April 28, 2013
My understanding is that Islamics and even some groups who use the term Christian have a problem with Jesus being the Son of God. After all, one means one how can God have a Son? While I understand that the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God is hard for the human mind to grasp, it is clearly taught in Scripture.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. KJV
Right here in the first chapter of Scripture we have a problem posed for modalists and other non-trinitarians. If God is not a plural unity then who is He speaking to when He says Our image. Certainly not the angels for He would not say Our when talking to them for they are created being as well. It could only be to someone of equal stature as a creator and He is the only Creator. Twelve times in Scripture it is said that He is the Lord God and there is none else. So who comprises the Our in Our image. To have an Our you have to have at least two so we have a Deity that is at least a Bi-Unity in this passage though we shall see in other places the Tri-Unity.
12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.
15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.
16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. KJV
In this passage, it is clearly God speaking to His people and may I say that he is not happy with them. Verse 12 affirms the one and only God as the first and the last or as the New Testament puts it the Alpha and Omega. He says, it’s me and me alone. Yet, in verse 16 we see a presentation of the Holy One of Israel that seems different than what the Sh’ma presents in Duet 6:4 which is a foundation stone in Hebrew theology. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” KJV
So God is speaking, the one and none else God, but He says that the Lord GOD and His Spirit has sent Him. Hello, that is a three count. The speaker calls Himself God. He said God sent Him. He also said God’s Spirit sent Him. Some say that the Spirit is just an influence so we still have a Bi-Unity if you take that position. Yet, an influence is not a sending on commissioning agent. That requires a persona or person. Thus two Persons of Deity level sent this Deity that is speaking hence three persons or a Tri-Unity/Trinity.
Is this this a contradiction of the Sh’ma or is the Sh’ma a contradiction of the true makeup of God? Neither is true, but a misunderstanding could make it such. The word one in Sh’ma can mean one and only one but there is imagery of composite unities in Scripture where the Children of Israel were gathered, stood or fought as one man. One cluster of grapes has many grapes within the cluster Even our bodies have numerous parts but we are one body. Each part is different having a specific purpose and that is to maintain life in the body.
The word however does come from a root word meaning unity but also carries the idea of unity as in collecting your thoughts or unifying your thought. Many thoughts unified for a purpose. The variation used in the passage is properly used of a united oneness though it can be used as an ordinal or primary idea of one. Thus if the translators would have said “…the Lord our God is an united God” it would have still been correct. It fits perfectly with our Isaiah passage either way since the obvious presentation is a plural Godhead who emphasizes that they are one and there is none else.
Though we are not completely or clearly told until the New Testament that they are not only one in accord as in unity but also one in essence we could assume or speculate such a concept from this passage. How that works we will not know until we stand before the Trinity. Many attempts have been made to describe it but none are perfect and none may even be close. There are some things we do just have commit them to Him until we are totally transformed at the Rapture for our puny finite minds cannot grasp them as they are too high for us since they are a part of the Most High Creator.
Another problem people have related to this is the humanity of Christ. Even those would concede to a spiritual Trinity they have problems with God dwelling in a body. Well…
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. KJV
If God is only a spirit and cannot have a body, like we can tell God what He can and cannot have, then how do we explain this? Again, in the context, it is clearly God speaking, Only God can pour out the spirit of grace and supplications. Yet, God is saying they shall look upon Me, which they have pierced. Hello, you have to have a body to pierce before it can be pierced. Then it is like He changes gears and says that they shall mourn for Him. Mourn for whom if it is God pierced why the change? Because they are piercing God in the flesh but not the same one speaking.
You say, “OK then how does that work?” We see here the concept of unity but also an oneness of essence for though it is a different person being pierced since they are of one essence both feel the piercing. They will mourn for the Person that took on flesh but the One who is speaking will also be affected and though it is not said here so will the Spirit. If you had Siamese twins that were joined or shared one arm and you injected that arm with a vaccine both twins would feel the pain yet one might shrug it off as nothing and the other moan like you stabbed him. They would not be of the same essence though they share the same body and experience. The Godhead is perfect in its Oneness and doing something to one is to do it unto the others.
We can see now that at some point in time God took on flesh to be pierced. How does that happen?
Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. KJV
Some argue over the whether or not the word virgin means virgin or young woman. Well, a young woman giving birth is not much of a sign and certainly no miracle. His name shall be called Immanuel which means God with us. Some say that only means He is on our side or a symbol of His presence among His people. Not much of a sign there either. When God does signs or wonders He means something out of the ordinary or a miracle so that you know He did it and it is not just a happenstance, stroke of luck or coincidence.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. KJV
Now a virgin conceiving would certainly be a miracle. Not only is the child to be named Immanuel, but he has a few other names like Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. It would have been blasphemy to ascribe any of those titles to just a normal kid born of a young mother. There has to be something special about this kid.
How in the world can a virgin conceive? God would have to impregnate her. God is a spirit! How in the world can He do that? Oh, ye of little faith or even common sense.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. KJV
Most of the folks who have a problem with God having a Son are Creationists. If God created everything out of nothing and created man and woman then what is the problem? He created the reproductive system. Why could He not create a seed to implant into a woman without physical intimacy? Like that would be hard? He created DNA so could He not put a DNA structure in it that would be His DNA and yet still able to merge with Mary’s? I don’t know about your god but it is child’s play for my God. If all He did was create a seed without the flaw that is in us because of sin there would be no sin nature in that body and in essence move things back to the Garden and the person created that way would at least be innocent like Adam and Eve were before the Fall.
So no problem for the Creator God creating a perfect body without a sin nature, but would that person be God in the flesh? The body is only one part of a human. We have a spirit and a soul. The soul is what is active making our personality and able to comprehend our surroundings in a way above the animals thus making us sentient. The spirit allows us to comprehend and experience God.
To have God in the flesh, He need only indwell that body. Instead of creating a soul and spirit for that body He would only have to indwell it Himself. Would He shrink Himself down? No, He is omnipresent and inhabits every part of the universe. He is what holds the protons in a molecule together when by the laws of science they should repel each other.
How He did it exactly we do not know. Theologians call it hypostatic union. It doesn’t really matter as the ability for it to happen we can comprehend but the mechanics of it we do not need to know. We use thousands of objects that we have know clue about the mechanical process use to make them. We are just glad they are there. How God did the Incarnation we can take up with Him in eternity if we will even care then.
Therefore if God created and inhabited this body we would have God in the flesh but what about the Son thing? Isa 48:16 shows we have three persons. While it mentions two in the sending whenever we have a pair of individuals in a sentence the more powerful or respected person is named first and the one primarily involved with the action.. Therefore the Lord God sent the Person in Isaiah. So, if the Person of the Godhead inhabited the body that the Lord God created then truly He becomes the Son of God as He has at least submitted to the Lord God as an authority though they be equals since they are of one essence.
OK, so we have the Lord God creating a seed without a sin nature, implants it into a virgin and has the Second Person of the Godhead merge in some way with this seed and become His Son, His only begotten son. Seems hard to imagine?
Jer 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: KJV
And so we come back to the Creativity of God. Those who deny that God can have a Son rob Him of His creativity and unlike Jeremiah they say there are some things so hard God cannot do them. God indeed has a Son and His name is Jesus. He came as Immanuel, God with us, and He was pierced on the Cross for the sins of not only His people, the Jews, but thankfully for all mankind. One day, His people will mourn for Him as one would their firstborn and when they cry out to Him He will return.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: KJV
God has shown you His creation and has given His Word in His Scripture about who He is and who the Son is and who the Spirit is and what must be done to be saved. You have no excuse.
Ps 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. KJV
This is a kiss of respect or reverence and submission. If you reject the Son, you reject the Father. You anger the Son, you anger the Father. He wants to be your Father! Put your trust in Jesus Christ/Y’shua Ha-Mashiach and have your sins forgiven and saved from an eternity in Hell.
Why not accept the Way and the Truth and be saved from sin and Hell? If you would like to be saved, use the following prayer as an example to tell God and His Son, Jesus, you want salvation! The words are not magical. God looks on the heart and, not the lips. Call out to Him, in your own way! You may call longer or louder than someone else. That is fine! Just call before it is too late!
