Friends,
Last Thursday while evangelizing downtown, one of the signs I was displaying was, “The Judge is at the door. (See Ja. 5:9)” I used it because I’ve been grieving all summer concerning the wickedness of our nation and the apparent lack of concern the wicked have in getting right with God. James 5:9 and similar Scripture verses were extra heavy on my heart the whole week before the eclipse.

Yes, I tried to enjoy the solar eclipse like most everyone else. My husband interrupted his work day to bring me lunch, use the glasses he ordered for us to view the half-darkened sun, and to watch some of the hype on T.V. But I, like many others, wondered if the phenomenon was actually a warning from God of judgement eminent for the United States. Hurricane Harvey developing less than a day later, and then by the weekend causing extreme damage, could reveal a connection. Whatever the case, “The Judge is standing at the door!” (Ja. 5:9) is a warning that the inhabitants of the whole world would be wise to think on and act upon.

I don’t often mention the obvious sins of our nation (or of the rest of the world) when I write my posts. Why would I? We all see and hear about filth and rage often enough and are confronted with it even when we try to shield ourselves from it. But I am going to mention today what I see as so detestable to God yet commonplace even among church-goers. It’s all this mind/heart/spirit-noise people are deliberately ingesting. It’s this constant focus on the world. Isn’t this what staring at one’s iPhone is about? –An eating of the world? Isn’t this habit of almost non-stop texting, this being glued to the T.V., phone, or internet, this refusal to get alone with the Word of God, listen quietly to His voice as we read, and then obeying what He tells us to do, a clear definition of feeding off the world? Is this noise-ingesting habit not crowding out time with God and choking out time in serving His purposes? Is it not idolatry?

God has been kind to our nation. He has given us many, many blessings down through the years. But, in spite of that, most Americans seem to treat God and His commands with indifference. How grievous to God –our disgraceful attitude and behavior! And if this is not enough, the pastors in most pulpits continue to proclaim that God is smiling on all believers! It is just not so. (Ja. 2:14-26 & 4:4 // Rev. 3:1-6 & 14-16) And we know this if we are studying the Word of God carefully.

Remember King Hezekiah? God blessed him and did miracles for him. Yet 2 Chron. 32:25 says, “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him [by the Lord].” And the rest of the verse says, “Therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” Is there not a stench of pride and indifference that goes up to the Lord every day from most Americans, including every Sunday from the stage and pews of the churches? Does God’s favor truly rest on us, or is the reality actually that it is His wrath that is poised over us? With all the turmoil going on everywhere, including among most church-going families, and with all the unrest assaulting most hearts, could we really legitimately think God is smiling on us?!

But there is still hope. There are praying people here in America. There are those who are striving to bring the Good News of Salvation and Holiness to the country. One of my prayer partners paid for a tent to be erected in her area over the weekend and for advertisement for Christ-followers to come and intercede. I hope they did. The Lord told Abraham, who was petitioning Him on behalf of Sodom, that even “For the sake of ten [righteous people], I will not destroy it.” (Gen. 18:32) Maybe God will yet postpone His heavy hand of judgement hovering over us..?

But who is righteous? Is it those who go to church, sing worship songs, listen to the preaching, and then go about their week focused on the world and their own concerns, thinking that Christ’s righteousness, which is supposedly imputed to them, keeps them safe while they commit sins of neglecting God’s will for them? Are these righteous? Is God really smiling on them? He absolutely is not. (Mt. 7:21-27 // 1 John 2:3-6)

But let’s look at 2 Chron. 32:26: “Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.” One holy person interceding can make a difference. (Ja. 5:16,17) And groups of people –if there is a true turn from sin, the world, and the neglect of God, and a corporate intercession– can not only turn away God’s judgement against us, but allow Him to grant us peace and blessing. As God has said, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.” (Jer. 18:7,8)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
Israeliteindeed, who used to be a close email friend (we met via the internet in 2009 because of our blogs and she lives in another state) began, in the summer of 2014, vehemently writing against Israel. I kept warning her to not do so, even while she tried to get me to believe her beliefs. Our friendship and communication ended that August, but then, two years later, in July of last year I wrote to her this:

[I sent this email July 9, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.]
_______,
I have read all your posts and am continually grieved. This morning I was very surprised to feel a strong impression from the Lord to write to you a personal note exhorting you to reevaluate your own heart and spirit. After praying, I asked the Lord to confirm in His Word if this was from Him. He did, for when I got my Bible, I opened right to Ezek. 18:24 which says, “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.” Then immediately I saw 20:4 where God commands, “Then confront them…”

Truly, your writings are not Life. They are full of anger and self-righteousness and blindness; they are, with the exception of a small bit, not of the Spirit but are instead coming from your own energy, heart, and spirit. You are falling from the Lord and His Truth. Accusing America and others of it, you are continuing your own slide toward apostasy.

I urge you to take this warning very seriously as from the Lord, which it is. We will all, before the Judge on that Final Day, be giving an account of ourselves, including the attitudes of our heart, and the words we have said and written.

