June 30, 2014 Bible Reading

June 30

Reading for Today:

1 Chronicles 23:1–25:31

Psalm 78:40-55

Proverbs 20:3

Acts 9:22-43


1 Chronicles 25:1- the captains of the army. David relied on his mighty men for help (11:10). Asaph…Heman…Jeduthun. David’s 3 chief ministers of music (6:31–48). prophesy. This is not necessarily to be taken in a revelatory sense, but rather in the sense of proclamation and exhortation through the lyrics of their music (25:2, 3). Prophesying is not necessarily predicting the future or even speaking direct revelation. It is proclaiming truth (v. 5) to people (1 Cor. 14:3), and music is a vehicle for such proclamation in praise (v. 3). David and the leaders selected those most capable (v. 7) of leading the people to worship God through their music.

Psalm 78:41- limited the Holy One. The Israelites did this by doubting God’s power.

Psalm 78:42- did not remember His power. The generations of Israelites which left Egypt and eventually died in the wilderness were characterized by ignoring God’s previous acts of power and faithfulness. The following verses (vv. 42–55) rehearse the plagues and miracles of the Exodus from Egypt, which marvelously demonstrated God’s omnipotence and covenant love.

Acts 9:30- Caesarea. An important port city on the Mediterranean located 30 miles north of Joppa. As the capital of the Roman province of Judea and the home of the Roman procurator, it served as the headquarters of a large Roman garrison. sent him out to Tarsus. Paul disappeared from prominent ministry for several years, although he possibly founded some churches around Syria and Cilicia (15:23; Gal. 1:21).

DAY 30: How were the duties of the temple divided up?

Administrative Duties

Supervisors–1 Chronicles 23:4, 5

Bailiffs–1 Chronicles 23:4, 5

Judges–1 Chronicles 23:4, 5

Public administrators–1 Chronicles 26:29, 30

Ministerial Duties

Priests–1 Chronicles 24:1, 2

Prophets–1 Chronicles 25:1

Assistants for sacrifices–1 Chronicles 23:29–31

Assistants for purification ceremonies–1 Chronicles 23:27, 28

Service Duties

Bakers of the Bread of the Presence–1 Chronicles 23:29

Those who checked the weights and measures–1 Chronicles 23:29

Custodians–1 Chronicles 23:28

Financial Duties

Those who cared for the treasury–1 Chronicles 26:20

Those who cared for dedicated items–1 Chronicles 26:26–28

Artistic Duties

Musicians–1 Chronicles 25:6

Singers–1 Chronicles 25:7

Protective Duties

Temple guards–1 Chronicles 23:5

Guards for the gates and storehouses–1 Chronicles 26:12–18

Individual Assignments

Recording secretary–1 Chronicles 24:6

Chaplain to the king–1 Chronicles 25:4

Private prophet to the king–1 Chronicles 25:2

Captain of the guard–1 Chronicles 26:1

Chief officer of the treasury–1 Chronicles 26:23, 24

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

Sacrificial Faith on Display

Sacrificial Faith on Display

[COLOR=Red]”In the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:25-26).

It’s understandable that James would use Abraham as an illustration of living faith—especially to his predominately Jewish readers. Rahab, however, is a different story. She was a Gentile, a prostitute, a liar, and lived in the pagan city of Jericho. How could such a person illustrate true faith?

Rahab knew very little about the true God but what she knew, she believed, and what she believed, she acted on. She believed that God had led His people out of Egypt and defeated the Amorite kings (Josh. 2:9-10). She openly confessed that the Lord “is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (v. 11). Her faith was vindicated when she aided the Hebrew spies who entered Jericho just prior to Joshua’s invasion.

Both Abraham and Rahab valued their faith in God above all else. Both were willing to sacrifice what mattered most to them: for Abraham it was Isaac; for Rahab it was her own life. Their obedience in the face of such great sacrifice proved the genuineness of their faith.

James calls each of us to examine ourselves to be sure we have a living faith. The acid test is whether your faith produces obedience. No matter what you claim, if righteousness doesn’t characterize your life, your faith is dead, not living. James likened that kind of faith to hypocrites who offer pious words to the needy but refuse to meet their needs; to demons, who believe the truth about God but are eternally lost; and to a lifeless, useless corpse. Those are strong analogies, but God does not want you to be deceived about the quality of your own faith.

