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Friday, May 31, 2013

Making the New the Old: Law and Grace: Part 3. "Nothing to lose; nothing to prove"

This morning in my car while driving on I77 South, the Holy Spirit put this in my mind, "Nothing to lose; nothing to prove." What a liberating concept. Unfortunately, we live as though we do have something to lose and something to prove. And the longer we go on this way the weaker we become, spiritually speaking. Talk about missing the abundant life!

It's even true in the secular world for secular people. Having something to prove is too much pressure for anyone. Fearing losing a job or a raise or our reputations or friends or the approval of our significant others is too much for anyone to bear up under for very long. I've been there and done that. And in the work-a-day world or in school this fear is the stuff of nightmares. I know, I have been there and lived that way.

My last supervisor in a job that should have been rewarding in so many ways was an overbearing tyrant at times. He so intimidated me that often when around him I couldn't think straight. He reminded me of my late father whose approval I was constantly trying to win up until the day he died. Life at work was like that until one day when I had to meet with a salesman with whom my department regularly did business.

We met for the first time that day in the lobby of our office building, my supervisor was present in order to introduce me to this very cordial gentleman. They had been talking about a job that the salesman would be involved in before I came into the lobby and I left our building with the salesman soon after our introduction. As we were walking up the sidewalk to our parking lot, this stranger, this salesman, asked me very bluntly and straightforwardly, "Why is (his name) threatened by you?"

That came out of nowhere. I was blown away, stunned, amazed. And I knew that this man whom I had never met had put his finger on the problem, my boss was threatened by little ol' me. It just made so much sense. I had been getting so much positive attention from our departments top brass for some time and had become friends with our  department supervisor til my boss felt himself losing something. What, I don't know. I had no aspirations of taking his job. But once it sunk in that my boss was actually intimidated by yours truly and after discussing this with my wife, life on the job changed.

NOTHING TO LOSE; NOTHING TO PROVE

God is not like my former boss; my former boss was most definitely not like my heavenly Father. But following some great words of wisdom from my godly wife, I turned the tables on my boss's fears. I began to do everything I could, freely and by deliberate choice, to make him look good to his superiors. It changed him. Now neither of us had anything to fear from the other and nothing to lose by just being our bright and creative selves. I was free to think and free to be creative. When he asked me one day what had changed about our relationship, I told him honestly, "_______, I'm here to do my job and part of that is to make you look good." The deal was sealed.

For those who are now "in Christ," for us there is nothing to lose and nothing to prove; the deal is sealed.

I'll continue this in my conclusion to this series.











 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

You Who Are Spiritual. Who is "spiritual?" Galatians 6:1

Have you, I'm speaking right now to those who are genuinely "born of the Spirit," ever witnessed Christians who are anything but "spiritual" trying to "restore" a brother or sister who has been "caught" or "overtaken" in some sin? It can be done but it's like the old saying "even a blind hog finds an acorn once in awhile." But when a Christian who isn't spiritual tries to restore someone overtaken by some sin, that Christian is putting himself/herself in a dangerous position. They put themselves in a place where they may give into the same temptations and sin as the one in need of restoration. But there's more. Even the spiritual can fall.

"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Whatever the "trespass" is, it may be one that is tempting to those who are spiritual and not so spiritual alike.

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 6:12).

It is important that we understand what it means to be spiritual.

First, one who is spiritual is "born of the Spirit."

Second, one who is spiritual is consistently "filled with the Spirit."

Third, one who is spiritual walks by the Spirit.

Fourth, one who is spiritual is filled with the word of God.

Fifth, one who is spiritual walks by faith, not by sight.

Sixth, one who is spiritual is not perfect but justified by the grace of God.

Seventh, one who is spiritual lives under grace and not the law.

Eighth, one who is spiritual seeks to glorify God and edify the church.




 

Making the New the Old: Law and Grace: Part 2

Grace is a pretty big deal for God and all the inhabitants of planet earth. Without it we would all end up in the bad place (say "bad place"). Without it we who have by God's grace come to faith in Jesus Christ wouldn't make it for 10 seconds, much less throughout our lives. Grace as applied in our spirits, our renewed minds (Rom. 7:25; 12:1-2) by the Holy Spirit, always (everybody say "always") turns our minds to the finished work of Jesus and not to the law of Moses. That is the entire theme of Paul's letter to the Galatians and the author's of the letter to the Hebrews.

No one (I'm tempted here, but I won't), absolutely no one is or can be saved by the works of the law simply because we are all born spiritually dead and because God never intended the law for that purpose in the first place. We forget those two essentials, don't we? But we do prefer our works, don't we?

It is human nature (this certainly can't be said for all human beings) to want to please God and to try to please God by earning His pleasure. Rather than believing the gospel we prefer doing things our way, even when we have tasted the good news of the gospel. Even those of us who have been "born of the Spirit" wrestle with that old temptation. But you must "check yoself before you wreck yoself."

There are 1,642 imperatives (commands) in the New Testament. And with the exception of a few in the gospels and Acts such as "repent" and "believe on the Lord Jesus," not one of them are in the vein of the law of Moses whereby the law says "do these things and you shall live. Do not obey these laws and you will die."

In the New Testament epistles we find imperatives written to church-goers who probably aren't saved to examine themselves to see if they are indeed in the faith. Paul was well aware of the disturbing truth that unbelievers have become church members. But as concerns believers, there are no imperatives issued that are a matter of life and death.

We are His solely on account of Him. We remain His solely on account of Him.

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making the New the Old: Law and Grace: Part 1

If you keep up with the goings on in the church as I do, then you have surely noticed that we who are saved by grace tend to lean toward the law of Moses. We're very uncomfortable with too much grace.

The attitude toward grace is "Grace is dangerous." In fact, I just watched a sermon from one of my Facebook "friends" who ranted against "the doctrines of grace," and in particular the doctrine of eternal security (and, no, this post is not about es).

I admit that I couldn't watch his entire sermon. Not because of his chosen series topic but because every minute or so (no exaggeration) he would say "Say..." and his congregation would repeat whatever he told them to repeat. "Say 'I know, ("I know"), that I believe ("I believe")..., and it went on and on and on and on and...; it was extremely annoying. Say "annoying."

But, beloved, grace is THE focus of the work of God through His Son. And it is grace given in such a way that He is glorified through His Son and by all who by His grace come to faith in Him. That's not so bad, is it? "The Mighty One, God the Lord," says this (and you can repeat this out loud if you like), "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Ps. 50:15).

But that's enough about this pastor's mean-spirited sermon.

Years ago when I was pastoring my first church I read Chuck Swindoll's book "Grace Awakening" and Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace" and had my own little grace awakening. I decided that day that I would read the word of God through the lens of grace rather than through the lens of the law. I will admit it took a while for it to really take and I have to constantly remind myself all these years later, but it is one of the best epiphanies I've ever had.

As a first-time pastor and a "fundamentalist," I would preach sermons that no doubt for some at least, gave the impression that believers and non-believers alike had to live by strict obedience if they really wanted to please God. I still stress obedience but not the "this-will-save-you-from-hell" kind. I stress obedience that says "I want to live in a manner worthy of my calling" (Eph. 4:1).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America, the Homosexual Question, and The Charlotte Observer

On the Opinion page of Saturday's Charlotte Observer, May 25, 2013, is this bold declaration from Observer editors, "Scouts' step welcome but not good enough." Their subtitle is "BSA right to lift gay Scout ban; must do same for Scout leaders."

Why do the editors of the Observer believe BSA leaders "MUST do same for Scout leaders?"

The BSA statement as reported by the Observer concerning homosexual boys being welcomed into the BSA falls far short of addressing the inherent dangers of doing so. The BSA may be the only place these homosexual boys have to go where they are exposed to good male role models instead of being exposed to the males they have already clearly been exposed to. That part of the BSA statement I agree with (it's implicit, not stated as such). But since homosexual males find some other males, straight or homosexual, attractive, and their being at an age when all children are dealing with testosterone and hormone activity that is crazy, this is a recipe ripe for homosexual encounters, whether so-called consensual sex or coerced. The  parents of heterosexual boys would rightfully find the acts involved disgusting and physically harmful and dangerous and would rightfully and vehemently object to their boys being put in such a position (no pun intended).

Not all homosexual boys will be "coming on" to heterosexual boys, of course. But some will. It's difficult for me to grasp how the editors at the Observer can make such a blanket statement as "We all benefit from their participation." "All?" Hardly. We will see that not "all" benefit from this pc move of intolerant tolerance.

"By refusing to jettison all of its discriminatory practices against gays, the BSA remains stained by bigotry and intolerance." This is not and never has been a "stain" against the BSA except to the liberal element in our society. It is not bigotry and intolerance to protect boys from those who would prey upon them. It is common sense.

"By hewing to the policy, gay adults will continue to be Scout leaders but will simply remain closeted." Does the Observer realize how disturbing that is? That's not a good argument, guys.

There are now "gay adults" in positions of leadership in the BSA. And they are so devious as to hide the truth that they are homosexaul males who are working around little boys with easy access to them in every aspect of life out in the field? This will be true, of course, whether the homosexual male Scout leaders are openly homosexual or closeted. Acceptance of openly homosexual male Scout leaders would just give them openly free and BSA approved access.

Homosexual male pedophiles are notorious for placing themselves in occupations and positions where they have easy access to boys. And with the many, many cases that have come to the forefront involving Roman Catholic pedophile priests and other homosexual clergy members and those who take care of children in various vocations, it is really, really difficult how even the most liberal minded among us could possibly entertain the notion that it is some how good to intentionally place openly homosexual males in postions of leadership that place them in such proximity to little boys.

"Still, this step remains inadequate. Fears about gay adult leaders putting children at risk are unfounded. Studies show gay men no more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men." Seriously! Again, Observer editors, this isn't an argument in your views favor. We're not talking about heterosexual men sexually assault little girls (the generic "children" in this Observer statement) here, but male homosexual BSA leaders being placed in positions where they have open access to little boys. We're talking here about male homosexual pedophiles who "like" little boys. And, no, I do not believe for a minute that all male homosexuals are pedophiles, including male homosexual BSA leaders.

"Unfounded?" Seriously?! "...gay men [are] no more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men?" So they're just as likely to sexually abuse children as are heterosexual men? They're that likely? And there is that word again, "children." We're talking about little boys. That's what the BSA is made up of. The liberal editors at the Charlotte Observer are deliberately wording this article to support their intolerant opinions. By using the generic "children" they hope to win converts to their ludicrous cause ... and not lose their sponsors.
 

"My Desire, My Zeal..." Pursuing Spiritual Gifts In the 21st Century. Part 1

"Sorry, they don't make those anymore." Not long ago I was window shopping in a music store probably looking like a kid in a candy store when I came to the drums section (I'm a drummer). They were all beautiful. I looked at the names on each set and saw some familiar old names and several new ones. When a salesman asked me if I needed any help (I started to jokingly tell him, "Man, do I need help. Got an hour?" but I resisted), I asked him if they carried Slinglerland? He said, "No, they don't make those anymore." I was stunned.

Slingerland drums used to be the top of the line among drum makers, or at least a close second to Ludwig. Great drummers like Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Johnny T. Helms played Slingerland exclusively. It's kinda sad, really. But there ya go. Everything changes and all good things must come to an end (I can't think of another worn-out cliche). But, I digress. A vast majority of the visible church in America believes that about the gifts of the Trinity, i.e., "They don't make those anymore."

 Spiritual gifts are a no no in some of our leading Christian denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and denominations that lean toward the theology of Dispensationalism. These western/American folk believe that spiritual gifts ended when the last apostle died or the Bible was finally assembled. They base their errorant belief on Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13:10. However, context demands otherwise.

Immediately following chapter 13 of I Corinthians comes chapter 14 (go figure) which begins, oddly enough, "Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." And if I am to trust in what I was taught in my Greek classes in the university and in seminary and have studied on my own since, then the syntax involved as well as the grammatical structure of this verse is pretty important in it's interpretation and application.

Here is the verse from the Greek text:

BYZ 1 Corinthians 14:1 Diw,kete th.n avga,phn\ zhlou/te de. ta. pneumatika,( ma/llon de. i[na profhteu,hteƅ

Now isn't that helpful?
 
There are two verbs in this verse and they have a lot to say to the church timeless and universal.
 
The first verb is translated "pursue." It's a command, an imperative. It isn't like The Ten Commandments commands, but it is an exhortation by Paul to believers who were really confused about "spirituals" ("spirituals" is the translation of the Greek word. "Gifts" is in italics and added to rightly explain what kind of spirituals we're talking about here) in the church at Corinth and the church in all ages. We're (and I do mean "we") being exhorted to pursue spiritual gifts (shhhh, even "tongues") in every generation of the church.
 
Pursue is also in the "present tense" and "active voice," meaning that Christians are to be actively seeking or pursuing spiritual gifts until we discover what our gift is. And with the info provided by the apostle Paul in this letter we can use our gifts Biblically in such a way that they all glorify God, edify the church and the individuals with those particular gifts.

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why bother? Striving for perfection.

Because we're supposed to, that's why.

"Nobodys perfect!" Beloved, it's true, embrace that truth.

Perfection in any endeavor is a noble goal, well, kinda. I remember our music teacher in elementary school saying over and over again, "Practice makes perfect." I never took her classes so I didn't care about being perfect. Actually, I never gave it a second thought. But when I bought my first set of drums I did care about perfection; I practiced every day for years, literally. My neighbors loved me ... not. But I was determined.

As a young Christian I thought I had arrived. It was wonderful ... for about a week. I've said this before but I thought in that first week that I had attained "sinless perfection" just because I was so overjoyed and overwhelmed in the love of God, knowing that He had forgiven me of all my horrible sins. But during my second born again week I saw my remaining corruption, and it was ugggggggly.

But I didn't give up; I didn't throw in the towel. I knew the presence of the Holy Spirit and I knew the love of God and I knew a little bit about His written word. I quickly confessed my sinfulness and I repented with deep remorse. I strived ahead knowing by faith that I would grow stronger and mature in life and that my heavenly Father and my Lord and Sweet Savior would never leave me, in spite of my sin. It gets better.

Now I've found this next statement to be one of those sayings that are easier said than done, "forgetting those things which are behind." That's what Paul told the Philippians he had done and was doing (3:12-13). Personally, I constantly recall my ugly past. I rehearse the ugliest things I've ever done everyday. Seriously. But I haven't thrown in the towel yet because God has taken my towel away from me.

My "towel," kinda like Linus' security blanket, after coming to Christ was never again mine. It belongs to the One who is for me and not against me. He won't let me quit (yes, I believe in the "Perseverance of the Saints;" I believe that the power of God keeps us through faith and He will finish the gracious work He started in me). So I have the God-given gift of faith and the God-given presence of Himself working in me constantly and consistently to work and to will for His good pleasure.

That's chiefly why I still to this day strive for that goal of perfection that will be mine when I am in His presence in my state of glorification. He is working in me to bring it to pass as I submit to and obey Him. To say it is worth it is a humongous understatement, to say the least.
 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Eternality of the Christian Life

To deny eternal security is to deny Scripture. Jesus promised eternal life, not conditional life. Our eternal security is founded on Jesus and not on ourselves just as eternal life is founded on the fact that we are in Christ.

With eternal life comes eternal faith. With eternal life and eternal faith comes eternal justification. With eternal life and faith and justification comes eternal righteousness.

The entire Christian life is modified by the word eternal, both the now and the not yet of this new eternal creation.

We are kept by the power of God through faith, the faith that is a gift of God.

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

Dear reader, if you will, please click on google +, facebook and twitter at the bottom left of this post.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In China, it's an illegal substance: Faith

And in Iran and Pakistan and in practically every Muslim nation.

Have you ever smoked pot? I have. For several years it was a daily practice for me.

Have you ever "done" Angel Dust? I have. I did Angel Dust four times and that was four times too many.

Have you ever been drunk? I have. From high school til I was 27 I got drunk an innumerable number of times.

All of the above are illegal activities, the first two involving illegal substances.

All of the above also are mind-altering substances; they are real, tangible substances. Did you know that faith is as well? It is a real, tangible, mind-altering substance.

One cannot fake true faith, the kind of faith that comes from the Holy Spirit when one hears the gospel. It is a substance one either has or doesn't have. And faith is a gift that is given by the grace of God. We cannot conjure it up; we cannot produce it. The made-up-kind of-faith is what we see too often in our churches, which explains why the church really is full of hypocrites. But I digress.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.

