Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Just for a few minutes, let’s set aside debates and arguments about things like politics, gender, abortion, evolution, same-sex marriage, and religious freedom – to name a few. What really matters? Everything in life hinges on whether or not Jesus is God. Think about it. We know He existed historically – but what’s the final verdict? Is He a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God?

Questions are good! But don’t deny the answers if they can be backed up with facts and evidence. Did Jesus tell the truth? Is there one living God or can we make up as many gods as we want.

Maybe you’re someone who thinks Jesus was just a good teacher. Is the Bible wrong about Him? What if the men He spent three years of His life with were all telling the truth? What about all the miracles they witnessed and the claims Jesus made? They believed Him enough to die for their faith.

Why didn’t the Jews and Romans who killed Jesus refute the testimonies of hundreds of eye-witnesses that saw the risen Christ? The burial tomb is still empty. Why couldn’t the authorities find the supposed dead body of Jesus and stop the spread of Christianity?

The events surrounding the life of Jesus, especially His virgin birth, crucifixion, death, and resurrection either happened or they didn’t. We’re talking about actual history and the fact that if these events documented in detail throughout Scripture really took place, it changes everything – and should affect how we live today.

C.S. Lewis stated:

“You must make your choice: either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us…”

So – is Jesus a Liar? Was Jesus wrong about anything He taught? Many call Jesus a good person, Rabbi, or a prophet, but if He didn’t tell the truth, can He really be good?

While the Old Testament prophets usually said, “This is what the Lord says,” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth.” In addition, prophets spoke for God, but Jesus consistently spoke as God. The Jews knew exactly what He meant because on several occasions, they tried to kill Him for claiming equality with God.

Was He a Lunatic? Have you read what Jesus actually taught? He was pretty bold and controversial! For one thing, He declared to the Pharisees that He existed before Abraham (John 8:58)! Jesus made twenty-three “I Am” claims and used seven major metaphors such as, “I am the light of the world… the bread of life… the good shepherd… the resurrection and the life.”

Is Jesus Lord then? No one in all history has successfully proven Him wrong. If Jesus spoke the truth, then there are tremendous consequences for not believing in Him! For one thing, He promised to return one Day to judge the living and the dead. He also talked about heaven and hell as actual places, and the need for people to confess our sins and be saved.

Truths about Jesus Christ revealing He is GOD

  • Jesus was with God in the beginning, (John 1:1)
  • Jesus is equal with God, (Phil. 2:5-11)
  • He was born of a virgin; became a man, (Matt. 1:18, Jn. 1:14)
  • He forgives sins, (Mark 2:10)
  • He performed miracles, (John 10:32)
  • He is one with the Father, (John 10:30)
  • Jesus came from the Father, (John 16:28)
  • He is the Christ, (Mark 14:61-62)
  • He is the Messiah, (John 4:25-26)
  • Jesus came to give spiritual life, (John 10:10)
  • He gives the right to become God’s children, (John 1:12)
  • Jesus bestows eternal life, (John 10:28)
  • Jesus became man, (Philippians 2:5-11)
  • Jesus is fully God, (Philippians 2:5-11)
  • His death was a ransom for our sins (Matthew 20:28)
  • Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)
  • Jesus rose from the dead, (Luke 24:46, Acts 2:24)
  • He ascended to Heaven and is at God’s right hand, (Mark 16:19)

Colossians 1:13-17 states:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

And in Col. 2:9-10,

…In Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Those of us who believe need to turn from the world’s ways back to God, stop playing church, and submit to the authority of Christ. If Jesus was in fact the predicted Messiah, then the Bible is true and all other gods must be false.

Every other way of salvation won’t work out in the end. Jesus overcame death and the grave, and His resurrection proves Jesus is the only way to the Father. If you’ve been following a different god or another path, don’t put off this decision. Please trust in Him while there’s still time!

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Just a week ago I was in the hospital after having a procedure on my heart and guess what? Here I am, thank God! But not everybody makes it through surgery. In fact, not everybody makes it home from work.

It brings up the question of the ages: What happens to us after we die? Well, that depends.

What if I died on the operating table? First of all, this video wouldn’t exist. My body would’ve been prepared for a funeral, and my spirit would be on its way to be with my Master and Savior in Heaven; the One who created us all.

You may be thinking, ‘how can I be so sure?’ Faith. The Bible offers assurance of eternal life with Christ in Heaven for those who believe.

I realize most people would rather not think about it, but ten out of ten people die. Life comes to an end for people from every country, of all different ages, for various reasons. No one is exempt.

It’s just a matter of time.

Almost everyone has heard the Bible verse, John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap between us and a holy God. Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and when Jesus returns, He will judge those still living as well as those who have died.

For better context, let’s keep reading. Here’s John 3:17 and 18:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ can save us from our sins.

Prior to my surgery last week, I had to sign a consent form. Even before that, I was told of all the possible risks and complications including a torn heart muscle, punctured lung, torn artery, partial paralysis, stroke during the operation or even death.

The list of possible risks was long, but the absolute greatest risk we can take in this life is denying God by refusing to believe in His Son, Jesus, and not accepting the free offer of the forgiveness of our sins.

Acts 4:12 states: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

And Philippians 2:9-11 says:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day, even those who refused to believe will bow before the King of Kings upon His return.

I was at peace going in to surgery because I trusted Jesus with my life years ago, and knew regardless of the result, it would be a win win. This life is a vapor and for the Christian, we live for Him and to die is gain!

Forgiveness for our sins is mankind’s greatest need. In America, we’ve heard so much about a loving God and rarely hear about His coming judgment. It’s true God is loving, but He is not tolerant of sin in any form.

We’ve also heard the man-made idea God just wants us to be happy, problem-free, and give us favor so that every day’s a Friday and we can live our best life now.

Do you really believe the Bible teaches about personal gain and happiness rather than about denying ourselves and holiness? In addition, if every day were a Friday, let’s just party like it’s 2099. Finally, if we could live our best lives now, here on earth, then why would we need God and what’s Heaven for anyway?

Now, plenty of people think all it takes to go to Heaven is to be a good person, but the question is, ‘good’ by whose standards? Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

Sure, we can do good things, but can we truly be good without God?

The Bible teaches there is nothing we can possibly do to earn salvation. If we could do it on our own, then Jesus didn’t have to be die for our sins and be raised from the dead. In Ephesians chapter 2 it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Open your hands and receive the free gift of life. Salvation is not a result of good deeds – but of faith. It’s true God prepared good things for us to do, but – what we do doesn’t save us; it’s who we believe in and why.

So repent of your sins, confess them to God. Trust in Jesus Christ, and tell others this good news, the gospel, the power of God to save us (Romans 1:16). He will be faithful to complete the work He began in us and then, take us to glory when our time here is done.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media

Historical, prophetic, and archaeological evidence confirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Easter bunny, chocolate or pastels! 

The Case for Christ movie came out last year based on the outstanding bests-selling book by author and former atheist, Lee Strobel. He was a Chicago Tribune journalist who set out to disprove Christianity and traveled the world in an effort to do so. 

He did meticulous research and interviewed the world’s top historians, theologians, and medical experts while examining the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Disappointed because he accumulated so much evidence supporting the Bible and none to refute the claims of Christianity, he sat in his office one day and a co-worker said to him:

“Lee, when is enough evidence enough evidence?”

His investigation was completed and Strobel became a born-again believer. 

Many historians outside the Bible wrote about Jesus, about His followers, Pontius Pilate, key events and places; they wrote about the crucifixion – including the solar eclipse occurring for three of the hours Jesus was on the cross, a great earthquake, and the persecution of countless disciples of Christ. 

Jewish non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in “the Antiquities of the Jews.” Josephus was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of Roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. 

Sources outside the Bible could be reconstructed this way: 

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (believing). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared…” 

And according to Old Testament scholar, Gleason Archer: 

“As I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another and have studied the alleged contradictions between the biblical record and the evidence of linguistics, archaeology, or science, my confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened…” 

Those who are open to the truth can research for themselves. You’ll learn about the early dating of the New Testament documents compared to other ancient literary works; overwhelming archaeological evidence, hundreds of fulfilled prophecies listing specific details about Christ, and of course, plenty of eye-witness testimony not to mention the thousands of people through the centuries willing to die for the faith. 

Acts 1:3 says Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles after the crucifixion, by many convincing proofs, AND appeared to them over a period of forty days! What did Luke mean by “Many Convincing Proofs”? 

To answer this question we need to go to the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 

Why didn’t the Jews and Romans squash Christianity before it took off? First of all, we just read Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and that He appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time! 

If this weren’t enough, Paul testified to the fact most of these people were still alive at the time this was written (verse 6) so it could not be refuted! There were far too many eye-witnesses of the risen Christ. 

then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 1 COR. 15:1-7 

Weeks earlier, James was a skeptic. About the half-brother of Jesus, the Bible says “even His own brothers didn’t believe in Him.” But this James became a pillar in the early church and leader of the Jerusalem Council. Tradition holds that James was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. 

