the consequences of my actions my arm moved. This was certainly not the first time I’ve done something like this, although it was the straw that broke the camels back, as my husband rushed to the first aid kit and began tending to my arm he assured me I’d be seeing a doctor and getting help. He’s treated many a burn trauma, and gave me every bit of information that he could on preventing infection. Adrenalin is a funny thing. All while my husband was fussing over my arm, it didn’t hurt at all, and I kept insisting I was fine. But my floor! My freshly mopped floor! Grease was splattered everywhere. Just like my husband told me would happen, the pain came on as soon as the adrenaline wore off. Second degree burns, and I didn’t even manage to get the troublesome bit out of my eye!

Over the next week I realized two very fascinating things. The first thing was that somehow, for whatever reason, the CBD oil given to my husband for his herniated disk by a chiropractor completely eliminated my pain from day one. I say that for any of you that might suffer from a burn, it has menthol in it as well. That night the pain was pretty overwhelming, in desperation I grabbed that oil and rubbed a bit directly on the burn. The pain went away, so I covered the entire arm with it and the effect lasted several hours before having to reapply. I can find absolutely zero medicinal research done in this area, even my husband was amazed having assumed the menthol would have caused the burn to get worse. It’s now permanently kept in our first aid kit for future accidents. The second thing I noticed, even with the pain at bay, this burn was very sensitive! Everything offended it. The slight touch of my jacket set off warning bells in my head.

This reminded me instantly of who I was before becoming a Christian, or who I tend to sound a lot like when I stay up too late. Everything offended me, I was a very sensitive person. At the same time, I had no sympathy or compassion towards other offended people. Ironic isn’t it? This burn had caused a lot of discomfort, and yet it have the nerve (nerve, get it? See what I did there?) to ache every time something touched it. Now, the burn on my arm was doing what burns do. But as a believer, if I allow my emotions to control so much of what I do and say, I can become easily offended. That’s not what we’re supposed to do, we’re supposed to hope all things, to give one another the benefit of the doubt. This is one of the many ways we show love towards one another, not to jump to conclusions or be so self absorbed that we only care about how we feel. Even if it is past our bedtime.

This isn’t something that happens all at once, although after getting saved by Gods grace I was far less sensitive. That’s because God has forgiven me of so much, surely I could overlook others misgivings? To be genuinely less offended, to not need to hold back the offense, but rather to give the benefit of the doubt, that comes with maturing. In this case we don’t need to be forgiving of others, but are instead understanding. When someone snaps at us, rather than getting offended, maturity leads one to consider the other persons struggles instead of how we feel about being snapped at. What’s happening in our brother or sisters lives that is causing them consternation? How can we help them? This is how I’d love to be all the time. 24/7. Sleep or no sleep. Food or no food. Heaven is going to be a beautiful place, is it not dear ones? Where there is no offense, no sin!

Beloved, what I’m saying to you is that we ought to be growing in this area. It’s a slow, and often painful process, but sanctification is evidence of salvation. God is, for the believer, constantly growing us in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He’s making us more like Him, rebuking, chastening, pruning, and sanctifying us. In this way, we are a peculiar people, set aside, in the world but not of it, and on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City. If you, my friend, have been in church for years but have never been made a new creation, if God is not at work in you, if you can enjoy sin without rebuke from Him, please understand that being born again is not the equivalent of saying a prayer, going to church, or being nice to people. Christ came and lived a righteous, sinless, life. He was arrested, imprisoned, beaten, whipped beyond recognition, and nailed to a cross. The wrath of God was poured out on Him, the wrath that you and I have stored up through our sins. Repent of those sins, place your trust and faith in Christ alone for salvation, and God will, by His grace, give you a new heart full of new desires. The sin you once loved, you’ll now hate, you’ll see it as the filth it always was. You’ll desire fellowship with other believers, you’ll desire the lost to come to repentance, you’ll desire Gods Word as a baby desires milk.

Salvation, friends, does not come from walking an isle, or repeating a prayer after someone. Salvation is a free gift from God that forever changes the recipient. We were once slaves to sin, bound to pay the eternal weight there of. Christ died to set us free! We owed a debt we couldn’t pay, so He paid a debt He didn’t owe. Those whom the Son sets free or free indeed! Flee from the wrath to come, flee to the cross. With nothing in our hands we bring, simply to the cross we cling! What grace is this? What beautiful, amazing grace is this? That while we were yet sinners, God hater’s, enemies of truth, filled with idolatry, lust, and murder, Christ died to save us! How could we continue to be the same as we were before? How could we, who were forgiven for so much, given the blessing of salvation, the honor of adoption, the gift of sanctification, and eternity justified, continue being easily offended? No, dear ones, we who have this great hope, we simply can not fix our eyes on the kingdom and still be so easily offended by the lost, or by one another. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved. And, if you have a moment, pray for me brothers and sisters!

Movie Review – American Gospel: Christ Alone

Hello dear friends! Today I want to review the documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone which was released in October 2018. This film was written and directed by Brandon Kimber, and can be found for rent on Vimeo. Unless you’re wanting to purchase this in DVD form, I have yet to find another source showing the documentary thus far. That might change in a few months, if so I’ll update this post. As you can see from the trailer below, it’s packed full of some heavy hitters.

While the documentary does mainly tackle the prosperity gospel, it also address Roman Catholicism and the dangers of ecumenism. It also goes further than just refuting prosperity preachers, but also shows the damage done by the Word of Faith movement. There is, in particular, one young lady whose journey from atheism to born again believer winds through a dramatic health crisis. You see her in the trailer with tubes in her nose. Her, and her husband, were both saved because of her many illnesses which alone destroys the idea that God does not use sickness or pain to draw His lost sheep to Himself. There are others who went into financial ruin, others who just did not understand that true Gospel of grace, and some who felt guilt and pressure from being told their problems were due to their lack of faith. All the while good, sound, Biblically accurate theology is being explained between interviews. All together, this makes for a very powerful two and a half hours of documentary.

A couple things need to be mentioned, before I get ahead of myself. One, with men like Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. MacArthur, Ray Comfort, and Paul Washer, we feel the absence of one man of God. R.C. Sproul. This is one of the first major collaborations done since he went on to glory, and his wisdom and love for Gods Word was missed. We rejoice that he has finished his pilgrimage, he ran his race well, yet those of us who remain feel the lose. The second thing is that, with so many pastors involved in this documentary, it’s very likely there may be someone included you’ve come to disagree with in one way or another. I hope that doesn’t discourage you from watching, and sharing, this tremendous resource.

Not only does this video repeat the Gospel several times, making it evangelical gold, it also explains the whys, where’s, and how’s that we might not be able to get to within a short Gospel presentation. If you have family, friends, or co-workers that hold to a prosperity gospel, WoF, NAR, or Roman Catholicism, this documentary would be a great opportunity to open dialogue. Ask them to watch this if they can, it’s only $4.99 to rent right now, and then ask what they thought of it. Maybe even consider purchasing a copy to share. This documentary would be great for a youth movie night, women or men’s study, or a family event. In other words, dear ones, I recommend this to everyone! Especially if you feel like your understanding of a Biblical Gospel presentation is lacking. Have you watched this yet, brothers and sisters? If so, let me know what you think! As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.