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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"My inner Pharisee: And I've got the stones to prove it."

Ah, the law of Moses.

There's nothing we Pharisees like more than the law of Moses, or any law really. They keep everybody else in their place and our assistance in doing so makes us feel superior over "them" and better about ourselves.

Seriously! What makes us feel better about ourselves than seeing the sins and failures of others and then pointing them out to our circle of friends? Nothing. "That is NOT GOSSIP, I tell you. I'm just telling the truth!"

And the icing on the hypocritical Pharisaical cake is being able to confront a "sinner" in front of others.

I have an "inner Pharisee" who is just bursting to get out and wreak havoc across the land. And havoc is exactly what the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the scribes and lawyers wreaked, or should I say, wreak. They wreaked havoc all the way to Calvary. It's a good thing for them that it was Jesus that they wreaked upon: He forgave them.

Have you read John 8, verses 1 through 11 recently? Well, take a few minutes to read it now, please?

The scribes and the Pharisees were right, kinda sorta. The law of Moses does indeed call for death in the case of Jews caught in the act of adultery (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-24). But what they intentionally overlooked (and that's what hypocrites do) was the bigger truth found in the law that except one keep the whole law, that one is just as guilty as the adulterer and just as damned (Deut. 28:58ff; Roms. 3:19-20; Gal. 3:10; 5:3).

Jesus' words had some temporary effect on them when He very poignantly reminded them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." Ouch! At least they walked off with their tails hanging between their legs.

Stones in the temple; stones in their hearts of stones

Beloved, we do not have hearts of stone. Why do we respond to our brothers and sisters as if we did? Why do we turn to the law of Moses when we should turn always to the finished work of Jesus? Now there certainly are times when we must and can judge and rebuke and correct our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Cor. 5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Gal. 6:1-5). But every Christian, every one who has by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ, has been given a new heart, a heart of flesh, the new creature in Christ, the inner man (Eze. 11:19; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-10; Acts 15:9; Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:22. And many more).

"There is no place for stones in the new heart of flesh."

It shouldn't surprise any of us that we sin in the same manner as the Pharisees. If we believe that the law still holds sway over us and we vainly try to keep it, any part of it, then we have given our sinful nature the power it needs to cause us to be such hypocrites (1 Cor. 15:56; Rom. 7). The "strength of sin is the law," indeed, but the strength of righteousness is grace.

Be gracious, beloved. And I'll try my best to be so as well. Put down those stones.



















 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Carnal Knowledge" No, not THAT carnal knowledge.

Carnality prevents the Christian from receiving and discerning the things made accessible to them by the Spirit of God.

Listen to this, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and division among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when ones says 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal?" (1 Cor. 3:1-4).
1 Corinthians 3:1
Kavgw,( avdelfoi,( ouvk hvdunh,qhn lalh/sai u`mi/n w`j pneumatikoi/j avllV w`j sarki,noij( w`j nhpi,oij evn Cristw/|Å 1 Corinthians 3:2
ga,la u`ma/j evpo,tisa( ouv brw/ma\ ou;pw ga.r evdu,nasqeÅ avllV ouvde. e;ti nu/n du,nasqe(
 
Paul is telling the church two things about carnality that we need to pay close attention to in our day. First, because the church was and is so carnal the man of God is unable to speak/preach/teach it the word of God. "And I, brehren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people." It wasn't that Paul didn't want to take them deeper, it was that he was unable to do so (ouvk hvdunh,qhn lalh/sai) He wasn't able. Why? Because they, the Corinthian believers, were carnal. Paul was enabled to preach. The Corinthians were not able to receive.

Second, because they were carnal they were unable to receive the truths Paul was trying to communicate. They were spiritually incapable of going any further than they were.

Can you see the delimma carnal Christianity creates? The men and women of God can teach the truth of God til' they're blue in the face. But if their hearers are carnal, the word of God just goes in one ear and out the other.

What does it mean to be "carnal?"

The carnal Christian is one who allows his or her "flesh," that sinful old man who is corrupted, corrupt and corruptible, to have the reign in their lives (1 Cor. 15:50-56). And the carnal Christian can be easily spotted by these characteristics:

1. By focusing on himself/herself or other human beings and being "mindful of the things of men" rather than the things of God (Mt. 16:23). This was what lay at the heart of the Corinthian carnality (1:10-6:11). 

2. Carnal Christians (even those who are indeed saved) can be proud of their tolerance for lifestyles that God hates (ch. 5). Does that ring a bell? It should. The so-called "church" in our time is embracing, condoning, and even promoting homosexuality and all forms of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is being pushed upon all of us. Our entertainment industry is leading the way, and we are following their lead.

3. By rejecting the word of God and the men and women of God who teach it in favor of the false apostles and false prophets and false teachers that abound and are embraced in our midst. Have you read 2 Corinthians lately (the entire letter addresses these false apostles, etc. 2:17)? How about 2 Peter 2-3?

4. Carnal Christians (and false believers) build on a false foundation (usually the teachings and so called prophecies and lying visions and dreams of false prophets, etc.). And to make matters worse, they build with materials not fit for the true and only foundation (1 Cor. 3:5-17; Col. 2:16-23). They also build on their own vain imaginings supposing to have a new word from the Lord.


5. Carnal Christians get easily caught up in popular religious movements that center on false prophets and teachers. Millions of people watch these deceivers on tv, in local churches, and via dvd's. But those who truly belong to the Good Shepherd will hear these strange voices but will know that they aren't the voice of their Shepherd (Jn. 10).

