Saturday, February 28, 2015

Conformed To This World - What Are Your Values? - Andrea Kioulachoglou

Conformed to this world - what are your values ?

In our days people seem to do what is right in their own eyes. How does it manifest? Well, women have abortions because a baby doesn’t fit into their career plans, men don’t want to marry because they would rather live without the responsibility that goes with it. Families are shattered because people believe in being right and getting even, rather than in love and forgiveness, etc. The book of Judges suggests a reason for the present situation:
Judges 17, 6: 
“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
What does it concern us?
Romans 15, 4: 
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
So, let’s see what we can learn from what is written at the beginning of the Bible:
In the book of Joshua, Joshua led the people from one victory to another. The following book in the Bible is the book of Judges. There the people go from one defeat to another. How did that happen? A bit earlier in the Bible, God had delivered the people out of slavery in Egypt. He had led them through the wilderness while instructing them through Moses and Joshua on how to live in faith and obedience according to His will and as His subjects, so that it may be well with them. The book of Joshua even ends with the nation of Israel taking a stand for God, ready to experience the blessings of the Promised Land.
After settling in Canaan, however, the Israelites lost their spiritual commitment and motivation. The book of Judges finds the people of Israel without a strong central government. The reason for their rapid decline was sin. The first step away from God was incomplete obedience; the Israelites refused to eliminate the enemy completely from the land. This led to intermarriage and idolatry and everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. It didn’t take long until the Israelites became captives. Eventually they were so desperate that they begged God to rescue them. God being faithful to His promise and out of His loving kindness, raised up a judge to deliver his people, and for a time there would be peace. After some time, complacency and disobedience would set in, and the cycle would begin again. Which cycle do you observe in your life?
In the first part of this article I was speaking about people in this world without referring to any specific group. In the second part of this article we saw God’s dealings with His chosen people. How can we connect those two? The apostle Paul gives us a clue to this:
Romans 12: 2: 
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
God’s will for us is to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And because Jesus Christ is our Lord, we have even the King of kings whom we serve, according to His leadership.
Let me ask a bold question: What has influenced the world more, the church or Hollywood?!
God made everything available through His Son Jesus Christ so that we may walk in what God wants us to walk, that we may have all that God wants us to have. We don’t need to bow to the evil world and live according to their standards and values. His sheep hear His voice, Jesus said. God enables us to do His will. Where we fail – and we will – He is faithful to forgive so that we can go on.
Galatians 1: 4: 
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father”
What is most important in your life? What does God say in His word should be most important in your life? Which are the values/principles in your life? I encourage you to take pen and paper and write down what you want to be important in your/your family’s life. How much do you value truth or do you tend to compromise for the sake of telling a good story? Do you laugh too when others gossip because you don’t want to feel left out or do you take a stand for God and try to esteem the other one higher than yourself, even if it means to leave the group and end up being the subject of their gossip? Are you willing to be a submissive wife because God says so or only when you agree with the leadership of your husband? Will you take the responsibility for your family as the head or will you let it slip away because you are so busy at work?
I pray that God reveals His will to you personally that you may know which values/principles you are to set and to keep in your life, that you may do what is right in His eyes, to His glory. Amen.
Andrea Kioulachoglou

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Azusa Street Revival 1906 - Documentary

This is so very precious. We can see how far we have fallen since the time of 
                               The Azusa Street Revival, 1906. 




  • It cheapens God's estimate of sin
  • It is not taught in scripture
  • It renders all exhortations to holiness to be irrelevant
  • It must "explain away" the vast majority of scripture
  • It encourages sinful living and false assurance
  • It results in false conversions that weaken the true Church
  • It is the most destructive and deceptive lie of Satan


  1. Once saved always saved.
  2. Christians are no different than other sinners, except they are saved.
  3. God cannot see the Christians sin because they are covered by the blood of Christ. NOTE
  4. We can be filthy as a barnyard in body and still be saved and holy in spirit.
  5. We all sin in word, thought and deed, every moment and every day.
  6. All who have ever fallen away were never saved in the first place.
  7. That when one comes to Christ, their sins are paid for past, present and future.
  8. You can only lose fellowship with God and not salvation.
  9. God would never disown or damn one of His own children.
  10. A sheep cannot become a goat.
  11. If we sin we only lose fellowship and not relationship with God.
  12. Salvation is unconditional.
  13. If salvation cannot be earned it cannot be lost.
  14. God will not begin a work that he will not finish.
  15. Repentance is not required for salvation.
  16. Christians who say we must remain faithful to stay saved preach a works salvation.
  17. We can be "Sinning Saints" or "Backslidden Christians" and still be saved.
  18. Only at death can we ultimately be saved from sin.
  19. Christians are still sinners.
  20. I am secure because Jesus paid my sin debt in full. 

NOTE - I believe God does not see our sins, unless we commit those sins which we are warned will keep us out of the Kingdom of God. The bible teaches there are different degrees of sin. There is a sin that leads to death. spiritual death. warren  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Sins of Augustine of Hippo

Brethren, so much of church history has been horrible. Such is Augustine. His false teachings have polluted the churches and deceived so many.

The Sins of Augustine
 by Chuck Fisher
(Used by permission)

Augustine Aurelius, Bishop of Hippo, arguably is considered the most influential theologian after St. Paul. As a pastor and bishop in North Africa, Augustine was one of the most prolific church writers, dealing with the many theological issues that faced the Church in his day. As a teacher, he influenced the course of the Church, and as a bishop, he influenced the politics of Rome. Without a doubt, Augustine it is considered a great man. But does he deserve this reputation?

