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The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Leaving Laodicea | Steve McCranie

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472:  Have You Experienced Regeneration or Conversion?

472: Have You Experienced Regeneration or Conversion?

One of the most frightening truths is the fact that many who claim the name of Christ, who profess salvation, are actually lost and on their way to eternal separation from Him.  How can that be?  How can someone be so duped into believing they are saved when, in fact, just the opposite is true?  The answer is found in our understanding of the difference between regeneration (being born again) and conversion (exercising faith and repentance).  Conversion must follow regeneration for true salvation to take place.  If the order is reversed, nothing eternal happens.

Often, with good intentions, we focus on getting someone to convert to Christ by emphasizing their need to recite the “sinner’s prayer”— which focuses on faith (Romans 10:9-10) and repentance.  But without regeneration (being born again), the converted individual (who prayed a prayer) is not saved.  They have made a verbal assent (faith) to a code of ethics or a religion or a way of life, but without a supernatural change in nature.  And it is only the change in nature (regeneration) that leads to salvation.  Sadly, the converted, yet unregenerate sinner, becomes another unsaved, baptized, deceived, church member.

This is exactly what Jesus spoke of in His Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13) and warned about at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.  Consider carefully His words:

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”

So what are we to do?

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471:  How to Experience the Peace of God

471: How to Experience the Peace of God

Peace seems like such an elusive commodity today.  After all, it seems we are surrounded by ever-increasing chaos and turmoil with no end in sight.  What are believers to do in a climate like we are facing today?  We are to strive to experience the peace of God.  Note, not peace with God, which is something quite different.  But the peace of God.  It is a peace that only comes from Him, the peace He also experienced while on earth, the indescribable, supernatural peace of God.

Paul tells us exactly how to find this peace.  Consider the following:

Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and (the promise) the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

But what kind of peace is that?  And how can I experience that promised peace?  Is it something I muster up myself?  Or is it something I internalize myself?  Or does it, like faith, come from outside of myself?  And, if so, how can I obtain this peace of God?

Great questions.  But the answer is simple.  The peace of God is a gift from our Lord, left to each of us as a part of our inheritance in Him.  It is the peace Jesus personally experienced while on earth, facing untold trials, tribulation, betrayals, and spiritual attacks.  And He gives us, as a gift, this very peace as a promise— a promise so wonderful it cannot be described or even understood.

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470:  The Theater of Your Mind

470: The Theater of Your Mind

When you read anything, including Scripture, there’s something that happens that is called the theater of your mind.  It is in the theater of your mind that you take descriptive text and add details to make the story more personal, more alive, more kinetic.  For example, consider this simple description:  “It was raining.  As he walked to the car, he pulled his coat tight around himself and quickened his steps.”

Now, what scene are you seeing in your mind?  And what details have you added to make this descriptive statement more descriptive?  How hard was it raining?  Was this a rural setting or a side street in New York City?  Or was the man on his front porch walking across his lawn to his car, or was he coming out of a restaurant or an office building in downtown Chicago?  Did this take place in winter, maybe mid-January?  Or was it in early Spring, during the first week of May?  What was the color of his coat?  How old was the man?  Was he dressed in a tuxedo like he was heading to a wedding?  Or was he tired, in worn-out overalls, on his way home after spending twelve hours in a wheat field on a John Deere Harvester?  How do you see this in the theater of your mind?

There is no right or wrong answer.  You are the one who adds these secondary elements to what you read and paints black and white text with a pallet of colors you make up in your own mind.  We all do this.  Everyone does this when we read descriptive text.

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469:  What’s the Point of the Lord’s Supper?

469: What’s the Point of the Lord’s Supper?

In the history of the church, there seems to always be confusion about the Lord’s Supper.  What does it mean?  Why do we participate?  What happens when I do?  Let’s be honest, many find the Lord’s Supper somewhat confusing.  I often hear people say, “I don’t understand what the Lord’s Supper means.”  And, in our narcissistic church culture, where it’s all about us, this is usually followed by “So what’s the point of the Lord’s Supper anyway?”  We know it’s something important, really important, but we’re not sure why.  And we know it’s something we’re supposed to do because Jesus commanded us to, but again, we’re not sure why.  Which presents even more questions.

What does it mean?
Is it really all that important?
Why should I participate?
Are there any reasons why I should not participate?
What happens when I do participate?
And why all the controversy and confusion?

Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called communion.  But communion with who?  And how is that communion experienced by taking a sip of juice and eating an unleavened doughball?

In other words, there must be more to this than what many believers have experienced.  And, if so, how can I understand what it all means?

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468:  Following Jesus in Real-Time

468: Following Jesus in Real-Time

Let’s cut to the chase.  We are living in troubling times.  Right now in California, for example, pastors are being threatened with fines and imprisonment for holding church services indoors.  Yet, riots and demonstrations are not restricted but encouraged.  How is that possible in our nation?  And many Christians, who should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder for the truth, are scattered like autumn leaves afraid of their own shadows.  Is this what following Jesus is all about?  And what does following Jesus in real-time mean today?

Is it an emotional decision we make one time that lets Jesus season our life for the better?
Or is it, like Bonhoeffer said, a “call to come and die”?
Or maybe something in-between these two extremes?

Whatever it means, those following Jesus in the Scriptures seemed to have different lives than we do today.  And why is that?

In this message, we will look at the accounts in Matthew where Jesus invited those He encountered to “follow Him” and see what that actually meant.  And I think you’ll find it is more than a simple mental assent to a moral code or set of personal principles.  No, following Jesus is a life-altering event that literally changes everything— about everything.

Consider the following:

Matthew 4:18-20 – And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Does this sound like what happens when we decide to follow Jesus?  But there’s more…

Matthew 4:21-22 – Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets.  He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

And there are dozens of more examples that show us clearly what following Jesus in real-time meant back then, and also means today.  So join with us as we discover more about this life with Christ and the joy that comes from following Him.

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467:  We Are Living in Bonhoeffer’s Germany

467: We Are Living in Bonhoeffer’s Germany

In the 1930s, if you were a Jew in Germany, you would be faced with unforeseen challenges, that would only get worse.  And if you were a Christian during the same period, you would have to make the same choices many of those brave men made, to follow Christ or the Reich.  This choice is now thrust upon each of us who are called by the name of Christ.  Will we follow His commands or cower to the oppressive power of the State?  And just like Bonhoeffer and the members of the Confessing Church, we must stand or fall together. So yes, we are living in Bonhoeffer’s Germany.

Recently, the Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, denied an appeal for a Nevada church to allow additional worshipers to join in-person services based on building capacity during the virus.  Nevada has placed a 50-person cap on all places of worship, no matter the capacity of the building.  But that cap doesn’t apply to casinos, movie theaters, and restaurants.  Does something seem amiss?

And in California, churches must meet outdoors and limit the number of participants.  Plus, there are no potlucks or fellowship dinners allowed.  No singing, even in small, home groups.  And all of this is happening while riots and demonstrations are permitted and encouraged by the same government officials, yet ordinary citizens must comply with Covid19 restrictions.  Why?  Because our governmental officials state the demonstrations are “too important” to regulate.  So how are we to respond to this hypocrisy?

Our response is simply saying, “Enough!”  This is exactly what some churches, including Grace Community Church in California and their pastor John MacArthur, have done.  They have publically said, “Enough!”   But they have said it with grace and respect.  And they have not said it quietly or behind closed doors.  Boldness seems to be the great need for the church today.

Remember the poem found in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem that speaks of the times in which we live.  It is titled “First They Came.”

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Grace Community Church published a position paper on why they will not adhere to the Governor of California’s decrees to limit worship and curtail freedom of religion.  It is a paper that communicates the rationale behind civil disobedience from a Scriptural perspective.  We, at the Church Without Walls, have modified and adopted this statement as our official position.  In this message, we will talk about the ramifications of standing for Him alone, even if you have to do it alone.

Join us as we stand in faith together.

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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17

Come and join us as we discover the joy of Leaving Laodicea behind.