Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine and Theology’

The Marks of a True Church

How does one identify a true church? There are many groups of people today who refer to themselves as the ekklesia, the church (literally “called out”). For those who are new in the faith, or for those who get confused about the many factions that exist, there are ways to identify which is the true church and which is the false church.

Those things that are NOT Marks of a True Church

1.) CHURCH NAME – Some feel that the name “church” makes one a true church. Calling an organization a “church” does not make one a church. The church at Sardis had a name that they were alive, though they were dead (Revelation 3:1). Therefore, nothing in the “name” of a church can be considered the mark of a true church.

2.) AGE AND DURABILITY – Some suggest that that a true church is one who can establish a long history for its specific organization. However, the Devil’s kingdom has been on earth since the fall. At the beginning of the “Reformation” of the church in New Testament times, age and durability were of no benefit to the false church of Judaism, who were agents of the Devil (John 8:44). Therefore, age and durability are no marks of a true church.

3.) NUMBER OF PROFESSING CONVERTS – This is especially apropos in light of today’s church growth movement. A church that is growing rapidly in numbers doesn’t necessarily correspond to a true church. In fact, more often than not, the reverse is true. In the first Century, Judaists and Pagans both outnumbered the true church. In Noah’s Day, the true church failed to grow at all. In contrast, we read that the whole world followed after the Beast (Revelation 13:3). The New Testament Church is addressed as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), as we are warned in Scripture that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”. (Matthew 7:14). Therefore, a large number of professing converts is no mark of a true church.

4.) APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION – Some have suggested that a line of succession for bishops and clergy is a mark of a true church. However, the Apostles themselves warned of false prophets and teachers in their own time (Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1), and proclaimed that they would grow abundant in latter days, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power”. (2 Timothy 3:1-5). We have seen a multitude of churches in our own day, with a good succession, degenerate into heresy. Judas Iscariot was first in line in terms of Apostolic Succession, yet was a Devil (John 6:70). Therefore apostolic succession, even if it could be proven, is no mark of a true church.

5.) EXTERNAL LUSTER AND PROSPERITY – Some have suggested that fame, riches, and prosperity are a sign of approval from God, and therefore are marks of a godly faith and a true church. What a deceitful scheme that the Devil has laid at the feet of the simple! The church at Laodicea was rich, prospered, and in need of nothing in terms of temporal blessings, but did not realize that it was “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”. (Revelation 3:17). Asaph was envious when he saw the wicked prosper (Psalm 73:3), until he saw their end (Psalm 73:17-19). In contrast, the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58), and the apostles were lacking in silver and gold (Acts 3:6). Therefore prosperity is not a mark of a true church.

Those things that are the Marks of a True Church

The Nicene Creed espouses belief “in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”. The true meaning of these words have been misrepresented by false churches who, just by importing these words into their name, market themselves as rightful heirs to the kingdom. Therefore, we must gain a right understanding of what it means to be a holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

1.) HOLY – The term “Holy” is most accurately defined as “set apart”. The true church consists only of Christians, those who are set apart from the world in Covenant with God. Those who are unbelievers are not of the church, although they may be in the church (1 John 2:19). The church is holy in the eyes of God, not by its own works, but because of the work of Christ, who is its sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:2). Those to whom Christ has joined himself were chosen “in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him” (Ephesians 1:4). As a result, Christians are commanded to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and to constantly pursue and grow in holiness (Ephesians 4:24, 2 Corinthians 7:1). The church uses of the Word to Instruct in Holiness (John 17:17, Ephesians 5:26), the sacraments to discern the Lord’s Body (1 Corinthians 11:29), and Keys of the Kingdom to discipline those who are unholy (Matthew 16:19).

2.) CATHOLIC – This term is the cause of great confusion in modern times, and is used by papists to promote their organization as well as the accompanying fables as truth. The term means “universal” and was used long before Romanism began to ostracize those of the Apostolic Faith. The church is universal (Ephesians 2:12-13) in that it includes not only Israel, as was the case in the Old Covenant, but “the children of God that were scattered abroad”. (John 11:52). The Roman Church, however, is not “catholic” in spite of its use of the term, nor ever has been.

3.) APOSTOLIC – Some have used this term to promote the myth of Apostolic Succession as being the mark of a true church. However, true meaning of the term “Apostolic” refers to adherence to Apostolic Doctrine, which is the Word of God as contained in the Holy Scriptures. Note that it is not merely the “use” of the Word that identifies the true church, for even the Devil uses the Word in corrupt ways to suit his own ends. (Matthew 4:6). Rather the true church rightly handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15), for that Word is the only standard for life and practice. The true church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20), and cannot depart from “the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Jude 1:17). Even the verbal preaching of the Apostle Paul was subject to testing by way of the Holy Scriptures (Acts 17:11), so that anyone who preached another gospel, including apostles or angels, was anathema (Galatians 1:8). Hence the church is Apostolic in terms of doctrine, not by “fables and endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). No pope or archbishop can claim Apostolic authority while shunning Apostolic Doctrine, for “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

View article… (Thank you Puritan Lad)

Just for Fun

Paper Plate, Offering Plate

Las Vegas, NV — Self Control Baptist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada has announced that they will begin using offertory paper plates beginning Sunday, February 15, 2009.

“During these economic times, we need to be a bit more sensitive to appearances,” said Pastor Jack Blossman. “It’s a matter of perception. Do we want to appear extravagant? No. The offertory paper plate symbolizes this desire.”

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42-16694856The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.


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Praying Teen 

What is Prayer?


Q. 178. What is prayer?

A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.


Q. 179. Are we to pray unto God only?

A. God only being able to search the hearts,hear the requests, pardon the sins, and fulfill the desires of all; and only to be believed in, and worshipped with religious worship; prayer, which is a special part thereof,is to be made by all to him alone, and to none other.


Q. 180. What is it to pray in the name of Christ?

A. To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name,[1162] but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation.


Q. 181. Why are we to pray in the name of Christ?

A. The sinfulness of man, and his distance from God by reason thereof, being so great, as that we can have no access into his presence without a mediator; and there being none in heaven or earth appointed to, or fit for, that glorious work but Christ alone, we are to pray in no other name but his only.

From the Westminster Larger Confession View article…

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There is nothing more important than helping us to understand the new birth correctly. We need to know for certain that we are saved. In this talk Piper explains seven reasons why we need to be born again, which I will share here:

  1. Apart from the new birth, we are dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1-2)
  2. Apart from the new birth, we are by nature children of wrath. (Ephesians 2:3; Psalm 51:5)
  3. Apart from the new birth, we love darkness and hate the light. (John 3:19-20)
  4. Apart from the new birth, our hearts are hard like stone. (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:18)
  5. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to submit to God or please God. (Romans 8:7-8; John 3:5)
  6. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel. (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14)
  7. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord. (John 6:44, 65; 1 Corinthians 12:3)

John Piper

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Culture Wars

Culture Wars

Culture Wars

I write at the very beginning of election day, not knowing the outcome. These are things that we should remember regardless, and they will be applicable regardless. (Of course we know the outcome of the election now, and as Christians, we need to remember this now more than ever.)

1. God is still Father, Christ is still at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit is still abroad in the world, recreating that world according to the image of Christ. When the nations conspire against Him, He laughs at them.

2. The most important thing we can do for our nation, and for the world around us, is to gather for worship every Lord’s Day. The privilege of voting in presidential elections comes to us every four years, while we are graced with the opportunity to take the Lord’s Supper week to week. Right worship reforms the Church, and is therefore God’s central instrument for remaking the world. For this reason, we must insist on worship that is in accordance with Scripture. Judgment begins with the household of God. Our generation is fatherless. In the power of the Spirit, in the name of the Son, we must therefore worship the Father.

3. The first and greatest command is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. When the question arises, as it will, as to who is our neighbor, a good policy is to always begin with the smallest, the least, the most defenseless. Never apologize for a crawl-over-broken-glass pro-life stance. Live in such a life-affirming way as to expect apologies from those who would redefine the lives of others (always the lives of others, isn’t it?) into expendible insignificance.

4. Honor women. Honor your mother, your wife, and your daughters. We live in a culture that despises women, and which has engineered a vast machinery of propaganda designed to get them to surrender to it. If you don’t know how to honor, on a day-to-day basis, the women in your life, then learn. Make it a priority.

5. Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light. The late Francis Schaeffer taught evangelical Christians to think like Christians as they engaged with unbelief in the public square. But a goodly number of his proteges, disciples, and name-appropriators have begun to “engage with the culture” in a way that looks more like going native than it looks like missionary work. Melancthons fall apart more rapidly than they used to. Get used to it, but don’t you do it.

6. While pro-life work is at the very center of all mercy ministry, it should not be allowed to distract from the broader kind of mercy ministry that offers gospel help to those who have contributed to their own misery — addicts, convicts, the uneducated and the unemployable. Such mercy ministry must be consistently tenderhearted and hardheaded. Sentimentalists are never able to give themselves away in the ongoing way that bleeding (but thinking) Christians must.

7. Learn something about economics. Please.

8. Cultivate a godly sense of proportion. My family, living in the UK, are encountering evangelical Christians who think that “lack of socialized medicine” is just as bad as abortion-on-demand, because in both cases people are dying. This is as wrong-headed as it is possible to get, even for evangelicals, and on two counts. In the first place, deliberate murder cannot be compared to well-intentioned negligence or incomptence. In the second place, to the extent that we do attack death-dealing incompetence — as we must — we must begin by attacking the species of incompetence that lets people die after many months on waiting lists because some people don’t like accurate pricing mechanisms. Water won’t run uphill just because you can arrange for three bishops to say “Trinitarian” or “incarnational” over it.

9. Count the cost. Freedom of expression is part of our Christian heritage, and one of the things we are fighting for is the right to that expression. We cannot lose the tree and keep the fruit of it. When the laws come, as they will, prohibiting (for example) condemnation of homosexual behavior, then count the cost. And the very next Sunday, start your sermon series on the sins of sodomy. The first message should provide the introduction, and allow the congregation to count the cost as well. They might want a heads up — some of them might think it prudent to head over to a more docile church, one with a kennel-fed pastor. Whenever the state yanks on his lead, he always heels, and then waits expectantly for his treat. A much more sensitive and sensible ministry, don’t you think?

10. Fight in the culture wars as those who gladly serve the triune God of heaven. We are not dogs fighting over a piece of meat, and we must never allow the surly or shrill attitudes of the self-righteous to creep into anything we do. We must be puritan cavaliers, and merry warriors. Fight like a regenerate D’Artagnan, and not like a thug with a Bible he stole from the motel, or a like prim and censorious Miss Grundy, she of the pursed lips. We are Christians, not wowswers.

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Doctrine of the Day


4 Laws

4 Laws

The Four Spiritual Laws, Camp Style



LAW ONE: God is holy and has a plan for your life whether for wrath or for mercy.

LAW TWO: His wrath burns against you and you are hopelessly lost. There is nothing you can do about it. You are sinful and utterly lost; totally depraved, conceived in sin, and are incapable of saving yourself by the merits of your own righteousness.

LAW THREE: The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world, born of a virgin, tempted as we are yet without sin, died in our place and as our merciful and faithful High Priest fulfilled God’s law, took upon Himself every sin that would ever be committed by every who would ever believe, with its guilt and penalty, and all of the wrath of God that persists against our sin.

LAW FOUR: Repent of your sin and confess and receive Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior for eternal life and have peace with Him forever. His love, mercy and grace no one can ever take away once your life is hid in Christ. This is God’s wonderful plan of salvation.

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 Around the Blogosphere


The tunnels underneath Jerusalem that David used may have been discovered


Both identifications of the tunnel to the Bible (David and Zedekiah) strike me as the sort of “biblical archaeology” that Bible believers like myself wish would go away.  By that I mean, you find a tunnel and without knowing where it begins or where it ends, you assume that it must be the very one that is mentioned in a famous story in the Scriptures.  How is it that such archaeologists, working in a very restricted area, always happen to find exactly what they are looking for?

See Bible Places Blog for More Information View article…

ESV Bible Reading Plans Now on Podcast (FREE)

All the ESV Bible reading plans are now available as free podcasts. You don’t need to do anything special if you’re already subscribed: the MP3s will show up automatically for you.

To subscribe in iTunes, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the ESV Reading Plans page.
  2. Right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) the “RSS” link of the feed you want.
  3. Choose “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut.”
  4. Start iTunes.
  5. Choose Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast
  6. Paste the URL from step three into the box.
  7. Click OK.

Also, The complete Gospel of John is available for free download

How Not to Raise a Pagan

Al Mohler preached a message entitled, “How Not to Raise a Pagan,” drawn from Deuteronomy 6.  The audio and video are now available here.  Read Full Blog…

Interview with Billy Graham

Tim Funk interviews Billy Graham about life at his Montreat home, his health, the process of aging and preparing to die, Ruth, and regrets he has had.

Grace for Forgiveness; Grace for Repentance (Steve Camp)

“Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the ax of justice; so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures; so adverse to God that they cannot turn to Him; so blind that they cannot see Him; so deaf that they cannot hear Him; and so dead that He Himself must open their graves.”  -G.S. BISHOP

For an incredible article on grace please keep reading at View article…


Something to Think About

Something to Think About

Something to Think About


Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.

Tim Keller in The Prodigal God , 14-15.

Download of the Day




Keith’s only Bible program. I wouldn’t live without it

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Theological Word of the Day


AARON’IC, a. Pertaining to Aaron, the Jewish High Priest, or to the priesthood of which he was the head.

English Lesson of the Day


Tense Review Chart

This overview chart shows the positive, negative and interrogative (question) forms of all the principal tenses in English with a brief description of the principal usage. The timeline tenses chart provides…

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