Defending the Weak

stock-vector-sign-men-working-industrial-style-vector-139388831Biblical masculinity is rapidly eroding among professing Christian men. In fact, let’s just say that masculinity in general is eroding in our society because it’s now viewed as socially aberrant.

Weakness among men is now promoted as a social virtue. Being “soft” is the new ideal. During the Rio Olympics, corporate sponsors spent millions promoting transgendered and androgynous users of their products.

This has become the new “normal.” But the erosion goes deeper than just a new emphasis on gender confusion and sexual ambiguity. It’s even as basic as declining strength among men.

Last month, The Washington Post published a study showing that the grip strength of a sample of college men had declined significantly between 1985 and 2016.

The grip strength of the average college male had declined so much — from 117 pounds of force to 98 — that it now matched that of older Millennial women. In other words, the average college male had no more hand strength than a 30-year-old mom.

In The National Review, David French begins his article on the subject with this provocative sentence: “If you’re a Millennial male, your dad is stronger than you are.”

It’s an ominous trend. For centuries, fathers have taught their sons to be strong and to protect their honor. But they also expected their sons to defend those who were weak.

This is not merely a cultural value; it’s a biblical value that godly men defend the weak.

For any man to defend the weak, he needs a combination of requisite strength and courage… but mostly courage. Yet the social trajectory among American Millennials is moving in the opposite direction. Diminished strength is resulting in diminished courage.

And it’s not just Millennial males. The average male in general today is more likely to watch a person get attacked (like a spectator watching a movie or video game), than he is to physically intervene to stop the attack.

This reality, as told in The Washington Post, tragically illustrated the crisis I’m describing more than a year ago on a crowded Washington D.C. metro subway on July 4, 2015.

The young victim, Kevin Sutherland, was repeatedly stabbed while his fellow passengers remained “huddled at both ends of the car,” watching but doing nothing to intervene.

Among the spectators on that subway were many able-bodied men of various ages and sizes; but they all stood-by in silence as the attack went on, watching but doing nothing.

In the heart of most men, we intuitively know this is not the way it should be. Inactivity in the face of such brutality may be rationalized, but it is not excusable.

Ronald Reagan’s adage of “peace through strength” is as true on a D.C. subway as it is on the playground as it is on the battlefield. As a father, I want to instill in my sons a vision for biblical masculinity.

These components include a cultivation of physical strength through service and exercise; a sense of dignity, honor and respect, for themselves and for others; and an intentional focus on intervening to protect the weak in our society – physically, spiritually, and otherwise. Don’t adopt a “victim mentality;” but cultivate a good defense strategy.

One of the small ways I’ve started doing this with my children is through our nightly family Bible studies. It’s part of our family bedtime routine.

My wife and I alternate, but when I’m the one leading the Bible story, whatever the narrative is about, I’ll usually look for something good or bad relating to masculine honor that I can emphasize in one of the characters. Either way, they see an inspired example that illustrates godly masculinity… or its absence.

This allows our children to see real-life examples in God’s Word of what traits we want to develop in ourselves – as well as the negative traits we want to avoid.

We want our sons to defend the weak and never be an attacker who bullies or belittles. We want them to have an attitude of joyful service to assist others in an honorable way. We want them to conduct themselves with dignity and respect, both in our presence and behind our backs; both publicly and privately. This curriculum will last for years.

I groan to consider the many ways I’ve failed to be more intentional as a father, thinking that my children would automatically grow up to be living demonstrations of biblical masculinity and biblical femininity. But these rare traits must be taught and cultivated.

My prayer is that we will raise strong warriors for Christ and that God will use those of us who care deeply about these qualities to stem the tide of our society that is running headlong in the opposite direction.





woodsIn many ways, graceless moralism is further removed from God’s kingdom than outright immorality. That’s because moralists often see no need for God’s grace in themselves.

To the upright pagan moralist, Paul argues in Romans 2:1 that such a person who judges another is actually more guilty than those they presume to condemn.

Then Paul uses a direct form of speech: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man…”

In this Greek form of argument known as a diatribe, Paul seems to be talking to people who are closer to his own circles of life… these are moral pagans, religious Gentile moralists, and it also includes the unsaved Jews.

In Romans 2:3 he asks, “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”

Paul is not saying that the moralist has necessarily committed the specific sins they’re condemning, but that such a person is nonetheless guilty because by judging other sinners, he proves that he has an informed moral conscience.

