March 23, 2017

Think on This For a Moment

At some point in life when the future looks brief, it is a wise thing to take stock of one’s own life. With that in mind, it dawned on me that my life is really made up of the people I have known. Each of them has put something into my life. These days I am attempting to say thank-you to as many of them as I can. It has turned out to be a slow process, so let me turn to the Shepherd’s Staff to reach as many of you as I can. If you know me to any degree, you are one of those individuals. Our contact may have been brief, but you left something with me when our paths intersected.

Counting negatives is a waste of time, so let me major on the positives. I am thankful for a father, and also his father, who taught me how to work. Some of my employers added to that gift, and today I can say that I love to work. That is why at eighty-one years of age I am still working. This is the kind of gift we can pass on to our children, and our family of five have all exhibited a strong work ethic. My parents were products of the Depression. They had learned some hard lessons, and I inherited them. If we didn’t cut firewood, we would have frozen to death. If we hadn’t raised our own food, we would have starved to death. In my youth, I was angry about this, but now I thank God for those hard days.

My mother exhibited genuine Christianity. Instead of being bitter over the circumstances of life, she used them to minister to others. Even in her advanced age, she was ever the servant. It was her patience and love that drew me to her Savior. Many of her positive traits were a gift to me, and I am thankful for those qualities. They often say that it is the woman in a marriage who makes the man what he is. I confess that that is true in my life. Ruth’s remarkable patience has made all the difference. Mother-in-law jokes never worked for me. God gave me a great one, and I loved her dearly. There were many other family members who had a part in my growth, but these are just a few.

No one could have had a better pastor than I did. He loved his people and especially the teens. He was steady and firm. As a result, I came to Christ under his ministry, was baptized, licensed to preach, ordained, and married. (He threatened to do my funeral, too, but I conducted his instead!) I fondly remember a few adults in the church who set a high standard by the way they lived. It was in this same ministry that some of my fellow teens ministered to me, and some of those friendships are still alive today.

OTHERS WHO ADDED TO MY LIFE

There were also those who taught me in the classroom. Some whose names I remember from the early years have passed from this life, but their influence remains. The years in Bible college brought onto my path more people who marked my life. The same is true of graduate and post-graduate work - too many names to remember. Thirty-seven years in the pastorate added some unbelievable people who helped to turn my life in the right direction. Many of those friends are still in touch.

Then came the years of education and missionary ministry. You will note that I have not mentioned many names so far. Recently, however, a great friend and theologian, Dr. Hoyle Bowman, moved to his heavenly residence. His passing was what started my effort to make a record of those people who have impacted my life in a special way. It also sent me on a journey to thank those who are still living. In every area of my life there were special people, but those peers in academics and ministry are especially on my mind. Please forgive me if I have missed you with this summary. I am thankful for your investment in my life.

I have just returned from a journey to the Middle East, where I have been ministering off and on for seventeen years. Our youngest son, Kraig, and Pastor Frankie Matthews were along for the ride. It would have been good if we could have visited all the countries we worked in, but time did not allow. Some of you who read this have blessed my life, and I would have loved to see your face one more time. In Egypt, we did see many of you. This allowed me to embrace you and say thank-you for what you put into my life. Thirty years in the pastorate was the center of ministry for me, but the last seventeen years as a missionary and educator in the heart of the Middle East was the capstone. The students there, and our fellow servants, poured their lives into mine, and I send you a collective package of gratitude.

A NEW DAY

Now it is early morning, and I have another day to say thank-you; and I will continue to work on this project of thanks for as long as I can. Today I can say thanks for loving pastors who have been a great source of encouragement to me. My wife, five children, fifteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren have also enriched my life. The members of my Sunday School class make another long list. Add to this a few men who are helping me with research for writing projects. Then there is the lady who edits my diatribes before they go to print. To list friends would be impossible, but they all have made an impact on my life. That would include a good group of couples who reside at Maranatha Village. This may sound strange, but I am thankful for those folks who are willing to bring me up short when I am “off base” - you know who you are. Perhaps you are now able to see why I used the Shepherd’s Staff to say how thankful I am for the hundreds of people who added something to my life to help make it worthwhile.

