Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13)

What "Born-Again" Means! - Part II

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Christians should know...

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (John 3:1-4)

If you have spent any time at all in an evangelical church, you are very familiar with the above passage of Scripture. If you are not born-again, you don't go to Heaven. Crystal clear. It's with the verses that come next that things get more complicated...

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Nicodemus, to be born again, ye must repent of your sins and believe on me. If you believe on me and the work I will accomplish for you when I will be lifted up on a cross, then you will be born-again"

If you don't recognize the above verses in your versions of the Gospel of John, it's because the verses aren't there. I totally made it up. I fabricated those statements to fit how most Christians interpret the teachings found in John 3. You see, if my fabricated verses were verses 5 and 6 of John 3, then the 'Lifegate' website's article on how to be born-again would be 100% accurate; and I would be a heretic. Thing is, verses 5-8 don't say anything like my fabricated nonsense.

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:5-8)

What in the world is being said here? I will grant you, this is heavy stuff, so I can definitely understand the temptation to ignore verses 5-12 and skip straight to the statements on the necessity for faith in Christ Jesus to have eternal life; which is EXACTLY what most believers, EVEN FUNDAMENTALIST, EVEN FUNDAMENTALIST PASTORS do! Absolutely shocking! That's how we get Christians who call the 'Second Birth' and the 'Profession of Faith' synonyms.

They are NOT synonyms.

To understand this, one has to come to understand what the Lord Jesus Christ was actually saying in John 3:5-12. So let's figure this out. First thing I want you to notice, dear readers, is right after making His "no Second Birth, no Heaven" statement in verse 3, the Lord does NOT tell Nicodemus that he has TO DO anything to receive the Second Birth. This is important. You would think that after Nicodemus' question in verse 4, 'how can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?', the Lord would have told him to do this or that, but He doesn't.

Instead, we get some strange statements about 'being born of water and the Spirit', about 'things born of the flesh being flesh, and things born of the spirit is spirit', and something about 'the wind which no one sees, but that all can see its effects'. All very confusing for us, and it was clearly very confusing for Nicodemus also; that's why he said: "How can these things be?"

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" (John 3:10)

As hard as John 3:5-8 is to understand for the layman, the fact of the matter is, it shouldn't have been too difficult for a Pharisee like Nicodemus. That's what we clearly get from the Lord Jesus Christ's reply to Nicodemus' question. So what is it that Nicodemus should have known? (and by extension, what is it that we should know?)

Stay tuned for Part III...


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What "Born-Again" Means! - Part I

'cause way too many haven't the foggiest...

If you're an American, or if you've been anywhere near an Evangelical church, then you've heard the term: 'born-again Christian'. The label is all over the place now. Presidents George W. Bush and President Jimmy Carter both claim to be born-again Christians, and a whole socio-political movement made-up of so-called 'born-again Christians' is currently (and has been for a number of decades now) lobbying conservative political parties throughout the Western world for a Faith-friendly society. So everyone's heard of it, but, what is it?

It was missionary Paul Washer, in one of his sermons who said, (and I'm paraphrasing here): "One of the saddest things that has ever happened to North American society is that the term 'born-again Christian' has come to mean nothing." I couldn't agree more. 'Born-again' is being used today as cheaply as the word 'Christian'. In the unbelieving world, 'born-again' is used to describe a group of people who, at some point, have made some spiritual profession in an Evangelical ministry. This is pretty sad. What is sadder still though, is how most evangelicals today define the Second Birth.

Consider this website, picked somewhat randomly (I had a lot to choose from), which attempts to explain how one becomes a 'born-again Christian'. I believe the material on this page sums up rather well how most evangelicals' view of the Second Birth. In summary, this is how the Second Birth breaks down:

-Being 'born-again' is synonymous with being 'saved'.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must realize/admit that he/she is a sinner on his/her way to Hell.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must recognize and believe that Jesus died and shed His blood for his/her sins; that is, Jesus died as a substitute for him/her.
-In order to be saved (and born-again), one must put all this together and confess his/her sins, and call out to God in prayer for His mercy and grace.

Once these clear, easy steps are fulfilled, the soul is born-again. Everything the website mentions afterward are for "spiritual growth", that is, prayer, reading God's Word, witnessing for Christ and baptism. So, if one wants to be 'born-again', it's three simple steps. That's it, that's all!

If you're okay with all this, YOU'RE REALLY MESSED UP! If this shocks you... good! Consider this your wake-up call. Please understand, this isn't nit-picking some little detail, there is something FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with the position presented on the 'Lifegate' website. If you can't spot it, then I assure you, your understanding of the Second Birth is flawed to say the very least, and you really, really need to read Part II of this series of posts (which will be posted soon).