6. Carnal Christians until it is brought to their attention and they are called to repentance, will  love the things of this world. This is dangerous. And it may be and probably is that those who consider themselves Christian and love the things of this world are in fact not His (1 Jn. 2:15-17). But while they profess to believe in Jesus as the Son of God it is our duty to treat them as such. That doesn't mean we welcome them into our fellowship or tell them that they're ok. It means that we are authorized to discipline them according to the word of God (1 Cor. 5:9-13; Gal. 6:1-2).

If you wonder why you aren't "hearing from God" either through prayer or at a Bible preaching church, then rest assured it isn't God who's keeping you from it. If you really desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, repent! Or, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus that you might be saved.
 

 
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Silly Christian Rabbit! Gifts are for His kids." Conclusion

"It is written."

And indeed it is.

One cannot erase it or cut it out of the Bible or use a black highlighter. Well, one can but the one that does such a thing will face eternity in the bad place. Thomas Jefferson did this to "his" Bible. Are they any different who deny any truth found in the word of God? Whether it be the resurrection or the virgin birth or the exclusivity of Christ's substitutionary atonement, denying these essentials of the Christian faith is no more and no less than striking them from Holy Scripture.

I'll tone it down a bit. When it comes to denying the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit, God the Father, or the Lord Jesus Christ, some do it out of ignorance, ignorance of which Paul says he doesn't want us to be. Some do it out of ignorance because, well, they're ignorant. Some do it, however, out of wilful ignorance. Anyone who is ignorant of any Biblical truth for whatever reason can be and must be flogged with the word of God (in love, of course). That's what the word of God says it is for in Paul's second letter to Timothy, 3:16-17.

"Come, let us reason together."

Think about it. The word of God, our God-breathed Scripture, declares that the Holy Spirit gifts God's people with spiritual gifts. To dismiss this as being only for believers in the Lord's day or the days of the apostles is to dismiss every other thing written. To dismiss the gifts that are included in the word of God without the word of God saying we must dismiss them would bring one to the logical conclusion that everything the word says about prayer, for instance, was only good for way back then. And what about the love of God? Are we to dismiss the love of God because the Scripture that speaks of it was written thousands of years ago and was only meant to apply to dead folks? Nay, I think not.

"But I've never experienced any of that stuff."

Aha! So one's personal experience is the rule by which we interpret and apply and believe Scripture? I think not! I wasn't there during the world-wide flood, but I believe it happened. I wasn't there when God parted the waters of the Red Sea, but I believe it happened. I wasn't there when Jesus was crucified, when He died, when He was buried, when He was raised from the dead, but I know it happened. And I believe in spite of the fact that the witnesses and those who learned from them wrote it down two thousand years ago. It didn't just happen for "them;" it happened for me, too. And I certainly apply that to my life. You?

My goodness! I have experienced the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus. Surely that's the way I'm to take Paul's writings about these events. They didn't just apply to Paul and those of his day and time. And, beloved, being that every believer has experienced such high and glorious things, why should we think it weird that we can experience the lesser things?

I have experienced by God's grace the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. No, I've never spoken in tongues. I know some of you will say "why should I listen to you if you've never spoken in tongues?" So you can, if you so choose, go to another place at this time. But I have experienced other gifts, preaching, teaching, evangelizing, prophesying and even the gift of healings. And just because I haven't experienced tongues doesn't mean I must then dismiss them as not being for our time. They still exist; they are still experienced by folks around the world as God sees fit. Remember, He chooses and He distributes as He wills, not we.

And if you are a Christian not "in the ministry" and can honestly say you have never experienced any gift of the Holy Spirit (there are other lists besides that found in 1 Corinthians, Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11. Check out these other "gifts of the Spirit" before you disavow any experience.), you need to do a thorough study of the gifts. And if you still conclude that you've never personally experienced any gift, then you would be wise to study yourself (2 Cor. 13:5).



 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Silly Christian Rabbit! Gifts are for His kids." Part 1

But seriously.

Seldom did the debate arise among Protestant denominations concerning the place of spiritual gifts in the life of the modern church and modern professing Christians. Until, that is, around 1959 when someone wrote a book about his experiences working in the big city of New York among juvenile deliquents (does anyone use that term anymore?). It seems that some involved in  the early years of the "Charismatic Movement" pointed back to David Wilkerson's book "The Cross and the Switchblade" as the seed for that movement. But this article isn't about David or his book. It is about the debate that was ignited by the reaction to his book and ministry.

Mainline denominations, the liberal wing of Protestantism, and Southern Baptists, the conservative and fundamentalists of Protestantism, for the most part reject the belief that the "gifts of the Holy Spirit" are for today's believers. They all will acknowledge the tamer gifts such as preaching and teaching. But the more demonstrative gifts such as tongues and healings and prophesying are said to have ceased along with the last apostle. But did they? No. They absolutely did not.

They are in the Bible, the word of God!

Seriously! What are we, those of us living in the 21st century, supposed to make of the many passages that refer to the gifts given and distributed by God, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? We forget, do we not, that the Trinity is involved in the distribution of the gifts? So don't freak out over the Holy Spirit who is singled out as THE one who gives the gifts. Remember this in 1 Corinthians 12?

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
 
The gifts of the Spirit are at the same time the gifts of the Father and of the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity who manifests the gifts to and through the believer. We can indeed refer to the gifts as "the gifts of the Father," "The gifts of the Son," as well as the gifts of the Spirit. It is better to speak of the gifts of the Spirit. But we most certainly could refer to the gifts otherwise.

