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Great article…..especially with all the strife among ministries these days.

Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Battle-ReadyMany people here have served in the military.  According to the U.S. Army recruiting Web site, “Basic Training lasts only nine weeks, but you’ll remember those nine weeks for the rest of your life.  You’ll spend your time learning what it means to be a soldier.  And when it’s over, you’ll discover some amazing things about yourself.  Your mind will be sharper, your body will be lean and hard, and you’ll be more confident than you’ve ever been before.”

A friend of mine who served in the army has some interesting stories about basic training.  He once told me about a surprise inspection of their barracks.  If they passed inspection, they would get a weekend pass, but if they didn’t, they would have to stay and clean all weekend.  My friend and 37 others passed inspection–but two didn’t.  Those who passed were ready to celebrate until they found out the…

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Except Ye Repent
By Dr. Harry Ironside

Pastor Harry A. Ironside

Chapter 2 – THE BOOK OF REPENTANCE

“Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).

If asked to give the primary theme of the Book of Job in one word, I should reply, “Repentance.” As Genesis is the book of Election, Exodus of Redemption, Leviticus of Sanctification, Numbers of Testing, and Deuteronomy of the Divine Government, so Job, possibly written by the same human author and at about the same time, is distinctively the book of Repentance. I know all will not agree with me as to this. Most, perhaps, will insist that the outstanding theme of this ancient drama is, Why do the godly suffer? or something akin to this. But they mistake the secondary for the primary theme when they so insist. Unquestionably this book was divinely designed to settle for all time — and eternity too — the problem of why a loving and all-wise God permits the righteous to endure afflictions such as those from which the wicked are ofttimes shielded. But behind all this there is another and a deeper problem; it is the evil in the hearts of the best of men and the necessity of judging oneself in the light of the holiness of God; and this is repentance.

To illustrate this theme in such a way as to make evident to every man the importance and necessity of repentance, God takes up the case of Job, the patriarch of the land of Uz, and gives us in detail an account of the process that led him at last to cry, “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How different is God’s method from the one we would naturally follow! If I had to write a book on repentance, and I wanted a character to illustrate properly this great subject, I fancy I would select a very different man from Job. If searching through the Holy Scriptures for such an illustration I might possibly think of David — so highly exalted, so greatly blessed — yet who in a moment of weakness and unwatchfulness fell into so grave a sin and afterwards repented so bitterly. The sobbings of his heartfelt penitence and self-reproach, as breathed out in the divine ear in the language of Psalm 51, is indeed the classical passage on the repentance of a child of God who has failed.

Or I might select Manasseh, the ungodly son of a most pious father, whose horrid vices and unmentionable wickednesses dragged the name of Hezekiah into the dust and brought grave reproach upon the honor of the God of Israel. And yet Manasseh was brought at last to repentance and humbled himself before God, and was eventually saved in answer probably to that dishonored father’s prayers offered so long before. What a fine picture of a truly repentant soul does Manasseh present as he bows low before the throne of God confessing his manifold transgressions and seeking forgiveness for his scarlet sins.

Or I might turn to the New Testament and endeavor to tell again the story of Saul of Tarsus, blameless indeed outwardly before the Law, but a bitter persecutor of the church of God until the risen Christ appeared to him, as he fell stunned and blinded by “the glory of that light,” on the Damascus turnpike, crying when convinced of his error, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” His after life proved the sincerity of his repentance and the depth of his contrition.

Or if one turned from the pages of holy writ to those of history and biography, he might cite the repentance of the man of the world as seen in Augustine of Hippo or Francis of Assisi, the genuinely changed profligate, or as in the cases of John Bunyan, Ignatius Loyola, John Newton, or, in our own times, of Jerry McAuley, the river thief. In each of these men, when brought into the presence of God, we have a change of attitude indeed that lasted through life.

But if any or all of these were cited as illustrations of the necessity of repentance, how many there would be to say: ‘Yes, we quite realize such men needed to repent. Their sins were many, their wickedness great. It was right and proper for them to repent in the agony of their souls. But I, thank God, am not as they. I have never gone into such depths of sin. I have never manifested such depravity. I have not so far forgotten what is right and proper. I am a just man needing no repentance.’ Do you say that none would literally use such language as this? Perhaps not, yet the spirit of it, the inward sense of the words, has often been uttered in my own hearing, and I am persuaded in the ears of many others of God’s ministers.

Now, in order that none may so speak, when we turn to this ancient book in our Bibles, we find that God searched the world over, not for the worst man, but for the best, and He tells us his strangely pathetic story and shows how that good man was brought to repentance — that thus “every mouth might be stopped,” and all the world of men might be brought in guilty before Him. For if a man of Job’s character must needs repent, what shall be said of me, and of you, who come so far behind him in righteousness and integrity and have sinned so deplorably and come so far short of the glory of God? Can you not see then the wisdom of Jehovah in selecting such a man to show forth the need that all men should repent?