The history of Augustine's life is pretty straightforward and well-known. Son of a pagan father and Christian mother, Augustine grew up knowing the truth of the gospel, but led his own life, his father taking delight in his son's sexual escapades. Augustine became a well-known orator and studied the pagan philosophies of Plato. Augustine became a Christian at age 32, after discussions about Christianity with a friend, and hearing a child's voice telling him to pick up a scroll and read it. This conversion story is one the most famous in Christendom.

After being baptized, in 387, Augustine moved back to his hometown of Tagaste, in North Africa, to found a monastic community and become a monk. In 391, the church at nearby Hippo pressed him to become a priest, and five years later, he was made Bishop of Hippo. As a Church leader, he became an active pastor, not only for his congregation and diocese, but for his Faith. His life is best known for his doctrinal fights against Donatists and the followers of Pelagius.

Perverter of the Church?
Augustine has been called the Great Teacher of the Church, and the Doctor of Grace, because of his influence on the doctrines of the Church. His voice was so powerful that a simple "Augustine Dixit," "Augustine says ," settled all arguments. Augustine is still beloved theologian of theologians, studied in seminaries and schools of philosophy around the world. However, there are a few things that those who sing Augustine's praises neglect to tell us, things which, if widely known, would call into question his supposedly great contributions to philosophy and theology.

First of all, believe it or not, Augustine couldn't read Greek! It is not required, in ministers, that they be able to read Greek. Many, many ministers have been to Bible schools that did not required them to learn Greek. This does not mean that they're not qualified to pastor churches, to preach and teach the gospel. However, for a theologian to not be able to consult the original languages of the Word of God, this is a critical failure.

This means that Augustine was not able to understand what Paul or Peter or John wrote, without relying on the say so a translator. Which Augustine did. Augustine relied on the translation of his close ally, Jerome of Palestine. Jerome was the man who translated the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek, into Latin. Unfortunately, Jerome was an extremely biased, didactic theologian, and in at least one theological area, that of justification, made an unfortunate translation that has affected the Church ever since. Augustine took a word from Jerome's Latin Vulgate and gave us a Roman court model for justification, rather than the model that Paul presented, in the original Greek, that of a king declaring a subject in right standing with his/her king. Robert Brow, in his article, "Did Paul Teach Law Court Justification?" wrote:

The words in the original Greek might allow, but they never require a judicial interpretation. Since the time of Chrysostom it has been pointed out in the Greek Church that dikaioo could equally well be translated "make upright or righteous" .... If this Greek Orthodox reading of the Epistle is correct then it would seem that it was the legal minds of the first Latin translators and Jerome's Vulgate which introduced the forensic virus into the western church. Augustine did not know Greek, and he set the Roman law court model in stone. Anselm and Calvin clarified that logic with ruthless perfection.

A second problem with Augustine is where he got much of his theology from. Before becoming a Christian, Augustine studied two different religions/philosophies, that he allowed to influence him, and brought their doctrines with him into the Church.

For nine years, Augustine was a Manichean, a devotee of of the teachings of Mani, founder of a Persian moral cult. Like the Gnostics of the first century, Mani and his followers were dualistic, teaching that the flesh was sinful and impure, while the spirit was light and life. As a Manichean, this teaching was a comfort to Augustine, as it let him blame his continued sexual sin on his lower fleshy nature, but still be moral by emphasizing the separateness of flesh and spirit.

Augustine's years with the Manicheans left its impact on the Church, as he brought this teaching into the the Church through his teaching on Original Sin. A. T. Overstreet, in his on-line book, "Are Men Born Sinners?, The Myth of Original Sin," notes:

Augustine's nine years with them [the Maniceans] accustomed him to regard human nature as essentially evil and human freedom as a delusion. Augustine next fell under the influence of Neo-Platonism, and his theological views were strongly influenced by this philosophy as well. However, his doctrine of sin shows the obvious influence of the Gnostic teachings of Manichaeism, in which he assumes the most ridiculous teaching of all the heathen philosophies the teaching that matter can be sinful. And this is the source of his doctrine that sin can be passed on physically from one person to another.

Harnack says:

We have, finally, in Augustine's doctrine of sin a strong Manichaean and Gnostic element; for Augustine never wholly surmounted Manichaeism.

Augustine's doctrine of sin, with his belief in the inherent sinfulness of the physical constitution, is wholly Manichaean. His idea that sin is propagated through the marriage union, that sexual desire is sin and that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin is also Manichaean. Augustine built his doctrine of original sin upon this premise that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin.

As mentioned in the quote above, Augustine studied the teachings of pagan Greek philosophers, the Neo-Platonists. In fact, Augustine was " converted " to Christianity through Neo-Platonist philosophy! "World Book Encyclopedia" had these two comments to make about the influence of pagan philosophy on Augustine:

"The writings of the Neo-Platonists and sermons of Saint Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, convinced Augustine to accept Christianity. "

"Augustine's study of neoplatonism convinced him that God existed in the soul of every human being."