The moralist further demonstrates that he has a standard of righteousness that is something other than God’s standard. His false standard allows him to condemn others while acquitting himself.

And added to this blindness and hypocrisy is the greater sin of pride.

Self-righteousness is the spiritual manifestation of pride. The moralist feels superior to other sinners because God is not his standard. He measures himself by other sinners.

And speaking of hypocrisy, notice that the sin of hypocrisy isn’t once listed among the catalogue of Gentile sins back in Romans 1, verses 18-32.

That’s a very interesting observation.

The outright pagans in that group are presented as openly depraved and openly wicked, but they don’t usually pretend to be virtuous or better than other people.

However, the Gentile moralist in chapter 2 is guilty of the same sins he condemns in others to one degree or another, but then he adds the sin of hypocrisy by pretending to be more virtuous. He thinks the gospel is for bad people, but not for him.

Hypocrisy tends to be more easily committed by moralists than by outright pagans. That’s because there’s something inherently hypocritical about moralism.

In Romans 2:2-5, this pagan moralist argues that God should judge vile sinners, but not him because he’s better than those people. These are the self-conscious pagans.

He insists on being saved by his own good works; he thinks that’s a fair trade, not realizing that his most righteous deeds are but filthy rags in God’s sight.

If this describes any aspect of your present life, confess it to God as sin and repent of it today. Repentant moralists and hypocrities will be forgiven.

But do it today before it’s too late.

With love in the Truth,
Pastor Kevin


The Current State of Affairs

California 157We all need encouragement.

After all, we are surrounded by ample evidence of our fallen condition. Sometimes, just remembering the destitute moral state of humanity without Christ is sufficient to put our perspective back into proper order.

Nothng does this more that Romans 1:18 and following.

There’s not a more hopeless picture of our fallen race in all of Scripture than what we have in this second half of Romans 1. Understanding this hopeless condition apart from Christ actually encourages me as a believer with good news for repentant sinners.

Our wretchedness and inability to please God on our own is set against the perfect righteousness of God and the free gift of salvation just stated in verses 16-17.

In verses 18-32 all of humanity is in view, but the emphasis in these verses is on Gentiles and the pagan immoralities that are most common among Gentiles.

Later on, Paul focuses on moral Gentiles who are lost as well as moral Jews who are lost in chapters 2-3. They need the gospel as well.

But let’s consider the emphasis here on pagan Gentiles as representatives of all humanity in verses 18-32.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” [ESV]

This is the problem for all of us apart from Christ.

We are by nature children of wrath. By nature, we are suppressers of truth. Yet God has written His moral law even on the hearts of lost humanity.

That point may be a very surprising thing to hear.

That’s why when we do evangelism, the only effective resource to use is the written Word of God. We must quote Scripture. Scripture is powerful in converting the soul.

That’s because the evangelist who uses God’s Word has an unexpected ally in the heart of every lost person. That’s the work of God’s law that He has already written on their hearts. Later on, in chapter 2, verse 15 he writes of lost Gentiles that…

“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…”

When Scripture is read and quoted, it brings to light what the fallen heart has been suppressing up to that moment. They may reject it, but the witness is still effective.

It is this inner work of the law that responds to the written Word of God. So we use God’s Word and quote Scripture in our witnessing to the lost.

In addition to the Bible, God has also shown His existence to all men by the things He has made.

Although lost humanity knows that God exists, if only at the deepest level of their suppression of this truth, they know it and yet still reject Him as God.

They choose instead to worship anything other than God. They deify the most contemptible of men in cults and false religions and other creatures as well.

As a result of worshipping fallen creation, they give themselves over to vile affections. That’s because people can never rise higher than the object of their worship.

When people reject the Creator and worship the creature or the creation, they begin to descend lower and lower into a moral abyss of self-degrading passions.

Far from forcing people against their own fallen will to have freedom in Christ, God “gives them up” – verse 24 – “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”

When fallen man hates the Savior and spits in His face, God gives them what they want. They don’t want heaven or holiness. They don’t want peace with God.

They want, by degrees, distance from God; they want the absence of light and truth and holiness. In short, they want just a little bit of hell on earth.

And they want it under the guise of freedom. They want autonomy – to be their own Lord and Master and to invent their own way of salvation and atonement.

They want to feel free in their bondage to immoral pleasures and sexual perversions.

And after they shake their fist in God’s face at the very end of their lives, they get the permanent separation from God they wanted all along – forever in hell.

In verse 28, a “debased mind” or a “reprobate mind” (KJV) is a mind that no longer works.

It doesn’t function as a mind ought to function. It can’t think properly and it no longer operates in the best interest of the person who has this kind of mind.

This is a self-destructive mind, delighting in its own ruin. It calls good, evil; and evil, good. So this person does what ought not to be done to their own destruction.

The only hope for reprobate sinners is total submission to Jesus Christ. He is able and willing to redeem all who come to Him for salvation from their sins.

All of us need this salvation… and it’s the only way to be encouraged forever.

Held by His grace,
Pastor Kevin






God’s Sufficient Word

flowersIn our day, no Christian doctrine has been more assaulted in the world and in the church than the truth that God’s written Word — the Bible — is altogether sufficient.

Right now, many of the worst assaults on the Bible are coming from seemingly friendly sources… people who claim to follow Jesus and also from Christian book publishers.

You see aspects of this assault in the modern charismatic movement with private personal revelations couched in “the Lord told me…” formulas… with special hidden revelations.

And you can also see an undermining of the sufficiency of Scripture in best-selling devotional books, like “Jesus Calling.”

And you see this same downward trend in personal experience books about heaven and the afterlife in “Heaven Is For Real” and so forth.

This trend is also found in private messages from God, so-called ‘words of knowledge’ that are essentially an evangelical breed of ‘fortune-telling.’

And then there’s the growing cult of personal experience all of which is distracting Christians away from a reliance upon God’s all-sufficient Word.

Scripture itself has much to say about its own sufficiency.

We don’t need private supernatural messages from God; we have Moses and the prophets – moreover, we also have Jesus and His Apostles to give us everything God wants us to know about life and death; and about heaven and hell.

Yet the Bible also requires us to think… and that’s an increasingly unpopular activity.

So I want to briefly consider the sufficiency of Scripture in this blog.

The first six verses of Psalm 19 describe God’s general revelation through nature. In particular, it reveals His self-disclosure through the skies and by the light of the sun.

Then in verses 7-14, we have a description of God’s revelation through Scripture, here described as law, testimony, precepts, commandments, and rules – which all emphasize its binding authority.

What does it mean to speak of the sufficiency of Scripture? It generally means that the Bible tells us everything we need to know about God and how to follow His will.

It means that we go to Scripture alone when we want to have God’s words for us.

It further means that private messages having nothing to do with the Bible that come from individuals who claim to speak on God’s behalf are false. We are not to seek them.

God considers His written Word to be enough for us… all we need for life and godliness… all we need to please Him.

All that God requires of us is recorded in His written Word: to do everything the Bible commands of us is to be blameless in God’s sight.

And since none of us can ever do all that God commands of us, Scripture alone reveals the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, as the Savior of all who believe.

In 2nd Timothy 3:16-17, we are told that…

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” [ESV]

Verse 17 teaches us that if there’s any “good work” that God wants a Christian to do, then God has made provision in His Word for training us to do it.

In other words, there is no “good work” that God wants us to do other than those that are taught somewhere in Scripture: the Bible equips us for every good work.

In this equipping ministry, the Bible is both sufficient and supreme.

If you are a follower of Christ, be comforted by this thought: ‘God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.” Have you been called to salvation? Have you been called to some blessed form of service in His kingdom? Then go with His equipping.

Scripture is what equips us for every good work in this life. It is altogether sufficient.

All for His glory,
Pastor Kevin




How to Receive God’s Word

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. [James 1:19-21, ESV]

open-golden-bibleGod speaks today through His written Word, the Bible. Anyone who wants to receive a message from God needs only to open their Bible.

If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, then read your Bible out loud. It is through Scripture that God speaks to us objectively.

In James 1:19-21, James gives us five keys to receiving God’s written Word. We’ll consider the first of these in this blog.

These observations are designed to help us better receive the implanted Word, stated at the end of verse 21.

The first key deals with the beginning of verse 19. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear…” So here’s the first observation…

I.  Believers who willingly submit to God’s Word must be quick to hear (19a).

In the ESV, which I’m using here, the opening phrase is rendered, “know this.” In the NIV it says, “take note of this.” In the NASB it’s translated, “This you know.”

Once again, James is using an imperative statement. He has used the imperative earlier in chapter one as well.

The imperative is like a verbal highlighter that underscores what the writer is about to say. James grabs the reader’s attention and requires action on our part.

He says, “know this…” because there were and are Christians who don’t know how to receive God’s Word profitably. This is something every Christian needs to hear.

James loves these Christians. He calls them “my beloved brothers.” He isn’t writing in anger, but he’s pleading; he’s urging like a concerned father for their progress in the faith. There are spiritual dangers James urges believers to avoid. These instructions relate to receiving God’s Word, both publicly and privately.

The first key to receiving God’s Word (in verse 19) is the determination to be “quick to hear.” The idea behind this phrase is that of an eagerness to learn.

When we read the Bible for personal study, “quick to hear” describes how our heart should be toward God’s Word.

In the private setting, we hear with our eyes as we read the Bible. Hearing can be active or passive. Passive hearing is when you’re not trying to hear but it happens anyway.

Every day, I passively hear train whistles in the background, especially at night. At home, I passively hear dogs bark in the background. I don’t try to hear these sounds. In fact, I prefer not to hear them; but I hear them anyway. So James is calling for active hearing… where we strive to hear with an embracing heart.

Likewise, when I listen to a sermon, “quick to hear” means my heart is prepared and eager to listen. My mind should be awake and fully engaged, but not to criticize or to pass judgment on the text or the speaker, but to receive instruction as the Spirit applies the truth to my own heart.

This attitude presupposes the desire to be taught.

Winston Churchill revealed something about himself when he confessed, “I am always willing to learn, although I’m not always willing to be taught.”

Many of us can relate to that sentiment.

There is wisdom in knowing that we need to be taught. Learning requires a high degree of listening (or taking knowledge in rather than putting information out) where talking is restrained on the part of the learner, except in interactive contexts, and only then when it’s absolutely necessary to facilitate learning.

I remember in seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “When I was a boy, my father taught me to take every opportunity to stand in the presence of wise men.” Then he said, “Always keep your mouth shut, except to ask a perceptive question.”

In Proverbs 10:19 Solomon wrote, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

The ability to keep silent is a prerequisite to learning. The more proud and foolish a person is, the less willing they are to retrain their lips and listen to others.

In a book published back in 1970, Dr. Paul Tournier wrote: “Listen to the conversations of our world, between nations as well as between couples. They are, for the most part, dialogues of the deaf.” That’s a description of people who are “hard of listening.”

Why is listening – being quick to hear – so important to receiving God’s Word?

When James wrote these words to the dispersed Jewish believers throughout the Roman Empire, apart from the OT, there were no canonical Scriptures for the NT at this early date in the church’s infancy. James was first in terms of writing.

The epistles hadn’t been written yet and even the gospels hadn’t been written yet.

Therefore, all instruction in the gospel of Christ and in doctrine was oral as believers met from house to house. They gathered to listen to the apostles’ teaching as it was conveyed orally.

Listening became a matter of spiritual life or death. Those who didn’t listen didn’t receive God’s truth. Those who don’t know how to listen to God’s Word in any era become spiritually weak and divisive. Listening is still spiritually vital in our day.

Little or nothing can be learned by a person who refuses to stop talking.

Have you heard from God today?

Have you taken the time to read your Bible?

Take up and read! Be quick to hear and slow to speak.

May God use this teaching to enable us to profitably receive His Word.

For the glory of Christ,
Pastor Kevin



moon from everestFor Christians, Jesus Christ is the essence of Christmas. Everything else is negotiable. Traditions and trees and gifts are temporary… but Jesus Christ as God incarnate is eternal.

God became a Man and entered our world. The everlasting Creator left His throne in heaven to take on human form and live in a body like one of us. His entrance was anything but peaceful. Herod was on the throne and Israel was under Roman occupation.

God chose one of the darkest hours to introduce His Light into the world. Consider Matthew 2, verses 1-12 where we meet two very different kinds of people.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

   “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. [ESV]

In these verses we find a great variance of response to Jesus’ birth. The wise men were compelled to worship the new King, but Herod wanted to kill Him. But both parties converged on this scene in history.

The Light had come into the world and that Light was drawing worshipers, but wicked men loved darkness because their hearts were evil.

Those same two responses to Christ are seen in our day as well. Those who reject Jesus typically ignore the true meaning of Christmas and choose to focus on cultural rituals and personal traditions. But those who love Him, delight in the truth of His incarnation.

In Matthew 2, we learn that true worshipers are sovereignly drawn by the Father of Lights, while those who insist on self-rule are doomed to fear and ultimate defeat.

The worship of the magi and the opposite response of Herod both point to the true identity of King Jesus. Because Jesus was the true King, the wise men sought to worship Him. Because Jesus was the true King, the foolish king sought to slaughter Him.

If you are a true believer, an obedient follower of Christ, then your heart desires to please Him. You are compelled to worship Jesus with your thoughts, and words, and actions.

May this contrast in Matthew 2 prompt you to respond more reverently and more fully to Christ during this Christmas and New Year.

With joy in His coming,
Pastor Kevin





Spreading the Word

sermonaudioFor over five years, Providence has been uploading our weekly sermons onto SermonAudio for worldwide distribution of God’s preached Word around the clock.

The Lord has already used this online ministry to bless us in some incredible ways.

Not only have thousands of people benefitted from hearing our sermons and conference messages over the years, but we’ve even had families visit and even join our church (!) because they found out about Providence by listening to SermonAudio!

We also receive a steady flow of letters and comments from listeners. Just this week, I got an encouraging email from a missionary in Eastern Europe. He was writing to connect with our church for like-minded doctrinal fellowship.

In terms of numbers, our SermonAudio pages have been viewed over 24,000 times. The sermons themselves have been downloaded over 10,000 times all over the world. And in the five-plus years we’ve been using this site, the traffic to our sermon page is only growing. One sermon alone has been downloaded well over 1,300 times!

So God is using this online ministry to multiply the influence of every preached message. I’m so thankful that we live at a time when sermons can be recorded and preserved for future downloads. I’m also grateful to those who work in our sound booth to set the levels and capture the messages as they’re being delivered from the pulpit.

This is a noteworthy ministry to the Body of Christ. In fact, the audio and sound booth ministry of a local church may be one of the most highly-effective and yet under-rated ministries in a church.

Think about it: every online or national radio ministry starts out with sound people recording the sermon and setting the levels for optimal transmission to the public. It’s been this way for over seventy years, going back to the 1940s when sermons were recorded that are still impacting the world in our day.

Recording the preached Word is the most significant thing a microphone or soundboard can do. It’s worth the investment of time and money to make it work, because it has the potential to exponentially spread God’s Word to the greatest number of people.

God is using this technology in amazing ways!

For His Glory,
Pastor Kevin


Being Offended vs. Being Convicted

Tree with storm clouds

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the differences between spiritual sheep and spiritual goats. In this post, I want to consider another difference in the way sheep and goats respond to God’s truth when it’s taught.

Concerning offenses that rise among unbelievers from hearing God’s truth…

“The disciples came and said to Jesus, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” [Mt. 15:12-14, ESV]

Jesus made this remarkable statement after finding out that the unbelieving Pharisees were offended by the truth He had taught.

Whenever the truth of God confronts the prevailing sins of the day, the spiritual goats of the world typically respond with offense and rejection.  This was the context of Matthew 15:10-14, as quoted above.

When the disciples came to inform Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what He taught, Jesus didn’t change His approach. Far from it. Rather, He said…

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

God’s truth offends spiritual goats and they reject it. That’s why when goats gather into their “religious herds,” there’s little, if any, truth being taught.

And even if God’s truth is referenced, its interpretation is tailored to suit the moral and spiritual tastes of the goats. In this way, truth is suppressed and twisted according to the pathology of their religious unbelief.

However, it’s not this way among Christ’s sheep.

When spiritual sheep hear God’s truth, they are convicted that it’s true.  As a result of this conviction, they repent where sin has been exposed and their lives conform to embrace God’s truth. Such repentance is a necessary element of biblical regeneration.

In actual practice, we know there are certain aspects of God’s truth which are found to be palatable even to spiritual goats, at least in theory.

And by that same token, there are certain aspects of God’s truth which are found to be initially offensive even to some of Christ’s true sheep, at least for a season.

But in general, the original analogy holds true: spiritual goats are typically offended by God’s truth and spiritual sheep are convicted by it.

So our response to God’s truth says more about the nature of our hearts than it says about the style or word-choice of the messenger. If you are offended by God’s truth, it is a sin and true sheep must repent of known sins. Spiritual goats won’t repent.

God’s grace does not make repentance optional in the Christian life. It’s a fundamental element of the gospel. Repentance is not a human work that “earns God’s favor;” rather, it is the outworking of God’s favor within you as a direct result of His grace.

In the biblical gospel, you and I must repent of sin. It’s the most basic element of what God’s grace produces in the heart of every regenerate person (2 Cor 7:10; 2 Tim 2:25).

Salvation and repentance are so closely united that the New Testament writers used these terms interchangeably to describe God’s work in the lives of His people.

Throughout the Gospels and on into the epistles, the word “repentance” is frequently used as a synonym for belief, salvation, and regeneration (Mt. 3:8; Lk 3:8; 5:32; 15:7; 24:46-47; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10; 2 Tim 2:25; 2 Pet 3:9).

Ask God to change your heart of stone. If you’re convicted by God’s truth, take it as a love gift and repent of whatever sin His truth has exposed within your heart.

In the spiritual world, it’s far better to be among a minority of sheep who are convicted by the truth of Scripture than it is to be among a majority of goats who are offended by it.

In our gatherings at church, it is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error.

And as a preacher, it is more blessed to be hated and thought “cruel” for telling people the truth than it is to be loved and considered “kind” for telling people a lie.

God’s sheep respond to biblical conviction with repentance. Goats respond to the same truths with offense and rejection.

May God prepare our hearts to always be open to His convicting truths with obedient hearts as His Word is preached and explained from the pulpit.

For our joy in Him,
Pastor Kevin

Sheep and Goats

sheep and goats

Most of us have heard some version of the formula joke that talks about there being only two groups of people in the world. What follows is usually a humorous observation about some habit or a trendy social preference that divides the population at some level.

But when Jesus divides all humanity into two groups, it’s no joking matter. It turns out that there really are only two groups of people in the world.

Concerning the division of sheep and goats, Jesus said…

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.” [Mt. 25:31-33, ESV]

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of sheep and goats as spiritual categories that distinguish all humanity into one of these two spiritual groups. Every human being is either a spiritual sheep or a spiritual goat – forever.  This designation by the Lord Jesus defines our spiritual orientation not only in this life, but for all eternity.

I recently shared in a sermon that I once wrongly believed that spiritual goats could become spiritual sheep if they only believed the gospel.  Theoretically, it sounds true. But my confusion was based on a misunderstanding of the intrinsic differences between sheep and goats. I thought that the term “goats” was a general description of all lost people and that “sheep” generally described all saved people.

On the surface, this may bear some resemblance to the truth as we observe the world externally. But theologically this is never actually true. Goats never become sheep and sheep never become goats.

What is true in nature is also true in the spiritual world. Those who are spiritual goats will never become spiritual sheep.

Only Christ’s sheep will ever come to salvation by grace through faith. Goats will never come to true saving faith. Jesus died for the sin of His sheep, not for the goats of the world.

Every human being comes into this world in a spiritually lost condition; some are spiritual sheep and the rest are spiritual goats. Only the sheep will ever be saved out of their lost estate by God’s regenerating grace. Spiritual goats will never become sheep.

The fact that sheep are currently mingled together among the goats is implied by the ultimate separation by Jesus that will occur at the end of the age.

Now this raises some questions.

What about non-Christians who are devoutly religious? Isn’t this evidence that they are seeking God?  No… referring to the natural man without Christ, Scripture says “no one seeks after God; not even one” (Ps. 14; Rom 3).

So the fact that non-Christians are being herded into various false religions is not evidence of seeking God; instead it is actually evidence that they are hiding from God and His truth. True sheep within this false environment of goats eventually come out to follow Christ. The sheep ultimately believe the gospel.

Another question is: Can’t spiritual goats believe the gospel and become spiritual sheep? And again, the biblical answer is no. Goats never become sheep. There are many lost sheep who become saved; but no goats will ever become sheep.

You may observe that spiritual goats can be exceedingly religious, moral, and devout in their religious practices. They may also be happy, friendly, conservative, nice people with solid marriages. This cannot be denied, yet there is no causal link between any of these external traits and true regeneration by the Spirit of God.

Beneath the outer surface of moral cleanness is a heart that hates the God of Scripture and even the finest of hand-sewn fig leaves are a woefully inadequate covering when Christ shed His own blood to atone for the sins of His sheep.

