Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

My Photo

Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jesus: More Than a Servant, He is the Way

I'm rapidly approaching the completion of my reading through the Qur'an (finally). Today, I've read through Surah 44 (the "chapters" of the Qur'an are called "surahs"). This Surah contains a few verses that are relevant to Christian apologetics. Verses 81-82 deny that Allah has a Son, and I hope to comment on these verses, along with the many other verses denying that Jesus is the Son of God, in a future post, but today I'd like to focus on verses 57-59 and 64.

44:57 begins a discussion about "(Jesus) the son of Mary;" as part of this discussion, 44:59 says, "He [Jesus] was no more than a servant." Now, this view of Jesus is a serious demotion from what the New Testament texts have to say about Him; John, who knew Jesus (John 21:20-24), identifies Him as the "Word," who was with God and who was God (John 1:1, 14): who was glorified with God before the foundation of the world (John 17:5). The author of Hebrews specifically speaks of Jesus being greater than God's servants: the prophets and the angels (Hebrews 1).

44:64 says, "For Allah, He is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is a Straight Way." By comparison, Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6), making faith in Him absolutely essential to salvation (see also John 3:16). According to the New Testament, it is not worshipping Allah or following the "five pillars," but rather trusting in Jesus and His work on our behalf, that leads to a soul finding security for life after death.

In conversations I've had with non-religious people, I've often heard that 'all religions are basically the same.' In some conversations I've had with Muslim friends/co-workers, my friends have sought to emphasize the similarities in Islamic and Christian belief (in order to say, again, that we are 'basically the same,' so I do not need to worry about their souls). But Christianity is first and foremost centered on Jesus Christ: on the good news of who He is, and what He has done on behalf of sinners. Islam-- first by contradicting the biblical witness concerning Christ and then by disregarding the exclusivity of Christ-- is not a religion that is essentially the same as Christianity with only incidental differences; rather, it is a religion that is essentially different than Christianity, with only incidental similarities.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Different Kind of Hate

Usually, when people use the word "hate" in our culture, they think of "hate" as an active, angry thing. Saying "I hate that!" often gets the response of, "Well, 'hate' is a strong word."

Certainly, the Bible uses "hate" in this sense. To give just one of many possible examples:

But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies... (Deut 19:11a NKJV)

I would like to suggest that there is another way in which the Bible also presents hate. "Hatred" is often expressed through separating from and disregarding someone.

Notice how Jesus corrects the commonly held assumption that we are to 'love our neighbor and hate our enemy' (Matt 5:43ff.). He concludes that section with the statement:

And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt 5:47 NIV 1984)

One indication of love contra hatred is greeting others: civilly and cordially acknowledging them.

We see the opposite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite-- those who fail to love the mugging victim-- cross to the other side of the road to avoid the man who is in distress. By ignoring him, they are expressing the opposite of love: i.e., hatred.

Ultimately, one way in which the Lord will express His hatred for the wicked is through disregarding them and separating from them; see Jesus' words near the end of the Sermon on the Mount: "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!" (NIV 1984).

"Hatred" as separation and disregard informs the way that Christians are to hate rather than love the world (see 1 John 2:15). Christians are not to express hatred of sexual immorality (to give one example) through blowing up brothels or taking vengeance upon adulterers; instead we are to "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor 6:18) and to refuse to associate with nominal "Christians" who are engaged in lifestyles marked by sexual immorality (1 Cor 5:9-11).

"Hatred" as separation and disregard also informs the way that Christians are to express the love of Christ in the world. Note again Jesus' words about "greeting" others. Now, think of that one guy at work (or even at church): that guy that just rubs you the wrong way, that guy that makes you cringe every time he speaks. You would never say, "I hate that guy," you would never plot to cut his brakes, etc. But you do go out of your way to avoid him, rather than greet him. You may even say, "Well, I've got to love him, but I don't have to like him." Brothers and sisters: when we make the choice to separate from others, when we disregard them, this is often a form of hatred. We must overcome this hatred through a self-sacrificial love for others; a love that goes out of its way to act in a friendly, winsome manner toward others, regardless of whether the people that we warmly and sincerely "greet" seem lovely to us or whether they ever act in a similarly loving manner to us. Because this is what our Lord did: He loved the unlovely; He sought out and saved His enemies.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

[Originally posted May 26, 2008.]

I would encourage anyone reading this post to pray for those families who are suffering today because they have experienced the loss of a husband, father, wife or daughter due to war. We should be thankful to God for the men and women whose sacrifice has allowed this nation to exist in such relative peace and prosperity- a generally peaceful nation where terrorist attacks are such rare tragedies and not daily occurrences, as they are in the Middle East; a nation so prosperous that even those of us who do not have much money are still able to enjoy a greater variety of foods than many queens and kings throughout history- coffee from Columbia, bananas from Brazil, spices from all over the world.

Due to the sacrifices of military heroes, tyrants such as Hitler have been vanquished and we are able to live in political freedom: a freedom to believe and seek to persuade others according to the dictates of our conscience. For those of us who believe the Bible, this is a freedom to proclaim the Good News of our ultimate Hero, Jesus Christ. Jesus died to vanquish the enemies of all humankind: God-dishonoring and self-destructive sinfulness, death, and Hell. Having defeated these enemies by His death, Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven, offering true freedom to all who believe in Him, that we might live holy lives in the joy of the Lord, that we would be raised from the dead, and that we might reign with Christ in Heaven. With this freedom comes true peace- peace with God so that we, who are naturally enemies of God, seeking our own selfish desires, would be reconciled to God- and peace with others so that we, who are naturally disposed to seeking comfort by segregating ourselves according to skin color, language, or economic status, would become one people in Christ. With this freedom comes prosperity both in terms of having every spiritual blessing and in being a part of Christ's kingdom that will one day be manifest on this earth with wealth so great that the streets will be paved with gold.