That verse is constructed in what the Hebrews referred to as a "Hebraism," a poetic way of saying the same thing twice with a different twist in the second phrasing.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
                      the evidence of things not seen."

Evidence is substance; substance is evidence.
Things hoped for are things not seen.  

By the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, every believer possesses the substantial evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior, Lord, Redeemer, Reconciler, Substitute and Propitiator, and soon to return King.

Faith is a substantial gift of God, no less substantial than the words you are reading right now. No less substantial than the screen you are looking at right now. No less substantial than the device you are holding in your hand or your lap or sitting on your desk right now.

Faith is a substance.

It changes lives. It alters the way one thinks. It changes one's mind about the world and how we got here and what our purpose is for being here.

God's substantial gift of faith by the indwelling of another gift, the Holy Spirit, gives us light and life that we might believe in Jesus and freely choose to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

Without faith it is impossible to please God; without God it is impossible to have faith.
 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"I see dead people."

It's true, it's true. I see dead people everyday.

No, of course I don't see that kind of dead people. I see people who are spiritually dead, separated from their Creator and groping around this dark planet for meaning and purpose and fulfillment and happiness. And they go to great lengths and great expense to themselves to find them.

Millions of these dead folk find those things now and then. But for billions more, depending largely on where they were born and into what circumstances, none of those life-blessings are to be found, ever. But there is that aspect of their lives that they all have in common, both the well-born and the not-so-well-born, they are spiritually dead and enslaved by "the prince of the power of the air."

He's called "the god of this world," "Satan," "the devil," "that old dragon," "the serpent," etc., etc. He is powerful in the earth, but not all-powerful. He is "the god of this world," but a little "g" kind of god. He is "the father of lies" and he is the father of all who are spiritually dead. Even those mature and intelligent and nice people you go to work with or to school with or to church or synagogue or mosque with. He is the god of all who are apart from Christ. Their lives are lives of death. They are perishing. They are dead men walking. They are without "hope and without God in the world."

Is their hopelessness absolute? No, of course not. Those of us who were numbered among the dead ourselves can testify to that. Even those who seem miscreants can be made tender by the grace and mercy and love of God that is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"And you 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. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ..." (Eph. 2:1-5)

"Without faith it is impossible; without grace faith is impossible."

Our part is obvious, isn't it? Present the gospel and let God do the rest. When we present the gospel we present grace.


 

"Without faith it is impossible to please God; without God it is impossible to have faith."

"I'm going to trust Jesus," said no dead man ever.

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I am Jesus' brother; and He's not ashamed of me. Part 2

 
On a beautiful Spring morning recently, a brother in Christ and a dear friend and musician par excellence, George "Pie" Baker, called to chat and have some long-distance fellowship. He said that he had been reading the word shortly before he called and had been moved by the truth that he and Jesus are brothers. That is amazing. We had wonderful fellowship over two related truths, He is not ashamed to call us His brethren, and second, we are to look up to our elder Brother as a model for how we are to live.

Jesus is our Brother, that's a fact. Matthew 12:50, "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." And what is God's will? That we believe on Him whom He sent.

God's will is fulfilled perfectly, absolutely in Jesus and only in Jesus. God has decreed that all who trust in Jesus as His Son, their Savior and Lord, have by this trust fulfilled that law and His will perfectly (Rom. 3:31, "...through faith...we establish the law." 10:4, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes"). It is through faith in the One who fulfilled God's will perfectly that Jesus has become our Brother.

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

Can you see the extreme intimacy of what God has done for us and in us? We are "created in Christ Jesus." We are begotten in the First Begotten. We are "in Christ." We could not have a more personal and intimate relationship with God than this, our being in Christ.
 
Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:23

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
Colossians 1:28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

The word "in" in these passages refers to one's location. It's called the "locative case" in Greek syntax. So we can say when anyone asks us where we are, "I'm in Christ," because that is in fact our location. Certainly we can't understand it all now. But that doesn't change the fact that we are in Christ, we are one with Him. Earthly brothers can know no such union, only the heavenly ones, the spiritual ones.

 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I am Jesus' brother; and He's not ashamed of me. Part 1

After my parents taught me to live as they lived, obsessed with all things sexual, there were times when they were ashamed of me for living by the model they had lived out before me and my brother. Their hypocrisy knew no shame.

I was a very troubled teenager and got into trouble more than one time in high school. I was who I was. And when my parents were ashamed of me I loathed myself for being, well, me. Until I was in my late 50's, I loathed myself. It was by the Holy Spirit opening up the word of God that I began defeating my worst enemy. That would be yours truly.

My victory over self-loathing began one morning after I had lost my temper in traffic and did and said some really ugly things. A few minutes later while I was at work, filled with remorse and repentance over my sins, the Holy Spirit spoke plainly in my mind these words, "Johnny, I am for you, I am not against you." That was literally a life changing experience. Since that encounter with the Lord around 10 years ago, that truth has been written on my heart. It really has changed my life.

That's the way God is toward His children, those who by His grace have come to faith in Jesus. Now we are indeed and in truth His children, His sons and His daughters. No more and no less than Jesus is His Son. And that makes Jesus our brother.

Hebrews 2:10-15 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, "I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise." 13 And again, "I will put My trust in Him." And again, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me." 14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Imagine that. "He is not ashamed to call them [us] brethren." And that means He is never ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. We are bought with His precious blood, covered by His blood, forgiven by His precious blood and are therefore right with the Father on account of His precious blood.
 
Ephesians 1:3-8 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us.


Monday, May 6, 2013

"Men and Women of God"...not! Those clever folks in Word Faith: Part whatever

I see Benny Hinn and all his kind as a clear and present danger to the church of God (Acts 20:26-31). Too many folks in the visible church universal are either Biblically illiterate, willingly deceived, unrepentant, or unsaved and gladly embrace his shenanigans and false words. While those who hear and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd may find the false prophets/teachers/apostles attractive, alluring and refreshing for awhile, they will flee them.

"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand" (Mt. 24:24-25). Their empty words and promises of heaven on earth and their lying signs and wonders will and do sound so good that even the very elect will wonder at their words.

But for those who are deceived in a final sense, they have made their choices and will reap eternally what they have sown. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal. 6:7-8).

With the recent resurgence of Benny Hinn and his "ministry" and his shameless methods of gaining wealth for himself and his people being brought to the attention of the public through his recent appeal for over 2 million dollars to help him "get out of debt," I am compelled by the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and a "godly jealousy" for the church of Christ, to expose him for the false prophet he is (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:11-14). I am compelled to defend the faith once delivered to the saints by, among other things, exposing these false prophets for who they are, deceived and deceiving millions of people, assisting many of them on their way to damnation.

These false prophets are without exception practitioners of the Word Faith Movement. Joel Osteen sums up their damnable heresies succinctly, "Your words prophesy your future." While giving God and Jesus a nod, Osteen (and all the word faith teachers) has for all practical purposes made God irrelevant. God and only God prophesies the future. If we can do that ourselves, we do not need God. And this is indeed what Hinn and the Copelands and Fred Price and Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar preach. And why not? Look at where this heresy has gotten them. They're all wealthy people. Wealth gained from making their audiences mere merchandise. And surely if there is a sign of God's approval on a ministry it's wealth. Right? Wrong! (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

This makes these people not only false teachers but damned idolators as well (Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5-7). And, as I pointed out in my previous blog post, they are turning their hearers into idolators. They teach their followers to seek after and to lust after wealth, the very thing the word of God warns the people of God against (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

And this is why I am so furious with these sons of Satan, they pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ, "And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed." Jesus Christ who is "the way of truth" and His gospel are being mocked and ridiculed and blasphemed because the hypocrisy and greed and lies of the false teachers are so egregious as to not be missed by the unbelieving world.

If the word faith folks continue to practice their idolatry in such a public way that it draws millions further into the snare of the devil, then I will not cease to call them out publicly. And I do not see any of them repenting of their heresies.
 

Why are you still following Benny, Joel, Ken and Gloria, Joyce, and Creflo?

Do you realize that sheep know the voice of their shepherd? From what I understand, even the dumbest of sheep will not follow a man or woman who is not their shepherd. That says a lot about the millions who follow the many false shepherds out there these days, doesn't it?

NAS 1 Timothy 6:1 Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. 2 And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles. 3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain (*from such withdraw yourself). 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

*This phrase is not in the NASB but it is in the Byzantine Greek Text.