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died and rose again to pay for my sins. I want Him to be my King and Saviour. Please forgive me for my sins. I want to turn from my sin and, with your help, to obey You. Save me now, for Jesus’ sake. Thank You for saving me, Amen.
April 28, 2013
If you listen to many of the TV and radio preachers you would think that Christ is the dispenser of the American dream. Indeed, God’s throne seems to be a celestial Las Vegas where instead of spinning a wheel your prayers are like rolling dice. If you roll the right number God drops money, cars, houses and spouses upon you and even cures your halitosis and corns.
There are formulas, repetitive prayers, anointed prayer cloths or shower caps that guarantee to bring God’s wealth and blessing upon you. Some of those things remind me of the old Groucho Marx show, “You Bet Your Life”, where if you said the secret word a little bird dropped down and you won money only in the case of these “holy” items or formulas it is the Holy Spirit, perhaps in the form of a dove, that lays the goodies on you.
You would think that with all those wonderful things available that the Church would be loaded with people who are well-heeled and healed, yet the contrary is true even in America. Having traveled about a bit, I can assure you that most churches are small and the congregations are lower middle class to poor with health issues and that is in America. In many other countries,
it is more like poorer and poorest and the diseases that accompany poverty and malnutrition.
So what is the problem? Some like to pawn it off to a lack of faith of the poor and sick yet James says that it is the prayers of the elders that heals the sick, not the faith or prayer of the afflicted. The man at the Beautiful Gate had no faith. It was Peter’s faith in Christ that healed. The lame man didn’t even know what was coming. There are times when healing comes by the faith of the sick as with the crippled man that Paul perceived that had faith to be healed but we have the examples of James 5 and Peter’s action that show that it is not always the faith of the sick that is needed or fails when healing does not come.
3 John 1-2
1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. KJV
Some may have said, “See, there you have it! We are to be prosperous and healthy! This is from he disciple Jesus loved so it must be so!” Oy, keeping the passage in context we see that this blessing or well-wishing is directed to an individual, not the Church or an open blessing to all saints. He doesn’t even say that it will come to pass. It is John’s wish or desire that it happens but it is not a prediction of the future only a hope. We wish people a blessed day or a great day all the time. Does it guarantee that they will have a great day. Many times their day may stink even though they were “blessed” or wished happiness twenty times that day.
It is John’s heartfelt wish that Gaius prospers, but that doesn’t mean immense wealth. If I am a business man and my business sees a 5% profit over last year I have prospered by 2% since the cost of living usually goes up 3% per year. That doesn’t mean it is time to retire but I did prosper. To prosper does not mean I will in Highland Park, Beverly Hills or wherever your rich people dwell.
In my doctor’s office he has a Power Point presentation that tells about various health issues but also the origin and meanings of various words. Health comes from the Teutonic word for salvation. In an Asian language, crisis comes from the words for danger and opportunity. Enthusiasm comes from the Greek meaning God within. I always find those things interesting. He also has a slide that says health is not being disease free. Indeed, you can be on the borderline between disease and what we call healthy. You can feel great one day and die the next because the line was crossed without any symptoms of sickness. Real health is to be growing and being stronger, not just status quo.
Hmm, that would make a good definition of a healthy spiritual life. That brings us to the caveat or crux of these verses. Note, John’s real concern for Gaius was for his soul. He wanted the soul to be prosperous and healthy and tied the blessing to that. As your soul prospers so also may your business and body prosper. It is the inner or spiritual health and prosperity that John and God really care about. As thy soul prospers, Gaius, I wish the other blessings for you as well. Desiring is not giving. He could not give Gaius prosperity of soul then or for the future. He could only desire that his soul continued to prosper and as it did he desired the rest would also be true. Yet, Gaius’ soul could prosper and be in health without the externals keeping up with it.
John could not predict that Gaius would always prosper in his soul. He was doing well right then but remember Demas? He was spoken well of in two passages but then something happened and he forsook Paul because this present world became his love object. Why? Was he tired of hanging around Paul in dingy jails and living hand to mouth off the charity of the saints. Paul knew how to abound and to be abased meaning there were some lean times. Did Demas see an opportunity to prosper that he thought would mean a healthier lifestyle though it would impoverish and sicken his soul? We are not told but this world had some appeal to him.
