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Sunday, June 29, 2014

"To Judge, or not to Judge?" That is a question.

That is a question. And one that many, many Christians frequently ask. So why does this question come up so often in our circles? Here's the answer: We have so much sin in the camp.

"JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED!"

Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

This anti-judging advice was given by the Lord Jesus to a group He Himself identified as "you hypocrite." I would say it is safe to assume that when it comes to one sinner judging another sinner, one Jewish sinner judging another Jewish sinner or one Gentile sinner judging another Gentile sinner (don't forget, the Lord was preaching to Jews at the time), we all must exercise discernment and maturity. However, if we misapply this teaching we will find logs and splinters running amok in the body of Christ.

The context of this much abused commandment is the Sermon On the Mount, where the Lord Jesus laid down the law in terms that could not be misinterpreted by the Jewish hypocrites any longer. You think lust is bad? You don't know the half of it. You think hating your brother is bad? It's much worse than you think. You think you can judge your Jewish brother for every little thing while you're as guilty or worse? Let me show you just how sinful you are. But that is not the end of the story.

THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE


What is the one sure evidence that one is a disciple of Christ? Speaking in tongues? No, absolutely not! Prophesying? No sir ree Bob! Perfect obedience to the Law of Moses? That ain't happening. It is that His disciples manifest love for one another to one another and before the eyes of the world.

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

 
If we genuinely love one another it will show. If we don't, that will show. Tongues can be and usually are faked. Prophesying is the least trustworthy manifestation of a true disciple of all the gifts. Healings seldom happen even when the "healing evangelists" claim to have healed thousands (ever heard of Benny Hinn?). Christian love, a gift of God, cannot be faked...as easily anyway. We are told, after all, to work toward a genuine love (1 Jn. 4:19; Rom. 5:5; Rom. 12:9). And we are commanded to judge those in our numbers who are living in open sin; this is what godly love for one another does; it is what godly love of the body of Christ and the gospel does.

Godly love can stop the cancer-like spread of sin in the body of Christ.


1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.


Lets say we belong to a local church ("we belong to a local church") and a young man and a young woman are living together without marriage (that's "fornication") who are "members" of our congregation. What do we do? Wink at that sin and tell ourselves, "Well, they're so sweet and cute and in love. What's the harm? Besides his father is a deacon in our church." No, we don't (or actually, we do. That's what usually happens these days, isn't it?). For the sake of the body of Christ and in love, love for the body and love for those who are openly living in sexual immorality, we are commanded to confront them, gently, not abrasively, and discipline them, explaining why we must do what we are doing. If they profess faith in Christ, we must judge them and deal appropriately with them. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and restore such ones; that is our goal.

2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

 
 And just who among you is fit for such a task? Not everyone...but some are:


Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

There is sin in the camp and there always will be. The solution will never be to stop sinning, but to confess our sins one to another. The solution is not for us to suddenly begin running around judging every little sin we know of. That is the hypocritical kind of judging the Lord forbids. But to judge those who are living openly and flagrantly in sin as Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 5 that can spread in the body of Christ like cancerous leaven. That's what love does. And sometimes, like truth, love hurts.
 
 


 
 
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Lets take this verse (word) and run with it. Who cares about context!"

How many times have you heard Philippians 4:13 quoted? I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Or, Philippians 4:19? And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Well, have you ever heard someone talk about "now faith?" It's supposedly found in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." See, there it is. We're supposed to have "now faith," whatever that means. But the missing ingredient in the application of all three verses is the absolutely essential ingredient of context. Without context one has a pretext, or worse, a proof text. The missing ingredient of context makes for poisoned food.

Now I'll admit that taking Scripture out of context can be fun and exciting for many folks. I'll never forget how excited my charismatic friends were in 1975 when someone first pointed out the "now" in Hebrews 11:1. But it betrays a lack of love for the veracity of Scripture and its integrity. Taking, quoting, and applying Scripture out of context is the stuff of babes in Christ, the cults and heresies, not the faith once delivered to the saints.

So how is it that Philippians 4:13 and 4:19 are taken out of context? And how can we tell when they're being taken out of context? I'm glad you asked those questions.

That's easy. Have those quoting 4:13 learned how to be content in both abundance and lack? Have they actually learned through life experience the way the apostle learned contentment? No one can "claim" 4:13 who hasn't learned 4:11-12. Notice that Paul does not say "and you can do all things."
 Of course you can do all things through Him who strengthens you if it is true that you have learned either through experience or by "owning" the truth revealed in the written word to be content in all circumstances. But the truth is, most of us haven't learned.

And second, Paul isn't speaking exclusively of future trials and blessings, but he is telling us that he himself went through a lot of bad experiences and through them all he learned that he can indeed trust His Savior and now he can do all things through the One who strengthened him in the midst of those trials and blessings (blessings of abundance can trip one up with pride).

That's what the context of 4:13 teaches us.

What about 4:19? How is that commonly taken out of context? That's easy as well.

What is the context of 4:19? It is that the Philippians had sent Paul monetary support. Read the context:

4:14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15 And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Those who "claim" 4:19 (as many erroneously do) cannot legitimately do so if they have not supported the work of the ministry somewhere with their monetary gifts. This is what one of my former pastors referred to when he said "some are waiting for their ship to come in when they have never sent one out." That is the lesson of context for 4:19.

Ignoring the context of Scripture can and does bring disillusionment to many genuine believers while grasping the necessity of context has blessed many a believer. So while it may be fun and exciting to take Scripture out of context, it is beneficial to keep it in its proper context.

 
 
 
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"The god of this world (age)": The "spirit" behind the "spirit of the antichrist"

PART ONE
NAS 2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

It's as simple and as profound as that. The word of God declares it to be so. And as this physical world goes through this evil "age," we will see remarkable occurrences of incredible demonstrations of spiritual blindness, e.g., the masses believing doctrines of devils that stun those who are "in Christ" because of the ridiculous nature of those doctrines. How can anyone professing faith in Christ listen to and believe Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar when they openly and so brazenly deny the deity of Jesus Christ? The only way to explain that is by taking God at His word when He lays out for us just how the devil works in this present age and time.

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."

Every God-called gospel preacher worth his salt finds himself having to defend himself and his calling before his audience more often than he would wish. Sometimes the preacher must defend himself and his God-given word before his own congregation, sometimes before outsiders. Paul the apostle was no exception.

