About Dan C.

Retired U.S. Army Special Forces SGM (28 years). Currently employed as a government contractor. Member of Christian Military Fellowship (www.cmfhq.org) for 30 years. Married for 43 years to the lovely Dee; three children and 6 grandchildren.

Forty Good Soldiers for Christ!

clip_image002This article was first published in the April 2007 Christian Report. It describes a tale of 40 Christian martyrs from the 4th Century, as well as a group of more modern warriors for Christ.

Sebaste, Cappadocia (now Sivas in Turkey) – March, 320 A.D.

Roman Emperor Valerius Licinius had already ordered that all Christians in Cappadocia abandon their faith and worship pagan gods, including every member of the famous “Thundering” 12th Legion, whose record in combat was unparalleled in the annals of the Imperial Army! Forty soldiers of the Legion however, refused to recant their faith, declaring before a military tribunal (court-martial) that they would devote their love to God and only God!

Agricolas, Captain of the Legion ad the local pagan governor, would not humor this obstinacy. When imprisonment of the whole stubborn company could not break them, he decided on a novel sort of pressure.

It was a bitterly cold March and the pond outside the city was frozen over. The governor, therefore, ordered that the 40 be herded out to the center of the lake stark naked and allowed to rethink their decision. Meanwhile, he set up on the shore statues of the gods to be worshipped, a nice fire, and a pleasant warm bath. He hoped that the offer of warmth might change the minds of the freezing men and induce them to apostatize. But the prisoners retained their solidarity. Together they prayed, “Lord, we are 40 who are engaged in this conflict; grant that we may not fall short of that sacred number.”

During the three days of their lethal exposure, only one of the group gave up, stumbled towards the shore and sought the comfort of one of the hot baths provided for any who would recant their faith. The same hot bath that rewarded his apostasy also brought about his death. Ironically, the sudden heat was too much after the long chill, and he died of shock.

Although the soldier-victims were saddened by this defection, their prayer was heard. Aglaios, a jailer watching the horrifying spectacle of the freezing soldiers had heard their shouts of “40 soldiers for Christ!” when they first headed out across the frozen lake, and now heard a fainter shout, ‘Thirty-nine soldiers for Christ!”

What happened in the heart of the jailer Aglaios at that moment, only he and God will ever know. He wrenched off his own armor and girdle, and dashed to the edge of the lake. There, after lifting his right hand and crying, “Forty good soldiers for Christ!” he disappeared over the ice and into the darkness.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. . . .

Colorado Springs, CO – 1 March 2007

A small group of soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group gathered at Red Rock Canyon in Colorado Springs for a ‘spiritual fitness’ run and induction of Christian warriors into ‘The Order of the Cappadocian Martyrs,’ led by 10th Group Chaplains Darren Chester and Terry McBride.

It was a cold, windy, and icy morning after a late snowfall from the previous afternoon and evening left a few inches of new snow on the ground and a lot of dangerous ice on streets and roadways. While such conditions sometimes cause outdoor physical fitness training to be cancelled, there would be no change of plans on this morning! The announcement of, and invitation to the event had stated, in part:

“Note: Weather will not affect this run. If you can get there, we will run. Yes, it will be cold. That is the point. The martyrs for whom this order is named froze to death naked on a pond in the course of 3 days. If they can do that for Jesus, surely we can stand an hour or so in the cold.”

The event was scheduled to begin at 0630 sharp. The rendezvous point was a snow-covered public parking lot just off of highway 24, heading west out of the city proper. As soldiers arrived, they remained in their vehicles rather than stand in the biting wind any earlier than necessary. At the appointed time, they gathered around the map of the canyon at the edge of the parking lot for the route briefing given by Chaplain Chester. After the briefing, they headed into the small canyon, along a trail that gradually climbed in altitude for nearly a mile. After winding their way through the canyon for 2-1/2 miles, they gathered at the end of the run at another spot in the canyon, a flat open area near a small frozen pond.

Chaplain Chester spoke to the group, relating the story of the 40 martyrs from Sebaste who died on a frozen lake so long ago, not only refusing to recant their faith, but proclaiming their faith to the cold bitter end! The men were encouraged to stand firm no matter what they faced in this life, especially the persecution that all believers face at times when they live righteously before God and in an unbelieving world.

