Anxious About Tuesday November 4th?

Are you anxious about who is going to be elected President Tuesday?

Should you be anxious? It depends; if you are a follower of Jesus Christ the answer is no—NO! Regardless of what happens my conclusion must be: this was God’s will.

I base this upon God’s Sovereign rule over every election, appointment and establishment of governments throughout the world.

He, God, the Sovereign One raises up whom He sees fit.

If Senator Obama is the next President, I must conclude God has decided that He is God’s man—regardless of whether he is a Christian or not.

If Senator McCain is the next President, I must conclude God has decided that He is God’s man—regardless of whether he is a Christian or not.

I get this from the OT reference to Cyrus as God’s shepherd.

Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”

(Personally, I don’t think either of them conducts themselves as though Jesus is the King!)

Above all, I must not be anxious—I have already cast my vote, but I will NOT advocate for a political party. My responsibility is to advocate for the gospel and the Word of God. I will speak on behalf of the unborn babies that are being aborted every day. I will speak on behalf of the acceptability and encouragement of alternative lifestyles that make God sick at how mankind perverts His sovereign plan for a man and woman united in holy matrimony.

What America needs far more than change enacted by one party or the other is the gospel. Christians who believe America is going to fall apart if one or the other candidate is elected have forgotten that Jesus is the King.

He rules in the Kingdom of men. America is my temporary home; my citizenship is in a Kingdom that will last forever. I vote as my civic duty, based upon what I believe God’s will is with regard to the platform each candidate stands for and then I recognize that God uses my vote as He sees fit to accomplish His Will and I am exceptionally thankful that He is Sovereign.

True Believers Continue in the Faith Once Delivered

1st John 2:18-22.
Today we will look at the fact that true believers do in fact continue in the faith that was once delivered.

1st John 2:18-22
v. 18. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come (future tense), even now (present tense) there are many antichrist; whereby we (plural) know that it is he last time. v. 19 They (plural) went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. v. 20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. v. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
v. 22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”

Jude 3
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Here is our opening question: Once saved, always saved? Does the Baptist church really believe that you can be saved and then go into whatever you want for twenty or thirty years and still go to heaven? Does the Baptist church really believe that a person can be saved at Vacation Bible School and then live like the devil for twenty years, but because they were saved in Vacation Bible School they will still go to heaven? Does the Baptist Church believe “once saved, always saved?” Do Baptists believe this understanding from the Word of God? Do they believe that Jesus is the Christ, stop believing, and then still go to Heaven? We are going to deal with this exact issue today.

The Apostle John addresses this exact issue in 1st John 2: 19. The reason he is able to address it so authoritatively is that John spent three years with the Lord Jesus Christ and was instructed by Jesus Christ. I am going to show you today the teaching from the Lord Jesus Christ that led John to the conclusion he writes in 1st John 2:19.

Some people struggle with the idea of “once saved, always saved,” and the reason they struggle with it is that we as Baptists do not emphasize enough that not everyone who professes Jesus is born again. If we were to profess enough that everyone who professes is not in fact born again, people would have less difficulty understanding once saved, always saved. But often times, we’re guilty of putting emphasis on only one area versus the whole counsel of the Word of God. Look at verse 19, and notice what he writes:

vs. 19 “They (plural) went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” I want to draw your attention to the word “they”; it refers to the word “antichrist” from verse 18. In other words we could say “Many antichrists went out from us…”
Antichrists deny:
- Jesus came in the flesh
-anyone who says Jesus Christ was only a spirit
-anyone who says Jesus Christ is not the Only Begotten Son
- Jesus Christ was or is the Messiah
- Jesus Christ is fully Divine
-Jesus Christ is Incarnate God
-Jesus Christ is a Prophet, Priest, and King
-Jesus Christ is the only Savior, Lord, or King of the Universe

John says that there was a group of people who went out from the body and became antichrist in their attitude, doctrine, beliefs, behavior and choices. These people were initially thought to be part of the church. They went to AWANA, were saved in Vacation Bible School, served in a ministry, were an usher, or taught a Sunday School class and seemed to be one of us. We believed they were a brother or a sister in Christ. And then they departed from this community of faith. We got word back that they were now teaching that which is contrary to the Word of God, had stopped going to church, or they are part of a fringe group with bazaar behaviors. John is describing this group: initially, we thought they were part of the church, but when they went out we heard some things that caused us to doubt. The “us” refers to everyone that is in this New Covenant of believers, the Church. We distinguish the New Covenant from the Old Covenant in the Old Testament and this is the New Covenant in Christ.

Here’s the reality: Everyone on the planet fits into two categories. You are either part of the body of Christ, or you are not part of the body of Christ. There is not a third group. You are either born again in Christ, or you are not. You cannot be neutral. There is no option to say “I’m not for Christ, and I’m not against Him.” No one gets that option. You are either a sheep or a goat. You are either a follower of Christ, or you are not. You are either saved or you are lost. There is no in between. It is kind of like either you are pregnant or you are not. There is not an in between or neutral ground.

We live in a community in which people deny absolutes. Let me show you an absolute truth from the Word of God in verse 22. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” This does not refer to a particular people group. This is any people group, period of time, or continent. Anyone on the planet who denies that Jesus is the Christ is not telling the truth. And when you do not tell the truth you are in fact a liar. There are people who resist the idea of an absolute truth. They resent the fact that we impose absolute truth on them. In fact, I would submit to you that if you had a large group of people together, there someone would say, “Pastor I do not agree with you on that absolute. In fact, Pastor, you need to be a little bit more relative. I’m not sure that you are being fair. I’m not sure that you are accounting for the heathen in Australia or the remote group of people in Africa. It seems to me that you are making a blanket statement. It sounds like you want me to believe that all people everywhere need to repent and believe the Gospel.” It is kind of like Act 17 and the whole message there. You see, some people do not believe that truth is absolute. They deny it. Perhaps you fit in that category.

In Texas, a professor was teaching a philosophy class and they were discussing whether or not people believe in absolute truth. And the professor said, you know what, this is how I am going to grade. If you are 50 years or older, you get an A. If you are between 40 and 50 you get a B. If you are in the 30’s you get a C. If you are 20, you get a D. If you are older than that or younger than this, you fail the course. The students responded “That’s not fair.” What does that statement imply? It implies they have a standard. There is something called fair. People do not have a problem with absolute truths. They have a problem with specific absolute truths. They like the absolute truth as long as it is their absolute truth. For example, the absolute truth that there is not absolute truth is in fact an absolute. They are attacking the absolute truth that Jesus is the Christ. Once you get beyond that point in your life, you might get saved. Jesus does have a right to establish an absolute truth that He is in fact the Christ, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Once you are willing to acknowledge that truth, you are on the track to getting saved. You are on the track to being regenerated. You are on the track of submitting to Jesus Christ. Why am I so bold about preaching Jesus Christ? The reason our mission in the 21st century is proclaiming Jesus Christ is that John said you are lying if you deny that Jesus is the Christ, and in Revelation he says you are going to hell if you are a liar. He says all liars have their place in the lake of fire. They will participate in the second death. So if we as a church want people to avoid the lake of fire, then we need to proclaim the absolute truth that Jesus is the Christ. We need to proclaim it passionately, boldly, and with our whole life, because we need to remember and recognize that anyone, any people group anywhere in the world that says that Jesus is not the Christ, is lying. And God will punish them that lie for all of eternity in eternal separation in a lake of fire, a place called hell. He says in verse in verse number 19, “they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued.” If someone we knew relocated to Washington and departed from the faith it would shock us. We thought he was part of us. He served among us for a long time with us and then we find out that he’s gone away and is teaching that there is more than one way to salvation. He’s teaching something that is antichrist. Imagine someone we’ve known for years and years and yet he moves into a covenant, or a community of Buddhists, it’d be shocking to us. We would begin to wonder what is going on with him. That is what John is dealing with here. He’s saying we thought that they were part of us, but when they left, they stopped and abandoned the faith. They are no longer following Christ.

So now, do we conclude that they were never saved, or do we conclude that they lost their salvation? Free Will Baptists would say that they lost their salvation. What does the Bible say? The Bible says that people who follow Christ do continue in the faith and that continuing in the faith is the assurance of salvation. Those that do not continue in the faith should not be falsely assured that they have eternal life. Where did John get this idea from? Turn back to the Gospel of John and let me show you what he used as his basis. Let me show you the truth that he used. I want to know. I want some assurance. Sometimes Satan bothers me and makes me struggle in my mind.

John 8:31
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed” (truly, genuinely).