In my first pastorate, I was "called on the carpet" by the power man of our little congregation, not once but several times after he accused me of teaching error that I never taught. This particular man was an unregenerate according to his wife, and knew no Bible at all except for the little bit he picked up as a child in Sunday School. Yet, he would bring in to my study a legal pad with what he saw as error. After inviting him to listen to the tape of the sermons he criticized, he declined. The unfortunate part of my little tale is he managed to sway his loyal friends and after five and a half years, I let him win. In my last sermon I let the congregation know that I had faithfully preached to them the "whole counsel of God" without compromise, never "adulterating the word of God" and my hands were clean of the blood of all of them.

PART TWO
"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

They are in every local church, "those who are perishing." They are the ones who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and God Incarnate and Son of God and Son of Man. These are the ones who like life as it is and wouldn't change a thing. After all, if they come to the light, their evil deeds and intentions would be exposed by the Holy Spirit Himself, and that would hurt (John 3:16-21). These have believed the lie instead of the truth; they love the lie and hate the truth (2 Thess. 2:1-12). God has turned such over to the jailor that their sentence might begin even while they walk on this earth. He has given them over to do whatever it is that their evil hearts desire that they might be justly condemned on that Day.

"Those who are perishing" do not see that they're perishing. They do not see and cannot see the "veil" of "the god of this age" that is blinding them from seeing the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." They deny even the Master who bought them (2 Pet. 2:1-3). By denying the deity of Christ Jesus they "do not confess that Jesus has come in the flesh," and are "of the spirit of the antichrist" (1 Jn. 2:18-19; 4:1-3) and have therefore denied the One who bought them, "who is the image of God." This damnable heresy is rampant among those in the Word of Faith Movement, the greatest threat to the gospel in church history. I write this article and others that "the gospel might remain" with us (Gal. 2:5).

PART THREE
"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake."

When was the last time (or first, for that matter) you got the impression that a televangelist was "your bond-servant?" Bond-servant, btw, comes from the Greek word meaning the lowest kind of slave. When was the last time you watched a truly humble televangelist who didn't have a huge sing trumpeting his or her "ministry?" The WofF cannot "move" in the "flow" of a lowly slave.
This, from Kenneth Copeland, talks about "this ministry" and he actually brags about being a billionaire and his yearly income. This false messenger has no shame. You may have to scroll through my facebook page to find it.

PART FOUR
"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

The difference between those who are in Christ and those who are not is the difference between light and darkness. Whereas our Creator (that's the reference in Paul's "For God, who said, Light shall shine out of darkness") has graciously by His glorious grace "shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." He "is the One" who initiated our justification, our forgiveness, our redemption and regeneration and reconciliation. Our salvation is first and foremost of God, not ourselves. After His gift of "the light" and all that comes with light, we freely and willing came to faith in Christ. "No one can (has the ability) come to Me except the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn. 6:44). And that without exception (14:6).

We have the light-giving knowledge of the glory of God that was and is manifested in the incarnate Christ. When Jesus said "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father," that is part of what He revealed. And only by the grace of the Lord Jesus can we see (know) the Father (Mt. 11:27).

There are not two gods ruling over this world or this age, there is only one God. The devil is a defeated foe as far as the kingdom of God is concerned. But in this world flowing in the spirit of this evil age, the devil has his way with his own, not God's beloved. He is a threat and an able foe to us, but he can be turned by our simple act of resistance.

"Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world!" And we are called to go into this dark world with the gospel of light and bring the lost to faith in Jesus and establish them in the faith, i.e., make disciples.
 

 


 

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Jesus is God!" Our times demand a Council to deal with 21st century heresies

After studying church history in college and seminary and the several "councils" that were held to combat the heresies of their times, I have thought it surprising that no such councils are meeting in our day to combat flagrant heresies that are just as damnable as were those of the 3rd and 4th century church. Heretics such as Arius who denied the deity of Christ, Apollinarius who denied the humanity of Christ, and Nestorius who also denied the deity of Christ, were dealt with respectively at the Council of Nicea, the Council of Constantinople, and the Council of Ephesus. Each council had an impact on their world and their times.

Heresies denying the deity of Christ are just as ubiquitous and egregious in our day as were the teachings of any of the above named heretics. And today our charlatans have the advantage of modern media to help spread their word. Multiple millions of the unwary can be reached in the comfort of their homes in our day and age; and they are.

The cults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and The Holy Roman Catholic Church have been thoroughly dealt with over the last 250 years so that the extant materials exposing them for what they are is readily available to anyone interesting in learning all about them. But they have never been addressed in any kind of body universally recognized as authoritative (with the recent ascension of the very much loved Pope Francis to the papal throne, the dangers of that cult reaching millions more has increased). And now, adding to the plethora of damnable heresies other than those I have named, there is the most popular of all heresies, the so-called "Word of Faith Movement."

Joel Osteen (who is to the word of faith movement what the pope is to Catholicism), along with Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn, to name but a few out of thousands of popular false teachers, must be called out for what they are.

As they lead us into the apostasy where they themselves will be but minor players if they are allowed to even exist by the big dogs of the apostasy, those who by God's grace know the truth of the gospel and stand for that truth, can and must take it upon themselves to expose these works of eternal darkness. It may be that nothing less than a world-wide council of Biblical men and women of God will be needed to make such an exposure. But however grand the scale of such a council (much larger than John MacArthur's "Strange Fire" conference and better focused on the real problems at hand), it needs to begin forming now. "The days are evil."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Evangelicalism and the Apostasy

The Assemblies of God Pentecostal denomination reports that around 1,400 churches of various denominations close their doors every year. Al Mohler reports this morning that "church" buildings around the globe are being converted to everything from night clubs to mosques without the communities around them so much as blinking an eye. And it isn't because the congregations that once assembled in these structures grew too big to remain in them. No, these churches simply died.

As a college and then seminary student, I supply preached in many small churches in North  and South Carolina and later as pastor of my first church in Virginia I filled in for churches without a pastor. I have seen first-hand what the above reports report; it is true. I think I know why so many congregations have died and made-like-Elvis and "left the building."

First, pastors have turned the word of God into nothing more than a "how-to" instruction manual. "How to have a happy marriage." "How to have a healthy family." "How to have a healthy income." It really is pathetic what we have allowed the Bible to become. Those "How-to's" are fine occasionally. But they are not the main thing. And even the dying know it. The dying want to know "Where can I find life and peace and reconciliation to my Creator?" And the living need to have this question answered, "What does it mean that I should 'walk in a manner worthy of my calling?'"