Now if the gifts weren't for every generation of believers that comes along then the word of God would have taken that into account and made it plain somewhere in one of the 27 New Testament books. But it doesn't. And in spite of what one of my favorite theologian/pastors teaches, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 does not refer to the ceasing of the gifts when the Canon is completed, when the Bible is put together. When the books of the Bible were sovereignly assembled they still retained God's word concerning spiritual gifts.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Underwater Salvation?" Good news for Christians who think they owe more than they're worth.

It's a term that I had never heard of until the recent banking/mortgage crises, "underwater mortgages." It refers to the millions of homeowners who currently owe more for their homes than they are worth. I remember guys from the '70's who owed more for their old muscle cars than they were worth. But until this century this situation had never been named, as far as I know. Underwater mortgages, underwater loans.

It cannot happen to any and all who have by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, for their justification, for their reconciliation to God; it just cannot happen. No Christian can say that he or she owes more than what God has paid for their justification. We cannot find ourselves, our salvation, underwater.

In the first place, we weren't worth anything.

In the second place, there were no "loans" made. We were bought and paid for in full.

In the third place, there certainly was a debt but we didn't have to take out some kind of divine loan to pay it off. Jesus paid it all. And while we in and of ourselves (in our corrupt and corruptible flesh and mortal bodies for the time being) are worth no more than before God graciously saved us, He has declared us joint heirs with His Son and members of His family, members of His household. To Him, the new creature that we are is worth a lot.

There are no debts laid up in heaven, just treasures.

There are no bills coming due each month, just daily blessings straight from our Father in heaven.

No one will come and foreclose on our new homes in heaven. God bought our new home.

No landlord will send us nasty letters threatening us if we miss a payment. One cannot miss payments on what one owes nothing.

We do not owe more than we're worth. But God certainly paid more than what we're worth.

It really is finished, beloved, you are not underwater. Don't let the enemy (or your friends) tell you you still owe something.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Do you know what "antichrist" means?


The word "anti" as we know it means "against." But in 1 John it means something entirely different. And that difference is important if we're looking for antichrists or the Antichrist. You could be living next door to an antichrist ... or maybe even married to one ... or parenting one.
 
Antichrist means "instead of Christ." The billions of antichrist on this planet right now are looking for a god other than Jesus. In our society religious "seekers" are often looking for a god or savior who is not Jesus, "Anybody but Jesus."
 
The "spirit of antichrist" is seen in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Roman Catholic Church and The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses and in Islam. These four major world religions all deny that Jesus is God incarnate by presenting another Jesus and another gospel. Instead of Jesus the Son of God and God the Son, they promote a false Jesus and a false gospel. A false gospel by definition denies Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.
 
 
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.




"Breaking news! Jesus paid it all!!"

"This just in. Blah, blah, blah."

How many times have we heard that (well, without the blah, blah, blah)? I hear it everyday on our local tv news. "Breaking news." It's usually about a crime just reported committed in one of our neighborhoods or a bad accident on one of our roads. But whatever the breaking news is, I stop whatever I'm doing to see what's happened now.

Breaking news seldom reports an event that I've never heard of before. Robberies, rapes, abductions, and murders are nothing new but they certainly are news worthy, occurrences that the public needs to be made aware of for public safety concerns.

Now what really gets our attention while the boob tube is on is when one of the major networks interrupts our tv watchin' with "Special News Bulletin" or the like. Then we pay special attention. Sometimes the special news bulletin is shocking, like 9/11 or the recent Newtown shootings. Or it may be reporting the death of some celebrity or well-known politician. But the news flash always pulls us away from what we were doing.

Here's some "breaking news" that everyone needs to drop what they're doing and pay close attention to,

"God says that all who do not trust Jesus Christ (His Son) for the forgiveness of their sins and their sinfulness are going to hell."

But that's not the end of the breaking news. That news is accompanied by the "Good News" that all who do trust in Jesus are indeed forgiven and will spend eternity in heaven. "But how can that be?", you might ask. "How does simply trusting in Jesus forgive all my sins and give me eternal life? I don't understand that." Well, I'm glad you asked that question. Here is the answer (this is called "the gospel," btw). Are you ready?

God demands perfection from every human being who inhabits this planet. But no human being can be perfect, it's just not in us. But God knows that. That's exactly why He sent Jesus into this world, to do for us as our Substitute what we cannot do for ourselves. We are not capable of being perfect. We are not capable of pleasing God. But Jesus is, and He was.

"BREAKING GOOD NEWS: Jesus Christ did for us what we could not do for ourselves."

Jesus kept the law of God, the law of Moses, perfectly. He fulfilled every last jot and tittle of the law.

Jesus did the will of God perfectly. All the Father asked and desired of man, Jesus did perfectly.

And now all who "call upon the name of the Lord (Jesus)" are "saved." We're saved through faith in the One who did for us what we could not do for ourselves because when we trust in the One who did all these things, the Father puts our faith down on our heavenly account as though we had actually done what Jesus did. If you trust Him who did it, it's as though you did it yourself.

When the Lord Jesus said from the cross, "It is finished," He meant it. The work of redemption was complete. The work of reconciling the world to God was finished. That finished work made possible our being made right with God through faith and not works or deeds or on account of our vain merits.
That finished work made possible the new birth whereby God gives us the Holy Spirit that gives us the new birth and makes us alive and united to the Lord Jesus. That finished work made possible our being used mightily by God now, right now, being filled with the Spirit, living by the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, gifted by the Spirit for God's glory and our glory and our eternal good.

That finished work means that for us the blood of Jesus Christ overrides our sinfulness, our old nature that made us "children of wrath." It means that the law of life that is in Christ Jesus is now in us. And on account of that law, the law of Moses no longer will hold us accountable, we will never be condemned by God, we will never be rejected by God, we will never be finally defeated by any enemy, and we will never be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

That's the Good News, the Breaking News.





























Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Which do ya want first, the good news or the bad news?"

I love good news. I love getting mail telling me that I'm getting a refund or a check just for being a good driver. I love it when my kids tell me how well they're doing in their pursuits. I love it when I hear that one of my NFL teams won. I love it when family and friends tell me that they love me.

I don't love bad news. The airwaves are full of bad news which I will not repeat here.

But sometimes, and more often than we might like, we need to hear the bad news, it can help keep us safe, healthy and alive. Like when your doctor tells you your blood sugar is a little high. After hearing that bad news we know what to do to make it better.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is like that, there is bad news and there is Good News. And in this case one must hear and understand the bad news while at the same time hearing that there is hope; we need to know what God says about our present condition, spiritually speaking, and the eternal remedy He offers.

So, first the bad news, and it's really, really bad. This is how God Himself describes the spiritual condition of every human ever born on this planet: Romans 3

10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." 13 "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


The above verses from 1 Corinthians and Galatians tell us that a group of human beings referred to as "the unrighteous," those whose lifestyles are characterized by the "works of the flesh," will not inherit the kingdom of God. The passage from Romans 3 describes the nature of those who will not inherit the kingdom. The nature of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God is what is behind the lifestyles of those people. The works of the flesh, the flesh being that aspect of fallen humanity that reigns in the lives of the unregenerate, the flesh being one way the word of God refers to the ungodly, is the fruit of the lost; it is who these people are.

Furthermore, Paul reminded the Ephesians of their former way of life and exactly why they were the way they were: "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (2:1-3).

Our very nature made us "children of wrath." Our nature, our fleshliness, our being "children of wrath" is just another way of saying what Paul had just said, we "were dead in trespasses and sins." And in this state of separation from God (that's what the Bible means by death) no one can inherit the kingdom of God. Rather, such will be the objects of God's wrath with eternal damnation as their final end.

That's pretty bad news, isn't it?




 

 











 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Applying the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2)

God has always been very mysterious. There are a gazillion things that He doesn't want us to know, not yet anyway (Deut. 29:29).

In the progressive revelation God has set before us in Scripture, He at times gave just an inkling of what He was about. It's almost as though God were teasing us with delicious nuggets of revelation in order to make us hunger for more of Him. The Preacher informs us that "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to end" (Ecc. 3:11). Not even His very own elect prophets knew precisely what was going on when they were hearing from Him and prophesying concerning nations and kings and people. Peter wrote "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things which angels desire to look into" (1 Pet. 1:10-12). God intentionally hid these things from the prophets by allowing them to understand the gist of His coming work of salvation and grace and the Messiah.

And here we are. Those to whom God has revealed those things prepared and ordained before the ages, those deep things sought out by the Holy Spirit for the explicit purpose of revealing them to us that we might know them and speak of them.

Indwelt by the Holy Spirit who desires that "we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God," we who preach and teach in any capacity or prophesy or evangelize are without excuse if we cannot and do not lead our hearers into the meatier truths of God's word. And they are without excuse if they refuse to grow in their faith and knowledge by applying those things they hear from the men and women of God (Heb. 5:12-14).

Now, apply the mind of Christ in your Bible study, in your preparation to teach Sunday School, in your sermon preparation, in your going in and out of everyday life. We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit. And His mind is certainly a terrible thing to waste.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

We have the mind of Christ. So?

"Well, that's nice." That's what my late mother would say when I would tell her of some accomplishment that I was particularly proud of. It's what the church has said about the truths found in the word of God. "Church of Jesus Christ, we have the mind of Christ." "That's nice, dear. Now lets calm down and focus on the color of our new carpet. You don't want to go all charismatic on us."

Beloved, shake off your complacency! Don't you know that the source of our having, holding, possessing the mind of Christ is none other than the Holy Spirit Himself?!! We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit. Because we have the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. That is exactly what Paul is teaching the church at Corinth and the church in our day in his epistle to Corinth.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." And after saying that, Jesus said this, "But there are some of you who do not believe" (Jn. 6:63-64). He could have just as truthfully said "But there are some of you who don't care."

Apathy, laziness, and willful ignorance (all could be used to describe the "lukewarm" church) have done more to harm the church than all the false prophets and false teachers combined (No, I can't prove that. I'm just emphasizing these conditions that exist within the church). And if going "all charismatic on us" would make a biblically sound difference in the present state of the church, then I say "Full steam ahead, Holy Spirit!"

It is the Holy Spirit who gives life. He gives life to all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus and are saved. And He gives life to the body of Christ that now is. "Church, get a life!" You're answering questions that no one is asking. You're living in an ivory tower, shutting out a world full of darkness in desperate need of the gospel and life and light and strength. The church is not imprisoned between the four walls where we gather for corporate worship once a week. The church is its members and its Head. We are the church.

Think with the mind of Christ.
Live with the mind of Christ.
Speak with the mind of Christ.
Read the word of God with the mind of Christ (and everything else you may read).
Do with the mind of Christ.
Proclaim by the mind of Christ.
Pray with the mind of Christ.
Obey with the mind of Christ.
Use the gifts of the Spirit with the mind of Christ.
Glorify God with the mind of Christ.
Preach the gospel, the word, with the mind of Christ.
See the lost, the dead in sin, the sick, the poor, the captive with the mind of Christ.

We have the mind of Christ. So?!!

Random thoughts on the mind of Christ


Mind outline


“Because we have the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit.”

      1. The hidden things.
      2. The prepared things.
      3. The ordained before the ages things.
      4. The deep things.
      5. The freely given things.
      6. The of God things.
      7. The things we speak of, proclaim, preach, teach.
      8. The revealed things.
      9. The spiritually discerned things.

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”

Can you imagine!? This is “the mind of Christ.” Because we have the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit.


“The mind of Christ reveals to us the hidden mystery of God's wisdom.” That is the gospel of Jesus Christ and all that accompanies it. The “all things.”

These are “things” “ordained before the ages for our glory.”

“The mind of Christ reveals to us the 'things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”

Here is a brief description of the work of the Spirit, the mind of Christ, in the believer:

He is our “Helper” (Jn. 15:16)
      1. He is our “Helper” (Jn. 15:16)
      2. He is the “Spirit of truth” (v.17)
      3. He is our teacher who teaches us “all things” (v.26)
      4. He brings to our remembrance the word of God (v.26)
      5. He gives us the peace of God (v.27)
      6. He gives us the love of God (15:9; Rom. 5:4; 1 Jn. 4:19)
      7. He gives us joy (v.11)
      8. He testifies of Jesus (v.26)
      9. He bears witness of Jesus to us and through us (v.27)
      10. He (through us) convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (16:8)
      11. He guides us into all truth (v.13)
      12. He hears from God and speaks what He hears to us (v.13; 1 Cor. 2:9-10)
      13. He tells us of things to come (Jn. 16:13; Acts 11:27-30; 13:1-3; 15:32; 18:9-11; 21:10-11; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 3:1-6, 10-18)
      14. He glorifies Jesus (Jn. 16:14)
      15. He takes what is Jesus' and declares it to us … and all that the Father has belongs to Jesus (v.14-15). These are the prepared things, the revealed things, the deep things.
      16. He comforts us when we are afflicted, persecuted, and just downcast (2 Cor. 1:4; 7:6).

Friday, January 18, 2013

"We have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16): Conclusion

THE DEPTHS TO WHICH LOVE TAKES US

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of
         man
The things which God has
        prepared for those who love
        Him.

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God."

These are not your run-of-the-mill "things;" these are "the deep things of God," these are the "prepared" things. And these deep, prepared things of God have been revealed to us "through the Spirit." And, furthermore, "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" and revealed to us through the Spirit are also "the things that have been freely given to us by God" (v.12). That's deep.

So, lets break it down. God has prepared and revealed things to those who love Him through His Spirit, His deep and free things, desiring that we might know/discern them and speak them freely (vv.9-14). After all, what good is a revelation through the Spirit if we can't know what that revelation is all about? That's His purpose, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know/discern the [spiritual] things that have been freely given to us by God." That's the purpose of God emphasized in v.10 and vv.12-16.

God desires that His children know.

It's clear, is it not, that the "eye" and the "ear" and the "man" in v.9 refer to "the natural man" of v.14? Man without the Holy Spirit is the natural man and by nature incapable of discerning and receiving "the things of the Spirit of God" (v.14). But that doesn't mean he is without hope or remedy.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

One of the deep things prepared and revealed to us was revealed to us through the hearing of the gospel. That is the chief "thing" prepared and revealed to us (1 Cor. 2:1-5). And now after believing the gospel by the grace of God and for His glory and our eternal good we have the mind of Christ; we have the Holy Spirit.

GOD'S BATHYSPHERE

The Greek word for "deep" in this text is bathos ba,qoj and it means "to go down into the depths, the deep." One can see that this is where we get our word "bathysphere." Of course there was no such thing in Paul's day so he could apply this word to the Holy Spirit's work of revealing to us mortals the deep things of God.

This is where there is indeed a similarity of application between Paul's usage of ba,qoj and our word bathysphere. Both are sent to the depths to search and discover and reveal, one into the sea, the other, the Holy Spirit, into the mind of God.

The bathysphere often has scientists in it who observe and record their findings of deep things and report them to the world. The Holy Spirit "searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" and then reveals them to us. His findings are recorded for us in His word. And from His written word we can discover the greatest and deepest truths ever reported back to man. Those who are His and love Him have such a wealth of spiritual things to discover in His word and apply to their lives and the lives of others. We discover these spiritual things by rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). By embracing the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:1). And by growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). And by owning the truth that God actually desires for us to know these things and apply them.

These deep things prepared and revealed and freely given to us by God through the Holy Spirit correspond to the blessings mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (1:3). And in spite of the fact that the church, yes, even the true church, seldom goes deep enough to discover and apply these blessings to its peoples' lives, they are nevertheless ours to discover and practice. And if many cannot discern them, well, that tells us where they stand spiritually. But don't kick them to the curb just yet. "And such were some of you."
 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16): Part 3

GOD COMMUNICATES TO HIS BELOVED CHIEFLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, HIS WRITTEN WORD, AND THOSE WHO PREACH AND TEACH HIS WRITTEN WORD AS THEY ARE INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

God's communicating with His children by the Holy Spirit is inextricably linked to His written word (1 Cor. 4:6).

THE ONCE FOR ALL REVELATION

Notice this in ch. 2, v.10, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." The verb "has revealed" avpeka,luyen is in the aorist tense meaning that this was a once for all act, something that happened at a particular point in time. It is in the indicative mood reflecting the reality of what happened at that point in time and what Paul is now telling the Corinthians. And it is in the active voice meaning in this case that this action was carried out by God. This is consistent with 2 Timothy 3:14-17 where the apostle points young pastor Timothy back to the Hebrew Scriptures he has known from childhood. And now going hand-in-hand with the Hebrew texts is the gospel and the inspired words of the apostles. The New Testament writings must be included in those things revealed (2 Pet. 3:14-16).

