9 Reasons People Leave the Church When the Church Isn’t to Blame.
This is a relevant article for both church-goers and non-church-goers.
9 Reasons People Leave the Church When the Church Isn’t to Blame.
This is a relevant article for both church-goers and non-church-goers.
Comments Off on 9 Reasons People Leave the Church When the Church Isn’t to Blame
Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, Religion
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
This verse is often (wrongly) used when witnessing to unbelievers to show them that God will indeed forgive their sins, but that was not John’s intention; he was addressing Christians. We understand this because in verse three he says, “That which we [referring to the Apostles that walked with Jesus] have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” An unbeliever cannot have fellowship with believers much less with the Father and the Son. The implication of our beginning verse is that “Christians” do sin. This is further emphasized in the next verse that says, “If we [John includes himself] say that we have not sinned, we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). You may have heard the saying that “Christians are not perfect just forgiven.” We do sin. It is hard not to sin because, while our souls/spirits have been “reborn,” they still inhabit our sinful flesh. We can improve that condition by learning to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, but that is an ongoing process (known as “sanctification”) while we remain in our physical bodies.
If we are truly “born again,” the Holy Spirit (the presence of God within us) works with our spirit to keep us from sin. He also helps us identify the areas of our lives where we do sin. When that happens, John teaches us that we should “confess” our sin (to God), and He will forgive us of that sin. The Greek word translated “confess” is homologeō. It is a compound word: homo meaning “same” and logeō meaning “to say.” Together it means “to say the same” (thing), or “to agree.” In other words when we “confess” our sins, we “agree” with God that we have sinned, and God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is important because while we may be “saved” our continual sin strains the relationship that we have with God. When we fail to confess our sins, we tend to keep on sinning, and at some point we will sense a separation from God. We might even feel abandoned by God. In order to maintain our fellowship (or closeness) with God, we need to keep our sin in check and the way we do that is by agreeing with God that we have sinned when we do sin.
Jesus death on the cross did pay for all of our sins – past, present and future – but in order for His sacrifice to be “effective” for us individually, we must first “believe.” “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:14-16, emphasis mine). That word “believe” is not simply a matter of saying, “Okay, I know that’s true.” It means that we are willing to put our lives into His hands. It means we are willing to “repent” – i.e., turn away from – our sins, but in order to do that, we must first be in agreement with Him (confess) that we are sinners. If we have truly done that, there should be evidence of a changed life in us. We cannot just repeat a prayer and continue to live a sinful life thinking that it’s okay because Jesus already paid for all of our sins. That would be presumptuous! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis mine). In his letter to the Romans, Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2, emphasis mine). That transformation may be dramatic, or it may come about gradually; but there must be a change. That transformation is aided as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our life, and as we continue to agree with Him (confess) concerning the sin in our lives. Gradually, those sins that used to plague us will become a thing of the past. But John reminds us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). That “cleansing” is what maintains our fellowship with Him.
One added note of assurance: We can do nothing to earn our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9); it is God’s free gift to us who believe. And just as we can do nothing to earn it, we can do nothing to lose it. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). While we can feel secure in our salvation, unconfessed sin will keep us from enjoying complete fellowship with God. He wants to forgive our sin because He enjoys fellowship with us just as much as we enjoy fellowship with Him.
And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch … (Genesis 4:16-17)
The question of Cain’s wife comes up often with both serious students of the Bible and skeptics. The low hanging fruit tempts the skeptic to ridicule the Bible for the omission of important details. After all, the Bible only speaks of Cain and Abel; no others siblings are mentioned. If the skeptic adheres to evolutionary/atheistic thinking, he may use this to support his perspective by claiming there were many hominids around before the mythical first couple came around. Cain must have gotten his wife from one of the many available to him.
The Bible student may find himself without a defense because the skeptic is clearly correct – there are no other people mentioned at this point. Genesis 4 records the first family, which includes Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel; no others are mentioned. So where did Cain get his wife? Is the skeptic correct?
This can pose a serious problem even to a seminary trained “professional” because there seems to be no clear-cut answer. But here I want to direct my attention directly to those who claim to believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. If you are reading this now, and have doubts about the veracity of the Bible, you are welcome to check it out now.
If we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that it is without error and it is true in every respect – infallible, than we must accept it for what it says – period. Starting from the beginning, God created one man and one woman (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7, 21-22). That was all; no other “hominid kind” were created. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). In Genesis 4:1 Cain is born and in the next verse we are introduced to Abel. “And in process of time it came to pass” (Genesis 4:3) that a long period of time transpires and the boys are fully grown. The Bible gives no indication as to how much time elapsed between the first and second sentence of verse 2. Seth, the son to replace the murdered Abel, is born 130 years from Adam’s creation (Genesis 5:3), which means Cain and Abel could have been anywhere from around 30 to 129 years old. That said, “the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4, emphasis mine). It seems unlikely that in that span of time between the birth of Abel and the birth of Seth, Adam and Eve abstained from procreative activity. It is quite likely that they had a plethora of boys and girls – one every two to three years is not unreasonable.