I pray that you are rejoicing in the confidence that your faith is genuine. God bless you as you live each day in His wonderful grace.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God for the grace and courage to face any sacrifice necessary as you live out your faith.

For Further Study:

Read Joshua 2:1-24; 6:1-27; and Matthew 1:1-5.

How did Rahab protect the spies?

How did God bless Rahab?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]


June 29, 2014 Bible Reading

June 29

Reading for Today:

1 Chronicles 21:1–22:19

Psalm 78:34-39

Proverbs 20:1-2

Acts 9:1-21


1 Chronicles 21:1- Satan…moved. Second Samuel 24:1 reports that it was God who moved David. This apparent discrepancy is resolved by understanding that God sovereignly and permissively uses Satan to achieve His purposes. God uses Satan to judge sinners (Mark 4:15; 2 Cor. 4:4), to refine saints (Job 1:8–2:10; Luke 22:31, 32), to discipline those in the church (1 Cor. 5:1–5; 1 Tim. 1:20), and to further purify obedient believers (2 Cor. 12:7–10). Neither God nor Satan forced David to sin (James 1:13–15), but God allowed Satan to tempt David and he chose to sin. The sin surfaced his proud heart and God dealt with him for it. number Israel. David’s census brought tragedy because, unlike the census in Moses’ time (Num. 1; 2) which God had commanded, this census by David was to gratify his pride in the great strength of his army and consequent military power. He was also putting more trust in his forces than in his God. He was taking credit for his victories by the building of his great army. This angered God, who moved Satan to bring the sin to a head.

1 Chronicles 22:5- young. Solomon was born early in David’s reign (ca. 1000–990 B.C.) and was at this time 20 to 30 years of age. The magnificent and complex challenge of building such a monumental edifice with all its elements required an experienced leader for preparation. magnificent. David understood that the temple needed to reflect on earth something of God’s heavenly majesty, so he devoted himself to the collection of the plans and materials, tapping the vast amount of spoils from people he had conquered and cities he had sacked (vv. 14–16).

1 Chronicles 22:11–13- David’s spiritual charge to Solomon resembles the Lord’s exhortation to Joshua (Josh. 1:6–9). Solomon asked God for and received the very wisdom and understanding his father, David, desired for him (2 Chr. 1:7–12; 1 Kin. 3:3–14). He learned the value of such spiritual counsel and passed it on in Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13.

1 Chronicles 22:14– one hundred thousand…gold. Assuming a talent weighed about 75 pounds, this would be approximately 3,750 tons, a staggering amount of gold. one million. This would be approximately 37,500 tons of silver.

Proverbs 20:1- Wine…strong drink. This begins a new theme of temperance (23:20, 21, 29–35; 31:4, 5). Wine was grape juice mixed with water to dilute it, but strong drink was unmixed. While the use of these beverages is not specifically condemned (Deut. 14:26), being intoxicated always is (Is. 28:7). Rulers were not to drink, so their judgment would not be clouded nor their behavior less than exemplary (31:4, 5). mocker…brawler. “Mocker” is the same word as “scoffer” in 19:25, 29; a brawler is violent, loud, and uncontrolled. Both words describe the personality of the drunkard.

DAY 29: How did the apostle Paul come to faith in Jesus Christ?

The apostle Paul was originally named Saul, after the first king of Israel. He was born a Jew, studied in Jerusalem under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and became a Pharisee (23:6).He was also a Roman citizen, a right he inherited from his father (22:8). Acts 9:1–19 records the external facts of his conversion (see also 22:1–22; 26:9–20). Philippians 3:1–14 records the internal spiritual conversion.

At the time of his conversion Saul was “still breathing threats and murder” against Christians (Acts 9:1; 1 Tim. 1:12, 13; 1 Cor. 15:9). He was in Damascus, the capital of Syria, which apparently had a large population of Jews, including Hellenist believers who fled Jerusalem to avoid persecution (Acts 9:2). He had letters authorizing him to seek out those “who were of the Way.” This description of Christianity, derived from Jesus’ description of Himself (John 14:6), appears several times in Acts (19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).