A LONG WAY TO GO BEFORE NIGHT FALLS

While I stop here and there to say a word of gratitude to many more folks, I still have some things to do. There are two books I have authored that have been in constant print for well over twenty years. Those are The Weeping Church: Observations on Church Polity and The Conflict: The Separation of Church and State. Both are available at FaithfullLifePublishers.com. There are three more in the works, but the most important one is The Normal Hermeneutic: The One Biblical Hermeneutic. This has become the centerpiece of our ministry. It has also been the core of the tremendously effective ministry in the Middle East. I can only ask that you pray that I will have the time and energy to finish it. Hani Hana, my spiritual son, is co-author; and the book will be published in both English and Arabic.

And so, to all of you I say thank-you for what you have put into my life that has helped to make it worthwhile.
 
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or ShepherdStaff

March 13, 2017

John MacArthur Requested to, and Resigns from the IFCA

February 23, 2017
Statement Re: John MacArthurs IFCA International Membership

In John MacArthur’s recently published book Biblical Doctrine, his position regarding the nature and extent of the Atonement is clearly presented in the section entitled “The Extent of the Atonement” (pages 543-565). This section confirms that he changed from the position he held at the time of his admission into IFCA membership in 1980.

Dr. Les Lofquist, Executive Director IFCA
The specific change is regarding how to understand the following language in the IFCA Doctrinal Statement: “We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice” (IFCA Constitution, Article IV, Section 1.3.b). During several previous meetings and correspondence over the last ten years, I clarified with Dr. MacArthur how the words “for all mankind have been historically understood within the Fellowship of IFCA International. The IFCA Board of Directors also provided clarification to Dr. MacArthur in 2009 by correspondence and in a subsequent meeting IFCA Board President Jerry Smith and I had with Dr. MacArthur in his office in California.

Understanding the historical context of the words in the IFCA International Doctrinal Statement, and in comparison to the book Biblical Doctrine, yesterday 
I respectfully requested that Dr. MacArthur withdraw as an individual member of IFCA International, which today he has done.
This action is necessary to comply with the IFCA International Constitution which reads: “Each and every person, church, or organization, in order to become or remain a member of IFCA International, shall be required to subscribe to the following articles of faith” (Article IV. Section 1. Articles of Biblical Faith); and “In subscribing to these articles of faith, we by no means set aside, or undervalue, any of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; but we deem the knowledge, belief and acceptance of the truth as set forth in our doctrinal statement, to be essential to sound faith and fruitful practice, and therefore requisite for Christian fellowship in IFCA International” (Article IV. Section 3. Covenant of Faith); and the IFCA International By-Laws: The following are specific causes for rejection of applicants for membership…doctrinal and constitutional disagreement.” (Article II. Section 6.b).

With mutual respect, we both simply acknowledge our doctrinal difference regarding the nature and extent of the Atonement and that this difference causes John MacArthur to be in doctrinal and constitutional disagreement with IFCA International in this matter. 

We want it to be known that this action is taken in a spirit of humility and with gratitude for Dr. MacArthur’s global ministry of expositional Bible teaching. While we graciously differ on this point of doctrine, we remain friends and rejoice in our common passion to serve God in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Les Lofquist                                                               
IFCA International Executive Director                                  
Grandville, Michigan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    
I’m happy to withdraw from the IFCA with nothing but gratitude for the fellowship I have enjoyed through the decades. I am grateful for the exemplary faithfulness of the men who stand for the truth without compromise and have been willing to include me.  My confidence in those strong men who love the truth, written and incarnate, will continue to make them my friends.”
Dr. John MacArthur 
Related Reading:

March 7, 2017

That is Not a Church by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

They say that confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation.  There comes a time in later life when we are no longer threatened by this.  After fifty-seven years in the ministry, I still have in front of me a Scofield Reference Bible.  Back in Bible college we learned that, while the scripture text is always right, the notes inserted by men are not.
 
