Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Hath God Wrought!

This sermon was preached at Abundant Life Christian Center in Meductic, New Brunswick, on December 16, 2007. "What hath God wrought!" is taken from Number 23:23, where Balaam is lifted into prophetic exclamation as he looks upon redeemed Israel. "For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them." (Psalm 44:3) This message parallels Israel's national salvation with the Christian salvation put forward in Ephesians 2, that salvation is of GOD, and not of man. True thankfulness and devotion to God flows out of an apprehension of all that God has wrought in Christ, and in us. Listen below:

Eli Brayley - What Hath God Wrought!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Audio Fixes

Brothers and sisters, I've cleaned up the audio section on the site by removing some of the dead links and fixing some of the broken ones, so now all the uploaded files are in working order and you are able to listen to everything that is available online. May the Lord use them for the furthering of His Kingdom and glory. Blessings!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jesus, the Shepherd and Door of His People

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." - John 10:1-5


In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, our Lord Jesus Christ, in His discourse with the Jews, gave the world some of the most wonderful truths contained in a short series of familiar parables. These parables are the famous 'sheep parables' which many of us are well acquainted with, though I think it will be profitable to expound upon them, and write about some of the things God has been revealing to me in these passages.

One of the first mistakes people make in reading this portion of Scripture is that the object of who is being spoken of is often misunderstood. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." To this it is usually taken as speaking of those who are trying to get to God some other way than Christ; those who attempt to jump over the wall to eternal life instead of going through the rightful door, Jesus Christ. However, this is not so, for the next verse states: "But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." It is clear that this is not speaking of the sheep trying to get to God, but of the shepherd coming to the sheep, and also of those false prophets (strangers) who attempt to come in and steal the sheep. "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold..." Jesus is warning the people of false teachers who come to the sheep as thieves and robbers.

What is fascinating in this scenario is the roles that Jesus Christ ascribes to Himself. In verse 7, He declares, "I am the door of the sheep", and in verse 11 and 14, "I am the good shepherd." Christ is BOTH the door to the sheepfold AND the good shepherd who enters in by that way.

The significance of this is that Christ is not only the Way by which we are saved, but He Himself also is the Shepherd that leads us into that Way. He did not merely send prophets to preach about salvation... He Himself came to earth and showed unto men the Way of salvation. He did not point the way, as so many religious teachers do, but He declared to all men, "I AM the Way." The Shepherd Himself is the Door, and His sheep hear His voice, and follow Him through the Door into green pastures. The Lord Jesus Christ is both the Door of salvation, and the Shepherd that leads us through the Door of salvation.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:7-10)

All that ever came and preached to men some other way to be saved other than by the sacrifice of the Son of God was a thief and a robber, and all that have ever come since Christ, and preach another "door" other than the true Door, seeks not the good of the sheep, but their destruction. Jesus Christ is the everlasting Door whereby men MUST be saved. He is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world", and Christ alone is the sole foundation for all those who will inherit eternal life. Let this be known, preacher! Declare it loud and strong! As one who is an overseer to the flock of God (Acts 20:28-31), preach Christ and Him crucified, for if He be lifted up He shall draw all men unto Him. There is no other Name by which men must be saved.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:11-15)

Christ is the good shepherd, and the good shepherd is defined as "laying his life down for the sheep." "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) The Lord Jesus Christ did not come the first time to be served, but to serve, just as the shepherd does not enter the sheepfold to be served by the sheep, but to serve the sheep; to heal their wounds, to feed them milk and grain, and to lead them out into pleasant pastures. It is now, having been redeemed, that we serve the King of kings, just as the flock serves the purpose of the shepherd once they are led forth into the place where he bids them. "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

Now this is the question for the ministers of the flock today: are you a good shepherd, or are you a hireling? "He that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep." The hireling is tending the sheep only for selfish gain, and not because he loves the sheep. The hireling is using the sheep for his own profit, but once there is danger he no longer cares what happens to them. The hireling sees that a sheep is missing from the flock, but is too lazy to go and search for it that he might find it. I am sad to say there are many hirelings overseeing the Church today.

"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:11-14)

When God became a man and dwelt among us, it was because He came to seek and to save that which was lost. The whole world was lost, separated from their God, because of sin. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way..." (Isaiah 53:6a) Through our pride and self-will, each one of us left the safety of the Shepherd and wandered away to seek our own fortune; but we quickly fell victim to the wolves, the jagged ranges and the perilous night. Our loving Shepherd saw that we were missing and came running over the mountaintops and through the valleys in search for the missing sheep. The Scripture tells us how Christ came to give His life a ransom for many... "and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6b) Bloodied, bruised and beaten, Jesus hung upon the cross bearing our sin in His own body so that the righteous judgment of the Law could pass over us, we who rightly deserved it. Through the death of the Son all men everywhere can be saved from the judgment of sin. But now Christ is alive from the dead! And the Scriptures says that "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!" (Romans 10:13) Little lamb, do you not hear Him calling? Call upon your Shepherd! You who are stuck in the thorny thicket, lost and separated from the flock, let your bleating cry sound forth into the night, for the good Shepherd searches for you, and when you call He shall hear you, and He shall swiftly come, and shall lift you onto His shoulders, and shall carry you back to the safety of the Father's sheepfold. Yes! Call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ this very day, and you shall be saved!

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them... And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Evidence that "the Law" Includes the Moral Law


"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." (Romans 2:12-13)

These two verses and the two that follow contain the first explicit mention of the word "law" in the book of Romans, but though the word is first explicitly used here, the concept of and discussion of law is already well underway since chapter 1 and the previous part of chapter 2. Immediately prior, Paul has just been talking about the righteous judgment of God, how God will judge the world, both Jews and Gentiles, according to what they did, whether they did good or whether they did evil (2:6-11). This is evidently moral. The unrighteousness he is talking about carries over from chapter 1 (see 1:29-2:5ff). From chapter 1 the whole discussion has been moral, and thus far nothing has changed and nothing new has been introduced. In light of this moral judgment, those who sin without the law (that is, the Gentiles. See further explanation below on v. 14-15) will perish, and those who sin in the law (that is, the Jews) will perish. Only those who not only know the good but do the good will be justified on judgment day. Here, "justified" is the word διχαιόω, which is a verb form of the noun διχαιοσύνη, which means "righteousness", a word featured prominently already in chapter 1. In the light of its use in chapter 1, as well as the immediate context here in chapter 2, it is perfectly evident that to be "justified" means to be declared morally righteous in God's judgment.

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)" (Romans 2:14-15)

This is still in the first passage where the word "law" is mentioned in the book of Romans. The law, as expressed here, cannot mean the ceremonial law but the moral law, since the Gentiles prove that the moral, not ceremonial, law of God is written on their hearts by their actions; their consciences also bearing witness and accusing them before God.

"Behold, thou art called a Jew, and resteth in the law, and makest thy boast of God... Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?" (Romans 2:17, 21-23)

The law here is described in moral terms: the Ten Commandments. The Jews were hypocrites in telling other to keep the law when they themselves broke it.

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?" (Romans 2:25-27)

Continuing on from verse 23, Paul actually contrasts circumcision with the moral law. He states that circumcision only profits you if you keep the law (meaning, you can have all the ceremonies done perfectly, but if you fail at the moral law it all profits you nothing). He then goes on to say that if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law (obviously moral) their uncircumcision is counted as circumcision. So the ceremonial and moral is contrasted. The law, here, clearly being moral.

"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

After Paul describes the immoral condition of both Jews and Gentiles in verses 9-18, he then shows how it is the law that reveals to us this true condition of ours. "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (the sin just described in verses 3:9-18). This, then, is the moral law, which makes every man, Jew and Gentile, guilty before God and without excuse. Therefore by the deeds of the moral law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:21-24)

Since no man can be justified by keeping the moral law, righteousness must come to us apart from that law. The answer is the righteousness of God which is given to moral sinners through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference... Jews and Gentiles alike have sinned against the moral law, and receive this righteousness "apart from the law", through faith in Christ. Christ died on the cross for our sins (our moral failings). In His death He suffered the punishment that should have fallen upon us, Jews and Gentiles, for our moral sins.

"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith." (Romans 3:27-30)

If Paul were merely saying that we did not have to keep the ceremonial commandments, but that we still were required to keep the moral commandments, then his point would fall apart, since a man could still boast that he worked for his salvation - he obeyed the moral law. But Paul's point is that all boasting is excluded because justification comes to us apart from works, any works whatsoever. God alone gets the glory, because God alone does the work; it is only for us to believe.


"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." (Romans 4:13-16)

Several verses earlier in chapter 4, Paul writes that "if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." Moral works are spoken of here, since Abraham knew nothing of the ceremonial law at the time he was justified by faith (Genesis 15:6). Paul continues in verses 13-16. He states, "the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression." This wrath is the same wrath Paul has been speaking about at length: the righteous judgment of God being stored up against the immoral, whether they be Jews or Gentiles (Romans 1:18, 2:5,8). The law which accuses is the moral law which men have broken. The only way to be saved is by grace, not by obeying the moral law (for then it would not be by grace, Romans 4:4,5, 11:6)! It is only by grace if it is through faith, because faith, rather than working, trusts in the gracious work of another. In this we become the children of Abraham, "the father of us all" who believe.

"For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law." (Romans 5:13)

The presence of sin was in the world, but the knowledge, and therefore the imputation, of sin was not, until the law came and revealed it. This is evident by verse 20, which says, "Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound." By this it is evident that what is spoken of here is the moral law, for "the offense" before the law was not ceremonial but moral in nature.

"What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." (Romans 6:15)

This verse makes it unmistakably clear that Paul's whole argument has been that people are not justified by the moral law, since the objection raised against Paul is as follows: "What then? If we are not under the moral law, shall we sin?" Such an objection would never be raised if Paul were arguing about the ceremonial law. In context, the sins being spoken of are moral, such as lust, uncleanliness, etc., all which were previously condemned by the law, and now, for the Christian, are restrained by grace. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7:4)

Our relation to the law was taken out of the way through the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (in our place), hanging on the tree. He bore our moral sins in his body: all the iniquity which we had committed against God's law were placed upon Him (Isaiah 53:6). He suffered and died, and thereby we died to law: it having no more controversy with us. Now, because we are free from the law, can we bear good works for God, since it was the law that stirred us up to rebel (v. 5).

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Romans 7:7)

The law here is the moral law by the evident reference, "Thou shalt not covet."

"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." (Romans 7:12-13)

Nothing else can be inferred here but the moral law. The law is indeed holy, just and good. It was given for the express purpose of exposing sin in us, so that sin, by the law, might appear exceedingly sinful. The successful ministry of the law produces in us the following disillusioned confession: "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." It is the moral law alone that can do this.

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)

The moral law was unable to make us righteousness before God. God's contention with the Jewish people was not that they had failed the ceremonial law but that they had failed the moral law (for even the failure of the ceremonial law is a moral issue!). Because of this God sent His own Son into the world, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the moral righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us "apart from the law", by faith in Jesus Christ.

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:7)

The carnal (fleshly) mind is not, and cannot, be subject to the law of God; it is in enmity against God Himself! This is a serious moral crime. What hope can we sinners possibly have if we are not made right with God by trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone?

"But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone." (Romans 9:31-32)

Israel sought righteousness before God by the works of the law, which was neither the purpose of the law nor possible by the law. "Righteousness" in the Old Testament is everywhere moral (ex. Jeremiah 22:3). Israel did not learn the lesson of the law: that they are morally bankrupt (Romans 7:12-14, Galatians 3:21-24). And so, through pride and self-righteousness, they refused to look to Christ for righteousness and still remain under blindness to this day.

"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:3-13)

All hinges upon "the righteousness of God" or "their own righteousness", and the deciding hindrance is man's own ignorance. "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." (Isaiah 53:11) Moses describes the righteousness of the law like this: the man that does them will live by them. "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 18:5, immediately followed by a list of moral commandments) This, says Paul in Galatians 3:10, is the curse of the law; a curse to men, because no one can do it due to our sinful depravity. Jesus "became a curse for us" and delivered us from the curse of the law (literally, Jesus delivered us from the principle, "the man that doeth those things shall live by them"). Christ is the end of the moral law for righteousness to everyone that believeth; both for Jew and for Gentile. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever (no matter how sinful!) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."


"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

Again, more certain proof that "the law", to Paul, was essentially moral.

Therefore we conclude that the meaning of the word "law" in the book of Romans evidently refers to the moral commandments, and that a man, whether Jew or Gentile, is justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ without the deeds of the moral law.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

You Shall Be My Witnesses

This message was preached at The People's Church, a Spanish congregation in Ogden, Utah. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) God still desires to fill His people with the Holy Spirit of power so that they may take the message of the Gospel unto the ends of the earth. Only a people dead to this world and who love Christ's appearing will be spiritually fit for the Great Commission. Listen below:

Eli Brayley - You Shall Be My Witnesses

Friday, November 30, 2007

Repentance

It seems abundantly clear that there needs to be clarification as to what repentance is, and is not, and what our contention is with certain misunderstandings of what repentance is.

My contention is that repentance does not mean 'stop sinning'. By saying that, I do not mean that repentance has nothing at all to do with sin... of course it does. The Greek word for repentance is metaneo which means to change one's mind. A Biblical definition would be to feel true remorse over one's sins. This certainly includes the will not to sin again. However, the will to not want to sin again does not necessarily equal not sinning again. I certainly do not want to sin again, but will I probably sin in the future? Yes. Am I thus impenitent? No. My response to future sins also reveals my repentant heart.

There are many things in view to be repented of when Jesus declared, "Repent and believe the Gospel!" He was speaking to Pharisees, commoners and crooks. I think the Scripture makes it pretty clear what sins made Christ more angry: self-righteousness more than fornication; justifying oneself before God more than tax-fraud, etc. Repentance therefore is not just addressing outward sins, but inward sins. In fact, telling a person to give up their outward sins is really only attacking the symptoms and not the real problem. The real problem is the heart, from where all outward actions flow (Matthew 15:19). Repenting from outward sins is totally useless if the heart is not dealt with. It is for this reason that I believe Jesus meant something much deeper than "stop your outward sins" when He declared, "Repent and believe the Gospel". That would be very shallow indeed. And when Paul preached that "God commands all men everywhere to repent", he meant much more than just 'cut down all your idols, boys'. The Athenians could take an ax to every statue on the Grecian Peninsula and still would have not truly repented. The repentance that God is looking for is "rend your heart, and not your garments".

The greatest sins of all are pride, mercilessness and self-righteousness. I really don't believe Jesus came preaching "stop your beer guzzling and your dope smoking!" All those will fall away when the heart of the matter is taken care of. "Repent" therefore means to humble oneself before the mighty hand of God, to acknowledge one's sinfulness in light of the "glorious holiness" of God, to beat one's breast in remorse and plead, "God be merciful to me a sinner." That is true repentance. I don't think God can show mercy on the man who stops all his outward sins and then tells God, "Okay, I'm good. Forgive me now". Such a man has never truly repented.

Jesus came to the most religious society this world has ever produced. They preached abstinence and piety better than any other monastic system could ever have... but Christ came in to demolish human pride and confidence in outward piety. Christ preached repentance of the heart, so that an adulterous woman weeping at his feet was more righteous than the morally blameless men who invited Jesus over for dinner.

Paul declared, "as touching the righteousness that is in the law, I was blameless." Outwardly I was spectacular! But when Paul met Jesus and was thrown to the earth, the light of truth exposing his inward sinfulness, Paul soon found out that all of his righteousness was in fact worth "dung", and he didn't just need forgiveness of past sins... what he needed was an entire inward transformation. The apostle of the faith, born again of the Spirit of God, could now proclaim the everlasting Gospel by the revelation of Jesus Christ given to him: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fredericton for the Winter

Dear saints,

This winter I will be home in Fredericton, New Brunswick, until the Lord moves me on from here. I'm looking forward to the ministry God has prepared for me, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10), and I pray that Christ would be glorified, the saints would be edified and the devil would be petrified! Please remember me in your prayers.

I do hope, now that I'm settled in, to be writing more and to post more resources on the website.

Thank you my dear friends.
Yours brother and fellow soldier in the service of Jesus Christ,
-Eli

Friday, November 02, 2007

St. Thomas University

Well dear saints, for the first time I have finally preached on a university campus in Fredericton, my own hometown. I was praying that God would give us good weather for Wednesday seeing that we are rounding the corner towards the winter season, and my prayers were answered, so brother Greg and I quickly gathered ourselves together that day to preach the gospel at St. Thomas University.

It was certainly different preaching on a campus where I recognized, and was recognized by, so many people. Even before we began, I reunited with a friend from a few years ago, and while preaching I saw many familiar faces in the crowd. The long and short of it, I was able to preach for about 15 minutes before the administration approached me, and was able to draw a crowd of about eighty, both student and faculty. I truly believe many people on campus were curious and interested in discussing the things of God that afternoon.

But that wasn't where the day ended: after being taken inside George Martin Hall, immediately a journalist from the campus newspaper gave me a short interview, and next, while I was talking with him, a Religious Studies professor invited me in to speak to his class about my message and Christianity! I praise God that when it seems like men have closed all the doors, He always has others opened.

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." (Colossians 4:2-4)

What a true honor to be a witness for Jesus Christ amongst my very own peers. Friends, please pray that the doors would indeed be open for the Word to be preached at St. Thomas. Also, pray for the Christians on campus to be encouraged to be bold in their testimony for Christ. May God make us men and women who are martyrs for His glory.

In the service of Jesus Christ,
-Eli

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Watch Revival Conference LIVE

Dear TM readers,

Even if you won't be able to attend the Revival Conference next week, you can still participate in what God is doing right from your own home. This Tuesday through Thursday (Oct. 23-25) tune in to watch Revival Conference live on Christian.tv! The schedule for the conference is listed right on Christian.tv. You don't want to miss this.

Simply click the banner to watch the Revival Conference as it happens! You won't want to miss what God is doing in this very special hour.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Evangelical Preacher Courts Controversy at USU

This article was written for the USU Statesman newspaper not long after I left Cache Valley. I thought it was very encouraging.


Evangelical Preacher Courts Controversy at USU
By Jon Adams

For the first time in a long time, Utah State University has felt like…well, a university—a marketplace of ideas. There has been a heated, yet healthy religious dialogue on campus the past few weeks.

Eli Brayley, a young preacher from Canada, has been traveling across the continent to call people to repentance and share with them the "transforming power" of Christianity. At only 21, he has preached in 30 states and at 64 campuses. His visit to USU raised a lot of eyebrows (and voices); it brought some sorely needed controversy to our campus.

Without any religious affiliation, I had little emotional investment in the spirited back-and-forth between Eli and his predominantly Mormon audience here at USU. Instead, I was thoroughly amused by it. Listening to both sides debate whose faith was more irrational, I couldn't help but think, "Thank God I'm an atheist."

Once the crowds died down, I often found the opportunity to speak with Eli one-on-one. I was impressed by his knowledge of the Bible and surprised by his personal warmth. For so vocal a preacher, he is actually a rather soft-spoken person.

During the course of his ministry here at USU, we developed an unlikely friendship. We recently spent a few hours discussing religion and politics over dinner at the Bluebird. Neither of us walked away having persuaded the other, but I left with an increased understanding of and respect for Eli. As such, I feel obligated to dispel some misconceptions surrounding his motives and message.

Too many students unfairly dismissed Eli as a hateful provocateur. I am convinced, though, that Eli has a genuine love for people. He has dedicated years of his life to preaching across Canada and the US—without pay. And I have seen him spend hours with individual students, sharing with them a message he believes will spare them an eternity in Hell. At the very least, he had the courage to stand up for what he believes and that alone should command our respect.

The biggest criticism leveled against Eli is that his approach was too abrasive. Many students complain that Eli exhibited arrogance in pacing about the TSC patio, waving his worn Bible and pointing a judgmental finger at us "sinners."

While I'd agree that his "repent or burn" refrain was less than endearing, it is also worth mentioning that Eli's style was no more confrontational than was Jesus'. Not only did Jesus routinely lord the threat of Hell over his detractors, he also called them "fools" (Matthew 23:17) and "evil vipers" (Matthew 12:34).

Eli's approach stands in stark contrast to the familiar door-to-door approach of smiley LDS missionaries. Open-air preaching, however, was once common in missions. LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, for example, spent his mission proselytizing from street corners in London. A couple of my friends who went on European missions told me they still occasionally preached this way.

Mormon students took particular offense at Eli's contention that they were not true Christians. But again, Mormons would be wise to familiarize themselves with their own history. Since its inception, the LDS church has made similar accusations. Joseph Smith called other Christian churches "abominations," and John Taylor, the third president of the church, said "the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work" than Christianity. How are these statements markedly different than Eli's anti-Mormon sentiments? Today's Mormonism has toned down the rhetoric, but implicit in its claim to be the one true church is a repudiation of all other religions.

Mormons demand that their missionaries be received with an open mind (and they should), but the favor is rarely returned for others. The USU student body flung scoffs, insults, and in one instance a rock at Eli.

I'm not asking that you respect his beliefs, only that you recognize his right to express them. I myself don't agree with what Eli preached. Frankly, I think Eli's religious beliefs insult both his and our intelligence. The evangelical view of grace reduces salvation to a game of hide-and-seek—"I need to find Jesus? He's hiding?!" And his holy book reads like a Medieval fairy-tale, complete with dragons, witches, and unicorns (really). The way I figure, why be born-again when you can just grow up?

And yet, despite my disapproval of his message, I nonetheless am grateful that Eli visited USU. He left for Canada earlier this week, but I hope our university continues to court controversy. Because as a public institution for higher learning, USU has that responsibility.

To borrow the words of Frederick Douglass, the famed black activist: "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Imminent?

While I was growing up, I heard it often stated by pastors, friends and teachers that Jesus could return at any time, any hour, or any day, and that we had to be "ready" if He appeared at any given moment. Of course, as a boy I assumed this was true, and I never asked any questions. However, when I began to study the Scriptures on this point, I discovered that this oft repeated claim is absolutely not true, and sadly many Christians today believe it to be true because they have not studied the Scriptures for themselves, having just accepted what they have heard asserted for so long.

Today, this idea is presented as "the New Testament Doctrine of Imminence"... but unfortunately, as strong as the name sounds, its Scriptural basis is entirely indefensible. For this reason you will not find "the New Testament Doctrine of Imminence" in any theology or commentary books prior to the 1830's; for up until the 19th century no such idea existed in the history of the Church. The belief in the imminent return of Christ is a new and widespread teaching today; its success due to its enormous media propagation and emotional appeal.

God's Word commands us to "prove all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and in the spirit of the Bereans, the deciding question is not, "How many men believe it?" but, "What saith the Scriptures?"


THREE ASSUMED SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS

There are three types of verses used to justify the belief in an "any moment" coming:

A) verses with a general expectancy of Christ's return
B) verses comparing Christ's return to that of a thief
C) verses stating the uncertainty of the date

After examining these claims more carefully, we shall see that none give credibility to the idea of imminency, but rather, on the contrary, disprove their own assumed grounds.

A. General Expectancy
It is thought that because the early Church believers were looking for the coming of the Lord (as many Scriptures exhorted them to do so), therefore they believed that Christ could come at any given moment. Verses such as Philippians 3:20, "...from whence also we look for the Savior" and 1 Corinthians 1:7, "...waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", pretribulationists point to as supporting texts for an early Church expectation of imminency. However, this attempt to use verses of general expectancy from the days of the early Church to prove that they expected an imminent return of Christ is unwarranted: all it proves is simply that the early Christians were indeed watching and waiting for the return of their Lord! WHEN and HOW they thought He would come is not described in such general exhortations. That the Church has always been expecting and looking for Jesus' return is not in question, but the details surrounding this hope cannot be deduced from these basic exhortations, as the pretribulationists try to force.

A posttribulationist can read the same passages and agree that the early Christians were waiting for the coming of the Lord. How this is to be understood will be different, which requires looking at other Scriptures on the matter. As Samuel P. Tregelles said, a Greek scholar from the 19th century, regarding the manner of the Church's expectation: "The Church is called to "patience of hope", and not to mere excitement of speculative expectancy." The Bible is not silent on how we are to wait, but in fact gives us clear instruction as to the promise of His coming. We shall look more into this below.

B. Christ as a Thief
Several New Testament passages correlate the return of Christ to that of a thief. It was Jesus who first used the allegory in Matthew 24:43 when He said, "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." Paul also borrows this comparison in reference to the coming of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." Notice that in both cases the warning is to those who are unready: that if you are caught off guard you will be plundered and destroyed. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.

What is most interesting is that the next verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 states: "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." For the Christian who IS watching, Jesus Christ will NOT come like a thief. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (5:6) Only upon those who are not watching will Jesus come as a thief; but to those who ARE watching He will come as the Deliverer! This is the lesson in both Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5. Pretribulationists have misunderstood this parable to mean that Christ will come upon everyone like a thief to 'snatch' away the Church, and that no one will be able to ascertain His coming. This is absolutely not the case.

Our Lord Jesus dedicated a whole discourse with His disciples to give us definite signs to watch for that we may know when He is coming and NOT be caught unawares. "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." (Matthew 24:33) In this way His people will be prepared and not caught off guard like the rest of the world. If we are not watching in the way which Christ prescribed, then we are in serious danger of having our house plundered. "Let us not sleep...but let us watch..." Paul wrote this to the Christians at Thessalonica but it must again be heard today. Millions of Christians are not watching! Many people think there is nothing to watch for since they believe Jesus must come like a thief upon all men without distinction... but the point of the exhortation was for us to watch so that He would NOT come upon us in that way!

In Revelation 16:12-16, the apostle John sees the armies of the antichrist gathered together for the final battle of the great day of the Lord, which is at Armageddon. The setting is the very end of the three and a half year tribulation, on the threshold of when Christ shall immediately appear in flaming fire and great glory to be manifested before the entire world. But right in the midst of this scenario, in verse 15, we read: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." If pretribulationism is true, what is this statement doing here? The warning of coming as a thief is directly connected with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the age. For those who are watching, they will 'keep their garments' and will be able to anticipate that He is right at the door... but for those who are not watching, Christ shall come upon them with the destructive character of a thief, and they will be consumed. Therefore watch!

C. The Uncertain Date
The last argument that is put forward to support imminency is the uncertainty of the date, for Christ Himself said, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32) Since no man knows the day nor the hour, the pretribulationists conclude that Christ could come at any time.

The problem with this reasoning is that it utterly ignores the fact that Jesus gave the Church clear instruction that we are to watch for the signs of His coming so that we may anticipate the uncertain date of His coming (He foretold these signs in the very same breath!). The date may be uncertain, but the signs are certain. One may not know the day when Christ will come, but one DOES know the signs which Christ gave in order to watch for His coming. The only way this argument would work for the pretribulationists is if Jesus had not given us any signs to watch for and had just departed with the promise of His 'uncertain day' return. Only then would their argument work, for it is impossible to "watch" for an 'any moment' coming! But Jesus did not do that, and therefore this argument has no strength. We ARE in fact able to watch for His return, even though we do not know the day, for Christ gave us signs, and many of them have already come to pass.

Consider this: the Bible likens the return of Christ to the giving birth of a child (Matthew 24:8, John 16:21, Romans 8:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:3). The general duration of a woman's pregnancy is approximately nine months, and so the mother knows roughly how long she must carry the child before it is born. Though she does not know the exact day or the hour that the baby will be born, it would be absurd for her to think that she could give birth at any given time! As the baby grows and the mother's body with it, she can watch the definite signs of progression until she knows the time is drawing incredibly close. At that point, she still does not know the exact hour the water will break, but you can be sure she will take every precaution to have things ready for when it does, because she knows the signs. Because she has been watching, she will not be unprepared when it is time to go into labor. This is a perfect picture of the return of Christ.

Not knowing the day does not mean 'any day'. We do not know the day nor the hour, but we do know the signs which enable us to watch and be ready. For example, a child may not know the day nor the hour when the ice-cream man will come, but the child DOES know that the ice-cream man said that he would not be coming until after the winter was past and the spring had fully come. Therefore, since it is still snowing outside the child knows that the ice-cream man will not be coming today. It would be equally absurd to say that Jesus could come back any time when the circumstances on earth are not as Christ Himself prophesied them to be. The apostle Paul also gave us clear instructions on how to discern His coming: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5) Watching for the signs was important to Paul and it was important to Jesus. Definite things must take place before the Lord can return. There is a difference between being "ready" to be whisked away on a cloud at any given moment, and being ready to face the ultimate pressures of Satan's final persecution at the end of the age. Both Jesus and the apostles gave us clear and strong warnings to ensure that we would be prepared. Have we taken them seriously?


THE NATURE OF OUR WAITING

It might be surprising to some people that these three arguments are the only defense pretribulationists can give for their fundamental belief in imminency. As said before, the "doctrine of imminency" is only as old as the 1830's and became widespread through repetitious assertion and emotional appeal. It is not a clear New Testament doctrine but must be exposed as an erroneous teaching that draws people away from true Biblical watching. The Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to watch and to wait patiently for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Who shall at the very last separate out of the earth the wheat from the tares, when He shall "send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31) This is the blessed hope which the Church for 2000 years has been looking for!

The early Church was watching for Christ's coming. The Medieval Church was watching for Christ's coming. The Church in the Reformation was watching for Christ's coming. Perhaps in our generation we shall see the parousia of our Lord? No one knows the day, but we do know the signs, and we shall continue watching and waiting in the way that God has prescribed.

"Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
(Revelation 22:20)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Comprehension of God

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)

There are many prayers in the Bible which focus their supplication upon the ultimate knowing and understanding of God and His transcendent ways, and almost all our stumbling lies in our failure to comprehend Him. "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5) The Jewish nation rejected Christ over their inability to comprehend Jesus as Messiah. He did not fit their cast. This was largely in part because they did not WANT to understand the God whom they claimed to serve, but were pleased to follow after that "which was no god"; a safety construct of their own inventing. Yet not only the Jews, but the whole world: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Romans 1:21) While knowing God is, men did not want to know WHO God is. We knew there was a God, but we did not want to KNOW God, and thus our eyes became darkened. Now thanks be to God! He has "opened our eyes, and turned us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto Himself, that we might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Christ!" (Acts 26:18)

The more we get to know God, the more His life is imparted to us. "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:3) Therefore let us pray, as we are taught by the Word, that we might know HIM, and comprehend what a great and awesome God we have, and what a precious gift He has given to us in His own dear Son Jesus Christ, and to know all that we have in Him. When we come to comprehend the God we serve, as well as His higher and holy ways, then we shall be "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." (Colossians 3:10) "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)

Here are several prayers in Scripture that you can pray and ask God to fulfill their supplications in you, for His glory and everlasting Name's sake:

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:20-26)

"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)

"I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:16-20)

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19)

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:9-11)

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." (Colossians 1:9-15)

"For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:1-3)

"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." (Philemon 1:4-6)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Topical Book Recommendations

This page features a topical guide to books that I strongly recommend for readers: lists are in alphabetical order and will continue to be updated in the future. Underlined books are especially recommended.

APOLOGETICS
Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, 5 Volumes - Michael Brown
Can You Believe It's True? - John Feinberg
Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ - Harold W. Hoehner
Daniel in the Critics' Den - Josh McDowell
Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics - R.C. Sproul
Eternity in Their Hearts - Don Richardson
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 2 Volumes - Josh McDowell
He is There and He is Not Silent - Francis Schaeffer
How Should We Then Live? - Francis Schaeffer
Miracles - C.S. Lewis
Misquoting Truth - Timothy Paul Jones
On the Incarnation - Athanasius
Rays of Messiah's Glory - David Baron
Signs of Intelligence - W. Dembski & J. Kushiner
The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis
The Authority of the Bible - John Stott
The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel
The Case for the Resurrection - G. Habermas & M. Licona
The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible - Benjamin B. Warfield
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? - F.F. Bruce
The Resurrection Factor - Josh McDowell
The Resurrection of Jesus - James Orr
The Ring of Truth - J.B. Phillips
The Stones Cry Out - Randall Price

BIOGRAPHY
A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards - George Marsden
Confessions of St. Augustine - Augustine
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners - John Bunyan
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther - Roland Bainton
John Bunyan - Frank Mott Harrison
Out of the Depths - John Newton
Spurgeon - Arnold Dallimore
Surprised By Joy - C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom
Tortured for Christ - Richard Wurmbrand

CHRISTIAN LIVING
A Gospel Primer for Christians - Milton Vincent
Agape Leadership - Alexander Strauch & Robert Peterson
Boyhood and Beyond - Bob Schultz
Classic Christianity - Bob George
Continuous Revival - Norman Grubb
Discipleship By Grace - Derek Levendusky
Family Driven Faith - Voddie Baucham
How Long, O Lord: Reflections on Suffering and Evil - D.A. Carson
How to Be Free from Bitterness - Jim Wilson
Humility - Andrew Murray
Leadership and Self-Deception - The Arbinger Institute
Life Together - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Love or Die - Alexander Strauch
Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
Men and Women, Equal Yet Different - Alexander Strauch
Navigating the Deeper Life - Brent Trockman
On Becoming Baby Wise - Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam
Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood - J. Piper & W. Grudem
Revolutionary Love - Festo Kivengere
Shepherding a Child's Heart - Tedd Tripp
Thankfulness and Confession - Brad Scheelke
The Christian Mind - Harry Blamires
The Greatest Thing in the World - Henry Drummond
The Hospitality Commands - Alexander Strauch
The Pastor as Scholar & the Scholar as Pastor - John Piper & D.A. Carson
The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
The Spirit of Truth - Art Katz
We Would See Jesus - Roy Hession

DEVOTIONAL
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Samuel Bagster
He Won them for Christ - Eric Hayden
Morning and Evening - C.H. Spurgeon
The Valley of Vision - Arthur Bennett

ESCHATOLOGY
Daniel and the Latter Days - Robert D. Culver
Jerome's Commentary on Daniel - Jerome
The Blessed Hope - George E. Ladd
The Gospel of the Kingdom - George E. Ladd
The Hope of Christ's Second Coming - Samuel P. Tregelles

EVANGELISM
Hell's Best Kept Secret - Ray Comfort
Principles of War - Jim Wilson
Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons - Mark Cares
Tactics - Gregory Koukl
The Free Offer of the Gospel - John Murray
Words to Winners of Souls - Horatius Bonar

ISRAEL
Dachau: A Silent Witness - Art Katz
Fact or Fraud? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -
Goran Larsson
Future Israel - Barry E. Horner
Israel in the Plan of God - David Baron
Our Hands our Stained with Blood - Michael Brown
The History of the Ten "Lost" Tribes - David Baron
The Holocaust: Where was God? - Art Katz
The Jerusalem Sinner Saved - John Bunyan
Zechariah: On His Visions and Prophecies - David Baron

GENERAL THEOLOGY
A Word for the World: Calvin on the Extent of the Atonement - Paul Hartog
Christ Crucified - Adolph Saphir
Christianity and Liberalism - J. Gresham Machen
Commentary on Galatians - Martin Luther
Epistle to Diognetus - Mathetes
Evil and the Cross - Henri Blocher
Faith and Saving Faith - Gordon H. Clark
General Revelation: Historical Views & Contemporary Issues - Bruce Demarest
God's Integrity and the Cross - Richard S. Taylor
God's Way of Peace - Horatius Bonar
Justification Reconsidered - Stephen Westerholm
Love, Freedom, and Evil - Thaddeus J. Williams
No One Like Him - John Feinberg
Perspectives on Spirit Baptism - Chad Owen Brand
Sermons on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus - C.H. Spurgeon
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - Jonathan Edwards
Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism - Iain H. Murray
The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross - Leon Morris
The Atonement and the Modern Mind - James Denney
The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation - James Denney
The Church Before the Watching World - Francis Schaeffer
The Cross: The Vindication of God - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Death of Christ - James Denney
The Death of Christ - Norman Douty
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God - D.A. Carson
The Divine Unity of Scriptures - Adolph Saphir
The End for Which God Created the World - Jonathan Edwards
The Everlasting Righteousness - Horatius Bonar
The Great Meaning of Metanoia - Treadwell Walden
The Immortality of the Soul or the Resurrection of the Body? - Oscar Cullmann
The Johannine Logos - Gordon H. Clark
The Justification of God - John Piper
The Marrow of True Justification - Benjamin Keach

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
4 Steps to a Friendlier Church (The G.I.F.T. Plan) - Karl Vaters
10 Strengths (and 10 Dangers) of Systematic Theology - Tim Challies
A Brief Theology of Sleep - John Piper
A Dying Man Taught Me How to Live - Ivan Mesa
A God-Centered Understanding of Sin - Stephen Witmer
A Review of a Review - Francis Schaeffer
Abortion and the Lonely Modern Woman - John Frame
Amillennialism  vs  Premillennialism - Gary Vaterlaus
Biblical Calvinists Acknowledge That God Loves All People - Mark Horne
Euthanasia Abandons Despairing People to Worst Fears - Wesley J. Smith
Faith in Future Grace vs. Anxiety - John Piper
God Without Mood Swings - Phil Johnson
God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy - R.L. Dabney
How to Think About Secularism - Wolfhart Pannenberg
Islam's Future in America - Adam Francisco
Islam's Rule of Thumb - David Wood
Jewish Resistance to the Gospel - David N. Brickner
Knowledge, Not Mystery, the Basis of Religion - James Denney
Luther's Rules for How to Become a Theologian - John Piper
Must a Scholar of Religion Be Methodologically Atheistic or Agnostic? - Michael Cantrell
Open Theism and Divine Foreknowledge - John Frame
Perseverance and Assurance: A Survey and a Proposal - Thomas Schreiner
Priestesses in the Church? - C.S. Lewis
Roger Olson, Arminianism and the Death of Exegesis - Andrew Wilson
Smart Kids and Dumb Phones - Douglas Wilson
Spurgeon's Theology: Embracing Biblical Paradox - Randy Alcorn
The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective - Elisabeth Elliot
The Fear of God - J. Gresham Machen
The Heart of Middle-School Meanness - Kristen Hatton
The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment - C.S. Lewis
The Purpose of Pleasure - Rodolfo A.C. de Souza
The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood - John Piper
Women, Callings, and Having It All - Jennifer A. Marshall
Your Single Most Important Habit - David Mathis

Saturday, September 29, 2007

TimothyMinistry.com - Two Year Anniversary!

Today, September 29, marks two full years of online ministry since this website was first created in 2005. Since then, multitudes of people have passed through and been blessed by the articles, videos and updates the Lord has allowed me to make available. I praise God for the amazing things He has done through this site. I've received countless numbers of emails from Christians and non-Christians alike sharing how they have been impacted and lives have been changed. All glory for all things goes to God, and His Son Jesus Christ, without Whom nothing would be possible.

As custom, here is the site's current status:


TM: NOW
-182 posts
-52 articles
-52 downloads
-19 audios
-31 videos
-950 comments
-30 states and 7 provinces
-64 campuses

"My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 5:34)

Friday, September 21, 2007

University of Utah, Salt Lake City


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Since leaving for Utah earlier this September, God has done many marvellous things for which we are bound to give Him all the glory. To say the least, Cache Valley and the surrounding areas have had the Gospel boldly proclaimed to them on campuses, through newspapers, by tracts, via online, etc, which has caused no small stir among the densely populated LDS community here; and not only among the Mormons, but this time in Utah has proved to be a tremendous blessing for myself, and for the Christian body here in the valley, as young and old stand together in "one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." (Philippians 1:27) It has been wonderful to see so many Christian brothers and sisters rise up to answer the call of the Great Commission in there own city. Bless the Lord!

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, was the first campus we preached the Word on, and the Lord blessed us with two great days of proclaiming Jesus Christ to both large and civil crowds. It was a great blessing to preach again with my old traveling mate, Evan Schaible, and also to be joined by several locals from Logan and the surrounding vicinity. Brother Brad Scheelke of Oasis Books, a literature mission in Logan, provided many free books to be given away during the course of the outreach. I began preaching the first day and it wasn't long before a crowd of about 100 gathered, and then Evan got up to preach, a class change hit, and the crowd nearly doubled in size.



A photographer for the university's newspaper snapped some photos of Evan. We made the paper almost immediately.

The second day was also a wonderful day of evangelism, yet was quite different. Students were very civil and sat upon the grass making the atmosphere more like a Bible study. Brother Brad Scheelke spoke to students for several hours about sin, repentance, righteousness, forgiveness and God. It was awesome to see students asking questions and learning about what the Scriptures teach about salvation.


Brother Andy Bird witnessing to a young man.


Above, brother Tony Barraclough preaches to students on the lawn infront of the university's Student Center. I first met Tony while preaching in Las Vegas last school year.


Brad and Evan speak to inquirers around the book table.

One of the great strongholds in Utah is Mormonism, an American cult that was formed in the 1830's by a young man named Joseph Smith. Today, there are nearly six million Mormons in the United States alone. Logan, the city where I am currently staying, has been said to be the highest concentration of Mormons in the entire world. I will be writing more about Joseph Smith and those who follow him in the future. While on UofU, approximately 40% of the students we encountered were LDS.

Here is a video from the University of Utah, it's about 20 minutes long and deals with many different issues that were raised while we were on campus.



"Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." (Acts 5:20)

Praise God for the work He is doing by His Spirit in this strange and difficult State. It is an honor to lift up the name of Jesus to so many who have never heard the real truth of the Son of God. Please pray for us, saints, while we continue to reach out to these poor blind people. They desperately need your prayers; that Satan would let them go and that the glorious light of Christ would shine upon them and set them free from all that binds them. Praise the Lord, for He is doing it!

I will post a new update very shortly, for we have been preaching for several weeks already and I have much to write about. Until then, the Lord bless you and keep you all. Grace and peace in Jesus Christ.

Love your servant in the Gospel,
-Eli

Monday, August 27, 2007

Flying Out

Dear friends,

This afternoon I leave by plane for Cache Valley, Utah, and ask for your prayers for me while on this mission trip to Mormon country. I'll be meeting with brother Evan Schaible to preach open air on two university campuses down there, and will be staying with a Christian family in town. Please lift up the students in intercession to God, that they would "open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26:18)

Yours in the service of Jesus Christ,
-Eli

Friday, August 17, 2007

Justification and Resurrection

"Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." - Romans 4:25


For any devout student of the Word of God, the most intriguing, mysterious and powerful of all truth that is found in the whole of Scripture surrounds the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel itself is primarily comprised of these three things, and they, the climax of Christ's ministry as foretold by the Law and the prophets, are what constitute in Christ the power of God unto salvation. It is unfortunate how shallow an understanding so many Christians possess concerning these blessed essentials, and how much richer will our life in Christ be as we begin to apprehend these divine mysteries, growing "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)

The resurrection of the dead, both of Christ and also the greater future resurrection, is a basic Biblical tenet that has been shamefully misunderstood, if not neglected. The sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews names the resurrection of the dead among the utmost elementary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3). In my previous article called Total Redemption, I briefly commented on the fact that the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of the believer's resurrection are so inseparably connected that any degradation upon either part of the union causes the annulment of the other. Paul declared that if there were no resurrection of the dead even those who died in Christ would still remain in their sins! Therefore the resurrection of the dead is an indispensable doctrine. The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, were rebuked by Christ with these telling words: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)

What then is the significance of resurrection, and why does the Bible give such strong emphasis upon this? I believe the answer to the whole question is found in our text, Romans 4:25, "Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification."

The King James Version, as well as several other modern translations, has caused this Scripture to be frequently misunderstood. Many have thought that what the verse is trying to say is that Jesus' resurrection ACQUIRED our justification, since the wording states he was "raised again FOR our justification." However, this interpretation simply will not do, and there are two main reasons why it cannot: First, no where in the Bible is it taught that Christ's resurrection purchased our justification, as we shall examine further. Secondly, such an interpretation is inconsistent with the original Biblical language.

The Word of God teaches us precisely how we are justified. If we look forward to the very next chapter in Romans, we shall find Paul making this very important statement: "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For, if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:9-10) If we look backwards a chapter in the Book of Romans, we read one the most conclusive Gospel verses in the whole of Scripture: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." (Romans 3:24-25)

It is not possible that Paul would contradict himself in the fourth chapter by saying we are justified by the resurrection of Christ, thereby nullifying the great Christian truths he spent so much care meticulously setting forth. That we are justified through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, by His vicarious sacrifice and atoning blood, is non-negotiable. It is by the shedding of blood that sin is remitted, or how else could it be forgiven? Had Christ taken our sins to the grave, how could He have loosed Himself from them therein? Therefore, to misinterpret Romans 4:25 is to miss what the beloved Apostle is truly trying to express regarding justification and the resurrection of our Lord.

But to fully confirm this distinction, the true language of the text gives us aid. That the injunction "for" is not meant to be interpreted as Christ obtaining something the first part of this verse proves: "Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Seeing that the same Greek word, dia, is used in both cases, can we apply the same interpretation to the first part, "Who was delivered for [to obtain] our offenses?" Absolutely not, for Christ did not go to the cross to buy our sins but to pay for them! In fact, as the correct translation of the word dia shows, Christ was delivered up to death BECAUSE of our offenses. "But he was wounded for [because] our transgressions, he was bruised for [because] our iniquities..." (Isaiah 53:5) The correct translation of Romans 4:25, as the NASB and all other literal Bibles have correctly translated, is: "Who was delivered because [in consequence of] our offenses, and was raised again because [in consequence of] our justification." This is the correct understanding and it makes all the difference.

What this reveals to us is this: the resurrection did not purchase justification; but rather, justification purchased the resurrection! In fact, this does not only apply to Christ, but if you are NOT justified then you will not be resurrected, and if you ARE resurrected it will prove that you have been justified.

If Jesus Christ had not resurrected three days after they laid Him in the tomb, it would have shown that He was not Messiah and that His death on the cross was meaningless. That is why the disciples, during those three dark days, were so depressed. "But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place." (Luke 24:21, NIV) This is why Paul said that if Christ had not been raised we would still be in our sins... because it would have proved that the cross had been powerless to atone for sin! But oh, it is not so! The preaching of the cross is in fact the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe! For Christ indeed died, and is risen, and therefore we have assurance before God that redemption is truly found in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25), and "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25) The resurrection proved the death of Christ victorious! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!

In closing, I must now mention once again the inseparable relationship that exists between Christ's resurrection and our own future resurrection. Because Jesus died for us, we are justified in God's sight, and because we are justified, just as Christ rose from the dead, "for it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24), so to shall we be risen from the dead as proof that we are the redeemed children of God, free from the law of sin and death. And just like Christ's resurrection, our resurrection will prove the death of Christ victorious to the ultimate end of the glory of God. It is to this end that all creation groans, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, when the creature itself "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) Praise be to God!


"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:53-57)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Angelic Announcement

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." - Acts 1:11


The eleventh verse in Acts chapter 1 reveals to us the very first words spoken immediately following our Lord Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven; a message of foremost importance which God in His wisdom delivered to the awe-inspired apostles as they stood breathlessly gazing up to heaven on the Mount of Olives. Jesus had just ascended, and two angels suddenly appeared to announce again the promise of our risen Saviour's future return. What a fitting time for such a proclamation! How this would infuse hope and strength into the Apostles' hearts! It would do us well to seriously examine such an announcement as this, for I believe the reason why there is so much confusion surrounding the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord is because we have failed to take to heart this first and most fundamental Scripture concerning it!

Therefore let us look at the whole passage together, starting at verse nine:

Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Act 1:10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Act 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Act 1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

THIS SAME JESUS

Right away we notice a very important phrase, "this same Jesus". Oh, I am glad the Holy Spirit inspired the angel to say this little phrase! For He knew that in the future many false doctrines would arise to try and confuse this very solemn fact. Today I have heard the strangest teachings put forth on the Second Coming of Christ... some have said that the Church, the corporate Body of Christ, is the fulfillment of the coming of the Lord to earth. Others have said that Jesus has already returned in a spiritual or ethereal way. But that is not what our Bible says. "This same Jesus!" It is He, the risen Lord, whom we are expecting.

That 'this same Jesus' is to be clearly represented upon our minds is no light matter according to the Holy Scriptures. Paul was full of godly jealousy to protect the Bride of Christ from similar error. In 2 Corinthians 11:4 we read, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." Peter, when preaching to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, emphatically declared, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Anytime the Bible is speaking about Jesus, it is never meaning another Jesus in some alternative way; it is always referring to this same Jesus, "the man Christ Jesus", who was born of a virgin, crucified on a cross, buried in the grave and resurrected the third day.

Therefore the Jesus the angel is speaking of is the same Jesus who minutes earlier stood before the apostles giving them their marching orders to go and be His witnesses in "Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Observe how many times He is mentioned within our short passage:

-And when He had spoken these things
-He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight
-And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up
-As ye have seen Him go into heaven

The subject is clear: Jesus, the same Jesus who ascended before their very eyes into the clouds of heaven, will so come again in like manner as they had seen Him depart.


IN LIKE MANNER
We come now to examine the actual details of our Lord's ascension, for as the angel announced, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven", and therefore such details illustrate a direct parallel with Christ's future return. Again, I thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring these words, for now we find in such a simple announcement exceedingly useful prophetic insights.

1. The first parallel we shall notice is that Christ ascended from earth to heaven, and therefore He shall return from heaven to earth. There are many people who believe that Jesus will not again return to earth but will only appear in the sky, however this passage does not allow for such an interpretation, nor does the whole of Scripture for that matter. The Word of God is clear that when Jesus comes He shall descend from heaven to earth as our text reasonably indicates. Christ shall once again set His foot down upon the earth, only this time as earth's rightful triumphal King, and then shall be the times of the restitution of all things, for as it was at the beginning, so shall it be in the end, when once again "the tabernacle of God shall be with men." What a wonderful conclusion!

2. The second parallel in this passage is that of His ascension in the clouds. "And a cloud received them out of their sight." This is a foreshadowing of Christ's final return in the clouds, as Jesus Himself stated in Matthew 24:30, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." There are numerous verses in both the Old and New Testaments that foretell the great day of the Lord, when Messiah shall descend in the clouds of heaven. Consider the psalmist in Psalm 104, who spoke of the majesty of the Lord's power, singing, "Who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind." (Psalm 104:3) The Apostle John wrote in the opening of the Book of Revelation, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Revelation 1:7) It is not an accident that this detail is mentioned in our text.

3. The third parallel, and most important of all, is that Jesus ascended visibly in the sight of the Apostles; a fact that will again be realized when Christ appears a second time in the full vision of all the world. There was nothing secret or invisible about His ascension. Notice how the Spirit accents this detail by its strong reiteration within the text; He wants us to understand this critical point:

-While they beheld, he was taken up
-And a cloud received him out of their sight

-And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up-Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
-Shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven


What care the Holy Spirit took in choosing such words! It is not surprising that this same emphasis is found all throughout the Scriptures which deal with our Lord's second coming. As we have already read in Revelation 1:7, John does not neglect to highlight this very truth: "...every eye shall see him", and also as we have read of Christ's own words in Matthew 24:30, "...they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." When the Lord returns what a sight that will be to all the inhabitants of the earth! Jesus said "as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:27) There is nothing secret about this at all.

4. The last parallel we can draw from this passage is found in the last verse, "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." The place from which Jesus ascended was the Mount of Olives, and to that very place will He return once again, setting His foot down, when He comes to be glorified in His saints and rule the nations with a rod of iron. To this we turn to the prophet Zechariah, the fourteenth chapter and read, "Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." (Zechariah 14:3-4) It is no coincidence that today there is a major fault line that runs under Jerusalem and through the Mount of Olives, and if there should be a great earthquake then that mountain would split entirely in two forming a great valley from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east. We know that when Jesus Christ returns this will be a reality, a direct fulfillment of this prophecy in Zechariah.


THE GREAT EXPECTATION

I find it extraordinary that throughout the Bible there is only one hope and one glorious coming ever expected at the end of the age, whether it be from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to the Book of the Revelation of John, from the Olivet Discourse to the angelic announcement after the ascension, or from Enoch the seventh from Adam to the letters of the dear Apostle Paul. There is but one event described, and only one event ever anticipated. That one event is our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

May we never lose sight of the Church's great expectation.