So when John saw people leaving the church and moving to Ephesus, Philippi, Macedonia, and Turkey, and word got back that thee people were teaching that which was antichrist, John did not say “oh, they lost their salvation.” (They were teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh, He is not coming again, or that He was not part of the Godhead and He is not God.) He says, they were never followers of Christ. And the reason he says this was that disciples follow Christ. Where did he get that from? Turn to chapter 10. This is the verse that we use to conclude once saved, always saved.

John 10:27
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. “

Do you know what voice that is? That is the voice of the Prophet; the Prophet Jesus Christ speaking to you. So when was the last time you heard Jesus Christ speak to you personally and individually? When you are reading your Bible and you get a real sense that God spoke to you through a verse, a confirmation, something personal or individual, that is how you can know you are a sheep. The reason you can know you are a sheep is that He said “My sheep hear My voice.” Sheep are characterized by being able to recognize the voice of the shepherd. If you haven’t heard from Jesus lately, if He doesn’t speak to you through the Word of God, if He doesn’t speak to you through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, if He doesn’t speak to you through preaching, if He doesn’t speak to you through a godly song, if there isn’t a sense in your life that God is speaking t you, don’t think for a second that you are a sheep! Notice what He says next.

John 10:27
“And I know them, and they follow me.”

Sheep are characterized by following the shepherd. That is what sheep do, they follow the shepherd. Sheep do not abandon the shepherd and go another way. Notice verse 28.

John 10:28
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

You can’t even pluck yourself out of His hand. When He put you in the hand, you are in the hand. So John concludes that they were never in the hand. If they were in the hand, they would have continued to follow Christ. If someone leaves this community of believers and walks away from Christ as their Prophet, Priest and King, they are either backslidden or unregenerate. They are either backslidden or they are lost. Those are the only two categories if they are walking away.

The more that they manifest antichrist behaviors and beliefs, the greater the chance is that they were never born again. This is exactly why John says they were never of us. He knew what they were teaching or what their behavior was. He just says that their behavior was antichrist in its faith and practice—what they said or the way they acted. And he looked at that and said that Christians do not act that way or believe that kind of stuff. That is antichrist behavior. His conclusion wasn’t that they were saved and lost their salvation. His conclusion was that they were never part of us from the very beginning. They might have looked liked it, acted like it and talked like it.

Do all of us as Christians have periods in our lives of being backslidden? Sure we do. Do you know what? When you are backslidden, you still hear His voice. Notice again what He said, “My sheep hear my voice.” When you are backslidden, you know you are backslidden. It bothers you. You’re miserable. Why? He is speaking to you. John’s conclusion is that this group of people was in this community of faith, and when they went out, there was no evidence that the Spirit was speaking to them. There was no evidence that they were concerned. There was no evidence of repentance.

What does it mean to continue? We are talking about following, worshipping, striving, repenting, confessing, acknowledging, being forgiven. It is up and down, in and out, and working hard. Not for salvation, but working hard in following. Obviously we don’t save ourselves or keep ourselves saved. Rather, that is an act of God. But we are commanded to follow Him. So this continuing does not keep us saved. It is God who keeps us saved.

Philippians 1:6
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

So your assurance that God has performed a work in you is that you want to be with God’s people, and when you are not with God’s people and you are not hearing His voice, it bothers you.

Continuing or not continuing provides visible evidence of conversion or a false profession. In the last part of verse 19 it says “they were not all of us.” John describes a group of people who left the church and when they went out they did not continue in the faith once delivered either in faith or in practice. Notice very closely, the New Testament does not separate faith and practice. Saving faith is always accompanied by right practice, and right practice is a result of saving faith.

There are no saved Muslims out there. You do not having a saving faith and then a practice that is antichrist. There are no saved Hindus. There are no saved Buddhists. There are no saved idolaters, Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses. Someone could be temporarily deceived, perhaps, but you cannot be a fully converted follower of Satan while holding to a “back up” profession of Christ. It is not an insurance policy; if this first thing doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to my Vacation Bible School profession of faith. Christians follow Christ. Christians are characterized by following Christ. When you are not following Christ, it bothers you. Why?

1st John 2:20
“But ye (Christians) have an unction from the Holy One.“

If you are a Christian, you have an unction. What is an unction? It’s right between your middle toe and your big toe. Do you want to check? Where does the unction come from? It comes from the Holy One. The Holy One is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said He was going away and He was going to give us Someone: the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost. If you are a Christian, you have the Spirit of Truth residing inside you. It’s not by your toe. It’s in all of you - the Spirit of Truth. An unction is a gifting, an anointing; it’s a consecration.

For example, let’s take our children, who grow up all their lives in AWANA. They have heard from birth that Jesus is the Christ. They have memorized Bible verses that show them Jesus is the Christ, and they understand all of this to be truth. Then they go off into a college class in a secular university, and they get off the track a little bit. You know what I’m talking about. The Holy Spirit inside them will prompt them on a regular basis
“That’s not truth. That’s not true. That’s heresy. That’s falsehood.” That is what the Holy Spirit inside them will do. Because they are not their own and have been bought with a price, the Holy Spirit will keep them. He who has begun a good work, will keep on performing that good work in them. And we should expect to see that young person come out of that fringe group and get back into church. We should see and will expect to see that. That is our assurance that they are in fact followers of Jesus Christ. And John concluded that for whatever period of time that they were gone and for whatever they were teaching or practicing that they were not part of us. He did not say they were backslidden. He said they were never part of us. So how do I receive this special unction. The Bible tells us.

Ephesians 1:13
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel (the Good News) of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”

We now suffer no condemnation because of what Christ did. Those who have believed were sealed with the Holy Spirit because of the promise. So each and every believer at the moment of salvation receives an unction, a gifting, an anointing, a consecration from God. This is the Spirit of Truth that keeps you out of heresy. You know all things. He’s not referring to every thing. He’s referring to the ability to recognize heresy. He’s referring to the ability to recognize the spirit of the antichrist. He’s referring to the things which cause us to get off track. He’s saying I gave you a Holy Spirit to help you recognize these kinds of things.

Have you ever met a converted Catholic that can tell you all about salvation by faith in Christ and will tell you everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church? He will tell you that he does not believe in the pope because the pope is a man just like him. He only believes in the Bible and not the manmade stuff. They will call it just the way they see it. Where does that knowledge come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit that is inside them.

So do you know for sure that the Holy Spirit is inside you? Would you be able to recognize falsehood? Would you be able to recognize it to keep you out of trouble? Would you be able to leave this church, relocate to another country or state, and find a good, Bible believing church? Do you know what a good, Bible believing church looks like? Do you know what you should look for so you could continue following Christ? Is Jesus Christ your Prophet, Priest, and King? Does He speak to you?

God manifests His grace in their departure. There are a few reasons. Their departure is a God-ordained departure. One reason the false prophets and the antichrists need to get out of the church is that a little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf. So if they have a false teaching, they need to depart with that false teaching. There’s another reason: when they depart and stop following the faith and practice of the Christian faith, we can change how we pray for them. We can change how we relate to them. We now can begin to see them as unconverted. We will pray for them to be converted. We will pray for them to change. We will pray for them to come to Jesus. We will evangelize them. We will no longer think of them as saved and lost their salvation or backslidden. Their departure alerts us to the fact that perhaps they were never one of us. Now we don’t know for sure because none of us know the heart, but this passage gives that person the alertness to know that they are not part of it.

I will conclude with this point. If you say I’m a believer and stop following Christ and it doesn’t bother you, and if you could walk out from the church and not miss it for anything, do not be assured of your salvation. You cannot hold to a profession of faith from Vacation Bible School and go become a Buddhist. You cannot hold to a profession of faith in AWANA and then go into the Muslim religion. You cannot serve Muhammad all your life and then somehow think in the back of your mind “I’m still good to go.” You cannot do that. That is the spirit of antichrist. If you depart from this place and don’t link up with another fellowship, it should bother and concern you. You are expected in the Word of God to stay in the church. It does not have to be this church, but it should be an evangelical, Bible believing church. You shouldn’t be able to flake away for months and years at a time. It should bother you. It should be concerning you. If it is not concerning you, don’t conclude that you are still part of us. Conclude for yourself just the opposite, and I believe if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will bring this exact verse to your remembrance and get your heart right. If you are not a Christian, it should concern you.

Making a Combined Ministry Budget and Budget Shortfalls

Yesterday, I received a very legitimate question that is worth spending a few minutes answering. The question was, “What happens if BBC or BBA doesn’t make budget?”

First, let me define what we mean by budget. Budget is what we have projected to bring in as income and what we are projecting to spend. When we say we are not meeting budget, we mean that we are not receiving all that we projected, but we only spend based on what is brought in.

