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.





 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"My 'Old Lady,' My 'Old Man'": Part Two

Not a day goes by except I long for my new man, my inner man, the new creature that I am, to exercise control over my really annoying outer man, my old man. But I don't lose heart. And here's why:

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Another translation says, "...though our outer man is wasting away." "Decaying," "wasting away," you get the picture. And that's what we have to live with until our "corruption puts on incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50-56, one of my favorite passages, btw). I know that my inner man, that part of me that is "born again," "born of the Spirit," "born from above," that part where the "seed" of God abides, is in God's hands and He's renewing me day by day, faithfully renewing me day by day. What sweet words; what an amazing fact of this new life in Christ.

Read this:

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;

 
"Earthen vessels." That's just another way of saying our "old man," our "flesh." That's where "nothing good inside me" dwells. That's the part of us that is corrupt, corrupted, corruptible and wasting away. With our old man so weak and dying, one would expect the new man, our inner man, to be more consistent in his victories over him. And we can be.

We will never know sinless perfection in this life. But we can know a life lived in a manner that glorifies our risen Lord and Savior. We can live in a manner worthy of our calling and worthy of the name by which we are called. And that is precisely what 2 Corinthians 4:7 makes clear to us. God has designed the new life in such a way that He gets the first glory and shares His glory with us now with our final glorification awaiting us in our eternal home.

Next: Our old man delivered out of darkness.

  


 

"My 'Old Lady;' My 'Old Man:'" Part One

No, I never had an "old lady," but I know several real life hard core Harley ridin' bikers who do. And no one, no girl or woman, ever called me her "old man," at least not that I know of.

My hawg ridin' acquaintances were bad news. They did all the stuff you've heard about bikers doing. Drugs, sexual immorality, etc., etc. And I shared the gospel with each of them to no avail. One of them, a new employee where I once worked, was a recent biker convert. His new "friends" talked him into buying a hawg one of their buddies had for sale and he bought it. They also persuaded him to leave his wife. And one night just a couple of weeks after he started riding (he had never been on a motorcycle in his life until his conversion) and shortly after leaving his wife, his old lady, he went to a beer joint north of Charlotte, got plastered and jumped on his bike and promptly ran a stop sign, crossed the road and hit the woods going pretty fast. He was killed instantly. I was heart-broken at the news that following Monday morning.

I had made some headway with this man who was hurting and heartbroken over his life situation. He didn't want to leave his wife, he wanted help. I was giving him some good counsel and he was interested. He was listening; he loved his wife. Whether he intentionally ran that stop sign or not, we shall never know. But he's dead regardless. That old man left his old lady for a way that brought him only heartache, misery and death.

Darkness and death is all those who live in darkness know. I know, I lived there for 27 years. But in March of 1974, by the grace of God, I heard the sweetest words I have ever heard, I heard and believed the gospel.

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one 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. 11 Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision " by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Billions of people are at this very moment "far off." And it may be that they will and can by the grace of God be delivered out of their present darkness and be "brought near by the blood of Christ." God only knows what will become of them. It may be that we will proclaim the good news to them and the Holy Spirit will open their ears and eyes to see and hear it. We can sow and water and perhaps witness God giving the lost life. We have the sweetest words they can ever possibly hear. Whether or not they come to faith is in God's hands, the sharing of those sweet life-giving words is in ours.

 






 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Scripturally Balancing Grace: Answering Michael Brown's Sincere Questions: Conclusion

The answer to Dr. Brown's questions are pretty obvious; they are worded in such a way that they are self-explanatory, and that's good. Dr. Brown has Scripture and common sense on his side as far as this particular issue goes. For that reason I'm once again closing this series. And after listening to Dr. Brown's debate with the advocate for gay rights claiming to be a Christian, I'm siding with Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown is a superb debator.

I am very much anti Word of Faith theology; I think for the most part it is a heresy that is both subtly deceptive and damnable. This is where I part ways with Dr. Michael Brown. His fellowship with the likes of Benny Hinn puts up a wall between us. I would like to know more about his involvement with Word of Faith teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, and Joel Osteen. I'm simply curious; I don't plan on getting on board with him.