When Is “Faith” Real?

By Franklin Pearce

Word of the Day

Faith

Much of what I see as being purported as “faith” today is nothing more than superstition. In our human minds we have conjured up the idea that “faith” is some sort of magic wand that we use to get “our needs” met. That “faith” is our way of getting heaven to bow to us as lords and forget that we are the servant. That “faith” is some mystical “pie-in-the-sky” idea that we just talk about simply because we are “Christians” and are “supposed” to have. That “faith” is our way of “getting ahead” in life. That “faith” applies only to our becoming “comfortable” financially in life. That “faith” protects us for “being victims” in life and will not allow us to go through life’s painful experiences.

All of the above is nothing more than superstition and have no resemblance to the Bible’s description of “faith”. “Faith” has no part in any of the above. “Faith” only applies in our obedient response to the Words of the Living God.

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Sound the Alarm

In recent days the flood gates of change, the tide of evil and the clouds of war have been sweeping over our world. The signs of the coming Day of the Lord have multiplied as never before. In every area we look, the warnings of the end of the age are shouting at us.

The alarm bells have been sounding for decades, now as the sounds of the alarm grows louder and louder the world is striving to mute them. Much of the professing church is deaf and blind to the signs that are flashing on every side.

Earthquakes are multiplying, storms and floods are devastating, pandemic threats are looming, economic collapse is threatening the world and we are helplessly watching our world slipping into totalitarianism. Moral collapse is corrupting society and our politicians and leaders. World government, a new world order and a world church are slowly and steadily unfolding in shadows, ready to engulf the world and its people. We realize that behind it all there are powerful forces and powerful people carrying forward their agenda. We also realize that this whole agenda has passed the point of no return, there is no going back now and we expect it to suddenly explode upon us, unfolding with lightning speed. Our world and our lives will never be the same again; it is time to get our priorities in line with this unfolding end time Biblical scenario. It is time to fix our eyes on Christ and seek to do His will and to please Him, in whose presence we will soon be.

More heartbreaking than these, is the terrible apostasy that has swept over the evangelical church and the fact that some who have identified themselves as fundamentalists have now shifted into the Laodicean/Evangelical camp. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been abandoned for the social gospel that is actually socialism under the banner of social justice. Those who are caught up in promoting the social gospel are working, perhaps unwittingly, to build the world church of the false prophet and Antichrist. The foundation of the harlot church will be socialism. The amazing thing is that these professing Christians are blind to what they are doing.

We have a parallel between Israel prior to the Old Testament Day of the Lord and the Laodicean/Evangelical church of the present hour immediately prior to the coming great Day of the Lord. In that crisis moment for Israel God raised up His prophets to sound the warning, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (Joel 2:1). Israel did not respond to message from the Lord and the judgment did come, but the prophets were faithful.

In the book of Ezekiel God gave a warning to His prophet, “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezekiel 33:6).

For some years now I have been trying to sound the trumpet to warn everyone I can about the soon coming of our Lord. I have tried to be circumspect so as not to appear fanatical and lose the hearing of my constituency. I am now so impressed with the lateness of the hour and the dangerous place I believe so many professing Christians are living, that I am throwing caution to the winds and not holding back any longer.

What awaits Laodicean/Evangelicals? This is a great burden upon my heart, I am not striking out,but I am deeply concerned about people.  John describes the Laodicean church of the last days as an unsaved church. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). That is an unsaved church and that is the evangelical church of the present hour. I believe, not without much evidence; that a great multitude of present day evangelicals are unregenerate and at the rapture will be spewed out into the coming tribulation period and be deceived by the harlot church. Some evangelical pastors have been saying for years that they believe that a majority of their people are not truly saved. They have concluded this by observing their life styles and lack of commitment to Christ.

I believe we have evidence of that in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

The scriptures give us the marks of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. These marks are not optional; they are a very part of the new nature that comes with genuine salvation. Either you have this new nature or you are not born again of God’s Spirit. If you are truly born again these marks will be evident, though there will be a struggle to reinforce them, this is the sanctification process.  We see it in the life of Paul in Romans 7. The sanctification process is evidence of salvation but the process must be evident.

The first mark in the life of a true follower of Christ is the Lordship of Christ.

He is Lord of all, Lord of every area of your life, your time, your money, your associations, your love and devotion. The life of a true disciple will not be compartmentalised, Christ will be a present Lord in every area of his life. Luke 14:33, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him” (Luke 5:11).

It can’t be sports and Christ. It can’t be a career and Christ. It can’t be a relationship and Christ. Christ must be first and foremost, He is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. You can seek to rationalize this away and if you do, you do not understand the call of Christ on your life. Everything takes second place to Christ and when it does Christ will bless your life.

Another mark of true salvation is discipleship.

The true child of God is a disciple of his Lord. A disciple is one who is committed to hearing all that Jesus has said and is committed to obeying it.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…..” (Matthew 28:20).

The disciple has a hunger and thirst for God’s Word. Listen to David, “I will keep thy statutes,” “Thy Word have I hid in my heart.” “I will delight myself in thy statutes,” “Thy testimonies are my delight,” “I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart,” “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”

You will never get to know God apart from His Word. You will not get to know God in prayer; you will experience God in prayer to the extent that you have learned about Him from His Word and obeyed His Word.  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

The person who has a hunger for God will find that hunger satisfied in His Word. If you do not have that hunger something is wrong and God’s servants cannot give you an assurance of salvation.

The one who is true disciple of Christ will live a life that is like a burnt offering. His life will be consumed in pleasing God and in doing His will. His life will be burnt up on the altar of sacrifice until there is nothing left of his life but the fulfilled will of God. Paul said, “Not I but Christ.” He also said, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).

I would exhort you to understand that there is a nominal Christianity that is counterfeit Christianity. Do not wait until it is too late to discover this fact. True discipleship is radical, true Christianity is radical. Jesus taught that if you follow Him the world will hate you. They will consider you radical.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If your lifestyle is not different from the worlds you are not saved. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:19-20). Satan wants as many unsaved evangelicals as possible to believe they are saved when actually they are not.

A disciple of Christ will identify with Him and be a witness to the gospel.

“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). I warn you that you trifle with this command of Christ at your eternal peril. Not that you will lose your salvation, but that your life will prove that you were never saved in the first place.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Today multitudes are fashioning a Christianity of their own design and it is counterfeit Christianity that leads to hell. Many are following another Jesus, a Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible and they are holding to another gospel which is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another mark of true discipleship is separation from the world. “

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Separation has always been the program of God for His people, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Israel was commanded to be separate from the nations and people around them. In Jeremiah 10:2 we read, “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen…” The Lord commanded Israel to separate from the heathen around them so that they would not learn their ways and become like them.

Since evangelicals abandoned separation in the early 1950’s we have had two generations of evangelicals who have learned the ways of the world. They have fallen in love with the world. They have abandoned separation from the world and today there is no distinction between them and the world. This is totally unacceptable to the Lord.

It is heart breaking to see multitudes who claim to be born again followers of Christ and yet there is absolutely no separation from the world in their lives. The world’s entertainment is their entertainment. Professional sport is the entertainment of the world and yet multitudes of evangelicals and not a few fundamentalists are captivated by this worldly entertainment. There is no separation from the world in their lives. They sit in front of the TV set and drink in the world, for such people there can be no assurance of salvation given. David rejected television nearly 3000 years ago, he said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101:3). Drinking in the world by the hour via television is contrary to what the Christian is to be and to do. These are not incidental issues they are fundamental to the life of a true disciple.

Jesus said that the world hated Him and that it would hate His followers and He commanded us not to love the world. Peter said that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” The song writer had it correct when he wrote, “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through.”

I can hear some saying, Art you are out of step, you are out of touch, you are nit-picking and you’ve gone overboard. Jesus was out of step with the world. In fact He said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). There is a broad way, and a great multitude is on it, with not a few evangelicals, and they are on the way to hell, Jesus said the broad way leads to destruction. There is a narrow way and there are very few on it, but it leads to life everlasting.

Don’t cry legalism; the words of Jesus are not legalism, He said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words….” Paul said by the leading of the Spirit, “Love is the fulfilling of the law…” The cry of legalism is often the cry of a rebellious heart. We do the things Christ commands us, not because we have to, but because we love Christ and desire to please Him. If you do not love Christ and do not want to please Him, then cry legalism and be disobedient to Him.

Don’t cry liberty; the scripture never gives liberty to disobey the commands of Jesus and the teaching of scripture. Liberty is also often the cry of a rebellious heart. We do have liberty in Christ; we have the liberty to live a life that is pleasing to Him. No effort, no sacrifice and no self-denial are too much, because we love Him.

Wake up! Which road are you on? To think you are a Christian means absolutely nothing! I plead with you to make sure of your salvation. How awful to think you are a disciple of Christ and wake up in eternity to discover that you have been deceived and lied to by other deceived people. Peter said, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). Peter is saying check out your life with what the Word of God requires and make sure you a true believer.

Is your life style the life style of the world? Are your dress and music the dress and music of the world? You say, “I don’t want to be different and to stick out like a sore thumb.” Then you do not understand what the calling of Christ is. “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). You cannot deliberately go on defying the commands of Christ and be His disciple.

“We call Him ‘Lord,’ and say we believe His Word. We are careful all along the way, and yet He says, “Why call me Lord and do not the things I say?”

Millions have laid down their lives for Christ. Millions have suffered terrible persecution and deprivation for Christ. And you say I will not give up my worldly friends, my worldly music and my worldly lifestyle. I will dress the way I choose, everybody is doing it. I will not give up the entertainment I enjoy. You say, I am a Christian and I am going to enjoy the best of both worlds. Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Will you chose to serve yourself or Christ?

If you have decided that you will not suffer the reproach of Christ. Listen to the words of Jesus, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).

This is a desperate appeal to professing Christians whose lifestyle does not authenticate their profession. This comes from a heart of love and concern, not a condemning spirit.

Search the scriptures to see if these things are true.

by Art Sadlier
Sound the Trumpet

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

A Faith or The Faith

Commentary by Roger Oakland
www.understandthetimes.org

Since September 11, 2001, we hear a lot about believing in God and faith. There are many people who are asking questions such as, what does the Muslim faith believe? Or others want to know how the Christian faith is different from the Muslim faith? Even people who profess to be Christians are divided on the answers to such questions. As you can see, the issue of faith can be very confusing.

There are many Scriptures we could examine to help answer these questions. We will only look at a few. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus stated: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”[1] So faith is a gift that comes from God and cannot be earned through good works or merit.

In the book of Romans, Paul explains that Christian faith is Bible-based: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”[2]

In Hebrews 12:2, Paul tells us that as believers we are, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” He also says, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”[3] So Jesus Christ is to be the focus and subject of our faith.

Writing to Timothy, Paul warned that people, who once had faith, can fall away from the faith.[4] “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” The word apostate is a term used to describe a person, a church, or denomination that goes this route.

So while there are many faiths and many different views on faith, the Christian faith is unique. It is simply believing God and what God has said, then, acting accordingly. It seems to me that if God is the author of faith, God’s adversary would want to do all he could do to keep people confused or in complete darkness regarding this matter. A quick survey of some Christian and non-Christian groups will show this is the case.

For example, Mormons say they believe the Bible, but they also believe the book of Mormon equally as much, a supposed revelation given to Joseph Smith by an angel Moroni. Mormon’s will tell you their faith teaches they are “saved by grace,” but to them this means saved by being obedient to the teachings of Mormonism.

Catholics are taught they have the true faith. While Catholics do reverence the Bible, their faith adds additional requirements that are not found in the Bible. A good Catholic must have faith in Catholicism, which includes some man-made rules. Faith in who Jesus is and what He has done is not enough. In order to be saved, you must have faith and trust in the sacraments.

And we could examine the “faith” of the Muslim or the Buddhist or the Hindu, and we would find that each is void of the elements of the Christian faith mentioned in the Scriptures above (i.e., cannot be earned, comes from hearing the word of God, and is focused on the person of Jesus Christ).

So what does this all mean? You may even be asking: Do I have “a” faith, “the” faith, or have I fallen away? There is a simple answer. If you hold to “the” word, you will have “the” faith and you will believe in “the” gospel. Remember, Paul stated that Satan is the author and promoter of “another” gospel. Don’t be caught in his trap.

[1] Ephesians 2: 8-9
[2] Romans 10:17
[3] 1 Corinthians 15:17
[4] 1 Timothy 4: 1