Consider then the case of Job. A wealthy Oriental sheik, apparently, he lived in the days before the knowledge of God had been lost, though it is evident that idolatry, particularly the worship of the heavenly bodies, already had supplanted in places the older worship. For, be it remembered, paganism is not a step upward in the evolution of religion from the lowest fetichism to pure monotheism. It is rather a declension, as Romans 1 shows us. Men turned from the living and true God to these vain idols, and “for this cause God gave them up” to all sorts of unclean practices. But Job had escaped all this. He was perfect in his behavior, upright in all his ways, one who reverenced God and detested iniquity.

In the first and second chapters we get a remarkable revelation of things in the unseen world. Job is the subject of a conversation between God and Satan, the accuser of the brethren who accuseth them before our God day and night. The Lord challenges Satan, asking, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth … one that fears God and eschews evil?” Remark, Job was all that God said he was — a saint, a man of faith, a true child of God. This book gives us, then, not the repentance of a sinner, but the repentance of a saint.

Satan denies the truthfulness of the divine estimate of Job and particularly declares that Job does not love and reverence the Lord for what He is in Himself, but for what Job received at His hand. To prove the contrary, the devil is permitted to wrest from the patriarch all that he possessed. Instead of renouncing God, Job exclaims, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Thus far Satan is defeated, but he is relentless.

On a second occasion he reiterates his implication that Job does not love God because of what He is, but because he really loves his own life most and recognizes that he is indebted to God for it. Permission is given Satan to put his corrupting hand on Job’s body, filling it with a loathsome disease, so that death is really to be preferred to life. In his dire extremity, as he sits mournfully in the ash heap scraping the horrid filth from his open sores with a piece of pottery, when even his wife bids him renounce God, he rises triumphantly above his very great trial, exclaiming, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” He glorifies God in the fires. Satan is defeated. Jehovah has made manifest the fact that this man is loyal to Him and loves Him for Himself alone, and not simply for His gifts. It is a marvelous thing thus to find one to whom God means more than all earthly possessions, yea, than life itself.

Thus the first scene ends with Satan baffled and defeated. In what follows we need to remember that Job knew nothing of that which had transpired in the unseen world. Had he done so, he would never have gotten into the deep perplexity that ensued after his friends came with their bitter accusations against his character.

In the next part of the book God has another object in view altogether. Job was a good man. He was altogether righteous, as God Himself knew and declared. But Job knew it too — knew it so well that he did not realize the actual corruption of his own heart. And after all, it is what a man is by nature that counts, not simply what he does. To repress one’s nature is one thing; to be free of inbred sin altogether is quite another. Job’s life had been such that he had apparently forgotten that he was as sinful in himself as any other, though wonderfully preserved by divine grace. God therefore designed to bring this good man to repentance, to give him to realize that his nature was vile, though his life had been so well regulated, so that thus he might magnify the loving-kindness of the One who had made him His own.

So Job’s three friends, all men of importance like himself, came to condone with him. Each proved true to his own clearly indicated character. Eliphaz of Teman was distinctly the man of experience. An observant student of natural law, he again and again declares, “I have seen.” Bildad of Shuah was the typical traditionalist. Ask the fathers, he says; they are wiser than we. They shall teach thee. Zophar of Naamah was the cold, hard legalist who considered that God weighed out calamity in exact proportion to man’s sin, and dispensed mercies only according to human desert.

For seven days and nights they encamped around the stricken Job, their grief and his too deep for words. But though they spake not, they thought much. Why had these calamities befallen their friend? Could they be other than punishment for hidden sin? Was it not inconceivable that a good God, a faithful Creator, could allow such affliction to come undeserved? Their accusing eyes uttered silently what their lips at first refused to speak.

Job could not stand those eyes. His soul writhed under their implied suggestions that he was suffering for wickedness hitherto concealed. At last he “opened his mouth, and cursed his day,” and vehemently declared his innocence and besought the sympathy of his friends. Then came the long debate. Again and again they charged him with hypocrisy, with overindulgence toward his children, which had brought their ruin, with hidden sin of vicious character, which God was dealing with. They begged him to confess his iniquities and thus give God a chance to show him mercy.

Sturdily, honestly, sometimes ironically, Job answered them, denying their accusations, assuring them of his confidence in God, though admitting his sore perplexity. He even went so far as to declare that, if their philosophies were right, then God was unjust in His dealings with him. At last they were silenced when by his final speech he met all their accusations and vigorously maintained his own righteousness. In three chapters (29, 30, and 31) he used the pronouns “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine” 189 times. But this was before he saw the Lord.

