The Sovereignty of Jesus in His Resurrection

Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.
(© 20 February 2008; 1 Aug 2020)

(As we see the tsunami of God’s justice moving over the world, I’ll be giving a series of blogs on what is happening and why. I certainly do not claim to be a prophet, but 

Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), and now that He is dead, her heart is broken. While overcome with despair, she muses to herself.

Jesus was dead; she had seen Him die with her own eyes:

• He had been beaten with a whip with pieces of metal in it.

• A crown of thorns had been placed on His head, the thorns being a reminder of the curse in Gen 3 that Adam’s labor would be cursed with thorns.

• He had lost much blood.

• He had groaned when they dropped the cross into its hole with the weight of His whole body behind it.

• She had watched Him push down on His feet and pull up with His hands to force air into His lungs and to keep them free of fluid, but when His side was pierced with a sword, out came blood and water, confirming that His lungs had filled with fluid and that He had asphyxiated.

Trained Roman soldiers, who were experts in crucifixions, had testified to His death so that His legs did not need to be broken as the other two who were crucified with Him (which was a prophecy from the Old Testament).

Tomb itself:
No, He was dead alright, make no mistake about that. But what about the tomb itself. The Jews had requested from Pilate to make the tomb secure so no one could steal His body (Matt. 27:62-66). Therefore,

• A heavy stone had been placed over the mouth of the tomb and who could move this without being seen? It would take several men, and even further . . .

• A Roman seal had been roped over the tomb’s stone to enforce with law that no one could enter the tomb. It would be no problem physically to remove a rope lightly attached with wax at both ends, but who would risk going against the authority of Rome under the death penalty?

• A Roman guard had also been stationed there to keep anyone from tampering with the seal or His body. Who would dare challenge them?

• Surely the Jews would not steal His body, for they wanted the Roman seal and guard and got these approved from Pilate in the first place.

She pondered furthered:
• He had been placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man. You don’t place live people in a tomb, especially with a stone over the mouth, unless they are dead and unless you don’t want them disturbed.

• But why did those who took His body leave His grave cloths behind? After the beating they gave Him, they would be stuck to His body and difficult to take off. If someone stole His body, it would take longer to take off the cloths than to take the whole body, further exposing themselves to being caught. This is strange, indeed. The linen cloth was neatly wrapped and in its own place. Who would take the time to make it neat? Likewise, the head cloth was still in its place. Indeed, He who came forth and altered the conditioned of the grave did nothing in haste, but with specific purposes in mind, put the linen cloth neatly where He wanted it. In the Old Testament, the high priest on the Day of Atonement only wore a linen cloth, and now this final High Priest, who had worn the same in fulfillment, took it off, for the FINAL Day of Atonement was over!

• At the tomb were two “men” clothed in white. They were angels, like the symbolic angels in the Old Testament tabernacle that overlooked the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, guarding the presence of God, and like the two angels that guarded Eden to keep Adam and Eve out after they sinned. So there were two of them at the tomb, guarding the PLACE of propitiation, the BODY of Jesus, but now stating that He had risen.

As Mary Magdalene contemplated these things, it is not difficult to imagine how much agony of soul she must have had.
Her hope had died with His death, as it had for all the disciples, who were hiding out in the upper room, fearful that they would be killed next as followers of Jesus. Faith had also died, as it had with the others. Hope was buried in the tomb with Jesus. But love was still alive, love for Christ. That’s why she was there, love; her heart was broken. Though Jesus was gone, she still wished to do something for Him, to be near Him. Not only was He dead, but she did not even have a body to mourn over.

The “men” at the tomb asked her why she wept but did not answer her at this point about Jesus, for they saw the Prince of Life approach. He would minister to her.
Words are not given to describe what she experienced, for none are appropriate. It is only recorded that she and the Lord had one brief conversation with one another. We know she was the first one to whom He revealed Himself (from Mark 16:9), revealing His compassion for the ladies to go to one who grieved so much and was often His companion.

The first statement was Jesus to Mary, asking why she was weeping. She thought he was a gardener and asked where he had put the body of Jesus.
But why is there a garden? The world was lost in a garden, and now the world is regained in a garden. The first Adam lost it all, and the Last Adam regained it, so says St. Paul in Romans 5:12ff.

She thought He was the gardener, for the last image in her mind of Him was on the cross with a crown of thorns, bruised and broken, bleeding, beaten beyond recognition, a hole in His side, head bowed, dead. The last image of someone is graphic. Moreover, her eyes were full of tears, hindering her sight.

THEN in the second statement, Jesus calls her name: “Mary.” Did a gardener know her name? Did a gardener say her name in the tender way that Jesus was accustomed? This time she looked in anticipation, eyes full of tears, hopeful, heart beating fast, lungs suspended, fearful to look but could not help it, could it be. . . . THERE HE WAS! Standing, looking at Her with those compassionate eyes, divine dignity, majestic, sovereign, serene, full of compassion for her—it was indeed the Lord!

She felt the agony of soul instantly evaporate in the heat of His loving presence and love. Joy enveloped her whole being as she felt her body bathed from head to foot in His grace. She ran to Him and embraced Him. “Rabboni!” was all she could say. No other words were necessary as she clung to Him and wept for joy. The Greek has Jesus saying, “Stop clinging to Me.” One thing for sure is that Jesus was not rebuking her for touching
Him, as if He had not ascended yet, and He did not want to soil his sacrifice until He presented His blood to the Father. That is surely dangerous fiction, for it was on the Cross that Jesus cried out: “It is finished,” and the Father’s “Amen” was His resurrection of His Son. The Ascension was His enthronement, not a continuation of His cross-work. Never had she thought such joy possible, and she worshipped Him with every fiber of her being!

The LAST ENEMY, death, had now been defeated (1 Cor. 15:26). Jesus had raised Himself from the dead. All down through history governments had kept people in slavery by using the fear of death to keep them in line. But when Jesus walked out of that tomb, He essentially put His foot on the neck of Rome by overcoming the death they gave Him, by establishing His kingdom that would flood the whole world like a tsunami, not fearing death.

It is amazing to me that the devil can be so dumb. He killed Messiah, which is exactly what the Lord wanted to happen. Satan tried to stop Him with death, which had worked for centuries, but this time the devil was defeated. He is still using death to attack us, and the only thing he accomplishes is geography: removing a saint from earth to heaven. We must learn not to fear death:

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14-15)

Indeed, in this scene with Mary and Jesus, we learn that the only thing that can cure an empty heart and life is an empty . . . tomb.

Muslims and Mormons

(c) Muslims and Mormons 2010

These two religions are remarkably similar, and both are Christian heresies, which means they came out of orthodox Christianity. It appears that Satan saw that Islam worked so well in the East with Mohammed in the seventh century that he cloned the same approach in the USA with Joseph Smith in the 18th century who founded the Mormons. If you someone who will help you understand “Christian” cults, you can learn a lot not only about them but also about true Christianity. Brother Andrew passed into the presence of the Lord several years ago.


The following article was written by Brother Andrew and can be accessed at his web write if you can find it. I cannot vouch for Brother Andrew’s accuracy of the facts he presents so read discriminately. When I get things like this, I just read them and file them away in my brain. If anything further comes up, I’ll compare them.