Each member of the group was given a patch symbolizing the martyrs of the “Thundering” XII Legion, Special Forces warriors of today, and emblazoned with a golden Cross of Christ against the canopy of a deployed parachute, a Green Beret, and the crossed arrows. Each man also received a small card on which was printed the following oath of allegiance:

“I am a Soldier for the Lord Jesus Christ. I am prepared to speak any word, do any deed, and go anywhere As He leads Me. His will is my mission. When the enemy attacks I will Stand firm. When tempted I will persevere. When persecuted I will not forsake my Lord. I will do good to those who hate me, I will bless those who curse me, I will pray for those who mistreat me. Though pressured I am not crushed. Though perplexed I am not in despair. Though persecuted I am not abandoned.. Though struck down I am not destroyed. I will always carry the death of Jesus in my body, that the life of Jesus may be revealed in my body.”

One can only imagine what the response of the mighty host of heaven was when the sound of earthly warriors’ voices joined as one in allegiance to the Lord of Hosts and filled the air of a small canyon on a cold windy morning!

The short ceremony concluded with the men in a circle, arms around each other’s shoulders and heads bowed as Chaplain McBride closed in prayer. Certainly this was an event to be followed by more similar occasions, as more warriors of the 10th Special Forces Group step forward in faith and join this ‘Band of Brothers!’

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This article first appeared in the Christian Military Fellowship June 2021 Christian Report. which can be located and downloaded here.  The Christian Report is one of the many resources available from Christian Military Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to  helping Christians serving in the Armed Forces  grow in their faith and become “Gospel Ambassadors” in uniform.

Are WE Tilting at Windmills?

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If you don’t know, the phrase ‘tilting at windmills’ comes from a 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes titled “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”, or just “Don Quixote”. Don Quixote was a middle-aged Spanish nobleman, who imagined himself a Knight of the Spanish realm who embarked on a number of adventurous crusades against windmills that dotted the landscape of southern Spain that he sincerely believed were enemy giants with huge arms! The “tilting” refers to what we would more commonly call “jousting”. Armed with his lance, clad in an old suit of armor, and accompanied by a neighboring farmer (turned squire) named Sancho, the Man of La Mancha set off in defense of the realm.

During one of their exploits, they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills in their path. No sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

Even though Sancho tried to explain that they were just windmills and the huge “arms” were only sails in the wind, the Don lowered his lance and attacked, with disastrous results when the tip of his lance was caught up by a windmill blade!

To this day, the phrase “tilting at windmills” has been used to describe “confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Another phrase, “chasing windmills” has the same roots and mean pursuing something with an “open heart”, which was certainly true about Don Quixote. He really believed he was engaged in a noble crusade!

So what does all of that have to do with the question “Are WE tilting at windmills?”

Thanks for asking!

Well, a few days ago a simple question popped up on Facebook:

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Hence, thoughts of Don Quixote for us old folks, as well as no small amount of serious consideration. Can a seriously fractured America be restored apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think not, and let me tell you why. If we who profess Christ honestly ask ourselves WHY our nation is so fractured right now, and if we know our Bibles, the answer is simple. SIN is the root cause of all that ails America, as well as every other nation on Earth. What began in Eden with a single act of disobedience has endured until now and will continue until Jesus returns to pass judgment. Consequently, if SIN is the root cause, a solution to the sin problem will bring healing. Throughout the history of mankind, men have tried to deal with all sorts of evil perpetrated by the human beings that inhabit our planet. Good and moral governments have passed legislation to punish evil and wrongdoing for the betterment of civil society. Programs of all kinds have been instituted to reform all sorts of harmful behavior patterns. I’m sure you get the picture. I’m also sure you recognize that nearly all of the human solutions to human problems are external at best. We can only hope that they will take root in our hearts and result in lasting change for our good and the good of our society. And therein lies the problem.

The root cause of society’s ills is SIN, and sin is a problem internal to every human born after the Fall of Adam. Therefore, any lasting solution must also be an internal one. It means we need new hearts, new motives, new natures. As scripture tells us, we need to be reborn (See John, Chapter 3 and Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus).

Do you see where this is going? Internal problems need internal solutions? The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers that internal solution? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY solution? Exactly.

So about those windmills. . .

Every single day we are told what we need to “do” to fight this or that (name the topic) societal ill by getting involved. We need to write our representatives in Congress, sign petitions, donate money, support podcasts, or to just ‘stand up and fight’ those who are wreaking havoc across the land. Let me be clear – I am not saying we should not be engaged with, or support external efforts to right wrongs. God ordained governmental systems to fight and control evil. By all means get involved in supporting external efforts to right the wrongs in our society and in our nation. Pray for leaders at all levels of civil government. Pray that God would change the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1)! However, if we want to see lasting change in our society and culture, the only real solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ invading the hearts of men.

It’s also quite possible that many of the conservatives who are unafraid to do battle against evil in our culture and society know that the core issue is an internal one, but for whatever reason, many of them just stick to much needed external solutions. I am not criticizing them for doing so. It’s just the way it is. To be fair I admit that there are a few who mention the need for God, while stopping short of talking about Christ’s death for our sins. One popular young conservative has even told his college age audiences that the first thing they need to do is “give their hearts to Jesus”! While that sounds great and noble, when we search scripture for that admonition will we find it? (Just a question, not an indictment.)

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In the novel, Don Quixote’s neighbor turned squire, Sancho Panza, tried to explain to our hero that the giants with huge arms were really just windmills and sails and not real enemies, but to no avail. In like manner, trying to correct the ‘windmill chasers’ in our midst might meet with failure.

That’s where we who confess Christ, who know the gospel message, and are willing to be used of God to share the good news with a lost world, enter “stage right”. We can be the standard bearers and ambassadors who can offer the internal remedy to the internal problem that plagues every one of us; our sinful nature. We can be the Paul Harveys who share “the rest of the story”, (Some of you will get that.) And who knows, maybe that’s what God intended for us all along!

“How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? 15 And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” (Romans 10:14-15)

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This article first appeared in the Christian Military Fellowship June 2021 Christian Report. which can be located and downloaded hereThe Christian Report is one of the many resources available from Christian Military Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to  helping Christians serving in the Armed Forces  grow in their faith and become “Gospel Ambassadors” in uniform.

William Wirt and the Blind Preacher – Archibald Alexander

The power of religion, in promoting happiness in this life and in disarming death of its terror, has seldom been more beautifully illustrated than in the example of William Wirt, Attorney General of the United States. When a young man, just commencing his professional career, he was distinguished for his genius, his eloquence, his fascinating powers of conversation, and his polished manners. In every circle his society was courted. Fond of pleasure, and the center of attraction of every convivial(1) party, he was living for the joys of this short life, and was in great danger of being ingulfed in that vortex of worldliness and fashion where so many thousands have perished.

While thus living, as he was on one of his professional circuits as a lawyer, he passed a Sabbath where the celebrated blind preacher of Virginia, Rev. James Waddell, was to preach. Mr. Wirt having no other way to pass the Sabbath, entered the humble church with the congregation. He has himself described, in his own forcible language, the scene which ensued. The primitive simplicity of the preacher, the subdued pathos (2) of his tones, his unaffected (3) piety and fervid eloquence, all combined, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, to touch the heart of Wirt. He felt the emptiness of his own joys, and the unprofitableness of his own life. He reflected and wept and prayed. “God be merciful to me a sinner”, which became, for many days and nights, the anxious supplication of his soul. Forsaking his thoughtless companions and his dangerous habits of gayety, he commenced a new life of Christian usefulness. True peace visited his heart, and his benignant (4)countenance proclaimed that he had sought happiness and found it, where alone happiness can be found. He became the advocate of Christian missions, and to every object of philanthropy he consecrated the energies of his noble mind.

Though necessarily called to move in the highest circles of opulence and intellect, and to encounter the temptations with which those circles are ever filled, he humbly, yet fearlessly sustained his character as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and gave his commanding influence, unreservedly and constantly, for the promotion of piety. Revered by the community, and loved almost to devotion by a wide circle of friends, he spent his days in doing good. And when the dying hour came, hope and joy beamed from his eye, brilliant with almost celestial vision, as the glories of his heavenly home were unfolded to his view. His body has long ago mingled with the dust, and his spirit has long dwelt, we trust, with the God who gave it.

Such are the effects of religion. Infidelity can show no such triumphs. Who will not utter the prayer, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his?”

(1) friendly, lively, and enjoyable

(2) evoking pity or sadness

(3) without artificiality or insincerity

(4)kindly and benevolent

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The story you just read is the true account of how God brought William Wirt to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, published in a collection of articles by Presbyterian theologian and Princeton Seminary professor Archibald Alexander (April 1772 – October 1851). The blind preacher, Rev. James Waddel was the first Presbyterian Minister in the Northern neck of Virginia. He was known as the “blind preacher Waddell” because he had periods of blindness.

Footnotes notwithstanding, it’s a wonderful account of one man’s salvation. We are told of Mr. Wirt’s character and life situation leading up to a Sunday when he “happened” to walk into a church and listen to a renowned and talented preacher. While he was attracted to the preaching (he was a lawyer), the Holy Spirit opened his heart to hear and receive the gospel message (the Lydia principle in Acts 16?). He was shaken to the core with the realization of his own sinfulness and prayed the simplest of prayers, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. He found a true peace and happiness he had never before known. As a result, his entire life was changed forever!

Dear reader, what’s your story? How did god save you? What happened on your way to the cross?