The following is from the "Concise Columbia Encyclopedia" article on Neoplatonism:

"Neoplatonism, ancient mystical philosophy based on the later doctrines of Plato, especially those in the Timaus.... Neoplatonism, widespread until the 7th cent., was an influence on early Christian thinkers (e.g., Origen) and medieval Jewish and Arab philosophers. It was FIRMLY JOINED WITH CHRISTIANITY BY AUGUSTINE, who was a Neoplatonist before his conversion." (emphasis mine)

Did you get that last line? Augustine brought the pagan philosophies, learned before his conversion, into the church and much of our doctrine today is based on this.

What is generally not known about Augustine is that he favored his philosophers more than the Old Testament revelation. Bishop Ambrose, who was instrumental in converting Augustine, had to help him overcome his problem with the Old Testament : it seems that Augustine felt that the God of the Old Testament was capricious and vindictive, and at odds with the God of the New testament.

So how did Ambrose and Augustine overcome the apparent contradiction ? By using a method of interpretation called allegory. The teachings of the Old Testament, according to Augustine, could only be understood by taking the Old Testament as allegory. Augustine spiritualized the Old Testament, teaching that the histories of the Old Testament had nothing to do with God, in reality, that the stories about God in the Old Testament only taught about God in pictures, like parables. According to Augustine, the Old Testament was not a perfect revelation of God and his character, but contained bits and pieces about God that we had to figure out with allegorical interpretation. Augustine's influence was so great that, for a thousand years, his method of interpreting the Bible was the official method of interpretation used by the Church.

Here is what James J. O'Donnell wrote in his on-line article, "Augustine the African"

Here Christianity began to appear to him in a new, intellectually respectable light. As before, his most pressing personal problem was his sense of evil and his responsibility for the wickedness of his life; with the help of technical vocabulary borrowed from Platonic philosophy Ambrose proposed a convincing solution for Augustine's oldest dilemma. Augustine had besides a specific objection to Christianity that only a professor of belles-lettres could have: he could not love the scriptures because their style was inelegant and barbaric. Here again Ambrose, elegant and far from barbaric, showed Augustine how Christian exegesis could give life and meaning to the sacred texts.

How did Augustine's philosophical background affect Christian doctrine ? His neo-platonic views affected his view of God, which is passed on to the Church, at large.

Augustine bought into the Platonic beliefs about the Perfect Ideal. Plato taught that everything that existed was merely a mirror of the one true thing that was perfection, and this Perfect Ideal was unchangeable. If it could change, it wouldn't be perfect. With that as his philosophical presupposition, Augustine brought in an un-biblical definition about God's immutability that survives as orthodoxy to this day. This is from Chapter Two of Bob Moore's on-line book, "Calvinism -- Ten Little Caveats":

From Plato comes the concept of "the forms" or perfect ideals. This gave students of philosophy (one being Augustine) the notion that God does not change in any way because he is perfect. What is perfect, it is argued, does not change because by definition "perfect" means the level beyond which nothing can exceed. Nothing is more perfect than flawless, A+, or 100%. For a Platonist, things which change are inferior to things which do not change.

The Bible presents God as changeless, but the Christian tradition being shaped by Augustine and others, had to interpret what that meant. They had to decide if it meant that God did not change in character or if it meant that he did not change in some stronger sense.

Don't believe that our Christian orthodox doctrine relies on Greek philosophy? Then read these quotes from "The Providence of God," by Benjamin Writ Farley, as cited in Bob Moore's book:

the rudiments of a reformed doctrine of the providence of God lie deeply embedded in the western philosophical tradition. There is little point in debating this. Wisdom and truth consist in acknowledging the fact and in showing how Christian and later Reformed doctrines differ significantly from the older, inherited, philosophical views.

Farley reflects further,

Has Reformed theology wed itself too closely to the classical world's concepts of God's perfection, omnipotence, omniscience, and immutability in its attempts to witness to the God of Scripture? To be certain, such concepts have their place in guiding the church's reflection on the biblical God of providential activity. They enable the church to avoid the pitfalls of defining God in ways that make him subservient to other factors in the universe; they call the church's attention to glaring inconsistencies in its assertions about deity. But they need not 'control' our understanding of God's interaction with his world.

A third problem with Augustine that is not discussed often is his tendency to develop doctrine based on his experience rather than scripture. I have heard it said, "A man's philosophy is dictated by his morals." The same is true for his theology. Augustine wrote an autobiography, considered to be a classic, Confessions, and in it, he discusses his problems with sin. He spends a great deal of time dealing with an incident (as a young teenager ) in which he stole pears from a neighbor's tree, and uses this event to develop and teach the doctrine of Original Sin.

Because Augustine had a problem with promiscuity and lust, and even as a churchman and bishop, had problems with his thought-life, he concluded that no one is able to choose to do good. His problem with the settings and formed the basis for the doctrine of the other depravity of man. This experiential theology, based on his own moral failures, caused him to attack the Biblical theology of Pelagius and Celestius and Julian of Eclanum, who taught man's responsibility to choose to follow God.

A fourth problem area with Augustine is an area that, while well-known among scholars, is not widely discussed, but is absolutely critical in evaluating the truth of the doctrines that he developed and foisted on the Church. This last area deals with Augustine's method of dealing with those who disagreed with his teachings. Since Augustine's teachings became the touchstone for church doctrine, both Catholic and Protestant, it is vital that we examine the process by which Christian doctrine became settled, and was handed down to us.