  1. The followers of Muhammad and Joseph Smith both killed innocent “infidels” on the same date of 9/11. On September 11, 1857, Mormon militia massacred about 140 men, women, and children under the authority of Brigham Young. However, 17 very young children were spared and adopted into Mormon families. They were sold to the highest Mormon family bidder and resold and traded many times afterward. This event is called “The Mountain Meadows Massacre.” Mormon leaders engaged in a deliberate rewriting of history to deny they were behind the murders. On September 11, 2001, Muhammad’s followers, using the Koran as a guide, sent two airplanes into the World Trade Center killing 3,000 innocent men, women, and children. Muslims today have a Ph.D. rewriting history and preach in the mosques that Jews were actually driving the planes, not Muslim terrorists. (Incredibly, many Muslims today deny the Jewish Holocaust, which shows how subjective Muslims are in their approach to history. Since they are repeating the Holocaust, they don’t want to be identified with it so they deny it ever happened.)
  2. Both were allegedly visited by an angel. Joseph Smith was visited by the angel “Moroni” and Muhammad by Gabriel. Galatians 1:6-9 says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
  3. Each has a holy city: Mormons have Salt Lake City and Muslims have Mecca. Both are copying the Judeo-Christian religion with its Jerusalem, though now for Christians Jerusalem is not the holy city, though it was in the past. We now have the New Jerusalem, which is figurative for the Church. (Hebrews 12:22; Gal. 4:25-26; Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10)
  4. Both were allegedly given visions, and in both cases, we must believe the word of one man, unlike the Bible that has hundreds of witnesses over centuries of time in various geographical locations.
  5. Both were told that no true religion existed on the earth. In the published account of his life, Joseph Smith related that he became very disturbed when he was a youth because of the “strife among the different denominations,” and this “cry and tumult” led him to ask God “which of all the sects were right — and which I should join.” He was told that he must “join none of them, for they were all wrong . . . that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt. . . .” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:8-19) N. J. Dawood says that Mohammed was also concerned with the fact that the Jews and Christians had “divided themselves into schismatic sects.” In the scriptures given by Mohammed, we read: “Yet the Sects are divided concerning Jesus. . . . Truly, the unbelievers are in the grossest error.” (The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood, Surah 19, p. 34) In Surah 30, page 190, this warning appears: “Do not split up your religion into sects, each exulting in its own beliefs.” In Surah 3, page 398, we read: “The only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam. Those to whom the Scriptures [i.e., Jews and Christians] were given disagreed among themselves through jealousy only after knowledge had been given them.” (But which sect of Islam is correct, Sunnis, ISIS, Shiites?)
  6. Immediately after the death of Muhammad and Smith, a fight broke out among the “faithful converts” as to who would succeed Muhammad and Smith. Both groups were plunged into irreparable division that has endured ever since they began. Islam and Mormonism both have squabbles among themselves as to who is the one true splinter group of their prophet! As soon as each leader died, the movement split. The true lineage of Joseph Smith went to Independence, MO, but Brigham Young took most of the Mormons to Salt Lake City, UT. When Mohammed died, the movement split into two major groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites, with many smaller groups now existing.
  7. Both Muslims and Mormons were to restore the long lost faith as the one true religion. Islam makes the claim that Adam and Abraham were Muslims, a claim that is as ridiculous as it is undocumented from either history or archaeology. Mormons make the unsubstantiated claim that the church in the first century was Mormon.
  8. Both wrote a book that claims to be inspired by God.
  9. Both claimed to be illiterate or uneducated and used this as proof the book was inspired. “How could an illiterate man write the Koran or the Book of Mormon?” Joseph Smith is claimed to have had only a third-grade education.
  10. Both claimed the Bible was lost, altered, corrupted, and unreliable.
  11. Both claimed their holy book was the most correct and perfect book on earth.
  12. Both claimed that their new “Bible” was based upon a record stored in heaven. With Islam, it is the “mother book” that resides in heaven with God. With Mormonism, it is the golden Nephi plates that the angel Moroni took back to heaven.
  13. Both claim that the versions they have in our hands today are identical to what the prophet revealed and that parts are not lost, altered, and corrupted. The Mormon claim is proven false by a book called 3913 Changes to Book of Mormon by Sandra Tanner. The Islamic claim is proven false by a book (In Arabic language) called, Making Easy the Readings of What Has Been Sent Down by Muhammad Fahd Khaaruun. Both books show that the copy of the book of Mormon and the Koran used today are different from what was originally used when each religion was started.
  14. Both claimed to be the ultimate prophet of God.
  15. Both claimed they were persecuted because of their pure faith.
  16. Both were polygamists who had many wives.
  17. Both borrowed from paganism/polytheism. Muhammad incorporated the polytheistic moon god called “Allah” and “Allah’s three daughters” into Islam. Basically Muhammad chose Allah from within 350 known gods that were worshipped in Arabia and proclaimed the moon god to be the greatest and only God. Smith borrowed from a doctrine called “pyramidology” and the Masons and other magic systems.
  18. Both received “after the fact corrective revelations” from God. Muhammad retracted the Satanic verses and Mormons retracted Smith’s divine order mandating polygamy.


“As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi . . . which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again — and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated . . . I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, Preface)

  1. Mormons, contrary to the Bible, “baptize the dead,” which is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 15:29, but says nothing about what it means or even that it is required. But Mormons have developed a whole theology on this one verse, and so they gather genealogies of all men who live on earth. This contradicts the Bible: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9). While the Bible says avoid focusing on genealogies, the Mormon church makes it their central focus of mission. Mormons have even been criticized for baptizing, by proxy, the Jews who had died in Nazi Holocaust camps. When lists of genealogies are collected, living Mormons are baptized on behalf of those on the lists, who have already died. In this way, Mormons view every man who lived, as being Mormons. In the same way Muslims claim that all men are born Muslims and when they learn the truth of Christianity, they are apostatizing from their first faith. Muslims re-write history by proclaiming Jesus and the Apostles were Muslims in a similar way that Mormons are baptized by proxy for dead Jews (for example) with the expectation they will be Mormons in the next life. Yet gathering of large genealogical lists no more makes dead people Mormons in the next life, than re-writing history makes Jesus into a Muslim.
  2. Both the Islam and Mormon religions have those who follow the “original doctrine” of the founding leaders and like these founding leaders, are violent, polygamists, and have revelations from God justifying their evil actions.
  3. Both Muslims and Mormons (and Jehovah’s Witnesses) have progressive revelation. JW’s call it “new light.” Muslims call it “Nasikh.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were once instructed to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and salute the flag, but “new light” changed all that. Mormons, like all Muslims, were originally polygamists until “The Manifesto” against polygamy came as a revelation to John Taylor, over 40 years after Smith’s death, on the eve of the US government outlawing the practice of polygamy. New revelation always replaces older revelation that became inconvenient to the prophet.

22. Both require faith in a prophet outside the Bible to go to heaven. The Mormons require faith in Joseph Smith as the final prophet, and the Muslims require faith that Mohammed was God’s final prophet.



Why Study Apologetics?

© 2010 Frank M. Levi

The question “Why study apologetics?” implies that there are positive reasons for engaging in such a study. However, before answering that question there is a negative question that needs to be addressed. Why do many shy away from apologetics, some even finding the discipline rather revolting? Three main reasons come to mind.

The word apologetics conjures up visions of a formal debate between a Christian and an atheist in some academic environment, throwing arguments containing words like ontological and epistemological back and forth at each other. These types of debates do take place, but it gives the average believer the false impression that apologetics is just for the intellectually elite. The truth is that most of us are capable of greater things mentally that we might realize. Our minds and reasoning abilities are part of the image of God and when we use our minds in the right way we are bringing glory to our Creator. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20 ESV). Refusing to apply our minds, even to difficult doctrinal issues, is every bit as much a sin as theft or covetousness. Some aspects of apologetics may be difficult, but one does not have to be an intellectual giant to benefit from its study.