At this point, the serious student of the Bible must conclude that Cain’s wife was one of his sisters. Did I hear a collective “Yuck!” out there? Suddenly someone recalls the biblical prohibition against marrying a close relative (Leviticus 18:6-20), so Cain cannot take a sister for his wife because that is prohibited by God’s Law. Here, science can aid our understanding of Scripture.
Let us first examine the time frame between creation and the time the Law was given to Moses. From Creation to the Flood was about 1656 years (Genesis 5). From the Flood to birth of Abraham was another 290 years (Genesis 11). From the birth of Abraham (Abram) until Israel went into Egypt was another 218, and Israel was in Egypt 430 before the Exodus and then another 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. So, from Creation to the Law was between 2594 years and 2604 years. This means that marrying within the family was not legally prohibited and Cain could indeed marry his sister. Remember that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all three married close relatives.
Now, for Cain to marry his sister presented no biological problem either, because Adam and Eve were created perfectly – their DNA was perfect. Harmful mutations had not corrupted their DNA, so close family marriages did not present a problem. It took about 2600 years before the genetic load became significant enough for God to intervene by giving the prohibition not to marry a close relative.
Where did Cain get his wife? From his parents; he married his sister. This posed no problem biblically or biologically.
 James J.S. Johnson, “How Young Is the Earth? Applying Simple Math to Data Provided in Genesis,” http://www.icr.org/article/how-young-earth-applying-simple-math-data-provided/, accessed July 17, 2015.
 Ken Ham, “Cain’s Wife: It Really Does Matter!” http://www.icr.org/article/cains-wife-it-really-does-matter, accessed July 17, 2015.
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart … Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah … (2 Kings 23:25-26)
I hear many well-intentioned Christians exhorting us to pray for our nation and for our leaders. The call seems to have increased in intensity since the recent foolish ruling by the United States Supreme Court declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Such a ruling places this nation in the death throes of social order described in Romans 1:32 “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” At this juncture our nation finds itself near the bottom of the sucking vortex that will end its days, and no plea to God for restoration will be heeded. Such was the case for the nation of Judah in her final days.
King Josiah was a good king. He began his reign at the age of eight, and despite the poor example set for him by his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). By the time of his ascendency, the northern kingdom of Israel, whose kings all earned the comment, “he did evil in the sight of the LORD,” no longer existed as a nation having been conquered and repatriated by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (2 Kings 17). Failing to learn the lesson of her sister, Judah followed the same path of destruction. Of Manasseh, the Bible says that “he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove [an image of the Phoenician goddess Astarte] … he built altars [for pagan gods] in the house of the LORD … he made his son pass through the fire [i.e., he sacrificed his children to the god Molech], and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits [demons] and wizards … he set a graven image of the grove [Astarte] that he had made in the house [the Temple] … Manasseh seduced them [Judah] to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:3-9). Manasseh was so bad that the Bible says he “hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols” (2 Kings 21:11). For comparison, the Amorites were included in the list of nations living in the Promised Land that God instructed Joshua to wipe out in the conquest of the land because of their depravity. As bad as the Amorites were, Manasseh had exceeded their depravity in God’s eyes. To top that, Manasseh’s son (Josiah’s father), Amon, though his reign was brief, “forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD” (2 Kings 21:22). This was the young Josiah’s inheritance.
In his eighteenth year on the throne, Josiah, now 26, ordered that the Temple, which had fallen into disrepair, be restored. In the process of restoring the Temple, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of the Torah (the book of the law). Obviously the Torah, like many of our Bibles, had been put away and not read in a long time. The find was so significant that Hilkiah sent it by way of Shaphan, the king’s scribe, to Josiah. Shaphan read the scroll to King Josiah, “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (2 Kings 22:11). So convicted was Josiah by God’s Word that he immediately started a campaign of reformation in the land. “And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:1-2, emphasis mine). Notice that the king initiated the revival; he assumed the responsibility to lead his nation under God. Furthermore, he completely removed every vestige of idol worship from Judah more than any other king before him. More than that, he reinstituted the practice of keeping the Feasts of the Lord. “And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23:22, emphasis mine). It is hard to imagine, but not even the “man after God’s own heart,” King David, had kept the Passover. Now it might be argued that the phrase “such a Passover” implies that perhaps it had never been done to this extent before, but the fact remains that prior to this passage, the last time a celebration of the Passover is recorded is in Joshua 5:10-11 after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.
Josiah was arguably the most righteous king that Judah ever had. His reforms exceeded any king before or after him. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25). One would think that such a “great awakening” and “revival” of God’s people would alter God’s plan. Yet, “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” (2 Kings 23:26-27, emphasis mine).
Josiah died and was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:32). He ruled for only three months and was succeeded by Eliakim (a.k.a. Jehoiakim), another son of Josiah. Jehoiakim ruled 11 years, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:37). That was the end of Judah. “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets” (2 Kings 24:1-2).