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For the Times They are A-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was right in 1964, when he wrote that song, and he’s still right. In fact, the times are always changing, for better or worse. In 2021, we live in an especially ‘interesting’ time of change in our nation. It seems that academia (all levels), modern culture, and institutions are wholeheartedly embracing ideologies and policies contrary to their essential purposes in providing goods, services, and entertainment. Some of these ideologies and policies are contrary to a Christian worldview and blatantly oppose Divine moral law and support that which God terms “abomination”. Those who stand against the tide are losing friends, their reputations, their livelihoods, and much more. We live in what’s called a “cancel culture.” I’m certain, that if it were possible, those who try to “cancel” everything and everyone opposing them would also try and cancel God.

Furthermore, every facet and level of our society is being impacted by the ever-increasing moral decay and lawlessness we see all around us. Legislation, rules, regulations, and policies have been written to ‘engourage’ us to ‘behave’. Unbelievers and nonconformists will be persecuted and/or punished! That includes everyone, no matter what their function in society, their religious persuasion, their age, and anything else you can think of.

How do we, as Christians, respond to our ‘anti-God’ culture? That’s our challenge.

On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. The world’s operating system has always been at odds with Christianity and Christians have always been under pressure to conform to the world’s ungodly standards. Jesus even told his closest followers:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

What appears to be a rather recent development however, is the speed and manner in which we are being brought into submission to what seems like a “new world order”, as evidenced by all of the legislation, regulations, rules (corporate, institutional, and social) being enacted to cause us to conform.

So, how are we to respond? I can think of a few principles that will help us in that regard.

First, remember the source of our strength to combat evil, our battle ‘dress’, and the ‘situation’ on the battlefield:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10 – 12)

As believers, with whom are we to be engaged in battle? Are we to be contesting with men, or with the spiritual forces behind their machinations? What’s the Christian’s end game?

Secondly, remember the purpose of our wearing the whole armor of God, and the ultimate goal of our warfare.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Eph 6:13)

We are to “stand our ground” and live out our Biblical principles in an increasingly hostile environment. We can also lovingly, gently, and with respect, present the Christian worldview to whomever provides us an opportunity, and in whatever format that presents itself.

Finally, remember our primary mission for this life. In a parable at the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jericho, Jesus said:

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’’’ (Luke 19:12 – 13)

The nobleman in the parable gave money to his servants and told them “Do business till I come.” I love that phrase! I don’t know about you, but it excites me! In our case, Jesus is the nobleman in the far country (planet Earth) and we are his servants. So what is the “business” of Jesus?

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

No matter what our main occupation or situation in life might be, we are to be about the business of the gospel, proclaiming it and making disciples. We are to be about ‘investing’ the gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We should be continuously growing in our own knowledge of God and His Son, sitting under sound Biblical teaching, and at the same time pointing the lost around us to the Cross of Christ and helping other believers grow in their faith.

Sharing the Gospel message in a lost and dying world is the greatest privilege God has bestowed upon his children!

Let’s “do business” until He returns, as we pray “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Conspiracy Theory or Gospel Truth?–by Clint Archer

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

Or did they?

I find most conspiracy theories to be insufferably far-fetched. I mean obviously the moon landing happened— we have photos, video, mission logs, moon rocks, and the testimony of the men who walked on the moon.

On the other hand…

A conspiracy theorist may point out that photos and video could easily have been shot in a studio, you’ve never seen a moon rock yourself, and the astronauts had much fame and fortune to gain by faking their claims, as did the USA, who won a decisive Cold War victory against the Soviets in the Space Race.

Did you know that there are photos of the lunar module in which there are shadows falling at a 45-degree angle from each other, indicating two light sources?

Did you know that in one photo there is a moon rock clearly labeled with a perfectly symmetrical engraved letter C? The so-called “C-rock” has been weakly explained as a curled hair that interfered in the development process.

Did you know that the American flag in one photo appears in front of the camera’s cross hairs, indicating it was superimposed on an existing photo? And why was the flag rippled since there’s no moving air on the moon?

Did you know in the reflection of a visor there can be seen an image of a piece of equipment not found on any moon landing gear, but looks suspiciously like a stage spotlight?

Makes you think, doesn’t it? And you wouldn’t be alone. After a series of documentaries aired on TV, a poll revealed that 20% of Americans and 28% of Russians believed that the first moon landing was faked.

So, is there any incontrovertible proof that could be used to silence conspiracy theorists once and for all? We’ll get back to that. First, let’s look at an event in history that was far easier to prove.

Paul is writing to the young pastor Timothy and in his letter, in 1 Timothy 3:16, he includes what is widely deemed to be a hymn or confession or creed that was sung or recited by the early church.