What changed his mind and radically transformed his life? The truth of the resurrection; Jesus appeared to James personally. Eye-witness testimony is critical in a court of law. 

Others the risen Christ appeared to included Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, the disciples including Thomas, Cleopas and one other on the Emmaus road, in Galilee to over 500 people, and to Paul on the Damascus road. These are just those we know of from Scripture. 

Then there’s prophecy: Seven hundred years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah said Jesus would be like a lamb led to slaughter, and: 

He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah. 53:45 

Christ offered Himself, voluntarily enduring brutal torture and death, so why do we call it ‘Good’ Friday and ‘Easter’? Because His shed blood washes us clean and because He lives, so will we! Those who believe are assured an everlasting Hope that anchors our souls.

Moreover, on what we know as Palm Sunday, the very gate Jesus rode through on a donkey the week prior to being crucified, the Eastern Gate, will be the gate through which He enters Jerusalem when He returns. 

Who could have ever manufactured such an intricate story – a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, written by at least 40 different authors on three different continents, including prophecies in perfect and specific detail? Who could have created and insured the carrying out of such an elaborate plan in advance? 

It had to be God! Fulfilled prophecy reinforces the truth of Scripture. 

Before His death on the cross, Jesus told His followers over and over what He came to accomplish and how it had to happen. In Luke’s gospel, after Jesus’ resurrection: 

He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:44-48 

Examine the evidence – and believe! 

Open pages of bible isolated on white backgroundNow after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 1:14-15

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

In 1965 the epic religious movie The Greatest Story Ever Told was released, retelling the story of Jesus Christ from His humble birth and His teachings through the crucifixion and resurrection. The media and critics at the time gave it excellent reviews and some even raved about the brilliant and inspiring, Bible-based production. Times have changed; but the gospel has not.

The gospel, aka the “good news,” is the greatest gift God has given the church, because its message is about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the greatest treasure God has given the world. Like the apostle Paul, we are to deliver to others what we also received, because people’s salvation depends on it. No one would keep the best news in the universe to themselves – would they?

As committed Christians, our priority in this life must be to consistently believe, live, and deliver to others the message about Jesus Christ and the truth about His life, teachings, death, resurrection, and ascension. For those who have believed and have confessed Jesus as Lord, our ticket is punched and our place in God’s presence is reserved for eternity! Our faith is in Him and our hope is in heaven.

Every person alive today and who has ever lived will stand on one side of eternity or the other. The universe revolves around the most pivotal event in the history of the world: The resurrection of Jesus Christ; the eternal Son, one with the Father and the Spirit, and the exact representation of God’s nature.

… The gospel is not some formula or a simple “sinner’s prayer.” It encompasses the entire Bible as its framework with plenty of background setting the stage. Its truth can transform our lives and its power can save the worst of sinners.

With the increasing attacks on free speech and religious expression in America today, do you see how important it is for us to be able to preach the gospel? This basic freedom is affected by politics, laws, and government. Enemies of Christianity will not relent in their agenda to squelch the mention of sins they endorse, but when push comes to shove, we must obey God rather than man. Speak the truth and leave the results to Him.

Since we have received and accepted the gospel, we must reject the world because the two are in opposition to each other. This can present a problem for many of us. If we love Jesus, we will obey Him (John 14:15), but if we love the world, we will end up following anything else except Him. Because this temporary earth is passing away and we are faced with an eternity that will not wait, the choice should be clear…

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

Where does Jesus get such authority? It bears repeating Jesus Christ overcame death and the grave and is seated at the right hand of the Father. His tomb is famous for what it does not contain. Even the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus acknowledged His tomb was empty when they made up lies to try and conceal the resurrection.

Isn’t it interesting in their attempted cover-up, the religious leaders testified to the empty tomb? The story gets even more bizarre, because their lie included instructing the soldiers to say they were asleep instead of guarding the tomb of Jesus. This was not some small conspiracy, because in those days a Roman soldier caught sleeping on duty would have been executed.

Moreover, all other gods or religious leaders who have lived on the earth have burial sites or memorials where their bones remain. We can easily understand how some of their followers hate Jesus, because He is the only true, living God; other gods people worship are false, dead gods.

… The disciples did not have all the resources and technology we have today, and yet the early church grew in numbers day by day even in the midst of threats and persecution.

