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Friday, June 28, 2013

"While thinkin' about Paula Deen, y'all"

Racism raises its ugly head somewhere in America everyday. Whether it's my being snubbed by a cashier at a local store clearly because she or he doesn't like white folks. Or by my neighbor from Michigan who is moving from our 'hood because he and his wife want to get away from "niggers." There's two sides to every story and I've heard both sides in the story of this neighbor and the woman who has been a pain in the butt to them. Funny thing is, I still like them all.

Racism isn't something one merely shakes off when one comes to the realization that we're all the same, sinful, corrupt, and covering up a hatred that was sown in our hearts from someone or some thing.

Black folk, white folk, Latinos, and Asians are all infected with what the Bible calls "sin." And sin isn't something one outgrows or overcomes on one's own, whether it's racism or homosexuality or adultery or thievery or lust. None of us have the innate ability to rid ourselves of such things absolutely. And even after by the grace of God one is brought to faith in Jesus Christ upon hearing the gospel and being obediently baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit, there is always our "old man," our old nature, the "flesh" to deal with ... for the rest of our "born again" lives.

Some people grow up without prejudice toward those of another skin color. Or, at least they say they do. The "proof is in the pudding" (that's for Paula). What is in one's heart will eventually and inevitably come out. And, neighbor, we all have the same kinda things in our hearts. Maybe to differing degrees. But they're there. And we all have a "button" that can be and will be pushed. And for millions of us, someone or some thing will push our button today. Remember that when you are faced with someone today who has just met someone who pushed theirs.

 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Little children, it is the last hour" It's time to grow up.

"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys 'R Us kid..."

That kind of thinking has permeated the visible church, which, of course, includes the true church. We are "Entertainments 'R Us Kids," and "Tickle My Ears 'R Us Kids." We are "little children" playing games in the house of God. And it is way passed the time when we should be mature grown-ups in our faith. It is way passed the time when we should just grow up! (1 Cor. 13:11-12)

If the apostle John could say around 2,000 years ago that "it is the last hour," what are we to say today? (1 Jn. 2:18) We are to say that we are closer to that final second when the Day of the Lord will end it all and make all things new for His beloved.

I have had to renew my prescription glasses several times since I first started needing them. As I have aged I have noticed a progressive need for new lens when I could no longer read road signs. I would find myself squinting at those rather large signs along the interstates until I got close enough to read them. It's time for new glasses.

Beloved, we have new glasses, spiritually speaking; lets use them.

We're not seeing the signs of the times clearly. In fact, we're missing some of them all together. We're like little children, not realizing what mom and dad have to do to keep the bills paid and to keep us well fed and clothed. We're happy and blissfully ignorant. For children, that's fine. It isn't for grown ups.

What are at least some of the signs that we're in "the last hour?"
Matthew 24:1-13 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 10 "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
 
Romans 1:18 - 2:1 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

word of God and prayer. 6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

2 Peter 2:1-3 2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

2 Peter 3:3-7 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Conclusion

Notice this in Romans 7:25, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh (I myself serve) the law of sin." And what did he say in v.24? "O wretched man that I am." The wretched man has been once and for all delivered "from the body of this death." And by now knowing that he has been delivered from the body of this death the inner man can honestly say that he serves the law of God through faith in the One who delivered him from the body of this death.

The knowledge of the grace of God goes a long way in setting us free.

Now notice this, "with the mind I myself serve the law of God." What does Paul mean by "I myself serve the law of God?" It does not mean that he is under the law and seeking to be justified by keeping the law. It means that the knowledge of the grace of God has put the law of God in its rightful place and in its proper perspective. It means that Paul now sees the law through the lens of grace and can testify to the righteousness of the law while at the same time not being under the law. That's what grace shows the disciple of Christ.

Grace puts the law of God in perspective.

Grace reveals to us the true purpose of the law.

Grace points us to Mt. Calvary instead of  Mt. Sinai.

Grace points us to Jesus and not Moses.

This is what the inner man sees and embraces. This is what the inner man longs to know more of and to love more. This is what the inner man sings of and praises God for in songs and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in his heart to the Lord. This is the how and the why of being filled with the Spirit. It is our minds, our renewed minds and our inner man who can be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. The mind that is set on those things which are above is the mind that can be filled to overflowing with rivers of flowing waters.

Who is the inner man? For those who are in Christ, he is the real you, the renewed mind, the new you, the you who is now one in spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ. With the mind we now serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

The believer's life is life in the Spirit. Life in the Spirit is life in the mind, the inner man. And the mind of the believer is nourished by the milk of the word, the meat of the word, the fellowship with other believers, the beauty of God's creation, the presence of God whereby He is working in us "both to will and to work for His good pleasure, obedience, prayer, grace and knowledge.

Beloved, engage your mind as you begin each day. After all, your "inner man is being renewed day by day." Pray, read, love. And enjoy all that God has given you.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Same-sex marriage: "Hating what is evil" Romans 12:9

"Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

I am certainly opposed to same-sex marriage and the lifestyle that defines it. But I'm not afraid of it. I'm not afraid of same-sex marriage but I am afraid of those sins that pester me personally. And the difference between me and homosexuals who are pushing for ubiquitous approval of their lifestyle is the grace of God.
 
My heart-felt concern is for the souls of those deceived by the spirit that promotes it. They are "living 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 we also 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" (Eph. 2:1-3). But that's not the end of the story, thank God. Or we would all suffer God's wrath.

The word of God, breathed out by God ("inspired," "God-breathed"), tells the world time and time again that if sinners, the "ungodly," call upon the name of the Lord they will be saved from the wrath of God that is most certainly coming upon this planet. Another way of saying it euphemistically is "the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God." (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 10:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21).

Homosexuality is evil, period! But so is adultery, fornication, witchcraft, drunkenness, prostitution, fraud, abusing the poor, etc. The list of things that God tells us is evil is pretty long. The good news is that God has provided the solution, the only solution, to the problem of sin.

Almost no one wants to hear that they are evil. Or that they're living in sin. It's insulting to our immoral and evil natures. It is only through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that any of us become ready to hear the bad news and the good news and agree with the Holy Spirit and the written word of God that we are evil and facing eternal damnation except we call upon the name of the Lord and be justified ("saved," or, declared right with God by God).

Now, take a minute and re-read the Ephesians passage I wrote out in the second paragraph above. Keeping that in mind, that we were all (and some of you still are) the pawns of the devil, I want to call your attention to a particular word in Romans 12:9. That word is our English word "evil." "Hate what is evil."

Evil in this verse comes from a Greek word that can be translated/interpreted to say "evil that is actively opposed to (the) good." It is the very same word the Lord employed when He was teaching the disciples to pray saying, "and deliver us from evil." The better translation of evil as it occurs in what we know as "the Lord's prayer" is "the evil one," meaning of course, the devil. The devil is poneros, ponhro,j the evil one who is actively opposed to the good that God is always doing on this planet. He loves nothing more than thwarting the preaching of the gospel through whatever means necessary.

The popularity of all things homosexual these days is nothing less than poneros, the activity of the very real spiritual being known as the devil. And this is what I hate as one who was saved out of the kingdom of darkness where Satan is free to ply his wares.

For those who are in the homosexual lifestyle or the lifestyle of adultery or fornication and have become convinced through the deception that the devil is so adept at that they were born this way and cannot change and do not want to change, you're right. You cannot change yourself. But I know a Man who can change you.

"You're right about that, you can't change yourself.
You can never set yourself free.
You can't create a new heart
And that's what it would take.
But I know a man who can,
I know a man who can."

David the king and psalmist prayed after his sinful lifestyle was exposed, "Create in me a clean heart." And his God and my God did just that, created a new heart in David.

Here's the good news that follows the bad news of Ephesians 2:1-3, v.4, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)..."

Anyone can be changed by the love and mercy and grace of God. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Sin is sin. You are already dead, spiritually separated from God. Spiritual death isn't a state that one can avoid; it is a state that one must be delivered out of. And only faith in Jesus can do that.


Paula Deen on The Today Show. I'm sorry, but...

I stand by what I wrote in an earlier post for the reasons I gave there. But! Paula's performance this morning on The Today Show with Matt Lauer was pathetic.

She invoked "Rev" Jackson? Please!

Do any of you remember the money-grubbing so-called televangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker on their PTL Club? Well, if Jim hadn't remarried and moved to Branson, Missouri, he would have fallen in love with Paula Deen.

Paula Deen was to "The Food Network" what Tammy Faye was to Christian television. And for a second there, I thought it was Tammy Faye talkin' to Matt.

I mean, really! "If God brought us to it, He'll get us through it!" Are you serious! That is so PTLesk. Next she'll be quoting Scripture, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." That was Bakker's mantra during his trials and tribulations brought on himself by his greed and deceitfulness. I guess a weapon brought against Bakker did prosper; it's called the law.

Paula Deen doesn't have to worry about going to prison as Jim Bakker did. But her strained crocodile tears this morning were a crime.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paula Deen and the theatre of the absolutely absurd (R rated language, be warned)

I personally could not bear to watch Paula Deen (or listen to her) for more than the time it took to surf right on by her, until now. Everything about her is annoying to me. If her dishes are good I would never know it. But what is happening to her now is nothing less than horrifying and makes me want to watch reruns of her cooking shows in show of support for her. I stand with Paula Deen.

Don't you wonder why people whose lives are so public, so "out there," say such stupid off-the-cuff things when they think the mic is off? Or too often when they are speaking in public and deliberately say some outrageous things? But, they just "miss spoke."

Do you know how many white people still say "nigger" today? And blacks? Neither do I. And it wasn't today that Paula Deen used that ugly word. But what if it had been today? Maybe after this media hyped fiasco she did say it today. Who knows. If Deen still uses that word, she should be fired and never celebrated again. But apparently all the hubbub is about something that happened a long time ago.

Do you know how many black people call white people "white ass mutha fuckas?" Neither do I. But I promise you these names are used freely and openly everyday of the year. You know that as well as I. But how many everyday people do we see being paraded across our tv screens because they have used some word or expression that offends the hell out of the rest of us? We wouldn't see anything else on tv if we tried to be fair and balanced by reporting every case of racist expression that occurs.

Ya know, we must love racism and hatred. After all, we inculcate them into our childrens' minds, don't we? Seriously. Deep down inside we love our racism and want to pass it along to the kiddos. Else why do we actively promote it and keep spreading (broadcasting) the seeds of hatred?

In the name of being "historical," certain privately owned television networks remind us just how bad the white man treated the black man. Like that's going to help. With the small minded people where racism is nurtured and cherished, the constant barrage of history lessons simply adds fuel to the fire.

It is heartbreaking what happened. It is horrible. And I can't begin to understand what it was like for black folks back then, or now, for that matter. But I do understand how whites and blacks can cherish racism and hatred. I was there. I was brought up by racists. Racism was inculcated in my family in the 1950's through the 1970's. I know how proud my daddy was of his hatred for niggers. And to this day I have to constantly, constantly, remind myself that we're all pretty damned evil, not just black people. That's what I want to think. But I really do know better.

Paula Deen is a "whipping boy," a scapegoat. Racists pretending not to be racist jump on folks like Deen. The media likes to give the impression that the powers that be in their organizations are completely unbiased in reporting such incidents. And racism all the while gains the victory.

"Why can't we all just get along?" Because it's not in our nature.

Racism is a human condition that thrives all around our warped little blue marble; it is alive and well on planet earth ... and always will be.

Some blessed folks will change, here and there, but not very many. I hope I'm wrong.

 

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Part 5

The "inner man" is first described as such in the New King James in Ephesians 3:16, "...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man...," the only occurrence of that term in this version. But the NKJ also uses the synonymous term "the inward man," both terms, inner and inward, coming from the same Greek word. The term the "inward man" occurs 2 times, Romans 7:22 and 2 Corinthians 4:16; "the inner man," once, Eph. 3:16. (The NASB uses "inner man" only).

The inner man, or, if you prefer, the inward man, is synonymous with "the mind." And all are synonymous with three other terms, "the new man," "a new creation," (or, "a new creature"), and "understanding" (Luke 24:45, NKJ, from the Greek word for "mind").

It becomes clear that the inner man of the Christian is synonymous with the mind. This is where we are strengthened or can be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. It is also abundantly clear that without comprehending Scripture we cannot be strengthened and equipped for the work of ministering the gospel as we ought (Col.3:16; 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5; Heb. 5:12-14). The Holy Spirit can use poorly equipped vessels, it's true. But that seldom happens simply because they are "unskilled in the word of righteousness" and "their senses" cannot "discern both good and evil."

Unskilled workers, those who are not "of full age, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil," fill our churches and are in desperate need of discipleship before they can "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Mt. 28:18-20). Their lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, their lack of comprehending Scriptures due to their willful neglect of the word, renders them almost useless. They are, in fact, almost dangerous.

If you need more, read Psalm 119. If you're not convinced concerning the centrality of the word in the believer's life after reading that psalm, you may need to examine yourself.

The word "think" occurs 39 times in the NASB, old and new testaments, 59 times in the NKJ. "Mediate" occurs 18 times in the NKJ, 15 times in the NASB. For the believer, the one who has by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ, their mind and their spirit and their inner man are so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. Our thoughts that occur in conjunction with the filling of the Spirit and being led by the Spirit and the written word are inspired. And inspiration can't help but be manifest in feelings.

The realization that we are "one spirit" with the Lord is an epiphany, an inspired epiphany. It is through the inner man that we are "one spirit" with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17).

If you are as I am, you're expecting to "feel" this experience of being a new creature and filled with the Spirit of God. And you should expect to feel something. I mean, God Himself is dwelling within us. We are one with the Lord. Come on! It doesn't get any better than that. The Holy Spirit has given each of us life and light and faith and strength and power and gifts and every blessing in the heavenlies. We are bound to feel that.

Spiritual experiences coincide with what the mind, the inner man comprehends. Feelings are the natural outflow of that. For the Christian there is no greater experience than the love and peace that we experience in the filling of the Spirit working in conjunction with the written word of God and the fellowship of other believers.











 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Part 4

I'm satisfied. I am convinced. The Christian's inner man is his or her renewed mind. The renewed mind is the real Christian, that part of us that is born again. I'm not talking about the physical brain, even though that organ is necessarily involved. That physical organ will die with my body and is in fact now dead. I'm talking about what has changed about our brains and our spirits to such a degree that we no longer think as we once thought. Our "worldview" has changed.

Our minds clearly involve more than just our brains. Our renewed minds, our spirits made alive, our inner man, encompasses everything about us. The body without the spirit is dead in a final sense. But our spirits, once born again, will live forever in the new bodies that we will someday be given. When our flesh and blood bodies at the end of this life die physically, it is because our spirit has gone to be with the Lord (James 2:26; Jn. 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 15:35-57).

My inner man is the dominant force that can override my physical brain, my old mind, my old man, my old way of thinking, with its learned patterns of thought and reasoning and conclusion-drawing abilities.

I conclude that I am a son of God by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I conclude that, based on the word of God and by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that God is my Father, I can put to death what is earthly in me by the Spirit. I can put to death the deeds of my dead and mortal body. With the renewed mind made alive by the indwelling Holy Spirit I can and will mature in the faith and in my sanctification. This is what I desire in my walk with the Lord and it is what He desires in me.

THE CURE FOR WHAT AILS US: FILLING OUR RENEWED MINDS WITH THE WORD OF GOD

Paul exhorts every believer to "be being filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18. In a parallel verse he expands on that idea of being filled with the Spirit. Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

"Let the word of Christ dwell (abide, be at home) in you richly." The renewed mind craves the word of Christ. Not just a little of His word, but a lot of His word. We are given in this Colossians passage a key piece of advice, indeed it is an imperative, that the word of Christ, the whole gospel as we read it from Genesis to Revelation and as we understand it and own it for ourselves, that it is to be such a part of our way of life and thinking that it can only be described as being in us "richly."

If the word of Christ is not dwelling in us richly, then we are not rich in the things of Christ.

Those who are woefully and willfully ignorant of the word of God live in spiritual poverty and make themselves easy marks for the enemy.

"WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST"

That's a fact! Every believer has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). We have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit (2:9-16). If you are really and truly born again, then you have the Holy Spirit and therefore you have the mind of Christ.

A little but important side note here. When Paul writes "But we have the mind of Christ," he used a present active indicative verb, 3rd person plural, "we have." The indicative mood is the mood of reality. That's how I can state this so matter-of-factly, we have the mind of Christ, we really do.

This is precisely how the apostle Paul could write, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God" (Rom. 7:25). Without our having the mind of Christ our minds would still find the law impossible and even repulsive. But because we have "established the law through faith," we love the law and see it from the perspective of grace. The inner man, the renewed mind, the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit, all consistently point us to the finished work of Christ on the cross where He fulfilled the law absolutely and God's will absolutely on our behalf. When by God's grace anyone comes to saving faith in Jesus, that one has established the law (3:31).

Read this along with me from 1 Corinthians 2, v.7, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory." Verses.10-12, "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, the we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God"

We do indeed have the mind of Christ because we have the Holy Spirit. We can see what cannot be seen; we can hear what cannot be heard; we can know what cannot be known; we can do what cannot be done.

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Part 3

We've all heard the old story supposedly related by Native Americans where the elder in a certain tribe was counseling a young man who was struggling with his sins, for lack of a better word. The elder said "If you have two dogs and they're fighting, a black dog and a white dog, which of your two dogs will win?" The young brave answered, "Sir, I do not know." The elder answered, "The one you feed the most."

The Christian life is a bit like that. Who's winning the struggle with sin in our lives? The old man, our flesh? Or the new man, our inner man, our spirit? And the answer really is "the one you're feeding the most."

THE INNER MAN, THE NEW YOU, THE REAL YOU: YOUR RENEWED MIND (OR "SPIRIT")

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Rom. 8:9-14)

This is now who we are solely because we are in Christ and His Spirit is in us. We are "sons of God," we are His (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:21-23). Our flesh and blood bodies are dead "because of sin," but our "spirits are alive because of righteousness." Living in a dead body is a challenge for the best of us. But it is just a challenge; it does not spell defeat for any of us.

We who are born again, in whom "indeed the Spirit of God dwells," are prone to think according to our flesh too often rather than according to the "mind of Christ" which we all have. It is our all too human tendency to think that we by ourselves must conquer the sins we wrestle with. How's that working out for ya? Not too well, right? Well, beloved, here is the answer:

Your inner man is the real you because you are alive in your spirit and have been given a Helper to come alongside and to come inside to help you in your everyday living and in your everyday struggles with sin and temptations. And He helps us primarily if not exclusively in and through our minds.

Our dead bodies get the most attention because they seem to be the ones with the final say in our lives. But they are not. Your inner man, your renewed mind, can take control of your outer man, who is perishing by the way, and in the life-long process we call sanctification, get the upper hand on an ever increasing basis, over that dead old man, our "flesh." Your real "me" can be steadily getting victory over those pesky little sins solely because we are made alive by the Holy Spirit who is in fact dwelling in each of us and energizing us for our sanctification. And to help us even more, on the day that we got saved, justified, we were sanctified with a once-for-all sancitification that enables us to continually be in the process of sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30-31; 6:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:3-7). Sanctification, by the way, is two-fold, it is that initial act of God whereby He "sets us apart for Himself," and, it is the life-long process whereby we work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body and of the flesh.

"If by the Spirit you [are putting, the verb is present active indicative] to death the deeds of the body, you [those who have the Spirit of God] will live [you who are alive by the Spirit are those who are already living and can know that you will live eternally on account of your having the Spirit of God]. For as many (we are the "many") as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God."

Paul here, by the Holy Spirit, is giving his readers throughout time a word of such great encouragement and truth that we do ourselves a tremendous injustice by not familiarizing ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ with it. What life-changing and liberating truths are to be and can be mined from the written word of God.

We pastors and teachers have what our people need in our hands and in our spirits and in our minds. If we fail to equip them with this knowledge we will answer dearly for our neglect.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Part 2

"It's all in your head." Ever heard that before? I have known several people who constantly complained about their latest ailments and I remember someone telling one or two of these folks that it was all in their head. "You're not sick. It's all in your head." This response to chronic complainers is truer than one may realize. The hypochondriac's problems really are all in their heads.

A POWERFUL AND LIBERATING TRUTH: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE BELIEVER'S MIND

Our feelings begin and usually end in our heads, our minds, with the exception of physical pain, of course, and certain other feelings brought on by normal human activity. But our thoughts play a major role in our attitudes and those feelings that rush through our bodies. When our minds are focused on our children or our spouse or on a movie screen or our television screens we get caught up in the emotions or the drama or comedy being played out before us. The same happens when we read a particularly engrossing book.

Seldom do we connect how those different media make us feel with the impact they have on our minds. Indeed, we usually park our brains at the door when we go to the movies. Watching Old Yeller get put down didn't make me think, it made me feel. The death of Old Yeller didn't impact my brain. I didn't feel it in my head. I sure felt it in my chest and all over, though. Now, my eyes were flooded with tears as my heart broke, but that was "feelin's," not "thinkin'." We have summarily detached what happens in our bodies with what happens in our minds. And vice versa.

Christians have abandoned thinking for feeling, separating their minds and intellect from their faith in such a way that it has resulted in millions turning to "feel good" pep talks rather than deep faith-building, Bible centered preaching and teaching. The church now favors such mindless stuff.

Even those who are truly born again, born of the Spirit, born from above, tend toward putting more stock in how they may feel at any given moment rather than what is true and revealed to them by the Holy Spirit in their minds, their inner man. Discovering this truth is powerful and liberating because we can now address any situation or matter that arises based on the truth of God's word rather than on how we feel during that situation. It's the difference between whether we respond or react.

"I don't want to be filled with the Spirit if that experience begins and ends in my mind and doesn't especially impact my emotions." But this is one time we really can have both, a wonderful blessed emotional experience while our gray matter is stimulated and informed and gifted by the Holy Spirit.

If there is a *conflict in the believer's mind when facing a test, a temptation, or an opportunity to present the gospel to an unbeliever, it often comes from not knowing the word of God. The word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Christian's inner man, the renewed mind, all work together to glorify God, to exalt His Son and His word for our good and the application of the word to all concerned. He can certainly use those who aren't well-versed in the word. But those who know the word well are probably going to be more readily available and better equipped for any task.

*Conflicts too often come from some pestering sin in the believer's life that causes him or her to hesitate sharing the gospel and who Jesus is. This is where the rubber meets the road. The Spirit will remind us that sharing the gospel is about sharing Jesus and not ourselves. We all sin. Our sins must not be allowed to override God's grace, both in our lives as well as in the lives of those with whom we are witnessing. Do not let your sin or your feelings about yourself stop you from telling someone about the risen Savior, the gracious and merciful and patient and just Lord.

For the Holy Spirit to fill the believer it isn't necessary that he or she stop and start singing praises and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in their hearts to the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the one in charge and He will fill you whenever and wherever. It's awesome when believers are assembled as a local church, singing to one another for the glory of God and the edification of that assembly as they are filled with the Spirit. But away from the assembly whether we're on the job or in school or the grocery store, the Holy Spirit can fill us and use us and move us without our having sought His leading. He doesn't wait to be asked or invited to interfere. And that is a wonderful experience.

The inner man, the renewed mind, is always engaged when the Holy Spirit fills us and moves us to act providentially. We just may not know it when it is occurring.






 

Who is the "inner man?" The Born Identity: Part 1


He isn't someone I used to think about. I seldom gave him a second thought. Even when I sought and was filled with the filling of the Spirit, I did not comprehend what was taking place in me and where the filling took place. But after preaching one Sunday on being filled with the Spirit, a man in the church came up to me and asked me, more or less, if I knew what I was talking about. He had me. I didn't know what I was talking about. I was just preaching. I certainly did that church on that Sunday morning a great disservice.

Now, don't get me wrong. I believed what I preached. It was just that I didn't know the "how to" of being filled with the Spirit or what it literally meant. The man pointed out to me that it means our "inner man" is that part of us who can be filled with the Holy Spirit. That set me on a quest to try to own this essential truth of the Christian life. Who or what is my inner man?

IDENTIFYING THE INNER MAN

To put it quite simply, "The believer's inner man is his/her divinely renewed mind."

Romans 7:22-25, "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 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."

While the outer man includes the physical, mortal, flesh and blood, "flesh," meaning our remaining sinful selves, and spiritually corrupted body, it is also equated with the unregenerate mind. Rom. 1:24-28; 8:5-14; Eph. 2:3; 4:17; Phil. 3:18-19.

Both the outer man and the inner man are named according to the spiritual state of their minds, the outer man being unregenerate, the inner man being regenerate.

What begins in the Christian's mind when that believer is filled with the Holy Spirit quickly manifests itself in our bodies through our emotions and often in the form of some spiritual gift. I for years imagined my flesh and blood body somehow being where the Holy Spirit dwells, as though He occupied every inch of it. That was because when I was filled with the Spirit it was always an experience that felt great and exciting. That's what the mind can do to the body in everyone, saved or not. It is only the renewed mind that experiences the Holy Spirit.

The renewed mind is awakened to see what cannot be seen with the eye of the flesh, to hear what cannot be heard, to know what cannot be known, and to do what cannot be done. To say that that is exciting is an understatement. The inner man, the renewed mind, has "the mind of Christ" because he has the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 2:16). "We have the mind of Christ" because we have the Holy Spirit. (2:1-16).




 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"We're just sittin' here in heaven with Jesus." Ephesians 2:1-10

Don't you feel conflicted sometimes? Don't you ever wonder why you can never find perfect peace and happiness in this life on this planet in these flesh and blood bodies? For the one who has by the grace of God come to saving faith in Jesus Christ there is a great, albeit not yet complete, answer for that experience. "You're not home yet." And while the answer given us by the Holy Spirit in the word of God, the Bible, cannot be fully comprehended yet (1 Cor. 13:8-13), we can nevertheless read the answer and believe the answer.

Ephesians 2:4-7, "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 (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

In this passage, 2:1-10, we can easily see why those who are actually born again are conflicted in this life. Now if you're into Joel Osteen or the Copelands or Joyce Meyer or any of the other modern-day heretics who spew their damnable venom around the world, you're probably following their lead and trying to build heaven on earth ("Your Best Life Now"? Really! "Your words prophesy your future." Really!). Here's what the word teaches.

"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."

We are those chosen by God "before the foundation of the world" and "predestined...to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved "(1:4-6). We are those who were called to suffer with our brethren through "the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began..." (2 Tim. 1:8-9). Doesn't sound to me like God has called us to health, wealth and fame. May the health and wealth and name-it-and- claim-it heretics perish with their filthy lucre!

We're too often conflicted because we're too easily deceived and swayed by the deceivers among us. But mostly we're conflicted because we're literally living in two different worlds. I don't understand it, but I believe it.

No Christian is made for this world and this passing life. But we're here for the time being. And we're here for His purpose and for His glory and the glory of His kingdom. And in the midst of all this conflict we can experience a "peace that passes all understanding" this is most certainly not of this world or this age. It is a peace that is generously and freely given to those who are in Christ that can prevail, that can reign in our hearts no matter our circumstances. It can reign even when we're the most conflicted.

And this peace can reign because we are seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.




 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Speaking in tongues or speaking gibberish?

I am not a cessationists. I see no Scriptural reason to think that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased, not even 1 Corintians 13:8-13. However, to be honest, I have heard many people over the last 39 + years utter what they say is "speaking in tongues" and I do not believe they are. I do not think I have ever heard anyone genuinely speak in tongues.

I was, by the grace of God, "born again" in March of 1974. The so-called Charismatic Movement was taking the country by storm. I went to churches and conferences where the entire crowd with the exception of me and a few others spoke in tongues, prophesied, and prayed for legs to be lengthened and other maladies to be healed. It was fun and exciting, up to a point.

Not having this outstanding and much sought after gift of tongues, I felt like an outsider. And those around me, those in the circle that I ran with, were a bit leery of me since I didn't have it. They once invited me on a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina with it in mind that they were going to pray for me and over me to receive this gift. They even "prayed in tongues" in my ears while I was on my knees hoping that I would imitate what I heard. Then they could be satisfied that I had "received the baptism of the Holy Spirit." Until then, they said they wouldn't know.

That kind of pressure from ignorant and well-meaning friends and strangers intimidated many believers, old and young, new to the faith and those who had been in the faith for years, to give in and make up sounds that could pass for speaking in tongues. Then they would fit it. Then their friends and others would say that they were sure these folks were now saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost.

And that was what was being taught by the Christian celebrities of the mid '70's. If you don't speak in tongues, you're not saved. Jimmy Swaggart taught it and still does. Oral Roberts and Jim Bakker and Kenneth Hagin all taught it. And Pentecostals and many of the word faith/neo-charismatic movement teach it to this day. And as such nonsense always does, this teaching produced many within the Pentecostals, Charismatics, and word faith folks who purported to have these visible/audible gifts who didn't have it but said they did. I talked with many of them who were in this very predicament.

My break with the Charismatic Movement came in the winter of '83 when I was at a Pentecostal church where a young man suffering from some crippling birth defect had come to the altar for prayer that he might receive the gift of tongues. When the deacons of the church gathered around him and laid hands on him he was either "slain in the Spirit" or was simply laid out on the floor by the deacons (I don't know how he ended up on the floor. It was after he was already prone that I noticed what was going on) who then all knelt beside him to pray for him to receive.

His crippled body didn't allow his back to touch the floor. Only the back of his head and his heels were touching it. He was wailing and frothing at the mouth while the deacons prayed in his ears telling him to make sounds like they were making. He refused or he couldn't make those sounds. Anyway, he was heartbroken and crying his heart out.

I couldn't stand it anymore so I went to the men and asked if I could speak to the young man. They thought that I was going to work some kind of miracle and help this crippled young man to receive tongues. Instead, I told him to relax. I told him with all the deacons and the pastor watching that he could not manufacture tongues. If God wanted him to speak in tongues he would. It's a gift. Not the product of our feeble and sickening efforts. After that day, I never again ran with the Charismatics.

It is a shame, a real shame, that the gifts of the Spirit, the real gifts of the Spirit as set forth in the word of God are abused by genuine believers and by false teachers and false prophets. Believers abuse the gifts by either faking them or denying them. False teachers and false prophets such as Roberts, Swaggart, Bakker, the Copelands, and Hagin, deceive their hearers by falsifying the gifts in order to generate crowds and income by promising heavenly rewards, both financially and spiritually. By telling their dupes that if they don't speak in tongues they aren't saved, they pressure them to fake it, to fit in, and to give generously.

It is in reaction to the abuse of gifts that belong to the church that the cessationists have taken a strong stand against certain gifts. I don't have to speak in tongues to believe that they have not ceased. I see them continuing based on the evidence as I see it in the word of God.





 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Speed limits and other annoying laws: Why they're good and what they say about us.

Before the invention of the automobile and the assembly line that put so many cars on our roads, there were no "traffic laws." Of course, there was no traffic to speak of. For that matter, there were also no traffic accidents except for the occasional horse drawing a wagon or buggy running amuck after being frightened by a snake or barking dog. Once in a while some innocent person might get hit by a horse they didn't see as the rider rode roughshod through town. It wasn't until the coming of the automobile that traffic laws were needed. And even then it took decades.

Once it came to the attention of the powers that be that people were being killed or maimed in traffic accidents, laws and regulations were proposed and became law. Driver's licenses were required, license plates and registration, stop signs and traffic lights were eventually installed, and laws regulating who can drive and how they are to drive were put in place.

Like most of our laws, traffic laws were added because of the problems created by our citizens. They have helped prevent many accidents and the loss of life, limb and property. The laws haven't ended such incidents but they do teach us what is right and wrong and bad and good. They provide a good guide for us all. And when we break them, we're reminded of just why laws are good.

For a fun read about life on the streets of Boston in 1909 before traffic laws and even afterward, read this.

Now, lets look at the word of God and see why the law of Moses, or, the law of God, was added to the life and experience of the Hebrews. It's really interesting, believe it or not ... and liberating.

Galatians 3:19, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.”

“The law was added because of transgressions.” Remember that this phrase is the answer to the previous question, “what purpose then does the law serve?” The law serves this purpose, to reveal the utter depravity and wickedness of the Jews and the entire human race, but in particular, the Jews.
 
For all of us, we need to understand the following:

The law was not added to prevent utter depravity but to reveal it.

The law was not added to end utter depravity but to reveal it.

The law was not added to prevent death but to reveal it.

The law was not added to end death but to reveal it.

The law was not added to end sin but to reveal it.

The law was not added to end sin but to increase it.

The law was not added to bring righteousness but to reveal unrighteousness.

The law was not added for the Jews to fulfill but for the Seed to fulfill.

The law was not added to be in effect till the Jews fulfilled it but till the Seed fulfilled it.

 Grace was never added; grace was always in effect; God is grace.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"You believe that God still heals!! Yer crazy!"

I do believe that God still heals ... and that doesn't make me crazy (I may be. But believing in God's gifts of healing didn't do it).

Why not believe that God heals? He has promised the local church, the local body of Christ, that when a sick member calls for the elders of that church to pray for them and the elders then pray the prayer of faith over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord, the sick will be raised up, healed. James 5:13-18. It's there, beloved, in black and white.

I DO NOT BELIEVE IN TRAVELING "FAITH HEALERS!"

That's right. Benny Hinn, the Copelands, Jessie Duplantis, Ernest Angley, Todd Bentley, and the rest, are all frauds, false teachers, false prophets, false healers. They pray the prayer of "gimmee." Gimmee your money. And the fools that follow them do just that. So, ironically, their gimmee prayers are answered (put a smiley face here). And as I have pointed out many times, the theology of the false healers/prophets is "I git my money from you; you git yer money from God. Okay? Now, watch as we pass KFC buckets around fer you to fill up with yer money. Thankee, Jesus."

If we followed their example we would go around taking other people's money just like they do. Hey, works fer me.

THE BODY OF CHIRST IS MISSING A BLESSING THROUGH ITS EXTREME REACTION TO THE FALSE HEALERS AND ITS REJECTION OF A BIBLICAL PROMISE TO HEAL THE SICK

Which is worse? The church's extreme reaction or its blatant rejection of a clear promise of God? My question is, of course, intentionally misleading (whoa!). It's not either or, it's both. The body of Christ that rejects the healing of Christ for any reason is in serious error. I'll say it again, "the body of Christ that rejects the healing of Christ for any reason is in serious error."