Dear reader, if you are in bondage to sin, if you are fearful of death, if, when you look into God's Word, you find that you are in danger of Hell, I plead with you to cry out to Jesus today for mercy.

For Christians reading this post, I pray that you will use the opportunity God has given us of living in a free nation- an opportunity that has come about through the death of men and women in the military, fighting for our freedom- to publicly proclaim the Good News of Jesus in some way.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Fire and Rescue: Three Faithful Jews and the Fourth Man in the Furnace." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45 A.M. worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

Daniel 3.

I. Introduction:

A. Stories With "Staying Power"

B. Background:
1. The Babylonian Captivity
2. Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
3. The Tower of Babel

II. The Command to Bow and the Fiery Furnace:

A. Jealousy is likely the motivation for the Jews being reported to the king.

B. The king questions the Jews.

C. The Jews do not defend themselves, but they appeal to God.

D. The king's reaction was severe and irrationally urgent.

III. Deliverance from the Fire and the Fourth Man:

A. The Miracle Described

B. Nebuchadnezzar's Extreme (Though Ungracious) Response

C. The Further Promotion of the Jews

IV. Connection to the Rest of Scripture:

A. The Prohibition of Idolatry

B. The Angel of the LORD = The Son of God (Christ Delivering His People)

C. Hebrews 11:33-34.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Answering basic questions about homosexuality:" two helpful responses from the Pyros

This past week at the Pyromaniacs blog, Dan Phillips and Frank Turk submitted posts on how they would answer questions like, "Is homosexuality a sin?" etc.

I greatly appreciated both the responses of both men; both focused on the gospel: the good news of who Jesus is, and what He has done to save sinners.

I appreciated Phillips's straightforward, bold approach to questions regarding homosexuality, sin, and Hell; I equally appreciated Frank Turk's questioning, thought-provoking approach. These approaches are not mutually exclusive, but-- as Dr. Peter Masters points out in his wonderful book Biblical Strategies for Witness-- different approaches to presenting the same gospel may be appropriate in different situations, depending (especially) on the disposition of the person to whom you are speaking.

I highly recommend both the blogposts mentioned above, found HERE and HERE.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Confession: Broadcasting, Rather Than Covering Over "Wrongs"

Yesterday, as I was finishing preparation to teach Proverbs 10:12, Hatred stirs up disputes, but love covers over all transgressions, I began turning to various books that I own in order to see how other, wiser brothers in Christ have understood the text. I turned to one particular book [I'm trying-- as much as possible-- to be intentionally vague here, for reasons that should soon become clear] and noticed that the verse was not listed in the Scripture index. Slightly annoyed, I posted a mild complaint about the book on Facebook.

The irony of the situation did not strike me until today. Now, my action in complaining on Facebook was not a direct contradiction of the text-- I did not feel "hatred" toward the author, I was not trying to start a "dispute," and the author certainly had committed no true "transgression" against me-- it was not as if I had cussed at someone while studying to teach Ephesians 4:29.

On the other hand, I DO think that I violated the spirit of the wisdom communicated in the text. I had the feeling of being slightly wronged by the resource in question, and instead of "covering over" this "transgression"-- in this case, by either turning away from my initial disappointment or by contacting the author privately (which my sound strange, but I know the author to be extremely approachable, despite being very busy)-- I broadcast my opinions on the matter. I subsequently deleted my comment, and got some helpful feedback from the author himself in a private message through Facebook.

I've noticed that this kind of situation is not rare in preparing to teach from the Bible. If I am planning to teach a lesson dealing with adultery, I will be tempted to lust. If I am planning to teach from a text dealing with unjust anger, I will be tempted to lash out at those around me. I believe that this is the principle found (for example) in Romans 7:21 at work, and it shows the need for vigilance, especially among teachers in the church, since we will be held to a higher standard (see James 3:1).


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Notes on Proverbs 10:12

[I plan to teach this passage tonight at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


Hatred stirs up disputes, but love covers over all transgressions.

The “5 Ws”:

Who: The one with hatred = the one stirring up disputes; the one with love = the one covering over all transgressions.

What: hatred, disputes, love, and transgressions.

Where: in nations, in our court systems, in our homes, and in our churches.

When: whenever we harbor hatred, we find disputes; whenever we find love, we find the covering over of transgressions.

Why: Hatred stirs up disputes because hatred focuses on selfish desires; love promotes the covering over of transgressions because love focuses on the good desired for the other person.

How: Hatred stirs up disputes through self-seeking at the expense of others; love promotes the covering-over of transgressions by seeking close, edifying relationships.

So what? We must guard against hatred and pursue love if we are to avoid disputes and to

Christological consideration- Jn. 5:39 and Lk. 24:27 hermeneutic

Those who would reject hatred and embrace love are those who follow the example of Christ as He explains in Luke 22:24-27 [a passage chosen because it uses the same word for “disputes” that the LXX uses in Prov 10:12].

How are our sins “covered over”? Ultimately, it is through the blood of Christ. As we sing in the hymn “Come Thou Fount:” “He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.” Our sins– our rebellion, our crimes, our transgression– had earned us a mortal blow from God, who is a perfect, holy Lawgiver and Judge. In Christ– on the Cross– the Son of God took our place, taking our condemnation, and bearing the wrath that we deserve. Jesus died, was buried, and was raised again on the third day, showing that He has conquered sin, death, and Hell; He now sits in Heaven at His Father’s right hand, offering forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life to all who place their faith in Him. 1 Peter 2:21-24.