Rachel
~~~~~~

Israeliteindeed responded that she did not believe me but instead was choosing to believe those other “strong believers” who were telling her the opposite. I did not respond for almost a month, but then wrote this:

[I sent her this email Aug. 4, 2016 at 10:45 p.m. (I’ve cut some out for brevity, but have also made bold print my words of alarm for her.)]
_________,
I woke up this last Sunday morning with you heavy on my mind –a burden from the Lord. While reading my Bible, first thing as I always do, God had me turn also to Isa. 44:21-23. Verse 22 especially jumped out at me. So I started my latest post with it, and after working on it off and on every day since Sunday, I finally finished it last night. Being you and I had corresponded, I’d also been praying throughout the day about how to respond to your long email. As I got into bed and prayed one last time about it, I heard, “Tell her, ‘Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.'” It was very, very clear.

This morning I prayed again and kept feeling it was the same answer, though it seemed the Lord was going to give me more to say to you as well… [See my post link at P.S. below for full email.]

I need to tell you that during that couple of hours this afternoon in the Word, and asking the Lord for what to say to you, I heard way, way more than I expected. I asked for confirmation concerning things I’d heard from Him about you earlier this week, last week, and over the last two years, and the Lord responded today by booming them at me loudly through His Word. I was almost shaking, was having trouble breathing I was so upset, I had tears rolling down profusely, and I had to finally get up and walk around for a bit before I could continue.

I will tell you what I heard… [I said if she wanted me to tell her, I would, but she responded that she didn’t believe I was hearing from the Lord, so I never wrote to her again.]

It is God’s deep and faithful love that compels us to keep trying to woo people to Him and His Truth. Again when I say it to you from Him I get tears: “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Rachel

~~~~~~~

So, because Israeliteindeed had repeatedly informed me that she strongly believed that my warnings to her were coming from a false spirit, not from the Lord, I gave up and never wrote to her again after the above email. However, I have grieved much for her, knowing the Lord was going to bring her intense sorrow and discipline. Yesterday I received her post about her husband’s death. That can be read here: https://israeliteindeed.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/a-race-finished-well/

Knowing that God had firmly decided to bring heavy judgement to Israeliteindeed and her family in some way, I continually pleaded with the Lord to at least not let any of them go to Hell, her and her husband especially. I am greatly relieved to hear of God’s compassion in the midst of their earthly judgement. Do know, Readers, that I have cried, with deep love, for this couple many times over the years and again upon reading Israeliteindeed’s post yesterday. Truly, always, every time that she has sent me pictures of her and her husband, I have been flooded with the Lord’s love for them. This huge love for them as a couple has been unique and overwhelming.

However, I am sharing about this because the differences of beliefs Israeliteindeed and I have had, have been written about at our blogs, are thus public, and are of huge importance in the Lord’s eyes. I want others to fear God and take warning, for the Lord really was warning her about her animosity toward Israel (who is the apple of His eye –Dt. 32:10 // Zech. 2:8) and I want others to understand how awful and dangerous it is to insistently preach extreme false doctrine. It is not a light thing at all. The Lord hates such attitudes and teachings and His hand of judgement raises above any of us who commit such affronts against His Truth. If the Lord sends us warnings through those who love us and who know Him and His Word, it is great folly to not listen. May all of us take very sober warning.

Israeliteindeed needs to repent of her refusal to listen to the Lord’s Word and Spirit concerning Israel and the false doctrines she preaches. Since last Fall I have felt the Lord impressing on me that the only way she can prove her repentance is to remove all of her posts that have not been of Him. This would likely be a heart-wrenching thing for her to do as she has obviously put in countless hours creating those articles, but it is necessary. I exhort her to seek the Lord earnestly and to remove all the posts she has written that are not of the Lord and have thereby led others away from the Truth, which we know is no small sin. In fact, it is an enormously grievous sin which incurs upon the Bible teacher the heaviest of judgements. (Jer. 23:1 // Mal. 2:7-9 // Mt. 18:6,7 // 1 Tim. 4:1,2 // Ja. 3:1 // 2 Pe. 2:1-3 // 2 John 1:9-11)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel
P.S. Another warning at my blog less than a month before her husband passed away:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/god-judges-teachers-who-blaspheme-his-word/

Jari (at my comment page today),
You ask, “Do you believe that great men of God such as John Piper, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, and other Calvinists are not really saved because they are following John Calvin’s heretic teachings?”

You call these men “great men of God” so I’m wondering what, to you, makes a person such. But even if God could possibly call them that, we can see in Gal. 1:6-9 the warning that we not follow anyone, including an angel from heaven, who might preach a gospel other than the true one. The Word of God informs us in this passage that anyone who does such a thing is to be eternally condemned.

1 Tim. 4:16 is a warning to teachers to watch both their life and their doctrine closely so that by doing so they and their listeners will abide in the Truth and be saved. What is God’s Word telling us here about those who teach false doctrines?

Ja. 3:1 warns teachers that they will be judged more strictly. 2 Cor. 5:10 lets us know that everyone, including those who are trying to please the Lord (v. 9), will be judged for the things we’ve done, whether good or bad, while Jesus lets us know that this judgement results in either eternal life or eternal punishment. (Mt. 25:31-46 // John 5:29) Moreover, He lets us know that our thoughts can condemn us to Hell (Mt. 5:27-30) as can our careless words. (v. 22 & 12:36,37)

1 Cor. 3:10-17 is a warning to us about how we build upon the Foundation (Christ), informing us that constructing foolishly or defiling the dwelling of God’s Spirit will result in loss and/or destruction.