I am reading from Matthew 18:20 - “For where two are three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  That is true because God is all-present, and that is the meaning of the text.  The note above this verse in the text before, however, says “the simplest form of a local church.”  Nothing in the text even hints at this being a church.  That is because two or three believers who are gathered together is NOT a church.  It is good way to have fellowship, but it is not a church.
 
THE CHURCH ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
 
The Old Testament prophets made it clear that there would be salvation for the gentiles.  In John 10:14-16, Jesus makes it clear that the future church would be composed of Jews and gentiles.  The idea was repulsive to the Jews.  In Matthew 16:18, there is a clear prophecy about the future church.  In the gospels, the church is eschatological, and the disciples would not have had a clue as to what was being referred to.  The church was a mystery until after the gospels, and the apostle Paul clearly explains this mystery in his writing.  In reference to Matthew 18:15-19, Scofield wrongly inserted “Discipline in the future church.”  There is nothing in that text to indicate such a command.  In fact, the disciples would have thought of the synagogue when he used the word.  While the book of Matthew may have been written for the church’s benefit, it definitely was not written to the church.  The content of Matthew demands that it was written to the Jews who were still under the law.  “Behold your King.”  The church could not have existed prior to Pentecost despite what historical theology claims.
 
The Bible calls the heavenly church the Body of Christ.  That body includes everyone who is redeemed in the time from Pentecost to the catching away of the church prior to any part of the tribulation.  Some of the members of that body are in heaven, others are alive on earth, and some have not even been saved yet.  In this age, God has chosen to use the local church to function and minister through.  Some members of the local church are members of the Body of Christ; others are not.  The local church is definitely not equal to the Body of Christ.  The local church represents the Body of Christ on earth.  Every true believer is part of the Body of Christ and should also be part of a local church body.  The local church is made up of people, not buildings.  It is God’s agent for ministry to carry the gospel message.
 
God helps us understand the ministry of the heavenly church by painting a clear picture.  The Body of Christ is a flock with a Chief Shepherd.  It is a body of redeemed members with Christ as the head of that heavenly body.  It is also a household, or home, and it is a theocracy.
 
The Bible clearly assigns these functions to the local church.  The local church is a flock with a local resident “under-shepherd.”  Members of a local church are sheep.  Obviously, some of them are wolves’ in sheep clothing.  The New Testament local church is supposed to function like a flock, not a political organization.  The local church is a body with a local resident head assigned by Christ himself.  It has members with different spiritual gifts, roles, and functions.  In reality, it is a theocracy.  The Bible is the rule book, the Holy Spirit directs the church, and the church administrates that which God has commanded.  Sadly, many have pressed a humanistic model onto the church by inserting culture into the text.  
 
SO, WHAT IS A CHURCH?
 
Using the word “church” for a building or group does not make it a church.  It may be a gathering, assembly, fellowship, or small or large group; but any one of these does not make it a New Testament local church.  In Acts 19 you have an assembly in the theater at Ephesus, but it was not a church.  A true local church will be a functioning flock with a shepherd.  It will be a local body with members who have gifts and ministry through the church.  A Bible study group, a family, or a prayer group is not a church in itself.  Without a local church, an individual believer is without a flock and a shepherd.  He would be a member alone without the benefit of other members or a local resident head appointed by Christ.  He would be a person who is an orphan without a church home.
 
AND WHAT IS NOT A CHURCH?
 
In our day, there are many groups who choose not to use the word “church” in their names.  That would be good, because many of them are not really churches.  There are those groups who one day were New Testament local churches, but their candlestick has been removed and God has written “Ichabod” over them.  They once were, but now they are not.
 
What about the churches who have the form, but not the content?  A true local church depends upon what a church believes and where its authority comes from.  The Word of God will be the final authority in all matters.  If a church denies the Word of God, it has denied the God of the Word.  So, if a church rejects the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of scripture, is it a church?  You cannot reject the deity and virgin birth of Christ and expect to go to heaven, so is a church that rejects the real Christ actually a church?  If a church pulpit disrespects the clear truth of scripture, and the “worship” person leads them in singing lies, is it a church?
 
