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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Did God choose you, or, did you choose God? Duh. Part 3

Third, “The whole world, without exception, lies in the power of the evil one.”

19 We know that we are of God, and we know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 Jn. 5:19 NAU
         Again, there are those two truths we know.
If you’re keeping up with current events it’s pretty easy to see why John would say such a negative thing, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” And as the world turns things have gotten much worse than they were in John’s day. I’m not saying that every protester is wicked and evil and unregenerate because I don’t know that. But thousands of them are manifesting who their father is.
         But it is not just the protesters and rioters and the moronic criminal element that always raises its ugly head during times like these, it is also our media. They won’t get off God’s hook.
         Do you remember the other name for the evil one given him by the apostle Paul? It’s found in 2 Cor. 4:4, he’s “the god of this world.” The devil’s chief task is to blind people’s minds to keep them from seeing and embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior. 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 so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:3-4 NAU)
         Racism and police brutality against unarmed black men is one of many distractions the devil is using to blind this world and to make them believe that Jesus is irrelevant.

Fourth and finally, “The good news is this, ‘greater is He who is in us than he who is 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.
 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 Jn. 4:4-8 NAU) Church, do you want to know how to think of the protesters and the whole shebang? Watch their behavior and know that not even then can we condemn any of them. What we see comes out of the heart. Love ‘em. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Did God choose you, or, did you choose God? Duh part 2

Second, “We know that we are of God.”

         John certainly sounds convinced that those who will hear his letter know that they are of God,  doesn’t he? He’s had contact with these folks at some point in his past and he knows that they know the Lord Jesus as their Savior and Lord. If you will look at his second letter you will see how much he loved these folks, especially the “elect lady,” who seemed to be the pillar of that local assembly. 2 John 1:1 The elder to the chosen (elect) lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,
 2 for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: (2 Jn. 1:1-2 NAU)
         Notice this, the word “know.” The verb occurs 39 times in this letter. It means something like “a working knowledge.” It means to have heard the doctrine of Jesus and become utterly persuaded. It isn’t like saying “I know what I’m going to do today.” It’s saying, “I know that I know that I know.” And how did they know? The same way we all know that we are of God, the only way anyone can know that we know that we know, it's solely by the indwelling of the life-giving, light-giving, faith-giving Spirit and our embrace of the gospel. If we believe the gospel, if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we can be pretty sure that we know that we know that we know.
         It’s called “the anointing.” 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. (1 Jn. 2:20 NAU)
27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 Jn. 2:27 NAU)
         I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and Lord solely by the grace of God. I did not “make a decision” one day while I was dead in my trespasses and sins to "try Jesus" or to make Him my Lord and Savior. Dead people can’t make those decisions. It’s called “the heresy of decisional regeneration.” Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost because that which is lost is also dead and incapable of seeking Him or making a decision, until at least, the Spirit has quickened us. The spiritualy lost are the walking dead. Ephesians 2:1-4, remember this? “But God!” 
         And this gets under my skin, no one can “Make Jesus their Lord and Savior.” God did that. And only God did it. You and I by the grace of God upon hearing the gospel under the convicting power of the Spirit came to see that as the greatest truth we had ever seen. It was only after the Spirit gave us life and light and faith that we freely called on the name of the Lord and were saved. Listen to this, 44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
 45 "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
 (Jn. 6:44-45 NAU)

63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
 65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
 (Jn. 6:63-65 NAU)

         Do you know that you know that you know?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Did God choose you? Or, did you choose Him? Duh!

        Yesterday morning, Saturday, 6/20/20, the first day of Summer, Beverly and I were sitting on our patio enjoying a cup of coffee and a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and the beautiful morning. We were watching dozens of birds and a dozen or so squirrels eating the sunflower seeds we had put out for them in the bird feeders and on our parking area. It was really nice. It was very relaxing and peaceful. Not so much for the animals.
         We get a lot of Cardinals on our feeders, but they can’t seem to stand one another. They’re constantly chasing each other off. Sometimes they get engaged in aerial combat. The same goes for the squirrels, except for the aerial combat, of course. They fight all the time. So much for tranquility. I know folks who think when they see squirrels chasing each other, they’re playing. Right. It’s like when we see National Geographic videos of lions chasing down gazelles, they just want to play.
         Take your Bible and turn to First John, chapter 5, first John 5 and v.19. First John is near the end of the New Testament and shortly before the book of the Revelation.  19 We know that we are of God, and we know, that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 Jn. 5:19 NAU)
         John points out two things the body of Christ is supposed to know. Number one, “that we are of God.” Number two, “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” that would be the devil. Can you imagine the chaos the church would be in if it didn’t know these two truths? Many of the people who attend local churches already live under the delusion that people are basically good, which so isn’t true. It doesn’t take much to disprove that. Just watch the news. And if you should ask those who never go to church or practice some kind of religion about the goodness or badness of human beings, surveys show that they would more than likely so man is basically good. But lets take a look at those two truths we’re supposed to be convinced of.

First, “We are of God.”

       I don’t know how your mind works but mine has a question about that phrase. The question is this, “Who is ‘we’?” “We are of God.” And the answer is in the context, where else? 
         The pronoun “we” occurs 81 times in this letter alone. For such a short book, that’s a lot o’ we’s. Does that remind you of anything? It reminds me of the insurance commercial on tv where the little pig is riding home with a human family and he cries “we, we, we, all the way home.” But we can see by examining just the first chapter of this letter that we is we and we is us and we is you. 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. That we is John the apostle, who includes all the apostles in his thoughts, the one who would often sit with his head resting on his Lord’s bosom, reminding his readers of his first-hand experience with the Lord Jesus. And the “you” in that verse is we. Doesn’t it sound better to say “us” and not “we?” “And the you in that verse is us.” But we is correct. “You is we.”
 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 Jn. 1:5-7 NAU)
         Obviously there are two “we’s” in those verses, those who are in Christ and those who are not. Those who walk in light and those who do not, as of yet. Those who are in fellowship with God and those who are not. And the reason John uses we here is simply because he’s covering all his bases. It may be that there are those among his readers who have not yet come to faith in Jesus. All the apostles included the possibility that unbelievers would hear their letters read in front of the assembled church. That’s why I never assume that everyone sitting in the pews in front of me is saved just because they are sitting in a pew in front of me.
        I will stop here and post the rest later.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

"I can't stop sinning." Addendum

Every disciple of Christ, or a lot of 'em anyway, cringed when they read those words I put on my blog and Wednesday evening Bible study, "I can't stop sinning" (a phrase I borrowed from one of the Christian sites I follow, Revealing Truth. Cringeworthy or not, it's the truth.

Let me go over this again. I don't feel satisfied with how I've covered it thus far. Romans 7:24-25.
 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. (Rom. 7:24-25 NAU)

The NAU renders the Greek text right, "...the body of this death." And the context tells us that this is what the apostle cried out to God to rescue him from. The body of this death refers to what we all inherited from Adam and Eve, i.e., when they sinned, we all sinned; when they died, we all died. We are all born "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Paul was born of the Spirit, "born again," but knew too well the presence of evil in his dead-because-of-sin members/body (Rom. 7:21). And if we're honest, every one of us knows that same reality.

Now, if you will, bear with me. 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul knew the solution to his dilemma, it was and is the grace of God given to us through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. And what we find in v.25 is two conclusions, the first being that solution. The second being this, 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. We should read that like this, "So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, I myself with my flesh am serving the law of sin." That is exactly what the apostle said. Paul concludes that this is life in Christ for all of us. And it's by God's design. God doesn't make us sin and neither does He cause us to sin, but He does allow it. And that's by design. He has left everyone who is in Christ in this same position for His glory and our eternal and temporal good. Read this:  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.
 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; (2 Cor. 4:5-7 NAU)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

"I can't stop sinning, and it's all God's doing" Part two

Sin is almost a taboo subject these days, especially in the mega-popular megachurches. Joel Osteen gives it a wink and a nod, to do otherwise would be antithetical to his theology (what theology, you may ask?) Church-goers tend not to like being labeled sinners and such. "Call me a sinner and I'll take my money elsewhere." Megachurches have earned the nickname, "The Beasts," and the beast must be fed, continually, and megally (not a real word) so megachurch pastors must invent new and exciting and entertaining ways to keep the beast-food coming in.

But I digress. "I can't stop sinning." And I can't. The good news is, however, that only my old man, my outer man, or my outward man as some translations have it, sins, my inner man, aka, my mind (Rom. 7:22, 25; 2 Cor. 4:16), my spirit (8:10; 1 Jn. 3:9), doesn't sin and in fact cannot sin. I don't understand that but I believe it and I find rest in Christ by knowing that this is true. Being born from above, born of the Spirit, is a mystery that Jesus likened to the wind. John 3:7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
 8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."  (Jn. 3:7-8 NAU). And note this, beloved, Jesus didn't say that the Spirit is like the wind, but "everyone who is born of the Spirit" is like the wind.

Now read this, Romans 7:25, 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. (Rom. 7:25 NAU) Have you ever noticed that before, "but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin."
This is a great way to read that verse, and accurate, I must say, So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, I myself with my flesh am serving he law of sin.

"Conversion does not translate into perfection." 

But neither does it mean God has given us permission to sin. NAU  Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
 (Rom. 6:1-4 NAU)

I once bought a potted plant for an anniversary my late wife and I were celebrating with the intent of planting the plant. When the florist delivered it to my wife at her place of employment the pot had somehow gotten cracked in transportation. The plant itself was in great shape even while living in a cracked pot. Those who are born of the Spirit are like that cracked pot, the outside is a cracked earthen vessel, the inside is a treasure. 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, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; (2 Cor. 4:6-7 NAU)

Rejoice, beloved of God. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

I can't stop sinning, and it's all God's doing.

How God Designed the New Life In Christ
(*Warning! You may not like it.)

“I can’t stop sinning!”
         So, what’s new, Sparky? And you’re right, you can’t stop sinning. You can cut back but you can’t stop. This is how the apostle John put it, 1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (1 Jn. 2:1 NAU)
And, if you need more evidence, read this, 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 Jn. 1:8-10 NAU)
         And taking a page from the Preacher, there’s this wonderful jewel:
NAU  Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Eccl. 7:20 NAU). The righteous may continually do good things but they are still sinners, and that’s ok. God has intentionally left the righteous like this that He might get all the glory and praise for our salvation even if it is annoying and frustrating to us.
If you are or were a smoker then you remember how tough quitting was and may still be. Remember what the man said to his friend who wanted to quit? “Dude, it’s easy. I’ve quit a hundred times.” Yeah, it’s like that. (I borrowed my little heading there “I can’t stop sinning,” from one of my favorite YouTube theologians. He is excellent. His YouTube site is Revealing Truth.
Every new disciple of the Lord Jesus must at some point in his or her life face the fact that they still sin. And the sooner, the better. If you’re as serious about your new life in Christ as I am, then for the sake of your mental and spiritual well-being, you need to face the sometimes disturbing fact of just how sinful you still are. My soul and spirit were permanently scarred within days of my coming to faith on account of my willfully being seduced by a young lady who professed faith in Jesus. I was just as lustful after my conversion as I was before. I didn’t realize it until this temptation came my way. And now, 46 years later, I still occasionally regret that decision.
Not only do we continue to sin after our conversion, but we do so willfully. We are liars if we deny our on-going sinfulness and even worse, we call God a liar if we deny that we still have sin.
And furthermore, we can’t help it. That’s right, Pilgrim, I said it, we can’t help but sin.
We will continue our conversation tomorrow.

Friday, June 5, 2020

George Floyd's murder and the wrath of God

God’s Wrath, Favor and Patience
Genesis 6:1-8; Ephesians 1:3-8

         Over the last two weeks or so a militant type offensive has been carried out against several major cities in our nation as you all well know. What started in Minneapolis has progressed through our nation as though it were all coordinated.The riots have gotten a lot of coverage from the world’s media. While we probably didn’t see any of it first-hand, we may have caught much of it on television. We have witnessed the carnage coming into our living rooms on a daily, hour by hour basis.
Does that description sound familiar to any of you? It should. When I say it is a “militant type offensive,” it’s because that’s what came to mind this past Thursday while I was working out this sermon.
On January 31, 1968, around midnight, the communist forces of North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam’s major cities and military bases including many U.S. bases. It came to be known as The Tet Offensive of 1968 and cost both sides dearly.
And it was coordinated. A signal was sent out from Hanoi, North Vietnam, and enemy troops who had been embedded among the general populace of the South began bombarding the South with heavy rocket and mortar fire and ground attacks, sending thousands and thousands of their troops into battle, catching our troops and our South Vietnamese allies off guard. Just how coordinated the riots and carnage we have witnessed over the last few weeks were, it certainly caught us off guard.
 It was bad enough for our nation when the Wuhan novel coronavirus began making our people sick and killing thousands upon thousands of us without the added catastrophe of riots and rage and criminal looting and destruction of businesses that have nothing to do with the murder of George Floyd by stupid white cops in Minneapolis. The murder of an unarmed citizen of any color by law enforcement officers is enough to put anyone in a rage, but when it is a blatant case of a racially motivated murder by a cop, it is just too much for any of us to tolerate. And what continually amazes and astounds me is how often this happens. Someone said it best, “ya cain’t fix stoopid.” And racism is stoopid. Stoopid can’t learn. 
But what is just as stupid and even more so has been the behavior of thousands of people who saw this as an opportunity to break into businesses and steal whatever they wanted and could carry home in their arms or as one man did, stuff an arm load of clothing into his getaway car’s trunk. Macy’s and Target were especially hit hard in New York. Items like big screen, smart tv’s and sound systems and expensive clothing and jewelry and God knows what else were stolen by these criminals. And not being satisfied with that, these same criminals destroyed stores and buildings and cars that were just sitting on the streets and in parking lots. Several sections of our large cities look like Saigon after Tet in ’68. But, beloved, this is the nature of the creature.
         Take your Bibles and turn to Genesis chapter 6. If you want to know what came to mind immediately when these ridiculous riots and plundering and destruction and looting and violence began, other than the Tet Offensive, this is it. Genesis 6 and v.1.

Genesis 6:1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,
 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."
 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
 6 The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 
 7 The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."
 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
 (Gen. 6:1-8 NAU)

I need to make one thing perfectly clear, this passage is a historical account of events that happened thousands of years ago in a geographical location far away from where we’re seated right now. And this account is full of language and imagery that we find difficult to grasp because so many people within the church have a hard time with supernatural language and supernatural historical events. I hope you won’t have too much of a problem with the language and imagery we find in Genesis because if you do then you’re also going to have a problem with the miracles and signs and wonders we find in the gospels and book of Acts. And everything we’re reading in Genesis chapter 6 is the written word of God, it was written down for our education and edification and encouragement. 11 Now these things,( speaking of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their wilderness journey),  happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Cor. 10:11 NAU)

 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom. 15:4 NAU)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NAU) 

The Progress of Corruption
Genesis 6:1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,
 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
         It isn’t my intention to get into who the sons of God were although I will tell you that I did some research on it this week and according to other occurrences of that term in the OT, they were angels, created beings, a degree above man. There are other possibilities but the fallen angels idea works for me. Anyway, their union with human beings just added to fallen man’s woes. People in our day and time who preach and teach about making contact with so-called angels are putting themselves in a very dangerous place. Remember, the word “angel” means “messenger.” The question is then, whose messenger?
 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."
What I see in that phrase “because he also is flesh” is a message of mercy and patience. Listen to this from Psalm 103, 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
 (Ps. 103:13-14 NAU)
         The last thing I think about when I watch the criminals taking our cities to pieces as an excuse to loot and plunder is “those who fear Him.” These people clearly do not fear God. What I do think about is this from Romans chapter 3, 10 as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
 (Rom. 3:10-18 NAU)
         The word of God nails it, doesn’t it?
         Now, drop down to Genesis 6:5-8 and I’ll close with this.
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
 6 The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
 7 The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."
 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
 (Gen. 6:1-8 NAU)
         Beloved, this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision on the Lord’s part. Salvation never is. And neither is God’s judgment. Mankind just kept getting worse and worse and worse. And it still is. Amen?
         And, beloved, we are to our time what Noah was to his time. We have found favor in the eyes of the Lord and by His grace He has delivered us from the wrath to come. Our ark is Jesus. And if not for the Lord Jesus taking the wrath of God upon Himself and satisfying that wrath, we would be just as damned as the worst kind of reprobate we are watching on our televisions.
NAU  1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 
 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 Jn. 2:1-2 NAU)
         The murder of George Floyd was one of the worst sins against God I have heard of in a long time. But it’s just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. How could one human being be so cruel and cold toward another that he could deliberately suffocate him while he cried out for help? It happens multiplied times over, every day on planet earth. And it is precisely because humanity hates God and hates the light. It is that kind of behavior and the behavior of those who are destroying our nation that sent the flood in Noah’s day. It is for that same kind of hatred toward God and man’s innate wickedness that will bring the fire of God in our day. It is because the wicked nature of man hasn’t changed since inheriting it from our original parents that the wrath of God is coming.
         In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A series about the ten commandments: part four

The Patio Pulpit
The Ten Commandments: Part four

         I want to remind my folks at Eastway Baptist Church that our theme is “It’s all about Jesus.” And while we may be studying the purpose of the law of Moses, the ten commandments, we mustn’t forget that the law of Moses served as a tutor pointing us to the grace and love and mercy of God manifested in Jesus, God-incarnate, who “has come in the flesh.”  (Gal. 3:24-25; 1 Jn. 2:18ff; 4:1-3)
I have heard a boat load of people say, “I just love the Sermon on the Mount. It’s my favorite part of the Bible.” And when I ask them why, they say, “Well, I love the beatitudes. They are so positive and encouraging.” And then I ask them about the rest of the sermon on the mount, what do you do with that? I point out that the beatitudes consist of ten verses in one chapter, leaving 103 verses in the rest of the sermon on the mount to account for. The sermon on the mount is covered in 113 verses, from Mt. 5:1 to 7:29. And the sermon on the mount isn’t exactly reader friendly. The Jewish leaders who listened to Jesus were bumbfuzzled and at the same time your average Jew was duly impressed by His authoritative manner (28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;  29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (Matt. 7:28-29 NAU) It’s kinda like the difference I see between the words of the Bible and the teachings of charlatans like Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar.
And furthermore, the sermon on the mount was directed to the rebellious, dead-in-trespasses-and-sins Jews of the Lord's day. Context is always the key to understanding and applying Scripture. And the context of this sermon is the Jew’s desperate need of a Savior, One who could actually make them right with their God rather than deceiving them into believing they could be made righteous by keeping the law of Moses the way the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees had been telling them all these years. Preaching that keeping any of the law of Moses plus one’s faith in Jesus is the only way one can be justified is the other gospel Paul condemns in Galatians 1:6-9. 
Do you realize that there is a little voice in our heads telling us that we need to do something other than what Jesus did about our on-going sin problem? It’s just a part of who we are as fallen people. It is innate within all of us to think that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t sufficient, and neither is the life-giving work of the Spirit. Even those of us who have been proclaimed righteous by God Himself tend to think we have to do something about our on-going sin problem.
We tend to think that we’re supposed to be perfect after coming to faith in Jesus and since we’re not, there must be something lacking in our faith. And that something we convince ourselves is keeping the law. For many it’s tithing. For others its “keeping Sabbath,” that is, assembling on Saturday. Both are wrong. Both are lies from the pit of hell. 
Those who misread the ten commandments as being binding on the church and then teach that heresy, are anathema. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal. 1:8-9 NAU)
The contrary gospel is that preached by the Roman Catholic Church and by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists.

Jesus is my sabbath and my law-keeper.

8 "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Matt. 12:8 NAU)

9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (Heb. 4:9-10 NAU)
         And that’s precisely where those who are in Christ find themselves, in His rest. 
17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
 18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17-18 NAU) 
That begs the question, “was all the law accomplished?” And the answer is, “Yes. The law of Moses was fulfilled and accomplished.”
The sermon on the mount was a revelation of the truth about the nature of man and it was an expansion of what lies behind the law of Moses. The law and the sermon on the mount served the same purpose. They both point us to our sinfulness and our Savior.
Remember this from the sermon on the mount?
13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matt. 5:13 NAU)
         Do you honestly think Jesus was saying something good about the Jews being the salt of the earth? What He was telling them, in fact, was that they were the tasteless and useless salt that had been tossed out and trampled under-foot. And His answer to His own question, “can it be made salty again,” is, no, it can’t.
         And this,
20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20 NAU) Again, that wasn’t flattering to the scribes and Pharisees, folks, it was sarcasm directed at the scribes and the Pharisees who were not righteous in any way, shape, or form. They had deceived the average Jew of Judea for decades into believing that they were the only righteous ones in all the land when they were a textbook illustration of hypocrisy. And then Jesus was being sarcastic by hinting that no one is righteous and no sinner can be apart from the grace of God.
         Read on,  21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 
 22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;  (Matt. 5:21-22 NAU) Ouch! Are you serious, Jesus? Yes, He is serious. Again, what Jesus is doing in this sermon is revealing the nature of humanity.

 27 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY';
 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt. 5:27-28 NAU) So much for the old argument, “well, as long as I don’t actually have sexual intercourse with her it’s ok.” Jesus was cutting to the chase, getting to the heart of the matter, going deeper than appearances. One’s thoughts reveal one’s nature. Ladies and gentlemen, what does that tell us about pornography? Look and lust equals adultery. Can one be forgiven of adultery? Of course, one can.
Don’t miss it, beloved of God, the reason for the sermon on the mount is it serves as a reminder of just how totally depraved humanity is. And what was the purpose of the law of Moses? The same.
Beloved, when that little voice pops up in your head and whispers to you, “you need to get crackin,’ sparky, you need to do something to cover up your sins or pay for them,” just say, “Get thee behind me, Satan, for you are interested in the things of man and not God.”
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Joe Biden and systemic racism

“It’s time to deal with systemic racism.” Joe Biden

         Yeah, right, Mr. Biden, like you could do that. Just how would you suggest we do that? By our government forcing an end to systemic racism? Wrong again, Mr. Biden. No, Mr. Biden, it’s way too late to begin dealing with systemic racism. The only way, and I repeat, the only way to free anyone from systemic racism without using government suggested, mind-altering, soul-destroying meds or psychotherapy which ultimately changes no one, is through the new birth, being born of the Spirit, being born from above (Jn. 3:1-8). And even then, the new disciple of Christ has to fight against the many sins, including racism, he and she was born with. It’s a lifelong process called “sanctification.”
         My wife and I have a little flower bed in our backyard that hasn’t seen a flower in a long time. What it has seen is weeds and bird feeders and the hulls of the sunflower seeds the birds and squirrels leave behind after eating themselves silly. Bev and I enjoy watching all the different critters that come up for an easy meal and we love it. Occasionally we will see rabbits come up to eat sunflower seeds and some of the green, leafy vegetation growing in the soil beneath the feeders.
         However, we prefer that those green, leafy plants not be in our little bed, so we use a weed killer that is not Round Up. This weed killer is a “systemic” weed killer, meaning it goes to the root of the plant and kills it where it begins. What a metaphor for our dead-because-of-sins bodies. Humanity apart from Christ is like those weeds. And Jesus is the systemic for sin.
         27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 (Gal. 3:27-28 NAU)
         And that ends systemic racism. But! And that’s a big but. The new birth, being born of the Spirit, takes place in the inner man and not the outer man, the physical dead-because-of-sin body. God has designed the new life in Christ to be one of constant conflict between the flesh and the spirit of the new believer that He might be acknowledged as our Savior and not we ourselves. As the apostle Paul puts it, we have a wonderful and eternal treasure in an earthen treasure chest. 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.
 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor. 4:5-10 NAU)
         I love that. The reason I love it is because that passage and Romans 7:22-8:4 explain why I am like I am. And I can learn to live with that, as annoying as my remaining sinfulness may be.
         So, Joe Biden, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Your feigned concern for systemic racism and any fictitious plans you pretend to have to end it, are little more than hogwash. You’re blowin’ smoke, Joe Biden.
         Jesus is my systemic, and in the near future our weed-like bodies will be changed to be perfect like His. 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Racism, Redrum, Riots, Rage (and an excuse to plunder)

And we thought the COVD19 was horrific. Now, a stupid white cop in Minnesota has murdered an unarmed black man while claiming the man, George Floyd, was resisting arrest and had to be restrained, setting off the worst riots our nation has seen in decades. The dirty cop, and his fellow cops who stood by while Mr. Floyd was being murdered, was stone cold heartless. Mr. Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe but the white cops probably thought it was just a typical ploy by a typical nigger. They even threatened standers-by with mace if they didn't back off. The incident served to reveal deep-seated racism and hatred that is so typical of America and on display every single day somewhere in our nation. And now no one can be satisfied. It's too late for that.

The reaction? Violence and hatred and rage and destruction and more hatred and more violence and more rage and more destruction. But what doesn't make any sense is the plundering of department stores such as Macy's in Manhattan and a nearby Target store and hundreds of businesses across the U.S. That is the work of "thugs and hooligans and morons" who see these riots as an excuse to go on plundering sprees and pick up a few "bargains" for the fam. What does a thug do with a 65 inch smart tv still in its box he's carrying out of Target's? Why, he takes it home and sets it up and settles back to watch an episode of The Neighborhood and NCIS and Chicago PD. That's what rioting and violence are for, am I right? And what about all those clothes he packed into the trunk of his getaway car? "Let's go home and try 'em on."

I'm mad as hell at the Minnesota cops, "thugs in uniform," and I'm right there with those demanding justice. But at the end of the day, it isn't justice that we'll remember as the goal of the protesters when the smoke settles down, it will be the violence and destruction and rage and plundering. Where will justice come for that?