Second, and this is the most important "thing," the matter that is lacking; the luke warm, the starving, those who are actually born again but dying of hunger and thirst for righteousness, need to be reminded that the gospel is for them, not just the lost. The living need to hear and must hear that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His ascension into heaven and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit are essential matters of this life that we need daily.

We the living are a needy bunch. We sin everyday. We deal with worldly issues everyday. We have problems that can only be resolved by the One who is able to do far exceedingly above and beyond anything we can ask or think. And that is the gospel. The gospel isn't just evangelistic preaching. The gospel is what we preach...period. The gospel is the entirety of the word of God; the word of God is the gospel.

"It is finished" but it's not over yet. It is finished can be applied to every festering sore the Christian has. There's a "how-to-sermon" for ya. And without applying it is finished to the lives of believers and the unregenerate who gather in our churches each week, we cannot be surprised when we find ourselves in the midst of the apostasy. Evangelicalism isn't really evangelicalism without the word of God and the preaching of the gospel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The "born again" part and the "not born again" part of the believer in Christ

Yep, we suffer from schizophrenia, or better, dual beings (not really schizo, but...).

Every Christian, those who are truly "born again," "born from above," has both an inner man and an outer man. And most of us cannot discern the difference. I find a great deal of comfort in knowing this. But at the same time (here's where I get schizo), I can't tell if I'm sinning or my outer man is sinning. Actually, I can. Here's how, when I sin, it was my outer man, the inner man CANNOT sin, it's that simple.

NASB 1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

There is a truth in this verse that one must not overlook that I overlooked for many years which brought me great consternation because I overlooked it.

As one can plainly see in the Greek text I have included below, the verb translated variously "does not" sin and "practice(s)" sin is present active indicative. That is where the idea of "practicing" sin comes from. That is good. "Whoever has been born of God does not sin..." "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning..." "No one who is born of God practices sin..." My own contribution, "no one born of God is doing sin." And those translations give a proper rendering of the verb tense. But there's more to it.

Saying, "now watch this" (my Stanley quote for the day), "No one born of God practices sin" (NASB) is another way of saying "cannot sin." Notice the context. "No one who is born of God practices sin because he cannot sin because he is born of God and God's seed has taken up permanent residence in the believer making it impossible for that believer to sin." Got it? Read it again.

Now, here's the missing part that kinda puts all this together. The "one born of God" is our "inner man." Remember that. The place where "His seed remains," is in our inner man. Our inner man cannot sin because he is born of God and God abides there giving us new life that cannot sin. We are so constituted that our inner man cannot sin. But there's more. Yeeeee ha!

Every one who is born again is "born of the Spirit." We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, living in union with our inner man, making us "one spirit with the Lord" (1 Cor. 6:17). We will never be and cannot ever be separated from the Holy Spirit. While our outer man is given to sinning (Rom. 7:25) and is at this very moment perishing (2 Cor. 4:16), our inner man is "being renewed day by day" and will never come into condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

Our inner man is ready and listening to the Holy Spirit's leading. He cannot sin. And working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit we can prevent our "flesh," our outer man, that remaining corruption in all of us, from reigning as king over us. We will never reach sinless perfection in the outer man because it is, after all, corrupt, and God has ordained it so that He might keep our lives in proper perspective, giving Him all the glory for our new lives, our forgiveness of sins, our redemption, our justification, and our reconciliation (2 Cor. 4:6-7). And I love it like that. "Father, unto you be all the glory and the power forever and ever, Amen."

nkj 1 John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

ESV 1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:9 Pa/j o` gegennhme,noj evk tou/ qeou/ a`marti,an ouv poiei/( o[ti spe,rma auvtou/ evn auvtw/| me,nei\ kai. ouv du,natai a`marta,nein( o[ti evk tou/ qeou/ gege,nnhtaiÅ



1 Corinthians 6:17
But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

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

 
Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
 

Romans 8:38
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;

 
 



"The devil; Resist him and he WILL flee." James 4:7

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

That's it. Seriously. It is that simple.


The devil is real. He is invisible. He is not omnipotent; he is powerful; he is not omniscient; but he is studied and knowledgeable; he is not omnipresent; but his messengers are universally at work. So when we're commanded to resist him and it is actually his messengers we are resisting it can be said that we are resisting the devil. For all practical purposes the devil and his minions are one and the same, and they're nothing to play around with.

Too many Christians limit Satan's work to tempting us to sin through sins like stealing and sexual immorality and greed and envy, etc., etc., when those sins come from our flesh without any help from the devil (James 1:14).

Satan's primary goal is to deceive us into believing the lies and heresies of his false "servants of righteousness." It works well against the unregenerate and too often against those who belong to Jesus. Thus Paul and Peter and James and John and Jude warn the body of Christ about such deception. I hope my readers will now look at the full armor of God and what is named in the pieces of armor we're to put on in a new light. It is armor that defeats the "wiles of the devil," the "schemes" of the devil (K. Wuest defines "wiles" as the devil's studied methods, coming from the Greek word where we get "method").

Paul was in a constant war against "false apostles" and false prophets and false teachers. These were all false "servants of righteousness." With the word of God as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 11:12, I too, will not stop exposing the false servants of Satan.

Now, how can getting the devil to flee be so simple and easy? We who are submitted to God have an absolute advantage over the devil and he recognizes two things about us. First, he can see a submitted child of God, he can discern godly submission. Second, he knows this, "Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world." When the devil sees a submitted child of God what he really sees (in my humble opinion) is God in us, he sees God! The devil has no reason to fear us or to flee from us unless he sees our submission to God and he sees the Holy Spirit in us. Remember the 7 Jewish exorcists?

Putting on the whole armor of God is a pleasure, not some tedious chore. Putting on the whole armor of God should come to us as natural as getting dressed in the morning is second nature. We have no excuse for being defeated by the enemy. We have absolutely no excuse for being deceived by our modern day false servants of righteousness. We are His sheep and we hear His voice, His doctrines, His teachings, and the voices of the false servants of righteousness sound to us as what they really are, the voices of false shepherds (John 10).

So, take heart, beloved. Truly, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.



2 Corinthians 11:12
But what I am doing, I will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.


Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. :17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims." 14 And seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.