Now, let’s discuss how BBC determines its budget. The 2008 budget of $1.4 million for projected church income was determined by examining the giving for the last six months of 2007. Based on the assumption that church members were giving on a monthly basis, a six month glide path of continued giving made the 1.4 budget very attainable. We had no idea, and quite frankly were shocked, that in the opening month of 2008 members would withhold tithes and offering to the tune of $50,000. This was quite a surprise and we had to immediately make substantial adjustments in our spending. With giving that averaged around $125,000 a month for the last six months of 2007, a reduction of $50,000 is about 40 percent of one month. It indicates that 2 out of 5 of our faithful givers either gave nothing or substantially reduced their normal tithe in January. February was also lower than normal. No one knows why this happened because the giving did bounce back to its proper amount by March, but this reduction has made it hard to catch up.

My family, has been tithing for the past 20+ years with a consistent month to month income. The idea of skipping months or not giving to catch up on bills or take a vacation has never been an option. According to Malachi 3, the tithe is the Lord’s. I don’t ever want to be guilty of robbing the Lord. I believe that God blesses people’s lives according to their faithfulness to His plan of economy, and the tithe is the debt I owe.

Giving financially is one of the clearest and most distinct acts of worship that I can do to show my love for God.

Now with regard to the Academy’s projected income budget: it is based on projected student attendance. We have done the analysis to determine that XXX number of students bring in approximately $Y,YYY amount of revenue in the form of tuition, fees, and other costs. We then estimate the growth we expect to experience and budget accordingly.

Second, let’s discuss “What happens if BBC or BBA doesn’t make budget?” The answer depends upon how much of a budget shortfall either experiences. The collective budget of the entire ministry reflects a certain amount of money for visionary projects and desires for growth. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Our budget was built in such a way that if both BBC and BBA met the 2008 projected income, we would be able to make some significant improvements to the campus. For example, in the Academy I have expressed a belief that there is a strong need to equip all the rooms with projectors connected to the teacher’s computers so that PowerPoint and other audio visual presentations can be shown to the entire class. The administration believes this project is very important and will significantly enhance each teacher’s ability to effectively communicate knowledge and thus improve the learning of the students. Other ideas include a media center full of books and a weight room full of a lot of different apparatus to aid in strength training. We also have a desire to equip the building with wireless Internet so that students can bring in laptops and do research during their study halls from any classroom in the high school. Obviously all of these initiatives cost money, and if we were to make budget in the Academy we would be able to move forward on some of these projects. If we miss budget by a small amount, then we aren’t able to do all the projects.

On the church side of the campus, we also have special projects that will have to be delayed until we meet or exceed budget. These projects include:

• Finishing the choir room renovation with foldable desk chairs and flat screens for the choir to read the words of the songs they are practicing and teachers to use PowerPoint. This multipurpose room will also be a great place for lecture type instruction for classes as large as forty-five students.
• Replacing the main HVAC unit for the auditorium. This is a very important need as it is getting nearly unbearable on about 8 Summer Sunday evening services.
• Renovating the bathrooms in the preschool and office wings of the church. These bathrooms have never been remodeled since they were originally built well over 25 years ago.
• Replacing the carpet in the auditorium and redesigning the platform.
• Equipping the auditorium with a new sound system to increase our ability to clearly hear the choir and speakers.

In both the school and church aspects of the ministry, we are meeting projected income sufficient to pay our bills, support our missionaries, give to special missionary projects, give to benevolence needs of people in and outside the congregation, execute special ministry events, and maintain the cleanliness, functionality, and appearance of the campus. To some degree, we are continuing to make campus improvements such as the painting of several rooms, some new carpet, and the initial choir room renovation.

Our practice has always been not to spend what we don’t have. If the income is down, then we automatically reduce spending. Just because we established a budget of $1.4 million does not mean that we spend $1.4 if we are only on track to receive $1.3. We reduce our spending so that we only expense what has come in. We are exceptionally mindful when we don’t make projected giving and income, and we are committed to staying within budget as much as possible. In some areas, it is exceptionally difficult. For example, when an HVAC unit goes down it must be replaced. Our rooms are not designed to be able to use an alternative cooling method. In my house, I could open a sufficient number of windows to get a cross breeze and use ceiling fans to make it for a few weeks, but in the church and school this isn’t the case. Sometimes a freezer or a computer server will go down. These are pieces of equipment that are critical to the ministry. We depend upon our computers to pay bills, record tithe and offerings, research, and communicate. Today our computers are just as important as the phone system. In these situations, we may exceed the budget in a particular line item, but we are committed to keeping within the total budget as close as possible and to not spend any monies that we do not have on hand. To the glory of God, we have not had to access our sinking fund or strategic reserve account and are committed to preserving the value of these accounts as good stewards of what God has provided through faithful Christians.

Finally, we want to be transparent about the finances of this ministry. If at any time you have a question about the way the finances are being handled, please don’t hesitate to ask.

City Wide Baptist Men's Event Jan 8-10 2009

Let me just take a minute and tell you what I am so very excited about.

Presently six or seven local Baptist preachers have committed to coming together for a City-wide Baptist Men’s Conference on the 8-10 January 2009. This is a Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday morning event. We have cleared the church calendar and hope you will do the same.

Our theme is Consider Christ from Hebrews 3.1:

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Our objective is to worship God as men as we seek to glorify His Son through preaching and teaching that revolves around who Jesus is and how his work relates to men.

Solid preaching, break-outs sessions filled with topics that speak to men from the life of Christ and worship that seeks to magnified the glory of God.

Are interested in helping? Can you help cook? What about registration and serving?

Can you sing or play an instrument?

Send me a note at pastor AT bbc @ gmail . com (obviously you have to take out the spaces).

Antichrist: The People and Spirit Opposed to Christ

1st John 1:18

“Little children...” The apostle John is writing to Christians. He is writing to those he cares about. He describes them as spiritual children, people that he loves. “ is the last time...” Or, we are living in the last days, or this is the last period. “...and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come...” Prophetically speaking, John says there is an antichrist coming. “...even now...” So in the first century John is writing, “...even now are there many antichrists.”

So there is one proper antichrist. We might capitalize that with an upper case A. Then John says there are many antichrists currently alive even as he is writing. “...even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”

“Pastor, how do we know that we are living in the last times?”

Let the multiplication of the antichrists or the spirit of the antichrist or the message that is antichrist increase, and you can be more assured we are in the end times.

Notice now verse 22. “Who is a liar?” Who is lying? “Who is a liar but he that denieth [or denies] that Jesus is the Christ?” So anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is a liar. Furthermore, he says, “He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” He is speaking here of the unique Father-Son relationship that God the Son and God the Father have.

Now look at Chapter 4, and let us look most especially at verse 3. “And every spirit...” So there are many spirits in the world. “Every spirit that confesseth not [or that does not confess] that Jesus Christ [Jesus the Messiah] is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

The reality is for 2,000 years the spirit of antichrist has been in this world. For 2,000 years there have been many antichrists on this planet. That is what we are going to focus on today.

First, notice especially verse 18. Initially, in the first part of 1 John 2:18, he writes about a specific person, a unique individual, someone that he refers to as the antichrist. Daniel calls him the little horn. The book of Revelation refers to him as the beast. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul calls him the man of sin. These are all different names describing the same individual. This individual may be alive today. He could currently be walking and talking on this planet. He breathes the same air that you breathe. He drinks the same water you drink. And some day he will rise up as a world leader. Initially he will present himself as favorable to Christianity. But the Bible seems to indicate after 42 months of a tribulation, there is a significant turning and he exalts himself. This is the antichrist.

Fortunately, it is my belief that the Church is raptured before the tribulation. I am excited about that. That means I probably will not have to spend a lot of attention on the antichrist. But the reality is that if you look at the rest of the verse he speaks of antichrists. The word anti- is opposed to or against.

Paul calls these many antichrists false teachers. In fact, he calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing. That means they look like sheep. They smell like sheep. They have four legs like sheep. They make sheep sounds. They eat what sheep eat. But wait a minute. They are not really sheep.

“What are they then, Pastor?”

Please notice that last comment. They are opposed to any attribute of Jesus that indicates that He is the Christ, anything about Jesus that declares He is the Christ. So when you talk about Jesus of Nazareth, when you talk about the historical Jesus, they are ok with that. When you talk about him as a great teacher, they are ok with that. When you make reference to him as a prophet, that is still acceptable. But when you make that transition and when you move from Jesus of Nazareth to Jesus the Christ, that is the dividing line. That is when they stand opposed to that.

This will be our focus this morning. We want to know about the person, the work and the message of antichrists.

Those who are responsible for identifying counterfeit money do not spend all day looking at counterfeits. They are trained to look at the real thing. They look at the real thing over and over and over again. And the purpose of studying currency and looking at the real thing is to be able to identify a counterfeit.

Let me see if I can give you another analogy that might help you. When I was in the army a few years ago—and it has been more than I would like to say now—I went through jump master school. For those of you in the army that was when it was hard. You know how that is, right? As a jump master you are the one who is responsible for inspecting the parachute, the rigging, the reserve, the harnessing, everything so that hopefully the jumper has a safe exit.

Well, in school you look at the real thing. You look at it done right over and over and over again. You look at it done right, done right, done right, done right. You look at it over and over, done right, rigged right, rigged right. You look at rights. You look at rights. And the purpose for that is that the wrong jumps out at you because you have seen the right so much.

“Pastor, where are you going with this? Where is this military analogy coming in?”

My goal is to teach and preach so much about Christ, the Christ, so much about the Son of God, so much about who He is, His person, His work, that you can immediately recognize when somebody is telling you something unbiblical because you have heard it so much. You have been taught. You have been instructed. You know what the truth is. You know the Word of God. You have been educated. You have internalized it. You know what it means that Jesus is the Christ.

It is a crying shame; it is an indictment against all Baptist preachers that Baptists of several years ago were the number one convert to the Church of Latter Day Saints. More Baptists were moving from Baptist Churches to the Church of Latter Day Saints. And these Baptists were not able to immediately identify the spirit of antichrist that permeates the Mormon Church. They weren’t able to identify it. The reason they were not able to identify it is that their preachers were not showing them right, right, right, right, right. Their preachers were not preaching on Christ, who He is, what He is, His person, His work; their preachers were not emphasizing His virgin birth. They weren’t emphasizing His Second Coming. They weren’t emphasizing these very, very important things.

So then when they slipped away from a fundamental Bible-believing church and began to read something or hear something, they did not immediately recognize it as heresy. They did not immediately recognize it as antichrist because they were not well grounded. In other words, they didn’t know what the real thing looked like well enough to be able to identify the counterfeit thing.

This morning our whole focus is going to be in the real thing, like the old Coca-Cola commercials. You remember that. It’s the real thing. Our whole focus this morning is on the real thing.

“Why are we doing that, pastor?”

So that you will immediately be able to recognize the spirit of antichrist. You will be immediately able to recognize what we are talking about. The key to being able to recognize a person or the spirit or the message that is antichrist is to know Christ, to know Christ, to know Him intimately, to know Him personally, to know His attributes, to know how He thinks, to know how He would react, to know what makes Him who He is.

The word Christos is anointed one. This is the Greek word for Christ. It clearly implies that He is sent from God. It is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Daniel 9 makes specific reference to the coming of the Messiah and predicts it down to the year, some even suggest down to the day. And this is the word for that. It is an official title.

Christ is not Jesus’ last name. That is incorrect. It is not like Sean Harris. It is a title. It describes His office. It describes His person. It describes who He is like the title prime minister. It is Christ. It is only one person in the entire universe has this title, Him and Him alone. That is why the Bible says—whether you like it or not or whether you choose to or not—every knee is going to bow. Every knee is going to bow to the Christ. You can choose to do it this morning in this worship service or you can choose to do it in eternity. But the reality is there isn’t anyone who has breath who isn’t going to bow the knee to Christ. The word is used 514 times in your New Testament.

The Jews were anticipating Christ coming. Matthew 2:4 says, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together [this is Herod], he demanded of them where Christ should be born.” This is because the prophetic references in the Old Testament to the coming of Christ. They knew that the Messiah was coming. They could anticipate the Messiah.

People who believe, according to 1 John 5:1, that Jesus is the Christ are born of God or born again. Likewise people who deny that Jesus is the Christ go to hell. That’s harsh. Or is it truth? It is both, isn’t it? It is true. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that there is no name given under heaven, no name other than Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12, no name whereby you can be saved--no other name. Christ, Christ alone. There is no plan B out there.

Let’s turn to Matthew 16 and look at Peter’s great confession.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples [this question].” There it is. “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Jesus uses His name that refers more to His humanity, His service to humanity, Son of man, a favorite title that He referred to Himself as. And He asked this simple question. Who do you say that I am? What are the people saying? What is being said abroad? What is being noised around? What is the rumor? What is the consensus?

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Verse 14: “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” That is a common thing today. He is a prophet. He is a great teacher. He was a good man. Those are all common references to Jesus.

Verse 15: Now He gets real personal. Imagine, today, that Jesus is asking you this question. He is looking you right in the face. You are having a private dialogue with the Son of man and He is sitting there and he says, “But...but who do you say that I am?” He looks you right in the face. He looks at you, makes eye contact with you and He says, “Who do you, individually and personally, who do you say that I am? How do you communicate to the world who I am? What testimony do you give?” He asks you individually. He asks you personally.

“And Simon Peter answered and said [unto him], Thou art the Christ. [You are the Christ! You are!] the Son of the living God,” is what he says to him. You are the Christ.

Do you understand all that word communicates? Do you understand all the awesomeness of that word, “Thou art the Christ?”

Notice verse 17. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter, you didn’t come up with this on your own. You couldn’t think of this on your own. Your mind is not capable of producing this. This is a spiritual work. This is a confession of a heart that has been born again. This is the outpouring of a mind that has been radically changed by the power of the gospel. This is the confession of a man who has repented of his sin. This is a confession of somebody who has placed his faith in Christ as his Savior. This is what people who are born again say. People who are born again say, “You are the Christ.”

Please note that it is possible to believe that Jesus is of Nazareth and not believe in him as the Christ. Please know that. There are millions of people across the planet that would say, “Yes, I believe that Jesus lived. Yes, I believe that he was from Nazareth. Yes, I believe he was a human being.”

And if we are not careful we say, “Well, you are probably born again, then.”

But we are not asking them whether they believe that Jesus walked on this planet. We are not asking them whether they believe that He was a man. We are not asking them whether they think that He had good teachings. That is not our question. That is not a saving question. Faith in Jesus as a historical being doesn’t save anyone from his sins.

“What is it, then, pastor? What is it that saves people from their sins? What is it that makes them a new creature in Christ? What is it that shows that they have been born again?”

It is when they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one sent from God. This is what saves a soul. This is what moves someone from a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound sinner saved by grace. This, this saving faith, believing that Jesus is the Christ that brings someone into the kingdom of God, this is the faith that forgives sins and cleanses someone from all unrighteousness. This is the gospel message that you can be born again, that you can be no longer under condemnation because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Now in the Old Testament there are three specific offices that are always referred to as anointed: prophet, priest and king. These are offices of the Old Testament in which each time, oil was taken and someone was anointed to move into this office. Before you became a prophet, you were anointed from a messenger of God, and you officially became a prophet. Before you became a priest, you might have been born a child of Levi or of Aaron or in that family, but before you became a serving priest, you were anointed. You were anointed with oil. And then, finally king. For example, King Saul was anointed with oil before he moved into that office.

In the New Testament, Jesus comes as the Anointed One sent from God the Father as our prophet, our priest and king. Any message, person or thing that implies that Jesus is not the Christ is antichrist. The more we understand about these three roles the easier it will be for us to recognize antichrist. The more you understand Jesus as a prophet, the more you understand Him as a priest, the more you understand Him as king, any time you see something—a message, a statement that is opposed to Christ as a priest or opposed to Christ as a prophet or opposed to Christ as a king—you will recognize that as antichrist. That is the spirit of antichrist.

If you knew that someone in this city was going to become the antichrist after the Church was raptured, if you knew beyond a doubt, if you had inside knowledge, you alone knew that person is going to become the antichrist, would you barbecue with him? Would you have him over for dinner? Would you watch a football game with him?

Do you understand that you have a hard time justifying having a best friend who is a Mormon? Do you have a hard time bringing Jehovah Witnesses into your house and having a Bible study with them? Do you understand that they are little antichrists? They are opposed to Christ. Do you understand you have a hard time having a Muslim as a best friend? Do you understand a Muslim is about as antichrist as it gets? Everything about the Muslim religion is antichrist. I could show you that. We could spend hours talking about every facet of its that is antichrist. Do you understand that your closest friends need to be Christians? Do you understand that those who you spend quality time with, those that you let your hair down with should be Christians. You don’t want to be hanging around with someone that is antichrist. Now you are going to influence them. You are going to work with them. You are going to share the gospel with them. I appreciate all of that. I am not talking about that. I am talking about barbecuing. I am talking about hanging out. I am talking about just relaxing and shooting the breeze together and being able to relax as a Christian. We don’t do that. If you knew that so-and-so was the antichrist, you wouldn’t say, “When are you coming over again?”

Do you understand he is not going to have a big t-shirt on that says, “Antichrist. I am the antichrist. Follow me.”

He is not going to look like that. From the outside he is going to look pretty well. He is going to wear a white shirt and a bright red tie, dress shoes. He is going to talk about his love for Christ initially. He is going to be clever, subtle, small messages. You have to listen closely. You have to know what you are listening for.

Please notice right here this is an important statement. The denial of the existence or the attributes of the unique, divine, only begotten Son of God who is ontologically identical to God the Father is at the heart of Antichristism. The denial—the denial of Jesus as the only begotten Son, the denial of who He is (divine in nature) the denial of anything that takes away from His unique and individual relationship with God the Father.

So when I read Mormon doctrine and I find out that Jesus has a half-brother I say, “Antichrist.”

This is what I don’t say, “That is a difference of opinion.”

Let me see if I can illustrate this for everyone in here. This is a Baptist Church and as a Baptist Church we believe in credo baptism. Credo baptism is believers’ baptism. That means you get baptized as a believer, right?

Now our Presbyterian brothers in Christ—and they are brothers in Christ—they have a different mode of baptism. They baptize infants. They don’t put an emphasis on believer’s baptism.

Now we are fundamentally opposed one to another on that issue. We disagree. But that disagreement has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. A fundamental Presbyterian would agree with this message whole heartedly about priest, prophet, king. They would jump and down on this message. Salvation by grace.

Now wait a minute. We have to be careful here. If you move over to Christian Church or Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ in which baptism is a requirement for salvation and you are adding to the work of Jesus Christ—in other words, what Christ did is not enough on the cross, He is not a sufficient priest; I still need to be baptized—that now becomes antichrist.

So it is very, very important. Sometimes we Christians, especially when we are sitting in the pews, we say, “Oh that...he is kind of haggling over the finer points.”

It is not a finer point whether Jesus has a half-brother or not. That is not a finer point. That is the spirit of antichrist. It is the message of antichrist. And it slips in ever so carefully.

A lot of chaplains have a hard time with having to preach next to a Mormon, having to preach next to a Jehovah Witness, and all of them are wearing crosses as if they are all part of Christianity. They are not part of Christianity in any way, shape, or form.

“Pastor, why are you so firm about this?”

I’ll tell you why. Monday through Friday the TV tells you that Mormons are Christians. It tells you all the time, “Mormons are Christians. Mormons are Christians. Mormons are Christians.” It is constantly telling you that.

Turn Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, all of it. It tells you the same thing. Why? That is the spirit of antichrist coming through the black cable ever so subtly, ever so deceptively. And so if you go to a church in which it is not taught and you hear it on Fox. And you think, “Fox is a good station. That’s conservative. They are kind of Republican a little bit. They’re fair and balanced and so they are calling them Christians...”

Do you see how easily that can happen? And before you know it we are not grounded in the faith.

So now anything that interferes with His virgin birth, His sinless life, His deity, His eternality, His resurrection or His Second Coming, anything that interferes with that is antichrist.

How about Jesus as a prophet? That is the one that speaks to us. He called himself a prophet in the gospels. In John 6:14 he says that, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” So anything that takes away Jesus’ authority to speak, anything that says, “Well, that is Jesus’ opinion” is antichrist.

No, Jesus doesn’t have an opinion. He is truth. So when He speaks, He speaks authoritatively for God the Father. And when you take, for example, Christ’s teachings put them on par with Mohammed’s teachings, what you are doing is denying that Jesus is the one and only prophet. You are saying there are multiple prophets, and one prophet is just as good as another.

And then we say, “Oh, that’s fine. That’s fine. That sounds educated. That is a good opinion to have. It is kind of multi-cultural, and it is politically correct.”

John 14:24 says, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” So there is one Father, one God who sent His Son as the one and only spokesman. And anyone who adds who that spokesmanship, like Joseph Smith, anyone that comes up with a new manuscript or an additional revelation is, in fact, the spirit of antichrist. Anything that denies the sole and supreme authority of the Word of God is the spirit of antichrist. Anything that says that there is another text that you can look at—that is not a difference of opinion. It is the spirit of antichrist. And if you see the spirit of antichrist, you ought to be able to recognize it.

In other words, I am not going to let it infiltrate my mind. I am not going to let it permeate into my character. I won’t let it in my home. I am not going to allow it to affect my thinking.

Christ the priest. He is called our high priest in Hebrews 3. He is called the one and only mediator in 1 Timothy 2:5 so the denial of His incarnation, His physical being or denial of Him as the sole mediator would be the spirit of antichrist. That is a great chapter. It is all about Jesus as the priest. Read Hebrews 5:1-11 and look for Christ as the priest in that.

Anything that adds to the cross, like confession is necessary, or there is a sacrament I must do, or any kind of good work or any kind of merited favor, anything that adds to grace is the Spirit of antichrist. Anything that adds to grace.

You say you have to be born into the church. If you say that you have to be a church member, if you say you have to have holy communion or holy confession, or you have to be married or not married, or anything that takes away from Jesus and Jesus alone is the spirit of antichrist.

It is not just a difference of opinion. It is not just two ways of looking at things.

Let me give you another example so that you begin to understand this distinction. There are some people who believe that Jesus is coming before the tribulation. There are some who believe that the Church is going to be raptured before the tribulation. There are some who believe this will happen during the midst of tribulation. There are some who believe that the Church is going to be raptured post-tribulation. Now those are three distinct ideas. I personally believe it is pre-. But the reality is—pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation has nothing to do with who Jesus is. All three of those—pre-, mid-, and post-tribulation—all can submit to Jesus as Lord. They can all see Him as their prophet, priest and king. It has nothing to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The spirit of antichrist always will relate to Jesus as priest, prophet, or king. In other words, it takes away from him as being a priest. We believe Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He is the high priest. He is the one atoning sacrifice that makes it possible for our sins to be forgiven.

Now if I say, “Yes, but you also have to be a church member,” I have just moved to where He is no longer the sufficient priest and I am, in fact, taking away from His work as the Christ in the form of priest. And that is the spirit of antichrist. And it doesn’t matter what it is, whether it be baptism, whether it be a sacrament, if it be seven sacraments, or three sacraments—anything that takes away from Jesus as the one priest, the high priest, the only atoning sacrifice is, in fact, the spirit of antichrist.

That is why when you read like guys like Matthew Henry, they are constantly going to the Roman Catholic church as the antichrist because they see so much of the doctrine in there that takes away from who Jesus is. They are not doing it because they despise Roman Catholics or because they have an agenda. They are looking at what they teach and how that line up with the spirit of antichrist. They are seeing parallels, and they are calling it the way they see it.

Christ as the king, as the king.

Sarah Palin was being interviewed by Charlie Gibbs this week. They got into discussion concerning whether God has a plan for the universe or not. Charlie was just shocked at the idea that God could have a plan for the universe. Do you know why he was shocked about that? Because he doesn’t see Jesus as the Christ, because if he saw Jesus as the Christ he would understand that the Christ means king, and king is in charge. And so whether he realizes it or not—and you don’t realize it—what you see on the mainstream media is the spirit of antichrist permeating into the newscasts because anything that takes away from Jesus as the sovereign king of the universe is, in fact, antichrist. Anything that denies that He is the Lord, anything that denies that He is the king, any thing that denies that He is in charge is the Spirit of Antichrist.

So could the spirit of antichrist creep into my own life? Sure, if I am not careful. What if King Jesus is telling me to do something and I am rebelling against it? What if King Jesus is telling you to do something? King Jesus is saying, “Stay married. Stay in that relationship. Stay faithful.” King Jesus is saying, “Go the distance.” King Jesus is saying, “Don’t you dare leave him.” King Jesus is saying, “You stay the distance.”

And you find yourself rebelling against him as king. Do you know what that is? That is the spirit of antichrist. You don’t even recognize it, but it is the rebellious spirit of antichrist creeping into you.

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” If you don’t see him as king you are not born of God. Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek who is the king of Salem and priest of the most high God.

If you will make yourself understand this, if you will begin to see Jesus as your priest, as your prophet and as your king, the Word of God and your relationship with Christ will come alive to you.

“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”

Paul calls Jesus the king eternal, immortal, invisible in 1 Timothy 1:7.

So let me show you how this works in the life of a believer and in the life of an unbeliever. In the life of a believer, I see Jesus Christ as my prophet. You are my prophet. You speak to me. I listen to you. I receive instructions from you. You are my prophet. You are the one who speaks to me either through the Word of God or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the best case scenario is a combination of both. You are reading the Word of God and the Spirit is speaking to you and you hear truth. That is Jesus as your prophet.

I love you as my prophet. I appreciate your speaking to me that way.

Now at that point you have to decide, will I submit to Jesus as my king.

See, the prophet would come with the message in the Old Testament. You still had a choice to make. So now is he your king? Is he your king? Is he your authority figure? Do you bow before him? Do you acknowledge the message as coming from king, prophet, priest and therefore you must submit to it as authoritative?

You say, “Pastor, I try to do that.”

Me, too. How many of you say that you do that 95%, 98% of the time? Ok, me neither. How about 50% on a good day? I am just being honest, because you could have a bad day. If you have to leave the house, it is all down hill at that point. I do my very best on Tuesdays in the morning. I chase everybody out of the house. I confess all my sin, turn the phone off, and I can go about 20 minutes. That is the reality. We struggle with sin, don’t we?

And so what do we do at that point? The prophet speaks to us. We submit to him as king. And then we fail the king. We didn’t listen to the prophet. So who do we run to? We run to the priest. We run to our priest. And we say, “I sure am glad you are my prophet and you spoke to me. I am going to submit to you as a king and I failed you as a priest, so please forgive me.”

And we fall before him as our priest. And we say, “Dear Jesus, thank you for going on the cross. Thank you for making it possible for my sins to be forgiven. I love you as my priest—my savior. I bow before you as a king. Please keep speaking to me as a prophet.”

The Old New Commandment from and Modeled by Christ

Let me invite you to turn to the Epistle of 1st John. God the Holy Spirit used the Apostle John, the beloved Apostle, to give a letter that is very instructive for us today. Let’s look in 1st John at chapter two and verse number seven. We’re going to go through several verses. We will not get to all of them, but I want to use them to set a context for one particular area to which we are going to draw our attention. God, the Holy Spirit, wrote through the Apostle John,

v. 7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. v. 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. v. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. v. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. v. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not wither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

This is John’s 3rd test. Previously, in verse number six, “if we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie and do not the truth.” This is what he says: if you think you have fellowship with God but you walk in the darkness Monday through Friday, stop kidding yourself. Now that sounds harsh, critical, and abrupt, and it would be if it were my words. But it’s not my words. It’s the Word of God. He’s going to give us five tests; we’re going to look at the third one. So anyone that says “I know God. I have a relationship with God. God is my Savior” Oh, you know Him? “Yes, I know Him.” Do you have a relationship with Him? “Yes, I have a relationship with Him. Yes, I know God.” Do you keep His commandments? I’m not talking about being morally good. There are a lot of morally good people. I’m talking about His commandments.

“Pastor, what do you think is one of the first commandments that Christ presented in His preaching ministry?” It was repent and believe the Gospel. That was one of the first commandments ever out of His mouth. And so anyone who has not obeyed that commandment first and foremost has no assurance of their salvation. Now He takes us to commandment number three. Let’s look at what Matthew Henry said pertaining to this particular passage. There are those who say they are in the light. And he’s going to clarify it. The Divine Revelation made an impression on their minds and spirits, and yet they walk in hatred and enmity toward their Christian brethren. So there’s a group of people out there Matthew Henry says, now this is 400 years ago, who believe they’ve been converted. They say that the Divine Light has made a difference in their life, and yet when we examine them, they hate their Christian brethren. They are at enmity toward them. These cannot be swayed by the sense of love of Christ to their brethren. And therefore they remain in their dark state. Notwithstanding is their pretended conversion to the Christian religion. That should be of great concern to everyone. I want to make sure that I don’t have a pretend conversion. I want to make sure that I have a relationship with Christ that’s real. I want to make sure that I’ve been truly born again. I want to have a tremendous assurance of my salvation. I don’t want to have to wonder. I want to know for sure. I want to know the Truth.”
He’s going to tell us how we can know. He’s going to show us. He’s going to give us true tests in this study of 1st John so that we can know for sure. He says in verse number seven “brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you have heard from the beginning.” So John says, “I’m not presenting something new. It’s old and yet at the same time it’s new. John doesn’t quote the old or new commandment; he just starts talking about the law of fraternal love. Notice the text, in verse number nine, he says that there are those that hate their brethren, and in verse number ten he says there are those that love their brethren. In verse number eleven, he says there are those that hate their brethren. What John is referring to is the second great commandment. He recalls what Christ said when Jesus said “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another”. Please notice very, very especially the Apostles—I’m talking about Matthew, John, Paul, and Peter. The Apostles knew nothing of this idea that someone can be assured of their salvation while he or she ignores the Spirit of Christ or while they harbor hatred toward a person or a group of people. No one in the Christian religion should have any assurance of their salvation while they have hatred or malice toward another particular person or group of people. You cannot say I hate blacks and I love Jesus. Don’t kid yourself. Have no assurance.

Previously, John makes specific reference to keeping the commandments. Now, he’s going to examine the second great commandment. Here’s the biblical fact that I want you to retain: One can say they love God, but how they relate to other humans will be the true test of their relationship with God. You can say all day long “I love God”. You can mouth those words. You can stand in corporate worship on Sunday and act like the greatest Christian in the world. You can wear the white shirt which is the appropriate color shirt to wear, right? And you can wear the dark suit and you can sing “Amazing grace how sweet the sound.” You can look the part, and you can fake the funk, but let me go with you to your jobsite on Monday morning and that’ll show it. That’ll prove it. That’s what we call “rubber meets the road Christianity” right there. It’s going to get real when we get there.

Please turn back to Mark chapter twelve, as we look at this second great commandment. Mark is the second gospel. It was written by John Mark. Let’s look at Mark chapter twelve and verses thirty and thirty-one. I’m going to draw your attention to the second great commandment. It is a very, important text, one that you should have highlighted, marked, and underlined in your Bibles. Commit it to memory. I’ll read twenty-nine:
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:” (There are not multiple gods. There is one God. There is one Lord.) vs. 30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Now here is where it becomes tough to be a Christian. It’s easy to love people who love you. It’s easy to love people who are taking care of you. But let that neighbor cross you, and you’re still commanded to love them? This is where it’s going to get really tough. This is where the rubber meets the road. But yet, we know that He said this is an old commandment. How old?
Let’s look at Leviticus chapter nineteen. Let me show you how old this commandment is. Remember John said it’s an old commandment, and at the same time it’s a new commandment. Let me show you what he means by that. Let’s look together at Leviticus chapter nineteen and verse number eighteen. He’s going to give us a commandment here: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.” You should not avenge. You should not bear a grudge. You should love your neighbor as yourself. Why? Why do I have to do those things? He is the Lord; that’s reason enough. That’s reason enough for you to be obedient to God. He’s in charge. He’s the boss. He’s the Sovereign One. Now let’s take these one at a time. By a show of hands, how many of you here today got in a fist fight with somebody this week? Did anybody get in a fist fight this week?

Alright, let’s change it. At any time this week, did any of you take your car in anger and smash into somebody. You know what I mean. Did you get aggravated with them when you were driving? You were kind of aggravated with somebody. They cut you off - you know what happens. So you decided I’m going to avenge them. Did anybody do that this week? No. See, we have a pretty good handle on that. We don’t do a whole lot of avenging. Did anybody murder someone this week? Alright, so we probably don’t have too much of an issue with avenging. Christians don’t avenge one another very much. We don’t really slam doors in each others face too much. We don’t normally elbow each other. We don’t normally get into fist fights at church, but what about the second part? Can I go to the next slide please? How about this one: Nor bear any grudge. Oh, oh, now wait a minute. Now we’re going to change a little bit. See if you crashed into someone this week, we’d all come up to you and say “Dan, what happened to the front corner of your car?” Well you have to understand I lost my temper and… But you see a grudge is a grudge. Brother Mike, a grudge is great because no one sees a grudge. I can hide a grudge. I can take that grudge and bury it inside my shirt behind my t-shirt where no one sees it. That grudge, let’s go on to that next slide so we can define a grudge.