So, if a “church” meets once a week, and there is no real shepherding or flock interaction, if all the sheep get is a “cute” story time to sustain them for a week, is that a church?  If a so-called church body doesn’t interact daily in ministry with members who have atrophy, is that a church? Is it a flock, body, and home?  What would you think of a home where members only interacted once or twice a week?
 
There is no end to the questions that need to be asked, but the real point is this: Are you part of a local church, and is it a church?  I personally know a lot of people who have no idea what their church believes.  It may be a cult, and they wouldn’t know it.  Before you waste your time debating the above, consider reading the following, which has been in print since 1985.
 
The Weeping Church, Confronting the Crisis of Church Polity. By Clay Nuttall, D.Min.  Faithful Life Publishers, North Fort Myers, FL 33903.  FaithfulLifePublisers.com
 
 
SHEPHERD’S STAFF – February, 2017
 
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address Shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd Staff.
 
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

March 1, 2017

The President: An Opinion Piece

I don’t delve much into political discussion, although I do have firm conservative convictions. I rarely do much other than posting a few comments in news website discussion threads. From this blog I don’t recall having ever published an article on a political subject. Last night, however, after watching President Trump’s speech I feel inclined to sharing a morning after reflection.

When Ronald Reagan took office I was 26 years old. On the eve of his election Reagan said,
I have quoted John Winthrop’s words more than once on the campaign trail this year—for I believe that Americans in 1980 are every bit as committed to that vision of a shining ‘city on a hill,’ as were those long ago settlers…. These visitors to that city on the Potomac do not come as white or black, red or yellow; they are not Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals; or Democrats or Republicans. They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still… a shining city on a hill.”
I remember listening to Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address (Jan. 20, 1981) he said,
It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it. This Administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy.”
In his Feb. 4, 1986 State of the Union address Reagan said,
Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back -- with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free.”
In his farewell address January 11, 1989 Reagan said,
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life…. And how stands the city [America] on this winter night? … After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
There are so many more like those that we could read together. Reagan made us proud of our nation, its heritage and instilled in us the hope of what we could become as a nation and people. Reagan always invoked America’s greatness and exceptionalism.

Until last night’s speech by President Trump I have not heard words like Reagan’s above from any of the presidents who followed him. In the speech there parts where I figuratively jumped out of my seat for a few fist pumps, but other times I sat there feeling waves of emotion and thanksgiving.

Our obligation is to serve protect and defend the citizens of the United States. We’re also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will respect the foreign rights of all nations, and they have to respect our rights as a nation also… America respects the rights of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world, my job is to represent the United States of America.”

Ronald Reagan knew in the 70’s & 80’s who he was, what he believed, was supremely confident in what he believed, said so plainly and without wavering or caving in to critics.

Even the enemies of Reagan and conservatism in Congress and the press acknowledged that, “Reagan said what he meant, and meant what he said.” There was no fluff, no smoke and mirrors with Reagan. I see that same confidence and conviction in President Trump.

Like Reagan, President Trump will face political opposition to his hopes for America, some of which will come from “establishment” elements in the Republican Party. Bias, censorship by omission and “fake news” will continue from the main stream media, who are nothing more than propagandists for democrats and ideologue shills for the radical left. I am hopeful we will see President Trump achieve the goals, as he laid them out last night, for America.