All the good Josiah had done was for naught, and while it stayed the hand of God during his reign, eventually – in less than 11 years – God’s judgment fell on Judah anyway. Friends, that is where America stands right now. As a nation, we stand under God’s judgment, and there is nothing that will stay His hand from executing His judgment on our nation. As a nation we have banned Him from our schools. We have rejected His Word. We have sacrificed our children at the altar of convenience and self-gratification. We have destroyed God’s design for the family through easy divorce. We have replaced the worship of our God for the idols of self and pleasure. And to top it off, we have called what is evil good and what is good evil with this repugnant ruling by our Supreme Court legitimizing sodomy. And the leader of the free world, our President, celebrates the decision by bathing the White House – the “People’s House” – in the colors of the perverts’ banner.
It is already too late to pray for the nation and for our leaders. God has already given us too many chances to repent, and all we have done is thumb our noses in His face. It is too late! As it was with Judah in her last days, so it is with America today.
And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. (Jeremiah 7:14-16, emphasis mine)
Christian, don’t pray for this country and for our leaders, except that God judge righteously. Pray instead for His Kingdom where our true allegiance lies. Pray instead for His Church that her light might shine brighter in the growing darkness. Pray instead for your brothers and sisters in Christ that they will remain strong in the Faith and bold in the face of the persecution that is sure to come. This is no time for cowards. The King is coming! May He find us faithful when He returns. But for America, it’s too late!
Although I have no hope for a reversal in America’s increasingly rapid decline, I will continue to participate in the democratic process. I will continue to support those running for political offices who hold to strict conservative and Judeo-Christian values. As long as we have the level of freedom that we currently enjoy, it is important that Christians continue to engage in the political process. That is our right, our responsibility, and our obligation under God. It is the right thing to do, but do not be under the delusion that it will change the downward course of America. Our primary focus should be God’s kingdom, God’s Church and God’s people. God will remain when America is long gone.
Filed under Bible, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Politics, Prayer, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:13)
From the beginning of time Satan has attempted to pervert everything that God created and called “very good” (Genesis 1:31). A prime example is revealed in last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that homosexual cohabitation should be regarded as “marriage” and protected as a legal right under the Constitution of the United States. Such a ruling stains the bounds of reason considering that the same protection finds no haven in the Constitution for heterosexual unions. The lack of understanding demonstrated by five out of the nine justices illuminates the depths of depravity to which our nation has declined. The court’s decision prompted exhibitions of jubilation from what used to be the White House (now bathed in the colors of the rainbow) down to the streets of America. Local news media fight to maintain objectivity in reporting the atrocity as the grins on news anchors’ faces betray their accord with the order.
Regardless of the decision handed down by these black-robed oligarchs, “marriage” was defined by God at Creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). Out of the side of man, God created the woman (Genesis 2:21) “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:22, emphasis mine). In doing so, God effectively performed the first marriage ceremony. Marriage is not a human institution, it is a Divine institution, so much so that the relationship between Christ and His church is described as a marriage (Matthew 22:2-14; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 19:7). So, aside from the lawlessness of this act by this Supreme Court, it is the height of arrogance for mere man to redefine what God has already established. But, that is nothing new!
So, what does this have to do with the rainbow, you might ask. The rainbow has been adopted by the sodomites as a symbol of their perverted cause. Like the devil, who I imagine is reveling in his presumed victory; they have taken a sign of God’s promise not to destroy the earth by water again, and have used it as a banner to flaunt the kind of perversion that brought about God’s wrath in the first place (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 19:1-9). Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham and founder of Samaritan’s Purse, said, “God is the one who gave the rainbow, and it was associated with His judgment. God sent a flood to wipe out the entire world because mankind had become so wicked and violent.”
Note that God identifies the rainbow as His bow: “I do set my bow in the cloud” (Genesis 9:13, emphasis mine). Indeed, the rainbow in the Bible is always associated with the throne of God. The prophet Ezekiel’s description of God’s throne (Ezekiel 1) defies human explanation, but one of the features is the rainbow that surrounds the throne.
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (Ezekiel 1:26-28, emphasis mine)
A similar description of the rainbow surrounding God’s throne appears again in Revelation.
And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (Revelation 4:2-3, emphasis mine)
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: (Revelation 10:1, emphasis mine)
God’s throne is also his “judgment seat.” The Greek word translated “judgment seat” is bēma, and it is translated as throne in Acts 12:21, “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them” (emphasis mine). This brings us back around to the rainbow surrounding the throne of God from where He sits in judgment. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The poor misguided souls who celebrate their perversion beneath the colors of the rainbow call down upon themselves the judgment of God. The foolhardy President of the United States who bathes the People’s House in the colors of the rainbow in celebration of the Supreme Court’s foolish ruling unwittingly calls God’s judgment down upon our nation. This may well be the final nail in the coffin that America has built for itself
I see dark days ahead for our nation, but if you are a born-again follower of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, a brighter day is coming, and it may come sooner than you think. In the meantime, Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). This is not the time for passivity.
 World News Daily, “Franklin Graham: ‘Gay’ Rainbow Ends Badly,” http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/franklin-graham-gay-rainbow-ends-badly/, accessed July 2, 2015.
Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, End Times, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Politics, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology