Monday, January 31, 2011

Mining the Archives: Luther Gets Saved in Habakkuk

The book of Habakkuk, a small book of prophecy tucked toward the end of the Old Testament, was written in about the 7th century B.C. Six hundred years later, it was instrumental in the writings of the Apostle Paul, and some 1,500 years later, in the life of the great reformer, Martin Luther. The following is adapted from a  sermon Pastor Mark gave as part of a  sermon series series on the prophetic book in 2003.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
Habakkuk 2:4

A lot of pastors are in ministry trying to pay God back rather than just trusting Jesus. Martin Luther was one of those guys: his incentive for ministry was to pay God back. He was going to study theology, and he had the mind of an attorney.

Luther tries God v. man

Luther saw God as a judge and as a prosecuting attorney. He saw himself as a defense attorney. He realized that God’s case against him was that he’s a sinful man unfit for heaven and forgiveness. So he picked up ministry, he picked up the Scriptures, he started to study, trying to find a way to defend himself against this case that God has made against humanity.

He came to the conclusion that God has an airtight case: we’re all wicked. That’s the only thing that is absolutely provable in Christianity is the evil of the human heart. That’s why we lock our doors. And that’s why we have jails. That’s why we have attorneys. That’s why we have prisons. That’s why we are reticent to even extend a hand of friendship to a stranger because we know not whether they are a friend or foe.

Luther said, “You know what? God’s case against humanity is a winner. We’re bad. And especially if God is judge, can’t lie to him. And if God is prosecuting attorney, you’re not gonna beat him. There’s no way out.” So he decided was he was going to study the Scriptures and find all the things that God wanted him to do, and then he’d do those so God would like him.

The Pursuit of Perfect Penance

And he tried really hard. Really hard. Harder than any of us. He became a priest, which meant no wife, no sex, no kids.  He actually went that far. He became a monk and a pastor and a professor of theology. He said, “Not only that, since sin requires punishment, I’ll punish myself. I’ll sleep on an uncomfortable bed or the floor. I’ll eat terrible food or starve myself so I rack my body.” And he actually did have intestinal problems for the rest of his life. “I’ll avoid all worldly pleasure. I won’t laugh. I won’t have a good time.”

And this guy was so racked because he was such a clever and clear-thinking mind. When it came to the Scriptures he realized that, in light of God’s Word, he was doomed.

What the monks would do usually is they would send the men into confession with a priest. And you would go in to the priest and you’d tell him all your sins, and then he would absolve you and proclaim forgiveness upon you, and they’d go do their work as monks. (We Christians do the same thing except for our priest’s name is Jesus. He’s our high priest. We go to him and confess our sins, and he died for them and he pardons us and grants us forgiveness.)

Confess? Yes. Hoe? No.

The problem was Martin Luther would be in there all day, every single day. He realized that even the way he confessed sin was a sin, so he would confess his sin and the way he confessed his sin. And then he realized that the motive for confessing his sin was a sin. So he would confess the motive and the mean and the sin. Right? Because it’s not just doing the right thing. It’s doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason. And the other monks thought, “He must be lazy, trying to get out of the work. He goes in there and prays all day so he doesn’t have to go out and hoe the garden.”

Finally, the priest said, “Enough already. Can’t you be in denial like everybody else and just go hoe the garden? Everybody else is in denial. Can’t you just say, ‘Well, I had a bad thought and we say blah, blah, blah, now move on?’”

Luther said, “No. I was reading the Scriptures and it says, ‘Be perfect.’ It says, ‘Do everything.’ It says, ‘Obey God.’ It says, ‘Motives count.’ It says, ‘Method counts. Everything counts.’ I’m not making it.”

And Luther became so depressed that he was almost at this place of suicide and coming apart. And then something amazing happened.

Martin Luther’s room while in exile at Wartburg Castle

The German Theologian Reads the Turkish Apostle Who Reads the Judean Prophet

He was studying the book of 
Psalms, and it brought him back to Romans 1:17, where Paul quotes Habakkuk, which led him all the way back to Habakkuk 2:4. Over 2,000 years after it was written, that same little verse that exploded for Paul, exploded for a guy named Martin Luther.

Luther writes, “There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: The righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely the passive righteousness, which the merciful God justifies us by faith. As it is written,” he quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “he who through faith is righteous shall live. Here I felt that I was altogether born again and have entered paradise itself through open gates. Here a totally other face of the entire Scriptures showed itself to me.”

Martin Luther got saved in Habakkuk 2:4.

The Reformation Takes Form

And out of his understanding came what we call the Reformation, the cleaning up the understanding of the gospel and the recognition that “I don’t save myself. Jesus saves me. I don’t need to be good. Jesus was perfect. I don’t need to please God. Jesus did on my behalf. I don’t need to work my way to God. God has humbled himself and come down for me. I just need to trust him, and he will take away all my sin and he will love me and forgive me and adopt me into his family.”

“He will then give me a new heart. He will give me a new life. He’ll make me a new creation. And then all these Scriptures that I know are good I will begin to live in accordance with those Scriptures by grace because it’s grace that saves me and it’s grace that empowers me to honor God, through the Holy Spirit that the Son of God will send into me so that it’s no longer I who live, but it’s Christ who lives in me and through me and often times in spite of me. And then God gets all his glory and I get my redemption and I trust him, not me, and it’s about him, not me, and he’s God and I’m not.”

And 2,600 years after Habakkuk writes this little verse it’s still working because God said it. That’s how God still transforms and loves and heals and forgives and redeems people.

God says, “Know who I am. Don’t fight me. Trust me. And once you have, keep trusting me until you see me, and then your faith shall be sight.”

At this point, I call you all to response.  Last week a number of people came to Christ in this church. They stopped worshipping themselves and started worshipping Jesus.

If you’re a non-Christian, that is what you need to do: Your trust needs to be in Jesus, not yourself. His death, burial and resurrection, not your morality or spirituality or sincere or insincere attempts. You recognize your sin. You own it, you name it, and you ask Jesus to forgive you, and he will. And you trust him and belong to him and walk with him. And he will give you the grace to become the person that he intends for you to be. He’s good from beginning to end.

There is a wealth of resources in the  Mars Hill media library, including  over 500 sermons preached at the church, some dating back to 2000. Many of the sermons don’t have video, much less a  sleek intro video with scored backing track, just grainy, scratchy audio of a younger Pastor Mark. But the truth of the gospel and the relevancy of the teachings last. So, from time to time, we’ll repost bits from those archived sermons here on the blog so that they can be useful to you in your discipleship. (And because we’ve been studying the Gospel of Luke for over a year now—with another year to go—it’s good to shake things up and learn something from a different book every once in a while.)

Originally Posted at On January 30th 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Skeptics Society—Shame on you!

Written by: Dr. Kent Hovind

At first I thought it was a joke. Someone sent me a fund-raising pamphlet from the Skeptics Society titled “Top 10 Myths about Evolution.” The cover depicts the old cartoon of Darwin’s head on an ape’s body, and the subtitle is: How We Know it Really Happened. The booklet states that if I donate $5,000 or more to the Skeptics Society, I can be a “Patron” and get a free dinner with the Executive Director Michael Shermer at a restaurant of my choice. Wow! That’s an expensive meal!

Let’s debate

Anyway, I’ve debated Michael Shermer twice (see debates “Three Views” and “How to Debate a Creationist”) and will do it again (plus 10 other evolution experts to assist him) any day of the week with 90% of my brain tied behind my back! I’ll even buy dinner AND pay him $500 to debate with me again based on a few simple conditions:

•Anyone is allowed to videotape the debate and sell copies that are not edited other than improving the quality of graphs, charts and visuals used.

•Each side (not each person) gets equal time.

•We talk about one topic at a time. (My experience has been that they will throw out 10 topics in rapid succession—as this pamphlet does—and only give you time to respond to one or two. Then they claim you couldn’t answer the others.)

So, even though Michael’s 10 “evidences” for evolution have been discredited and disproven long ago (many in my debates with him, so he should know better than to use them), I will give a brief summary—again—of why the first three are wrong (all others are covered in my seminar series and even my debates with him. The only reason he keeps using these long discredited “evidences” is because that’s all the atheists have! (See John 8:44 for why)

Skeptics Society fund-raising mailer

#1 “Myth”: Why aren’t apes evolving into humans?

Michael states that creationists say, “If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans?” His answer is that this is not really what evolution teaches, but rather that apes and humans have a common ancestor. This answer is a feeble attempt to draw attention away from the bigger issue: Nobody has ever seen ANY plant or animal (including apes and humans) produce ANYTHING other than their own kind. Dogs produce dogs, humans produce humans and apes produce apes WITHOUT EXCEPTION! If Michael wants to believe apes and humans have a common ancestor, that is fine; but neither he nor anyone else should claim this is SCIENCE.

Every farmer on planet earth throughout all of recorded history has counted on evolution NOT happening! When the farmers plant corn, they expect (and get) CORN—EVERY TIME!

I told Michael he is right to be skeptical of UFOs and other paranormal subjects he often criticizes, but I can’t figure out why he would not be skeptical of his own evolution religion, which teaches everything came from nothing for no reason by no Creator. Why would he not be skeptical of the wild idea that animals can change (slowly or quickly) into different kinds of animals when there is NO scientific evidence that this even CAN happen, let alone evidence that it did happen?

#2 “Myth”: Too many gaps in the fossil record

This one is amazing to me. He claims that critics of evolution say: “There are too many gaps in the fossil record for evolution to be true.” His answer is: “In fact, there are lots of intermediate fossils. Archaeopteryx, for example, is one of the earliest known fossil birds with a reptilian skeleton and feathers …”

Michael, shame on you! First, there is no such thing as a “fossil record.” There are billions of bones in the ground but no “record.” Some people put their interpretation on those bones but NONE have dates on them when they are found and none can talk. The very existence of fossils is evidence of a worldwide flood! Fossils don’t form in any quantity today even though millions of animals die every year.

Secondly, archeopteryx is NOT evidence for evolution! Only six skeletons have been found, all from the same quarry. There is plenty of evidence they are 100% bird, similar to the hoatzin flying around South America today. There are also many who think the archeopteryx fossils have been tampered with and are fraudulent. See my seminar, Part 4, for LOTS more on this and the other supposed “missing links” used as evidence for evolution.

Third, fossils are simply bones in the dirt. You cannot prove those animals had ANY offspring, let alone DIFFERENT offspring. Why should we believe the bones in the dirt can do something that NO animal on earth today can do—produce something other than their kind?

#3 “Myth”: Fossil record does not show gradual change

This one deals with the common complaint that the “fossil record” does not show gradual change. His answer is that the change was rapid “in a process called punctuated equilibrium.” The idea is that evolution happened so fast that no evidence was preserved. Try THAT in any court of law: “Your Honor, we don’t have any evidence so that proves it happened!”

It looks to me like there are only two options in Michael’s (and most evolutionist’s) mind:

•Evolution happened slowly (Darwin’s theory) or

•Evolution happened rapidly (Steven Gould and Niles Eldridge’s theory).

There is a third choice, Michael: Evolution didn’t happen AT ALL! This leaves the only logical option being Creation. That choice brings with it some serious baggage that you seem to be desperately trying to avoid—a CREATOR.

There IS a Creator

Well, accept it! There is a Creator and He WILL be the Judge of the world soon! He has a record of every word (Matthew 12:36) and every deed (Romans 2:6) and even every thought (Hebrews 4:12) of everyone on earth and will bring everything into judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

If you have ever broken even ONE of God’s laws (see the 10 Commandments, Exodus 20) one time (such as lying, stealing, using God’s name in vain, lusting after a woman who is not your wife, etc.), I suggest you get a good lawyer for your trial or repent and ask for forgiveness.

I know one who has NEVER lost a case. He is my advocate for judgment day. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (I John 2:1)

How to be saved

It’s really amazingly simple.

A – Admit you have sinned and broken God’s laws. (Romans 3:23)

B – Believe that God Himself came down in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, and died on the cross to pay for those sins and rose again three days later. (Romans 6:23; 10:9)

C – Call upon Him to forgive you and save you. (Romans 10:13)

That simple act of faith will make you part of God’s family. You will be ‘born again’ (Jn. 3:1-8) and become a new creature (II Cor. 5:17) have your sins forgiven and face God judgment day “justified.” That is “just as if I’d never sinned.” (Rom. 3:24; 5:1, 9; 8:30; Gal. 2:16-17; Titus 3:7, etc.)

Since you will be dead for a lo-o-o-o-ong time, I strongly suggest you get ready for the day you face the Creator. With Christ as your advocate you are saved, forgiven, born again, a child of the Father, justified and Heaven bound. Without Him…well, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31) since “God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Ps. 7:11) Think about it!

Originally Posted by Dr. Kent Hovind at 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Billy Graham Would Do Differently

Originally Posted By John Piper at on January 25th 2011

Billy Graham was just interviewed. Here is what he said to the question,

If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?

Yes, of course. I'd spend more time at home with my family, and I'd study more and preach less. I wouldn't have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn't really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now.

It seems to me these are wise words for pastors. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4). And there are even “military” acts one can do too many of. Focus on the main things and work with all your might.