6 VOICES HARMONIZING 6 EVIDENCES IN THE EASTER HYMN

1. MANIFESTATION

1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh

The word mystery [musterion] in Greek is a term for a truth that was unknown before but revealed. This revealed truth is the revelation of godliness. Jesus was godliness incarnate, manifest in the flesh.

Christianity isn’t a system or lifestyle choice. It is a belief in the claims, teachings, and events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John defended the physicality of Jesus to the Gnostics who were saying Jesus was a spirit, an influence, and emanation from God rather than a real person.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life

John knew Jesus firsthand, tangibly, in living color.

He’s not a myth like the Loch Ness Monster or the Easter Bunny. He is an historical figure, attested to by history, and seen by countless eye-witnesses. He was manifest in the flesh.

2. VINDICATION

1 Timothy 3:16vindicated by the Spirit

Vindication is when something you claim is proven to be true.

The coming of the Spirit on Jesus vindicated his claims. If he was a crazy man making crazy claims, then why did the Spirit empower him to do miracles?

Romans 1:3-4 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

The enemies of Jesus questioned his genealogy, his claims, his teachings, but they never questioned his power.

Many people make great claims, but Christ made claims and the Spirit vindicated him with God’s power.

3. CONFIRMATION

1 Timothy 3:16seen by angels

Pop quiz: how many men have walked on the moon? Answer: 12. Who were the 3rd and 4th? Pete Conrad and Alan Bean who walked on the moon in November 1969.

If you landed on the moon in November 1969 and noticed no footprints, no flag, and no evidence that anyone had ever been there before you, wouldn’t you make fuss about being the real first person on the moon? You wouldn’t give that accolade to someone else. But Conrad and Bean came back with photos of Armstrong and Aldrin’s footprints. 

So one major line of evidence used to prove that the first moon landing was not faked, is what was seen by the other astronauts. They would never play along with a hoax.

In the same way the one species of creature who would never play along with a human pretending to be God, is the angels.

And yet, they testified that the resurrection was genuine.

Luke 24:2-6 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

These are creatures who live in heaven with God would never be party to a human hoax.

4. PROCLAMATION

1 Timothy 3:16 proclaimed among the nations

One proffered theory for a faked resurrection is that the disciples stole the body to perpetuate the myth of Christ’s powers. But that part of their story led not to fame and fortune for them, but shame, capture, and martyrdom.  Hoaxes are meant to make money, power, and prestige.

We understand why Armstrong and Aldrin could be accused of staging a hoax: they got unimaginable fame and fortune as heroes and celebrities. But the preaching of the disciples cost them everything.  And yet they never, ever changed their story. They never watered down the resurrection claim and they never left it out of a gospel presentation. They insisted it was the central tenet of their message.

We’ve seen in Acts that John and Peter get arrested and beaten for preaching the resurrection. James gets beheaded, Stephen gets stoned to death. Eventually every last Apostle ends up martyred (save John who dies in exile).

All because of their unedited proclamation of the resurrection.

Now how is it possible that not a single person accused of faking the resurrection ever faltered on even one detail? Every last one of them would rather die than change their story. Why? Because it was true! So it was proclaimed in the nations.

5. GLOBALIZATION

1 Timothy 3:16believed on in the world

Jesus promises that he would build his church.

Matthew 16: 18I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus said he would take personal responsibility for people in the world to believe the gospel.

Then he left these marching orders…

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations

That promise is impossible to fulfill without the resurrection; Jesus needs to be alive to fulfill that promise. And since the promise is obviously being fulfilled with great effectiveness, it counts as a line of evidence that Jesus is alive, backing up the globalization of his church. He was believed on in the world.

6. ASCENSION

1 Timothy 3:16taken up in glory.

The ascension itself was the physical, visible part of the Father’s promotion and exultation of Christ for what he did. He wasn’t just taken up, he was taken up into glory.

Ephesians 1: 20-21he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

There is no higher position in the Universe than the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

The CEO of all Creation. The Director of the Universe.

There is something hardwired into human beings to reach out and explore and set goals and conquer what’s next. But Jesus, transcended every possible goal in the Universe. He ascended to Glory. The top rung on the corporate ladder.

And the fact that the Father bestowed that honor on him is evidence that the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus was accepted as the ultimate confirmation: Mission Accomplished.

These six voices in this line of evidence are not meant to convince unbelievers.

This is a hymn of faith for we who believe and just love to revel in the truth of what Jesus did.

CONCLUSION:  To answer our question: Is there any incontrovertible evidence for the moon landing to silence conspiracy theorists once for all?

The answer: It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter whether people believe that humans walked on the moon. No one’s soul is in the balance.