Now please, before hitting the "Comment" link, relax. Tons of Christians have, are and will be saved never really understanding the dynamic of the Second Birth. So while I may very well be saying that you don't understand the Second Birth, I am NOT necessarily saying that I do not believe you are saved. So take it easy, be Bereans and seek the Scriptures which deal with the Second Birth, meditate on these passages and perhaps you will see where this series is going.

Hint... hint... spend much time in the first eight verses of John 3, the first ten verses of Ephesians 2, and add a bit of James 1:16-18 while you're at it! Happy reading!


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Health Problems

Friday, April 25, 2008
it's been a pretty nasty week...

There will be no "Friday Night Notes" tonight, dear readers. All week, I've been suffering through a strange illness, and I haven't yet recovered completely. So it's a weekend of rest for me.

I would ask you all to pray for me. I will be getting some blood work done early next week, to try and figure out what exactly is the problem. It would sure be nice if I could get back to full health before then, but if it isn't to be, I would sure like to know what exactly has been dragging me down these last SEVEN days!

Please pray for pastor Tim. I'm may be down and out, but he won't be taking a shift off... I can guarantee that!

The Lord bless you all, dear readers.


Friday Night Notes

Saturday, April 19, 2008
continuing to do what few Christians are willing to do...

Out of pure habit, pastor Tim put a warm jacket on tonight. He really didn't need it. The warm weather is back in Canada's capital, and along with it, a myriad of sinners crashing the market to practice all manner of abomination. So we took our place on our usual street corner and preached the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to literally THOUSANDS of souls.

Even to a now seasoned street preacher such as myself, I have to admit that preaching to such large crowds after a long winter season which produced relatively small audiences, well, I was pretty intimidated. I had to get used to being jeered by much larger groups of people (without getting messed up in my Gospel presentation), and I had to preach more loudly than usual because the background noise of the market was quite loud. It was quite a challenge to both pastor Tim and I, but the Lord was with us, and we succeeded in delivering the Gospel of Life to countless lost souls.

Nothing extraordinary took place tonight. The persecution wasn't near as bad as I had feared (due to the larger crowds), but the overall interest in the Gospel was quite poor. Some read our signs, some took Bible tracts, a few listened to a few minutes of our preaching, but all in all, very little interest was shown. This is always disappointing to our eyes, but I take much comfort in this: the Lord was glorified in the marketplace tonight.

I did however have a couple of conversations with sinners which may yet produce some fruit. I spoke to an older gentleman who wanted to know if I really REALLY believed the Bible had all the answers.

"Well, the Bible has all the answers to all the really important questions," I answered, "the questions that need answering. The Bible won't tell me what type of car to buy, but it has taught me to love my neighbour as myself and to love God with everything I got. It's taught me about Heaven and Hell, and how to live a life that is upright, holy and righteous."

"I see," the man answered. "I have to admit, that all sounds quite right to me. You're a much greater man than I!"

"It has nothing to do with me," I replied. "The Lord has shown me much grace. That's how any one of us makes any progress in these matters. Seek the Lord, sir, and you too will be blessed."

The man thanked me for my words and shook my hand. He said his name was Ian and left me with a "God bless you". I hope and pray that Ian will seek the Lord with all his heart.

A short time after that conversation, a young homosexual showed up with some questions. It was quite a courteous and rational exchange, which was a real blessing, for most of our exchanges with homosexuals have been quite difficult, to say the least. This young man had honest questions to ask about the Bible and when I gave him the answers, he didn't break out the insults or mockeries, he just simply thanked me for the information. In our short conversation, it was made clear to the man that so long as he clung to homosexuality, the wrath of God would abide on him. It was also made clear to him that loving the Lord Jesus Christ over all things (sinful and otherwise) was the only way to peace with God and an eternity in Heaven.

Again, to my surprise, he took it all rather well. Praise God.

And that's it for tonight. I have a really busy day tomorrow, so I must get some sleep. God bless you all, dear readers. I again thank you for keeping up with my evangelistic escapades. Your comments, thoughts and prayers have been, and continue to be a real source of encouragement for me. Have a safe and blessed weekend, and a glorious Lord's Day.


For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:13-17)


Papal Visit

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
romanist kingpin in the U.S. of A...

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. (Revelation 17:1-2)

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:1-8)

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:15)



Friday Night Notes

Saturday, April 12, 2008
so much folly, so little Truth...

Another rainy Friday where I was certain our night of evangelism would be canceled, only to have it saved by the Lord's hand! It literally stopped raining at 7pm, the time when I usually make my way downtown to preach the Gospel alongside pastor Tim. So we went out for our customary three hours of street preaching, completely free from rainfall; and as I am writing this post, about an hour after our evangelistic effort, it is raining cats and dogs. I believe it is safe to assume that the Lord wanted his two "market preachers" out tonight.

The market was a relatively quiet place; no doubt many souls decided to stay in after all the rain that had fallen throughout the day. Still though, pastor Tim and I preached to hundreds of souls, we distributed a fair number of Bible tracts and had a number of one-on-one conversations with sinners. Not all the conversations were what I would call "profitable", actually many of them were so frustrating, it was difficult not to get aggravated with the people we were dealing with. Here are a few examples of conversations we had tonight:

"I just called... to say..."

This was a first for me. I thought I had done it all as far as street evangelism was concerned, but I stand corrected. A middle-aged couple stood across the street from where I was preaching from for a few minutes, they were listening to what I had to say, but it was clear that they both thought I was an idiot. The woman eventually pulled her cellphone out and dialed a number and gave the phone to her partner. The man walked towards me and handed me the cellphone and said mockingly:

"My son, from Calgary, needs to 'get saved', can you talk to him?"

Now I knew right away that all this was a setup to make a spectacle of the idiot preacher, but I didn't let pride get in the way... I did my duty... with zeal... LOL! I don't think any of these poor souls foresaw how all this was going to turn out. I took the cellphone and gave the lad on the other side of the country the Gospel message of his life! I answered intelligently all his foolish questions and contentions, and it quickly became clear to the man in front of me that his plans to humiliate the street preacher was seriously back-firing. At this point, the man wanted his cellphone back really bad. The moment I gave it back to him, he scooted off.

The Lord have mercy on this spiritually lost family.

The "I-agree-with-everything-you-say-but..." tree hugger:

You will not find a more quaky/crazy group of people than these "eco" types. The young fellow I dealt with tonight, shortly after my phone evangelism, was one of these, but with a twist. You see, for some strange reason, the young man tried real hard to find common ground between what I was preaching with his "granola", "eco", "peace-and-love" philosophy. I would tell him of his need to repent, and he would answer that everyone should repent of how we are trashing the planet. I would tell him that he needed to follow the teachings of the Bible, and he would rationalize the teachings of Scripture away with carnal and vain philosophy. For about 10 minutes we exchanged our views which were obviously contradictory, but the young man affirmed that we were on the same "mission" (kind of sounded like the professions of some Romanists on this blog).

"No," I told the young man, "you and I are not talking the same language my friend. You see, you're trying to make the world a better place through carnal means such as being sweet to your neighbour, picking up trash, and promoting some sort of benevolent socialism. That totally isn't what I'm about. I'm not trying to make this fallen world a better place... it will never be a good place... that is, not until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Then, and only then will the Earth get cleaned up, men will live in peace with their neighbours, and the Lord will rule over all in righteousness. What I'm about tonight? I'm preaching the Gospel of Life so that God's sheep could be saved out of the ways of this evil and perverse world."

I could tell that this profession blew the young man's mind. I honestly think he made an attempt to understand what I was saying, but I doubt, as he left, that he really understood what I was saying. The Lord draw this young man to the Gospel tract I gave him. May He give him eyes to see and ears to hear.

"The homeless Christian"

A young man walked up to me, just as I was beginning my last half hour of preaching. He was carrying a large plastic bag. We spoke for a minute or two and in this exchange I found out that the young man knew something of the Scriptures (he knew a few Bible verses by heart), and the bag he was carrying contained pretty much all his belongings. When I asked him why he was carrying that bag around, he told me he was homeless, having been tossed out of the homeless mission. Right there I knew this soul had big problems; to be tossed out of the mission, one has to be pretty bad.

"Why are you homeless, my friend?" I politely asked.

"Because I'm being persecuted for my faith," the young man replied with a snippy attitude.

"Okay, but that doesn't really answer my question," I replied. "Let me ask you this instead: do you have a job, do you work?"

Well there, I touched a nerve. The young man just started walking away, grumbling angrily. I believe he called me a Pharisee and then quoted Matthew 6:24 supposing that this justified his jobless/homeless lifestyle. So I quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, but not surprisingly, the young man had no time for this verse.

Again, the Lord have mercy on this most miserable of souls. I don't know, ultimately what is keeping this soul on the streets. It could be substance abuse, it could be mental illness, it can even be his own pure folly. I hope the Lord will convict him of his sin and error, and grant him repentance.

In between these one-on-one conversations, we were often mocked and insulted by ungodly men and women, young and old, noble and lowly. Truly, we Gospel preachers are seen of the world, in general, as the scum of the Earth. It really is something to behold the actions and the words that are cast in our teeth. No matter, the Lord was glorified in the market tonight, and in His sight, we are precious. Praise His Holy Name.

God bless you all, my dear faithful readers. I'm going to rest now, and slowly prepare for the Lord's Day. Have a great weekend.


Ps: If you haven't done any evangelism this week... GO! Right now! Not later! Now! Go out and give out Bible literature. Go to your neighbours' homes and tell them of your faith. Go to the nearest busy street corner, or the nearest park and proclaim the Gospel. Put up a Bible verse in BIG BOLD letters on your front yard. Whatever! Just do something! The Great Commission wasn't given to a select group of Christians, it's for all believers. Mr. Genor gave out 10 tracts a day all his Christian life and the Lord blessed his ministry by saving countless souls WITHOUT HIM EVEN KNOWING IT!!! GO!!!


Friday Night Notes

Saturday, April 05, 2008
another night at the zoo...

It rained all afternoon, so I thought our night of street preaching was sunk, but the Lord stopped the rain early enough in the evening for us to head to the marketplace for our usual evangelistic endeavour. I thought the crowds would be small due to the wet and cold weather, but quite the opposite, there were lots of people roaming the streets of the market. Tons of people, mostly up to no good, and for the most part with absolutely no fear of the Lord in them... not even a trace.

Pastor Tim shared a few verses from the Bible with me before we started preaching; they are taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 29, verse 19-20:

"And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: the LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven."

These words were spoken by Moses, right after he had given the Israelites the Law of God. Moses was careful to both warn and encourage his people to obey the Lord by reciting all manner of curses that would befall Israel should she reject the Law of the Lord. That's when he uttered the words cited above. What's interesting about these verses is that it shows how little has changed in 4000 years of human history. Tonight, we preachers went out into the streets and declared the Gospel of the Lord, but by in large, our audience's response was: "we shall have peace, though we walk in the imagination of our hearts." And yet, they have no peace, no satisfaction, and without a doubt, the curse of the Lord rests on them.

Suffice it to say that we did not have a very good night of evangelism. Best thing that happened to me tonight: a young lady, who looked pretty out of it, gave me three individually wrapped candies. She was probably just being nice, but the whole thing just looked a little off, so I don't think I'll be eating any of these candies.

Right after that somewhat bizarre charitable act, we dealt with a street beggar who did everything in his power to justify his sinful life. The man was quite tenacious, but he finally left when he saw that we weren't going to argue his nonsense any longer.

Then there was the whole "good" Muslim fiasco. A young woman sporting a hijab walked by our preaching spot and pastor Tim overheard her cursing and using very foul language. Pastor Tim then called her out as the hypocrite she clearly was. He said:

"What's the point in you wearing that rag on your head? You're just as fouled mouth and wicked as the most faithless wretch in the market! You are a hypocrite, plain and simple."

The young woman continued to curse as she walked away. Now, at this point, I thought it was all over, but two men and a woman walked from across the street to give pastor Tim a piece of their minds. They all proclaimed to be Christians and charged pastor Tim with being unloving and un-Christian. We briefly tried to reason with them.

"The Bible says that the preaching of the Cross is offensive!" pastor Tim said.

They said they agreed with that statement, but still opposed our rebuking the wicked. We got the old Matthew 7:1 argument handed to us (yes, the most misinterpreted Scripture in the Bible), and that's when pastor Tim gave up trying to reason with them; but I persisted.

"I know how you feel," I said. "I was once as you are tonight, thinking that the Christian message must be void of any offense and all judgment. Such a position though is completely unscriptural."

The woman rolled her eyes at me and claimed she knew better than me because, get this now, she was a minister! All I could say was:

"Oh my..."

And that's when I gave up listening and talking to these three sad souls. Pastor Tim though, upon hearing the woman's confession, took one last shot:

"You claim to be a minister, and that despite the fact the Scriptures clearly forbid women to be a minister. You are an antinomian... you are lawless. There is no reason to believe there is anything Christian about you."

The woman walked then walked away with her two companions, yelling that she was a "Deborah" or an "Esther".

What a mess!

After all this, we were treated to a myriad of curses and mockeries by the general public for much of our remaining time of evangelism. On the upside, we did hand out a fair number of Bible tracts, so who knows what the Lord will do as the night and the weekend progress.

On that note, I'm going to close this post. I'm tired, and kind of depressed. I need to think about something other than the folly of the wicked for awhile. Goodnight dear readers.