Monday, March 23, 2015

Why The Word of God Matters

by Tony Thomas

The Word of God is under attack.

Many seem to think that it is no longer relevant. They feel it is just an old, dusty book that has no authority over our lives. Even many professing Christians feel this way. Although they give lip service to the veracity and inerrant nature of the Bible, the way they live repudiates its content.

Psalm 119 begins with these words:

"Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!" (Psalm 119:1-3 ESV)

The Bible is no mere book. It is alive, it is active, it is sharper than any two-edged sword. It has the ability to penetrate our soul and spirit.  It cuts deep into the thoughts and intentions of our heart and lays them bare.  (Hebrews 4:12)  In its pages are the words of life - words that not only have the ability to transform our lives, but to transport us from eternal judgement to eternal joy!  (John 6:68)

We must therefore defend the Bible, its inerrancy and its authority.  We must live in conformity to its words, because it reveals to us the only source of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!" (Psalm 119:33-40 ESV)

I recommend that you check out the messages of the Shepherd's Conference Inerrancy Summit, available here:

Inerrancy Summit Messages on Vimeo

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Incarnation and You

by Tony Thomas

At this time of year, our thoughts are filled with gift giving, merriment and cheer.  However, let us not forget the true reason for the season - the incarnation of the Savior of the world, Jesus the Messiah:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2 ESV)

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”  (Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV)

You may ask, why do we need a Savior?

The Bible says:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  (Romans 3:21–26 ESV)

It is my hope and prayer that you will repent from your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ.  After all, He is the real reason for the season!

"The first link between my soul and Christ is, not my goodness, but my badness; not my merit, but my misery; not my standing, but my falling; not my riches, but my need. He comes to visit His people, yet not to admire their beauties, but to remove their deformities; not to reward their virtues, but to forgive their sins."  - C.H. Spurgeon

For more information:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jesus or Jesus?

One of my favorite books to study from is the Bible encyclopedia. When studying about Barabbas, the murderer who was chosen by the crowd for release instead of Jesus, here is what I found: His name really means "son of the father" from the Hebrew words "Bar" (son) and "Abba" (father). Some variants of Matthew 27:17 identify his first name as "Jesus". In fact, the NIV renders it: "So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" So, in God's providence, he gave them the choice between the true Jesus the Son of the Father and the false one. Fascinating!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Strange Fire" Book Review by Tony Thomas

The “Strange Fire” conference, held recently in Los Angeles, has caused quite an uproar among evangelicals and charismatics in this country and abroad.  Sponsored by Grace Community Church and the Master’s Seminary, this conference featured speakers including John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson and Conrad Mbewe.  

I had a chance to listen to many of the presentations from the conference and found the material to be both compelling and controversial.  The speakers attacked the very foundation of the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Third Wave movements and their presentations were hard hitting and not at all nuanced.

As a result of what I had seen and heard, I decided to reach out to Thomas Nelson Publishers to see if I could get a pre-release copy of the book.  They were kind enough to honor my request and I read the book with a great deal of anticipation and interest as one who was actively involved in the movement nearly thirty years ago.

The complete title of the book is: “Strange Fire - The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship” by John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. The book title is a “in your face” precursor to the combustible material found inside.  The title is derived from the account recorded in Leviticus 10:1-3 in which the sons of Aaron were destroyed after they made an offering of “strange fire” to the Lord.  The premise is that “strange fire” is counterfeit worship of the true God in a way that violates His Word.  

The book is over 300 pages long with extensive (450 or so ) biblical references and quotes.  A helpful “notes” section at the end of the book gives detailed information on each reference for those who are inclined to check original sources.  It is a very scholarly work and is well researched with plenty of background information and history. As such, it should be taken very seriously.  

The three sections of the book are:

1. Confronting a Counterfeit Revival
2. Exposing the Counterfeit Gifts
3. Rediscovering the Spirit’s True Work.

MacArthur’s approach throughout the book is to examine each issue in “black and white” with no shades of gray.  He sees things as true/false, right/wrong and good/evil.  He is a total absolutist. This is in stark contrast with our culture which is unabashedly relativistic.  

He does an excellent job of contrasting the modern “gifts of the Spirit” with their biblical equivalents.  He exposes fallible prophets, phony tongues and failed healings.  He reveals theological distortions and scripture twisting.  In addition, he exposes the moral failures, scandals, inconsistencies and deceptions that have brought great shame to the movement and the name of Christ.  MacArthur sees the movement as a full-frontal attack on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and one that is infiltrating the evangelical church all over the world.  It is a sobering book that is likely to provoke much thought, prayer and hopefully, discussion and debate.

The torrent of shocking sound bites that emerged from the “Strange Fire” conference will likely cause many to pass on reading the book.  I think this is a grave mistake.  The book is thoughtful, analytical and well-reasoned.  It deserves to be read.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God With Us

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14 ESV)

For many, Christmas is nothing more than getting stuff and an excuse for unbridled revelry. Of course, this obscures its true meaning: the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Creator of the universe left eternity and entered time to take on a tent of human flesh and to live among us.  Not only that, He came on a rescue mission to save broken men and women from sin and death by living a sinless life and dying in our place on Calvary’s cross.   (Romans 5:10)

In addition, He triumphed over death by rising from the dead for our justification. (Romans 4:25, I Cor 15)

And He offers to us the gift of eternal life to us as a free gift.  (Romans 6:23) All we need to do to receive it is to repent from our sins and place our trust in Him as our Savior and Lord.  (Acts 3:19, Romans 10:9-10)

“Christ has not left going forth yet. And when he goes forth, recollect, he goes to Bethlehem. Have you a Bethlehem in your heart? Are you little? will go forth to you yet. Go home and seek him by earnest prayer. If you have been made to weep on account of sin, and think yourself too little to be noticed, go home, little one! Jesus comes to little ones; his goings forth were of old, and he is going forth now. He will come to your poor old house; he will come to your poor wretched heart; he will come, though you are in poverty, and clothed in rags, though you are destitute, tormented, and afflicted; he will come, for his goings forth have been of old from everlasting. Trust him, trust him, trust him; and he will go forth to abide in your heart for ever.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keep Contending!

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”  Jude 3 ESV

We are living in difficult times.  There is war, strife and uncertainty.  The world is permeated with doubt.  Postmodern thought has ushered in an era that champions unbelief in the guise of modesty.  Subjectivity is utterly pervasive.  However, the Bible tells us to contend for the faith.  What faith?   The once, for all delivered, faith.

The Christian faith has a historical basis.  Thousands of years of history undergird it.  From Adam and Eve in the garden, through Noah, Abraham, Moses, King David, the prophets and all the way to John the Baptist and culminating in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification, the Christian faith is based upon actual events. 

Our faith is, therefore, not subjective.  It is not only based upon historical facts and substantiated evidence, but that evidence has been documented in the Holy Bible.   The life of Jesus Christ is recorded in the four Gospels.  The history of the early church is recorded in the book of Acts, and the epistles lay down its doctrinal foundation.  Even though it was vilified, censored and destroyed, the Bible has miraculously survived through the centuries.  Based upon substantial documentary evidence, the Bible that we have today is over 99% intact and the other less than 1% has no bearing on any major doctrine.

Despite the ever-blowing “winds of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14), our faith is not amorphous and vacuous.  It is clearly defined and unchanging.  Despite those who “twist the Scriptures to their own destruction” (II Peter 3:16), Holy Scripture is our only standard for faith.  As the writer of Hebrews penned, "the Word of God is alive, powerful and sharper than any double-edged sword".  It penetrates all the way to our soul and spirit, the very essence of who we really are. (Hebrews 4:12)

As a result, we must “earnestly struggle for the system of religious truth that was conclusively transmitted to the believers in Christ”. (Jude 3, literal Greek translation)  We have to be ready and equipped to destroy every stronghold of doubt and every lofty human opinion that is in opposition to the true knowledge of God and bring it into conformity with His will and revelation. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thoughts on the Gospel

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...” --1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

I have been reading a lot of Michael Horton lately. I highly recommend his books: “Christless Christianity” and “The Gospel Driven Life”.  

In them, he emphasizes that the substance of the true Gospel is not what we do, but what has been done for us. The Gospel is not a “to do list”. It is not a list of rules and regulations. That is the law. And, according to Paul, we have “died to the law through the body of Christ...” (Romans 7:4 ESV)

It is the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised from the dead. The fact that He lived the righteous life that we are unable to live. The fact that His righteousness is imputed to us.

A lot of people today are trying to “live the Gospel”. This is a concept foreign to the Bible.  

We can’t live the Gospel, we can only proclaim the Gospel. Of course, Jesus Christ is our example. However, the Gospel is not “What Would Jesus Do?”. It is what Jesus did for all of us if we will only trust in Him.