Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Law of Moses? It's good...if; it's bad...if.

Recently I've had a dialogue with someone very close to me who has been seduced by the siren call of a works-centered cult. This seductive call attracts many who have been blinded by "the god of this world" and who cannot grasp the concept of the gospel of grace (2 Cor. 4:4). "Sure, I believe in Jesus. But I still think we have to keep the commandments if we want to go to heaven. I still think we have to do something. Believing in Jesus doesn't satisfy that part of me that wants to earn God's favor. I believe that we must observe the Sabbath if we want to be certain we're forgiven and heaven bound." This is a damnable heresy; this cult is anathema; this is a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

The purpose of the apostle Paul's letters to the Romans and the Galatians and the purpose of the letter to the Hebrews was to remind/instruct those who had heard the gospel that justification is "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, through the gospel alone." One of Paul's early arguments in this vein is this,

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

So that's how the law can be bad. If anyone believes that he or she must keep the law in order to be right with God and guarantee them a place in heaven, they have fallen from grace and are now obligated to keep the whole law perfectly, guaranteeing that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. If one must keep the law then that one will pay for their own sins, rejecting the once-for-all payment of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. That is the lesson of Galatians.

The law is good and holy and perfect and has its place in the believer's life. But the law was not designed for the righteous but for the unrighteous, the ungodly. Being under the law means that those who are under the law are unrighteous. One cannot be under the law and at the same time under grace and alive in spirit, or indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That's the lesson of Galatians.

Here is the gospel concerning the law:

1 Timothy 1:6-11 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
"But we know that the is good if one uses it lawfully." In context, this means that the law is to be employed by the righteous to reveal to the unrighteous their unrighteousness and their dire need for the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hollywood Template of Faith: Orange Is The New Black Star Explains It

According to millions of folks on this little planet, Jesus was a wimp, a pansy who "never judged anybody" and never said or did anything that would offend anyone. Read "Orange is the new black" star Harney's thoughts on his "faith" and his version of Jesus here. This is important because Harney's thoughts are typical of the inhabitants of planet earth.

Apparently few people who claim to "follow" Jesus or to "love" Him have read His book. His book was written long before the movies came out, ya know. And those who have read it have clearly only read select parts of it, none of which included Matthew 23 or John 8:44. There are many, many other passages in the gospels that report Jesus judging hypocrites and deceivers and the willfully ignorant. He wasn't the "sweet" Caucasian portrayed in movies and modern paintings that we have come to love. He was and is the Son of God, God the Son, the Christ, Messiah, merciful and mighty, and soon-to-return Lord and Judge of all the earth.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The dangers around us. And why God-called pastors must be diligent

For thousands of years now, the world has been exposed to the damnable heresies spawned by the devil himself. Corrupt Hebrews denying their God and His revelations and love and mercy and patience and kindness so perverted their Savior's words til now they are firmly established in their apostasy. And it began in the beginning when Satan deceived Adam and Eve.

The enemies of Yahweh surrounded God's elect during their early years on through their settlement in the "promised land" and enticed them into conforming to them rather than to God's will for them. Judaism quickly became a man-centered religion. Today, the relatively few who still believe in God or a god, worship a god of their own making.

Behind the obvious, the way life appears on the surface and the direction history has taken, God has been and still is working out His plan of redemption, justification through faith in Christ, reconciliation and wrath. Neither major worldly events nor minor worldly events fall outside of God's economy. Behind every major headline is God.

False prophets abound...and always have (2 Pet. 2:1-3). False religions including many that profess the name of Jesus Christ, have used the media to their advantage and are deceiving millions of lost souls in our time. But by far, unbelievers, atheists and agnostics, outnumber those who adhere to some particular religious creed. Of the 7+ billion inhabitants of this planet, 1.5 billion are Roman Catholic, 1.5 billion are Muslim, 2+billion are non-Roman Christians, 1+billion are Hindu, and several million follow some pagan religious systems. (Don't hold me to those figures; they aren't exact or the latest figures).