It’s resentment. It’s deep-seeded ill will. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been hurt. You’ve been crushed. Someone was rude to you. You thought you were treated wrong. All of a sudden you get a little bitter and you start forming it in your heart. Now here’s the beauty of this message: everyone has a problem with this. There isn’t anyone that is exempt. Do we have any seventy year olds in here? Do you still have an issue with this? How about eighty? How about five year olds? Does anybody work with kindergarteners? I’ve seen kindergarteners cop an attitude and form a grudge. See here’s the reality of this morning’s message, no one is exempt. Males. Females. Four year olds. Five year olds. Six year olds. Seven year olds. Eight year olds. Eighty year olds. Ninety year olds. Every one of us has the propensity to form a grudge. All of us have that issue. None of us are exempt from that. And let me tell you it’s killing the body of Christ. Nobody knows about it. It’s our little grudge. We keep it inside us. We harbor it. We let it deep inside there and it buries in there. You know what I mean. It’s deep seeded bitterness toward perceived wrong doing, and my thesis is this deep seeded bitterness toward perceived wrong doing is a failure to trust God’s Sovereignty and His promises. That’s my thesis, and that’s what I’m going to try to prove to you.
I’m going to prove to you that the formation of a grudge in your life, that the idea of grabbing a grudge and harboring it in your life, is in fact, if you’re willing to be honest, a questioning of whether God’s really in charge or not. God, I can’t believe that my sister has cancer. I can’t believe that my son died when he was four years old. I can’t believe that my husband is a bum, or whatever it is. We begin to put God on trial, and we begin to question His ability to control and watch over and care for and protect our lives. We begin to say God, you’re not really in charge or you would have kept this from happening. You would have watched over and cared for me. You would have answered my prayer. You would have protected me in some form or fashion. And what we do is take that ill will, that resentment, that bitterness and we grab a hold of it and we bury it in the recesses of our hearts. And it stays in there and it grows and gets larger and larger and larger.

How real is this, Pastor Sean? Let me tell you something, if God doesn’t have mercy, and that storm hits Louisiana, there are going to be a lot of Christians in the next week that are going to be battling this. And they’re going to say, “Why God? Why?” And we have to rely on His promise that He’s in control. If any human being in the Bible had reason to hold a grudge against his brothers it was Joseph. Joseph goes to see his brothers to deliver a message, to take care of them, to see what’s going on, and to give a report, and those brothers throw him in a pit? They sell him, and he ends up in Egypt. He’s doing a great job, gets thrown in jail, takes care of people in jail and is supposed to get released, and then they forget about him? I mean we are talking about somebody that, if they wanted to hold a grudge, he’d have a laundry list of reasons to hold a grudge, and we’d all be ill equipped to say “Joseph you shouldn’t have done that.” Yet, church, this is what he says as his testimony “But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good.” And in our finite minds we will often think “God, this is an evil thing.” What’s happening in my life is an evil thing. Losing my mother when I was thirteen years old is an evil thing. And we will, if we’re not careful, begin to form a grudge. Teenagers, please listen this morning because I know that there are grudges. There are grudges that are formed. Ill will happens. Teacher, you should’ve given me a break. Teacher, you should’ve been merciful. Teacher, you should have done that. And we begin to form grudges in our hearts toward teachers. Either this Scripture is true or it’s not. It really comes down to that. Either He is in charge, and we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God and to them that are called according to His purpose,” or it’s not. There’s no in between, church. Do you understand that God’s not semi-Sovereign? Either He is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, or He’s not. There isn’t an in between.

Do not allow yourself to be distracted by this nonsense of open theism that is being communicated nowadays. If you don’t know anything about it, don’t worry about. If you’re getting involved it in, it’s heresy. It really is. I’d be happy to entertain that conversation with you. But God is in charge. God is in control. Even when we have what we perceive as the most ill treatment in our own lives, God is still in control. So let’s ask ourselves a question: How much of a problem is this in the body of Christ? This is what I believe: I believe that there are a lot of Christians walking around with a huge grudge on their back and nobody sees it. The grudge is invisible; it’s not like that big backpack. But here’s the reality, that grudge that you’re holding in your heart is just like that backpack. It’s weighing you down. There’s no way around it. And here’s the truth: You let that gentleman carry that around all his life, and don’t be surprised when he’s 50 years old and has chronic back problems. With the same token, if you carry a grudge around, don’t be surprised if you have premature aging. Don’t be surprised if you have stomach ulcers. Don’t be surprised if you have extra stress because that grudge is wearing you down.

How many of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress? That little pilgrim needed to get that backpack, that grudge, that burden, off his back. Do you know what we need to do? We need to let those grudges go! We need to get them off our back. Many of you have been in the military like me. You remember. You couldn’t wait until the final step of the 12 mile or the 20K or whatever and whoosh! Wasn’t that an awesome feeling when you just let your pack go? Wasn’t it awesome? Let me tell you something: that will pale in comparison to the day you let your grudge go. It’ll be the greatest relief in the world, but you have to do it. You have to let the grudge go. Pastor, what are some of the quadrants or areas in our life that we could have a grudge? God would be the first one. You could have a grudge toward God. God, why is so and so married to that great husband and I am not? God, why are they so gifted and I am not? God, why is their child naturally compliant and mine is (fill in the blank). And if we’re not careful, we begin to allow little, tiny seeds of bitterness in our life. It’s like the little stoutly part of the “g” in grudge. A little part of the lower case “g” appears first. The longer it stays the “r” comes and then the “u” comes with it, and it gets larger. Every day that you let that grudge go, and you don’t deal with that grudge, it’s like a tumor in your body. It grows and grows and grows and grows.

How about parents? You have a lot of 40 year old parents walking around with grudges toward their own parents. They are still resenting what their mom and dad failed to do in their mind. They are still struggling with that. How about spouses? Failure to forgive a spouse for a sin that happened five years ago, eight years ago, ten years ago, and you just won’t let it go. You just keep bringing it up over and over and over again. You have that grudge and nobody knows about it. You come to church. You look great. Hair is just right, big smile on your face. But inside your heart, you’ve got a grudge that you won’t let go. And I’m here to tell you right now that the Apostle John says if you won’t let this grudge go and you hate that brother because of it, there’s an issue with your relationship with Jesus Christ. Don’t kid yourself. That’s exactly what he’s saying.

Let’s talk about this fourth quadrant right here, boss, co-worker, relative. Many of you know that I was in the military some time ago, and I was the First Sergeant of a unit. I made a decision that I thought was the right decision. I really did. It was a little bit hasty. I probably in hindsight would have given more thought to it, but I thought I did at the time. I thought I made a reasonable decision. Nobody died and it wasn’t immoral. But the Battalion Commander and Battalion Commander Sergeant Major found out about it, and let me tell you something, they destroyed me on my evaluation report. By the grace of God, I had been a good soldier, and I had a series of evaluation reports that we would say would walk on water. You know what I mean by that: these were good evaluation reports one right after another since I was a Buck Sergeant. And I tell you I thought I was going to get promotion after promotion. I got that evaluation report, and those X’s were in those particular blocks, and those scores were those numbers. I’m going to tell you right now, I struggled with this. I had a grudge with a capital “G.” I had ill will. I had resentment. It was a struggle. I was a Christian, yes, I was a Christian, but really felt I was done wrong. I still talked to them. I saluted them when I had to see them. You know how that salute goes, men. You can tell those kinds of salutes. If I saw them coming down the street, I would cross the street. That’s what I did. I’m just being honest with you all this morning. I just crossed the street. If they came into the dining facility I finished my food; even if I wasn’t done, I’d had enough. I got up and left. I just gave them whatever was required. It was cursory communication. I had a grudge with a capital “G” and a capital “R” and it was killing my relationship with God. It was killing my testimony at work. It was killing it. I’m going to tell you how you can get rid of that grudge.

Let me ask you a question, do you need to hear this? Is this going to be practical, or am I the only one that struggles with? This is tough. Let me tell you something, this is “rubber meets the road Christianity” right here when you can get rid of a grudge because it doesn’t take long at all. Once we perceive that we’ve been done wrong, it’s only a matter of time before we will begin to build that up, and I think we need to know how to get rid of it. So what are the issues behind holding a grudge? Let me give them to you. Number One: In a quasi spirit of self-righteousness, we believe if the situation was reversed we would always do what we perceive is the right thing, so we resent the ill will. Now please pay close attention to this. These are my words. I’m not copying them from anyone. If I copy, I give credit. In a quasi spirit of self-righteousness, we would never claim it as self-righteous, but the reality is that it is. So, this is how it works: adult children who are resenting their parents always believe if they were the parents, they would have done it differently. Maybe some of you all didn’t hear that. Any adult child who is resenting and begrudging their parents, any teenager who is in the auditorium this morning who has a grudge toward your mother or father, this is what you believe: in the deep recesses of your heart you believe if the situation was reversed, you would have done it differently. You do it the right way. Now ask yourself how self-righteous is that? Because you know what it implies? You always do the right thing; that’s what it implies. You always make the right choice. It implies an air of superiority. It is in fact self-righteous. Whether you admit it or not it is.