 



 

 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Blessing of the Ungodly Justified: Romans 4

Why do people hate grace? Why do Christians fear grace? Why is it so many who profess faith in Christ are afraid that if they stress grace their hearers are going to suddenly hit the bars and the brothels? It's because it has happened; it happens. But that says everything about their hearers and nothing about grace.

Grace is about more than the forgiveness of our sins. Grace is also about justification and sanctification and regeneration and reconciliation and the renewing of our inner man, our minds.

Grace instructs.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;

That's what grace does.


Jesus is "grace incarnate."


John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

But there's more:


15 John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16 For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.


Note the intentional contrast between the Law of Moses and Jesus. The Law is just and right and good, but it is weak through the flesh and can only bring death (Rom. 7; 8:3; 2 Cor. 3). And note the same contrast in the passage below. This contrast emphasizes the life-giving difference between the two covenants. This is the blessing of the justified ungodly.


2 Corinthians 3:3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. 4 And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.



Now Romans 4 (yes, I'm going large letter; unintended). 

 Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8 "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."

What did Abraham find? Seriously, what did he find? He found that "God is true" (3:4); he found that he could trust God with his very life and all that he had and all that he would have; he found that God was able to do all that He promised to do, and in turn, God called Abraham righteous (4:3).


Abraham saw that there was so much more to the promise of a son to him and Sara, he saw Jesus, he saw grace incarnate coming in the Person of the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ. He saw the New Covenant. "The gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand"

Galatians 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations shall be blessed in you."
And here, beloved, is an essential part of that blessing, just a part:

"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8 "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."

Beloved, embrace grace.
 

 


 
 
 




 
 



 



 

How Wonderful, My Justification, On a Beautiful Sunday Morning

I'm sitting on my deck with my Jack Russell, "Buddy," on my lap with my laptop resting on him and a cup of coffee on the little table beside me. I am so absolutely full of joy and love for my Savior at this moment that I was telling Him just how much (in my limited vocabulary. Ahhhh, for the gift of tongues) I am thankful for my justification.

I didn't say "salvation," even though those two terms are synonymous, but "justification." It is amazing that God graciously saved me out of a life of drugs and sexual promiscuity back in 1974. How could He love such scum as I was? He could because He is "I Am," from whom comes love in the first place, "I love Him and others because He first loved me." (1 Jn. 4:19). And how could He possibly "justify the ungodly" such as I? (1 Cor. 1:18-31; 6:9-11). By His grace I trust the One who justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5).

Just think, before the beginning of time, from the foundation of the world, God chose me and saved me purely because that's what He decided to do; it had nothing to do with anything I did or didn't do (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:4; Titus 1:1-2 and lest we forget, Romans 8:29-30). God is sovereign over all the earth and over all its occupants.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Sin-Problem-Solving, Faith-Building, Faith of Abraham: Romans 4:19

At last! I've found a way to stop beating myself up over my on-going problem of sin. Kinda.

I sin, you sin, we all sin. And some of our sins really, really bother us. Other of our sins bother us just a little. That's the way it is; that's the way it's supposed to be. However, if we find ourselves living defeated lives as God's children because of our remaining sinfulness and the sins that come out of our remaining sinfulness and the guilt that often follows them, we're doing something very wrong. And I know what it is. I'll tell you in a minute.

I am one who in the past was given to loathing myself. That's a terrible way to go through life. I was defeated from the time I got out of bed to the time I got back in bed. My dear old dad had beat into my psyche the idea that what I did, determined who and what I was. I nourished the seeds he planted and reaped the whirlwind. Even after, or I might say especially after my coming to faith in Christ, I loathed myself deeply because of the clear manifestation of my sinfulness. It was bad enough before my eyes were opened to just how sinful I was. So after my conversion I hit the bottom.

It should not have ever happened. But it did. It was what it was.

At this point in my new life as a believer, some strong brother(s) should have been there for me pointing me upward and not inward. But they weren't there. It was what it was. There was truly no one to blame but yours truly (I guess). This is why it is so, so essential that we make disciples and not just converts. A parent would never leave his or her infant to fen for itself. Now I don't won't to leave my brothers and sisters wallowing in guilt or self-pity on account of their remaining sinfulness to fen for themselves. I have found in the word of God from the life of Abraham the solution to self-loathing.

I realize that not everyone loathes themselves as I was given to do. But for those who are defeated by guilt and self-condemnation who belong to Jesus Christ, I want to at least try to make a difference. No one, no matter at what point they are in their faith, will be at ease with their sinfulness. But what I am going to present today can make a tremendous difference. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

THE FAITH OF AN OLD MAN WHO KNEW WHERE NOT TO LOOK

This is Paul's reason for using Abraham as an example for us of having the saving kind of faith in God. It would have made complete sense for Abraham and Sara to say "no way, Jose" to God when He told them they would have a baby the following year. I mean they were well passed their child conceiving and bearing years. Their bodies were old as dirt. But that isn't what Abraham focused on.

Abraham's reality was he was old and he didn't deny it. In fact, he gave that fact some consideration. "He contemplated his own body," He "observed" his own body. He thought about his own body. He looked at it. But! he honed in on the promise of God.

Abraham saw a greater truth that put his old body in context of the promise of God.


NAS Romans 4:19 And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;
 
"Without becoming weak in faith." Abraham was able to contemplate his body without growing weak in faith toward God. That's amazing. There was no earthly reason for him to think he could ever have a son with Sara. But having heard from God from his days in Ur, he knew God was One who kept His word and was able to do whatever He purposed to do and promised to do. That is faith.

4:20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

That, in my opinion, is the Biblical definition of saving faith, "and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform."
 


I know this God! I know the same God Abraham knew. And I know Him in a more intimate and personal way than Abraham knew Him. By God's grace through the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearing of the gospel, I know God in such an intimate way that He has chosen to live inside me. By the grace of God I heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the same way Abraham came to know God, by faith. Remember what Paul wrote to the Galatians? The gospel was preached to Abraham and by God's grace Abraham believed it without having the whole story.

Here's the solution to our problem with our residual sinfulness,

We can see our old natures in context of the fulfilled promises of God in Jesus Christ. It is precisely what Abraham did, but in reverse. We see promises not waiting to be fulfilled but fulfilled.

We can see our remaining corruption, our sinful flesh, in context of the fulfilled promises of God in Jesus Christ. "It (really) is finished!"

We can consider that part of us, our old man, our flesh, our remaining sinfulness, as Abraham considered his old body, without growing weak in faith, knowing that God has fulfilled His promises to Abraham and to Jesus for us.

We look at the promises God made to Abraham from a 21st century perspective. And we see them all fulfilled in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:19-22). Abraham knew God would do what He had promised to do; we know that He indeed did do what He promised Abraham He would do.

For all who are in Christ, without exception, we can know assuredly that in the fulfilling of the promises, provision was made for every sin we have ever and will ever commit. We consider our old man, now dead, in the light of the finished work of Christ.

So don't wallow in your remaining sinfulness. Don't loathe one for whom Christ died and paid for. "Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." From now on, look at your remaining sinfulness in light of context of the finished work of Christ.

"Anti-Christ Alert!" Kenneth Copeland/Creflo Dollar

"In order for the Word of Faith Movement heresies to be believable, man must be exalted and Jesus must be reduced to a mere man in the minds of both the deceivers and those whom they deceive. It is happening and it is working." Johnny T. Helms, June 18, 2014.

"Never did I ever imagine that the spirit of the antichrist would draw away hundreds of deceivers  from within the visible church in order to draw millions of willing disciples to himself through the modern means of television, the printed page, the internet, the pulpit, and our beloved high tech devices. The anti-Christ is multiplying his disciples by the day as we watch it happening in our living rooms and offices and wherever his broadcasts are available." Johnny T. Helms, June 20, 2014.

Very few church-goers know anything about the "spirit of the anti-Christ" and likewise, very few know anything about the notorious and very popular Word of Faith Movement spearheaded by "faith teachers" such as Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis and Creflo Dollar. And the sad and disturbing truth about this ignorance is that most church-goers just don't give a hoot about either.  While church-goers want their children in church, they are settling for letting them stay home and watch brother Joel, the most popular false teacher of our time. So in order to bring at least a handful who will read this blog post to a level of knowledge about the two heresies mentioned above that they might be made accountable for their willful ignorance, I'm going to lay out for them a Biblical definition of "anti-Christ" and two or three examples of faith teachers who blatantly deny the divinity of Jesus, that He was and is God; that "Jesus has come in the flesh." Lets begin with the Scriptural references to anti-Christ:




1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

 




1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.





2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Notice, dear reader, where the antichrists come from. "They went out from us, but they were not really of us." (1 Jn. 2:19). This is consistent with Paul's words to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 and Peter's words in his second letter, ch. 2:1-3. These deceivers gather with the visible church but then leave in order to draw disciples unto themselves for fame and fortune. They are false shepherds who hear the voices of strangers and take up the strangers voices.



Second, note this, the antichrists teach a false Jesus, a false Christ, but they teach a Jesus just the same. And remember this, the word "anti-Christ" doesn't just mean "one who is against Christ," but "instead of Christ," "instead of the true Christ."


Third, we can be assured as those who do indeed belong to Him that we have an anointing the deceived do not possess and we know the truth.






1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.


It is the "spirit of the antichrist" dwelling within the deceived that brings them to deny that Jesus is God in the flesh. The words "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" clearly teach that Jesus came from being with the Father in heaven to take on the form of a man; He became flesh (Jn. 1:1-3, 14). He is the Son of God, God the Son, who became a man; He was and is God incarnate. He is 100% God, 100% man. Here is what the spirit of the antichrist says about the divinity of Jesus through the Word of Faith teachers: *All of the quotes by Copeland and Dollar are from Hank Hannegraff's book, "Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century. I highly recommend this book)

Creflo Dollar

"And somebody said, well, Jesus came as God! Well, how many of you know the Bible says God never sleeps nor slumbers? And yet in the book of Mark we see Jesus asleep in the back of the boat. Please listen to me. Please listen to me. This ain't no heresy. I'm not some false prophet. I'm just reading this thing out to you of the Bible. I'm just telling you, all these fantasy preachers have been preaching all of this stuff for all of these years, and we bought the package."

"If Jesus came as God and he got tired--he says he sat down by the well because he was tired--boy, we're in trouble." "If Jesus came as God, then why did God have to anoint him?" "Jesus came as a man, that's why it was legal to anoint him--God doesn't need anointing. He is anointed. Jesus came as a man, and at age thirty God is now getting ready to demonstrate to us and give us an example of what a man with the anointing can do."

 



That is nothing less than denying that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, God incarnate, God with us, God the Son. Creflo Dollar is of the spirit of the anti-christ. Yes, Mr. Dollar, this is heresy, and you are a false prophet.



Kenneth Copeland

The context of Kenneth Copeland's remarks that follow has to do with his argument against God being legally able to be our redeemer: "It's got to be a man. He's got to be a all man. He cannot be a God and come storming in here with attributes and dignities that are not common to man. He can't do that. It's not legal."

Now listen to this. When the Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter warned the body of Christ about coming false teachers, He nailed it, giving us a fairly detailed description of what we can expect from them.

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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

That which is false must arise from that which is true. False Hebrew prophets arose from the true Hebrews and their prophets. It is likewise with the true church, they arise from within the true body of Christ and they depart from the faith with their deceptions while remaining in the visible church. "There will also be false teachers among you."

The visible church and the true church has enough knowledge to know truth when they hear it. But the false teachers, rising up from among us, take just enough of the truth needed in order to sound orthodox in order to draw the unregenerate out of the visible church and form their own movements, their own churches. However, even the true sheep of the Good Shepherd will be included in their exploitations.


The Holy Spirit foretold through the apostle Peter the coming of the "health and wealth" heresies, pointing out so clearly that these false teachers would be money and man-centered. "And in their greed they will exploit you with false words (lit., "made up stories," i.e., bogus testimonies kai. evn pleonexi,a| plastoi/j lo,goij u`ma/j evmporeu,sontai(

And sealing their eternal fates and that of those who follow them, they go so far as to "deny the Lord who bought them." The words of Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland demonstrate just how these so-called "faith teachers" are doing just that; they deny who Jesus was and is, God incarnate; Jesus is God!

That's enough. The entire so-called "Word of Faith Movement" birthed by E.W. Kenyon and his disciple Kenneth Hagin and his disciples the Copelands is based on the leading of the spirit of the anti-Christ and nothing less.

To the visible church and those who genuinely belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, I give you the words of the apostle Paul, "Do not be deceived (any longer)" (1 Cor. 6:9).




  

 
















 
 



  
 
 
 







 
 




 

  







    
 
 
 

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

God the Holy Spirit Wants To Fill You With Himself

How many of you are afraid of the Holy Ghost? Seriously. Lets see those hands. How many are afraid of what might happen to you if you either received the Holy Spirit or were consistently "filled with the Spirit?" Well, one thing for sure, if one doesn't have the Holy Spirit one isn't "saved" (Rom. 8:9). And another thing, if one isn't being consistently filled and lead by the Holy Spirit one is blatantly disobedient to God Himself and has reason to question his/her kinship to the Father (Rom. 8:14; Eph. 5:18). So what's the problem?

Another thing is for sure, without the Holy Spirit (that translates into being without Christ) those who profess faith in Christ cannot do anything but mess up things in the congregation where that one "goes to church." "Apart from Me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:5). Do you know of such a congregation where things just stay messed up? Where there's always division and trouble of some kind? Where "power" people or a power person runs things?

We humans who claim to "follow" Jesus tend to do church our way. We really don't care what the Spirit would have to say about what we're planning or doing. We offer token prayers with a nod to Jesus, and that's all. What would happen if someone in the church obeyed the imperative to be filled with the Spirit and to "walk in the Spirit?" He or she might just get "run off." But we're not going to think that way in this post; we're going to approach this whole idea of living in the Spirit in an up-lifting way.

Spirit-filled Christians do not suddenly go bizarre in spite of what you may see on television and the internet. Spirit-filled Christians rejoice in the Lord and pray and desire to live in a manner worthy of their calling. Spirit-filled Christians are spiritually gifted in ways that go contrary to how we're used to doing church and worshipping our Savior. They don't become "charismatic" as in the Charismatic Movement kind of charismatic, or Pentecostal, they are simply being filled with the Spirit as they're supposed to be. No doubt they will be called either charismatic or Pentecostal, but there are worse things to be called.

By obeying that one imperative in Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 18-21, we can witness the empowering of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and the good of all who assemble with us. And the power and strength and knowledge and peace and unity and fellowship that come out of the fullness of the Spirit will and can transform our local churches. And His presence can bear witness to our communities through us that the gospel is indeed the way to the Father.

The world has seen what men wholly consecrated to God can do in spite of what the man said to Moody way back when. The world gets little glimpses of such godly and sound men and women in every generation. Lets let our generation give the world a glimpse. Lets be filled with the Spirit.

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Sinners Saved and Living By Grace Are Saints"

I am a saint. Seriously. I am a saint. And if that's not boastful enough, I am a "holy one." And lets take it to the next level, "I am righteous." I am a righteous dude.

I am a saint, a holy one, a righteous man who knows all too well that I am none of those things in and of myself or on my own. I am what I am by the grace of God and by His grace alone.

The Holy One, Jesus, did for me and every believer all those things that God demanded we do but could not do. That's how He went to the cross, perfectly (in the true sense of the word) fulfilling His Father's will. That is amazing. And that's what He meant when He said in His agony from the cross, "It is finished!" What God demanded of us that we could not do He did to perfection so that He could say, "It is finished."

But do not overlook the wonderful truth that His "finish" is now applied to us who have by God's grace come to faith in Jesus. He took perfection to the cross and nailed it there.

Only the One who is perfect could become sin for us that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Only the Perfect One could take upon Himself the wrath of God that the world deserves and all the sins of the world in such a way that those who come to Him will never take God's wrath upon themselves or be accountable for their sins. Praise God!

Only the Perfect One could take the law and its life-killing letter to the cross in a final way and remove us from under the law by uniting us with Himself in His body.

And only the Perfect One can sit at the right hand of the Father intervening and mediating on our behalf as we live out our sin-stained lives.

"O wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ." Our deliverance, our reconciliation, our justification, our sanctification are ours solely because the One Who Is Perfect was Perfect on our behalf and His perfection was then imputed unto us. Remember Ecc. 7:20!

Every believer is delivered now just as surely as he will be in that final deliverance.

 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For the Body of Christ, Affirmming Homosexual Marriages Means Rejecting the Clear Word of Jesus

It really is as simple as that.

And it really is as simple a matter as deliberately rejecting the clear word of God on the way God created humans, male and female, and His one-way plan for humans to be united in matrimony.

So why is it some in the Christian camp do just that, deliberately reject the clear mandate of God Himself regarding His heterosexual design for His most glorious creatures? It is what it is because way back a long, long time ago the first two human beings decided to try another route to eternal bliss and ended up becoming just like all of us are now. And that's why, boys and girls, some men like men and some women like women and some men like men and women and some women like women and men and some don't like either one so they married the opposite sex and became Presbyterians and Republicans. Adam and Eve really confused what was designed to be so simple and erotic, in a holy way.

OUR FIRST CLUE

It's there in black and white, Genesis 1:26,

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

It is evident from the beginning that our Creator has to share some in the blame for the mess we're in. I mean, really. He (otherwise known as "Us" and "Our" and "God" and "His") "created man in His own image," which necessarily includes male and female aspects of God since the Scripture reads, "in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." "Them" and "him." Him includes male and female which is really confusing from jump street. Man has both chromosomes, X and Y, the female only has the Y chromosome. Odd, given that woman was made up of bone stuff taken from the male. But it had to be that way or it wouldn't have worked out, heterosexually speaking.

The X/Y design gave man just a little taste of what sexual intercourse should be like for the woman as well as for himself. It was meant to make the man seek pleasure for the woman, sensing in himself her experience. "Oh man. This must be great for her." The males X/Y make-up was meant to produce a vicarious thrill for him that encouraged him to stay around long enough to bring her to an orgasm. That would have eliminated the need for the insecure male asking afterward, "was it good for you?" This was, of course, the way we were.

The females Y/Y design left her with no choice in the matter, her desire was to be after her man. That is until that "old serpent," the "dragon" came onto the scene and ruined everything for Adam and Eve. After that, human sexuality would never be the same.

The way human beings have felt about and experienced sexual intercourse since the fall has included adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, bi-sexuality, transgendered sexuality, sexual promiscuity, prostitution, rape, serial killings featuring sexual crimes, pornography and masturbation. It only makes sense that now all-things-gay are being promoted.

But it wasn't all about sex in the Garden. In fact, it was little about sex. Life was all about man's wonderful relationship to his Creator before he foolishly decided it could get even better. It was man's rebellion against God and His revealed reliability and integrity that started us on the path that has brought us to this place of rejecting God's will and His law and His word as a matter of "it's-just-what-we-do" kind of living. Rejecting God's word is accepted as routine and completely acceptable.

Defending the truth of the gospel while loving our enemies is getting more difficult while so many who profess faith in Christ reject His clear word on a number of social issues. But we must do it. Souls are at stake.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"A Well Dressed Man:" The Whole Armor of God: Don't leave home without it.

The devil is real. He is just as real as any of God's good angels who are given to serve the body of Christ and do all kinds of stuff.

The devil is as real as I am.

The devil is real bad (forgive the grammar). In Matthew 6 we find what is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer." In that prayer the Lord says this, "and deliver us from 'evil,'" in our English versions. However, the word for evil in that prayer is the Greek word poneros and it has the definite article with it, it reads "the" evil. But there's more.

The words ha poneros, "ha" being the definite article "the," says "the evil" and with poneros being a masculine noun, we can read it this way "and deliver us from the evil one." But there's more.

This particular Greek word for evil is rather unique. It refers to "evil with a vengeance." Kenneth Wuest gives the best definition/interpretation of poneros I have found, he renders it "evil that is actively opposed to the good."

I like that. Wuest's definition goes well with 1 Peter 5:8


1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.



Seeking someone to devour." That says the devil is actively seeking to destroy the work of God and the work that the children of God do. He seeks to destroy us. He can only destroy our bodies, thank God, but that is more than enough to put an end to what we're doing. We are to arm ourselves against his assaults without fearing him. Easier said than done.


Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

We have the provision for spiritual warfare that can thwart every purpose of the devil against us, we have the "whole armor of God" available now.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.


Note this, we were once servants of the evil one and gladly following him in his kingdom of darkness and death (Eph. 2:1-3). The "rulers," the "powers," "the world forces of this darkness," and the "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" were at one time for each of us the authorities we were subject to. We were "dead in trespasses and sins" and "without God in this world" and "without hope" (vv11-12, *13). Those same demonic powers want us back. The great news is this, we are in the body of Christ. We are alive. And while the powers of hell can't get us back because of the very fact that we are now alive, they can render us useless.

"But God!" (2:4).

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are well dressed children of God; we wear the whole armor of God. We have the robe of righteousness. Don't leave home without it.
 



 

 
 
 



 
 




 
 
 

Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraff

This is without a doubt one of more important books of our time regarding the propagation of damnable heresies by one particular movement, if you will, of men and women who are deceived and deceiving with damnable and destructive heresies. The Word of Faith movement and its "faith" teachers are turning millions of lost souls into idolators by exacerbating their already ingrained love of all things evil. And if you ever wonder if these purveyors of heresy are "of their father the devil," wonder no more. Here's what the Holy Spirit has to say without equivocation regarding the likes of them and their dupes:

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The word of God says that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." The love of money is a root of idolatry and lies behind the twisting and perversion of Scripture by the Word of Faith heretics. And that same love of money motivates the followers of the deceivers to love and embrace idolatry.

We need money. That goes without saying. Some people have been given lots of money by God in order to use it for His glory, for not only their own needs and desires but for the benefit of others as well.

 
 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Books coming on Lulu

I have completed 3 books that are being edited even as we speak and will be published soon by Lulu, the self-publishing, publish-on-demand folks.

"Can a Christian Sin Habitually?"

"Once Justified; Always Justified" A Defense of Eternal Security using a unique approach to the old idea of "once saved, always saved."

"The Voices" A brief expose of several Word of Faith teachers who are spreading damnable heresies around our planet at this time.

 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Union With Christ Supports Continuationism and the Power of the Spirit: Part One

I don't speak in tongues. After begging for that "special gift" for years as a new believer and never receiving it, I settled for the wonderful way the Holy Spirit was continually giving me an extraordinary love of the written word and the proclaiming of what He was teaching me. It should go without saying (but it doesn't, so I'll say it) that THE evidence of being "baptized in the Holy Ghost" is love for the body of Christ and love for our enemies. That is what Jesus said. Pentecostals and many charismatics say the true evidence is speaking in tongues. I'll go with Jesus on this one.

I acknowledge all the gifts of the Spirit. I can find no reason to be a Cessationists. I have prophesied, I do prophesy each time I preach the word of God. I have experienced a "word of knowledge" and a "word of wisdom" numerous times over the last 40 years. I have often experienced the "discernment of spirits." I have prayed for some folks to be healed knowing that God was indeed going to heal them and they were healed (my late wife, my daughters). I do not think I'm a "healer." But I am Spirit filled on a regular basis.

Here's my question for my Cessationists friends, "If we are united with Christ, and we are, how is it that we are to expect no extraordinary experiences to come out of that spiritual union?" By extraordinary I mean "speaking in tongues," the gift of healing that results from our being in the One who heals, the One who "is the same yesterday, today and forever," and any of the "showy" gifts. How can a mundane life be the normal lifestyle of one who is in union with God Himself. And mundane is what we see in most professing believers.

1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
o` de. kollw,menoj tw/| kuri,w| e]n pneu/ma, evstinÅ
"But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit," and it implies "one spirit with Him."

What a verse! What a truth! And that wonderful and powerful truth is consistent with the rest of Scripture more so than how Cessationists see the present work and ministry of the Spirit-filled believer. Cessationists can be, however, and often are, Spirit-filled.

Claiming cessationism doesn't stop God from doing what He wants to do in and through His servants, John MacArthur being a prime example. I know Cessationists will not find this problematic because they do acknowledge certain spiritual gifts, just not tongues or healing or prophesying. And that doesn't bother me at all. In fact, several of my favorite pastors and theologians are Cessationists.

Cessationists are guilty of doing the same thing Pentecostals do (I have Jimmy Swaggart in mind for this) only in reverse. Pentecostals insist that tongues is the evidence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost. They believe that if one doesn't speak in tongues then that one has no evidence of his salvation. Scary stuff. Cessationists insist that if you speak in tongues you're deceived and in your deception, having embraced false doctrine, you would be well advised to examine whether or not you really are in Christ.