Another reason why some have been turned off by apologetics has nothing to do with apologetics, but with the apologist. Some of this criticism is legitimate and some is not. It is certainly true that apologetics does tend to attract augmentative people, as well as those who are afflicted with intellectual pride. To anyone who is argumentative by nature or who enjoys the superior feeling they get from proving someone else wrong I would say, don’t study apologetics until you repent and become more mature spiritually. Unfortunately, some so-called apologists have done more harm than good toward the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

However, some paint with a very broad brush and consider all apologists to be prideful, arrogant people. Such is certainly not the case. Obviously, anyone engaged in doing the work of apologetics is going to be convinced of the truth of his position. Today it is quite unpopular to say that one really believes something to be absolutely true. Consequently, when an apologist presents an argument, it is more likely that he will be attacked rather than the argument he is presenting. C. S. Lewis has been accused of engaging in “triumphalistic” apologetics because he maintains that atheism is probably in error.[1] In a recent article in “Christianity Today” about L’Abri, one of the current instructors there is quoted as saying, “Presuppositionalism can appear to be humble, but actually it’s quite arrogant. . . .”[2] Two responses to this sort of criticism are appropriate. First, words such as “humble” and “arrogant” apply to persons and their character and not to ideas or philosophical positions. Individuals may be humble or arrogant, but their ideas and beliefs are valid or invalid, sound or unsound. Those who use personal epithets such as “arrogant” in an attempt to cast a negative light on a philosophical position are making a category mistake, i.e., they are confusing and mixing qualities that may be true of one category (the apologist), with a second category (the argument used by the apologist). This amounts to the same thing as saying that algebra is arrogant because the textbook and the professor insist that there are correct and incorrect answers to the math problems on the test. Some apologists may be arrogant, condescending, and argumentative, but to say that apologetics as a discipline is unfounded is a category mistake. Secondly, to say that someone such as Lewis is triumphalistic and therefore conclude that his arguments are to be rejected is to commit the logical fallacy called ad hominem. Ad hominem is the attacking of the man rather than his position. Such attacks are often used in political campaigns. But the ad hominem proves nothing, for a man may be arrogant and abrasive and still have a valid argument.

Hopefully, we have been able to clear away some of the common reasons for not studying apologetics so we may now turn to the positive reasons for pursuing this discipline. My first reason to study apologetics has nothing directly to do with debating a non-believer. I would say that the first and most basic reason for a Christian to study apologetics is for their own spiritual benefit. One of the most famous arguments for the existence of God is the Ontological Argument, which was formulated by St. Anselm (1033-1109) during a time in history when it would have been difficult to find an atheist with whom to debate. So why did Anselm develop such a complex argument? The argument begins, “And so, Lord, do thou, who dost give understanding to faith, give me, so far as thou knowest it to be profitable, to understand that thou art as we believe: and that thou art that which we believe. And, indeed, we believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.” What we have here is a prayer coming from the heart of a true believer requesting that God would grant him a greater understanding of his heavenly Lord. True knowledge begins with faith, but faith seeks greater and greater understanding of its content. St. Augustine wrote, “I believe in order that I might understand.” Faith is fundamental to any discipline. Even the scientist must have faith in his rational and observational abilities as well as faith in the validity of the scientific method. Armed with that faith the scientist explores the intricacies of the physical world, seeking greater understanding of nature. St. Augustine began with faith, but he didn’t fall into fideism, i.e., faith devoid of intellectual content. No, St. Augustine longed to know all that he could about the God who created him and loved him. For saints like Augustine and Anselm and many other apologetics is first and foremost a prayer to know and understand God and His ways better. When we are in love, we want to know as much as possible about the one we love.

As Christians our faith is always under attack, not so much by skeptics, but by someone much more clever and ruthless. St. Paul commanded us: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11 ESV). The apostle tells us that we need “the belt of truth” and “the shield of faith” if we are to stand against such an enemy. Much of the battle for the faith takes place in the mind of the believer as Satan throws his flaming darts of doubt at us. How are we to resist? We fight off his attacks by having faith and knowing the truth. In all honesty, most Christians will never have an opportunity to use the ontological argument in a discussion with a non-believer or ever be a participant in a formal debate. But Christians regularly have to do battle with Satan’s attacks on their faith. Apologetics helps us face our doubts and questions, which often we suppress or deny, and defeat them. It is only after we have increased our own assurance and know why we believe what we believe so that we will be able to speak with confidence to the non-believer.

The final reason to study apologetics, which some mistakenly think is the only reason, is the presentation of the faith to the non-believer in a clear and persuasive way. The Scriptural basis for apologetics was stated clearly by St. Peter when he wrote, “. . . always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. . . .” (1 Peter 3:15,16 ESV) St. Peter was not writing to college professors or professional apologists. No, he was writing to every Christian. Every one of us has a responsibility to prepare ourselves so that we might be able to explain our faith to a non-Christian when the opportunity arises. When we hear the word apologetics, many of us immediately envision Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein engaged in “The Great Debate.” But the reality is that most apologetic encounters take place in the context of a Christian explaining Christianity to some interested non-Christian. Much of the work is simply clearing away common misconceptions about our beliefs. That is something every Christian should be able to do, but it does take study and preparation. Alister McGrath made this point quite well when he wrote: “Remember Augustine’s remarks about Christianity after hearing Ambrose of Milan preach: ‘I had yet to discover that it taught the truth, but I did discover that it did not teach the things I had accused it of.’”[3] Satan has only one weapon—the lie. Only one weapon, but he uses it quite effectively. Satan’s lies are defeated by the truth, and we need to be able to confront his lies with the truth. Instead of being only an academic study reserved for the intellectually elite, apologetics is one of the most practical of disciplines. That it is not for the average Christian is also one of Satan’s most effective lies.

So why study apologetics? We study apologetics that we might know our Lord better and to equip us with the armor we need to resist the attacks of the devil on our faith. We also do so for the benefit of others, not to defeat them but to help free them from Satan’s lies that they too might know God and glorify His holy name. Amen.

[1] See C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea by Victor Reppert IVP.

[2] “Christianity Today” March, 2008, article “Not Your Father’s L’Abri,” p. 60.

[3] Alister McGrath, Intellectuals Don’t Need God and Other Myths, p. 193.

Statements on Justification by Faith Alone (NKJV)

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, ThD 2020

Statements on Justification by Faith Alone (NKJV)

It has often been said that justification by faith is the doctrine by which the Church stands or falls. And when the words alone or only do not occur below, I have underlined words that are equivalent. In other words, we can see that “justification by faith apart from works” is equivalent to “justification by faith alone.” [Please note how often both the early fathers and the Bible teach that justification by faith alone necessarily leads to good works. I’ve often asked young men who are entering the ministry if we are justified by faith and works, to which they say No; then I show them James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24 NKJ). If they say we are indeed justified by faith and works, then I point them to Ephesians 2:8-10:

8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8 NKJ).

But I beg to differ that justification by faith is the doctrine by which the Church stands or falls. As an examining chaplain in the Reformed Episcopal Church, I’ve presented men to the bishop and the examining committee to be examined for the ministry. The ones that I’ve trained (as far as I can recall) did not normally make such an elementary error as “justification by faith.” Read the statements below from the various doctrinal standards and read the Bible. What do they say? When I first came into the Reformed Episcopal Church, I often heard it presented the same way above that I’m contending is wrong. At least it was presented. Here is the way it is presented by the Bible and the standards. Read Article 11 below, read the Bible, then read the standards. What is the key missing word without which the whole Reformation is destroyed? Notice the underlined words where the idea of “only” and “alone” are the substance. You see, Rome believes in justification and even in justification by faith; protestants believe in justification by faith ALONE!



“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28).

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4:2-5).

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:16).

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal 2:21).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10).

Early Fathers:

Clement of Rome (AD 95): “Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he attained righteousness and truth through faith?” (Letter to the Corinthians, Paragraph 31). “And so we, having been called through his will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we have done in holiness of heart, but through faith, by which the almighty God has justified all who have existed from the beginning” (Paragraph 32).

Polycarp to the Philippians (AD 155): “’Though you have not seen him, you believe in him with an inexpressible and glorious joy’ . . . knowing that ‘by grace you have been saved, not because of works.’” (Paragraph 1)

St. Hilary [AD 315-368] in the ninth canon on Matthew says “faith only justifies.” [St. Basil said, AD 329-379:] “This is a perfect and a whole glorifying in God, when a man does not boast himself for his own justice, but knows himself certainly to be unworthy of true justice, but to be justified only by faith in Christ.” [Likewise, St. Ambrose said, AD 339-397:] “This is the ordinance of God, that he who believes in Christ should be saved without works, by faith only.”[1]


The Lutheran Augsburg

Confession (1530):

Also [we] teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own powers, merits, or works; but are justified freely for Christ’s sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and their sins forgiven for Christ’s sake, who by his death has satisfied for our sins. This faith does God impute for righteousness before him. (Romans 3 and 4). (Part One, Article 4)

The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles

Of Religion (1553, 1563):

[Translated by the late Rev. Dr. Philip E. Hughes]


[Article 10] Of Free-Will

The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength, and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us [“preventing” is an old English word that means “preceding”, “going before” that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will. In other words, God the Holy Spirit first enables to have a good will and then we exercise that will: “11Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. (Phil. 2:12-13). We work out our salvation, not work for it.]


[Article 11] Of the Justification of man: We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.


The French Belgic Confession (1561):

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied . . . that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle says, “that we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. “ And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in any thing in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting on the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours when we believe in him. (Article 23)

Dutch Reformed

Heidelberg Catechism (1563):

Question 60: How are you righteous before God?

Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, although my conscience accuse me that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and that I am still prone always to all evil, yet God, without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me, if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.

The Lutheran Formula of Concord (1576):

By unanimous consent (according to the rule of the divine Word and the judgment of the Augsburg Confession), it is taught in our churches that we most wretched sinners are justified before God and saved alone by faith in Christ, so that Christ alone is our righteousness. (Article 3, Introduction)

We believe, teach, and confess that this very thing is our righteousness before God, namely, that God remits to us our sins of mere grace, without any respect of our works, going before, present, or following, or of our worthiness or merit. For he bestows and imputes to us the righteousness of the obedience of Christ; for the sake of that righteousness we are received by God into favor and accounted righteous. (Article 3, Paragraph 2)

We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold on Christ the Savior and so in Christ lay hold on that righteousness which is able to stand before the judgment of God; for that faith, for Christ’s sake, is imputed to us for righteousness (Romans 4:5). (Article 3, Paragraph 3)

The Reformed and Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith (1647):

  1. Those whom God effectually calleth he also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone: not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. [This last statement is one of the most precise, accurate, devotional statements on justification that I have ever seen.]
  2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. (Chapter 11)


Dr. Curtis Crenshaw:

I could just as easily produce many quotes from the same sources that present us with this idea: We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, but the faith that justifies is not alone, but always produces good works. In other words, our works are necessary to our salvation, for “faith without works is dead,” but these works are not meritorious before God. We are not on a scorecard with God to see if we can do enough good works to make it to heaven, for, first, no one can be that perfect, and second, such would nullify the merits of Christ (Gal 2:21), implying that He was necessary, just not enough, for we must complete what He could not accomplish for us.

It has been a constant straw man attack against Protestantism since Luther that we teach a justification void of good works, which is emphatically false, but we teach a justification unto good works. For us, good works are the necessary evidence of a justification already given as a free gift, whereas for Rome they are necessary conditions and merits to attain justification. There is a world of difference in these two approaches.

Yet we acknowledge that one does not have to have perfect understanding of justification, faith, and works to go to heaven. Indeed, who has such knowledge! I’m sure there are many in Rome who are Christians, who just have not figured out how faith and works relate to one another, who look to Christ for their acceptance with God, just as the same exist among us. We must be charitable but confess what the Scriptures clearly teach, point to Christ as the only savior, not only the necessary savior but also the sufficient savior, and leave the results to Christ and the Last Day.

You see we are justified by faith ALONE in Christ ALONE and by God’s grace ALONE. Everyone believes that faith is necessary but Rome says it is not enough. Everyone believes that Christ is necessary but Rome says He is not enough. Everyone believes that grace is necessary but Rome says it is not enough.

In Him,


[1]These quotes are taken from the Anglican Homily of Salvation.


First Amendment and Muslims

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw 2020

Someone sent me this question on my Facebook wall a while back: “What do you think of these news reports of Baptists against restrictions of the Muslim belief? I know they are backing it as ‘freedom of religion,’ but it bothers me. Interested in your input on this.”

Here is my response.

The First Amendment said:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It was part of the Bill of Rights that were retained for the people. By the way, the no establishment of religion clause was meant for the national government, that it did not have the right to establish a national Christian church such as was in England with the Anglican Church; it was not meant for the states as most of them already had established state churches, such as Episcopal and others. Many states required their public officials to believe in the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the Bible as God’s infallible word. If we really held to the First Amendment, there would be no national church but there would be state ones and some censorship at the state level regarding what constituted a church. The First Amendment was never intended to be used by some organization like the ACLU (Anti-Christian League of the Ungodly) to keep all Christian symbols out of the public arena. Of course, atheist symbols are ok. They are allegedly not a religion, but my response is that it is not possible not to have religion. When one opens his mouth and says, “We should,” he has invoked some deity that backs up the “should.”

As for your question about Baptists against restrictions of the Muslim beliefs, it is both good and dangerous, in my view. It is good because if Muslims don’t have freedom of the speech given by the First Amendment, neither would we Christians. Even atheists have such freedom, according to the modern interpretation of that clause.

Yet the First Amendment was intended to protect Christians from a national church and to be able to exercise freedom in preaching and teaching without government control. It was never meant to be used to hinder Christian churches from preaching the Gospel or to nullify any and all Christian influence. We were, at the time of the First Amendment, a Christian nation, though not so now. (People will bellow long and loud that not every person was a Christian then and that some were actually opposed to Christianity; both are true. But we mean that the culture was basically Christian, and those politicians who were not, generally kept it a secret [like Jefferson] or they could not serve. This is too complicated for a short article like this.) Here is one example of how the First Amendment was applied:

In the 1830s, a Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, toured the USA, and was astonished at the integrity of our court system. He observed this actual case:

When I was in America, a witness who happened to be called at the Sessions of the county of Chester (state of New York) declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all the confidence of the court in what he was about to say. The newspapers related the fact without any further comment. [Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books, 1945), 1:317. The year was 1831.]

If one did not fear the Last Day, there was no reason for him to tell the truth now, for often the only one who knows whether one is telling the truth is the person who testifies (and God, of course). Though this was not the public dissemination of atheism in the court, it at least demonstrated that such speech was highly suspect, and in this instance was not allowed. Moreover, Tocqueville said it was taken for granted.