Augustine was born in 354, in the time of a Christian Roman empire. Augustine did not have to live through the time of persecution that had been on the Church for 250 years, and so did not know the powerlessness that the meek followers of Christ had experienced. Instead, Augustine came into a Church with politically well-connected bishops, who had direct lines of communications to authorities on all levels, including the Roman Emperor. And Augustine, as a bishop of his time, used his resources well.

Early in Augustine's Christian career, a controversy arose over the views of Donatus. Do not be deceived by classical theologians into thinking that Donatists were heretics. They were not. Instead, Donatists were basically Christians who believed in holiness. Coming out of the time of the great persecution of Diocletian, Donatus and his followers refused to accept the leadership and ministry of priests and bishops who had shown cowardice in the face of persecution. The appointment of a minister who had handed over scriptures to be burned was a rallying cry of the Donatists.

As an opponent to the Donatists, Augustine was a vigorous fighter for the Catholic Church. He weighed in with sermons and writings condemning them, which, given his perspective as a Catholic, is understandable. After all, as Christians, we're called to contend for the faith, and if we believe that people are teaching false doctrines, heresies that endanger the faith of weaker Christians, we're to expose the error and preach the truth. However, Augustine took the fight one step further. Ignoring the lessons of the history of the early Church and its experiences with bitter, angry men who sought to destroy it with persecution, Augustine advocated the persecution of the Donatists.

in Aurelius of Carthage and in Augustine the Catholics at last had leaders who were a match for the Donatists. Augustine issued exhaustive historical and theological counter-arguments and a justification of coercion, while Aurelius' organizing ability produced effective action. Yet it took legal sanctions to check Donatism--especially the Edict of Unity (405) and the proscription which followed the convention in Carthage in 411. Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity.

Did you get that? Augustine wrote justifying the legal "coercion" of Christians who disagreed with him. Since when do we resort to legal courts and edicts to decide Christian practice?

It is in the last battle of his life, with the Pelagians that Augustine really distinguished himself as a man willing to use the methods of the world, and not the Bible, to achieve his purposes.

Pelagius, by all accounts (including Augustine's) a godly man, was appalled at Augustine's teaching on Original Sin, and taught differently than Augustine, thus earning Augustine's enmity. He did not believe that all were tainted with the sin of Adam, and opposed Augustine's teachings.

Pelagius also merited the anger of another so-called Father of the Church, Augustine's compatriot, Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. It seems that there was a monk whose name was Jovinian, who taught that it was alright for priests to marry, that there was no great virtue in remaining celibate. Jerome, along with Augustine, was one of the leaders of the teaching that married saints were of a lesser class than celibate saints. Jerome was a vicious man, known for his disgusting attacks on opponents, and his characterization of Jovinian was no different. Jerome depicting this saint as a Bacchanalian orgyist. Pelagius took Jerome to task for such a rotten manner of arguing, thus earning the hatred of Jerome.

Finally, Pelagius was a holiness preacher. Living in Rome, he condemned the loose morals of the Emperor's court, thus earning the enmity of Emperor Honorius.

As many did when it looked like the barbarians might overwhelm Rome, Pelagius left Rome for other parts, specifically, Palestine. While living in Palestine, several of Augustine's followers in Palestine brought charges of heresy against Pelagius, and Jerome joined in the accusations.

There were two trials/synods held in Palestine, and at both of these examinations, Pelagius was declared to be orthodox. He was present to defend himself and explain what he taught. Not content to have Palestinian bishops try Pelagius, Augustine had two more trials/synods held to "examine" Pelagius' teachings, both in North Africa, in Augustine's own home town. To no one's great surprise, these two kangaroo courts declared Pelagius to be a heretic. Mind you, these two trials were held in North Africa, under Augustine's direction, and without Pelagius there to defend his teachings.

The results of these four trials were sent to Pope Innocent of Rome, who sided with Augustine. But Innocent had been lobbied hard by Augustine ahead of time. And Pelagius had not had a chance to defend his teachings. Knowing that Augustine was working to have him declared heretical, Pelagius prepared a defense of his teachings and sent it to Rome.

Now, here is the rub. Innocent died before Pelagius' defense arrived, and a new pope was selected, Zosimus. Zosimus received Pelagius' written defense, and after reading the defense, reopened the case. After examining both sides, Zosimus declared Pelagius orthodox. This is not widely known. Pelagius was declared by an impartial bishop to be orthodox in his doctrine.

This gave Augustine and his party fits, and so they decided to enlist a little more help. Remember how Augustine supported using legal force to settle church matters in the matter of the Donatists? Augustine decided to enlist the Emperor in this matter of doctrine. Augustine and his party decided to appeal to Emperor Honorius to join in on this matter of doctrine. In addition, a fellow bishop and friend of Augustine, Alypius, sent a bribe of 80 stallions to Honorius to use his influence on Zosimus. Again, to no one's surprise, the following year, Zosimus bowed to Imperial pressure and declared Pelagius a heretic.

The church, after the death of Augustine and Pelagius, and under the sting of Imperial pressure and Jerome's hatred, went on to declare all of Pelagius' teachings heretical and all of Augustine's as orthodox.

It is due to the ungodly efforts of Augustine and his party that we owe the spectacle of church doctrine being decided by political power and chicanery.

Doing the research we can see that Augustine, far from being a saint, was responsible for much bad theology being introduced into the Church. Because of him, we have the teachings of Gnostics and Pagans masquerading as Christian doctrine. Because of Augustine's appeal to force, we have a Christian history marred with the image of a blood-stained church willing to kill to enforce its positions.