I read lots of books about the Bible and theology. Some of them have been and still are very helpful. Others have been wanting. My mind is finite and slow, I need all the help and counsel I can get. The Bible is not the only book I read but it is the only God-breathed book I read. I seek in my studies the counsel of godly men and women. The only way I can feel safe in reading so many authors is by seeking God's discernment and resting in His grace whereby He has given me an unquenchable thirst for His word for over 38 years now. By reason of practice I can now discern between good and evil ... most of the time (Heb. 5:14). Without a working knowledge of God's word there can be and will not be discernment between the true and the false.

So we have the mind of Christ. That means that by the grace of God on account of our faith in Christ we are given life and illumination of the deep things of God by the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit. Because we have the Holy Spirit we have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a terrible thing to waste.

WHO AM I TO CLAIM TO HAVE SUCH A THING AS THE MIND OF CHRIST?

If you are born again through faith in Jesus then you now have, hold, possess the mind of Christ. That is an indisputable fact! So own it! Own this marvelous truth from the word of God, not just because I say it's so. God says it, that settles it!

And may I call your attention to one last thing on this particular post? The words "to us" are in the emphatic position in this sentence. Our heavenly Father is calling your attention to the fact that YOU have, hold, possess the mind of Christ. So own this truth, beloved. Get with the program (put a smiley face here).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16): Part 2

IN ITS CONTEXT

The apostle Paul is addressing the troubling and deeply disturbing truth that pastors in our day should be addressing but are not for fear of losing their popularity, a man-centered congregation that prefers man-centered preaching.

Perusing the first 6 chapters of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians reveals the ugly fact of life that we are not perfect in this life even after being born again by the Spirit of God. We are selfish human beings who too often and too easily get our eyes off Jesus and onto ourselves. And how can the man of God steer the church back onto the right track? By reminding them of how we, the foolish, weak and base of this world, got to be children of God. And that's what Paul does throughout this epistle. He lays out unapologetically the state of the believers in his day as well as so many in our day. How can such people boast?

"THINK!"

That's an admonition we don't see much these days, "Think!" Nor do we hear kids being told to "Stop. Look. And Listen," i.e., "think before you cross the street." If the visible church (which includes the visible organization we call "the church" and the true church which refers to those who actually believe) ever needed to be exhorted and commanded to stop, look, listen and think, it certainly needs to be today. And God has given us an absolutely extraordinary Helper to help us do those very things. "We have the mind of Christ."

LETS DEFINE WHAT PAUL MEANT BY "THE MIND OF CHRIST"

That's easy. The mind of Christ is the Holy Spirit. Or, to put it another way, because we have the Holy Spirit we have the mind of Christ. We have the mind of Christ precisely because we have the Holy Spirit. And that is Paul's argument in chapter 2 of this epistle.

What the natural, unspiritual man cannot see or hear, we can. V.10, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." And in v.12, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."

The things which God has revealed to us through His Spirit, the mind of Christ, are His "deep things." And yet the Corinthians and millions of Christians today are wallowing in the shallow things of God. This letter (and the entirety of the word of God) is designed to help put an end to that.

"What would one expect to receive from the mind of Christ but the deep things of God?"

Those things freely given to us by God are things that we are supposed to be familiar with. "That we might know" is a purpose clause. The word of God is informing us that we can know these things and should know these things. It is also informing us plainly that God wants us to know them. Why do we not know them? Because we are still spiritual babies when we should be mature adults (Heb. 5:12-14). Rather than eating meat we prefer being spoon fed or bottle fed ... or not eating at all.

REVELATION STRAIGHT FROM GOD

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of
      man
The things which God has
        prepared for those who love
        Him."

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Natural man cannot (he is incapable) perceive "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (v.14). Remember the Lord's words to Peter when he confessed that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God?" "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven." And everyone reading this who knows that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, and Lord and Redeemer, has experienced that same, that very same, Divine revelation. And now we love Him, we are "those who love Him." And even that love is from God (1 Jn. 4:19; Rom. 8:28-30).

God is the "first cause" of all that those who love Him possess, those "things that have been freely given to us." To God be all the glory. All the glory.

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit."

"To us!" Don't miss that. Paul didn't say "to me," but to us. This revealing wasn't the exclusive blessing of the apostles; it is for every believer. Just as Paul lets us know that "we" have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit can be shown to be given only to the apostles then it can also be shown that only they had the mind of Christ. And, beloved, that is simply not the case.





Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Once Justified, Always Justified: Addendum

WHAT KIND OF SOIL ARE YOU?

I worked on a grounds maintenance crew for 9 years and one of our annual duties was sowing grass where it was needed. Sometimes we would "over seed," scattering seed on existing grass where the grass was a little thin. As I would be cranking the spreader hanging around my neck, I would see grass seed falling on sidewalks, gravel road ways, well worn paths, etc.. The seed was good no matter where it fell. The different areas where the seed fell were not always so good. In fact, some of the soil couldn't actually be called soil. But with a little watering even the seed on bad soil or non-soil surfaces would bud, or at least try to bud. Nothing would come of these seeds, of course, and for a variety of reasons. Do you see the parable?

THE PARABLE OF THE FOUR SOILS: MARK 4:1-20

(You will have to read this parable on your own, I'm not going to copy and paste it here.)