You say you believe that God heals? You say you pray for the sick? Do you? But when you pray you pray for the sick during the time for "prayer requests" and you never leave your pew. No one calls for the elders of the church. Why? You don't really believe in praying for the sick, do you? And your leaders in your church? Do you even have elders?

Your prayers and notions of praying for the sick are along this line, "I believe that God still heals, I just don't believe He's going to do it when I pray. I just don't know if He's going to heal anyone when I pray." So don't pray! Let the elders pray.

Remember, beloved brethren, it is the Lord you are asking to heal the sick, not yourself or your elders. Our calling is to pray. God's desire is to heal. And He can; and He does; He still does.

This is where we need to understand who we, especially the elders of the church. James addresses our questions and doubts when he writes that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Then he gives us some encouragement to pray for the sick by using the example of Elijah who "was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly." His earnest prayer is the example that points us to our "effective, fervent" prayers. Get it? We can pray just as faithfully as Elijah did.

Elijah was a flawed and sinful man just as we are. And he "prayed earnestly." That earnest prayer is what the Holy Spirit is telling us can be our prayer. Elijah was "a righteous man," you and I and every believer are righteous people through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., we have the same righteousness that Elijah had; we are righteous just as Elijah was. Flawed and still corrupt believers are righteous. Imagine that. You are righteous. You are a righteous dude.

So if we think we're not "good enough" to pray for someone, we're right. But we have something better than human goodness, which, by the way, there is no such thing, we are righteous by the grace of God through faith in Jesus. And that is the beginning step toward our praying the prayer of faith that can raise up the sick in our congregations, we can know who we are in Christ and we can own that truth and actually practice it.


 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Imitating God by practicing grace in its various applications according to New Testament revelation: Part 1

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound." I'm really sick of hearing this song. It has been dumbed down, trivialized to the point that grace has no meaning to those singing it. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it some day behind a tv commercial. Maybe it would be played during a smart phone ad. Or a laxative commercial. Who knows? But grace is a concept the true church of Jesus Christ can and must recover, and that right quickly.

First, know this, grace is solely the work of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whether it's for salvation, sanctification, or service, grace originates in God. How could it possibly be otherwise?

The spiritually dead, those separated from God, without Christ, hopeless and helpless on their own in this dark and perishing world, by definition can not conjure up those necessary things that bring justification and reconciliation with their Creator.

How many times do we have to hear Ephesians 2:8-9 before we finally grasp just how truly amazing God's grace is?

Those two verses are absolutely amazing because they follow 2:1-3, and 2:4-7. They also precede 2:11-13, which puts grace in perspective.

Grace precedes every work of God in the lives of His elect.

Grace precedes the ungodly's deliverance from "the prince of the power of the air."

Grace transfers the ungodly from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the dear Son of God.

Grace and grace alone gives the ungodly life and light and faith and hope and glory.

Second, God's grace is the necessary and too often missing ingredient in those who profess to work for Him in the gospel ministry.

The apostle Paul had to contend and compete with false apostles who had exerted very strong influence on the believers in Corinth. But he knew something they didn't know, neither the false apostles or the Corinthian believers: Paul did what he did and was who he was only by the grace of God. That was why he could humbly proclaim that he was a true apostle and worked more diligently than any of the false apostles. *Take the time to read 1 Cor. 15:9-10 and 2 Cor. 10-12 to see what I'm saying about Paul.

Apart from the Holy Spirit filling and leading men and women of God as they seek to serve, ministry will become too great a burden to bear. Or, ministry will become manifestly man-centered. It may be fun. Preachers can draw large crowds and have 'em hooting and hollering and laughing themselves silly but it will be all for nought.

Grace liberates men and women of God to serve Him according to His will and not theirs.
 

Think and be blessed.

Do you remember seeing those one word signs hanging on office walls that gave this simple commandment, "Think"? The boss, or company heads, or an observant secretary, saw that thinking was necessary as employees went about their daily duties so these signs were mounted on a wall in a prominent place. That deserved a big "duh!" Of course one should think. Who doesn't think? Well, ...

 Thinking is beneficial. It can be, anyway.

Many of our fellow Americans would be surprised at just how beneficial thinking can be. Unfortunately, judging from observations of Americans over the last 60 years, and the sorry and immoral state of the union, our minds are set on things that are not only not beneficial but destructive to our republic (we are not a democracy!). And this applies to those in the White House, the Supreme Court, the two houses of Congress, as well as those who put them there, no matter who happens to be there at any given moment. We do not want to be bothered by thinking things through.

But I digress. Well, not really. I said all that to say this,

Christians are commanded to think!

Seriously. We are commanded to use our renewed minds. We are commanded to think in such a way that we are growing in wisdom and knowledge and grace and power and mercy and patience and peace and love on a daily basis. Yes! We are to think everyday! (put a smiley face here).

Christians are promised blessings when they think on the word of God and the things of God and the grace of God and the truths of God.

If you're reading this, check out Philippians 4:6-9 and have a blessed day. Think about it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Do you own your faith and righteousness?" Conclusion. James 5:13-18

I was associated with a ministry group back in the '70's that somewhat sincerely professed to believe in praying for the sick in the churches we visited. I had reservations as to the authenticity of our "prayer of faith." Nowadays I can see why.

If the elders of the church do not know what faith is as James uses it in his letter, why should anyone expect to see God heal anyone? Healing will only happen during a prayer of faith, not during a prayer of hope or doubt or wishing. Not even during a prayer where the elders are deeply concerned and caring. And healing never happens at the hands of false prophets such as Benny Hinn.

What is the prayer of faith for the sick? The prayer of faith is voiced by an elder or elders who have heard from the Holy Spirit that the person over whom they are praying is in fact going to be healed. Faith is knowing it's going to happen, not hoping or wishing it would happen. Faith for healing the sick within a congregation is a direct communication from the Holy Spirit that assures the person(s) praying that the sick will be raised up from their illness. The elder(s) know, they know that they know this sick person is going to be healed. Then they pray the prayer of faith.

 Faith is knowing. We see this in the example of Abraham as Paul lays it out in Romans 4. The same faith that brings righteousness brings healing. Both occurrences are the gift of God.

Faith comes by hearing, whether it's saving faith or healing faith, it comes by hearing the word of God. Faith is the direct result of God's intervention in one's life for whatever purpose God has in mind.

A word we're reading "registers" in our spirit. That's the word of faith spoken to us by the Spirit.

A word of knowledge or wisdom or discernment registers in our spirit and usually we just speak it out often without realizing at the time that it is from the Holy Spirit. With healing we know that this person is going to be healed so strongly that we pray without really thinking about it, we just do it.

"And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up."

Do you believe that the God of Abraham and the Father of our Lord Jesus has promised to heal the sick through the prayer of faith? Do you know that He is also able to do what He has promised? Then trust Him in praying for some sick person who calls for the elders of the church. God will tell you if that person is going to be healed. You do not have to try to manufacture feelings, faith, or assurance.