Kind regards,


Lou Martuneac

February 13, 2017

The Place” Dr. Rick Flanders


“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.  And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave wood tor the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”
(Genesis 22:2-3)
Abraham was a principal figure in God’s plan to redeem mankind, and his story is central to the record in the book of Genesis.  One of the most striking and important events of his story is the offering of Isaac, described in chapter 22.  In an account that reminds us of the Gospel story, especially as it is given famously in John 3:16, Abraham is commanded to offer his “only son,” whom he loved, as a sacrifice at a place in the mountains of Moriah which would be designated by the Lord: “the place of which God had told him” (verses 2 and 3).  We know where “the land of Moriah” is, and after the incident of the great man’s interrupted offering of his dear son (read about it in verses 4 through 14), “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.”  Here was a place in the mountains of Moriah that was called by Abraham “Jehovah-jireh” (The LORD sees) apparently because something important, related to the offering of Isaac, will be seen there.
As Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt centuries later, God promised them a special land to which He was taking them, and where they would live under His watch-care.  Within the Promised Land, there was to be a place where God would live among them.  In “The Song of the Redeemed,” Moses offers a prayer to the Lord, and mentions the place with these words:
“Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”
(Exodus 15:17)
This special place is mentioned repeatedly in the later writings of Moses, especially in the book of Deuteronomy.
“Thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there…”
(Deuteronomy 14:23)
“All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.  Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose…”
(Deuteronomy 15:19-20)
“Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there…Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in…”
(Deuteronomy 16:2, 5-6)
As the Israelites entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, the new leader also spoke of “the place where he (God) should choose” (Joshua 9:27).  There was going to be a special place where God would be honored and worshipped.  It would be chosen by the Lord, and His people would be led to it.
Of course, Israel finally settled in what had been the Land of Canaan, and worshipped God at the Tabernacle they had made for Him in the wilderness.  The Tabernacle, which was the center of the formal worship of Jehovah, was actually a large tent that was moved from place to place.  You can follow the movements of the Tabernacle in the narrative of the Old Testament scriptures. 
When David was made king of Israel, the worship center was split up and unusable.  The Ark of the Covenant had been taken out of the Tabernacle and used like a good luck charm in the war against the Philistines (read the story in First Samuel 4 through 7).  When the battle was lost, the enemy took the sacred Ark away, and then, after the Lord punished the Philistines, it was brought back to the Israelites but remained separated from the Tabernacle for years.  It was one of David’s first goals as king to restore the Ark to the Tabernacle and restore the worship of the true God. 
But actually, he never accomplished this goal in his lifetime.  Yet toward the end of his reign, King David did something by which he unknowingly paved the way for Jehovah-worship to be revived in a magnificent Temple.  A time came when God had to judge Israel and David for their sin, and He sent a destroying angel to plague the land, and the city of Jerusalem.  In response to the contrite pleading of David, the prophet Gad was told by the Lord to direct the king set up an altar and offer sacrifices.
“Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.  And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD…Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.”
(First Chronicles 21:18-19, 22)
So “the place” of Ornan’s threshingfloor was bought by David, and an altar for sacrifice was built upon it.  When the sacrifices were offered, the plagues ended.
Later David got into his heart the desire to build the Lord a permanent Temple in Jerusalem.  Find the accounts of this in Second Samuel 7 and First Chronicles 17.  The Lord’s house would no longer be a tent, but a physical structure constructed as a house of sacrifice, worship, and prayer.  HoweverGod would not allow David to accomplish this project personally in his lifetime, but promised him that his son Solomon would build the Temple.  When it was built, it was built at the place David had bought, and that God had chosen.
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