The “light…from heaven” (v. 3) that struck him was the appearance of Jesus Christ in glory (22:6; 26:13) and was visible only to Saul (26:9).The voice that asked him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” was that of Jesus (v. 5). An inseparable union exists between Christ and His followers. Saul’s persecution represented a direct attack on Christ. Saul arose from that encounter, blinded by the light, and went in obedience to await the next step (v. 6).

Meanwhile, Ananias was being given divine instructions concerning Paul and Paul’s ministry. He is told that Saul is a “chosen vessel,” literally “a vessel of election” (v. 15). There was perfect continuity between Paul’s salvation and his service; God chose him to convey His grace to all men (Gal. 1:1; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). Paul used this same word 4 times (Rom. 9:21, 23; 2 Cor. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:21). “Before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Paul began his ministry preaching to Jews (13:14; 14:1; 17:1, 10; 18:4; 19:8), but his primary calling was to Gentiles (Rom. 11:13; 15:16). God also called him to minister to kings such as Agrippa (25:23–26:32) and likely Caesar (25:10–12; 2 Tim. 4:16, 17).

Ananias went to Paul and “laying his hands on him,” he prayed for Paul’s healing and that he would “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 17). He was then filled with the Spirit and empowered for service (2:4, 14; 4:8, 31; 6:5, 8).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.


Enjoying Friendship with God

Enjoying Friendship with God

[COLOR=Red]”Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone” (James 2:21-24).

Can you imagine life without friends—those precious people who love you despite your failings and who stand by you through joys and sorrows—those to whom you’ve committed yourself and whose companionship you treasure? They are without question one of God’s greatest gifts, yet there is an even greater gift: friendship with God Himself.

Jesus spoke of such a friendship in John 15:13-16, describing it as one of intimacy, mutual love, sacrifice, and commitment. In verse 14 He says, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” That’s the kind of friendship Abraham demonstrated when he obeyed God and prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:3-10). Isaac was the son through whom God’s covenant to Abraham would be fulfilled. Killing him would violate that covenant and call into question the character of God, whose Word forbids human sacrifice (Deut. 18:10). It took unquestioning trust for Abraham to obey God’s command. When he did, his faith was on display for all to see.

The Greek word translated “justified” in James 2:21 has two meanings: “to acquit” (treat as righteous) or [I]”to vindicate”[/I] (demonstrate as righteous). James emphasized the second meaning. When Abraham believed God, he was justified by faith and acquitted of sin (Gen. 15:6). When he offered up Isaac, he was justified by works in that his faith was vindicated.

Faith is always the sole condition of salvation, but saving faith never stands alone—it is always accompanied by righteous works. That’s the test of true salvation and of friendship with God.

As a friend of God, treasure that relationship and be careful never to let sin rob you of its fullest joy.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God for the privilege of being His friend.

For Further Study:

Read Genesis 22:1-19, noting the faith and obedience of Abraham.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]


A recent survey reveals that 70% of Israeli Jews believe they are God'

A recent survey reveals that 70% of Israeli Jews believe they are God’s chosen people

June 27, 2014

The latest survey of the beliefs and values among Israeli Jews, the first comprehensive study in more than a decade, reveals that 80% of Israeli Jews believe that God exists and some 70% of these Jews surveyed believed the Jews are the chosen people, a statement that can be found in the Bible. The authors of this study believe the demographic changes in Israel caused by the higher birthrates among the orthodox and the ultra-orthodox Jews has resulted in the uptick of Jewish attachment to Biblical truth with a majority of all Israeli Jews believing in the coming Jewish Messiah.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

A recent survey made among Israeli Jews reveals that Jews believe they are God’s chosen people, a fact that the Bible stated more than 4000 years ago but a fact that means God does have a plan for the Jewish people in the future – that is according to Bible prophecy.

Over the last decade, Jews living in Israel have become much more religious, an interesting fact in light of God’s plan for the Jewish people in the future. A recent survey indicates that 70% of all Israeli Jews believe in God and 55% of those surveyed say they believe in the coming of their Messiah. Fully 80% of Israeli Jews believe that God does indeed exist, the highest figure in more than two decades, a trend that will take place as the world moves into the prophetic events found in Bible prophecy.

The ancient Jewish prophecy Ezekiel prewrote history as he spoke of the regathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth, the restoration of a Jewish state and a Jewish community in Israel that though in unbelief, there will be an increase in a desire to see their Messiah and to become the people of God, the chosen people (Ezekiel 37:7-11 and Ezekiel 34:11-30). God does have a plan for the Jewish people and this plan is focused on the land of Israel, a land promised to the Jewish people by God Himself (Ezekiel 36, Deuteronomy 30). The future for the Jews not only in Israel but around the entire world is in the hands of God and its found in the pages of His Word the Bible.

With this increase of the knowledge of God’s plan for the Jewish people, this plan will indeed come to pass. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.


June 28, 2014 Bible Reading

June 28

Reading for Today:

1 Chronicles 19:1–20:8

Psalm 78:26-33

Proverbs 19:27-29

Acts 8:26-40


1 Chronicles 20:1–3- The chronicler was not inspired by God to mention David’s sin with Bathsheba and subsequent sins recorded in 2 Samuel 11:2–12:23. The adultery and murder occurred at this time, while David stayed in Jerusalem instead of going to battle. The story was likely omitted because the book was written to focus on God’s permanent interest in His people, Israel, and the perpetuity of David’s kingdom.

1 Chronicles 20:4–8- See 2 Samuel 21:15–22.The chronicler chose not to write of some of the darker days in David’s reign, especially the revolt of David’s son Absalom, for the same reason the iniquity of the king with Bathsheba was left out. This section describes the defeat of 4 Philistine giants at the hands of David and his men. Though these events cannot be located chronologically with any certainty, the narratives of victory provide a fitting preface to David’s song of praise, which magnifies God’s deliverance (2 Sam. 22:1–51).

1 Chronicles 20:4- the giant. The Hebrew term is rapha. This was not the name of an individual, but a term used collectively for the Rephaim who inhabited the land of Canaan and were noted for their inordinate size (Gen. 15:19–21; Num. 13:33; Deut. 2:11; 3:11, 13). The term “Rephaim” was used of the people called the “Anakim” (Deut. 2:10, 11, 20, 21), distinguished for their size and strength. According to Joshua 11:21, 22, the “Anakim” were driven from the hill country of Israel and Judah, but remained in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Though the Philistines had succumbed to the power of Israel’s army, the appearance of some great champion revived their courage and invited their hope for victory against the Israelite invaders.

DAY 28: How did Philip bring the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch?

Philip, who had been involved with the evangelization of the Samaritans, was told by an angel of the Lord to go to an undisclosed location along the road that went down from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26). Gaza was one of 5 chief cities of the Philistines. The original city was destroyed in the first century B.C. and a new city was built near the coast.

There Philip met an Ethiopian eunuch. Ethiopia in those days was a large kingdom located south of Egypt. A eunuch can refer to one who had been emasculated or generally, to a government official. It is likely he was both since Luke refers to him as a eunuch and as one who held a position of authority in the queen’s court—that of treasurer, much like a Minister of Finance or Secretary of the Treasury. As a physical eunuch, he would have been denied access to the temple (Deut. 23:1) and the opportunity to become a full proselyte to Judaism.

The eunuch was reading Isaiah (Acts 8:28). He knew the importance of seeking God through the Scripture. And the verses he was reading were found in Isaiah 53:7,8. The eunuch’s question to Philip was “of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” (v. 34). His confusion was understandable. Even the Jewish religious experts were divided on the meaning of this passage. Some believed the slaughtered sheep represented Israel, others thought Isaiah was referring to himself, and others thought the Messiah was Isaiah’s subject.

Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch, who immediately responded with the wish to be baptized. After the baptism, it says that “the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away” (v. 39). Elijah (1 Kin. 18:12; 2 Kin. 2:16) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 3:12, 14; 8:3) were also snatched away in a miraculous fashion. This was a powerful confirmation to the caravan that Philip was God’s representative.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.


Dead Faith Versus Demonic Faith

Dead Faith Versus Demonic Faith

[COLOR=Red]”Someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:18- 20).

In recent years there has been an alarming rise in the number of professing Christians who believe that there’s no necessary relationship between what they believe and what they do. They say you can’t judge a person’s spiritual condition by what he or she does because salvation is a matter of faith alone—as if requiring works violates the principle of faith.

It was that kind of reasoning that prompted James to issue this challenge: “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). The Greek word translated “show” means “to exhibit,” “demonstrate,” or “put on display.” His point is simple: it’s impossible to verify true faith apart from holy living because doctrine and deed are inseparable.

Can you know if someone is a Christian by watching his behavior? According to James, that’s the only way to know! In verse 19 he says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” In other words, affirming orthodox doctrine isn’t necessarily proof of saving faith. Demons believe in the oneness of God, and its implications fill them with fear, but they aren’t saved. The phrase “you do well” is intentionally sarcastic. The implication is that demonic faith is better than non-responsive faith because at least the demons shudder, which is better than no response at all.

You can’t be a Christian in creed only—you must be one in conduct as well! James makes that very clear. Don’t be confused or deceived by those who teach otherwise. Continually aim your life at bringing glory to God through obedient application of biblical truth.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Reaffirm to the Lord your commitment to abide by His Word.

For Further Study:

Read John 8:12-47. Make a list of doctrines and deeds that characterize dead faith and a corresponding list of those that characterize true faith.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]


The Palestinian government says that Jewish people have no right to pr

The Palestinian government says that Jewish people have no right to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where they now go to pray 3 times every day

June 26, 2014

There is a document on the official mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority, a website that claims the Jewish people have no right to go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and pray, which they do three times daily, because the report says the Western Wall belongs to Muslims and the Jews have no connection with the Western Wall.

This study by the Palestinian Authority has been denounced by Israel and the United States because it says the Western Wall has always belonged to the Muslims and the Jews have been allowed to pray there because of Muslim tolerance.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

The claim by the Palestinian Authority that Jewish people have no right to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem is a contradiction to historic fact and the prophetic scenario that focuses on the Temple Mount for the end times.

The report published by an official of the Palestinian Authority stating that Jews have no connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem since there is no stone in the Western Wall that dates back to the time of King Solomon is partially correct and partially wrong. The correct part is that indeed there are no stones in the Western Wall dating back to King Solomon some 3000 years ago – the reason being that the Western Wall was only built some 2000 years ago by Herod the Great. The incorrect statement is that there is no historic Jewish connection to the Western Wall.

Herod used over 10,000 Jewish laborers to build that wall and it was the western retaining wall used to keep the Temple Mount in tact. King Solomon did build the first temple on the Temple Mount and Herod the Great spent 46 years refurbishing the second temple on that same spot – both of these were Jewish temples. That disproves the Palestinian Authority claim of no Jewish connection to the Western Wall.

In fact, the Bible states that one day the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will come back to earth and build a temple for the Jewish people on the Temple Mount (Zechariah 1:16,6:12). However, before Messiah builds His temple in Jerusalem, there will be a Jewish temple erected on the Temple Mount (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:4, and Revelation 11:1).

Palestinian claims are wrong. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.


Did Erasing the Bible-study Aspect of the Alpha Course Contribute to

Did “Erasing the Bible-study Aspect” of the Alpha Course Contribute to Its Success?

June 26, 2014

The Alpha Course has been a frequent topic of discussion at Do Not Be Surprised, as we have examined such things as Alpha’s doctrine, its ecumenical leanings, and its mystical roots and teaching. Yet Alpha continues to grow in popularity and its leader, Nicky Gumbel, continues to reveal just why it is that Christians should be concerned about Alpha and the influence it wields.


A 28 May 2014 article in the British GQ magazine highlights the influence Alpha has had in the prisons, and the subsequent effects on the inmates. The lengthy article, entitled “Alpha Males,” features several conversion stories about criminals who participated in an Alpha Course while behind bars. Ultimately, however, it is not these personal stories that are of interest. It is what is said by some of the Alpha leadership in this article, particularly Gumbel himself, that reminds and reaffirms just how dangerous the Alpha Course truly is.

The article begins with a detailed account of one man’s arrest and imprisonment, and then launches into a general description of the Alpha Course. Explaining how Nicky Gumbel “transformed” the course from its original design, the article states:

Alpha was created at HTB in 1977 as a refresher course in Christianity for lacklustre churchgoers. It was small-scale, and its members were elderly. Thirteen years later, Nicky Gumbel, a Cambridge-educated priest, took charge of Alpha and it transformed. Most importantly, it was re-nosed to appeal particularly to agnostics. Gumbel erased the Bible-study aspect (if you don’t believe in the Bible, what good is that?), and the introductory talk on “How can I be sure of my faith?” went the same way. He made its 15 sessions livelier, with guest speakers and music, and he was at pains to ensure it never felt preachy. Greater attention was paid to marketing: it downplayed references to religion, talking instead about “the meaning of life”. His instincts were vindicated – and then some. HTB started converting hardened nonbelievers into committed Christians by their thousands.


It seems that the key word in these paragraphs may be “marketing.” In other words, appeal to what the people want, even if what they want is for their itching ears to be scratched (2 Tim 4:3). Do they loathe preaching but love catchy music? Check. Religion talk too scary? Drop it. Bible study too boring? Who needs it anyway? After all, a program’s success depends on the happiness of its customers, right?

This may be how the world views success, but Christians define it very differently. For the Christian, a thing is successful when the Lord Jesus Christ is honored. And it is difficult to see how He is honored or glorified when His Word is downplayed and ignored.

The quote above says that Gumbel eliminated “the Bible-study aspect” of Alpha and that now “hardened nonbelievers” have been converted “into committed Christians by the thousands.” How can this be? If the “Bible-study aspect” is erased, and yet it is through the Bible that one comes to know Christ, then these so-called conversions must be approached with caution.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom 10:17)

Nicky Gumbel

It is clear from the testimony of Scripture that conversion happens when a man hears the Word, is convicted of his sin, repents before the Lord, and trusts in Christ and His work alone for salvation. All of these things are gifts from God, but they are nevertheless objective realities. Yet this article subtly offers another definition of conversion. It seems to be conversion to Alpha’s Christianity, and it is one that appears to be based primarily upon feelings and emotions. The deceptive potential of this definition ought to make the true believer cringe.

In this writer’s opinion, the following quote from Nicky Gumbel as captured in this GQ article is perhaps the most frightening:

Its crucial feature is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, which is explored on a weekend away that typically falls between session seven and eight, when guests are encouraged to speak in tongues. In short, they have religious experiences. “I think that’s why it works,” says Gumbel. “We used to be a bit embarrassed about the Holy Spirit because it sounded weird. Now we live in a world that’s much more open: the part young people find hard is the Bible and authority, but if they can have an experience of God that’s fantastic.”

(Source, emphasis added)

These words are enough to render the Bible-believing Christian speechless. Experience never trumps the objective truth of God’s Word. Faith and conversion do not begin or end with a mere “experience of God” unless that experience is true salvation as evidenced by repentance, faith and ultimately a transformed life, all of which are, of course, granted by the grace and power of God and are not defined by a momentary, fleeting feeling of watery eyes, a shivery spine, or ecstatic utterance. But again, the truth that God uses to execute these things is found in the Bible. The call to a life of holiness is found in the Bible (see 1 Pet 1:14–16). And if the Bible is not seen as God’s Word and thus as the final authority, then the so-called converted Christian who has had an “experience” is merely experiencing a God of his own imagination.

But what does God say about His Word?

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16–17)

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7–11)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. (Psalm 119:9–16)

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. (1 Thess 2:13)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you. (1 Pet 1:24–25)

And what did the Apostle Peter, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, say about his very real experience on the Mount of Transfiguration?

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Pet 1:16–21)

Anyone who disregards this Word and its authority is, quite simply, not a Christian.

It was striking, too, to realize that the name of Jesus Christ was painfully absent throughout this article, even though it was detailing several “conversions” of men to faith in Christ. Can one have a true conversion story that neglects to mention and exalt the name of the Savior? No.

There were several more concerning aspects of this article, but these quotes from the lips of Gumbel himself do enough to condemn the Alpha empire. One cannot shun the Word of God and yet expect the Holy Spirit to come and deliver an “experience.” Participants may speak in tongues, they may weep and laugh, or shake and shiver, but this writer is not too shy to surmise aloud that such chaotic behavior is not a work of the Holy Spirit. May the leaders of Alpha be brought to repentance for their promotion of such potentially damning deception. And may God open the eyes of many who have been deceived by the angel of light known as the Alpha Course.

Further Reading:

The Ecumenical Compromise of the Alpha Course

Nicky Gumbel to Alpha Attendees: “Go Back to Your Catholic Parish”

The Influence of Christian Mystics Morton Kelsey and John Wimber on the Alpha Course


Sin and the Work of Christ

Sin and the Work of Christ

Thursday, June 26, 2014

by John MacArthur

What did Jesus set out to accomplish? Did His death and resurrection have any practical effect for this life, or was it all focused on eternity? Consider this: the holy Son of God set aside His glory, humbled Himself by taking the form of a man, lived a righteous life, and willingly surrendered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of others. Was all intended merely to forgive sin without removing it?

The apostle John wrote his first epistle to help his readers test the authenticity of their faith. These tests come down to examining whether Christ’s work has had its necessary effect on their lives. And in 1 John 3:5-8, he makes it clear that Christ’s work on our behalf ought to have a significant sanctifying impact in the lives of His people.

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

Christ’s Work on Our Behalf

Jesus came to earth “in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5). He came not only to pay the penalty for sin and provide forgiveness, but also to take sins away altogether. As a result of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, believers have been set apart from sin unto holiness. The lawlessness that once characterized their lives has been removed.

Therefore, it is inconsistent with His redeeming work on the cross for anyone who shares in the very life of Christ to continue in sin. In other words, because Christ died to sanctify the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21), to live sinfully is contrary to His work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer’s life (cf. Romans 6:1-15).

The truth that Christ came to destroy sin is not merely a future hope; it is a present reality. John is not saying—as some have tried to infer—that believers will eventually be delivered from sin when they die, and in the meantime can be as sinful as they were before their conversion. On the contrary, while sanctification may be slow and gradual, Christ’s transforming work in salvation is immediate (Philippians 1:6).

At salvation believers experience a real cleansing of and separation from their sins. On a practical level, that separation continues as they become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Titus 2:11-14 summarizes well the present and future aspects of sanctification.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

So the one-time work of Christ on the cross initiates His ongoing work in our lives. But what fuels that ongoing work? What transformation takes place that enables us to overcome sin in this life?

Our New Nature in Christ

John concludes verse 5 with the phrase “in Him there is no sin.” Jesus Christ is the sinless One (2 Corinthians 5:21). This truth has immense practical ramifications. “If you know that He is righteous,” John wrote earlier in the epistle, “you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). When God’s saving power is applied to a new believer, they are born again—they receive a new nature. And like a newborn baby, they embark on a life of learning to live in God’s kingdom.

Then in verse 6 the apostle describes the character of the person saved through the work of Jesus Christ. “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” Abiding in Christ can be likened to dwelling in His kingdom, following His laws, and celebrating His victories. In short, the new nature draws one toward Christ and away from sin.

Years earlier Paul taught the same truth to the Roman believers.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:4-7)

That description outlines key provisions of the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:25-31), which Paul further elaborates:

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)

The emphasis of the apostle’s statements is on sanctification. True Christians have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-17), receive a new heart (Acts 16:14), complete forgiveness (Colossians 1:14), and a transformed life (Colossians 3:5-10)—all evidenced in their new ability to obey the law of God.

Sanctification and Assurance

John taught that “no one who sins” (1 John 3:6) can also abide in Christ. It is not that people who become Christians will never sin again (1 John 1:8), but that they will not live as they once did, because “no one who sins” consistently or habitually in the pattern of the unregenerate “has seen Him or knows Him” (3:6).

John further cautioned his readers to make sure no one deceived them concerning a correct understanding of sanctification. Despite any deceptive teaching to the contrary, only the one “who practices righteousness” can have any assurance that he “is righteous, just as [Jesus] is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

John makes the obvious conclusion that because “the Son of God appeared . . . to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), it is impossible and unthinkable that true believers would continue in devil-like behavior. Today Satan is still opposing the plans and people of God (1 Peter 5:8), but believers are no longer his children or under his rule. We who know and love Christ have been freed from the captivity of sin, and the apostle John—through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—says we must live accordingly.

So far we’ve seen that a lifestyle of sin is incompatible with saving faith because sin is lawlessness, and true believers have had that defiant, lawless heart replace with a heart of repentance. Today we’ve seen how Christ’s work not only forgives sin, but initiates the life-long process of sanctification. John has one final argument for why sin is incompatible with saving faith, and it focuses on the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit. We’ll wrap up this series with that last point next time.

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John.)