The folks who sit in the pews of the world's so-called "churches" have been sold a bill of goods that has little resemblance to the gospel of Jesus Christ or the true body of Christ. Extreme teachings on tolerance and all-things politically correct have moved church leaders and their dupes into kicking the Bible out the door. This is evident in the debates over same-sex marriage, homosexuality in general, the reality of hell and God's wrath, and the exclusivity of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

There are exceptions. There are many men and women of God, God-called men and women, who preach the unadulterated word of God, some well-known, but most unknown. They are, however, being overshadowed by the likes of the Osteens, the Copelands, the Hinns of our day, Joyce Meyer and a thousand other lesser known Pentecostals, Word of Faith heretics and mega-church, multi-site pastors. And the danger is that many of the folks who occupy otherwise godly assemblies have bought what these liars and deceivers are selling. Many of the people who attend the church where I'm a member love Joel and Victoria Osteen and Joyce Meyer. A man of God who pastored a church near my home was fired mainly because he spoke out against (and named names) the false teachers/prophets/bishops/apostles who appear on our televisions.

God is clearly going to hold us accountable for compromising the gospel in accordance with what is popular in our time (2 Cor.2:14-17;  James 3:1ff). God-called pastors as well as false shepherds are given the command to "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:1-5). We are also commanded to be diligent in our study and delivery of God's word (2 Tim. 2:15).

Ear-scratching preachers/teachers give all too clear evidence that they are not God-called men and women. They who please man as an end cannot please God. And, those who fail to guard their flocks against heresy will give account to God.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ferguson and the nature of man

At this point, we don't have all the facts about what happened when the black teen was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. News reporting, like history, is an inexact science. Some will never believe that all the facts have been reported in this incident. Human beings, after all, tend to be subjective when recording history as well as when reporting the news. And to exacerbate matters, we also tend to be subjective and biased when receiving news reports. But that's not my concern in this post.

I hear people saying and I read what some write about the obvious, "This is the 21st century." The implication is that one would expect better behavior of 21st century human beings. My response is "why?" Why would one expect better human beings just because we human beings have now been on this earth for who knows how long? I tend to think this way occasionally myself. But then I'm gently nudged by God to call to mind who we really are.

Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18 describes the vast majority of mankind. Galatians 5:19-21, describes what man is like apart from and before the grace of God, as does Ephesians 2:1-3. And Romans 7 informs the Christian that we are not perfect. If not for the grace and kindness of God working in us by the Holy Spirit and through the written word of God and the fellowship of the saints, we, too, would give in to the evil propensity toward wickedness that the rest of mankind lives in and too often embraces.

The black Americans in Ferguson as well as their fellow Americans of all color in that city are merely the latest in an eternal (almost) line of fallen human beings to manifest our separation from our loving, kind, and patient Creator. The only hope anyone has is reconciliation to our Creator through faith in Jesus Christ. The nature of man must be and can be changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Paul Blart Wannabe Mall Cop Stops Christians Praying In Dublin, Georgia"...this century.

In the apostle Paul's God-given description of fallen mankind, he says of us "there is no fear of God in their eyes." (Romans 3:18). Clearly that is a timeless, universal truth. Millions in our world have no fear of God.

How else can one explain our nation's bowing to the demands of one woman, Madeline Murray O'Hare, to get God, any god, every god, out of our public schools? Or to the demands of feminists demands for the right to murder their unborn children? Or to the demands of liberals and homosexuals to legalize same-sex marriage? The powers-that-be acquiesce to the squeaking wheel with little or no regard for the other 3. The owners of a mall in Dublin, Georgia, USA, have decreed that private property, "their" property, is off limits to those who practice thanking God over their meals or before they power-walk through "their" mall. You can read it here.

 Can mall owners do this? Can a privately owned secular establishment open to the public and dependent on that same public legally prohibit prayer by citizens on its premises? I guess they can. Seriously. I would say they have that right. But I don't know. I am against loud obnoxious praying anywhere. But over a meal? Come on.

Do they have the right to not fear God? Of course they do. Is it wise? Hell no.

For a different take, check this out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

God is for us, He is not against us...ever!