(Second Chronicles 3:1)
The Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon at the threshingfloor of Ornan, which was located on Mount Moriah.  The place was called “the place that David had prepared.”
The site of the Temple was indeed to be the place God had chosen to be identified with His own name and glory.  When King Solomon dedicated the Temple, he referred in his prayer to the significance of the place where it stood.
“Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.”
(First Kings 8:28-29; see also Second Chronicles 6:20 and 26)
In response to this request, God said, “Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (Second Chronicles 7:15).  The Temple stood at a “place” where God would give special attention to prayers offered in or toward it!  It was the chosen place they had been looking for.
God’s people before the coming of Christ repeatedly gave respect to this special place.  The LORD had said to David, “Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there:…but I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there” (Second Chronicles 6:5-6).  Nehemiah referred to the fact that God calls it “the place that I have chosen to set my name there” (Nehemiah 1:9).  David called it “the hill of the LORD” and “his holy place” in Psalm 24, and “the place where thine honour dwelleth” in Psalm 26.  The prophet Daniel “went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, prayed, and gave thanks before his God” with his face toward the place (Daniel 6:10).  He prayed, “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate” (Daniel 9:17).  The Temple had been destroyed by the heathen because of Israel’s sins, but the place where it had stood still had its great significance.  In Palestine there was a place to which God attached His name and His honor, and in regard to which He heard and answered prayer.  The evidence indicates that this place was the very place in the mountains of Moriah where Abraham offered Isaac.
The ancient city of Jerusalem sits upon two elevations, called Mount Zion and Mount Moriah.  Between them is a ravine called the Tyropoeon Valley.  What we call Mount Moriah is really an eminence or ridge running diagonally from the north to the east of the walled city.  On the east end is what has for three thousand years been designated the “Temple Mount,” where the Temple stood.  On the north end, outside the wall, is the rocky ridge which in modern times has been called “Gordon’s Calvary.”  Appearances and archeological evidence lead us to believe that this is the place where Jesus died.
“And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.”
(Mark 15:22)
The place looked and looks like a skull.  It is the place where Jesus died as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
“And they took Jesus, and led him away.  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him…”
(John 19:16-18)
It was at this place that our salvation happened.  The Son of God came to earth on a rescue mission, to save mankind from the consequences of the first man’s sins (read about it all over the New Testament, but especially in the fifth chapter of Romans).  It was at a point in time, a date in history, and at a certain place that Jesus accomplished our redemption, by offering Himself as a Sacrifice to pay for our sins.  The penalty for sin is death, and Jesus died for us.  On that day and in that place, He took the blame for our sins so that He could suffer the punishment.  When He did so, He bought our way out of Hell and into Heaven.
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden: and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”
(John 19:41)
It was in that tomb that the dead body of Jesus was laid after He gave up the ghost on the cross.  And it was in this sepulchre, located in the place called Golgotha, that Jesus won the victory for us over death and sin and Hell, by rising from the dead.
“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”
(First Corinthians 15:3-4)
What a wonderful place is this very special spot in the mountains of Moriah where God gave His Son as a sacrifice to save us from sin and death and Hell.  Every sinner who turns from the darkness to the Savior of the world will be saved forever, and will receive eternal life.
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
(Romans 10:9)
Friend, will you not recognize that Jesus Christ is your Best Friend, and make up your mind to receive Him as your Savior.  Just think of what He did for justly-condemned sinners like you and me at the place they call Golgotha and Calvary.  We have broken God’s Law, repeatedly and knowingly, and justice would condemn us.  But Jesus Christ volunteered to take the condemnation of the Law for us, and satisfy it by giving His life.  Thank Him for what He did, and turn to Him for your salvation today!