So morality by itself apart from faith in Christ is not regeneration at all.

It’s also true that many unredeemed sheep are still lost, still wayward, not following the Shepherd and still living in the same manner as the worst kind of spiritual goats. Not all of Christ’s sheep have been saved yet.

There are true sheep, who, in their lost estate may appear to be spiritual goats. In practice they are identical to the goats… but they are actually lost sheep.

In fact, there are some goats who in their morality and religious zeal appear more like sheep than lost and wayward sheep who haven’t been regenerated yet.

Goats gather in herds. Sheep are gathered into flocks to hear the familiar voice of their Shepherd as the Bible is taught.

And when God’s truth is clearly explained, the distinction between spiritual sheep and spiritual goats becomes most clear and apparent in the responses.

I plan to come back to this in a couple of weeks with another post on the difference between being offended by God’s truth as opposed to being convicted by God’s truth and how these contrary responses characterize another difference between sheep and goats. Until then…

For the edification of Christ’s sheep,
Pastor Kevin


The End Times

skiesOur church has been studying the Olivet Discourse of Jesus in Mark 13 recently. That study has opened up a deeper consideration of the end times according to Jesus.

Discussions and writings about the end of the age have always been popular. They’ve been a source of curiosity for centuries, even outside of the church world.

In our day, the publishing industry loves to print books about the end times because they usually become best-sellers. People are fascinated by this.

Hollywood even produces expensive movies – in the genre of “religious fiction,” with big-name actors, full of exaggerations and distortions, about how the world will supposedly end.

Discussions about the end times have also been no small source of controversy.

There are various camps and groups within Christianity based on differing interpretations of these events surrounding the end of the age. And godly people haven’t always agreed.

But most critically, each interpretation has a different impact on how we live now in the present age and how we interpret the past, the present, and the future.

So it does matter how we view the end times.

Perhaps the worst view of the end times is any view that considers the subject to be unimportant and trivial. The end of redemptive history is very prominent in God’s book.

In fact, the end of the story of human history is the main reason God has given us the beginning of the story and the middle of the story in which we now live.

Consider the first two verses of Mark 13 about the literal destruction of the temple:

“And as [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

In these two verses, you have a description in verse 1 followed by a prophecy in verse 2.

There was nothing metaphorical or spiritualized about our Lord’s meaning. The disciples understood exactly what Jesus was saying.

Nobody asked Him, “Lord, what do mean by ‘these great buildings’ and what do you mean by ‘not one stone’ and ‘thrown down?’”

They got it… because there was a one-to-one correlation between what they saw with their own eyes and what Jesus was saying.

The stones and the buildings were referring to the literal temple where they happened to be standing when Jesus said this. The meaning was obvious.

“Do you see these great buildings?” It was the temple where they were.

And that prophecy was fulfilled forty years later when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and not one stone of the temple was left upon another. It was all thrown down… literally.

Now some people ask, “What about the Wailing Wall on the western side of the foundation? Why wasn’t that part thrown down?”

That Wailing Wall was never part of the temple structure itself. It’s actually part of a massive retaining wall that prevents the western hillside from crumbling into the street.

These were the huge foundation stones on which the current Dome of the Rock – an Islamic shrine – now sits. As for the temple itself, it was completely destroyed and has never been rebuilt.

This took place in 70 AD. The apostle John would have been alive to know about this destruction prior to his revelation from Christ in around 90-96 AD.

So that fulfillment took place literally during the age of the apostles.

And because the destruction of the temple had such a clear and literal fulfillment during the age in which it was spoken, it serves as an indicator of how the remaining prophecies are to be fulfilled in the days to come.

After all, the prophecies regarding our Lord’s first coming… His virgin conception and His entire earthly ministry were all fulfilled literally. So that’s our key for interpreting the remaining prophecies regarding our Lord’s Second Coming.

The rest of Mark 13 presents an overview of the end time events that will characterize that final generation who will see the Great Tribulation and ultimately the return of Christ.

Once those events begin, Jesus said it would all happen quickly – within one generation. So that the generation who sees those events beginning would not pass away until all these things were fulfilled. It will all transpire within a single generation.

Because we know how the world will end, those of us in Christ should live holy lives of eager expectation for the Lord’s imminent return in the air for His Bride, the church. And we should urgently make His saving message known to the lost while there’s still time.

Even So, come quickly Lord Jesus!
Pastor Kevin