Okay that parent analogy is not working, so let’s change it. Let’s go down the road that most men will go with me. On Monday morning, how many of you are wearing out the coach from Sunday night? Come on? You know exactly what I’m talking about. If I was the coach, I would have called a time out here instead of here. I would’ve put in Player X instead of Player Y. I would have called the time out earlier. If I were the coach, we would have won the game. Every one of you can arm chair that quarterback and that coach to death! If I was in charge of the soccer team, I would have done this. If I was in charge of the basketball team, I would have done that. And as we critique them, we believe that we always make the right choices. We always are kind. We always are doing the right thing. It is incredibly self-righteous. Here’s the reality: we fail to love our neighbor as our self because if the situation was reversed we would want to be forgiven.

You see, if we were the parent that was harsh; if we were the parent that lost their temper; if we were the parent that did wrong; if we were the deacon that lost his temper; if we were the trustee that made a mistake; if we were the novice pastor who made a mistake. If we fit in any of those situations, do you know what we’d want? We’d want forgiveness. We’d want understanding. We’d want compassion. We’d want to go to our son or daughter and say, “Please understand you were our first child. Everything was new to us. Everything was tough for us. This was a whole different ball game. We’d never parented before. This was really tough stuff!” and we’d want to be forgiven. But the reality is we don’t extend to others what we would want extended to our self. That’s what we do. And this is why it is in fact a failure to love our neighbor as our self. Because when Christian X goes up to Christian Y and says, “Please forgive me.” If the situation was reversed, we’d want to be forgiven. If the situation was reversed, and I was asking forgiveness instead of being asked I would want that person to say, “Yes, I forgive you.” But the reality is, that it’s not reversed and now we have to decide will I forgive or will I not forgive? You see, you cannot put more than 500 adult members, all the visitors, regular attenders, and those candidating for membership altogether in a church and not have ill will happen. It is impossible. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We don’t think through things all the time. We lose our temper. We’re not always the clearest with our instructions. We make mistakes. We are human beings. We are fleshly beings. The only way you’ll not carry a big old grudge around is if you say, “Yes, I forgive you.”

Here’s the reality: Those who are born again really do forgive. I’m not talking about this quasi “Yes, I forgive” and yet we’re still not communicating. We’re still not embracing. We’re still not relating one to another. You see, I cannot say in my mind to that commander, “Yes, I forgive you” and still cross the street and avoid him and all that. That’s not real forgiveness. There’s still an issue. Real forgiveness is when you let it go. You let it go and you actually move from a position of hating your brother to loving your brother. You know, time goes so fast. Here’s the Scripture that we’re ignoring. The Scripture that says you ought not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. We must recognize the possibility that, if the situation was reversed, any of us may have done just what that person did. In other words, in my own personal analogy, I have to recognize that if I was the Sergeant Major or I was the Commander, I might have done just what they did. In other words, I might have written the same evaluation report. I don’t know.

It’s always easy to question the commander on the ground when you’re not the commander on the ground. It’s always easy to question the pastor of the church when you’re not the pastor of the church. And you can go on and on. It’s always easy to question the high school teacher when you’re not teaching 18 brats. It’s always easy to question the school bus driver and why the school bus driver didn’t keep this and this in control on the school bus when you’re not driving that school bus. But now what we all must be willing to all say because we’re not going to think more highly of our self than we ought to. We’re all going to say, “I might have done the same thing.” Listen to me very closely please, once you come to the conclusion that you might have done the same thing, you can forgive. That is the absolute key to what I’m telling you. Once you realize that if the situation was reversed I might have done the same thing, once you acknowledge that fact, your self-righteousness will go away and you’ll be willing to forgive. Do you see how practical this is to your every day living? This is in fact something that can help you this week.

Colossians 3:13 says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” That’s the new commandment. Here’s the reality: We had no idea what it meant to love your neighbor as yourself until Christ came on the scene. Then Jesus Christ began walking and talking on the planet, and He started saying things like “Love your enemies.” “Pray for those who persecute you.” When He began to say things like that, we got a whole different look at what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. When Jesus Christ was being persecuted, punished and nailed to that cross, when we saw Him in the utmost agony taking our burden, and when He is being beaten, spat upon, despised and rejected; yet at the same time He is uttering these incredible words. When He said “Father, forgive them”, we get a whole new idea of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. It radically changes everything that we ever thought of before.

Here’s the conclusion. How can we presume upon the grace of God and expect God the Father to forgive us of our sins while we hold a grudge against our neighbor? How can we? Ask yourself: How in the world can you presume upon the grace of God and say, “God, I expect you to forgive me. I enjoy the fact that you forgive me. I love the fact that you’re interceding on my behalf, but I’ll tell you right now, I will not forgive her.” There’s no way I’m going to let that go. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m not letting that one go. That’s it! You crossed the line. Is there a line? No, I read about 70x7. I read about an endless degree of forgiveness. Would you like God the Father to have a line with you? No. We want from our God, 24-7 forgiveness. Well, if you want from your God 24-7 forgiveness how about you give 24-7 forgiveness? You say, “Pastor, I can’t do that.” Then I say to you, “Are you really in the new covenant?” I say to you, “Are you really converted?” Because here’s what it comes down to: Is God’s grace sufficient or is it not? If the grace of God is sufficient, then you can do it. With God’s grace, you can do it. With God’s grace, you can forgive that person. With God’s grace, you can let it go. You can do it!

You say, “Pastor, you don’t know my situation.” Really? Was it worse than being crucified as an innocent man? Is it that bad? “Well, now that you put it that way then no.” Then, let it go! We need some restoration! We need some healing! We need some marriages put back together because the grudge is going! We need some moms and dads put back together. We need some fathers and sons put back together. We need some church members put back together. We need some teenagers put back together. Why? Because we’re letting it go! We’re not going to carry a grudge. I’m not carrying this burden any more! Pastor, what’s the solution? The solution is very simple: Repent and believe the Gospel. Repent? Yes, confess your sin. Confess the sin, “I’ve been holding a grudge.” Pastor, I have not let this grudge go. Then what? Believe that God is willing to forgive you through the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and claim that forgiveness.

Proposed Article of Faith on the Bible and Alcohol

In November BBC will vote to add this article to our current article of faith. The purpose of this article is to articulate a paragraph summary on what the Bible presents on wine, beer, strong drink, etc. and to too communicate the church's position.

The covenant previously addressed the issue with less than a sentance which isn't sufficient. Furthermore, it did not permit there to be differences in understanding between two God fearing men which can be the case as it relates to the consumption of wine in the life of a Christian. One must never think of themselves as more righteous because they do or do not consume a beverage in moderation; whereas; drunkeness is always presented as a sin. Baptists traditionally have taken a stand of encouraging its members from abstaining from the consumption of alcohol for the reasons presented and articulated in the below recommended addition to our statement of faith. However, it must also be said that the purpose of this article is not to encourage members to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think because they do not consume alcohol. My judgment must be limited to the Word of God and not my own personal preferences and individual ethical standards of conduct. Let the Word of God judge and be my judge.

Proposed Article of Faith 26

We believe that Christians may cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble or be offended by the consumption of wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages, (Rom. 14:21, 1 Cor. 8:9) and that being intoxicated is forbidden (Eph. 5:18, 1 Cor. 6: 9b.-10, 11:21) and is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:21, 1 Pet. 4:2-3). Drunkenness brings reproach to the cause of Christ and has negative effects on the human body, the family, and the body of Christ. We base this position on the words of our Lord Jesus who tells us that being intoxicated may keep us from being ready for His imminent return (Luke 21:34) and numerous Biblical passages that prohibit drunkenness because of the negative effects of alcohol such as the following: physical and emotional suffering, strife, and sorrow (Prov. 23:29-30); poverty (Prov. 21:17, 23:21); sexual immorality (Gen. 9:21, Rom. 13:13); a disregard for the work of the Lord (Is. 5:12); error in judgment (Prov. 20:1, Is. 28:7); loss of friendships and relationships (1 Cor. 5:11); and punishment from God (Matt 24:49-51). Based on an objective analysis of all that the Word of God presents concerning alcohol, the church encourages its members, by the grace of God, to adopt a personal total abstinence standard. Furthermore, BBC believes the medicinal and purifying aspects of wine are no longer necessary for life in the twenty-first century. Pastors (1 Tim 3.3), deacons, teachers, supervisors, directors, and employees of the church are prohibited from consuming any alcoholic beverage based on the spirit and intent of Lev. 10:9 and Prov. 31:4-5.

I look forward to hearing from you with regard to whether you believe this is fair treatment of alcohol from the Bible.