It is dangerous in that Muslims are using our freedoms against us. The government should watch them closely to see how they will abuse free speech to set up occasions to blow something up. It would give us the opportunity to infiltrate them to see how they will abuse the freedom. But our government treats Christians as engaging in hate speech while Muslims can say what they please. This is a sign of judgment against our nation but especially against the Church.

However, the idea of the First Amendment was never an absolute right to say anything, as one can be jailed for threatening a public official. I met a man once who got five years for threatening an IRS investigator. Likewise, one can be held for libel for lying against someone and be made to make financial restitution. The point is that there is no absolute right for freedom of speech for anyone so we must watch the Muslims and what they are saying. (Christians also can say things not appropriate.)

But we Christians should take advantage of Muslims being in our country to evangelize them. We have tried for centuries to evangelize them in their lands, and they have murdered our missionaries. Now they are here where their murdering for religious hatred is (for now) not allowed. We must not fear them or their religion, which is filled with hate, contradictions, and lack of historical credibility.

(I hope to write an extended blog on how they know they have the correct text for the Koran as contrasted with the thousands of manuscripts we have for the New Testament books, demonstrating that the New Testament is the best supported ancient document, bar none, especially against the Koran.)

But the best way to evangelize them is with Christian love, especially to the women who are the subjects of honor killings and who are sorely abused. Just this past Sunday I talked to an American Army sergeant who had just returned from Iraq, and who confirmed, once again, that the women there are regularly murdered (“honor killing” is their euphemism) just for talking to an American soldier. The men can have four wives and can divorce a woman for just about anything. A woman’s testimony means little in an Islamic court, and it takes several women’s testimonies to equal the testimony of one man. It is terribly oppressive for them.

But love also works for the men who are tired of the oppressive nature of their religion, interfering with their families, and the killing of one another (Sunnis versus Shiites versus Wahhabism and so on). It is a religion of death, for the true God has said that when we turn from Him who is life, there is only one option―death (Proverbs 8:36; John 3:18-20).

But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death (Prov. 8:36 NKJ).

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
(John 3:18-20 NKJ)

That is why, by the way, that abortion is so protected by liberals: they have turned from Him who is life to another god, and everyone is exclusive in his worship, so when abortion is challenged, it is a challenge to their god, death.

And Sharia law is likewise very oppressive for Muslims whereas biblical law is the same for all genders, and equally and equitably applied. This is also an evangelistic tool, for the law leads us to Him; then He offers us forgiveness of sins.

Moreover, in today’s social climate, if we start censoring religious speech, who will do the censoring? The government, of course, which means they assume lordship over Christ in the Church, Caesar as lord over Christ is tyranny. The US government is already doing that with its “hate speech” approach, which is aimed mostly at Christians. It assumes that it (the government god) is morally neutral and should decide which other religions are legitimate. There is no such thing as amoral law, for every law invokes some authority behind it, in other words, some god behind it.

We live in times of tyranny and oppression of Christianity, and getting worse. We deserve it in the West in general and in the USA in particular, for the Church has compromised itself enormously with health and wealth preachers, putting homosexuals into the ministry, date setters for Christ’s return, preaching another Gospel, holding to universalism, denying hell, denying judgment, denying that God is Triune, denying the Bible as God’s infallible written word, denying creation (I don’t like theistic evolution but at least they hold to some form of creation), and so on.

Finally, if it is the government that gives us our rights, it can take them away, but as the Declaration of Independence said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In the Christian cultural context of that day, “Creator” generally meant the Triune God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, eternally existing in three equal persons and nothing else. This was confessed in the Nicene Creed each Sunday in virtually every church, if not in form, at least in substance. Since God Almighty gave us those rights, King George and England could not take them away, for there was the true God above him and them. In other words, the government was not the court of the last appeal. Christ was Lord. Thus, they appealed to Him and declared us another government so that we did not rebel against a constituted government. It was our government against their government. Today, everyone, even Christians, thinks the government is lord of all, and everyone looks to it for “this our daily bread,” for our welfare.

The bottom line that we must protect free speech, but that does not mean any speech is legitimate. We are not allowed to use speech to promote insurrection against God or against duly constituted government. God will defend Himself, and the government will defend itself. No one is allowed to attack Christ’s Church or to hinder it in preaching and teaching the Gospel. All authority in heaven and on earth resides in Christ (Matthew 28:18-20), which means a government is in rebellion if it says Christians cannot evangelize. His word will do His purpose through His people (Isaiah 55:11), not returning to Him void (Isa. 55:11). Russia thought it would conquer the Russian Orthodox Church and not allow it to disseminate the Gospel. They closed down many churches and persecuted Christians and pastors. After the communist wall came down, as reported in Christianity Today magazine (May 2011, p. 41), 15,000 churches have been restored or built new, and Leningrad is once again St. Petersburg. Those who try to hinder the Church will answer to Him at the Last Day. The Triune God will always be just. The government may abuse its power, but Christ will take care of that, and politicians may answer to voters at elections. As for Islam, they cannot win since they are fighting against the one and only Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our Gospel will conquer so don’t worry about the government; it is not God. Let them preach their hatred, and let us preach the love of God in Christ. Paul was satisfied with that in his day with the abuses of Rome, but the Gospel went out and Rome was eventually transformed until in A.D. 313, Constantine, the Roman emperor, declared Christianity a legal religion, indeed, the preferred religion. Thus, the government is not our savior to curb the problem of Islamic speech. We must look to the King of kings!.

If you haven’t observed, our culture is undergoing a huge paradigm shift, and not for the better. AMEN.


Curtis Crenshaw, (c) 2020 “Good Luck”?

I don’t want to make people mad, but I hate the words “GOOD LUCK” as if chaos rules. The sovereign Triune God is in control, and we must look for reasons to trust Him. Here are a few reasons. There are such verses 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 1:6; Eccl. 9:11; Luke 10:31 that use the word “chance” but are generally misunderstood. If you’ll read the verses in their contexts, you’ll see that the idea is planning vs. no planning. It is the language of appearance, much like we would observe “accidental” things happening. If someone shoots another person, it is very important to find out if the shooter killed the person with malice and forethought or just “accidentally” shot him. Did he “design” to kill him? When I was teaching junior high school, two-night grade boys were the best of friends. One of the boys got a new shotgun, and they were looking forward to hunting. The gun went off accidentally and killed the other boy. He was devasted, and it took him years to get over it. Both boys were about 14. No investigation was done because it was obvious that it was accidental (unlucky) and not by design (malice). It was bad “luck.” Yet Jesus brought good out of it, even though it was not good in itself: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NKJ) Or consider this very familiar verse:

26 “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed—27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.  (Acts 4:26-28 ESV)

The most wicked event in all history was the crucifixion of the Son of God, and those events were not driven by “chance” but by “whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” The sovereign Triune God is not in the ambulance business; there are no accidents in His plan but all things are “predestined to take place” by love, grace, mercy and with the goal in mind of making us conform to the moral image of His Son, even Jesus the Son of God. Thus, for one Christian to say “good luck” to another Christian when he goes for a job interview is implicitly to promote the god of chaos. It would be better to say “good providence” or “I’ll pray that the interview would go well.”

We must look for ways to understand HIS grace in “catastrophes.” So, is the devil in charge, and has he brought this on us? The question is irrelevant. Of course, he is NOT in charge, not now, not ever. But part of his self-deception is that he thinks he is in charge and that He can rule. This pretended autonomy is now assumed by the devil’s children as they try (without avail) to rule one another and to rule the world.

Think when the Lord God created the devil the world, and everything else. Satan saw the glory of creation, the wonder and beauty of Almighty God, who even set him above all creation. Then, the Devil was miserable with envy when the Lord God gave creation to Adam and Eve, and he was especially troubled that the Lord God put all creation under Mankind. Now here is the epitome of self-deception: Satan saw the glory of God in creation, he saw the raw power of God’s ability to create, he saw how everything has a God-driven purpose, BUT Satan thought, “I think I can take Him.”

From that day to our day, Satan has been trying to control the world. He has never succeeded; He can’t succeed, but Satan will fight Him to his last breath, and then he will be cast into hell! How stupid can one being be?

(By the way, Satan cannot create; he can only destroy.)

We face the same arrogance with our culture when our leaders think they can change the culture to make their own moral laws, whether those leaders are Republicans or Democrats or citizens of a country. From politicians to preachers to the average person on the street, people think we are controlled by luck. If we can just tweak our mouth this time, or lie more to more people, I can win.

May the Lord God smile on you, give you grace, and bless your endeavors.

In the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.


Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD

What Is Happening in Our Culture? Fear (part 2)

(Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD)
(No Copyright)

Lately, I’ve had friends and relatives express great fear over what is happening to the culture of our country, the USA. They take a very pessimistic view of events, especially in the last few years. They betray great fear that we are doomed, and seem to have given up hope. I hope, by the Triune God’s grace, to dispel much of this fear. Most people don’t know what it means to be really, really fearful. I do. There were times in Vietnam that I expected to die, immediately, or soon. I told the Lord on several occasions something like this: “Lord, if my Seargent tells me to expose myself by running in the open from one fox hole to another, I have to do it. It is Your job to direct the outcome, whether life, death, or maimed, preferably not maimed.” At times, I was so scared that if I had had anything in my stomach, it would have come out. In other words, there is a natural fear we all have of dire circumstances. This is not what the Lord Jesus meant when He told His disciples not to fear. Indeed,

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28 NKJ).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7 NKJ). (One who is not fearful of God Almighty is not brave; he is a fool.)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10 NKJ).

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid” (Matt. 17:5-7 NKJ)

This is the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top. When He shown with the brightness of the sun, they were naturally fearful—as you and I would be! Indeed, after the resurrection whenever the Lord Jesus appeared to people, their natural response was fear! One great problem (among a hundred more) I have with the Word-Faith movement is the cavalier relationship they claim to have with Jesus after His resurrection. For example, Kenneth Hagin claims that he was watching TV when there was a knock at his house door. When he went to the door, Jesus was standing there asking to come in. He did, and they watched TV for a while and had a discussion about miracles. Jesus allegedly said, “I’m going to give you a formula that whatever anyone wants (not “needs”) from me, if he’ll do these five things (or four, memory getting old), he will ALWAYS get what he wants.” If I may be blunt: That is a lot of crap. When people saw Jesus after His resurrection, they were filled with fear, raw, unadulterated, knee-knocking fear.

Recall the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road when Jesus appeared to him as pure light (Acts 9:4-9; 22:6-15; 26:12-16), and Paul was blinded for several days. Likewise, when heavenly angels appeared to those in Holy Scripture, they were very fearful (Luke 1:10-13), and when Jesus did appear to His disciples in the enclosed room He immediately said “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). I could go on, but the point I’m making is that we are to fear God, not humans, and not even Satan or demons.

Put yourself in the upper room. Jesus suddenly appears. Will you give Him a high-five, shake His hand, or fall at His feet and call Him Lord? Fear and respect go together. The way to eliminate fear is by perfect love:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:18 ESV). If you’ve had a divorce, you know the truth of this verse. Broken love smothers one with fear, fear of the future, fear of one’s ability to love, fear in raising kids, fear of pursuing another relationship, and so on.

And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified” (Matt. 28:4 NKJ).

But what I’m driving at indirectly is that the One we fear is God, not so much humans. Recall David who went out to meet Goliah. He did not express fear but confidence in the LORD His God. That is what we need in times like these. We have ungodly fear of God’s and our enemies. Who do these uncircumcised reprobates think they are in challenging the Most High God the Father and the Most High God the Son and the Most High God the Holy Spirit, one God eternally existing in three equal persons, the same in substance and glory. Now for some encouragement.

Recall what Jesus said about the Church and the kingdom of God.

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:14 NKJ)

“Hades” is the kingdom of darkness. “Gates” are the defensive structure to keep the Church out. The image is one where the Church is assaulting Satan’s kingdom, and he is trying to keep us out, which is the fulfillment of Israel attacking the city of Jericho. In both cases, the gates fall, and the Church, under the authority and Crown rights of His sovereign majesty the King of kings, kicks in the gates and takes over by the power of His gospel to change the hearts of people. Do you recall the heretic Rev. Ike? He had a saying he often used in his radio broadcasts: “You can’t lose with the stuff I use, and the stuff I use is mind-power.” Well, we can’t lose with the power of the Gospel. Our problem is not power or weapons or lack of peace; rather, it is fear. But  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJ). What can stop this from happening? Christ is omnipotent. Christ is omnipresent. Christ is omniscient. Who can conquer that? Who can resist Him? Thus, we see that it is infallibly impossible to stop the Church. We have basically two problems: lack of faith and the presence of fear.

Our pessimistic eschatology has frozen us in fear. I don’t suggest you try this, but I live in the country. The closest neighbors are 300 yards behind us, and are very nice people. They love animals and have goats, guineas, turkeys, big dogs, horses, and other mouths to feed. The big dogs came up to the fence and barked like they would eat us alive. One day I tested them by running straight at them. Guess what? They tucked their tails and ran. Likewise, consider the devil:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 NKJ)

I don’t want to underestimate our enemy the devil, but Paul gives us the most detail about confronting the devil and the antichrist than anyone else. Now, have you ever seen a demon? I have, sort of, at least I’ve seen them through humans who were possessed, and I can assure you that it is not a pleasant experience. The last thing I want to do is present myself as an exorcist; that is scary work. But to make a long story short, I was stationed at Ft. Stewart, GA 1969 to finish my last six months in the Army after Vietnam. I got to be very good friends with a man who married a Ruth (like I did) about three months after I did, and he spent most of his life as a missionary to Japan. (I won’t mention names.) We had Bible study one night a week at the chapel on base, and a young man who was going to kill himself came. He said virtually nothing at the weekly Bible study when we got on the topic of demons. Then the following Sunday, after the liberal chaplain preached, my friend and I hung around the chapel talking about the Lord Jesus. Then this young man walked into the chapel, which gave us three people in the chapel. He said: “I was going to kill myself when I came to your Bible study as sort of a last resort because I’ve been talking to someone inside me.” When we began to pray, invoking the name of Jesus, he was thrown on the floor, his eyes rolled back in his head, and a deep voice said, “I’m going to kill you,” saying it several times. After a few minutes, he sat up, his eyes cleared, and he said: “What happened?” I said, “Buddy, you’re in big trouble. You better believe in Jesus quick.” He did, and from that moment he was not only delivered, but his whole countenance radiated Jesus. He led more people to the Lord than all the rest of us combined. “He who is forgiven much loves much.” So what is the point: We need not fear the dark side for Jesus is Lord, right now. Yet there is a scary part of the dark side that is too detailed for a short article like this.

Recall Ephesians 1: (1) The Father chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6); (2) the Son redeemed us 2,000 years ago (Eph. 1:7-12); and (3) the Holy Spirit sealed us and continues to apply the merits of Christ to us (Eph. 1:13-14). The Father’s work is completed, and He gave the elect to the Son (John 17:6-10) who redeemed them and in turn His work was completed (John 17:6-10; Heb. 1:1-4; 7:25-27; 10:10-14), and now the Holy Spirit sanctifies us by applying the merits of Jesus to us (Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Rom. 8:31-39).

Now let us consider the Lord Jesus’ response in His crucifixion. Was He given over to fear, or did He trust the Father? In His high priestly prayer in John 17, we see one who is in control, serene, majestic. When He stands before Pilate, do we see one who is overwhelmed by fear, or terrified to the point that He could not function? Hardly.




What Is Happening in Our Culture? (part 1, random questions)

I have been asked several questions lately (June 2020).

First question: What do I think of the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I read it several years ago. I thought it was very encouraging to see How King Jesus draws His elect to Himself, and other Moslems have been converted by the book. There is a huge movement of the Holy Spirit in Muslim lands bringing people to Jesus. There are powerful and unusual miracles taking place in those lands. I’m usually skeptical of what we often call sensationalism, but then these are different times. Seeking Allah is an easy read and definitely will increase your faith. Moreover, Seeking Allah demonstrates that King Jesus is the one in charge, and one’s life can have love and peace if he/she bows before Jesus as Lord and asks Him to forgive his/her sins.

Second question: What do I think of disbanding the police. Disbanding the police is insane. Just refresh your memory with Romans 13:1-7:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Rom. 13:1-7 NKJ)


Paul does not say that the ruling authority has to be perfect. One day I’m going to write a short treatise titled The Heresy of Perfectionism. The policemen who did the dastardly deed should be tried in a court of law to see if they are guilty. If so, then they should suffer the same penalty as any other murderer. There should not be a privileged class who either escapes prosecution or receives a light sentence. That is not justice but manipulation, favoritism. I detest that this policeman has already been tried and found guilty in the media because there is a video of what was done. Biblical law, as R. J. Rushdoony was forever reminding us, embraces the process as well as the conclusion. Both are equally righteous. Remember Rodney King who was beaten by the LA cops, and there was also a video. It seemed to be an open and shut case until the broader context was brought in. The COPS were tried and found guilty in the media; and when the not guilty verdicts came out, riots took place. People were not interested in the process, only in the outcome; and when it did not meet their desires, the fed government had to devise a reason to try them again on the federal level. Double jeopardy is not righteous but lynching.

Someone may object: “But suppose a criminal gets away with a crime?” That is infallibly impossible. The sovereign Triune God does not settle all His accounts here and now. That is the reason for the Last Day. Patience is the order of the day. His judgment will be totally just, never favoritism, He has been the eyewitness of all evil, and there is no appeal from His justice. By the way, there is an unpardonable sin: failure to believe in Jesus Christ God’s only Son. If one dies with that sin on his soul, he will perish forever, no exceptions, no excuses. When one closes his eyelids in death with that sin, there is no hope, no possibility to escape, no other humans to fellowship with but solitary confinement as far as one can see. And when one has worn out many ages, he has no less time to suffer under the just wrath of the Almighty Jesus. I’m almost daily reminded—and especially when someone dies—of Matthew 16:26: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJ)

To disband the police is rebellion against God because it is rebellion against His constituted authority. When Rushdoony heard that we [actually Jesus won] had won our church-state trial in Memphis over the feds, he said, “Well praise the Lord. There is still justice even if against all odds.” (Or something like that). We were the underdogs by a huge margin through the trial (4 ½ months, Monday thru Thursday), but on the last day (! rather symbolic), ALL defendants were found NOT guilty on ALL charges. How sweet it was to beat them at their own game, and despite their lying witnesses, false evidence, and the judge trying the case along with the prosecution, we won EVERYTHING so that all defendants on all charges exonerated forever!

Third question: As for the USA suffering “mass delusion,” absolutely! And it is self-imposed as in self-deception! We are one of the most self-deceived nations on earth and not one in a thousand gets it. Rushdoony got it big time, and he taught us. Sean Hannity not so self-deceived but worse than Limbaugh, and recently Limbaugh is waking up. He is as scared as I’ve ever seen him (Prov 1:7). Of course with his advanced cancer, he is fearing death and fearing the Lord. That is enough to scare anyone, as well as comfort us. Bill O’Reilly is his same arrogant self with his new TV program, over-confident. Glenn Beck is lost as a golf ball in high weeds. He doesn’t get anything. He does not usually see the spiritual forces behind movements, and his Mormonism keeps him from seeing the Gospel. Sometimes he is good at analysis but seldom any good in solutions.

Worse yet are Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, both insightful, conservative Jews, and both have no time for the self-diluted Jew called Jesus who convinced Himself that He was something when He was nothing. He led His followers to defeat, and the Church today is not the same as the first-century one but has morphed into something weird, they allege. My heart goes out to them, for they think, like Charles Krauthammer the conservative atheist, that politics is the answer. It is not. Politics are the symptom of the problem. Krauthammer was brilliant and was on Fox News every evening as a regular contributor, but was completely blind to the Triune God and His gospel. I heard Krauthammer say several times something like this: “I don’t believe in God, but I’m terrified of Him.” He was the most transparent and honest atheist whom I have observed over the years. I along with the whole Fox network grieved when he died about two years ago. He also wrote a book with short chapters on various topics that is well worth reading. The title is Things That Matter.

The problem today is idolatry and rebellion against His commandments, especially as summarized in the Ten Commandments. We are terrible sinners, beginning with me (and I’m not just saying that to be humble). Jesus, as the second person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate to live a life of perfect obedience, then died on the Cross for our sins, taking our penalty and raised Himself from the dead. All those who trust in Him receive forgiveness of sins as a free gift. This is the solution and nothing else. Those who trust in Jesus become salt for the culture to preserve it from judgment. Salvation is free. By definition, it cannot be earned, for the one who tries to earn it commits the sins of arrogance and self-righteousness. It is the wicked hearts of rebellious human creatures that is the problem. The solution is in the Nicene Creed that we say each Lord’s Day. Until the hearts of people are changed from the inside out, there is no hope for our culture. The Nicene Creed points to the Triune God, the Holy Trinity: The Father created us, the Son redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Christ to our souls.

There are other so-called conservative atheists. Tammy Bruce, as late as several nights ago (11 June 2020), who is a Fox News contributor, reminded the viewing audience that she is a lesbian and atheist and lives with her “partner.” I’ve read her book The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s assault on Our Culture and Values, where she laments that her lesbian movement has given up any consistent ethics. Talk about being self-deceived!

Then there is S. E. Cupp, Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity. She is married with children but is also an atheist. Both Cupp and Bruce are Fox News contributors. Both Bruce’s and Cupp’s books are well worth reading, but the only way they can critique those with similar world views as themselves (atheistic) is by assuming the truth of Christianity. She may have been reared in a Christian home because her initials stand for S(arah) E(lizabeth). Sarah is in the Old Testament and the New Testament while Elizabeth is only in the New Testament. But the point is that they are both biblical names.

Fourth question: What about finding an island somewhere? This question was asked in jest, but we can say that it did not do Jeffrey Epstein any good. We need to stay in the fight. Epstein tried to hide from his sins, but the slow train of judgment caught up with him.

We must proclaim the light of the gospel, for light dispels darkness. As Plato once said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Why do you think that the radical left becomes so angry when confronted with their sins? It is because they are left naked, and their sins are exposed. The kingdom of darkness thrives on deception, not on transparency. My grandfather used to say, “If you’re honest, you don’t have to remember anything.” I wonder how some of our politicians can keep all their lies organized. Often they don’t. Did you notice recently when Trump’s appointed Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court indicated he might be willing to revisit Roe v. Wade that Chuck Schumer went into a screaming rage? He shouted that Chief Justice Roberts must watch his back! That is a felony, surely. Something may be done about it yet. This is the left’s most sacred sacrament to their god; it is passing their children through the fire to Molech, offering them as a living sacrifice that results in a dead baby. Schumer threatened Roberts with violence. Bet you did not hear that on the news, did you? AMEN.