Christians, Which Race Are You Running? - Anastasios Kioulachoglou

Which race are you running ?

In Hebrews the Word of God speaks of a race that we Christians are supposed to run:
Hebrews 12:1-2 
let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The race of faith we are supposed to run is a race that we run with patience, looking unto Jesus. It is a race whose focus and end is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Christian race. Something else that we can extract from what Paul says is that not all of us that we call ourselves Christians are running this race. Otherwise why the exhortation “LET US run ….. the race”.
The question I have for us, today is what race are we running? Is there any other race?

The rats race

I found this term in a very fine Christian book I’m currently reading, called “Man in the mirror”. There is another race raging around us, the world’s race. In this race the final aim is not the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a race that is run focused on Him. Instead it is a race with various shallow “goals”. It is a race for financial success, job success, self-fulfillment, more materials, bigger and better homes, bigger income, more power and influence. It is a race for the “nice, beautiful and settled life”. It is this race billions of people are running every day, filling shopping malls, filling houses with things, things, and more unnecessary things. It is this race that people are running getting in debt to satisfy the dream of the “beautiful, nice and settled life”. A life of affluence, and “personal (self-centered) peace”. The end of it: emptiness, loss of orientation and stress. Shopping has become a familiar term among Christians. We are going shopping and by this many times we do not mean to get the necessities but to get somehow a joy that supposedly exists in buying things.
There are therefore two races: the Christian race, the race of faith people run by looking unto Jesus. The race of living a life in obedience to God’s Word. This race stands in stark opposite to the race of materialism, consumerism and secularism, the race of the world. The thing is that despite the fact that we Christians should know better many times we fall prey to the race of secularism, materialism and consumerism. You see secularism, the religion of the godless humanists that have re-designed our values to no values, is the majority out there. And many of us are proselytized to their gospel. The TV cries out, the internet cries out, the news cry out, your colleagues cry out…. the gospel of consumerism, materialism and secularism. And many of us, Christians, buy it. To this has also contributed a deterioration of the message of the gospel, and a lowering of the price to be a Christian. For many of us that profess to be a Christian, the God we believe is simply not the God of the Bible. We believe in a God that is a gentle grandfather that spoils us with his gifts. We believe in a God that loves and gives but not in a holy God. Therefore God becomes the one from whom we expect to not only fulfill our needs – which is the right expectation – but to help us continue running the wrong race. We want both God and the world. But this is not possible. As James says:
James 4:4
“know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
It is not possible to run two races at the same time. It is not possible to serve two masters. It is not possible to be up in two horses. You have to choose one of the two and as first step you have to recognize which race are you running. Yes we go to church every Sunday. But this by itself says nothing. Many of us go to church, go through the motions, but by Monday evening they don’t remember what Sundays sermon was about. I believe the best indicator of the race that we are running is what our heart, or better the spirit of God in our heart, is saying. Do you feel full of the power and life of God or empty and disorientated? Getting closer to God brings life. Getting closer to the world brings death. What is the God you are believing in? Is your God a gentle God that always will be spoiling you with gifts and blessings? What would you do if God does not match with your standards, if a prayer is not answered, if a desire is not met? Are you in debt, seeking out the monster of consumerism materialism and secularism? What would you do if to be a Christian became more expensive? If you had to stand for your faith at work or the society?
God is the only source of life. Jesus said, those who seek their life will lose it and those who will lose their lives will find it. Many of us try to save our lives. Our life, our self is the most important thing and the center of our life trying to satisfy him in the shopping mall and in the things and riches we accumulate. Jesus’ way is to lose your life to God, submit yourself to God, look unto Jesus and then you will find what Jesus is, LIFE. The Lord said in Jeremiah that his people had forsaken Him the source of the living waters and had opened holes that were impossible to keep any water (Jeremiah 2:13). God is the only source of living waters. He is the only one from whom life and peace comes and those of us that at one time or another have been close to Him, know this very well. If God seems very remote could it be that we are running the wrong race? Could it be that we have bought the wrong gospel? Absolutely yes. The further we run in the wrong race the further from God we will be. But there is a path of return. As one of the prophets said “let’s examine ourselves and let’s return to the Lord”. As the prodigal son did, let’s come to ourselves and let’s return to the Father’s house. In the parable of the sower, 3 out of the four categories are professing Christians. However only one, the last one runs the right race. The other two are running wrong races. In the second category are those who are Christian only when the price is cheap. When the price goes up, when persecutions arise for the gospel, then they fall away. They are running the race of approval by the world. The other category is the one choked by the riches and the cares of this world. They are the “too busy” ones. They are out there to become rich and to leave a happy and beautiful life according to the world’s standards. This aim blurs their vision so much that at the end, they don’t produce any fruit. They are Christians, but worldly ones, running the race of the rats. None of these two categories produces fruit. It is only the last category that does produce fruit and only this category is running the race of faith. We see it also in Paul’s epistles. Demas a guy that Paul mentioned many times in his letters at the end abandoned him and followed the world. Demas was still racing, but for the wrong cause. He was still running but in the race of the rats not in the race of Christ. In which race are YOU running? Millions of us run in the wrong race. Millions of us need to repent and return. For millions of us it is time to stop putting up with the internal emptiness and turn to the source of all life and true: to the living God as He is revealed by His Word, the Bible. Millions of us have bought the gospel of consumerism, materials and secularism and are running for the “beautiful, blessed, problem free life”. Millions of us have believed in a God that is not the God of the Bible but rather the gentle grandfather that sends blessing. Millions of us would have stopped following God if He didn't answer a very important personal desire. When Jesus died the only property he had was the cloth the guards divided. Today millions of us would need a truck to carry our tons of weight of stuff. Which gospel are you believing? The gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of materialism, secularism and consumerism? As the Word tells us:
“let us examine ourselves and let us return to God” and
“let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Are You Bearing The Cross? - Anastasios Kioulachoglou

Bearing the cross

In several places in the gospels, Jesus mentioned the word “cross”. This didn’t refer to the wooden cross he bore for our sake at the end. In fact whenever he mentioned the word cross it was referring to the cross that we, as his disciples, would bear. It is actually this very cross and the fact that we bear it that marks us as His true disciples. Let’s see this from God’s Word:
Luke 14:25-33 
“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. ….whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 16:23 
“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those who be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 10:33 
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
2 Timothy 3:12
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Looking at the above we can see that following Christ may brings us at odds with society, with those with whom we are familiar – even with our own parents or children. As unpleasant as this may be, it is Christ we should follow. In fact no man can be a disciple of Christ if he has not taken up his cross, accepting and bearing the consequences of being a Christian.
It is especially important to heed at these words and to make a deep decision in our hearts that we will follow Christ and God’s Word whatever the circumstances may be. That we will believe the Word of God regardless of what men and their philosophies and theories may say. It may not be pleasant to the flesh to do this. We all may want to be acceptable by everybody, but sometimes, when it cross the Word of God this may not be possible. We must not step back and retreat but we must bear the cross holding to our faith. What is stronger? What is more valid? Men, their theories and opinions or the word of God? Men’s theories come and go, but God’s word remains. I’ll give you an example: in our time and in our “Christian societies” almost everybody that is not a Christian believes that the world came out of nothing and evolved out of its own. Is this what the Word of God says? A tour in the first chapters of Genesis shows that this is not so. It is God that created everything. Hebrews summarizes it as follows:
Hebrews 11:3 
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
What the world says (evolution) comes in stark opposition to what the Word of God says. What do we as Christians do? Very simple: we believe the Word of God! If God says something then we believe what God says! The key word here is “believe”, “through faith” as Hebrews says. Seeing is not believing. Instead by faith, by believing it is like we have seen it. Does God’s Word says it? If yes we believe it, without caring about what people say. But we may be ridiculed by the others. We may be laughed at and we may be called with names by others that because of our faith considers us fools. Well, this is our cross. As R. T. Kendal says:
every generation of Christianity has its own stigma by which the believer’s faith is severely tested. For example in the first generation of the church it was to say that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillments of the Old Testament. This was particularly the stigma which the Jews accepted when facing the establishment that upheld Temple worship. Around the turn of the first century the cutting issue came to be whether to praise Christ or Caeser… In Luther’s day it was whether one was justified by faith or works. These are but a few examples .. for I could go on and on. The most hotly contested issue of any day is that which is true but which also makes the minority view look foolish and makes the believer look a fool” (R. T. Kendal, Believing God, Authentic classics, p.17)
How would it be if we were around Luther’s time and stood up for salvation by grace? We would be called foolish, and called with names there too. But there too we should have stood up for what the Word of God says, bearing the cross, accepting the stigma. What I want to say in this article is simple: bear your cross. Believe the Word of God 100%. Accept it is as the only authority for your life. Do not water down the message to make it compliant with what society says. Do not give up on what God says in his Word for essentially just to gain acceptance by others. Many Christians have done this. Many Christians when it comes to Creation versus evolution for example – that’s one very hot issue of our times, may be the hottest, that makes the believer look fool – have chosen to water down the message and compromise their faith. The will believe both in evolution and in Creation by God. This is not thought what the Word of God teaches. You don’t have to have something proven to you in order to believe it. You have to find it in God’s word in order to believe it. Does the Word says it? If yes believe it, if not don’t believe it, regardless of what others – we call them “experts” – may say. This is a child like faith and this is what pleases the Father. A child like faith to what the Father says.
Here are some more verses to help us see that being a disciple of Jesus Christ does mean accepting the possibility of being persecuted (this may meant physically persecuted in some countries and in some ages, and/or ridiculed and made look fool, like in our time and in Western societies). They also show us what we should do:
2 Timothy 3:12 
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
2 Timothy 4:2 
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Romans 1:16 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
John 17:14 
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
1 Corinthians 15:19 
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
1 Thessalonians 3:3 
“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.”
John 12:43 
"For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. "
Whose praise do we want at the end? Do we want God’s praise or man’s praise ? I don’t say that sometimes you cannot have them both: leaving in a godly way does mean loving your neighbor and doing good and people may praise you for this – though it should never be your motive. But there may be times where you cannot have them both. When people ask you what you do in the mornings and you tell them that you read your Bible, you are risking to be laughed at. So what? When there is a talk about evolution and you say that God created everything, you are risking to be called fool. So what? When you say that Christ is the only way the truth and the life you are risking to be called exclusionist. So what? When you are reading your Bible or a Christian book in the plain or in the buss, you may catch some that look at you strangely. What the Bible says is at stark opposition to what the world says. It was always like this and I believe it will continue to be like this till the Lord comes back. What you and I have to do is just to choose to whom we will turn our back. Will we accept the stigma, take up the cross and follow Christ or we will water down the message, wanting to have both the acceptance of men - or not to be made look fool - and the acceptance of God?
Mark 8:38 
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Luke 12:8 
“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God”
Romans 1:16 
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
It is a sinful generation that NEED what you believe. Let’s not water down the message of the gospel, the treasure we have, just to avoid the consequences that go with it. Instead let’s take up the cross and follow the Savior that was revealed to us.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Hated Those Who Denied Eternal Security - John C.

I Hated Those Who
Denied Eternal Security

John C.

christian testimony

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Christian Testimony of Former Open Brethren
and Eternal Security Proponent

My name is John. I was brought up in the Open Brethren and was taught OSAS [once saved always saved] from an early age.
I was converted at 8 years of age, was baptized and received into fellowship at 14. I started to preach at 17.christian testimony All this time I never had any contact with anyone who denied OSAS, although I was aware that such people existed.
While I was in my teens I became aware of the power of sin in my life and sought deliverance from it. I had no-one to turn to as everyone I knew appeared to take sin for granted as the normal Christian experience. For my part I was deeply distressed by my inability to please God as I knew I should. I was especially convicted by reading Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel. It appeared to me that other Christians were not interested in holiness so long as they were saved. I yearned for freedom from sin.
It was at this time that I noticed that OSAS was used as an excuse by some people to deliberately disobey clear commands of Scripture. I firmly believed in OSAS but had no answer to those who (in my view) misused the teaching in this way. I also found a certain comfort from OSAS myself in those times when I was sowing to the flesh, although I always bitterly regretted my sin later.
When I turned 20 I met a man who denied OSAS for the first time. We had a violent argument and it showed just how deeply emotionally I held this teaching. His arguments did absolutely nothing for me, but two of his remarks stung me. He said, "John, I have noticed that those who believe in OSAS are either practicing sinners or the parents of children who have made a profession of faith and fallen away." His second comment was, "Well John, I went through the whole of the New Testament and underlined all those verses which taught OSAS and all those which didn't and it seemed to me to be 50/50 so I plumped for the safer side. If you're right and I'm wrong then it doesn't matter. But if I'm right and you're wrong ...."
I was furious and decided to do my own study to show that the Bible was 100% solid on OSAS. Feeling tender on the issue, I used my influence as an elder's son to have all the books in the assembly library vetted to weed out any potentially subversive material and tried to get a man banned from the platform for being (in my view) "soft" on OSAS. I can honestly say that I hated those who denied what I took to be the fundamental gospel truth of OSAS.

After I Had Carefully Read Through
All of the New Testament...

After I had carefully read through all of the New Testament (and especially going through the epistle of Jude) I could clearly see that I was in the wrong, but I was still puzzled by a number of passages which seemed to teach OSAS.christian testimony I realized that I would have to go back and read through the New Testament all over again. I have been doing this now for the last 20 years. One by one the verses and passages which I was told taught OSAS have been reclaimed by the Holy Spirit for their original purpose -- and in some cases having the exact opposite meaning to that put on them by OSAS'ers. I can also honestly say that my research was done absolutely independently. My views on the subject have been taken solely from the Bible and have been constant now for some 17 years. I think I can honestly say that I have studied virtually every argument made in favor of OSAS that exists -- the Plymouth Brethren are experts on OSAS, as well as being its staunchest defenders.
While I was slowly coming round to the truth I experienced firsthand the effect of the OSAS teaching on the lives of young Christians. One of our elders was a fervent OSASer and what is more, taught that many of the warnings of the New Testament were either hypothetical, or did not apply to Christians, but rather to the Jews or unbelievers. There was in that assembly a natural leader of the young people, and he started throwing parties at which people were getting drunk and committing fornication. This young man had his theology worked out to the nth degree. He had taken the OSAS teaching and followed it through to its logical conclusion and had become what I would now call an Antinomian -- that is to say -- someone who believes that God's grace can be abused with impunity ("let us sin that grace may abound"). There were several cases of immorality among the assembly's young people. When the matter was reported to the elders the chief witness was intimidated to such a degree that unbelievers were involved and the police became interested. At an emergency church meeting the culprit swore on the Bible that he was innocent. I realized how that OSAS had completely removed the fear of God from his heart.
I could go on and on relating sordid stories of my encounters with professing Christians and the wicked things they do, and how they justify their actions by appealing to OSAS, but it would not be edifying to do so.
I remember one day how the scales fell from my eyes when I realized that the promise in John chapter 10 that the Lord's sheep would never perish applied only to those who followed him. What a blessed relief! The Scripture meant what it said but offered no hope for OSAS'ers or practicing sinners.

It Doesn't Say He Cannot Deny Us

I remember the excitement of discovering that If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13) cannot be used to deny the truth of the preceding verse if we deny him, he also will deny us. It doesn't say he cannot deny us, but he cannot deny himself. God cannot go against his holy and righteous nature. He cannot bless the wicked as if they were righteous, and he cannot punish the righteous as if they were wicked. If he threatens to punish the wicked and they repent (as in the case of Nineveh in the book of Jonah), he cannot carry out his threat. Likewise if he promises to bless the righteous and they turn from their righteousness (as in the case of Eli in 1 Samuel 2:30), then he is absolved from his obligation to bless them. So simple and so just.
But the thing that impressed me most of all was the very clear teaching of the New Testament that we must persevere to the end in order to be saved. And my favorite passage for this is Colossians 1:21-23. And this killed OSAS for me for good.
One of the results of my deliverance from OSAS has been that I have been freed from that fatal temptation to make light of sin. I fear it. I am afraid of going to the Hell fire. But I have discovered that the Bible teaches we can overcome through our union with Christ in his crucifixion and resurrection, which is the gospel.
I have never yet found an OSASer who was prepared to sit down with me and discuss from the Bible how they justify their teachings from it.
Circumstances had it that just over a year ago I challenged a Brethren youth leader over his claim that Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel were not binding on Christians today, and this quickly turned into an emotionally-charged debate on OSAS. After months of procrastination, and shortly before my 40th birthday, the elders of the assembly (almost all of whom have lost children into the world) and offering no defense for their system of belief, finally removed my name from the list of members.

I firmly believe that OSAS is one of the greatest lies of the Enemy. I would prefer to call it the doctrine of Balaam. May God open your eyes to this and release you just as he released me. Amen.

The Father Prunes The Believer - Andrea Kioulachoglou

Prune to bloom

It’s spring and I just trimmed our trees. Gardening is really quite a job, especially when you are like me and hardly know anything about it. In the Bible (Romans 1) it says that you can learn about God by looking at His creation. A beautiful tree can be breathtaking. But somehow I never seemed to have noticed that it takes the skill of a gardener in order for a tree to turn out so well.
About two years ago we moved into our house with a small garden, big enough to fit 3 trees. I didn’t have a clue what to do with the garden but saw all my neighbours diligently doing things in their garden. So I turned to THE Gardener and asked Him to show me what to do. Anyway it’s Him who planted the garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 8). Low and behold, months later that tree that I had trimmed bore fruit – an apple tree!
The main reason why I had trimmed it significantly was because I didn’t want it to get out of my control, growing so high that only a professional, like Danny the tree surgeon (a friend and brother professional in trimming trees), could trim it down to the size of our garden. Light is also important; does the tree still leave enough light for the other trees or plants? What about my neighbour, is he happy with that much shade in his garden? Or are the roots of my tree interfering with whatever is going on in my neighbour’s garden? It’s amazing what kind of root system trees develop.
If you consider that a tree starts off like a little grass kind of plant, growing into an almost bush-like thing, it doesn’t even look as if it would ever turn into a tree. But you take good care of it and cut off the little twigs so that the remaining ones become stronger AND bare fruit. Now I enjoy looking at trees even more because I try to see how the gardeners trimmed them so that they became the way they are and also I try to see how they might grow further and which branches should be cut because they just sap the energy of the other twigs and branches.
So far about home gardening. Now let’s look at another area of gardening – parenting. I mean the situation you sometimes find yourself in when God trusts you with one person, two persons or a group of people. That can be children, godchildren, nieces & nephews, a small group, a team in sport or at work. No matter who they are or how many, if you are in charge, you better have a vision for them. You teach them, ”water” them, teach by example and you might find that one learns better with practical examples, another when memorizing the specific teaching, skill or verse, especially when applied with the “rod” of repetition. So with each individual you need to see which twigs should grow into branches, which areas need pruning so that they can bloom according to their position, gifting and function. One can direct their growth. The Bible also speaks about people being like trees:
Psalm 1:1-3 
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.“ (ESV)
Psalm 52:8 
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.”
Now we will combine the two areas of gardening and take it one level further. Read with me John 15:1-8 :
John 15:1-8 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
OK, we are to bear fruit, which is a good thing. But what fruit are we talking about? We find an answer in Galatians 5:22-23
Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
If we start reading from verse 19 we see the fruit of the Spirit in stark contrast to the works of the flesh:
Galatians 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
So we see from these passages that Jesus Christ is the vine and that we are the branches. The branch separated from the vine obviously withers away because it dries up. The Father is the vinedresser, the gardener that does the planting, pruning and whatever else is related to us bearing fruit. And if we bear fruit He prunes us so that we may bear even more fruit. To prune means to cut off a piece, to bring in shape. To a human being this is not quite like nail clipping or the trimming of the hair but can be quite painful at times.
We also see that it is the Holy Spirit that wants to bring forth the fruit through us. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ produced by the Holy Spirit. Natural man cannot develop godly character without the work of the Holy Spirit. The principle of fruit-bearing is a life-principle. Life develops from a life-source; it cannot be manufactured. Fruit grows as the requirements of the life-principles are met.
Very often I want to know how things work and I am not content just knowing that I “have been born again, not of perishableseed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23) and that the Holy Spirit is producing the fruit. The Bible is a very practical book and even provides an answer to that in Galatians 5:24
Galatians 5:24
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
According to Romans we are to reckon our old nature crucified. And only when I am crucified, my flesh is disabled and the Spirit free to act. Someone had said “When sin knocks on the door, I just let Jesus answer”.
Please keep in mind that gardening is a dirty job, you may get soil under your finger nails and get bothered by thorns or unruly weeds and sweat. But you will certainly grow in your understanding of there being a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God has put man in the garden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15) – get into your garden and just do it, prune and be pruned to bloom!

Andrea Kioulachoglou

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