Originally Posted By John Piper at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Know Your Heretics: Nestorius

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

John Calvin said in his Institutes of the Christian Religion that Nestorius “devised a double Christ!”

The early church taught that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures: a divine nature and a human nature.

Nestorius (c. 381-451) was a monk from Antioch before he became the bishop of Constantinople in 428. He so emphasized the two natures that Nestorius basically turned Jesus Christ into two persons. Wanting to avoid any “mixing” of the divine and human natures of Christ (as Eutyches did), Nestorius over-emphasized their distinctness.

He argued that there are places in the Gospels where the human nature of Jesus is being described, and others where his divine nature is the subject. In doing this, it seems as if Nestorius has made two persons exist in Christ—two acting subjects, two “he’s".

Christ is two natures in one person

Cyril of Alexandria was the main proponent of orthodox theology in response to Nestorius. Cyril condemned Nestorius’ stance of two subjects present in Christ because it meant there were also two persons—a human and a divine—present in Christ. In response to Nestorius’ position, Cyril wrote: “If any one distributes between two characters or persons the expressions used about Christ in the gospels, etc…applying some to the man, conceived of separately, apart from the Word, others exclusively to the Word, let him be anathema.”

“Nestorius’ under-emphasis of the unity between the two natures of Christ is dangerous because Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between God and humanity.

”Both the councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) condemned Nestorius. He claimed later that he was simply misunderstood and he believed in Christ’s two natures in one person.

Stephen Nichols notes of the Chalcedonian Creed, “In affirming Christ as two natures in one person, the Creed repudiates directly and explicitly the teachings of Apollinarius, Eutyches, and Nestorius…Against Nestorius, the Creed holds Christ to be two natures in one person without division or separation. It denies that Christ is two persons, two ‘he’s.’” [1]

Why the unity of Jesus matters

Nestorius’ under-emphasis of the unity between the two natures of Christ is dangerous because Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between God and humanity.

This unity of the one person of Jesus Christ is called the hypostatic union. It is important that we get this union right—Jesus Christ is the God-man. It is precisely in the unity of the person of Jesus Christ and his sinless life, death, and resurrection that God reconciles lost humans with his perfect self.

Two natures, without separation

A disjoining of the two natures would result in a failure in the means of Christians’ salvation. This is why the Chalcedonian Creed says, “our Lord Jesus Christ...for us men and for our salvation…[is] recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated in two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [2]


[1] For Us and Our Salvation [2] Documents of the Christian Church

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mormon “Idol” David Archuleta Sings About Jesus

Posted on May 21, 2008 by Sharon Lindbloom at

American Idol’s 2008 finalist David Archuleta has a beautiful voice and a compelling way of phrasing his songs. A seventeen-year-old Mormon from Murray, Utah, his hometown and Church are very proud of him.

I watched a video ( of David singing “Smokey Mountain Memories,” a sad song about a displaced Appalachian family missing their Smokey Mountain home. David sang,

But I’ll keep leanin’ on my Jesus
I know he’ll love and guide and lead us
Appalachian memories keep me strong

Who is Jesus to David Archuleta? According to the web site of David’s church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon understanding of Jesus “is significantly different from that of traditional Christianity.” So different, in fact, that the last Prophet and President of the LDS Church said Mormons don’t believe in the traditional Christ (Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church News, week ending June 20, 1998, p.7). Another leader in the LDS Church taught that Mormons worship a different Jesus than other Christians (LDS Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, Ensign, May 1977, p.26). And an apostle of the Mormon Church even went so far as to say that all non-Mormon Christendom have “debased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 269).

So who is this Jesus that Mormons believe in? How is he different from the Jesus revealed in the Bible and worshipped by traditional Christians since Christ walked the earth 2000 years ago?

Traditional Christian theology states Jesus is the Creator of all things “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Mormonism states that Jesus created many things, but not all things. He did not create Lucifer, for instance, who is identified in the Bible as the “power” we wrestle against in our spiritual battles (see Ephesians 6:10-12). In fact, according to Mormonism, Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 192).

In traditional Christian theology, Jesus is God and has always been God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). According to Mormonism, Jesus was procreated by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, born to them as a spirit son, and later achieved His Godhood by obedience to “all the Gospel truths and universal laws” (Gospel Principles, p. 11; The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 51).

These are just a few of the many differences that could be cited, but these are enough to demonstrate that the differences between the traditional Christ and the Mormon Christ are indeed very significant.

Which Jesus is David Archuleta leaning on? Which Jesus is the true Savior? Which Jesus do you trust with your eternal life?

Originally Posted at