Out of the billions who have heard the gospel on our little planet, most have gone away in unbelief. They may have liked the gospel message. It may have sounded warm and fuzzy to them. But for them it came across either as a "take it or leave it" proposition, as totally irrelevant to their lives, as simply untrue while nice enough, or they embraced it with a self-centered "what-can-I-get-out-of-it" mind-set. For this last group, there was probably some kind of change in their lives. They may have even joined a local church. But then their worldly loves and cares pushed their embrace of Jesus out of their lives. Even then they may have stayed involved in their local church because of the social aspects of church life and the importance they feel the church has given them. As the parable in Mark shows us, 3 out of 4 soil types cannot hold on to the truth of the gospel.

For many, the reactions and subsequent "loss of faith" by so many who at one time professed to believe in Jesus is confirmation that one can lose his or her salvation. What the parable actually teaches is that bad soil never brings forth true life.

"But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16): Part 1

After living and breathing and thinking as one of billions of earth-dwelling unbelievers, at the age of 27, I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ (by the grace of God. Eph. 1:13-14) and understood it (also by the grace of God. Jn. 6:44-45; Eph. 2:1-10). At that very moment I became a "new creature in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17). Becoming a new creature (or, "new creation") touched every part of my being, my body, soul, spirit and mind. In the instant that I was "born again" by the presence of the Holy Spirit I was changed forever. *With the exception of my mortal, corrupted and corruptible flesh and blood body, I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. And even this body of flesh and blood will be made new when I am finally (in the sense of "final glory") glorified (Rom. 7; 8:11, 20-25, 28-30; 1 Cor. 15:50-56). But the most amazing aspect of my being a new creature in Christ to me at this moment, is the truth that I, like every other believer who has, now and will live, have "the mind of Christ."

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Please note, beloved, that that last part of this verse is stated as fact, "But we have the mind of Christ." It isn't something we have to wait to receive when we get to heaven. It isn't something we have to pray to happen to us. It is a present fact of life in the lives of all who by God's grace have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. *(By "saving faith" I mean to differentiate between the multitudes who have merely given mental/intellectual assent to the historical man Jesus but are not born again and those who have realized the new birth.) We have the mind of Christ.

This is one of those nuggets of gold, one of those spiritual treasures buried on church grounds that must be found and bought and then dispersed freely among those in the church of Jesus Christ. To buy this truth means to give ourselves for and to this great truth that has been hidden and neglected for years by church folk and their fearful and ignorant pastors and teachers. This truth, that every believer possesses the mind of Christ, is one of the essentials of the Christian faith. One wouldn't know that, would one?

Pastors and church members, even well-meaning pastors and church folk, have been frightened by "The Holy Ghost" and the things that happen to those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. To get a glimpse of those "things that happen to those who are filled with the Holy Spirit" see Acts; 1 Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12:3-15:13; Eph. 5:18-6:18. From "church activities" to the Christian family and work place, the Spirit-filled believer is empowered to live in a manner contrary to the unbelievers living and working and going to church around them. And, yes, there are many unbelievers in the visible church.

Knowing that the believer possesses the mind of Christ is a life-changing bit of knowledge that leads that believer to submit to the Holy Spirit and walk and minister in the resurrection power that every believer possesses (Eph. 1:15-21). "Do not be afraid."

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Jewish Apostasy: The letter to the Hebrews: Part 2

Every year the new models come out for all the auto makers. And with every new model there is the promise that somehow these newer models are better than the ones we bought last year. That is infuriating.

But far more frustrating and infuriating than new car models are the new electronic gadgets; they come out with something new and better every other month. And some of them are ridiculously expensive. No thanks.

That's how this world makes money. They sell us their products then come out with something better next year. Have you ever purchased a dvd set? A set of movies that you really loved just to see them come out two years later in blue ray or whatever? I have. When VHS was the format to have, I collected a few movies. Then I heard about this new way to watch movies at home, the dvd. I swore I'd never buy dvds. That lasted about a month. Now I have dvds. Now these same movies that I own are coming out in Blue Ray. Ok, so I'm buying Blue Ray movies now. What's next? New Ray?

If it's better, I want it; and so does America. I think I'll hold out until all of this new stuff finally comes to a head and I can get the best of the best, the final best. Like that's gonna happen.

Spiritually speaking, that's exactly what has happened in Jesus Christ. The final best has come. He is perfect; there's nothing better coming down the ol' pipe. It is finished indeed. But for the apostate Jews of the Lord's day and the days of the apostles, perfect wasn't good enough. And, I might add, He's not good enough for many modern church-goers. Read Paul's letter to the Galatians for a glaring example of Gentile church-goers who fell into the "Jesus didn't do enough" abyss.

I pointed out in the previous post that disobedience to revealed truth is apostasy. To hear the gospel and know that what it says about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is true and then to persist in unbelief by refusing to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ for whatever reason is to taste and partake of God's grace at a distance, which is unbelief. That is to reject faith for something less and something that will damn one's soul.

This is what the apostate rejects, whether that apostate is a Jew or a Gentile (note the word "better" in these verses):

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, :2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

7:19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God...22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

9:23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

10:34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

11:16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them...35 Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection...40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

12:24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

 
The New Testament books all make it clear that included in the "betters" we can see that Jesus is better than all the prophets, better than all the priests, better than all the kings, better than all the teachers, the preachers, the evangelists, the disciples, the apostles, and it goes without saying, greater than the devil and all his demons. "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world."

This is what is called the apostasy, the great falling away from revealed truth by those who have never entered or seen the kingdom of God through the grace of God in the experience we know as "the new birth" (Jn. 3:3-8). They knew these things to be true but nevertheless rejected them for a variety of reasons.
 