Faith in Christ is brought about by a work of the Holy Spirit. Love, the first and foremost, absolutely necessary gift of the Spirit is perfectly described in 1 Corinthians 13. Note, for example, verses 4-5:

Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor 13:4-5 NIV 1984)

Love is an active thing, closely tied to the work of evangelism, as an examination of the closing verses of the book of James demonstrates:

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Jas 5:19-20 NIV 1984)

Within the church, transgression-covering love is manifested in hospitality and service to one another (as, again, Christ was hospitable to His disciples and served them). 1 Peter 4:8-10.

II Tim. 3:16 hermeneutic

Teaching: This passage teaches us about the results of hatred and the activity of love.

Rebuking: This passage rebukes those who are clinging to hatred, stirring up disputes.

Correcting: This passage corrects those who, in defending the faith, may have begun to love conflict and corrects those who may wrongly hold on to offenses out of a misguided sense of justice (rather than seeking to cover them over).

Training in righteousness: This passage trains the godly person to seek a love that is active in covering over offenses.

Additional note

x-refs. Prov 17:9[-10]; 30:[32-]33; Luke 22:24[-27]; 1 Cor 13:4-5; Jas 5:20; 1 Pet 4:8[-10]

Interpretive notes

stirs up:” a metaphor drawn, it seems, from a culinary term; Prov 30:33 (a somewhat parallel passage) speaks of “churning” milk to produce butter.

disputes:” a word used in national, judicial, and personal relationships: understood as grievances, disputes, and quarrels in various contexts.

covers over:” a verb meaning exactly what it sounds like: to place something over another thing in order to conceal it.

transgressions:” another word used in national, judicial, and personal relationships: understood as rebellions, crimes, and sins in various contexts.


“This exhortation is of a piece with the recurring NT theme that evil is not overcome merely by refraining from doing it: we are to overcome evil with good. It is not enough to break a bad habit; it is essential to love Jesus more, to want eternal things more. It is not enough not to retaliate against an enemy; it is essential to love one’s enemy.” [G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 1012.]

“Yahweh sets his character on display in people’s lives as he renders to them according to their works. This can be seen in how… the lifestyles of the righteous and the wicked bear fruit.” [James Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 296.]

“Hatred looks for and exaggerates faults, but love seeks ways to make sin disappear.” [NET Bible]

“True love seeks the highest good of another.” [MacArthur Study Bible]

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Forsaking Sin and Craving the Gospel." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this past Lord's Day at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]
1 Peter 2:1-3.

I. Introduction

A. "Infants are often demanding little people."

B. There is an idea, foreign to the Bible, that we can be Christians without growth in Jesus, without following Jesus, without even desiring Jesus.

II. The Battle to Crave the Gospel

A. Our fleshly desires run against craving the gospel.

B. Devisiveness destroys churches.

C. We must put aside our unrighteousness.

III. The Purpose for Craving the Gospel

A. The gospel us the message of Christ unto salvation and sanctification.

B. The gospel is the means through which God will both save you and grow you up in Christ.

IV. The Condition for Craving the Gospel

A. Those who have not tasted of the gospel do not long for Christ.

B. Psalm 34 is an identifiable part of the background for the teaching in these verses.

V. Application

A. We must lay aside bitterness, malice, envy, etc., for the glory of Christ.

B. We must live in a way that pleases God, longing after Christ.

C. Have you tasted of the goodness of the LORD; have you believed the gospel?


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Notes on the Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22)

[These are some of the notes used this morning in my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

Chapter Ten: Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22)

14 And write to the angel of the church in Laodicea:
The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator[91] of the creation of God, says these things:
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. It would be fitting if you were cold or hot! 16 Consequently, because you are tepid– neither hot nor cold– I am about to vomit you out from my mouth. 17 Because you say,[92] “I am wealthy,” and, “I have become rich,” and, “I need nothing,” and you don’t know that you are wretched,[93] pathetic, destitute, blind, and naked. 18 I am counseling you to buy from me: gold refined by fire, that you may be rich; white clothes, that you may clothe yourself so the shame of your nakedness might not be exposed; and eye salve, in order to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I lecture and I discipline whosoever I love; therefore, become zealous and repent. 20 Look! I have been standing at the door and I am knocking, if anyone shall hear my voice and shall open the door, I will come in to him, and I will dine with him and he with me. 21 The victor:[94] I will give to him to sit with me upon my throne, as I too conquered and sat with my Father upon his throne. 22 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Introduction of the Author

hJ ajrch; th:V ktivsewV tou: qeou: ( archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou) “the originator of the creation of God” as a title for Christ bears striking similarity with what was proclaimed of Christ in Colossians 1:15-20.

Laodicea was destroyed in a terrible earthquake in A.D. 62, but refused Roman aid for rebuilding because the city was wealthy enough to rebuild itself and its citizens desired independence. Laodicea had three major sources of wealth: 1. Banking (similar to modern Swiss banks); there was a grand bank, which had walls lined with gold, and which was protected by an inner wall within the city; 2. Linen (fine clothing products); 3. Salve (the manufacture of medicinal products, such as eye and ear salve, made from zinc oxide that naturally occurred in the area). Laodicea had a problem with drinking water, which flowed into town from hot springs in the hills and was lukewarm by the time it reached town. Alternatively, water could be brought from Colossae in barrels, but it was likewise lukewarm when it reached town.[95]
Condemnation of the Laodiceans’ Tepidity and Pride

