Questions About Forgiveness

Psalms 130

“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

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THE CHURCH OF GOD

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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.”

What is the Church of God? Continue reading

What is it to preach the Gospel?

 PrairieChurchBaja

 Reading: Romans 10:1-17

Introduction:

I received a letter from a preacher yesterday. I want to read a portion of it to you, because it is directly related to my message this morning.

“Dear Pastor Fortner,

I really appreciate being able to come to you with some questions that have arisen in my spiritual life and ministry. I really have no pastor to ask these things. They have somewhat disowned me. When you have time could you please help me with the ending of a message, preaching the gospel, compelling men and women to come to Christ? Do you have an inquiry room such like Spurgeon did? Do you ask troubled souls to maybe seek you out?

I know for sure we can’t save them nor make them. I am totally against this ‘soul winning’ foolishness. I do believe we are to witness and warn sinners of the wrath of God and plead to men and women to flee to Christ our hiding place. Do you wait until the sinner receives assurance from the Lord that they have been saved, then make that profession public?

Thanks for any help you may be able to give. S___ B_______”

This is what I wrote in response.

“Every faithful Gospel preacher is troubled by these matters of great importance. The great problem is in us. We have a great desire, inspired of God, to see sinners converted by his grace. Therefore we pray and study with diligence, and ardently devote ourselves to the preaching of the Gospel. We have another fleshly, carnal lust for success, desiring to see things happen. Therefore we are tempted to employ the use of carnal pressures to get people to make a profession of faith. We need to remind ourselves incessantly, asking God the Holy Ghost to burn it in our hearts, that it is Christ who builds his Church and adds to it daily such as should be saved. This he does by the preaching of the Gospel. Continue reading

BIBLE DOCTRINE? WHY STUDY DOCTRINE?

Psalms 11 v 3

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalms 11:3

Why should we study doctrine?

People often object to any talk about doctrine and the study of doctrine, because they wrongly imagine that it is an unnecessary cause of strife and division. The fact is, we cannot have any unity at all if we do not have doctrinal unity. Doctrine is not everything in Christianity; but nothing is more important than doctrine. Gospel doctrine is the foundation of all true faith, the basis of all real comfort, and the inspiration for all worship, obedience, and devotion.

I often hear people say, “Let’s not discuss doctrine. Let’s just get on with evangelism.” “Let’s not talk about doctrine. Let’s just worship the Lord.” “Don’t preach doctrine. Just preach Christ.” That makes about as much sense as a basketball coach saying to his team, “Boys, don’t worry about the baskets, or the ball, or those lines out there on the court. Let’s just play basketball.” You cannot have basketball without the baskets, the ball, and the lines; and you cannot have evangelism, worship, and Christianity without doctrine.

The study of doctrine is important, because it is foundational. In Psalm 11:3, David asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Obviously, we recognize that “the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Tim. 2:19). Yet, we also know that in this dark, apostate age in which wicked religious men and women walk in darkness, without knowledge and without understanding, “all the foundations of the earth are out of course” (Ps. 82:5). The religion of the world constantly attacks, assaults, and seeks to destroy the foundation of doctrinal truth. When men seek to destroy the very foundations of our faith, what can the righteous do? Here are three things we can and must do… Continue reading