This is a spendid example.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Jewish Apostasy: The letter to the Hebrews: Part 1

It must be very, very hard to give up cherished traditions. Especially traditions that have guided one's supposed relations with some deity for millennia. Confronted by a contrary teaching regarding matters that once were so cut and dry, black and white, teachings that call into question one's beloved and ancient traditions, it's easy to see how such new ideas can be summarily dismissed and even deemed damnable heresies. The Jews of the Lord's day went so far as to reject Yahweh as their king, instead saying "We have no king but Caesar," following three and a half years of watching Jesus turn their world and their traditions upside down (Jn.19:15). Old cherished traditions die hard. And in a vain effort to retain their power and their man-made traditions, they convinced Rome to crucify Jesus.

Of course, that's not the end of the story; Jesus forgave them from the cross (Lu. 23:34).

Jesus forgave them saying, "...for they do not know what they do." And the reason they didn't know what they were doing was that the mystery of the crucifixion was hidden from them for the express purpose of getting Jesus crucified (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Cor. 2:7-9). God was going to pay for their sins whether they liked it or not. But after the deed was done? After Christ was raised from the dead, it's a different story.

The gospel to the Jew was that the Messiah had come, fulfilled the law on their behalf because they were spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins, and absolutely incapable of being made right with God by their deeds, had taken upon Himself the wrath of God that He would have been justified had He poured it out on them, died as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for their sins, their rebellion against Yahweh, and was raised from the dead that they might be themselves justified. To know these things to be true and then to say no to "so great a salvation" is unforgivable, it is apostasy.

And that is exactly what was happening among the Jews to whom the letter to the Hebrews was written. They believed what they heard about Jesus but kept themselves at arms length from Him (2:1-4). They were considering turning back to the law of Moses in order to be justified before God, rejecting their Messiah by doing so. Notice these particular verses from Hebrews:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith...11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

It becomes clear especially in 4:2 and v.11 that these Jews were disobedient to the call of the gospel; to "not combine faith" with the hearing of the gospel is disobedience. This means that to hear the gospel and believe the gospel yet rebel against the gospel is disobedience that is described in 6:6 as falling away, apostasy.

By the grace of God they had heard the gospel, they had "tasted the heavenly gift, and [had] become partakers of the Holy Spirit...tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" but said no to those things, they fell away. They had heard the voice of the Good Shepherd but did not obey that voice, that doctrine, that teaching. They who do so are not His sheep (Jn. 10:1-5, 11-16, 25-30).


Friday, January 4, 2013

Once Justified, Always Justified: Conclusion

"I SIN, YOU SIN, ALL GOD'S CHILDREN SIN."

That's not an excuse; it's the truth. And the more we deny that truth the deeper into the letter of the law we plunge. And we know what the "letter" does, don't we? It kills (2 Cor. 3:5-6; 1 Jn. 1:8-10; 3:4-6; 1 Cor. 15:56)

But sinning for the Christian is not like sinning for the non-Christian; Christians are forgiven and the sins we commit now we confess "and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness." That's a promise. The non-Christian has no such promise, no such hope.

I am forgiven, period. Not some impersonal act that's forgiven but it is I who stands forgiven. This forgiveness will not be recalled. I am forgiven and made alive once and for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:12; 10:10).

That does not mean, however, that I may sin as I wish with impunity or without regret or remorse. As one who is forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ I am now to confess three things, first, my sins, second, that I have sinned, and third, I have sins (I John 1:5-10). And should I die with unconfessed sins (which I no doubt shall do), my justification/salvation is not forfeited. I will give account (whatever that means) for what I "have done in the body" and I may enter into my reward "yet so as through fire" (II Cor. 5:10; I Cor. 3:11-15). And this is true because I am forgiven.

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS GIVEN TO ALL WHO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST; AND "HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER."

While using Abraham (Abram) as an example of what faith is and what it means to have faith, Paul also introduces the idea of "imputation," the act whereby God Himself writes down on the account of believers that they are righteous, or, "right with Him through faith in Christ" (Rom. 4:16-25. 4:20-21 being the best definition of faith in the entirety of the word of God).

 The word "righteousness" occurs 311 times in the NKJV of the Bible, mostly in the Psalms in the Old Testament and mostly in Romans in the New. It usually describes one of the attributes of God, He is righteous. It often reminds us that God is right and just in all that He does, including justifying the ungodly and destroying the wicked (Rom. 3:21-26; 1:32; 2:5; 9:22-24; Ps. 19:9). 

But that term is applied generously to all who have by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ. We are considered by God to be righteous. In the "Great Exchange" of 2 Corinthians 5, verse 21, we are told matter-of-factly, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." So we are not righteous by our works or because we're good people. We are righteous because we are deemed righteous by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are the righteousness of God in Christ.

GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS HAS NO SHELF LIFE, IT'S ALWAYS GOOD.

Listen to Psalm 112:9, "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor."

What has been imputed to every believer? Righteousness.
What has every believer been made in Christ? God's righteousness.
How long does God's righteousness endure? Forever.

Beloved, we possess a righteousness that is ours yet not ours, it is a gift from our heavenly Father. While it is a gift just like faith is a gift and it is indeed our's, it is the God-kind-of-righteousness that endures forever. And the "gifts and calling of God?" They cannot and will not be recalled (Rom. 11:29).

If the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate that true believers could depart from the faith, He would have said so.
Likewise, if the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate the notion that God's adopted children, those whom He predestined to adoption by His Son, those whom He bought with His own blood could be un-adopted by their Father and "kicked to da curb" as some used to say, He would have said so. Instead He says to the very carnal Corinthians this, "Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come --all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ's is God's" (1 Cor. 3:21-23).

Likewise, if the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate that true believers could depart from the faith, He would have said so.