What is there about this passage you don't get? "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ...but flee from these things, you man of God..."

When the Lord Jesus said as recorded by John in his gospel, chapter 10, verses 4-5, that His sheep know His voice and "by no means will follow a stranger...for they do not know the voice of strangers," the term "voice" in both cases refers to the "doctrine" advocated by either the Good Shepherd or the false shepherds. So what does that tell you about the followers of Hinn and the Copelands and Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, etc., etc. They are not His sheep but are blind and lovers of money rather than lovers of God.

And rather than turning them on every week as we're getting ready for church (or during the week), what are those who are indeed His sheep to do? "Flee from these things" and all who teach what is contrary to the words of the Lord Jesus.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Gift of Substance. Money? Yes. A Car? Yes. Faith? Yes.

Money is a gift of substance. A car would be a gift of substance. And so would be clothes, a ring, a toy, etc. These material things are all things of substance. Anything that is meaningful has substance. Even ideas are substantive. Substance doesn't have to mean something one can hold in one's hand or touch. But it does have to mean something that is actual. And that describes God-given faith.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.

"Faith is a gift of substance from the hand of God."

According to the truth taught in Matthew 16:13-17, "the gift of faith is both how and why we believe in Jesus and God."

You and I believe in Jesus as the Son of God only because God first gave us a substantial gift that enabled us to believe. That is commonly referred to as "saving faith." "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10. "To the praise of the glory of His grace." 1:6.

The substantial gift of saving faith makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those who receive it.

We are at once given the Holy Spirit, life, and faith, all substantial gifts. These are given to us as we hear the gospel of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the very real gift of being "sealed" by the Spirit takes place at this time. Ephesians 1:13-14.

We believe on and love Him Whom we cannot see only because we have received from the hand of our Father the substantial gift of faith. 1 Peter 1:6-9. "To the praise of the glory of His grace."

"Now (the simple conjunction, not an adverb of time as some have erroneously translated it) faith is the substance of things hoped for," and the rest of this verse forms a Hebraism, a grammatical device employed by Jewish writers in which they say the same thing twice but restating it the second time. "...the evidence of things not seen." Those spiritual things one hopes for are, of course, things one does not presently see but possesses nevertheless.

"Faith is something we now possess that allows us to see from afar what is already ours." It is the "now and the not yet."

"We walk by the substantial light of the substantial gift of faith, not by sight." We know for certain to Whom we belong and where we are going.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Renewed Christian Mind: Romans 12:2

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Almost 40 years ago there was a debate among my charismatic brethren about this verse. Is it saying that we are to be about renewing our minds and therefore we can be transformed? Or is it saying that our minds have been renewed and we are to apply our newly renewed minds to transform our lives? As usual, context has the answer.

The word "renewing" avnakainw,sei is a noun, not a verb. The renewed mind is the mind that every believer now possesses as the gift of God. And it is a powerful gift; unless it is wasted.

"The renewed mind is a terrible thing to waste."

The renewed mind is the means by which we can fight the pull of this "world" (coming from the Greek word that means "age," or "worldly ways") that beckons us like the seductive harlot it is to come out and play. And as we all know, sometimes we heed that siren call. And why do we sometimes heed that siren call? Turn to Romans 7:24-25 for just a minute.
 
"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
 
With the what do I serve the law of God? "With the mind!" This is the renewed mind by which we resist the pull of this age and all that it loves. This is the renewed mind by which we are in a continual state of being transformed, sanctification, if you will. This is the mind (the "new man," that mysterious "inner man") that has learned that through faith in Christ we have fulfilled the law ("Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." 3:31). It is the renewed mind already in our possession that works with the Holy Spirit to bring about a radical transformation in the believer.
 
So why do we still sin if we have such a powerful source of strength within us? Why can't we employ the renewed mind to finally put a stop to our sinful urges and actions? Read the rest of 7:25: "but with the flesh the law of sin." We, with the mind, serve the law of God. But, and it's a fact of life for us all including the apostle Paul, with our flesh, our "old man," our still "corrupt" natures (1 Cor. 15:50-56), serve "the law of sin." That's why we still sin. But that's not the end of the story, is it?