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

Please understand regardless of whether or not you have placed your trust in Jesus and bowed before Him acknowledging His majesty, a day is coming in which every human being will bow down before Him and confess this truth – Jesus is Lord.

… Charles H. Spurgeon once stated:

My hope is not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died. My trust is not that I am holy, but that, being unholy, Christ died for me. My rest is, here, not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is and must be, – in what Christ did, and is still doing as He stands before yonder throne of glory.

Are we willing to preach this gospel in an increasingly rebellious culture and risk being called intolerant, narrow-minded, or worse? Are we willing to be criticized and misunderstood for delivering the truth Jesus commanded us to speak? Do we love others enough to live what we believe, expose the darkness of sin, and when necessary, confront wayward Christians?

… God’s foreordained solution (Acts 2:23) was to send His only Son, Jesus, to give His life as a ransom for us. By believing, confessing Jesus is Lord, and repenting of our sins, we are saved and have everlasting life with God. May we not muddy up the message that we are saved by grace through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8).

If the Bible is true, then this is why you and I live: To make sure the greatest story ever is told!

 

*This a book excerpt from The Cost of Our Silence. To read the entire chapter, click here:

spiritual warfareHe said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:15-18
 
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Why does it seem Christians are almost always on the defensive rather than preaching the gospel, influencing culture, and standing up for Christ and His truth? Jesus Christ enlisted us in active service, and we are to make it our goal to obey and please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). As soldiers of an eternal army, we cannot afford to be indifferent or ignorant about the intensifying battle all around us. When we are silent and fail to engage in warfare, we become ineffective for God’s kingdom including the important work of making disciples.

Here’s an excerpt from The Cost of Our Silence (chapter 14).

This epic battle between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of darkness is real whether you believe the Bible or not. Jesus came to earth to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and when He returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to help us fight (John 14:12).

The leaders of the armies are Jesus Christ whom God has exalted forever far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:21); and Satan, the temporary ruler of this world (John 12:31) whose time is short (Revelation 12:12).

God allows us to choose what part we will play in advancing His kingdom. We can choose to do nothing or we can respond to His call and fight the good fight of faith (2 Tim. 4:7). Yes, it is risky, certainly unpopular, and potentially dangerous, but without risk, we experience little reward and we often suffer repercussions for not taking action.

Lord of the Rings’ fans will remember the scene in The Two Towers in which the massive, evil army of Mordor was on the move toward Gondor in their quest to wipe mankind off the face of the earth. After being warned about the enemy advancing, Aragorn encouraged the king to ride out and face the enemy. Théoden, King of Rohan, declared, “I will not risk open war.”

Aragorn replied with truth,

“Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.”

Instead, the king ordered the city to evacuate and retreat to Helm’s Deep, a fortress that had kept them safe in the past… As a result of not staying to fight, many more lives were lost.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Do we avoid conflict and run away when life gets difficult or when we are faced with opposition?
For some, their security is money; for others, that security comes from family, a job, a relationship, the Internet, or even church activity. Some escape to entertainment; others to whatever provides immediate gratification. Our culture will only get worse if we continue to seek comfort, worldly things, or our own happiness while avoiding the battle for souls and ignoring our mission in Christ.

…And what if people in our own church say the Bible is not inerrant, there are no moral absolutes, and we are taking our faith too seriously? Press on!

We’re not to be overcome by evil; we are supposed to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Today’s remnant of committed believers must not follow the pattern of the [lukewarm] church in the last hundred years.

I agree with Charles Spurgeon and others who believe we are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition. In fact, Spurgeon stated, “the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed …” But he always kept the victory in sight:

Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and forever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

…Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). Think about what gates are used for. Christians will overpower the enemy’s gates in the end. Did you get that? Though Satan constantly attacks believers, the Bible never refers to the enemy storming the gates of heaven!

One of the keys to our success in spiritual warfare is this pearl of truth: Gates are defensive!

All hell should be on guard, and a strong, armor-wearing, battle-tested church should be on offense, attacking the enemy with God’s Word. Preaching the gospel is one way to stay on offense and help rescue people from the camp of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Too many of us leave our swords at home on a dusty shelf. We forget Satan is a defeated foe…

Read the entire book excerpt:

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Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6

God has been leading me to take an honest and thorough look at my own faith and what I often see is an Americanized version of comfortable Christianity. I understand how easy it is to waste years on selfish interests and worldly pursuits. 

Thankfully, He has brought me to a point where my heart is softening again and I can’t help but notice things that must grieve our loving Creator and Father. This new journey has caused me to ask some important questions beginning with:

If the Bible teaches we need to examine ourselves, test all things, be discerning, evaluate our faith, and make judgments on sinful behavior starting with our own, are we following and obeying these instructions?

Perhaps one of the least discussed Scriptures in the New Testament is Jesus speaking to professing believers in Matthew 7:22-23, stating ‘I never knew you; depart from me,’ further proving lip service does not fool a holy God. Luke 6:46 sums it up clearly:

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

It’s that important to walk our Christian talk and obey the commandments. I recently heard a message in which the pastor said, “You’re looking around at others or nodding your heads as if this doesn’t apply to you. When I suggest some of you may not be saved because there is little evidence you’re living for Jesus Christ, I’m talking to you.”

He was preaching about repentance to professing believers. Remember, John the Baptist said to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). The two go together.

According to the Apostle Paul, it is possible for some to fail the test and not recognize Christ is in them and therefore, not live according to the gospel they supposedly received. 

Paul wrote this to Christians in the church at Corinth whom he was preparing to visit for the third time. After getting to know them and hearing about their behavior he basically told them to make sure they were saved! 

Even with eye witnesses of Jesus still around at that time, some believers had conformed to the world instead of resisting sin. Paul felt it necessary to confront them about exactly what they believed and how they were living. 

When we mention this today some accuse us of judging or being intolerant. Here’s a memo for those who have not studied the whole Bible: GOD IS INTOLERANT OF SIN.

Paul confronted and challenged believes on their hypocrisy, warning them to repent. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ by preaching repentance from sin. Revelation 3:2-3 further warns Christians:

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Why are there so many Scriptures telling people that are already saved to wake up?

Why don’t we have a sense of urgency as we watch the moral decline of America and witness more corruption and godlessness than ever in our history? Have we lost our influence?

One of the questions I attempt to answer in my book, ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA, is, if a majority of Americans (77%) profess some form of Christianity, why does the evidence (fruit) overwhelmingly show secular culture has more influence on Christians than we have on culture?

If we fail to preach the whole gospel message, we limit the Holy Spirit rather than inviting Him to work. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) Without conviction of sin there can be no repentance and without true repentance there can be no salvation!

Leonard Ravenhill said, “There’s one thing we need above everything else; it’s something we don’t talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin.”

 Isn’t this what the true gospel is all about?

But don’t miss the good news, that while we were still rebellious sinners, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so we might be forgiven. Jesus bridged the gap between sinful mankind and a holy, righteous God.

We should never back down from the same truth Jesus warned the early Church about when He confronted lukewarm believers. (Rev. 3:15-16)

Examine yourself, my friend! Please do not put this off any longer. At the risk of stating the obvious, a person is not saved because their family used to take them to church or because their parents are Christians. 

If we believe what the Bible teaches about Heaven and Hell, shouldn’t we care about the authentic salvation of others? What about the sin that is all around us infecting both our culture and the church? Do we understand we are called to be set apart from the world (sanctified)?

Compromise seems to be the new tolerance, however, biblical truth must be the foundation of our worldview and that truth should affect everything we do and say. 

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He told them that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name (Luke 24:27). Think of the last three sermons you heard at church. I hope your pastor is following His lead.

What kind of lasting fruit are you and I producing? Are we abiding in Christ? He is glorified when we abide in Him, and when we bear good fruit it proves we are His disciples! (John 15:8-9)

Let’s seek Him first in our lives and then live what we believe. 

Let’s not be ashamed to speak up about Christ and love others by telling them hard truths. We are commissioned to preach the Word in every season (2 Tim. 4:2) because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:18).

If Jesus has truly changed our hearts and if our minds have been transformed, our lives will show it. Regardless of whether the message is accepted by others, you and I are called to be His messengers. Peter said, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40) 

No more hypocrisy, please. When Christians say one thing and then live just like the world, why should unbelievers want the Jesus we profess to believe in? We can have this world or we can have Jesus Christ, but never both. If we love the things in this world, God’s love is not in us (1 John 2:15).

Let’s examine ourselves to make sure we are fully in Christ. 

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Most of us recognize a desperate cry for help when we see one. God help Miley Cyrus. Just like Whitney Houston, Anna Nichole Smith, Heath Ledger, and many others who once fought the demons of fame, worldly success – and lost, I pray Cyrus is not too far gone.

It’s apparent Miley lost her innocence, inhibitions, and self-respect. Her flesh-toned rubber bikini and gyrating performance during the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night caused most American mothers to cringe. I am embarrassed for Cyrus.

Just like Lady Gaga, Cyrus has chosen the path paved by Madonna, using sex and outrageous behavior to get attention.

Imagine how God, her Creator sees her. He had a plan and purpose for her life to be a beautiful influence on young women everywhere and model good, clean values for them.

One mother wrote to her daughter and said Cyrus’ lacked self-respect, acted like an “overheated hound dog” with her tongue hanging out, and is simply screaming for attention because Miley hasn’t heard the word “no” very often. She concluded:

“Dear daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from becoming like the Miley Cyruses of the world. You can thank me later.”

Imagine being in Miley’s shoes, hearing most of your life that you’re the greatest. Every picture you post and every comment or tweet gets thousands of approving, fawning responses. In her mind perhaps she can do no wrong. Fame has a seductive, worldly lure and temptation that comes from being in the public eye.

So what in the world happened to Miley?

She was raised Christian and baptized in a Southern Baptist church, but we know there are plenty of folks claiming to be Christians and not living according to the Bible they profess to believe in. They fail to build a foundation on faith in God’s eternal Word. Whatever faith she had was not strong enough to endure the high life of celebrity.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you a car. Miley went to church growing up and even wore a purity ring. To the world, this is another excuse to call Christians hypocritical; to true believers, this is a sad and tragic fall.

Is Miley a victim of culture, Hollywood, or herself?

She moved to L.A. in 2005 and it took less than five years for her mind to become corrupt and polluted. Her image changed along with her music, and here we are witnessing the awful result of her godless transformation.

Admitted Satanist, Marilyn Manson once said, “Raise your kids better or I’ll be raising them for you.”

He wasn’t joking. Most of us understand the power of music, media and the whole entertainment industry so we had better warn families who have impressionable children. Christian parents, be reminded kids will emulate the fashion, speech, beliefs, and lifestyle of their favorite stars. It is well documented that in many cases, pop culture has been responsible for increased drug use in America, teen pregnancy, murders, suicides, rapes, abortions, and domestic violence.

To better understand the rapid decline of Miley Cyrus, all we need to do is go back to 2009.

Miley turned sweet sixteen and her performance at the Teen Choice Awards included a brief pole dance featuring her in a provocative outfit. She went from Disney’s Hannah Montana to teen idol in a hurry, and through her best-selling single “Party in the USA,” she seemed to take her adult image and sex appeal to the next level when she was seventeen years old.

In 2010, she released Can’t Be Tamed, basically a sexed-up version of her evolving party image. That project excluded any theme alluding to her Christian faith – a subject she had previously been outspoken about.

In the lyrics for Miley Cyrus’ Can’t Be Tamed, she talks about getting crazy and getting her way and describes herself by saying, “I’m hot,” and “I’m built like that.” The song also talks about her getting lots of attention from guys, and that “I go through guys like money flyin’ out the hands.” Her video for the single featured “half-naked dancers and risqué bumping and grinding.”

At her nineteenth birthday party in Hollywood, her friends brought out a Bob Marley birthday cake, and Cyrus said,

“You know you’re a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake. You know you smoke way too much fu**in’ weed.”

Finally, in the 2012 remake of a film called LOL: Laughing Out Loud, in a role Cyrus said she fell in love with, her character loses her virginity, smokes cannabis, gets wasted, and kisses two girlfriends on the lips.

Maybe some of her more conservative fans have caught on after all.

According to The Hollywood Gossip site in 2011, for the second year in a row, Miley Cyrus was named the Worst Celebrity Influence in a poll of nearly 100,000 people.  Ironically, the site’s main audience is ages nine to fifteen, which was once her core fan base. Cyrus even beat out Lindsay Lohan, who has earned her share of negative awards.

There are some who are concerned Cyrus is in danger of becoming the next Hollywood train wreck. We need to pray for her. Though she seems lost, no one is impossible for God to reach, but it appears she’s headed down a destructive path similar to Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or worse. Where are her true friends?

We shouldn’t expect secular celebrities to live according to God’s Word because Christian values are either foreign or offensive to them. As for the salvation of Miley Cyrus who claimed to be a Christian years ago, only God knows her heart.

She and countless other celebrities need the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. No one is without hope, but the Bible warns us the Lord’s return is close. It’s time to wake up and speak up because “now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)

Will she and other prodigals return to the only God that can save her before it’s too late?

Miley 2008 and 2012