Dr. Rick Flanders

Revival Ministries

February 1, 2017

Who Gets to Define Sin?

The answer to this question has to do with who your God is.  For the true believer, this has to be the Sovereign Creator God.  He is the spiritual Father of all who truly believe.  If you are not a true believer, your God is man and your father is the devil, the father of lies.
 
The first problem here is that, in the circle of professing Christians, you are likely to end up with a variety of definitions.  That is because, on the right, “externalists” have put things into the Bible text that were not there originally.  On the left, the “libertines” simply reject what the Bible does clearly define.  The first question is “Who is right?”  The answer is that only God is right, and His definitions are in the Bible text.  They were placed there by divine inspiration and are true.  They are clearly understood only when the reader approaches the text with the one biblical hermeneutic.
 
THE HAZING OF AMERICA
 
In our nation, the definition of sin and wrong has been forcibly changed.  The most egregious of sin and wickedness is now celebrated by those who control education, government, economy, entertainment, sports and, sadly, the professing church.  How did this happen?
 
In his book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, the author, Erick Larson, records a terrible truth from the past.  It is a clear statement of where our own nation is today.
Captain Reginald Hall is described and quoted on page 350 of the book.  He visited Germany and Austria in 1934.  Ever the intelligence man, he reported his observations about the National Socialist movement to the government.  He also described his experience to a friend in America.  “All the young are in the net,” he wrote; “anyone who tried to keep out of being a Nazi is hazed till they change their mind; a form of mass cruelty which exists only in such a country.” He added, “It will sometime soon be the duty of HUMAN BEINGS to deal with a mad dog.  When that time comes, your people will have to take their share.”
By using federal education (falsely called public education), the minds of generations have blindly accepted “liberal, progressive socialism.”  It has created a nation of intellectual pagans who support everything they believe with lies.  They are expert at turning truth into lies and lies into truth.
To ensure that everyone follows their “lie pact,” anyone who disagrees has been, is, and will be “hazed.”  They are made persona non-grata, ridiculed, punished, and dismissed from the public sector.  The socialism described by Hall is the very same destructive, liberal, progressive socialism being forced on this nation.  If you want an example, all you have to do is turn on the liberal media for one day.
 
This process of making sin acceptable may begin with redefining words, but it continues with derogatory name calling.  If you have any sense of godliness, you are called homophobic, Islamophobic, etc.  Political correctness only adds to the hazing.  Change your speech, fall in line, be silent about what you believe - or else.  This plan ultimately includes legal and physical force until you submit to the wicked ideas of liberal, progressive socialism.
 
TELL ME IT ISN’T SO
 
The church in America should be first in line to speak strongly to the definition of sin that God has given us in His Word.  The liberal church has long ago turned its back on the clear statements of God.  Sadly, this has given momentum to the paganizing of America.  With a low view of scripture, this group has become complicit in the removal of God’s moral standards.
 
Mainline evangelical church leaders have simply hid in the shadow of liberalism.  For whatever motive, they hold their silence; and their pronouncements find them guilty of teaching people to sin.  It seems that if a person is very good at communicating he gets a pass on what they are communicating.  Anyone who challenges one of these popular gurus is subject to “hazing.”
 
Without any shame, the Emergent, Emerging, and now Millennial churches are on a dead run to leave God’s standard for holiness in the dust.  It is no wonder that these churches ignore or offend basic doctrines.  The way one lives always rises from what he believes.  The more you degrade the Bible and its pure doctrine, the easier it is to throw off moral and righteous constraints.  If anyone dares challenge this moral runaway, they are “hazed” with words like “legalist.”  It is no wonder that cults have found a place to hide among these movements.
 
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?
 
In the end, the biblical church must bear some fault for this.  Almost everyone you talk to, it seems, has their head in the sand.  They want no part of truth when it brings conflict and rejection.  Silence is the watchword when it comes to what is happening in our own world. Remember that “silence is not always golden; sometimes it is just plain yellow.”  Leaders tend to hide behind things like “political” and deny that we have responsibility to speak the truth on every subject, even outside the pulpit.  It is true that much of the problem is ignorance; leaders often simply don’t know.  A careful reading of Acts 20 will help with that problem.
 
Paul’s words in his two letters to pastor Timothy make all this very clear.  He was not afraid to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.  Timothy was instructed not to cut corners, run and hide, or be silent about what God has said.  Paul made it clear that people would not listen and would reject the truth, but that did not mean this young pastor should be silent.
 
It appears that the silence of those who have the truth in this country has cost us deeply. Religious and theological games are very expensive.  If we had preached the gospel fearlessly, taught sound doctrine with passion, and clearly defined the holiness of God and His instruction in the Word, things might have been different.
 
THAT’S NOT A CHURCH
 
You will have to wait for the February, 2017, Shepherd’s Staff for this, but we don’t expect much from those who aren’t really churches.  They really don’t disappoint us, but the real churches are those we look to for truth and sacrificial effort to do battle and define the wickedness of this hour.  These pastors will give an account in due time.  (Hebrews 13:17)
 
 
Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
 
A communication service of Shepherd's Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd's Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd's Staff.