At times it's really hard to believe. It boggles my mind that infinite, holy, Almighty God is always for me. I know me well enough to know what I'm like when I'm alone and what I'm like in my thought life and it's enough to make me disgusted with myself at times. Not always, but more often than I like. But it's always true for all who are in Christ Jesus, God is for us.

In my flesh I wasn't brought up to think this way. I knew there were people who were supposed to love me unconditionally who didn't; they were not always for me. And to this day I carry that transferred insecurity with me in my walk with my heavenly Father. However, I'm much, much better than I was just a couple of years ago. And here is where the Holy Spirit took me years ago when I was kicking myself for losing my temper in traffic and letting a rude driver know just how I felt about her driving:

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? The Holy Spirit brought to my mind so clearly, "Johnny, I'm not against you, I'm for you."

We will always be able to find people who are against us in some form or fashion for any number of reasons. But we can never say that about God. God stands alone. After all, He is nothing like us.

 Paul asks the question, "What then shall we say to these things?" And he answers, "This is what we shall say to these things, If God is for us, and He is, who is against us?" The wording of "if God is for us" is in the form of a "first class condition" that can be and should be read thusly, "If God is for us, and He is...," or, "Since God is for us," any of the three readings is correct if we understand what is going on in the text. But it only makes sense when we ask the question, "what are 'these things?'" In other words, it only makes sense in context. So, what are these things? And how do they add up to Paul's concluding that God is for us?

I'm not about to bore you with the complete list of these things like I would like to, but I'm going to summarize them in a way that should be helpful to you right now. I want to give you enough to build your faith and encourage you in your everyday walk.

First, "God fulfilled His promise to give His Son to save us from our sins." 1:1-4

Second, "God was kind to the ungodly and brought us to repentance." 2:4

Third, "God manifested His way to righteousness to the ungodly through His Son apart from the Law" 3:10-23

Fourth, "God proclaims the ungodly justified through faith and not works." 4-5

Fifth, "The Holy Spirit baptized us into the body of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection that we might have new life, no longer under the Law but under grace, free from the dominion of sin." 6:1-23

Sixth, "Every child of God is alive in his inner man even while our outer man perishes and we will never be condemned. God has ordained it so for His glory and our eternal good." 7-8.

8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
 Our heavenly Father, and don't forget He is our "heavenly" Father, not of this earth, not of flesh and blood, but pure and just and holy, never changing, is always for us. "How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" It is not possible that He will not.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Amazing Grace of God At Corinth...and In Every Saint

"In the beginning, God..." After the beginning, God. It's all about what God did for us in Christ Jesus, not about what we have done, are doing, who we were when He called us, or what we had when He called us. He called us...period. He started it...He will finish it (1 Cor. 1:26-31; Phil. 1:6).

Everyone who is "in Christ" is there solely because God chose them, predestined them, foreknew them, sanctified them by the Holy Spirit, justified them and glorified them, even while being ungodly people, dead in their trespasses and sins, enemies of God (Rom. 8:28-30; 5:6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Eph. 1:3-14). Dead people can't do anything to make themselves right with God. That takes an act of God, a genuine miracle where God intervenes in human nature and makes alive that which was dead and repulsive to Him. That miracle actually changes us from children of wrath to children of God (Eph. 2:1-10).

And after all that? God loves us and lovingly brings us into His family. He (yes, "He") doesn't make us perfect after adopting us. Go figure. He doesn't make us perfect. And we sure don't make ourselves perfect after becoming God's children.

When I got up this morning, I went to 1 Corinthians, chapter 1 and verse 1. I've read this a gazillion times and it continually lifts my spirit and builds up my faith in the finished work of Jesus. Paul describe the Corinthians the same way he described himself, "called," "by the will of God," and "saints," the "holy ones of God." Considering what the apostle knew about the mess that was the church in Corinth, I am so very encouraged by the Holy Spirit's encouragement, exhortations, rebukes, corrections, commandments and assurances given to these confused and even rebellious believers (this letter was written by a Spirit filled man).

This letter is for the true church (and those who do not seem to be the "true" church) universal. For the church in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Sudan, the UK, the west, the east, the south and the north.

So take heart, beloved around the world. God is with you; God is in you; and God is for you.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.