But it does matter that you believe God walked on the earth. It does matter if you believe that Jesus claimed to be God and was raised from the dead to prove it. Do you believe?

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Online Source: The Cripplegate,

Asking the Right Question

Discussions on social media can really get ‘interesting’, especially when they begin with a question. The questioner invariably thinks he/she asked something that would be clearly understood and thoughtfully discussed. That’s not always the case.Here’s a question that appeared in a social media feed just a couple of days ago.

Is imputation an essential doctrine to believe, that our sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us.?

Discuss.

The responses were more interesting than the question, Some were well educated, and others not so much. When I read the question my first reaction was “Believe for what?” I didn’t think the question was clear enough to elicit an immediate answer.  I did however want to offer a reply and a reason for my answer, which I connected to the subject of personal evangelism. Here it is. Feel free to comment.

Depends on what you mean by “essential doctrine to believe.”. Is it necessary to understand the term ‘imputation’ in order to be saved? In my opinion, no.

On the other hand, if, when an unbeliever, I understand that I am a sinner and Christ took my place on the Cross, I understand the atonement (even if I have not heard the word ‘atonement’) as well as something about imputation. When I believe that, with a God opened heart, I am saved.

Understanding all that imputation means comes later, as we grow in faith, as will other doctrines taught in the Bible that we don’t fully understand when we first believe in Christ for salvation. The Bible teaches the doctrine, and if the Bible teaches it, so will the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. In fact, understanding biblical doctrines serves to enrich our newfound faith! It is certainly possible to arrive at death’s door having never understood the doctrine of imputation in it’s fullness,

Having said that, It brings up a related question concerning personal evangelism. Do we need to, or might have the occasion to teach doctrines such as ‘imputation’ by their theological terms when sharing the good news of Christ with others who have yet to believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sin and salvation? To that, I can only answer “It depends.” Let me explain.

Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with lost sinners is a process of sorts, but it’s not a complicated one. God saves sinners by opening hearts to hear the gospel and by sending a messenger to apply the gospel message to a heart that He himself has opened to ‘hear’ it. Read the story of Lydia in Acts 16. While we don’t know the exact words Paul (the messenger) said to Lydia, we know that Paul defined the gospel as Christ’s death for the sins of his people (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Back to our gospel encounter. Let’s say it began with a conversation about a recent story in the news about a terrible crime that had recently been committed, something so inhumane that anyone hearing of it would be horrified. The question “Why would anyone do such a thing?” comes up, providing the perfect opportunity to take the conversation to the problem of sin in the human heart. The problem of sin leads to God’s answer to the problem, Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of men, which naturally leads to explaining the substitutionary atonement of Christ. ‘Imputation’ has just been covered, but without the term even being used.

What all this is leading to is the need for us who share Christ with others to understand underlying doctrines and be able to explain them in a loving and understanding manner. We are not to try and impress anyone with our knowledge of doctrine, but we can communicate our heartfelt desire that our hearers understand the message we bring.

Merely sharing the ‘Romans Road’ and pressing in for a decision just doesn’t cut it, although I have no doubt that sinners have been truly saved in that manner, but because God has prepared a heart for just that moment!

Most of all dear friends, remember that it is God, and God alone who saves sinners. At the same time know that the God who saves sinners has chosen other sinners (us) as his gospel messengers! And that, brothers and sisters, is the greatest privilege God has given his children!

Be blessed!

Blessings We Get at Salvation, Pt 2 REDEMPTION | The Cripplegate

by Clint Archer

On February 19th, 1945, at 2am, the first US Marine landed on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. The tiny volcanic island covered a mere 8 square miles, and had a population of 1,018 people, mostly fishermen and their families. But this island would become the most infamous battleground of the Pacific effort. The Americans would suffer more casualties than the entire combined Allied force landing at Normandy on D-Day.

Iwo Jima was a strategic piece of land. It had two airstrips and was used by the Japanese to defend the mainland from Allied air raids. America knew that if it was to get the atomic bombs to Japan, to end the war, Iwo Jima had to be secured. Japan realized this too, and so it fortified the island. The 1,018 people were evacuated to the mainland and were replaced with 21,000 soldiers to defend the island.

Now America had a decision to make. It’s not as if Japan would sell the island. There simply was no price they would accept. America knew that those 21,000 soldiers would fight to the death, but they could not get reinforcements. So the decision came down to cost. How many lives would it cost to secure that island? America did the calculation, deemed it an acceptable price, and sent their boys in.

One month later only 216 Japanese soldiers had surrendered. The rest of the 21,000 were dead. American deaths numbered 7,000 with some 20,000 casualties. The total cost of Iwo Jima: the blood of nearly 28,000 men.

There are some things money can’t buy. And in the spiritual realm, the only price is blood.

Last week we saw that Paul rejoiced in the election that turned the pagan Ephesians into believers. Today we see the next spiritual blessing all believers have: redemption.

3 ASPECTS OF REDEMPTION SO YOU WILL LIVE FREE NOT ENSLAVED TO SIN

1. MEANING OF REDEMPTION

Ephesians 1:7  In him we have redemption through his blood,

The word for redemption, ἀπολύτρωσιν means to release for a price.

Leviticus 25: 47-49 “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.

In the Old Testament it was a man’s responsibility to buy his family members out of slavery. He would be called the kinsman redeemer, i.e. the family member who paid the price to free you. Paul uses this imagery to illustrate the work of Christ. Christ pays the price for us to be freed from slavery to sin.

Paul says that we were slaves to sin – and need to be set free, redeemed, by Jesus. Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, …

Not just anyone can pay your ransom to God.  You can’t pay for me, because you have your own sin to pay for. If you put your faith in the wrong person to redeem you, you are lost. If you put your faith in Muhammed, or the Buddha, you are lost.

2. COST OF REDEMPTION

Ephesians 1: 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,

What was the price of our sin? Jesus’ blood.

Most people want to broker their own deal. They want to buy themselves salvation with the currency they have. So they come up with a system of good works.

If you ask a guy “Why do you think you are going to heaven?” He’ll probably say something like this: “Because I go to church, put money in the offering, take my kids to youth, work hard, I don’t cheat on my wife or my taxes, I don’t shoplift, I’m a good person.”

But those commodities, when compared with what God requires, is like offering Monopoly money to your mortgage company. It’s not an acceptable currency. God doesn’t want your good works, he demands justice. The wages of sin is death. To pay for your sin, someone has to die.

You say, but I don’t claim to be good, I have the opposite problem: I’m too bad. You don’t know the things I’ve done! God could never forgive me. That brings us to…

3. EXTENT OF REDEMPTION

Ephesians 4: 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Because of what Jesus did for you, there is total forgiveness. The word means to send away.

Micah 7:18-20 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression …He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Is Jesus’ death really enough?

Can his blood cover every sin I have ever committed? Absolutely. Look at the verse:

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

He carried our sin away from us, into the gaping mouth of God’s fury and wrath, until it was all paid for. Then he said “It is finished.”

4. RESULT OF REDEMPTION

Ephesians 4:7-9 … according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

When Jesus died to redeem you from your sin, you were granted forgiveness of your sins. But that’s not all.

You now have a new heart with new desires, but also with new abilities: which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will

When you were a slave to sin, your mind was darkened to spiritual realities. But when you are bought back from your sin, you are issued with all the wisdom and insight you will need to live a life pleasing to God.

1 Cor 1: 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The Spirit enables you to understand spiritual truths that you were unable to grasp before. The implications are vast. You don’t need more insight than what is available in the Bible. You don’t need prophecies and words of knowledge to make the right choices. You don’t need to submit to people who claim that they have a special word from God for your life. You have what you need.

CONCLUSION

Redemption is a payment Jesus makes for your sins, through his violent death on the cross.

If you don’t believe in Jesus to save you, then you will appear on judgment day with nothing to offer God but your Monopoly money, your good works.

I promise you this: he will not accept any currency but the blood of Jesus Christ.

Don’t go to bed tonight without making peace with God through the ransom paid for you by Jesus.

________

Clint Archer was born and raised in South Africa. After pastoring there for 14 years he now serves as pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist in Mobile, Alabama. He and his wife Kim have four children and a Jeep

Blessings We Get at Salvation, Pt 1 | The Cripplegate

by Clint Archer

I witnessed something interesting at Johannesburg International Airport. Our flight to LA via Atlanta was grounded for some reason. I was instructed to wait at ticketing. I was sixth in line. The guy at the front of the queue was in the same predicament and he was livid. I couldn’t help but overhear his voluminous ranting.

The lady behind the counter had politely explained to him that the flight was grounded, but that the airline had made an alternative arrangement with another airline to take him via another route to Los Angeles – his final destination. The man wanted nothing to do with it. He was objecting loudly: “I don’t want to catch a plane to another destination, my connecting flight is in Atlanta. If I miss that flight, I won’t get to LA. I have to be on that plane!” “But Sir,” she explained patiently (again), this new route will get you to LA on time.” “I don’t want to go another route. I want the route I paid for.”

Eventually she said, “Hold on a minute.” He continued grumbling, possibly to me, or someone else in line, because there was no one at the counter now. A few minutes later the lady returned, and without a word, she just slid a ticket over the counter and before he could object she pointed to something on the ticket. The man stopped mid-sentence and smiled. His entire demeanor changed. He was grateful and courteous. What changed?

