Monday, August 3, 2015

Review of "Counter Culture" by David Platt

by Tony Thomas

In his new book, "Counter Culture", author David Platt deals with many controversial issues including poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, abortion, persecution, orphans and pornography. The publisher was kind enough to provide me with a review copy.

His assessments of these issues are both powerful and Biblical. He brings scripture to bear on these difficult issues and his solutions are often convicting. He effectively demonstrates how the church has abdicated its role as salt and light in a fallen world.

Platt presents many examples from his travels around the world and this helps to reinforce his positions. The accompanying website, encourages believers to take action by supporting groups that are helping to address these issues.

I would urge all Christians to purchase “Counter Culture”. It is an important book. We all need to listen to David Platt’s prophetic call to confront our culture and to spread the message of deliverance that is inherent in the Gospel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two Roads - Which One Are You On?

Picture courtesy
by Tony Thomas

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."  Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

Two roads.  Only one leads to life.

Many are on the broad road.  It is easy.  It is the road of compromise, accommodation and popular opinion.  It is politically correct.  Socially acceptable.  No persecution.  Everybody likes you.  That road has a big welcome sign.  It says enter here.  All paths lead to God.  Eternal life is available to all.  It doesn't matter what you believe.  Or you don't have to believe anything at all.

The other road is narrow.  It is the road of faith in Jesus Christ.  It is a hard road.  It is narrow.  There is no welcome sign.  It requires you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.  It is a road full of suffering and persecution.  You will be hated and reviled while on that road.  Yet, it is the only road that leads to eternal life.  Heavenly bliss.  Streets of gold.  Walls of jewels.  The tree of life.  The throne of God.  Joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Never ending fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Which road are you on?

"The invitation is freely given, the proclamation is openly made. My God is not a God of hatred and of anger; he is a God of love. He bids you who are thirsty, who are longing to see his face, he bids you now come; and he tells you, and he confirms the same with an oath - "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Come now! "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." O Spirit of God! draw sinners to Christ! O glorious One! do thou be pleased now to draw them to the Father, through Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  - C. H. Spurgeon  "The Way to God"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Empty Tomb

by Tony Thomas

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him."  Matthew 28:5-7 ESV

Jesus rose from the dead.  He defeated death and the grave.  He is alive forevermore and is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

These realities are central to the Gospel.  

What is the Gospel?  The Gospel is the "good news" that Jesus Christ, the God-man, came to this earth in human form, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins as a substitute and rose again for our justification.

The empty tomb is proof.  Jesus' body has never been found.  Why is this important?

Paul wrote:

"And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."  I Cor 15:14-19 ESV

It is my prayer that you will trust Jesus Christ and receive the free gift of eternal life that He purchased with His own blood for your sins.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."  John 3:16-17 ESV

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.