You and I are "the righteousness of God in Him." We can pray accordingly.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dr. Paige Patterson on election and Calvinism: A more balanced approach than I expected

Here is one article by Dr. Patterson published in an SBC publication. There is another article easily found by googling Patterson's name and reading an outline on a sermon by Dr. Patterson on election.

Both articles are not what I expected. A pleasant surprise indeed.

An excerpt from my book "Once Justified (Always Justified)"

NAS James 5:19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

Now these verses are really interesting. There is more to these verses than meets the English eye. And don't think that only those who have studied Greek can see this kind of stuff. Remember that there are language helps available for every level of our developement.

First, "if any among you strays from the truth" is a clause that lets us know that this kind of wandering is possible; it can happen, it does happen. The possibility is seen in the use of the subjunctive mood, introduced by the "if." We can read this subjunctive idea this way, "If it should be that anyone..." We cannot deny that possibility, even in the church.

Second, reading further, "If it should be that anyone among you is led astray from the truth." "Led astray" is the rendering of the verb we have in the English "wanders." It is in the passive voice, meaning that this wandering is brought about by an outside influence, whatever or whomever it may be. "Is led astray," or, "should be led astray."

What might lead one to believe that these two verses clearly show that a believer can lose his or her justification/salvation is James' use of "brothers" and "among you." James addresses his readers as brothers because that is to whom he is writing, believing brothers in the Lord. The "among you," however, is only saying that there can be among your numbers in your assembly those who hear a voice other than that of the Good Shepherd and are led astray or "deceived" by it.

"Among you" comes from a very common construction in the Greek text (
evn u`mi/n) occuring 88 times in the New Testament, 62 of those occurences translated "among you," the other 26 occurences being translated "by you" or "in you." When it is translated "among you" it is used in reference to either believers in the church or non-believers within the church.

NAS Acts 6:3 "But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Ephesians 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints,

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

There is great news in these verses from the apostle James, there is hope for all who assemble in the visible church of Jesus Christ, even those who are not yet His. Those in the church who are deceived by the voices of strangers are apostates, those who depart from the truth of the gospel that they have heard but who have not embraced it. Those who do in fact belong to the Lord Jesus Christ can and may "save a soul (the soul of the apostate) from death and cover a multitude of sins" by teaching them the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.

NAS James 5:19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

 

Those who have been turned away can be turned back, not to be "saved again" but to be saved ... period.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Do you "own" your faith and righteousness? Part 1


Owning and Praying the Prayer of Faith

James 5:13-20



INTRODUCTION: In 1983 I bought a new Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and I was so proud of my new car. The first weekend I had it I cranked her up, turned on the lights, got out of the car and stood back admiring it. “That's my car. I actually own that beautiful piece of work.” I would even do the “gangster lean” when I drove it … without my wife. It was the first new car I had bought since 1971 when I bought a Dodge Demon, purple, with the double white lines running down the side. This Olds was something I was proud to drive my little family around in. It was “our” car.

That brings me to my first point:

FIRST, “Every believer can own his or her God-given righteousness.” 5:16b
 
This isn't being selfish or deceitful or arrogant or hypocritical; we are righteous by the grace of God through faith in Christ. Every believer is righteous. That in and by itself, that every believer is righteous, is hard enough to believe. But it's the gospel truth. And until we really believe 5:16b, we'll never believe 5:14-15.

ARGU/ILLUS: When the average Christian thinks about someone being righteous we immediately think about their behavior, their deeds and so forth. And that's important. However, it's not what the Bible has in mind as a first meaning. The “first meaning” of Scriptural righteousness is strictly a righteousness that is applied to those who have faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Righteousness is the work of God, the gift of God upon all who have believed on the Lord Jesus.

Righteousness is inextricably linked to one's justification; they are part and parcel. Once an ungodly one, a sinner, comes by the grace of God to believe in and trust in Jesus Christ, that sinner is then proclaimed justified by God Himself. That, justification, simply means that God says about us that we are now fully and once for all right with Him. “To the praise of the glory of His grace.”

Are you familiar with that act of God we refer to as “the Great Exchange?” Turn to 2 Cor., ch. 5, and verses 16-21 (read this passage):

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 6 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The word says in this passage a truth we are familiar with, Jesus knew no sin, He never sinned in any way, shape, or form. And it also reminds us that we are sinners, we have sinned. But we are, nevertheless, righteous. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says this, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” There's no such animal, never has been, never will be.

Here's the truth we must remember, “Sin does not nullify one's righteousness.”

As a matter of fact, sin has nothing to do with our being declared righteous other than the fact that Jesus died for our sins, paid for our sins in full, and through faith in Him who became sin for us we have become the righteousness of God in Him.

There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Do you get that? It's too much to grasp all in one sitting, I realize. But it is true. We are right now the righteousness of God in Jesus. It is all God's doing. I repeat, “It is all God's doing.”

The construction of this verse in the Greek text employs a purpose clause easily missed if we're not careful. The purpose clause begins with our word “that,” “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”And make no mistake, God's purposes were fulfilled in, by, and through Jesus Christ.

Let me translate this verse this way which simply brings the purpose clause out more clearly for most of us, and this is faithful to the text, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” And so we became.

Own it! Own the fact, the truth, the word from God that we have indeed become the righteousness of God because we are in Christ. And then live accordingly.

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:21 To.n ga.r mh. gno,nta a`marti,an( u`pe.r h`mw/n a`marti,an evpoi,hsen( i[na h`mei/j genw,meqa dikaiosu,nh qeou/ evn auvtw/|Å


Friday, June 7, 2013

"It's spiritual warfare, brethren." Part 3

WHO'S THE BOSS?

I recently watched a movie whose previews had said something to the effect that "things aren't always what they appear to be." The twists and surprises in the movie were great. Real life is like that. Not "great" but full of twists and turns and surprises; real life is definitely not what it so often appears to be.

For example, world affairs paint a picture of chaos and corruption and violent people out of control. We are watching nations, entire nations going belly up, financially and otherwise. The most violent ideology/religion ever to curse the face of the earth is terrorizing the entire globe. And the western hemisphere, once the stalwart defenders of freedom, is crumbling in fear before Islam. But more disturbing then what we are witnessing on a surface level and working behind the scenes of this chaos is a controlling force so sinister as to be denied by world leaders, at least by western leaders.

I mean, who believes in the devil anymore? Only silly Third World ignoramuses. Who believes that Islam is the Antichrist? Only right wing fundamentalist religious fanatics. If one didn't know better, (and most certainly do not) one would say that the world has no direction. One might believe that man is the center of the universe and without some super human being stepping in to set things straight, the world has no hope. But over and above that sinister force is One more powerful and ultimately in control; He has the final say. Period! And fewer and fewer human beings are prone to believe that.

THE DECEIVER OF NATIONS: THE GREAT PUPPET MASTER FROM HELL

I watch the news and listen to the news and read the news everyday. I am daily amazed at how stupid and gullible our elected officials are, for the most part. Check this out. And this. I find it incredible that our president and his administration are moving our nation in the direction they have deemed best for our well-being. I find it equally incredible that our elected representatives who claim the label "conservative" are equally stupid and spineless. I cannot for the life of me understand (well, actually I do understand) how any conservative politician can be so utterly blind to the threats to our freedom that are winning the day in the United States of America and in Europe. Governments around the world seem to be puppets controlled by the Great Puppet Master from hell. And as you have already figured out, I believe that that is precisely the case.

Being a Christian, one who is "born from above, born of the Spirit, born again," I read and love the word of God, the Bible. It has been an absolutely integral part of my life for over 39 years; without it I would be incomplete. So if someone who believes the Bible and turns to it as the ultimate source of truth offends you, you may want to stop reading this post now.

Satan, the devil, "that old Serpent," the "dragon," is the deceiver of nations. To this truth the church of Jesus Christ must be awakened and reminded. Here is the word of God:

NAS Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

13:14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

20:2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

20:7 And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

 
Satan is deceiving the world, the nations, right now; he will be taken captive for a season and then released to deceive the nations once again. *Some believe that this has already taken place. Either way, know this, the nations are being deceived by Satan himself even as we speak.


 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"It's spiritual warfare, brethren." Part 2

The devil isn't dumb; he's got his act together. He's been doing this for a long time. And with each new generation he progresses in what he can get away with right under our noses. And as long as we leave the Holy Spirit and the word of God out of the picture we will flounder like pitiful fish washed up on shore, unable to return to the water. And for most believers, we are completely unaware of what is happening to us. We think we're just going through a tough time in our lives.

"WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES 'WILES' MEAN?"

Ephesians 6:11, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

Do you remember "Wiley Coyote?" The Roadrunner was always getting the best of ol' Wiley in those great old cartoons. I guess Wiley wasn't wiley enough. He did plan. He bought stuff from ACME that should have done the job a hundred times over. A rocket backpack, an anvil, explosives, etc., all of which were well placed and timed just right because Wiley had planned for almost everything. Well, that's kinda what our Biblical word "wiles" means. It means the "well thought out plans" of the devil. Kenneth Wuest says that wiles means that the devil has studied mankind and planned accordingly. The devil has his "methods" (the word "wiles" comes from the Greek word methodeia (meqodei,a)from which we get our word "method," and "Methodist"). And the word of God gives the believer no options on how we are to deal with the devil's wiles.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

THE OVERLOOKED AND DEEPLY EMBRACED LIFE OF LIFE APART FROM CHRIST

I never thought of how I was living before by God's grace I came to faith in Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit. Afterward I was overwhelmed with gratitude to my heavenly Father for forgiving me of all my sins. But it was a while before I came to the realization of just who had been in control of my life before I was born of the Spirit. None of us like to think that we're not in control, do we? At least of our own lives.

"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." Yep, that's who we were, where we lived, and who controlled our lives back in the day. And to make matters a little confusing, we still to this day wrestle with the leftovers of our lost lives. Yes, those horrid things we learned to do under the devil's tutelage linger around and hold some sway over all of us. But we have weapons of warfare that are not carnal but spiritual to the bringing down of his strongholds. That describes "the whole armor of God."

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"It's spiritual warfare, brethren." Part 1

I would guess that no more than a handful of Christians awake each day prepared for battle with their enemies. Our enemies are legion. And the tactics they employ against us come straight from the mind of their leader, Satan, the devil, "the prince of the power of the air." And we dare go out into his kingdom unprepared?!

The best and the brightest of our number, those whom we might put in the place of the intelligentsia, our favorite theologians or our favorite Christian "celebrities," are as foolish as the rest of us if they rest on their laurels rather than following the wisdom of the Lord Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude concerning how to specifically face our enemies. Human nature is not equipped to defeat demonic forces.

With the proliferation of false prophets and false teachers and the seed of the spirit of the Antichrist being cast abroad by Islam and the liberal and lost elementary spirits in our world, we must and we can regroup and rethink how we do warfare. Billions of souls are dependent on our holding the line and maintaining the truth of the gospel.

I'm going to do something that several of my "favorite theologians" do not like, I'm going to propose a "how to" list for waging war against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). But as I see it, this list comes from the word of God. Here it is.

HOW TO FIGHT OUR INVISIBLE ENEMIES: EPHESIANS 6:10-18

FIRST, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." This first phrase in Paul's introduction to spiritual warfare lets us know without a doubt that believers are totally, absolutely, without question helpless apart from utter dependence on the Lord. And I mean "utter dependence on the Lord."

It's easy to confuse relying on our daily prayers with relying solely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. "Well, I've prayed this morning, now I'm ready to face the world." Pride in ourselves because we've prayed misses the whole purpose of praying. True prayer begins with submission to and humbling ourselves before God. When we learn this we will see a remarkable difference in our daily living.

I've walked out of the house after a "good time in prayer" feeling right with God and ready for anything only to find myself falling almost immediately to some temptation. And I have literally asked myself or said to myself, "what's the use of praying?" It didn't seem to do any good as far as being victorious over my flesh. But that's because I was putting faith in my prayers rather than in the One to whom I was supposedly praying. Remember the manner in which the Lord taught His disciples to pray? That is our model for submission; that is our model for getting prayer right.

The only way any of us can be "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" is to begin each day by submitting ourselves to Him as we go to Him in prayer. We are already "in Christ" by the grace of God so that's taken care of for us. Now we can enter the fray by submitting to the Father.

SECOND, Submission to the Father for strength and power is submission to the Holy Spirit. So, "Be being filled with the Spirit." If you're familiar with the rest of Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus then you will remember Paul's prayers for the Ephesian believers and how he pointed them to utter dependence on the Holy Spirit for everything they needed for living in this dark kingdom including spiritual strength and power.

For instance, in chapter 1, beginning with v.15, Paul tells his readers that he's praying for them. And he gets very specific concerning the content of his prayer. He prays that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places..."

Beloved, the word of God found in this letter written by the man of God filled with the Spirit of God is telling us something absolutely mind blowing, i.e., we have, and I repeat, we have the same power of His might that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling within us through the Person of the Holy Spirit (v.19). Along with all that is now at our finger tips by the grace of God (1:3), we have like icing on the cake, "the exceeding greatness of His power" working within each of us. But keep this in mind at all times, it is His power, not ours. This is a gift to be used for His glory and the good of all the body of Christ. It is not a toy for our amusement nor is it to be abused. Seeking God's power for power's sake will only render us powerless. God still loves us and we're still saved. But He will correct us somehow.

Now, one more prayer for strength and power in and through the Holy Spirit. Chapter 3, 14-19.
 
Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 
You can't possibly miss it (well, I guess you can. It's been missed for centuries by so many). There is a God-centered and God-glorifying and body of Christ edifying power within every believer Who is the Helper the Lord Jesus promised to send. Power and strength for the battle are ours. And without them we are a defeated prey.