Later I heard him on his cell phone expressing how lucky he was that his plane was grounded. What had happened? The man had been bumped up from economy class to first class, on Air France, via Paris, to LA.

Many people misunderstand the doctrine of election. They think it teaches that people who want to get a ticket to Heaven can’t. When actually the Bible tells us people who are certain they are heading in the right direction, are then powerfully acted upon to change their minds and wills so that they enjoy their new destination.

Paul is writing to the Ephesians. They were entrenched in superstition, occult practices, pagan worship, and polytheism, and yet they suddenly start believing in a dead Jewish carpenter who allegedly rose from the dead. How did this happen? God appointed them to believe, and Paul rejoiced in God’s sovereign election.

5 ASPECTS OF ELECTION SO THAT WE WILL REGARD IT WITH THE SAME PASSION THAT PAUL DOES

1. GOODNESS

Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…

Paul isn’t serving the Ephesians soup as an appetizer. He just serves up a slab of tough theological meat. Bon Appetite!

Election means choosing – God chooses whom to save, and it is not based on our merit.

This teaching excites Paul. Notice from the text that Paul calls election a spiritual blessing – something good and worthy of praise that comes from the Holy Spirit.

You might not be able to get your mind around this. That’s fine. There is nothing wrong with admitting that our thimble-sized brains can’t contain God’s ocean of wisdom.

2. METHOD

Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…

From these verses it is clear that everyone must believe that God chooses. But Arminians say that God chooses those who have believed, and Calvinists say that those whom God chooses – will believe.

How do you know which view you take?

If you pray for someone to be saved, you are Calvinist.

If you think God wishes he could save your friend, but he is not able to save him until he believes, then you are Arminian.

So which view is correct?

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,

Paul says clearly – if you are saved then you were chosen before you believed, before you heard the gospel, before you were born, before the world was created.

I’m not saying you are saved before you believe. You get saved when you believe.

Of course, you might remember choosing God, but why did you choose God? Because you believed. Why did you believe? Because God gave you faith. Why did he give you faith? Because he chose to. When did he choose to? Before you were born.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.

Christ’s selection of his apostles is an example of his unilateral choice in action. The Bible teaches from cover to cover that man never initiates a choice of God, God always initiates, including Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptizer, Paul, and you.

3. PRODUCT OF ELECTION

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…

The reason God chose us was because he wanted someone to be holy before him and no one could be holy on their own.

Ephesians 5:27  Christ gave himself up] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

4. MOTIVE

Ephesians 1:4-5In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

God chose us because God loved us and wanted a relationship with us…not because we were worthy. Election is a doctrine rooted deeply in the fertile soil of God’s rich love for us.

The word predestined means to determine beforehand. Like writing a script. My life is a novel written by God, planned in eternity and worked out by him day by day, and he knows exactly how it ends: with me as his adopted son in glory, no matter what. I am a son of God, because, in love, he willed it to be so.

5. GOAL

Ephesians 1:5-6 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

This doctrine ascribes all the glory to one source: God.

There is no explanation for my salvation except God and his grace. It wasn’t because I was a bit better than the guy who rejected him. It wasn’t because he saw something in me that made him like me more than others. There is nothing in me that deserves Jesus. But I am saved by his death for me, because he loved me. And so there is no glory left for me to bask in.

CONCLUSION

You might ask – how do I know if I am elect?

It’s simple. If you want to be saved, then you can be. Only those God is working in want to be saved. If you love God, if you believe in Jesus, that means he put that faith in your heart. That means you are elect.

Anyone can be saved at any moment. All you need to do is believe.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Like the disgruntled man at the airport, God booked you your ticket while you were protesting. But when you receive it, you smile in appreciation. Express that to him for the praise of his glorious grace in Christ Jesus.

I challenge you to think of this glorious doctrine the same way Paul did: with joy.

_______

Clint Archer was born and raised in South Africa. After pastoring there for 14 years he now serves as pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist in Mobile, Alabama. He and his wife Kim have four children and a Jeep.

That America may bless the world: Jamestown settlers

Reverend Robert Hunt, Cape Henry

“We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the World. May all who see this Cross, remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled.”

Using covenantal language, Hunt declared, “from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth not only to this New World but the entire world.” The following Bible passage was read at the conclusion of the prayer: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he ruleth among the nations” (Ps. 22:27–28).

The Jamestown settlers believed in a covenantal approach to history whereby future generations would “take the Kingdom of God to all the earth”—and this is the important part—“as long as this earth remains.” These concepts came directly from the notes of the Geneva Bible with its kingdom-advancing approach!