I tend to agree somewhat with the Cessationists on this one in that I'm convinced that the folks I've heard speaking in tongues weren't. I don't deny the gift but I also don't believe that all who claim it have it. Many Pentecostals admit they don't speak in tongues and many charismatics admit that they have faked it just to fit in with their crowd. What a shame. While getting caught up in faking spiritual gifts, believers are missing out on the real thing.








 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Amazing Power of the Holy Spirit In the Believer

Remember that old gospel song "there is power, power, wonder working power, in the blood...of the Lamb?" But do you really believe there is power in the blood? I certainly do, else I wouldn't preach the gospel with the saving of lost souls in mind (Heb. 9:22). And I wouldn't confess my sins if I didn't. I wouldn't walk in the assurance of its constant cleansing if I didn't (1 Jn. 1:5-2:2). The shedding of the Lord's blood, the giving of His life on our behalf, brought us the remission of our sins, our justification, our redemption, our reconciliation to our Creator and the provision for every sin we will ever commit. His once-for-all sacrifice is what lies behind our having to only confess our sins now and our being cleansed every day since we "walk in the light as He is in the light."

The blood is ordained to always be applied to our lives. When the Lord ascended into heaven, He sprinkled His blood on the true Temple and the necessary articles in the Temple that His blood might always be seen in heaven by the Father and the Son as an eternal mediator between them and His blood-bought children. That is powerful (Heb. 9:7-26; 10:19-22; 12:24; 13:12, and 13:15, "to the praise of the glory of His grace").

So we have by the grace of God the power of the blood eternally applied and daily applied in our lives. But there's more than the blood working in the life of the believer; there is a powerful Person working in us every second of every day Who can and desires to do "things" in us and through us and for us that we by ourselves and in and of ourselves can never imagine.

He provides power to prevent our old nature from reigning in our lives
We as believers can walk "in the flesh," we can even let sin have dominion over us by walking in the flesh. That's why the apostle Paul informed us that the Holy Spirit is in us, to strengthen us so that sin does not have that power over us (Rom. 6:12; 8:1-4, 9-14). It's why John cautions us about denying our remaining corruption; we can and do still sin. I do not sin now as I did when I was immature in the faith being that I have grown "in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" and in the strength given me by the Holy Spirit. That is powerful.

He is the same power in us that He was in Jesus when He raised Him from the dead
This is what Paul prayed the Ephesians would see. And this is what the Holy Spirit Himself wants us to see in the 21st century. Without this "enlightening," this "revelation," we will dry up and be blown away, weak and defenseless and fruitless (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21). That is powerful.

He is the same Person who gifts the body of Christ to do the work of Christ that was done in the early church
He still gifts His people with spiritual gifts and He still works miracles in us, among us, for us, and through us (1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:11; Gal. 3:1-5; Rom. 12:3-8). If we aren't experiencing His work it is because we live so much of our lives as believers in the flesh, satisfying our desires for entertainment and worldly pleasures or work. These things aren't necessarily bad in themselves...but they can be when we make them first in our lives. The Holy Spirit can and desires to give us victory over our flesh, even though we realize that victory inconsistently at times in our lives. That is powerful.

He is the power Who works in us that when we are weak He is strong in us.
We have no reason to boast in and of ourselves; all the glory goes rightly to Him (1 Cor. 1:29-31; Eph. 2:8-10; 1:6, 9, 11). Being a "Spirit-filled" believer isn't always "happy-clappy" time, it can get down-right depressing as the apostle Paul proves. But as he grew to find peace and joy and contentment in all his trials while fearing for his very life at times, we can be prepared for our trials by being familiar with his and those of all the saints we read of in Scripture. When we are weak, He is strong. That is powerful.

Are we available for Him to work in and through and for us? Are we walking in the Spirit in such a deep and intimate way that we are vessels fit for His use at the drop of a hat? We can be because He is powerful in us, working in us to both will and work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). That is powerful.

"Be being filled with the Spirit!" (Eph. 5:18ff). That is powerful.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit: Can It Happen Today? Can a Christian Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Yes, it can, to the first question; and, no, to the second question. And here's how.

First, the Holy Spirit is present on earth in the body of Christ.

As long as He is among us and in us as individual Christians it will be possible for unbelievers to blaspheme Him.

Second, the Holy Spirit still works miracles among us and through us.

As long as He works miracles among us and in us and through us it is possible for someone to commit blasphemy against Him. That is the context of Matthew 12, the Pharisees were attributing the miracles of Christ to demons. Skeptics and critics of His work ascribe His work to the devil. At last year's Strange Fire Conference put on by Dr. John MacArthur, the participants, in the minds of several observers, came dangerously close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Some may have. (MacArthur has provided access to that conference and you may find it here). Dr. MacArthur's conference was badly needed, by the way. It was a day late and a dollar short, but it at least addressed the heresies that are running amok in this age.

 In order to blaspheme the Holy Spirit one must speak against a genuine work of the Spirit. Deriding some bogus miracles as works of the devil doesn't count. For instance, if I said the shenanigans of men and women like Benny Hinn and Paula White were of the devil, I have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit. They are, by the way.

Third, the enemies of Christ are the ones who blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 12 it was the enemies of Jesus who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Now this is just my opinion at the moment, but it seems to me that no one having the Holy Spirit can blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

Notice that Paul is stating facts, two of them in fact. First, "no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed." Second, "no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." I would apply those facts thusly, "no one speaking by the Holy Spirit can attribute the work of the Spirit to the devil while at the same time calling Jesus Lord by the same Spirit." So, yes, I'm saying one who is born again cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

The little word "can" in the second fact, "no one can say that Jesus is Lord...," comes from the Greek word that means "innate ability," or "power." You may have had a teacher in public school who would correct students who would ask to go to the bathroom during class by saying "Can I go to the bathroom?" She would retort, "I'm sure you can...and you may." Obviously the student was able to go to the bathroom but now he or she needed permission to go.

In both facts in this verse the apostle is speaking of ability, "no one speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed." After all, this particular person to whom Paul refers who at any given moment is speaking is "speaking by the Spirit of God" and the Spirit of God cannot and will never call another Person of the Trinity accursed (anathema).

The more frequently asked question remains, however, can a Christian speaking "in the flesh" possibly blaspheme the Spirit? My answer is an emphatic, "No!" We are His...period. We are "in Christ." And He will not allow it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

Take this guarantee with the two facts of 12:3 and know that Sovereign God will not allow His child to do what He will never forgive.