So, if a teacher of Scripture does NOT teach:

~~that God’s grace is offered to all mankind (which it is –John 3:16 & 12:32 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 Tim. 2:6 // Titus 2:11 // 1 John 2:2 // Rev. 22:17),

~~or that God’s grace teaches us to renounce wickedness and to walk habitually in Christ-like holiness (which the Truth teaches and requires –2 Cor. 7:1 // 1 Thes. 4:1-8 // Titus 2:11-14 // Heb. 12:14-17 // 1 Pe. 1:13-17 // 1 John 2:3-6),

~~or that God’s grace enables us and empowers us to meet these requirements of holy living (which it does –Rom. 8:1-4 // 1 Cor. 4:20 // Gal. 5:16,24 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4),

–then how are such teachers different from those spoken about who promise others freedom while they themselves, by remaining slaves to sin, are candidates for eternal darkness? (2 Pe. 2:17-19) And if they remain slaves to sin, and teach that everyone, including all Christ-followers, remain in slavery to sin, then how are they not within the category of those sin-slaves Jesus refers to who have no permanent place in His family? (John 8:31-36) How are such teachers different from those mentioned in 2 Tim. 3:5-9 and Jude 1:4 who, by changing the grace of God into a license to keep sinning, reject Christ’s authority and power in us? How are Calvinists (those who teach that the elect will inherit Heaven no matter what sins they continue to commit) unlike those whom Jesus condemns in Mt. 18:6 because they caused believers in Him to sin?

Are such men teaching the Truth –the true Gospel? If not, will they receive “the grace [of God] that is to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed”? (1 Pe. 1:13) Well, that is not our judgement call. It belongs to God. However, after we have considered the things I’ve written here, including Gal. 1:6-9 (again), let’s also remember James 2:13 which says, “Mercy triumphs over judgement!” That is a relief for us all! Yet what does the first part of the verse say? It says that “judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” Shouldn’t this give all of us pause so that we all examine our own selves soberly? (2 Cor. 13:5) As James 5:9 warns, “The Judge is standing at the door!” Yet the first part of that verse says, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” Is this particular warning of God’s judgement not directed at believers? It is!

What I am getting at is this: We all need God’s mercy as we walk through life. All of us. But can teaching false doctrine jeopardize our Eternal Life? Yes, it absolutely can. However, so can any sin, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (Ja. 2:10)

Teaching false doctrine and thus rejecting the Truth is to be of the devil. (1 Tim. 4:1 // Ja. 3:15) But so is the person “who does what is sinful”. (1 John 3:8)

Sincerely,
Rachel

P.S. To read how Calvinism presents a false gospel, see here:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/sermons/calvinisms-errors-new-page7516/

Friends,
Jesus has warned us, “Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Mt. 7:19) Jesus is talking about people and He includes those who proclaim the Word of God. (v. 15-23) It is about fruit. It is about what we produce, every day, and throughout our lives. And what we produce is about what we think, say, and do. It is what we display –in the sight of others, and especially in the sight of God. Let us not be deceived by false teachers, for God is indeed evaluating our fruit.

Is it about calling Jesus “Lord”? Jesus says that it is not (Mt. 7:21), and He warns us that many who think they will share in the Kingdom of Heaven will be turned away. (v. 21-23) Because they refused to walk righteously, the Lord will reject them. (v. 23 // John 5:29 & 15:1-10 // Heb. 10:26-31 // 1 John 2:3-6,29 // Rev. 21:7,8) Because their hearts were far from Him, even as they worshipped Him and honored Him with their words, their hypocrisy will be counted against them. (Mark 7:6-8) Because they kept sinning, even as they ate and drank with Jesus and listened to His teaching, and even as they desired Eternal Life, they will be rejected for their lack of effort to genuinely unite with Him. (Luke 13:23-27) Yes, Jesus has warned us that giving in to sin will send a person to Hell (Mt. 5:27-30), that every careless word will be judged concerning our acquittal or condemnation (12:36,37), that lack of attention toward others in need will reap for us eternal punishment (25:31-46), and that laziness and timidity in serving Christ will secure for us banishment to The Darkness. (v. 1-30)

We have been repeatedly and thoroughly warned and can read the warnings for ourselves in the Word of God. Therefore, when we stand before the Great Judge “to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13) for all the fruit we have ever produced, both good and bad (2 Cor. 5:10; see also Ec. 12:14 and Jer. 17:10 and Gal. 6:7,8), we will have no excuse. (Rom. 2:1-16 // Heb. 2:1-3 // Rev. 20:11-15)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.” (Ezek. 33:5) This statement is made by the Sovereign LORD.

“We don’t save ourselves,” many church people insist. “Salvation is all God’s doing.”

Let’s tell them to read the verse again.

“But that’s Old Testament,” they reply.

Let’s read Acts 2:40 to them then: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those are the words of Peter who had just been filled with the Holy Spirit. (v. 4,17,33)

We do save ourselves. We do it by choosing to grab ahold of Christ Jesus, His pardon, and His Way, doing so through faith (trust and obedience) and by renouncing the false and sinful way. The ability to make this choice has already been granted to all people through the ransom Jesus paid with His blood. (1 Tim. 2:6 // 1 John 2:2) Christ’s death on the cross was the universal invitation of reconciliation God made to everyone (John 12:32 // 2 Cor. 5:18,19) and this Good News contains in itself God’s power for salvation for those who choose to believe. (John 3:14,15 // Rom. 1:16) Yes, Jesus is the Salvation. And yes, God provided the Way by which to be saved. But now, being that that is already a done deal, the choice is ours. Each person must step into the Salvation and thereafter walk the Way of salvation. The deliverance is offered and the power is available, but we must save ourselves by making the right choice.