The most probable origin of the imagery for “neither cold nor hot” is mentioned in the historical note above. Cold or hot water is useful: for refreshment if cold or boiling food, etc., if hot. Lukewarm water is useless (cf. Matt 5:13).
ejmevsai (emesai) “vomit” is used as a figure of speech meaning “utterly reject.” “In Lev 18:25, 28: 20:22, the expression ‘to vomit’ out of the land is used of the fate of the Canaanites upon entry into Palestine, and the potential fate of the Israelites themselves.”[96]
Admonition and Encouragement to the Laodiceans

iJmavtia leuka (himatia leuka) “white clothes” is used because “white” symbolizes righteousness in Revelation; here the “white clothes” are likely also used as a contrast to the elegant black garments produced in Laodicea.

ejlevgcw (elenchō) “lecture” refers to “a verbal rebuke designed to bring a person to acknowledge his fault;” paideuvw (paideuō) “discipline” accomplishes the same goal by means of an action.[97]

eijseleuvsomai pro;s aujto;n kai; deipnhvsw metj aujtou: kai; aujto;V metj emou: (eiseleusomai pros auton kai deipnēsō met autou kai autos met emou) “I will come in to him, and I will dine with him and he with me” is “an invitation not for the readers to be converted, but to renew themselves in a relationship that has already begun, as is apparent from v. 19.”[98]

[91]arch is, in this context, translated as “originator,” rather than the traditional “beginning,” per the suggestions of Aune (246), MacArthur (1967), and Thomas (303).
[92]The second o in this verse is left untranslated, because it is used to mark a quote– something that is accomplished in English through puntuation.
[93]As previously mentioned, several occurrences of the word kai are left untranslated because where Greek tends to separate all items in a list with a kai, English normally uses commas.
[94]ov nikwn is understood as a nominative absolute (Beale, 310).
[95]Daniel E. Hatfield, “Revelation 3:14-22” (classroom lecture notes, 22440–Greek Syntax and Exegesis, Spring 2007).
[96]Aune, 258.
[97]Thomas, 319. See Prov 3:12.
[98]Beale, 308.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Some Reasons to Deny the Physical Presence of Jesus' Body in the Elements of the Lord's Supper

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19-20 NASB)

In general, the faithful Christian should be cautious about taking any kind of "just me and my Bible" approach to forming convictions concerning the Faith. The Lord Jesus established a community of believers and He appointed teachers within that community. We should have humility to learn from the past generations of the faithful.

On the other hand, Christians who self-consciously hold to the principles of the Protestant Reformation must declare that the Bible is necessary, authoritative, sufficient and clear: Scripture alone is the final authority regarding matters of faith and practice. Other authorities are composed of men who are fallible and subject to error, while God's Word is perfect (cf. Psa 19:7): infallible and inerrant.

And so, though major streams of religious tradition that self-identify as "Christian"-- and, indeed, perhaps the majority of actual followers of Christ throughout the ages-- have believed that the physical body and blood of the glorified Christ are somehow present in the elements of the Lord's Supper, the first and foremost examination regarding this issue should not take place on the basis of human history books or opinion polls, but on the basis of the biblical data.

In regard to the words from Jesus, quoted above, one must note:

1. Jesus does not use the verb "become," but the simple verb "to be" [in this case, "is"].
2. In other passages, Jesus uses the verb "to be"in ways that are clearly metaphorical-- ways in which "become" clearly cannot be supplemented to it-- no one, for example, argues that Jesus became a literal door when He declared "I am the door" (John 10:9).
3. Likewise, in Luke 22:20 (repeated in 1 Corinthians 11:25), the words “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” cannot be taken literally, “for clearly the cup itself is not actually the new covenant;” “Paul means, rather, that the cup represents the new covenant inaugurated by Christ’s blood. Similarly, when Jesus says that the bread 'is My body,' it likely means that it represents what Christ has done on behalf of the church through his sacrifice." (Schreiner, New Testament Theology)
4. In reviewing Jesus' institution of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, the Apostle Paul quotes Jesus as twice saying: "Do this in remembrance of Me." This seems to point to the character of the Lord's Supper, not as a partaking in ingesting the physical body and blood of Jesus, but as a memorial feast, antitypical of the Passover (see below).
5. The Lord's Supper clearly has its background in the Passover: in the Passover there is no thought of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of the sacrificial lamb.
6. In the cultures to whom the Gospels and Epistles were addressed (note Paul's comparison between the Lord's Supper and idol feasts, 1 Cor 10:21), there was no thought of the elements in religious feasts becoming the physical body and blood of a deity/religious figure.
7. If the Lord's Supper was meant to involve the physical presence of the body of Jesus in the elements, therefore, this aspect of the Lord's Supper would be a point of explicit contrast to both the Passover and to idol feasts; in order to make this point of contrast clear to the earliest church, more explicit instruction would be required from the apostolic writings.

Traditions that teach the physical presence of Jesus' body in the elements invariably neglect the implications of the fact that the glorified Christ is currently seated at the right hand of the majesty on high, having completed His gospel work once and for all (cf. Psa 110:1; Heb 1:3; 7:27; 10:10-14), and they make the Lord's Supper not just a crucial corporate proclamation of the gospel, but a part of a gospel-obscuring (at very best) sacerdotal system.


Peter Gentry, “The Lord’s Supper BF&M Article 7b,” An Exposition from the Faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (Louisville: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001), 25-28.

Thomas Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 730-734.]

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The "Sinner's Prayer" and False Assurance

[The following re-edited thoughts that I've previously posted on this blog are intended to contribute to the conversation recent discussion about 'asking Jesus into your heart' that Trevin Wax has described his blog.]

Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: "Jesus, I believe in you and receive you." Go ahead.

 If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God's purpose for your life. (from
The Purpose Driven Life, "Day 7")

Rick Warren wrote the above statement to assure people who sincerely prayed a certain prayer that they are part of the family of God. And I would say that his presentation is being indicative of an anti-assurance position. Why? Because, as I hope to demonstrate, the above statement by Warren is antithetical to true, biblical assurance in two ways:

1. It grants assurance to people who are still outside of the family of God.

2. It is detrimental to the assurance of people who have come into the family of God.

1. Statements such as the one from Rick Warren, quoted above, promote false assurance to people who are still outside of God's family: people who are yet alienated from and hostile to Him (cf. Colossians 1:21). This is made clear by the following teaching from Ray Comfort:

This is how to give false peace to a sinner. Simply ask, "Do you have assurance that you will go to heaven when you die?" Who in his right mind doesn't want to go to heaven? So a good number will say something like, "I hope I'm going to heaven when I die." Now say, "God wants you to have that assurance. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but God sent His Son to die on the cross for us so that we could have peace with God. When we repent and trust in Him, God will give us everlasting life. He writes our name in the Book of Life. Would you like to accept Jesus into your heart right now and have your name written in heaven? I could lead you in what's called 'the sinner's prayer' right now. Would you like to pray?" Many do.

 You may be asking, "What's wrong with that?" Let me see if I can answer that question with an anecdote.
A blind man is unwittingly heading for the edge of a thousand-foot cliff. A modern evangelist draws alongside him and says, "Blind man, I am going to give you a wonderful gift that will give you peace." He then hands him a CD player and adjusts some earphones over his ears. The sightless man hears "Amazing Grace" being sung by a choir of ten thousand voices. His unseeing eyes widen with delight. He smiles and says, "What you said is true. This is truly wonderful. Thank you very much." He shakes the man's hand, turns up the volume on his new gift, and continues walking toward the thousand-foot cliff.

What has the modern evangelist done? He has failed to awaken the blind sinner to his true plight. Instead, he has given him false peace. Now not only is the blind man still heading toward a horrible death, but he is deaf toward any further verbal warning. The message of peace has done an unspeakable disservice to the blind sinner.

Millions of people have been given "assurance of salvation," yet they are strangers to biblical repentance. The Law has never awakened them. They have never been warned to turn from the cliffs of eternal destruction. Now, because of the techniques of contemporary evangelism, their ears are deaf to the true message of salvation
. (The Way of the Master, 163-164 emphasis added)

The "sinner's prayer," as articulated by Warren, lacks contrition for sin and true repentance. Humanly speaking, the person who prays such a prayer is now likely worse off than than before: he is now not only spiritually blind, but has been deafened to the gospel call.

2. In addition to the promotion of false assurance in those outside of the family of God, statements such as the one from Rick Warren, quoted above, actually undermine true assurance on the part of those who have actually come into the family of God. How so? Because Warren promotes assurance on the basis of voicing the words of a certain prayer with sincerity. But as a Christian grows in his understanding of God's Word, he comes to realize that "the heart is deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9), that we are all naturally "hostile in mind" toward God (Colossians 1:21), and that due to these conditions, many people are self-deceived concerning their condition before God (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). Therefore, many Christians who have been taught that they should trust in the fact that they have prayed a prayer and meant it with all of their heart in order to know that they are saved come to realize that there is no possible way to be certain of their sincerity at the time of praying this prayer. They come to worry that they may have been self-deceived and thus they are robbed of the joy that should be theirs.

I would like to supplement the above statements on both false assurance of salvation and a lack of assurance with a challenge to self-examination using notes from the article "Religious Affections: Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff" by Jeff Robinson (The Founders' Journal, Issue 53, Summer 2003). This article is an examination of Jonathan Edwards' teaching on neutral signs of conversion versus true signs of conversion to Jesus Christ as found in his book, The Religious Affections. Jonathan Edwards was undoubtedly the greatest theologian in American history, a preacher whom God used to help begin the Great Awakening in the early 1700s. The Great Awakening saw many new believers come into the church, but, as we should expect, many also were self-deceived and did not have true, biblical faith (see Matthew 13:24-30). So the question became, 'how can a person know whether or not he or she has truly placed their faith in Christ?' 'how can someone be sure that he or she are among the elect who will receive salvation from sin, death, and hell?' Edwards provides part of the answer to this question in a letter he wrote to a young lady concerning her assurance of salvation:

It is proper to review your past experience; but do not consume too much time and strength in this way; rather apply yourself, with all your might, to an earnest pursuit after renewed experience, new light, and new lively acts of faith and love. One new discovery of the glory of Christ's face, will do more toward scattering clouds of darkness in one minute, than examining old experience, by the best marks that can be given, through a whole year. (Quoted in John Gerstner, The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards, 3 vols., published by Ligonier Ministries.)

Notes on 'neutral signs' (signs that do not necessarily indicate that salvation has taken place) vs. true signs of conversion:

I. Neutral Signs: No Ironclad Evidence of Conversion
A. Bodily Effects: Groaning, swooning and fainting over either the thought of eternal torment or blessing are no sure signs of salvation, as these can arise from self-interested affections.
B. Talk About Religious Subjects: Talk about religion or even quoting Bible verses is no sure sign of salvation as “authentic Christianity is more clearly seen in deeds rather than heard in words” (Matthew 7:15-27; James 1:26-27).
C. Sudden Bursts of Scripture Texts Upon the Mind: If someone claimed to have Bible verses often come to their mind, most of us would certainly think that this was evidence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is not necessarily the case, though, as the Devil is able to introduce the Word of God to people in a twisted way in order to deceive them (Genesis 3:1; Matthew 4:1-11; II Peter 3:15-16).
D. Outward Displays of Affection for Christians and Even for Jesus Himself: Those lacking in faith are easily swayed according to their desires (James 1:5-8; II Peter 3:16; Jude 12-13) and when it suits their purposes, they can even express great affection for Christians and for Christ Himself. This is seen in the church of Galatia, who helped Paul overcome an illness, accepted Paul’s preaching as if he were an “angel from God,” and sincerely expressed that they would do anything they could to help him, yet soon after he left they went after false teachers (Galatians 4:11-16). We see another example of this point in the life of Jesus, when so many that wanted to be identified as His disciples abandoned Him when His teachings became hard to accept (John 6).
E. Experience That Mimics the Experience of Another: Just because you may have a testimony of how you came to have faith that sounds in all points identical to someone else who is living out a Christian life, it does not necessarily indicate that you have experienced true conversion.

II. Positive Signs: The Nature of the True Christian
A. Love of God for Who He Is: Love of God Himself for His excellence, beauty, glory, and perfections, rather than affection for God based upon what He does for us (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 22:37-38 )
B. Love of God Directed Toward His Holiness and Worthiness: True love of God directs itself ultimately toward His holiness and worth (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8-11).
C. Humiliation Before the Holiness and Glory of God: Edwards points out that a true Christian is one who has seen the Law of God, understood God’s view of his sin, and despaired of helping himself. Then, the Holy Spirit brings to the Christian “a sense…of his own utter insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousness, with an answerable frame of heart” (Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 1:28; Luke 5:8; Revelation 1:17-18 )
D. A Change of Nature: One who has been truly converted will be a completely different person than they were before God converts them (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; John 3:3,5; II Corinthians 5:17).
E. The Mind and Attitude of Christ: A true Christian will have their thinking shaped by the Word of God and will develop a truly servant-like attitude toward others (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 9:35; Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:3, 6-7).
F. A Balance in Our Communication with Others: True Christians desire to develop communication that both encourages and rebukes others out of their sense of love toward God and those around them (Titus 2:15; II Timothy 3:16-17).
G. A Holy Restlessness in Pursuing God: True Christians are never satisfied in their spiritual condition, but seek, rather, to always grow in their love and knowledge of God (Philippians 3:12-14).
H. The Fruit of the Spirit: All true Christians show evidence of repentance in their lives, which is evident to those around them:

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:19-23 NASB)

Therefore, I once again urge anyone reading this again to “examine yourselves, as to whether you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5), and to “make your calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10).


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Through the Imperishable Gospel: Born Again for Brotherly Love." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this past Lord's Day at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 1:22-25.

I. Introduction. "As believers, we must love what Jesus loves, and Jesus loves the church."

II. How We Love One Another

A. Love one another earnestly, not passively.

B. Love one another in the midst of trial.

III. Why We Love One Another

A. Love one another because love is the goal of our obedience.

B. Love one another because we have been born again.
1. Love one another because we have been purified in soul.
2. Love one another because we have been made a part of the family of God.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Notes on the Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)

[For my Sunday school class tomorrow at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


7 And write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:
The holy one, the true one, the one holding the key of David– the one opening and no one will shut, and shutting and no one will open–, says these things:
8 I know your works– Look! I have placed a door having been opened that no one can shut before you– that[1] you have a little power yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Look! I will deliver some out from the synagogue of Satan (those calling themselves Jews, when they’re nothing but liars). Look! I will force them so that they will come and they will grovel at your feet. And they will know that I loved you. 10 Because you kept my word about perseverance, I will also keep you from the hour of affliction that is about to come upon the entirety of humankind– to test those dwelling upon the earth. 11 I will come quickly: Hold fast to what you have, so that no one might take your crown. 12 I will make the victor a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall certainly not depart from it. And furthermore, I will write upon him the name of my God, the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem descending out of heaven from my God), and my new name. 13 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

[1]$oti is “that” rather than “because” as it describes the known works following the parenthetical statement.

Introduction of the Author

Jo $agioV (ho hagios) “the holy one” is used throughout the NT as a title for the Messiah (Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; 4:34; John 6:69; Acts 4:27,30; 1 John 2:20).[1]

Jo ajlhqinovV (ho alēthinos) “the true one” in this context “carries connotations of Jesus being the true Messiah, who has begun to fulfill messianic prophecy, though He is rejected by the Jews as a false messianic pretender.”[2]

Jo !ecwn th;n klei:n Dauivd (ho echōn tēn klein Dauid) “the one holding the key of David” is an allusion to Isaiah 22:22. As God had disposed with unrighteous leadership and established Eliakim (see Isa 22), God rejects the wicked rulers of the “synagogue of Satan” (see 3:9) and establishes Christ as sovereign over His Church.

Philadelphia was a military outpost of Greece, settled by retired military personnel, who were given land and planted vineyards. Due to military need and Italian pressure, Philadelphia was forced to stop wine production and begin growing corn. Philadelphia was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62 and subsequently existed as a tent city. Philadelphia was known as the “city of the door” as it was a gateway city in ancient times and as it was historically at the farthest reaches of Greek society.[3]
Commendation of the Philadelphians’ Works
ijdou; devdwka ejnwvpiovn sou quvpan hjnew/gmevnhn, %hn oujdei;V duvnatai klei:sai aujthvn (idou dedōka enopion sou thupan ēneōigmenēn, hēn oudeis dunatai kleisai autēn) “Look! I have placed a door having been opened that no one can shut before you” is a parenthetical phrase set between the usual formula of Christ stating that the congregation’s works are known by Him– #oidav sou ta; !erga (oida sou ta erga) “I know your works”– and the content of the known works, introduced by $oti (hoti) “that,” as in 3:1 and 3:15. The Lord prefaces the content of the Philadelphians’ works (which, to this point, have been marked by “little power”) by giving a specific, present hope serving to spur them to greater works. This hope is an opportunity for effective gospel witness, as the ‘open door’ metaphor is consistently used in the NT (see Acts 14:27; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3).[4]
Encouragement to the Philadelphians
ejk th:V sunagwgh:V tou: Satana: tw:n legovntwn Jeautou;V IoudaivouV #einai, kai; oujk eijsi;n ajlla; yeuvdontai (ek tēs sunagōgēs tou Satana tōn legontōn heautous Ioudaious einai, kai ouk eisin all pseudontai) “out from the synagogue of Satan: those calling themselves Jews, when they’re nothing but liars” along with Jesus’ introduction to the Philadelphian congregation under clear messianic titles (a break from the letters to the previous congregations, which were prefaced in language reflecting that revealed in the first chapter of Revelation) all seem to indicate that the congregation was under persecution from the larger Jewish community that had rejected Christ.

In this passage, Jesus promises the Philadelphian congregation, kajgwv se thrhvsw ejk th:V $wraV tou: peirasmou: (kagō se tērēsō ek tēs hōras tou peirasmou) “I will also keep you from the hour of affliction.” The only other occurrence of a form of threvw (tēreō) “I keep” with ejk (ek) “from” is John 17:15, where Jesus prays that the Father will keep believers from the Evil One.[5]

Forms of the phrase tou;V katoikou:ntaV ejpi; th:V gh:V (tous katoikountas epi tēs gēs) “those dwelling upon the earth” occur throughout the book of Revelation (6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12,14; 14:6; 17:2, 8), always referring to unbelieving persecutors.[6]
Promise to the Victor
stu:lon (stulon) “pillar” “was used as a metaphor in Greek as in English for persons in important leadership positions.”[7] That God would give believers in Christ such a prominent position within the temple is a direct affront against the unbelieving Jews who were persecuting them.

In this passage, Jesus promises the believer gravyw ejpj aujto;n to; !onoma tou: qeou: mou (grapsō ep auton to onoma tou theou mou) “I will write upon him the name of my God.” In Numbers 6:27 the children of Israel are said to have the LORD’s name placed upon them.[8]

th:V kainh:V jIerousalh;m (tēs kainēs Ierousalēm) “the new Jerusalem” is mentioned three times in Revelation (3:12; 21:2, 10). [9] Christ’s words about the new Jerusalem here hearken back to OT prophecies of a renewed Jerusalem, as in, for example, Isaiah 62:2.

Though emphasizing different aspects of the significance of the name written upon believers, to; !onoma tou: qeou: mou kai; to; !onoma th:V povlewV tou: qeou: mou…... kai; to; !onoma mou to; kainovn (to onoma tou theou mou kai to onoma tēs poleōs tou theou mou… kai to onoma mou to kainon) “the name of my God, the name of the city of my God… and my new name” does not necessarily indicate three inscribed names. Ezekiel 48:35 records the name of the new Jerusalem as “the LORD is there,” which may be translated, “the LORD is its name.”[10] Similarly in Matthew 1:23 Jesus is name Immanuel: “God with us.”
Charge to Heed the Word

[1]Thomas, 273.
[2]Beale, 283.
[3]Daniel E. Hatfield, “Revelation 3:7-13” (classroom lecture notes, 22440–Greek Syntax and Exegesis, Spring 2007).

[4]Beale, 286.
[5]Ibid., 290-291.
[7]R.C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible (Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1694.
[8]Beale, 295.
[9]Aune, 243.
[10]Beale, 294.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pilgrim's Progress Compilation

Series from Tim Challies:

First Stage

Second Stage

Third Stage

Fourth Stage

Fifth Stage

Sixth Stage

Seventh Stage

Eighth Stage

My Chapter Summaries:
[Chapter divisions are from the 1991 Tyndale House edition]

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Re: the biblical definition of marriage

This week, due to North Carolina amending their state constitution to include a definition of marriage and due to President Obama's statements in support of homosexual "marriage," there has been a great deal of talk about what the Bible has to say concerning the definition of marriage.

One of my friends posted the above picture on Facebook, which seeks both to demonstrate that the Bible does not exclusively present the monogamous 'one man, one woman' view and to criticize what the Bible does teach about marriage.

My response to this is that bogus exegesis abounds, and is easily refuted, if one actually cares what the text says, as I sought to demonstrate in a previous examination of Deuteronomy 22:28-29. Some of the other circumstances outlined in the above chart are similar to the situation in that passage; the woman is not being forced to marry, but the man-- who has acted unjustly-- is placed under legal/financial obligations to the one he has sinned against.

Furthermore, the examples (never commands) concerning polygamy/mistreatment of 'handmaidens'/ sexual misconduct with concubines, etc., are always accompanied with examples of the disastrous effects that come about due to such arrangements.

Finally, though this truth can certainly be distorted, it is definitely the case that the actions and teachings of Jesus bring greater clarity to the rest of Scripture. And Christ's instructions concerning marriage are crystal clear (see Matt 19:4-6).

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Admonition to the Sardiceans

Become vigilant and strengthen those remaining things, which were about to wither away, for I have found that your works have not been fulfilled in the presence of my God. (Rev 3:2)

 The glorified Christ-- "the One having the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars"-- skips straight from introducing Himself to admonishing the Sardiceans. He does not encourage the church in Sardis-- pointing out their good, faithful works, as He does with some of the other churches-- and He does not offer a strong rebuke. The church in Sardis had not, apparently, suffered from heretical factions within the church as had the Pergamenes (Rev 2:12-17), they had not been enticed into blatant, open sexual immorality as had the Thyatirans (Rev 2:18-29), they had not lost their first love while spiritually battling for sound doctrine as had the Ephesians (Rev 2:1-7), they had not [yet?] even become lukewarm, in immediate danger of being expelled from the body of Christ, as had the Laodiceans (Rev 3:14-22). They were simply, slowly withering away, like a plant that was not getting quite enough water or sunlight. They had begun good works for God-- undoubtedly they were full of good intentions-- but they did not finish what they had started. The majority of the Sardiceans were, apparently, not engaged in gross sins bringing public shame, but they had allowed a certain dirtiness to creep in (see verse 4); they were being blemished by worldliness: not completely embracing paganism, but also not keeping themselves pure.

It is my concern that the problems with the church in Sardis may be the problems with many churches today: the slow wither, the slow drift toward worldliness: the situation in which we begin many good works for the Lord, but our spiritual strength and resolve is so sapped through compromise that we do not follow through. Let us examine ourselves and repent!


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Sermon Notes from "In Fear of God Alone: How Blood-Bought Children Live in Exile." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 1:17-21.

I. Introduction: "You are to live in fear."

A. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

B. You should "conduct yourselves with fear."

C. There is no contradiction between fearing the LORD and the 'fear not' passages.

II. Fear the LORD in dealing with the future.

A. God is the Judge of the world.

B. "Faith without works is dead."

C. We will receive according to our works, but so will the unbeliever.

D. "The Father judges impartially."

III. Fear the LORD in considering the past.

[The "fear" here seems to be a fear of ingratitude for so great a sacrifice, and a fear of wasting our lives by living in accordance with the sins from which we have been saved.]

A. We have been redeemed from "a futile way of living."

B. To live in vanity is to waste your life.

C. "He compares [our redemption] to the Passover."

D. Christ's sacrifice was not God's Plan B, but it was "always God's plan" from before creation.

E. God operates in His timetable according to His decree.

IV. Conclusion

A. "You should trust Jesus."

B. "You should live for Christ, or you will waste your life."


Saturday, May 05, 2012

Notes on the Letter to the Church in Sardis (Rev 3:1-6)

[For my Sunday school class tomorrow at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


1 And write to the angel of the church in Sardis:
Thus says the One having the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:
2 Become vigilant and strengthen those remaining things, which were about to wither away, for I have found that your works have not been fulfilled in the presence of my God. 3 Therefore, remember how you have received and heard; keep [it] and repent. If you are not vigilant, I will come as a thief, and you do not expect what hour I will come against you. 4 But you have a few names in Sardis who have not dirtied their clothes, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy. 5 Thus, the victor will be dressed in white clothes and I will certainly not erase his name from the book of life, and I will declare his name in the presence of my Father and in the presence of his messengers. 6 Let the one having an ear hear what the Spirit says to the congregations.

Introduction of the Author
Sardis was “the citadel of the plain” on the Pactolus River. The town was a natural fortress due to geography, and was surrounded by rich farmland, so it could withstand a prolonged siege. The city had previously been destroyed by the Persians, however, and then by the Greeks 300 years later.[1]
Admonition to the Sardiceans
Encouragement to the Remnant in Sardis
“Clothes” or “garments” often symbolize works or witness in Revelation.[2]
Promise to the Victor
peribalei:tai ejn iJmativoiV leukoi:V (peribaleitai en himatiois leukois) “will be dressed in white clothes.” Believers in Christ have been made priests, and the one who overcomes will be given priestly garments (Lev 16:4).
As seen in Revelation, believers in Christ share in the holy things belonging to God. God, as the Ancient of Days, is depicted in Daniel 7:9 with language that is unmistakably similar to the language used to depict the vision of Christ at the beginning of the Book of Revelation. In Daniel 7:9 the Ancient of Days is wearing a white robe; Jesus, in his transfiguration, is similarly clothed in white (see Mark 9:3). In the end time prophecy at the close of the Book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel is told, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined” (12:10). Similarly, the verse under consideration promises that those who overcome will be clothed in white.
oujmh; ejxaleivy to; !onoma aujtou: ejk th:V bivblou th:V zwh:V (oumē eksaleips to onoma autou ek tēs biblou tēs zōēs) “I will certainly not erase his name from the book of life.” The idea of a book of life from which the Lord threatens to erase or blot out the names of the unfaithful is first revealed in Exodus 32:32-33. David wrote a Psalm calling for his enemies to be blotted out of the book of life (see Psa 69:28), and Isaiah wrote of those “recorded for life” in Jerusalem (see Isa 4:3). In the Old Covenant community, each member was recorded on a census, and especially the Levites (Num 1:2; 3:15). To have one’s name blotted out from the census was to remove one from the blessings of the covenant community.
Jomologhvsw to; !onoma aujtou: ejnwvpion tou: petrovV mou kai; ejnwvpion tw:n ajggevlwn aujtou: (homologēsō to onoma autou enōpion tou patros mou kai enōpion tōn angelōn autou) “I will declare his name in the presence of my Father and in the presence of his angels.” This is in accordance with what Jesus promised his followers in Matthew 10:32 and Luke 12:8. As the high priest in OT times bore the names of the tribes on his ephod, our great High Priest bears our individual names before God.
Charge to Heed the Word

[1]Daniel E. Hatfield, “Revelation 3:1-6” (classroom lecture notes, 22440–Greek Syntax and Exegesis, Spring 2007).