Elihu, a younger man who had listened in silence to the entire debate accepted Job’s challenge for some one to speak on God’s behalf. In a masterly address he showed that affliction may be sent for instruction rather than solely as punishment. He exalted the wisdom of God, who is not obliged to reveal beforehand His reasons for chastening. And he pointed out that the bewildered soul is wise when he asks of God — waiting for Him to instruct, rather than attempting to understand His ways through human reasoning.

As he speaks a thunderstorm startles the friends. The vivid lightnings alarm. Then a great whirlwind moves across the desert, and, as it draws near, the voice of the Lord speaks to the soul of Job propounding question after question which the wisest of men could not answer. He reproves Job for suggesting the possibility of unrighteousness in His ways. And as a sense of the divine wisdom and majesty comes over the patriarch’s afflicted soul, he exclaims: “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (40:4-5).

But God was not yet through. He speaks again, bringing before Job’s soul a sense of His greatness and power, of His glory and omniscience. As Job contemplates it all he gets a new conception of the holiness and the righteousness of God. His own littleness is accentuated. That God should look at all upon sinful men now amazes him. “The end of the Lord” is reached at last, and he cries out: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5-6). We know the rest and need not dwell upon it here. The great object of the Lord has been attained. Job changes his mind — his whole attitude — both as to himself and as to God. Humbled to the dust, he condemns himself and glorifies the Lord. And this is what God had in view from the beginning. And it is what all must reach in one way or another who are saved by His grace.

“That Thou shouldst so delight in me
And be the God Thou art,
Is darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.”

Self-judgment is the sure precursor to blessing, and self-judgment is the work of repentance wrought by the Spirit of God.

[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-194

Rescued Out of Darkness and Confusion: Robin’sTestimony

September 16, 2013

By Robin Campbell

I was raised in anon-Christian home, and exposed to pagan practices from a very young age. I believed these to be the truth. These practices made me feel special. My friends at the time also influenced me into thinking some of these things were cool to follow.

From about the age of 13, I started practicing astrology, psychic readings, higher consciousness meditation, spirit guides, palm readings, and angel cards, and more. These practices enslaved me. I thought I was in control and that everything happened by random chance. I believed in so many lies like superstitious, and also believed in karma. I thought that bad things would happen to me if I was too negative.

I attempted for many years developing psychic powers and tapping into things that I could not explain. I would tell people whom I didn’t even know about things in their life that I could not have known through normal channels. I would later find out that this information was from demonic powers of darkness. In spite of all this involvement, I was empty and still seeking happiness. I was angry and bitter,and my life was filled with lies and guilt and shame for things I had done. There was even a period of time in my life that getting high and drinking became the norm. I also tried to find fulfillment in things or people, but that never satisfied me.

I felt alone and trapped, and around my late teens and early 20’s, I began meditation and learning about freeing my spirit. I did this by trying to practice a “higher consciousness” and even just thinking more positive thoughts. I read New Ager Eckhart Tolle, medium Sylvia Brown, watched “The Secret” DVD numerous times,tried to live out the so-called Law of Attraction, and sought spirit guides. However,all of these things gave me only a temporary escape. I lived my life trusting in my feelings and my own understanding, taking bits and pieces from different books and religions, like Buddhism. I went as far as trusting in psychics.Again, this brought temporary relief, but soon enough I was back in a vortex of darkness with no light.

Living for myself was depressing. I even tried to be a better person morally, or think more positive and not allow circumstances to control me. I wondered why these things that I had cherished and believed in for years had given me no peace, comfort,or security. There were absolutely no answers to the deep questions I had about life, like why I am here and what happens after I die. I was filled with anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. I was even eager that doctors would diagnose me with some disorder in the hopes that they could fix me. These things were myi dols; they were my God. I was searching for something to free me.

I had no idea that I was enslaved to the lies of the enemy and to my own depravity. I also strongly believed at one point that I was a product of reincarnation. I thought that I was an old soul who had lived over 200 times (I gullibly accepted what a psychic said). I also had an experience in which I felt like a different person in a different era. This was a lie, because Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed for man to die once and then to face judgment.

In 2008, my friend Sharon Ortiz shared her faith with me. That was the first time I had heard the real Gospel message. She pressed the issue of repentance and faith in Christ’s finished work alone. I still thought that I was a pretty good person until God showed me my wickedness and His holiness. As it is written,

“There is none righteous, no, not one,” (Romans3:10).

Sharon and her parents spent much time with me. They shared God’s word with me and answered many questions. It was through the book of Romans that God convicted my heart and I realized I was lost and apart from Him. I started to get an understanding of who the true God is.

I originally came to Christ for relief from my anxiety but learned that the real problem was my need for forgiveness of sins and that I needed a Savior. I repented of my former ways of doing things, and believed in Christ alone to save me.

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” Deut. 18:10-12

I understood that God is holy and that I deserved judgment, and that I was dead in my sins. But praise be to God, He made a way for me through Jesus Christ! I now have peace,security, and hope. I learned that Jesus bore the wrath of God for me, and I now have his righteousness. I am justified by faith alone in Christ alone.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”Romans 8:1, 2

How marvelous!Jesus lived the perfect life that no one can live. Since God is holy, He demands perfection, and He himself is that perfection!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works,so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

FROM WITCHCRAFT TO THE CROSS

September 15, 2013
MY TESTIMONY 

My name is Michael.   I am in my late 50s at the time I’m writing this, and until almost 5 years ago I had spent nearly 20 years heavily involved in witchcraft.    Where did it all begin?  Well, I think that I can go back to my late childhood and early teens.   I remember reading books on mythology and any other materials on the supernatural , psychic powers, witches that I could lay my hands on.  Of course I read every copy of FATE magazine I could find and when I watched programs like BEWITCHED, I wished that I could have magickal powers.    I started finding books on witchcraft and devoured them.  I tried many spells, but never got them to work .  I think part of the reason is that as a teenager I was scatter brained and had little discipline…certainly not the kind to get spells to work.  And by the way, yes they do work.   As I learned later in life when I was an adult and totally committed myself to witchcraft.   My high school yearbook (Notre Dame High, Cambridge MA 1972) had the note under my picture “practices witchcraft?”   Over the years in my adolescence I studied and read every book I could find, and when I couldn’t afford a book I would go to the bookstores in Harvard Square and go through them, trying to memorize what I could and going home and writing it all down. Well, after high school I went to a communications college in Boston and it was then that I first heard the gospel and committed my life to Christ.  I forsook witchcraft and followed after Him, but again, I lacked discipline and concentration.   However, I was following Him.   After graduating from college with a degree in broadcasting and journalism I worked at a variety of jobs, mostly lived at home and things were going well.   It was during this time that I watched a PBS special bout religions in America, and one was about Pentecostalism.   They mentioned the Assemblies of God, and I agreed with what they believed in.   There was a tiny Assemblies of God church nearby and so I began attending church there.

In 1975 I made what was probably the biggest mistake of my life… I got married and it was for all the wrong reasons.   She and I decided to get married because we were hanging out together and everyone else we knew were getting married.   There was nothing in the line of love…and so for fifteen years we were totally miserable with each other.   And now, almost 40 years later I sit and ask myself “what was I thinking?”   After fifteen years and many serious issues, we broke apart permanently.    The best thing of that entire time is the fact that I have a wonderful, beautiful 30 year old daughter from the marriage, and she has made me a grandfather.

But before I get into how I ended up involved in the occult, let me go on.   In 1978 I joined the Air Force, where I spent over 13 years in service to the country.   Military life is tough on the best of marriages, and brought out some of the worst in ours.  However, I continued following the Lord and she did so too, though to a far less degree.   In the years I served the Lord in a number of capacities.  I’ve been a Sunday School teacher, music leader and worship leader, an announcer on a Christian radio station (WPSM, 91.1 FM Fort Walton Beach), and ultimately, while a member of a Pentecostal Church of God church in Florida was asked by the pastor to pray about becoming a minister in the denomination and coming alongside to minister with him.   And so, I did and in time completed the tenure and studies required to become a licensed minister in the Pentecostal Church of God.

 

In 1989 it all seemed to come apart at the seams.   I was assigned to Thule Air Base, Greenland which was the most difficult assignment I ever had (although I loved the beauty there).   I felt disillusioned with the Air Force for their assignment there (originally I was to go elsewhere, they switched me).  Meanwhile, my marriage which was already crumbling began to implode on itself and we decided to divorce.   Now, in the Pentecostal Church of God, ministers are not allowed to retain their credentials if they divorce for any other reason than the other partner being unfaithful.   That wasn’t the case… and so I was there… disillusioned with the military, my marriage broken irretrievably and having to give up the one thing I felt was going good…my ministerial license.   And, instead of drawing closer to God I did the opposite.  I blamed Him…He was after all in control of all things.   And finally, I decided in a pique of anger at Him to just walk away.   I cursed Him and decided I was going to go right back to witchcraft and the occult that I’d come out of years before.

The years 1989 – 2009 were a time of darkness.   It didn’t seem so, but now in retrospect I see how much darkness I was in and engaged in.   I joined a school of witchcraft and worked hard to be initiated.   Though it did not have formal covens, I found groups and covens to work and worship with, especially after I returned home from the military (I left in 1991) and back to the Boston area where there were many wiccan/pagan groups, a variety of bookstores and occult supply stores, and of course Salem which was a mecca for witches (actually a money trap).    In that time I worked a lot as a solitary witch, performing rituals and spells alone, but I also worked with a variety of traditions and groups.   Ultimately, I came in contact with Silver Ravenwolf, who is a very well known author of books on witchcraft.   Although her books were filled with what some consider “fluff” because it was marketed to the masses, she also had an organization of over 13 covens across the United States and Canada following traditional British witchcraft.   I wanted this and after meeting with her and she learned that I’d been initiated through the Church of Wicca she invited me to join her tradition – the Black Forest Clan as an elevated elder… 3d degree.  And that is where I spent the last eight plus years in the craft.    I began a home study group which met every other week and soon I had others who wanted to follow the Black Forest Clan path and become initiated, and so that became my focus.  In time I trained many individuals.   At least one reached the third degree which is the highest level.   Several others reached second degree, and there were always a few first degrees and dedicants working their way up the ladder.    In 2007, Silver decided to decentralize the Black Forest Clan and almost all of the third degree witches in her tradition became “Clan Heads”…that is leaders of their own autonomous group.    Now, with my own coven and my daughter coven which was run by the member who had attained the third degree I was the Clan Head for all of Massachusetts and running two covens… my own coven near Boston and overseeing my student’s coven near Worcester.

BUT GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

God wasn’t finished with me.   Throughout my time in the craft, I always had been drawn to the teachings of Jesus…and incorporated them into my ethics spiritually.   Around 2007 or 2008 I was scanning through late night television and found some teachings by a woman minister… and it wasn’t your usual fluff religious broadcasting.   Her teachings were intellectual and cerebral and she explored the scriptures using the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages… and this appealed to me.. and I found myself looking for her programming.

Long story short, the Lord was already working on my heart preparing to bring me back home to Him.

After some time, I was invited to attend Calvary Chapel North Shore… and when I asked whether it wsa associated with the Calvary Chapels founded by Pastor Chuck Smith the person who invited me said “yes”.   I talked to my wife and we decided to go on Easter Sunday… and that’s when the Lord grabbed us.

We entered and felt like the ceiling would cave in, but it was nice.   We stood there, not recognizing any of the songs… feeling a little uncomfortable but the message was powerful… and the people very friendly.   And so we decided to go back the next week.

During the following days, my wife and I also had talked about feeling that we should leave witchcraft behind… we were no longer happy serving the gods and goddesses of the pagan paths… and we both were felling drawn towards the Lord.   So, the next Sunday we went.   And Pastor Matt was teaching from the book of Mark.  (Calvary Chapels seldom do topical preaching…they teach the entire bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse).   And he was teaching from the ninth chapter about the rich young ruler.   And it was going well.  Then he told the church to turn with him to Acts in the 17th chapter.   And he began teaching about Paul on Mars Hill in Athens… where they had altars to every imaginable god and goddess… and one to the god who wasn’t known.  

 

Wow!  This was amazing to us.   We were thinking about leaving a religion that worshipped and served multiple gods and goddesses!    Then Pastor Matt read the verse where Paul told the people “you are entirely too superstitious!” and where Paul then exhorted the Athenians declaring who the true God was… the crucified one…the buried one…the resurrected one…Jesus Christ.

He had **NO** way of knowing that he had two witches in his auditorium that day, nor that we had been thinking about leaving witchcraft and coming to Jesus for salvation.   Needless to say, at the end of the message he announced he would pray with anyone who needed prayer.   The worship team walked quietly up to the platform and when he asked if anyone needed prayer to come forward, my wife and I went hand in hand to the front and prayed for salvation.

The main point of this story is that God is faithful…even though I was not. It is true that I spent 20 years in witchcraft, and spiritually, had reached the pinnacle.  I was a clan head for a tradition, elevated to elder in the religion and running two covens.     But THAT is not the greatest thing here… the greatest thing is that the Lord showed mercy and received me back… and that He now allows me to walk with Him and learn of Him and serve Him.

My name is Michael Morton.   And I used to be a witch.  But today, I am born again and walk beside the Shepherd of my soul…the one who died for me, is risen again, and is coming again in glory…the one before I gladly bow my knee and who’s name I gladly confess…that Jesus Christ is my Lord.

Joe Quatrone, Jr.

In-Everything-Give-ThanksThe Bible never promises our lives will be free from pain and difficulties, instead the Bible promises we will have many trials and tribulations in this life.  The secret to a successful life is knowing where to turn for help when you have a problem.  That’s the lesson we are going to learn today from a man who had leprosy.  Let’s read about it in Luke 17:11-17.

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising…

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Except Ye Repent
By Dr. Harry Ironside

Chapter 1 – REPENTANCE: ITS NATURE AND IMPORTANCE

Pastor Harry A. IronsideMore and more it becomes evident that ours is, as Carlyle expressed it, an “age of sham.” Unreality and specious pretence abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hypocrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one’s fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is forever true that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process — not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine.

Our Lord’s solemn words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” are as important today as when first uttered. No dispensational distinctions, important as these are in understanding and interpreting God’s ways with man, can alter this truth.

No one was ever saved in any dispensation excepting by grace. Neither sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not,” said our blessed Lord, “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, “Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen.” The second sign read, “Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen.” While a third read, “Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen.” One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, “What does that grocer understand ‘fresh’ to mean?” It is thus with many Scriptural terms that to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man’s acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor’s prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on “all men everywhere to repent,” results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that “faith without works is dead”; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God. We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: “I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.”

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner. But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing.

But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is not and then to notice briefly what it is.

First, then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is a sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it– “the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Peter’s penitence we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the Authorized Version has “repent,” the Douay-Rheims translation reads, “Do penance.” There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, ‘Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Our Lord Jesus did not say, ‘Do penance and believe the gospel,’ and, ‘Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.’ The Apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to ‘Do penance and be converted.’ St. Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that ‘God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance’ in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.

On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows that he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ’s expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offering He could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this — as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God’s infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently it was the writer’s privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While he was waiting in the studio for the time appointed an advertiser’s voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: “If you need anything in watch repairing go to” such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, “I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch.” It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one’s religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything.

What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Saviour cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins — to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God — to face Christ as the one, all-sufficient Saviour, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejecter realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Yet we find true believers exhorted to “repent, and do the first works.” So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Saviour, and it is another thing to trust that Saviour implicitly for my own salvation.

Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. Yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.

It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Sam. 9:8). And it is the soul’s apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one’s self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that lead one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.

[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948]

I Believe in the Precious Blood

By John MacArthur

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.
Hebrews 10:28-29

Dear Beloved Friend,
    The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is holy and precious. The shedding of His blood in death was the price of atonement for our sins. As He literally poured out His blood in a sacrificial act, He sealed forever the New Covenant and purchased our redemption.
    Those of you familiar with my teaching know that I have always believed and affirmed those things. For the past two or three years, however, I have been under attack by a small but vocal group of men who are eager to discredit my ministry. They have charged me with denying the blood of Christ and have called me a heretic in several nationally distributed publications.
    My first response was to write many of those men privately, believing their attack on me grew from a misunderstanding. None of them had spoken to me personally before attacking me in print. Only a handful have yet replied to my letters. Still, I expected the public controversy to die away. My teaching is certainly no secret, and I knew that those who listen regularly to our radio broadcast would know I am a not teaching heresy.
    Nevertheless, for nearly three years a small core of zealots have kept the issue swirling around every ministry I’m involved with. One man has literally made a career of going to any church in the country that will pay his way and giving a series of messages on the error of “MacArthurism.” Recently, a couple of key radio stations dropped “Grace to You,” not because of anything we taught on the broadcast, but because they did not want to continue to deal with the controversy being generated by rumormongers.
    Over the past couple of years we have received thousands of letters from all over the country, ranging from those supporting our biblical view, to those who are confused, to some who blindly echo the accusation that we are trampling underfoot the blood of Christ. For the sake of all of them, and so that you can better understand what I have taught about the blood of Christ, let’s look at three truths that I and all other genuine believers affirm about the blood of Jesus Christ.

1. Jesus’ Blood Is the Basis of Redemption

    Peter wrote, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [like] silver and gold . . .but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19, KJV). Scripture speaks of the blood of Christ nearly three times as often as it mentions the cross, and five times more often than it refers to the death of Christ. The word blood, therefore, is the chief term the New Testament uses to refer to the atonement.
    Peter wrote that election is “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2). The “sprinkling of the blood” was what sealed the New Covenant (cf. Heb. 9:1-18). “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (v. 22). If Christ had not literally shed His blood in sacrifice for our sins, we could not have been saved.
    This is one reason crucifixion was the means God ordained by which Christ should die: it was the most vivid, visible display of life being poured out as the price for sins.
    Bloodshed was likewise God’s design for nearly all Old Testament sacrifices. They were bled to death rather than clubbed, strangled, suffocated, or burnt. God designed that sacrificial death was to occur with blood loss, because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11).

2. Jesus Shed His Literal Blood When He Died

    The literal blood of Christ was violently shed at the crucifixion. Those who deny this truth or try to spiritualize the death of Christ are guilty of corrupting the gospel message. Jesus Christ bled and died in the fullest literal sense, and when He rose from the dead, he was literally resurrected. To deny the absolute reality of those truths is to nullify them (cf. 1 Cor. 15:14-17).
    The meaning of the crucifixion, however, is not fully expressed in the bleeding alone. There was nothing supernatural in Jesus’ blood that sanctified those it touched. Those who flogged Him might have been spattered with blood. Yet that literal application of Jesus’ blood did nothing to purge their sins.
    Had our Lord bled without dying, redemption would not have been accomplished. If the atonement had been stopped before the full wages of sin had been satisfied, Jesus’ bloodshed would have been to no avail.
    It is important to note also that though Christ shed His blood, Scripture does not say He bled to death; it teaches rather that He voluntarily yielded up His spirit (John 10:18). Yet even that physical death could not have bought redemption apart from His spiritual death, whereby He was separated from the Father (cf. Mat. 27:46).

3. Not Every Reference to Jesus’ Blood Is Literal

    Clearly, though Christ shed His literal blood, many references to the blood are not intended to be taken in the literal sense. A strictly literal interpretation cannot, for example, explain such passages as John 6:53-54: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
    It would be equally hard to explain how physical blood is meant in Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be on us, and on our children”); Acts 5:28 (“[You] intend to bring this man’s blood upon us”); 18:6 (“Your blood be upon your own heads”); 20:26 (“I am innocent of the blood of all men”); and 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The cup of blessing . . .is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?,” KJV).
    Clearly the word blood is often used to mean more than the literal red fluid. Thus it is that when Scripture speaks of the blood of Christ, it usually means much more than just the red and white corpuscles—it encompasses His death, the sacrifice for our sins, and all that is involved in the atonement.
    Trying to make literal every reference to Christ’s blood can lead to serious error. The Catholic doctrine known as transubstantiation, for example, teaches that communion wine is miraculously changed into the actual blood of Christ, and that those who partake of the elements in the mass literally fulfill the words of Jesus in John 6:54: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
    Those who have attacked me seem to be espousing the same kind of mystical view of the blood that led the Catholic Church to embrace transubstantiation. They claim that the blood of Christ was never truly human. They insist on literalizing every New Testament reference to Jesus’ blood. They teach that the physical blood of Christ was somehow preserved after the crucifixion and carried to heaven, where it is now literally applied to the soul of each Christian at salvation.
    We are not saved by some mystical heavenly application of Jesus’ literal blood. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the literal blood of Christ is preserved in heaven and applied to individual believers. When Scripture says we’re redeemed by the blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), it is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven. It means we’re saved by Christ’s sacrificial death.
    In the same way, when Paul said he gloried in the cross (Gal. 6:14), he did not mean the literal wooden beams; he was speaking of all the elements of redeeming truth. Just as the cross is an expression that includes all of Christ’s atoning work, so is the blood. It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out.
    That is not heresy; it is basic biblical truth.
    If you’ve been troubled by these issues and you’d like to study them more in depth, please write to us. We’ll send you free of charge a cassette tape containing virtually everything I’ve ever said about the blood of Christ. We’ve compiled this tape from nearly twenty years of messages given at Grace Community Church. We also have some written material that explains our position, which we will send you again at no charge.
    I hope you’ll be like the noble Bereans and study God’s Word for yourself to see if these things are true. Please don’t be influenced by careless charges of heresy.
    Also, please pray for me. These attacks have been relentless, and I confess that at times it is discouraging. Yet I know one cannot be on the front lines without constant battles, and it is a privilege to suffer wrong for the Lord’s sake (cf. 1 Pet. 4:19).
    Thank you for your prayers and support. Please pray that God will protect us as we seek to minister His truth with boldness.
Yours in His Service,
John MacArthur Pastor-Teacher

Doctrines of Demons

By Pastor Anton Bosch

Paul writes about the devil that “we are not ignorant of his devices” 2 Corinthians 2:11, yet it seems that many of us are ignorant of the tricks and devices the evil one uses in his attempts to thwart the plan of God. Satan knows that many cannot be persuaded or intimidated to give up the good fight, so he uses schemes that serve his purpose just as well. One of those is diversion from the central issue.

Some people speak of “chasing rabbits” when we lose sight of the real goal and begin to follow red herrings and other things that are designed to get us off course.

Our ultimate goal should be to know, glorify, and be conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said:

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence

of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,

for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,

and count them as rubbish,

that I may gain Christ and be found in Him,

not having my own righteousness, which is from the law,

but that which is through faith in Christ,

the righteousness which is from God by faith;

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,

and the fellowship of His sufferings,

being conformed to His death,

if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

(Philippians 3:8-11).

Anything else is a minor issue. Satan knows if he can get us to focus on anything other than Christ, he has us majoring on a minor and we are diverted from God’s purpose for our lives. He therefore uses many things, even spiritual, biblical, and good things to get us to waste our time on futile pursuits that rob time and devotion that belongs to God alone.

One of these areas that is trapping more and more Christians and leaders is the study of Satan and demons. I have heard preachers say that we must know the enemy if we are going to do effective spiritual warfare. Really?

Finish HERE 

This is a very important article. I remember long ago being compelled by an inner voice to “write these things down.” Truly I became a channeler thinking I was hearing from God but I was listening to a demonic spirit.  I didn’t write these revelations in the back of my Bible but I had a journal…and I very much enjoyed reading through it. Even so, there always was an element of doubt and I prayed about it every day.

A prophecy that did not come to pass, [some did], woke me up.  It wasn’t until I started testing these things that the real spiritual battle began. The truth had been revealed to me. I was devastated. While I thought I was being so greatly used because of my great humility…it was actually pride.

One of the ways Dr. Reimer offers that God speaks is:

Through “a word we see in our mind’s eye” Reimer explains,  “It is like a cartoon caption. We see a word spelled out.”

This happened to me a couple of times. Once the word was EaRtHQuAkE. It looked like a caption with jumbled letters. I also saw a number in the sky. It was huge and did have a meaning that was intricate and known only to me. It’s message was so detailed that I thought it had to come from God. I cannot truly explain how profound these experiences were. Yet they led me off of the narrow path.

Also the ability to see into someone’s life was given to me at times, yet I could not find this among the gifts of the spirit. But I did not want to acknowledge the actual source.

You might be saying to yourself.  “Surely I cannot be deceived by these things. Not me. I read my Bible, I love the Lord. I serve.”

Well… I did too. But I was being tested. I asked the Lord to remove any gifts that were not from Him.  He answered immediately and they were removed. Yet, I was still experiencing some oppression. Later I burned that journal  after reading Acts 19:19. That night the spirit behind the oppression was exposed and I saw  red eyes turn and leave. The enemy I was listening to was gone.

I do believe God can work in miraculous ways.  He uses us and our spiritual gifts for the church.  The evidence is in the nine fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

Testing is coming upon us all. Remain in Christ and His Word. We are asked to walk by faith and not by sight.

Please read:

God Speaks, but How?

Does God speak today? Yes.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1–2)

photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

Many may be familiar with the Justin Peter’s quote, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.” Yes, the Lord speaks today—loudly and clearly. He does so through the closed canon and written revelation of His Word, Scripture. Sufficient for all things (2 Tim 3:15–17), God in His great goodness has provided this Word so that there would be no mistaking, misunderstanding, adding to or taking away from what He has revealed. For the Christian, Scripture must be the final, authoritative word.

Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Rev 22:18–19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal.1

Yet, there are always those who seek for “more.” More spirituality, more emotion, more revelation. There are those contemplatives and those mystics who teach that if one will only sit still long enough and be quiet enough, they may actually hear the voice of God. There are those who maintain that the Lord still sends prophetic dreams and visions. It is as if God still has more to say, that He didn’t quite finish His sentence when the Apostle John closed the book on Revelation 22:21.

To these it may be asked, “Do you write down these personal prophecies and revelations given to you by “God” in the back of your Bible? Are you in the midst of composing the Book of Beth or John or Bill?”

Finish article HERE 

Excerpt

“So many ministries today treat faith as a commodity to be promoted, marketed, and sold. We have all listened to these hour long internet broadcasts which focus on everything from how evil the secular government is, to the latest government conspiracy, and if we just send in our donations, they will be able to continue to channel this badly-needed information to Christians everywhere. When not one word of the gospel has been preached, can we still call this a “Christian” broadcast or ministry? “

Endtime Delusion - 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

In response to the mass abandonment of Christ-centered apologetics in the church in modern times, the Cambridge Declaration was issued in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It was a direct response to the declining state of the Evangelical movement in America.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals came to be formed a year after David F. Wells authored a book called No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? in 1993. The book was critically acclaimed by a number of important Evangelical leaders. In 1994 a number of these leaders came together at a conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts out of which the Cambridge Declaration was issued.

Two of the principle players involved were James Montgomery Boice and Michael S. Horton.  The list of those gathered included some notable Evangelical leaders: R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, Albert Mohler, Alistair Begg, and many others. The reasons for issuing the…

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