What happens if someone procrastinates concerning the choice to step in under Christ’s blood through faith and repentance? Then that person has already made a choice –the choice to neglect the right option and so remain on the dark way. Such a person will be shut out from God’s presence forever. (2 Thes. 1:8,9)

What happens if someone chooses Christ but then, after a while, lags back from following Him? Then that person has made the choice, through neglect (which is actually a form of rebellion –Heb. 2:1-3 & 10:35-39), to forfeit their Secure Position. (Same verses // 2 Pe. 3:17) Such a person is cut off from unity with Christ, thus cut off from His love, falls back under God’s wrath, and like a rejected branch, is thrown to the fire. (John 15:6,9,10) This is why Jesus keeps emphasizing in this passage (v. 1-10) the importance of remaining in Him.

“No, this is wrong teaching,” many say. “For once we accept Christ, God sees us as righteous forever afterwards due to Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. In other words, our salvation is not determined by what we do but by what Jesus has already done for us.”

Are they correct? Not according to God’s Word, they aren’t.

The Sovereign LORD says in Ezek. 33:12, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys.” And again, “The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.” (Same verse) And once again, “If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it.” (v. 18) It is about what a person does –his or her actions– for God sums up this warning with, “I will judge each of you according to his own ways.” (v. 20) As He stated it to Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jer. 17:10) Ps. 62:12, Pr. 24:12, and Ec. 12:14 warn of the same.

“This is all Old Testament,” the careless respond. “And we exist in the New Testament era.”

Let’s show them Rom. 2:6 where Paul quotes the Old Testament by saying, “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'” Verse 7 states that it is those who persist in doing good who will receive eternal life, while those verses surrounding (v. 5-11) reveal that stubbornness in accepting the Truth incurs the opposite. Indeed, those who are disobedient to God by following the sinful nature instead of the Spirit will not inherit Christ’s Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-11 // Gal. 5:19-21 // Eph. 5:5,6 // Col. 3:5-7) but will “suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

“The word ‘die’ in Ezek. 33 is speaking about physical death, not spiritual or eternal death,” the skeptics say. “It is only rewards, not eternal life, that will be withheld from those Christians who sin.”

But they are wrong. Let’s remind them of Rom. 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is a contrast there of death and eternal life, and combined with the previous verse (v. 22), it is revealed that the person who keeps sinning receives eternal death as opposed to receiving eternal life. This, as well as that it is our own choice, is shown again in Rom. 8:13,14: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” There we see the contrast made of belonging to God as opposed to not, based on how we live and what we do. This is shown throughout the passage (v. 1-14), and is particularly clear in verse 9.

If we read 1 John we see numerous warnings about our actions –that, regardless of our claim, our actions prove who we belong to –God or Satan. 1 John 3:10 states this plainly while verse 24 reveals that being unified with Christ is contingent upon our obedience to His commands. Verses 3 & 4 of chapter 2 also say that obedience to Christ’s commands is the test of belonging to the Truth, and verse 6 says we must conduct ourselves as Jesus did. That is about behavior and lifestyle, not about imputed righteousness. Verse 29 of the same chapter says that “everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” Verse 7 of chapter 3 says that “he who does what is right is righteous” and verse 8 says that “he who does what is sinful is of the devil.” This is all about doing (actions) and it corresponds to Jesus’ warning in John 5:29 where He says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

If we look at the warnings in Rev. ch. 2 & 3 which Jesus gave to the seven churches, we see that He spoke repeatedly about their deeds. In fact, it’s almost entirely about what they did or didn’t do. Overcoming is about action, remaining true to Christ’s name is about action, hard work and perseverance is about action, holding to or rejecting certain doctrines is about action, enduring hardship is about action, repenting (rejecting sin) is about action, being lukewarm is about action, and all these are mentioned in these two chapters. Jesus warns in Rev. 3:2, “I have not found your deeds complete”, in 2:10 that faithfulness even unto death is what reaps the crown of Life, and in 2:23, “I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” Is this not clear New Testament confirmation –and from the lips of King Jesus– of what the Sovereign LORD previously said through Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, John, and others?

Salvation does happen by our action of choosing it. God has already chosen to save everyone. But some won’t believe. Some won’t repent. Some won’t remain faithful. Can we cast our vote in the United States presidential election by simply believing we have the right and opportunity to do so? Of course not. We must take action. We must get to the voting booth and cast our ballot. Since all has been prepared for us, this actually comes about, for each one of us, by one thing: Our choice. Our choice to take action concerning it.

So let’s go back to what the Sovereign LORD says in Ezek. 33:5: “If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.” –Saved himself from eternal separation from God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
While practicing my memory verses a few days ago, 1 Tim. 3:6 struck me in a way it hadn’t before. Regarding overseers in the church (its leaders / pastors / teachers), it says, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil.” Wow, I thought, “fall under the same judgement as the devil.” That’s severe. That’s terrifying. That judgement is something everyone should flee from and warn others about. For truly, the devil has an awful eternal future he heads toward, and if a human falls under that same judgement –well, that human has a horrific eternal future as well.

