January 22, 2012
In my years since becoming a Christian, I have found that people in general tend to be like pendulums that are normally broken to either stay on the Left or Right side of the swing without ever seeing the middle or they are stuck in the middle and never move at all. Indeed the ones that are moving are normally moving so fast that they are banging the edge of the clock casing and may only vary one or two degrees the other way. All three are broken but think they are right. Thus they are unbalanced.
In order to rightly consider balance, we have to leave the clock imagery and think more on a linear scale. That is because we have to look at right/wrong, good/bad, sound or false doctrine. There is no room to swing on such issues though extreme Left or Right are still as broken as those who try to drive down the center of the road on a major highway during rush hour. The middle can be quite dangerous and often leads to muddled, myopic misunderstanding of the issues which ends in paralysis or at best a meager attempt at finding balance that is hindered by fear, ignorance and more often apathy or hypocrisy trying to play both ends against the middle to avoid confrontation or controversy. Often the practice is justified under the guise of love, grace or peace. Yet, there can be no true love, grace or peace without balance. Balance is indeed hard to find.
I have come up with a 1-10 line that I think shows why it is hard to find balance. If we look at Extreme Left as a 1 and extreme Right as a 10 that puts the Middle at 5. Thus we might be led to believe that balance is 5. Yet, that really tends to leave us with the lukewarm situation that Jesus condemned in Revelation as not ever satisfying the need since it is never hot when it needs to be or cold when it needs to be so that it is no warmth for the aching bones or the cold refreshing drink needed by the hot and thirsty. It is just blasé.
Many find the Middle as the way to bring peace to the World and yet Jesus said He came to bring a sword that would bring about division even among families. He was speaking of the Word, which indeed divides people according to how they receive that Word and yet to those who seek to rightly divide it that same Word can bring about unity. It is a savor of life to some and a savor of death to others. Thus balance in the Word will still cause polarity and division and not necessarily peace and unity with all as some hope it will.
In fact, if you see the results of Scripture in action as used by the prophets, apostles and Jesus you will find that its balanced use results in an 8 on the scale. That makes it left of extreme Right and right of the Middle and really far right of extreme Left so that to many people it will appear to be extreme Right from their perspective. And because it is still left of extreme Right they will react to it as vehemently as anyone from the extreme Left or the worried Middle that do not want rock boats.
Balance needs to be viewed from God’s perspective and thus from the Word itself. Remember we are told that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts so it is not going to be a perfect center on any human scale. You see God is balanced and this world is way out of balance. God was once accused by His people as unequal or unfair or unbalanced and He had to point out that it was their perspective that was unequal, not His. To be balanced it has to be His scale and not ours. That is why on our scale it will come out to an 8 and looks unbalanced from all sides.
How can you tell if you are scripturally balanced? Well, to even start to find it you will have to chuck most of what you were taught no matter what denomination or non-denomination you are as every group has error in it be it intentional or unintentional. We have picked up a lot of man-made hoo-ha and traditions that cloud the Word and block our ears to the still small voice. I am including Baptists, lest you think I believe they are perfect. I think some of them have the best potential for finding balance compared to the rest of the groups, but we have our Left and Right clock casing bangers and blasé Middle folks as well. How do you think I gained some of my knowledge? 😉 I have had to tiptoe through the mine fields for some time.
When you look at Jesus’ teachings he ticked off pretty much everyone in the religious and political systems at some point. He smacked the Pharisees (extreme Right) though they were at that point the closest to being balanced as they had some things right. They were just hypocritical and oft times interpreted the Word to suit their desires or benefit just like many extreme Right and experiential “spiritual” groups today. He slammed the Sadducees (extreme Left) because of their unbelief and ignorance of Scripture and the God they were dealing with and we have multitudes of these folks as well We already discussed those who want to hide and not rock any boats or afraid to be called extreme anything and that group seems to growing by leaps and bounds in this culture. He offended the Herodians and the Zealots when He said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s for both groups did not like Rome and longed for the Messiah to remove them from Roman rule. That would frustrate most political groups today for none of them are close to balanced. MoveOn.org and the Tea Party would not be happy and certainly He would not be Republican, Democrat or fit into any other faction, for all of them have flaws.
Many preachers would lack sermon material if they stuck to the Word instead of their personal political leanings. The Bible gives plenty of instruction about the role of government. Preach the Word and for those who hear; their politics will match the Word and we won’t have to have partisan services. There was a time when politicians were only divided in how they accomplished the things they believed in. Most of their beliefs were grounded in the Word. When we quit praying and preaching and started politicking the power of the Word in the culture was diminished and we lost the heart of the politicians and hence we have what we have, which is indeed inferior.
A couple of my peers called me a Maverick some years back and it stuck. I have also been called a paradigm challenger, a Liberal, a legalist, a compromiser and a few other names we will omit for mixed company reasons. The names varied with the topic we were discussing. I do not quote party lines well and ask a lot of questions and challenge the most noble and educated when things set off an alarm in my heart. Some of my college professors liked that and others did not.
I have no desire to visit anything like a Guiana or Waco so I ask no matter who might be doing the teaching if things do not seem to follow a good algorithm or hermeneutic. As I am a Baptist, I spend most of my time with them but I have been involved with many groups outside the Baptists over the years. Sometimes the groups sought me out to debate and other times I have heard of a debate and chimed in to ding or commend both sides for various points of the debate.
Some may be thinking what kind of arrogant or prideful so and so does this dude think he is, but I assure you that I have had to be on my face before God many times to avoid that state. I often feel a lot like Amos who had to say that he was not a prophet or a son of a prophet but just a picker of sycamore fruit. I am nobody and would love to be one of those “go along to get along” types because I like being a part of the group and have friends. I just can’t do it.
There have been times I tried to shut up and walk away or ignore something but just can’t do it. I want to be right for it is right to be right not because I want to be right to exalt me. He is the only one that should be exalted for only He is worthy. I often feel like a PFC challenging the General and as retired military I know that if you are going to do that you better be right so I do not do it lightly or arrogantly. It is often with great fear and trepidation that I do so, but I must do what I believe I must do. The same goes for you.
So many Christians never question their doctrines. They just roll with the flow. I was a Methodist and my wife was a Lutheran as kids and neither of us really knew anything about our denominations. I went because that is where my mother sent me and my wife went with her aunt. If you would have asked about Wesley or Luther or any doctrinal question we would have shrugged our shoulders and admitted that we had no clue. Sadly, many Baptists are the same way and we are supposed to be people of the Book.
The non-denoms are as bad or maybe worse since more people go for the music, the fellowship/networking and motivational speaking than because of the doctrinal stance of the church. Yoga, weight watchers and other activities attract more people than a doctrinal bible study or sermon. They may “praise and worship” for an hour while the preaching of the Word gets dropped back to fifteen minutes or less and yet it is the Word that generates the faith that should bring about praise and worship. His Word is what God promised would not return unto Him void, not great music. I was at one church where I heard the song leader ask the pastor if he could cut five minutes from his sermon so they could add another song. I am glad that he did not ask me as I might have hurt his feelings.
On the other hand, some will not sing a song that isn’t at least fifty years old though one hundred or more is better for others. God has not quit calling preachers but some seem to think He quit calling singers in the 50’s or 60’s.
The youth are relegated to age groups when the older are to teach the younger so how does that happen? Then we wonder why, like Rehoboam, they listen more to their peers than to their parents or teachers? Indeed, days or age should bring about wisdom and the right to speak and be heard but remember it was a young lad that had to step up and give Job and his friends some instruction.
The one room schools gave us some of the greatest people of our history. Why, because the older kids were used to tutor the younger so they learned to look out for them and share what wisdom they had and the younger looked up to them and learn to respect age even as they were learning wisdom in their lives. Not to mention that they taught the Bible. It was a powerful balance and brought about a strong country. Now everyone is in their age group and abhor the ones not in their group so that young people do not want to be in Sunday School with OLD people and old people do not want to participate in the mentoring of those crazy kids. Is it any wonder our country is declining? We have millions of Rehoboams running about and sadly Solomon’s advisers do not seem to care.
We need to challenge our doctrine. We need to challenge our attitudes to gain any progress towards balance and unity. We also need to challenge our traditions. There are many things in all groups that they do just because that is what they do. Do they have any real meaning? No. Are they just rituals without reality? Yes. Will they dump them? Highly unlikely, at best they may modify them in a small way or change the frequency, but dumping them completely scares people. It is like their traditions came down from Mt. Sinai and are in some sort of everlasting covenant that is somehow out of bounds of the New Covenant. I am not talking about biblical doctrines that we have debated for centuries. I mean cultural or other man-made traditions that are not even referred to in any way, shape or form in Scripture.
I was a member of a church once that did not pass an offering plate and that is almost a felony in some churches. You better pass a plate and at all three services and have a Sunday School offering as well. Knowing how some people attend church, it was probably set up so everyone would have an opportunity to give their tithes and offerings depending upon their attendance habits. The Sunday School offerings usually are used as a meant to teach the kids and to help pay for the cookies and juice they are given albeit I have seen places where some adults only attend Sunday School and go home. Maybe they want to beat the crowds at Luby’s, don’t like the preacher or something. Some are what we call SMOs or Sunday Morning Only and other due to work shifts can only make it Sunday night or Wednesday night. So it had some basis in logic and practicality.
However, this church found that they actually increased their offering by putting the plates at the door for people to give as they leave. I figured part of this came about by allowing those who invariably came in late after the offering to give as well as time for those who try to write their check as the offering is being taken as well as those who may have been especially touched by the message to increase their offering. Also, those who felt self-conscious that they could only give $1 or $5 or even loose change could put it in without much notice. Regardless of the motivation it proved to work far better for giving as well as not having to waste time in the service. Suggest that to your pastor and deacons and see if they get glazed eyes or turn pale and gasp at the thought.
I am glad that some groups are finally dumping the requirement for suits in the pulpit and in the pew. I was in a coal mining region for some time and most people would rent a tux for a wedding or senior prom but few owned a suit unless they were a doctor or lawyer. Yet, the pastor pushed that sort of thing and even required golden sport coats for the ushers because the pastor he admired had that going on at his church. Well, it was a tough field as it was from a theological perspective let alone trying to go against the societal dress code. That did not deter him and I am sure many did not think about attending because they did not have the clothes for church or thought it was a church for the upper crust when in fact it was an old schoolhouse remodeled into a church attended by mostly blue collar workers. Still, how many more may have came in out of curiosity had they not felt that they had to dress up to come to church? I am happy that folks actually dress at all for some have come to church scantily clad to the point of nearly naked. I have been asked from time to time about a dress code and I tell them that the Law and I frown on naked but after that I am fairly open. Does it really matter how a person is dressed? Did God not hear the Prodigal when he was in rags in the pig pen? If God looks on the heart we might need to be less concerned about “Sunday go-to-meetin’” clothes and look more at the needy heart be it clothed in rags or Armanis. I think James mentions something about preferred clothing as well.
These are only two things that we do traditionally that need to be reviewed and revamped. The way we do buildings needs to be trashed. Simple is the key. If Jesus can be born in a manger and not have a place His own to lay His head why do His disciples need multimillion dollar monoliths? Our money and manpower are to go into the mission, the message and the masses not to mansions that oft become mausoleums. Much money is wasted in keeping old buildings functional or maintaining high overhead buildings. I remember a missionary to France saying he needed $50K to remodel a building for a church building and we were sitting on $50K of padded pews. Stop building them to look like churches. Use a design so that if you need to move on to bigger and better or have declined and need to sell a corporation or even a school might want your building. The market for Gothic churches is very small.
Indeed, Jesus said, “you have heard it said, but I say unto you…” and He condemned the Pharisees for substituting the traditions of men for the commandments of God. It is time we start cleaning house.
1 Peter 4:17-18
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? KJV
Wouldn’t it be good if when He came that He saw we were in the process of preparing for His coming by taking out the trash and tradition and seeking the balance of truth? Maranatha!
January 22, 2012
John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? KJV
I am convinced that the reason we do not see much of God’s power in the Church today is because we cannot figure out earthly things. There are so many things in the Christian life that you would think would be no-brainers and yet we can find six Christians with thirteen opinions on them. Is it not odd that even unbelievers will tell you what a believer should or do not do or what they should wear or not wear and where they should go or not go or what they should say or not say and yet the Church is clueless? We are either harsh Pharisees or sloppy grace people. There is no balance because there is no discernment.
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV
We do not know good from evil because we have not exercised our senses to do so. We want milk and not meat and to just laze around waiting for the Rapture. We again are either overgrown babies in dirty diapers throwing tantrums wanting to be the center of attention or grizzled old farts that have sat, soaked and soured but never matured who want to be the center of attention and have control. There is no balance.
1 Cor 2:7-10
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. KJV
We want to know the deeper life and have the fullness of the Spirit and we ought to have those things but we cannot move into deep intimacy and knowledge of God if we are unable even to discern the fleshly or earthly issues of life. You cannot just blow off sound doctrine for emotions or experiences and expect to feel the breath of the Spirit upon you nor can you lie in the dust and ashes or dead orthodoxy and feel the refreshing of the outpouring of the Spirit washing you with the water of the Word. There is balance and the Church needs that balance as much as life itself and that balance is in Christ and rightly dividing of His Word that manifests itself in obedient holy living.
1 Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. KJV
The time is long past due for us to put away the things of a child and exercise ourselves to the full maturity of an adult in Christ that we may understand the earthy and move on past the first things of Christ and dig into real meat that we might experience the intimacy and depth we say we desire. The World needs to see the mature children of God walking in the wisdom of God, not a bunch of whining babies who have to have all sorts of toys in order to have church or cannot discern good and evil without some sort of dirty dozen list to rely on instead of the leading of the Spirit. We used to tell kids, “Grow up or throw up” when we wanted them to cowboy up back in the day. Well, it is time for the Church to grow up for our immaturity has made the unbelievers throw up and throw God out of their lives. We have given the enemies of God reason to blaspheme to our shame.
Come, let us grow together, my Brethren! Maranatha!
January 22, 2012
Being a bit of a history buff as well as a student of Scripture I have noticed a vast difference between the Church of even sixty years ago and today. I have heard sermons from many men who were considered great in their day and even revered now in some circles. They were certainly more hell and damnation types. We frown on that now with grace and love being the prominent themes and the sermons more like motivational speeches than exegetical calls to holiness or service. Now, I thoroughly believe in grace and love as I am in much need of both but there needs to be a balance.
There is also a difference between the commitment and priorities of Christians. I recall a story from the biography of George Mueller. A couple visiting London went to his church and in the process became convicted of their need for rebirth and were saved. They were not going to be in town long and so there was not a lot of discipleship given much like Paul’s short stay in Thessaloniki. A year later they returned and told George all that they had done and what they had changed in their lives. At the end they asked him what else could they give up for Christ.
That is a far different attitude from today. Many Christians scan the Word to see what they can still get away with or explain away rather than what may need to go from their lives. Keith Green has lyrics where Christ is chastising the Church corporate saying, “You thrive on milk and reject my meat.” That song is entitled, “To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice”. He is dead and the song is old but it still has a lot to say to us.
1 Cor 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. KJV
Many use this passage to advocate an anything goes Christianity. First, we must take it in its context. Paul is trying to help two opposite cultures merge into the New Covenant Church. The Jews who know only the Law and were having trouble grasping that Grace had done away with the Law since it was fulfilled in Christ and the Gentiles who had no clue and were accustomed to having drunken orgies in their worship had trouble changing to a new and purer worship of God. They could not understand why bringing a ham to a Church supper should be a big deal with the brethren of Jewish background. The Jews could not understand why the Gentiles could not practice the rituals and holy days that the Jews have always practiced.
This was not saying that immorality or other sin was now legal. Just 1 John 1:9 it and rock and roll. It’s all good. No, those things did not change. What changed are the ceremonial, sacrificial and dietary laws that were all a part of the tutelage to bring us to Christ. And even though a ham sandwich was now lawful it was not necessarily expedient or profitable to eat one. There would be times when it would be better to forgo the exercise of your freedom.
Rom 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. KJV
Romans 14 and 15 are often taught from the perspective of proving that anything goes especially in “gray areas”. Weaker brothers need to grow up as a title of an article some time back in a very large Christian magazine proclaimed. You have your rights and you are free in Christ so go for it and live in grace seems to be the prevailing attitude. Yet, as verse 22 says there are times when you need to exercise your faith or freedom in private. You can be condemned in what you allow not what you disallow.
Since I became a Christian in 1975 I have heard numerous debates over various issues and anyone who wanted to not do something that someone else wanted to do was called a Legalist or worse. The scarlet L, be it Liberal or Legalist was something to be avoided. The true definition of a Legalist is really someone trying to add anything to the Gospel or Christ plus ___ saves you or keeps you saved. It is something other than being saved by faith alone. Initially, it was the Law or Old Covenant and today it has branched into many varieties of the same principle. It has nothing to do with standards unless those standards are cited as salvation issues.
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. KJV
The Jerusalem Council met and said this was not true and they only imposed a few restrictions and said the Gentiles would do well to practice these, but did not make them a part of salvation. Paul had to deal with this a lot in his epistles and it is still a problem today and as I said it comes in many forms.
So a Gentile is free to have a pork chop and so is a believing Jew since Peter was told to arise and kill and eat of unclean animals in a vision. Peter balked and God said to not call unclean what He has called clean. After all, only He can declare something clean and unclean for it is His creation and his curricula for teaching mankind. Thus pork is lawful for all under the New Covenant. So let’s pig out (pun intended) at our next Church fellowship no matter if a few new converts from Judaism are present! Not so!! Paul says to not destroy the faith of your brother for a pork chop. Eat your pork chop at home! Rein in your rights or freedoms that you have or think you have to not hurt the conscience of another. Sacrifice!!!
I know we get off on crazy trails sometimes. Yet, we are to live as much as possible peacefully among all me. If you know something offends people in your family or your church then keep it to yourself. If you have no problems with having Ruben’s or Botticelli’s Venus as a piece of art then hang it in an area where not everyone sees it when they come into your home. Anything else that you know that there are people who would find it offensive place it somewhere not open to the crowd or remove it when they are coming to visit so they are not confronted with it and have it on their mind for the whole visit. Don’t treat guests different than family. If members of the family are offended it is all the more reason to ditch it temporarily or permanently!
Permanently? Yes! Paul said he would eat no meat forever if it caused a brother to stumble. Again, in context, he did not mean he would be a vegetarian. Meat was used for food in general and he was not going to starve himself to death. He is talking about food declared unclean in Leviticus or meat offered unto idols though the idol be nothing if someone was going be be tripped up in their Christian faith over it. The pork chop or meal was not worth the soul damage of a brother/sister.
While Paul told the strong that they were right in their perspective of foods and holy days they were still to not abuse their liberties. The strong were to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please themselves. Thus in a given body of believers there are folks who are offended by certain practices, attire or music etc then we should refrain from those things and pray that God will mature them. Yet, if He does not change them He will strengthen us by our learning to sacrifice for the good of the Body even if it is something permissible.
If you have gotten this far some are thinking that then the weak ought to leave the church or the strong leave and start another church where they can be free. You are wrong.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. KJV
If you start another church or boot them out you are judging them as not being worthy of your sacrifice and your input into their life. Conversely, if they leave or cause a bunch of trouble they are also saying you are not worthy of giving input into their life. We have way too many churches built for all the wrong reasons. If there is more than one church of like faith and doctrine in the same town there is redundancy that was not created by God but rather the flesh. If a split is not over doctrine then it is of the flesh. If it is of the flesh, the ones who caused the split will not prosper spiritually even if they prosper materially for it shall be Ichabod. Many churches need to merge to see the power of God in them. God called us to unity and yet how can that be when we are so ignorant of doctrine that we can get six people together and have thirteen opinions or half are plotting how they can get control of the church and the other half are going to do what they want no matter who is offended for they have their rights!
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. KJV
Many of the attitudes in the church are patterns or forms of the world. We seek success by self-promotion where as God says that He exalts and debases and the way to be chief is to be a servant. We look at numbers and money as a sign of God blessing and yet He condemned the church at Laodicea who had all of that but had Him outside knocking at the door. We seek highly educated men to pastor and yet most of His chosen men were minimally educated and of the educated only one was a theologian. We strive to reach the rich, wise, and noble and yet God says that not many of them would be in the church for He has chosen the weak, base and foolish to confound the wise. We want cushy and elaborate buildings to have a grand experience when He taught in the fields. We are to take care of the poor, the widows indeed and to send out missionaries but our building and salary make that nearly impossible. We toss a tidbit to the message, mission and masses with the rest going to the mansion and managers. I recently visited a church where the pastor declared them to be a missions minded church. Their budget is around two million a year and their missions budget is only one hundred thousand. They are in the process of another building project for Sunday School rooms and a fellowship hall at a cost of two million dollars. Their focus is off though it is a good church in many respects.
We want things our way and yet we are called to be a living sacrifice. How many things did a sacrifice get to have their way? Did it really matter what they thought? No, because all that died with them. True, they were animals and did not have all the desires a sentient human has, but is not most of the desires we have pertain to creature comforts?
What if we actually started living as if we were a sacrifice and looked at what we do and stop doing the offensive and start doing what is best for the Body? What if we quit worrying about rights and did some things that might soothe a weaker brother’s nerves and allow him to grow? Would it kill you to do that? Hardly, since you are already supposed to be dead to the world and its traditions, trends and such. What if we spread the grace and love around by actually extending some to the brethren by putting away some of the earthly and childish things that we split churches over and discriminate against people?
Ah, your flesh may be getting you riled up about now and maybe you are saying, “Well, what about the weaker brother? Doesn’t he need to give some and grow up?” Yes, but the Word says that the strong bear the infirmities of the weak and did not speak to the weak directly. It speaks to the strong directly. We will teach them by the strength we have to sacrifice for them in the love and grace of Christ. We become servants and living sacrifices for the sake of the weak and in obedience to God. He will take care of the rest.
Does grace allow all? No. Sins are still sins and it means we have to become mature and discerning to know what sin is since that seems to be a cloudy issue for many. Even if it is lawful we still may have to refrain from exercising our liberty for the good of the Body. Does grace really call for sacrifice? Yes it does and some things are even stricter and harder to follow under grace than it was under Law. While the weaker brother needs to grow up it is time for the stronger brother to show his strength by restraint.
That is where the real power lies. Think of how often Christ could have exercised His rights and strengths by calling for a legion of angels to handle many of the things that were wrong? A couple of angels could have really cleaned out the money changers and indeed Christ could have vaporized them since by Him all things consist. Yet, He restrained Himself to turning over tables. Judas could have been toast as well as Pilate and the Sanhedrin. Out of grace, love and dedication to the Father’s mission He controlled His strength and did not exercise His rights so that the mission might be accomplished and men could be saved. What has power over you rather than you having power over it to restrain it?
Can not we then who are to be Christlike restrain ourselves for the good of the Body and the mission to win people to Christ? The stuff we hurt each other over will mean nothing in eternity. Most of it deals with flesh. Can we not sacrifice those things out of love for Christ, His Body and the Lost so that we can be more unified and fruitful spiritually? Grace will allow that! May we start practicing it soon! Maranatha!
January 22, 2012
I answer quite few questions about Biblical issues and have been doing so since 1975 so the total amount is probably very high. Some are simple and others complex. Some have been sensible questions and others off the wall and out of the park. While the questions vary greatly the motives are generally of the following types.
1. Sincerely wants to know and will change their life, if necessary, once the answer is known
2. Curious, but it is an intellectual or emotional curiosity that will have no impact one way or the other on their life.
3. Skeptical and unsure how they will act after they find the answer.
4. Sarcastic and mocking. They just want to argue no matter what the answer.
Just likes to debate and will take opposite side of anything you say, but not like number four.
5. Seeking affirmation of what they want to be the answer and will ask a hundred people until they get the answer they were hoping for even if it is wrong.
6. Needs to be right or important and will be sure to let you know their pedigrees or how smart they are. Wants to prove you wrong if you disagree. Sometimes a characteristic of the numbers three and four.
The first person is the best person to deal with because they are seeking truth and have no agenda other than that. Number three is also good because there is nothing wrong with honest skepticism. Truth has no fear of skepticism for truth can be challenged and while truth can be denied or even suppressed it cannot be conquered. It will burst forth at some point regardless of the negative circumstances so truth has no fear. Lies have to fear and always be on the defensive and strike out at truth to avoid being revealed. The curious sometimes get surprised and become thirsty for the truth when they really did not think it would affect them so there is hope for them if you are patient.
Humanly speaking, there is not much that can be done for the other four. Number six may give up and acquiesce to the truth if they finally tire of everyone saying something different than what they hear. In our day that is unlikely, as you can always find someone with a title or authority to agree to what you want to hear. Lies sell so if you look somewhere you will find a teacher for your itching ears who will gladly take your money to affirm your desires. These four you pray for, but do not spend much time with them or you may miss some opportunities to help the first three. Indeed, a heretic after the first or second admonition we are to reject or having nothing to do with as we are just casting pearls before swine and we are also told to not do that.
People will often complain that God does not answer their questions. Here are a couple of reasons for that.
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. KJV
Most people do not hear from God because they do not go to Him in the first place, but when they do, it is all about their own lusts or desires. They may not always be evil lusts like winning the lottery. Lust is any strong desire. When you are hungry you may lust after a juicy rib-eye or a meal at Olive Garden. A man may desire the office of a bishop or pastor. The word means to lust after or strongly desire. To desire a pastorate is a good thing if it is for the right reasons. You can ask for the right thing but still ask amiss.
Do you want to be a pastor because you care about souls or just because you want a “cushy” job? Ladies, do you want your husband saved just so he will be a better husband and you won’t be embarrassed at the Ladies’ Fellowship or because you really care for his soul and want him to miss Hell? Do you pray for a new car because you need one or because you want one? Are you looking for a new status symbol or will a Chevy do? Do you want a raise so you can give more to missions or so you can have a bigger house you do not really need? Nothing wrong with person getting saved, a new car or a raise but are the motives right? That might be why you are not getting any answers.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. KJV
Have you ever prayed for something but did not believe that God would give it to you? Where’s the faith? Were you trying to play the God lottery or spun the prayer wheel hoping it would land on “Yes” but figured there were ninety-nine Nos and one Yes on the wheel so the odds were against you? God does not play that game. He wants trust and if you cannot trust Him to give you what you want then why ask?
1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. KJV
And there is that thing about sin that will keep you from getting answers from God. We take sin way too lightly today, It is no wonder since we are not even sure what sin is anymore. We are more into love and grace because if we preach against sin and even call something sin we are afraid of being called an unloving, graceless Legalist or even sued. So we dribble milk when we should be cutting steak and finding a way to make all things lawful though not all things are expedient because we do not understand that passage. That is no surprise either since we major on subjective emotions and experiences rather than sound doctrine. That may be our prime sin because everything else is a result of not having sound doctrine.
Doctrine divides, you say? Yes, it does as that is its job. It divides truth from error and error is sin. Sin also divides us from God and without sound doctrine we cannot know sin from righteousness so does that explain why so many Christians are clueless about so many things?
So got questions? Be like the the sincere seeker even if you are sincerely skeptical. Be curious but do not be shocked if your curiosity takes you somewhere you did not plan on going. When you come to God seek forgiveness for your sins first and ask Him to check your motives. Then have faith that He shall give the right answer in His time.
If you fall into the last four categories, may God lead you to Him and bring you into a place where He will work with you because you desire to work with Him. Maranatha!
January 22, 2012
Some people will go out to eat every night and spend $30 or more. Yet, they will go out for a spiritual meal maybe once a week and some once a month or so and spend $5. At least four meals a week are offered at Church and maybe more. The tithe is probably less than what you spend on dine-in or take out, not counting travel time, gas and a tip. Tips nowadays are 18%. None of that is deductible. Would it not be better to be spiritually fat and physically leaner? Eat out less and attend church more and have the cost be deductible. Just think God gives you everything you have and requires less than your waiter who is paid to serve you. See you in Sunday School, Morning and Evening worship as well as Wednesday night!