Death Row

(Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD)
(June 2020)

We are all on DEATH ROW from the moment we are born. Recently I saw a documentary of those on death row who had committed capital crimes. The anticipation of their deaths was horrific, yet biblical law requires the death of murderers (and others): “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6 NKJ). The reason given for DEATH ROW is that mankind is made in God’s image. So valuable is God’s image that anyone who would strike out at it is actually striking out at God Himself.

Our death is certain yet we live as if it were not so. We live only for this life, ignoring the future and ignoring our time to fulfill our own death row obligations before we leave this world. Such obligations are restitution to God for capital crimes. (All sins are capital crimes to the Holy Trinity.) In the case of murder, the only restitution possible is for the murderer to offer his own life. Of course, no restitution is possible, to kill God’s image requires an infinite payment to the infinite God. Thus the only restitution possible is for there to be payment to the Triune God, which we as finite humans cannot make. The only One who can make such payment is the infinite Son who makes infinite payment to the infinite Father, and He offers it in the power of the infinite Holy Spirit (see Heb. 9:14). The Atonement is intra-Trinitarian.

But we tend to live for trinkets, toys, and if we get to the end of our lives and have much money, we consider ourselves “lucky” and perhaps better than others because we’ve made it (whatever that means). The few who make it could lose everything in a few minutes if the Lord Christ so willed it such as a bank collapse, tsunami, earthquake, relative leaves all his money to someone else, we are swindled, etc.

We go to seminars to find out how to achieve financial independence, but we do not go to seminars to find out how to live for Jesus. Indeed, we need to attend a “seminar” every week, called “Church” to learn more about how to please Him.

Suppose someone dies with 100 billion dollars left behind. My paternal grandmother worked all her life for rich ladies as one who gave massages in Memphis. She drove to their homes. One of the ladies died, and someone asked my grandmother how much she left behind. My grandmother said, “All of it.”

My wife and I chose Matthew 6:33 as our theme verse for life when we married in July 1969: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, clothes, etc] shall be added to you.” The idea is found in the first verse my mom and grandmother had me memorize: “Those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). Actually, that is only part of the verse.

If you put your hopes in this world’s “things,” they will suddenly be gone because you will be gone. Then what? Don’t run past this last sentence. You MUST answer what will happen to you after death so what is your answer? Two nanoseconds after death where will you be? What will you be doing? You’ll leave all your trinkets behind for others to fight over and abuse after it took you a lifetime to accumulate them. My maternal grandmother, uncle, and mother were not rich (my mother is still hanging on to life). About the only thing I received from my maternal grandmother was a marked Bible, which I would not take a million dollars for. In essence, she, my mother (95 and counting), and my Uncle left me a fortune that cannot be stolen or worn out by use: knowledge of the Triune God, faith in Him, which cannot be stolen:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJ)

Now that is true wealth!


I have an image permanently imprinted in my mind of my great-grandfather sitting in his room, his back to the screened porch, in his rocking chair with white hair majestically perched on his head, reading the old KJV Bible out loud to himself. He was not very educated. He was unaware that my mother and I had walked onto his porch. Then we greeted one another with hugs and kisses. A short time later he visited mom and me at our home, and he gave me a big hug and said: “Well, boy, I don’t guess I’ll see you again until we meet around the throne.” He was right.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJ)




The Church Is for Sinners

(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)
(10 July 2018)

In my first pastorate, a man said to me that he would not go to church because there were too many hypocrites there. I had enough rapport with the man to say: “You’re right so join us—we need another one.” Sometimes we have the idea that Church is just for those who have no problems, for those whose life is always rosy, who never have rebellious children, whose spouses are models of virtue, whose bosses love everything they do, who never have an impure thought. If that is who you think you are, you don’t need the Church; but then, you don’t need the Triune God either, or so you think.

And we Christians should be willing to admit that we have a long way to go in our growth in holiness. Pretending to be something we are not is hypocrisy, but that does not mean that we should tell everyone all our problems. Yes, we have been forgiven by God through the merits of the death and resurrection of Christ, but we are still growing. We have been adopted into God’s family, but like legal adoption today, that does not automatically make the child instantly and perfectly like his father. It does make the child an heir to our estate, and if we are rich so is the child. But it takes a lifetime to train a child and for the child to grow into the kind of person we as parents desire him to be. Likewise, God the Father adopts us into His family based on the legal attorney Jesus Christ, who puts up the bond, the surety, who is Himself our pledge, our guarantee of the adoption. This gives us a change of legal status, but inwardly we are the same as before the adoption. But the Father and the Son gave us the Holy Spirit to make us different over time—but that is the key word—TIME.

Consider that our heavenly Father is seeking to “rear” us in the faith over all our lives, that He brings about problems so that we can learn to be mature, to respond in faith and love to one another and to His providence, that His priorities are not money, farms, cars, bank accounts, though there is nothing wrong with these in themselves.

And this heavenly Father has adopted us into His family, in His Church, the bride of His Son, so that we can care for one another. And consider further that our sibling Jesus has already been through all the trials we have and knows what they are like, but also as God He gives us the grace we need to grow in the midst of those trials. We are in a family that is supposed to love its own as the badge of our relationship with God: “By this shall all know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). What do you do when loved ones are sick? You care for them.

We are called to live by a different set of priorities from the world, to consider the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to be the highest priority and church and family second. (Church and family actually go together.) Have you seen the bumper sticker that reads: “He who dies with the most toys wins”? That is the philosophy of the world, but our riches belong to another family—the Church. Our estate and inheritance are from Christ, not in pursuing more and more schemes to make money. Our security is in the Lord, not in our bank accounts that can quickly evaporate. But here is the true wealth:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJ)

The world does not expect Christians to be perfect, but it does expect us to be genuine, which means we must be willing to confess mistakes when we make them and then seek to make things right. Remember the case of the televangelist caught with a prostitute? At first he was contrite, submitted to the discipline of his brethren, and agreed to the time suspension from the ministry that they placed on him. This was a good start, but then he rebelled, rejecting their authority, and put himself back in the ministry under a new church. It was a great testimony to the world to see the Christian Church at work, helping a fellow brother to grow in grace, exercising the authority of Christ, saying to everyone: “Yes, we are sinners, but we are willing to forgive when a brother repents.” Who could have faulted that? But the preacher rebelled and neutralized the great testimony.

In the early 1970s, Ruth (my wife) and I were living in Dallas while I attended seminary. W. A. Criswell was a great Baptist preacher in Dallas, TX, who loved the Lord, preached great Gospel sermons, and had a large congregation in downtown Dallas. He was highly respected in the community. Dr Criswell was interviewed on a local TV station on one occasion when I was watching. The interviewer was very caustic, and assuming all the self-righteousness she could muster, she forcefully demanded to know why it had only been in the recent past that his church had opened their doors to African American Christians. I’ll never forget Criswell’s answer, for it stopped her cold, and she stuttered for a comeback. His answer was something like this: “We sinned, and we’ve asked the Lord to forgive us. Now we are glad to have our black brothers and sisters worship with us.” That was genuineness! The interviewer changed the subject! We are not perfect but sinners, so let us recognize that! But let us be confessing sinners, not arrogant or rebellious ones. Pride will destroy us, but humility will lift us up in great favor with God and man. AMEN.