Who is it who is in danger of receiving the same sentence as Satan? This verse shows that it is the person who, after recently becoming a convert to Christianity, then becomes an overseer of a church, becomes conceited, and thus brings himself into enmity with God. In other words, a person who makes the claim to submit to and follow Christ and who then quickly rises to a leadership/teaching role within the church is prone to becoming conceited through doing so, and that this conceit will be the root cause of that person’s condemnation –the same condemnation and punishment the devil is under and will receive.

Such a warning should give all of us very sober pause. Pause in believing just any teacher’s doctrine. Pause in following just any pastor’s leadership. Certainly those who have for a long time claimed to belong to Christ may also be conceited, but we are told to be especially careful about recent converts who quickly become church leaders. But, how recent does “recent” mean? We’re not told, but those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells should utilize the discernment He gives.

Several years ago my husband and I attended a church for about a year where Rick, the pastor, had only been a Christ-follower for about six years, before that having been a drug dealer. He did show signs of conceit in the pastorate but we tried to over-look it, not only because he was using his Spirit-given gifts, but also because we felt anyone doing Bible-based ministry through the Spirit should not be dis-encouraged.

Even so, at the intense and repeated promptings of the Spirit, I wrote him a handwritten letter, and as lovingly as I could, addressed his pride. He didn’t accept it so we went to church elsewhere. However, after crossing paths with him, his wife, and his congregation at a tent revival meeting about a year later, we went back to his church a few times because we still considered everyone there to be our friends. Once again, though, the Lord impressed me to write still another letter to Rick warning him about pride. So after much prayer and weeping I did, and the next Sunday I had it with me, ready to give it to him. My husband, though, pained over the potential strife, had asked me if I couldn’t just wait a couple of weeks; and after church he again asked me to wait. Conflicted about obeying God or adhering to my husband’s wishes, I reasoned I could please them both if I still gave Rick the letter, but not yet.

Well, I never saw Rick alive again. I was in North Dakota that following week, arriving home Sunday night. The next night (Monday) Rick shot himself in the head. I never had given him the warning letter. (Yes, both my husband and I repented through many tears.) It was a letter that could’ve woke Rick up, could’ve shaken him to his senses, could’ve made him hopeful enough, or mad enough, or scared enough, to call out to God for help. The letter could’ve alerted him, reminded him, that even if he was fooling the church people and stealing money from the church treasury for his renewed drug habit, God was seeing all of it and could write him a warning even through the pen of someone who didn’t know anything about how far his pride had actually taken him.

Well, I say all that to say this: Rick was a skilled, smart, and incredibly likable guy. Whoever had helped him get into the pastorate could see that, as could those who eagerly chose to sit under his leadership. But there were other valuables missing –like humility, wisdom, maturity, and careful alertness to the devil’s cunning schemes. Such things come through time, by repeatedly putting into practice Christ’s commands, by exhibiting faithfulness when tested and disciplined by the Lord, and simply through gradual, steady progress. Yet recent converts typically don’t realize this. Thus it’s up to those who are sound and mature in the faith to allow no provision for recent converts to be spiritual leaders.

Does this mean recent converts shouldn’t be urged to evangelize or share their faith? No, for they should. They should be encouraged in proclaiming Christ everywhere. But 1 Tim. 3:6 does teach us that a recent convert should not be given a leadership role or a role of authority pertaining to church discipline, money, or doctrine. The mature should know better than to put a person in a position where Satan, through the strength of temptation, is able to take advantage of a leader’s naivety, immaturity, and lack of experience and discipline. It is no small sin to aid someone in their folly, to assist in the ensnarement laid for someone by the evil one –he who tries to entice everyone into receiving his same destiny.

What is the judgement that the devil has already received? He was ejected from his God-ordained position of being guardian cherub (Ezek. 28:14-16), and this because his pride corrupted his wisdom (v. 17) and his heart. (Isa. 14:12-15) His presumptuous conceit sealed his doom to a non-escapable fate. It is a God-declared condemnation (John 16:11) that, manifesting in the future at God’s appointed time (Rev. 20:1-3,7-10), will sever Satan’s rule and glee forever –as he is “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur” (v. 10), never to emerge.

And again, what does 1 Tim. 3:6 warn us of? It warns us that a spiritual leader, particularly if he is a recent convert, may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil –!!! Yes, to those receiving the same judgement as Satan, Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mt. 25:41) “Then they will go away to eternal punishment…” (v. 46) For as Jesus warned even those branches already in Him, if we do not remain in Him, we will be cut off and thrown away to wither, then picked up, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:1-10)

Conceit. It blinds those who begin to think they are better than others, that they are above the rules others must follow, that they are smarter, spiritually stronger, and more gifted than the average. Conceit, if left unrepented of, grows like a cancer, making horribly foolish the one who won’t give it up.

Where does conceit lead the adherents? It leads them to abandon the faith (1 Tim. 4:1) as they delight in listening to deceiving spirits teach their demonic doctrines (same verse), as they listen to godless myths, fallacies, and evil suspicions / conspiracy theories (4:7 & 6:4), and as they continue developing their unhealthy interest in controversies (6:4) so that their corrupted minds (v. 5) are no longer able to teach sound doctrine. (v. 3-5) Such a person’s fate is the same as the devil’s. –Condemnation in the lake of burning sulfur. (Rev. 21:8)

Let’s take note that many verses, including 1 Tim. 3:6, are speaking not of false converts, but of converts to the faith / to Christ –yet who have allowed conceit to overtake them so that they incur upon themselves the same eternal sentence that is coming upon the devil.

Who then is teaching, “Once in Christ, always in Christ”? According to the Scriptures, such doctrine just isn’t so.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friend,
In looking at the context of Rom. 1:16-19, which you quoted, certainly verse 20 should have been included, as this continues the thought / the point –which is, what may be known about God (v. 19) has always been made plain (to mankind) by God. (v. 20 // see also 10:18 and Ps. 19:1-6) Thus Scripture informs us that revelation about God comes through creation (by seeing, experiencing, and knowing things about it and the order of things –moral, physical, etc.), as well as through that “instinctive” knowledge of God which He has placed (created) into every person (same verses // Rom. 1:21,28, & 2:14,15,26,27), but which many suppress because they love sin. (1:18 // John 3:19-21)

You ask how the wrath of God is revealed from heaven and then quote Rom. 16:25,26. These verses are not focusing on God’s wrath (God’s wrath which many in the ancient world were already aware of, though many considered it the wrath of plural gods), but are focusing on Jesus and the salvation that comes through Him –a mystery “now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings”, or “…through the Scriptures of the prophets.” (v. 26) In other words, through the Old Testament; and though these were the Scriptures Jesus regarded as the words and revelations of God Himself, it seems you consider them as inferior to the New.

Paul mentions the mystery also in 1 Cor. 2:6-10, calling it “God’s secret wisdom” (v. 7) –“a wisdom that has been hidden” (same verse), for had the rulers understood it they would not have crucified the Lord. (v. 8 ) Yet God has revealed this mystery, and all that goes with it, to us by His Spirit, even giving us the mind of Christ. (v. 9-16) He has done so for the children (the humble), yet hides spiritual truths from the wise and learned. (Luke 10:21) Therefore, of those who teach by the Spirit, Jesus says, “He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you [namely, your message] rejects Me.” (v. 16) You and I are saying (teaching) very opposite things, and so we must understand that we could not both be teaching by the Spirit of God. Let us remember that Satan himself quotes Scripture –sometimes stupidly, sometimes cunningly, when trying to get his lies across. (Example: Mt. 4:6) And of course false teachers do the same (1 Tim. 4:1) as they distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

You say, “The main way a revelation is made manifest to all nations is through the scriptures which come from heaven.” However, though the revelation of Christ’s work is known through the Scriptures, not every revelation about God and His requirements is given solely that way. Scripture informs us that such insight comes through the “voice” of creation (Ps. 19:1-6 // Rom. 1:19,20 & 10:18), through conscience (Rom. 2:14,15), and through the Lord’s judgements upon various inhabitants of the earth. (Ps. 58:9-11 // Isa. 26:9 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 & 11:27-34) So although I continually uphold God’s Word as of vital importance, I realize that there is one other priority a follower of Christ needs. It is the Spirit. We must have the Spirit of God and Christ, whom we possess by being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) and led and controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:,9,14 // Gal. 5:18,25) –He who leads us into all Truth. (John 16:13) To heed the Spirit and the Word is what it means in John 10:27 to follow the Lord’s voice. For the Scriptures studied, quoted, and used apart from the Spirit do not bring Life. (5:39,40)

You continue to speak about God’s Future Final Judgement and how God’s Word repeatedly warns us about it. Of course this Judgement is to be our main concern, for it is the Last Judgement, the final and irrevocable one. Earthly judgements are part of God’s goodness (His goodness which entails His justice, as well as His patience, kindness, etc.), for it is due to His goodness that He warns us, disciplines us, and punishes us, and this so that we will repent. If we do not repent of deliberate sin, strive hard after holy conduct, and abide faithfully, we will be disqualified (John 15:1-10 // 1 Cor. 9:24-27) and condemned to Hell along with the godless. (Mt. 5:29,30 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 11:32 // Heb. 10:26-31) God’s goodness (and God is always good) comes from His love, His justice, His righteous anger, and His instructions, comforts, warnings, and rebukes. Thus God punishes those who keep sinning (Heb. 12:6b), as well as gives training and discipline and times of testing to mature us and to see if we are faithful / to see if our faith is genuine. (Luke 8:13,15 // Acts 14:22 // Heb. ch. 12 // Ja. 1:2-4 // 1 Peter 1:6,7)

Again, as I said, God does not change. (Mal. 3:6 // Heb. 13:8 // Ja. 1:17) This means that His attributes (such as His justice, love, holiness, power, etc.) do not change. Regarding the way of the New Covenant: It applies only for those who have come into it by way of being born of the Spirit. Otherwise, one’s master is the law (which lacks power, and because of sin, brings death –Rom. 7:9-12). Therefore if someone does not “serve in the new way of the Spirit” (v. 6), then he actually remains captive to sin, which means to be under its slavery and its curse (ch. 6) and thus under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // 2 Peter 2:9) For “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient” (Eph. 5:6) no matter what they claim. (Titus 1:16)

Consequently, the wonderful promises of verses such as John 1:29 (which says that Jesus takes away the sin of the world) have not been applied to those who refuse the Promise (the Truth / the Power) of the Spirit by which to walk in a state of continual purification. (Gal. 5:18 // 1 Peter 1:22 // 2 Peter 1:3,4 // 1 John 1:7) Why? –Because they have rejected the Savior. “Everyone who sins breaks the law of God” (1 John 3:4), and God, therefore, retains the right to judge, whenever and however He wants, the “lawless person” (see same verse) because that person remains a participant of the devil (v. 8 ) and demons (1 Cor. 10:20-22) –that dark kingdom (Col. 1:13) and realm of death that is under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Rom. 6:16,23 // Eph. 2:1-3 // 1 John 3:10-15)

I am grieved that you cannot see the error of what you keep saying about how the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross necessitates the negation of the fact that “the LORD [still] exercises justice on the earth”. (See Jer. 9:24) Also, your insinuation that my teaching is diminishing the power of the blood of Christ reminds me of how Calvinists also insist that Jesus had to have died only for the elect because otherwise it would have to be said that His payment wasn’t strong enough to save everyone, since everyone isn’t saved. Furthermore, you suggest that not always knowing whether a disaster is straight from God or from natural causes or consequences is to operate in “confusion (of which God is not the author).” This “confusion” verse you quote is 1 Cor. 14:33, but if we go to it, we see that its context is about there needing to be order among speakers during church meetings. Thus the versions that use “disorder” or “dissension” instead of “confusion” are the better translations. Regardless, Scripture reminds us that God, His ways, and His dealings are too immense for our limited (partial / finite) understanding (Job 36:26 // Ps. 145:3 & 147:5 // 1 Cor. 13:9,12), and that we have available to us all we need in order to trust Him, follow Him, and know Him.

More than once you’ve mentioned 1 John 2:2. However, using this to teach that God no longer exercises His dealings of justice (wrath, punishments, and rewards) is an incorrect usage of the verse. This verse instead is about the payment Jesus made, informing us that it was adequate to pay for the sins of the whole world. It is saying that He did, in fact, pay the ransom for the whole world. However, as we know from other Scripture verses, the whole world does not come under God’s favor automatically. Nowhere does the Word teach that they do, except that they have all graciously been given physical life, the gift of free choice, an orderly, functioning, and beautiful earth to live in, and the offer of salvation –that union with Christ through which the special (present and eternal) favor comes. However, each individual must accept Christ’s payment as applicable to oneself, applying it through one’s belief, repentance, and submission to Christ as Savior –and as Lord.

1 John 2:2 is saying just what verses such as 1 Tim. 2:6 is saying: That Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all men.” Jesus paid the ransom for the world of men –in full. Everybody’s sin was paid for. The debt was cancelled. (Mt. 18:27) However, for those who refuse the Truth, cling to sin, reject the pardon, and/or commit injustice against their fellowman, the debt is reinstated toward that individual. (Mt. 18:32-35 // John 3:36 // Heb. 10:26-31) The Light is available for all, but many refuse to come into it. (John 3:19-21) It seems that you are saying that God’s wrath against everyone has been appeased. This just is not so. Because only through repentance from sin, submission to the King, and belief in the fully-paid-pardon can the appeasement be applied individually. And of course everyone must remain faithful –must remain in the Light, the Truth, the Love, the Pardon, the Spirit’s control. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 1:5-7)

True belief, true repentance, and true submission (which adds up to true faith) all has to do with obedience. Obedience is what brings about holiness (being righteous before God) and what incurs eternal life. (Rom. 1:5 & 3:21,22 & 6:16,22 & 8:3,4 // Heb. 5:9 & 12:14) Jesus’ ransom enables us to walk in freedom from sin (Rom. ch. 6-8 // Gal. 5:24), and we are certainly expected to walk this way. (Rom. 6:1,2 & 8:9,14 // Gal. 5:25) If we rebel and keep rebelling, we backslide out from Christ’s love (John 10:6,10) and are no longer abiding in Christ –thus not covered by God’s favor. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:12,13 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 10:26-31 & 12:14-17 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)

You say, “Through the blood of Christ the world is in a state of peace or favor (as announced by the angels on the day of Jesus’ birth) until a specified “day of wrath” to come.” However, I again insist that God’s Word teaches that this peace (favor / pardon / treaty / fellowship / unity) –which is between God and man (Rom. 5:1,2 // Eph. 2:12-18) as well as between others who are in right fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:7)– is a reality only for those who have come into union with Christ and remain there through obedience to Him. The peace does not blanket the world’s inhabitants who remain in the kingdom of darkness. Instead such people are at enmity with God, His law, His saints, and His Gospel. (Rom. 8:7,8 // Phil. 3:18) There is no peace for them. (Isa. 57:20,21 // Rom. 3:17) The wrath of God remains (present tense) on everyone unless, or until, they unify with Christ. (John 3:36 // Rom. 1:18-32 & 2:8,9 // Eph. 2:3-5 // 1 Thes. 2:16 // Rev. 2:20-23) –which comes only through continued, faithful obedience. (Heb. 10:26,27 // 1 John 3:24) Being one in spirit with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17) is what it means to be “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and controlled by His Spirit. (v. 9) Only then is a person not under condemnation from God. (v. 1)

The world as a whole is most assuredly not in a state of favor with God, nor in a state of peace, nor have their sins been taken away. We know that “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8), but at present, until Jesus comes again bodily and sets up His rule from Jerusalem, the devil’s work (and thus God’s wrath) is still going on in the earth, only wiped away for those who are unified with Christ through “the obedience which comes through faith”. (Rom. 1:5 & 16:26) Jesus says He came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt. 10:34) Not “peace on earth… but division.” (Luke 12:51) This is because most in the world, by their own choice, cling to the devil’s kingdom, thus causing the battle between good and evil to go on in this present age. God is the Victor, but the majority of people, because they are not in union with Him, are still abiding in chaos, not peace.

No, 2 Peter ch. 2 does not speak only about the Final Judgement, but uses past earthly judgements as warnings to us of potential earthly (and eternal) judgement. Verse one makes this clear as it refers to those (after the cross) who will teach heresies and thus bring swift destruction on themselves. 1 Cor. 10:1-14 tells us that past (earthly) judgements are “warnings for us” (v. 11), cautioning us to be careful and not fall. (v. 12) Fall to what? To temptation (v. 13) and sins of idolatry (v. 7,14), grumbling (v. 10), testing God (v. 9), sexual immorality (v. 8 ), and sins of the heart (v. 6) –because we, like they, could fall under God’s earthly judgements (v. 8-10) of displeasure. (v. 5) This is why James 5:9 warns “brothers”, meaning believers in Christ, that if we grumble against each other, we will be judged by The Judge.

Jesus teaches us in Luke 13:7 that if He sees someone not producing that for which He planted them, He will give the command to have it cut down. This is a judgement, though He will be patient for a time to see if there is repentance. (v. 8 ) If not, the Father “cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.” (John 15:2) Such branches are thrown away, they thus wither, and they are therefore thrown to the fire. (v. 6) The earthly judgement happens first, then the Final. The one/s for this present age, and the one for eternity. (2 Peter 2:9 // Jude 1:5-7)

Some more references teaching God’s earthly judgements of wrath: Jesus taught that everyone who is greedy can incur from God a judgement of an early death. (Luke 12:20,21) Jesus showed wrath when He made a whip of cords, overturned the money changers tables, and drove them out of the temple area with scathing rebukes. (John 2:13-17) Jesus predicted God’s judgment (via armies) against that present generation of Jerusalem because they had refused their Peace / their Messiah. (Luke 11:50,51 & 19:41-44) Jesus called that specific coming judgement “the time of punishment” (21:22) and a time of “great distress in the land and wrath against this people.” (v. 23) The reference was to God’s wrath against the Jews in fulfillment of the prophets’ continuous warnings over the centuries (v. 22), having warned them of their nation’s destruction and dispersion to other nations (v. 24) –“until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (same verse) The Jews received this punishment in full after the cross.

I wish you would have addressed more of the references I mentioned, including Pr. 3:33-35 where it says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked…”, as well as Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 which both say, “God opposes the proud”, and explained how these could not mean God’s punishing judgements (pronouncements / declarations / renderings) on earth. Also verses such as 1 Peter 4:17, 1 Thes. 2:16, 2 Thes. 2:11, and Rev. 2:5,16,21-23 lacked your explanation as to how it is at all possible that these are not speaking of God’s earthly punishments / judgements. The New Testament (not to mention the Old) refers often to God’s earthly judgements (punishments / rewards / applications of justice), either directly or indirectly, another one of those references being 1 Peter 3:7 which commands husbands to treat their wives with considerateness and respect “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” It could be nothing other than God’s decreed punishment toward a man (–a praying man) that would cause the man’s prayers to be hindered (obstructed and possibly fully rejected) by God.

1 Cor. 11:32 can refer to nothing other than God’s earthly judgement against a person who claims Christ when it says, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” You want to split hairs about words, yet the words about the Lord’s “judgement” and “discipline” and “punishment” are often used interchangeably, as shown here, as well as in Heb. 12:6. Heb. 10:38,39 warns us that if a righteous person shrinks back (with a lack of faith, which also includes a lack of obedience –Rom. 1:5 & 16:26), he will be destroyed. 1 Cor. 3:16,17 warns us about God’s pronouncement of destruction against a temple of the Spirit who would defile himself, and verse 19 quotes Job 5:13 when it says, “As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'” This is just another one of those numerous places where the New Testament derives its doctrine from the Old Testament in order to teach us the Truth / God’s doctrine.

Another example of this is 1 Peter 3:10-12 which quotes Ps. 34:12-16, these passages informing us that those who do evil will not see good days because God opposes (confronts / thwarts / is hostile toward) them. This is about God’s judgements of punishment on earth. An example also is found in 1 Cor. ch. 5 when we are told that “God will judge those outside [the church]” (v. 13) while we are to judge (though only by His Spirit –John 7:24 and Ja. 4:12)) those inside the church who commit wickedness. We do so by expelling them from our midst (1 Cor. 5:13 quotes Deuteronomy) and handing them over to Satan who God often uses, as He does with governing authorities, as His agent of wrath. (v. 4,5 // Rom. 13:4 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20) Clearly these judgements are to be executed on earth.

Well, you and I have both stated our views at length and now I no longer wish to continue this discussion, for the Lord has prodded me to confront you in order to warn you, not so that I could join with you in a pursuit to win an argument. I find it very disturbing that because of the cross you do not hold the Old Testament up as profitable for doctrine, though 2 Tim. 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine. I have tried to convince you, as gently but strongly as I’ve known how, that you are in great error about God and His Word concerning this subject, and that your public accusation directed against those who believe differently than you on this issue –that they are blasphemers– is not a small sin before God. Our words of doctrine are to be “the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and they are to be said by His Spirit. However, if we do the opposite, then we are slanderers against God, His Word, and His followers, and slanderers are listed right in there with the rest of the wicked and deceived who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9,10)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel