Yesterday, Billy Graham went home to be with Jesus. There have been many great evangelists throughout history, George Whitefield, Charles Finney and Billy Sunday just to name a few. However, none of these great men can match the evangelistic outreach ministry of Rev. Graham.
The Billy Graham crusades have reached millions of people with the life-changing message of the gospel. Graham’s messages were simple and direct – turn to Christ!
The main focus of his message was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the gospel message in its purest form. First, the word πιστεύω (believes) means to have complete trust in Christ as the Son of God. The word excludes any other name by which a person can be saved. As the Son of God, he and he alone holds exclusive rights to salvation. Second, the life Christ gives us is eternal. When a person trusts in Christ, He gives them life without end. Although a person dies physically; the person lives spiritually. John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” The good news is that salvation promises life after death. And those who trust in Christ go immediately to heaven and are ushered into the presence of Christ. Third, those who reject the message of Christ will perish. The word ἀπόλλυμι (perish) conveys the idea of being spiritually brought to ruin. Rather than spending eternity in heaven, the person will be banished to the fires of eternal damnation. Like heaven, Hell is a real place of torment and pain. The lost person will be thrown into “the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:50). Hell is a place of torment and separation from the presence of God. Not for a short period of time, but for all eternity. The prospect is not good for the unbeliever. Today, Billy Graham would say “turn to Christ and live with Him forever!” The choice is yours. Choose wisely!
Pastor Michael J. Frazier
John Calvin (1509-1564) was a theologian who is supposed to be the so-called “Father of Calvinism.” Although based on the tenants of his teaching, Calvinism didn’t emerge until later. Calvin’s followers developed and refined his teachings over time. Many have heard the term “Calvinism” but don’t really know that much about it. The explanation of the teaching is summarized in the word TULIP.
T = Total Depravity. The human condition is such that man is unable and incapable of understanding anything apart from the influence of God. So, man is blind to the gospel and is unable to even consider the gospel without the direct enlightenment of God.
U = Unconditional Election. Calvinists teach that God pre-chose those who would be saved and those who would be lost. And since mankind is unable to reason the gospel in the mind, it stands to reason that God will only quicken the mind of those He is going to save. The lost have no chance because God has already chosen them to spend eternity in hell.
L = Limited Atonement. Furthermore, it stands to reason that if God has already chosen those who are to be saved, then the blood of Christ only applies to the elect of God.
I = Irresistible Grace. Since God is going to save His chosen people, He will draw them to the cross. The grace that God offers will be so irresistible that they will be unable to fight against it. They will be saved because God has ordained it to be so.
P = Perseverance of the Saints. Once the chosen person is drawn to the grace of God, that person will persevere until the end. In other words, those that God has chosen, redeemed by the blood of Christ will continue to be saved until they arrive in the Kingdom.
Although the system sounds good in theory and is an attempt to understand the work of God in redemption, it is flawed like many other theological schemes.
First, it is not God who blinds the mind of man, it is Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:4 clearly states, “The god (satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The entire system of Calvinism is short-circuited just on this single verse. There are other verses, but that would require a much longer article.
Second, by way of argument, if God has chosen some to be saved and some to be lost, then it is possible to be duped into believing you are saved when in fact you are not. You can’t really be sure if you are chosen or not. Since the mind is total depraved, it is possible to believe something that isn’t true.
Third, any system is suspect because it originates in the mind of man. I do not hold to man’s teachings or follow cleverly designed systems. Let the Bible speak for itself. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God desires all to be saved! But, because of human sin and the work of Satan, some will reject the gospel. We do have a free will to respond to the gospel. Remember, there are no innocent bystanders in hell.
The other day I was walking my dog. As usual, we went down the sidewalk toward the park. The paths were cleared off for the most part. But, there was one neighbor who hadn’t cleared his portion of the sidewalk. As my dog and I approached, I decided to put my feet inside the imprints in the snow. Someone had blazed a trail before me. So, I merely tried to place my feet inside the person’s footprints who went before me. Of course, as a pastor, there is a spiritual lesson here. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). The word follow in the Greek μιμηταί, refers to imitating someone, but also carries the idea of following in the tracks. There is within this little verse a series of followings. First, there is the path that Christ has already established. When Jesus was on the earth, he lived for God in every aspect of his life. So, he left an example for people to follow. Second, Paul says that he’s following in the footsteps of Christ. If you have read the Bible and are familiar the Apostle Paul, then you know that Paul followed Christ, even to his death. Third, Paul called his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to follow his example. There are many tracks we can observe in this life. Some of those tracks don’t belong to Christ, the apostles or to faithful Christians who have gone before us. We have a choice in our lives! Which road are we going to travel? Are we going to follow the footsteps of lost mankind or are we going to follow the steps of godly men and women? My prayer is that we will walk in the footsteps of godliness.
In Christ, Pastor Mike
Out of Bondage…
As we begin the New Year, I would like to encourage our congregation to read the Scriptures. Therefore, we will start by reading a chapter a day in the book of Exodus. On January 1, read chapter one and so on. I would like to encourage you to journal as you read. Here are some things to include in your journal.
- Write down any that catches your attention. Don’t make it complicated; just write it down. A brief sentence or two.
- Write down any thoughts that come to mind. This may the activity of the Holy Spirit speaking to you.
- Then, write a sentence on what you learned. Maybe something like, “I feel led to help others or I need to change this or that in my life.”
- Finally, offer a brief prayer to God and help for living out what you learned.
Again, don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what you have written. The journal is for you to hear the voice of God and for personal spiritual growth. We should finish reading Exodus by February 9, 2018. Then, we will have a pot-luck dinner on February 11, 2018, at 6 pm. We will have a time of fellowship together and discuss the book of Exodus. The informal time of discussion is just that – informal. I want to hear how God spoke to you and how the reading changed your life.
P.S. Listening to Exodus on CD or other devices helps free your hands to jot down anything that comes to mind.
In Christ, Pastor Mike
Well, Christmas is over. Now, we look forward to New Year’s day. On New Year’s day, families gather together for meals and watch a myriad of football, basketball, hockey and many other sporting events. Commercials will advertise weight loss programs or exercise equipment which promise to help fight the battle of the bulge. Also, many people will make new year resolutions – quit smoking, start exercising, spend more time with the family, begin taking classes and many other resolutions. But, in reality, most of these promises will be broken before the calendar hits February.
However, the New Year does give believers in Christ an opportunity to make one important resolution.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” First, the writer of Hebrews is stressing the point of worship in this verse. As in biblical times, people today are in the habit of not attending church. The word “habit” (ἔθος) refers to a pattern of behavior more or less fixed by tradition and sanctioned by society. Therefore, if you are not attending church on a regular basis, then you have established a tradition which is approved by the lost world. For believers, this is not a good tradition but rather mirrors our culture. Second, the reason we need to go to church is to encourage one another. The word “encouraging” (παρακαλέω) means to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled, either by verbal or non-verbal means. In short, it refers to helping others continue in their Christian walk. All of us from time to time need encouragement, particularly with life is difficult. We can help our fellow strugglers get over the rough patches and help them find a support system to sustain them in hard times. This encouragement is reciprocal – as we help others; they will help us. We do not live in isolation but are part of a larger community. Third, the necessity for attending worship and helping others is because of looming judgment. The word Day (ἡμέρα) is a judicial term which points to a court of justice. Thus, it points to a futuristic time of judgment. As Christians, we know there is the coming day when Christ will judge the world and his followers. In light of this truth, we need to encourage and challenge each other to live for Christ!
So, while you are making your New Year’s resolutions, I would like to encourage you to put attending worship at the top of the list. Decide today that you are going to start taking your family to church! Then, don’t let anything else interfere with that time with God and other believers. You will be worshipping God with other believers, who will pray for you and help provide encouragement in difficult times. And, you can help them when times get tough! Go to church this coming Sunday!
Dr. Michael J. Frazier