“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” — Psalm 130:3-4
Satan is a master deceiver. He is such a subtle, crafty deceiver that he often uses the Word of God itself to confuse people. He is particularly good at using Scripture texts as stumbling blocks, which he piles in the path of sinners seeking the Lord, or to trip and harass God’s pilgrims as they seek to follow Christ through this world. In this study, I hope to clear away some of those stumbling blocks, by answering some questions about forgiveness. I cannot here answer all the questions people have asked me about the forgiveness of sins. It would be futile for me to attempt that. However, I have carefully and prayerfully chosen seven questions which I want to answer.
1 Are there varying degrees of sin, of guilt, and of punishment?
Without question, the Word of God clearly teaches that there are no varying degrees of innocence, righteousness, or holiness, and no varying degrees of reward for the righteous in heaven. The teaching of decrees of reward in heaven is totally contrary to the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. However, the Scriptures do teach us that there are varying degrees of sin, of guilt, and of eternal punishment. Continue reading →
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” — Acts 20:28
Believers cannot exist in this world in spiritual health without the strength, ministry, support, and help of a local church family. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that every child of God know the purpose and value of the church of God in this world and commit himself to it.
The text, which heads this page, is taken from the Book of Acts. One great purpose of that book, which is really a brief history of the early church, is to show us how God works in this world through his church. It is the inspired record of the progress of the church during its first thirty years of existence in this world. The most prominent figure in the church during those first thirty years was the Apostle Paul. It is this man, Paul, who is speaking in chapter 20. He is giving a solemn charge to the elders at Ephesus regarding their responsibilities as the servants of God. He says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Ever since I can remember, I have overheard people of varied Christian persuasions, discussing the merits and shortcomings of the myriad of , and some dubiously so, Christian denominations. For years before I had any real knowledge of, or interest in the subject, I listened with fascination to the enthusiastic and opinionated discussions of certain overly contentious religious people. More often than not they insisted on serving the Lord from within the confines of a specific church or denomination which, according to their perceptions, was the “right” or “correct” church.
I think back to the time when I was effectually called by the Lord to serve His Word and to His glorious purpose. The first year or two of my walk with the Lord was marked by a growing frustration in that I simply could not come to fully identify or encounter the Truth in all aspects of the Word. What I encountered in the local churches was fragmented truth at best, and total lies at worst. Continue reading →