Think of all the rich in this world who have the finest physicians and enjoy health and health care in ways we cannot imagine and yet they are unbelievers. There is usually so much in their lives that shows they are critically ill and poverty stricken in their souls. It does not make wealth so appealing. Yet, as you look around the world and maybe in your own community you find people who are fiscally poor and in poor health who are happy, praising God and talk of being immensely blessed. They are rich with peace, love, joy and the other fruit of the Spirit in their souls and it shows. Whoever took the Teutonic word for salvation and created our word health was completely on target. A saved person dying of any disease is healthier that the most fit lost person.
Wealth does not always bring happiness and certainly cannot guarantee health. I have read of many rich people dying from the same diseases that afflict poor people. I also know of Christians overseas who will never be wealthy and are persecuted by beatings, rapes and murder who are happier than most Christians sitting in their comfortable homes or padded pews. The poorest of our people here are richer than at least 80% of the rest of the world and we are some of the most unhappy and ungrateful people imaginable. Some of our persecuted brethren will risk life and limb to get even a piece of a Bible while we may have a dozen on the shelf unread. When they are imprisoned they witness to the other prisoners and the guards even if may mean beatings or isolation. Here, we fear to give out a tract or speak to someone about Christ, but have no problems talking about the Cowboys or some other thing that won’t keep a soul from Hell.
Let us look at the ultimate passage on the subject of wealth and prosperity for the Christian, the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. KJV
When you read verses 31 to up to the colon in 35, you could jump up and down and shout, “See! It’s victory and glory for us! David was a king and rich. Some of those dudes lived very well.” Yes, but as Paul Harvey was known to say, let’s look at “the rest of the story.” After that colon, life gets a tad bit different for those listed in God’s Hall of Fame for the Faithful. We all like to claim the Word and identify with a biblical character when the words are victory and blessings. Anyone going to start asking God to make them like the folks in 35b -38? I doubt it.
Did these folks have faith? You bet or they would not be in this passage. But where is the power, riches, blessings, etc? Yes, how about that? I guess it isn’t an universal rule that all God’s chillun’s got shoes or so much stuff they have to buy sheds or rent storage space. They don’t all have so many clothes they cannot decide what to wear or get bored with after a few months. Nope, sometimes God’s children don’t get their reward until they get home in Heaven.
I know there is a scribe or lawyer somewhere that will point out that these people are all Old Testament saints. Well, OK. John the Baptist lost his head, but then he would be classified as the last Old Testament prophet. Hmm, Stephen was stoned for his witness. James was killed by a government sword and it was a Roman ax that made Paul lose his head. Tradition says that all the rest of the Apostles also met an untimely end save John who was exiled to Patmos after boiling him in oil failed to kill him.
It is amazing that none of the Apostles grasped the wealth and health doctrines since apparently they taught it as the modern day lads are using their epistles to espouse those doctrines. Yet, the Apostle Paul Ministries (APM) were not headquartered in Ephesus where Paul left his five million denarius house to travel to the Christian Cathedral of Prosperity in his twenty-horse gilded chariot to preach to thousands on how Christ came that they also may have marble toilets in their offices. What were the Apostles thinking or where was their faith since they not latch on to their birthright?
What shall we say about all the martyrs since the 1st Century? Were they all faithless twits that did not know it was their destiny to be rich and healthy instead of martyrs? We need to make sure we get the word to our brethren in other lands to stop denying their birthright and allowing people to torture and kill them for their faith. They need to name and claim their wealth and health and expect a miracle other than escaping captivity or surviving in horrible prison conditions. Send them crates of prayer cloths, anointed amulets and shower caps! Oh, yes, I suppose we should send them bibles but more than that all the books by the great messengers of the new apostolic reformation.
Balderdash to all that! It is better to be bankrupt in this world and rich in the next than the other way around. Seek true riches that will last eternally. No matter what you amass here you will either leave it to people who will most likely waste it or it will be burned up to make way for the new heaven and new earth. If we want true wealth and riches then we need to heed the injunctions of 1 Timothy 6 and other passages speaking to the errors of loving money and desiring unrighteous mammon. These are in direct conflict with the heresies being taught by the most popular speakers. Paul commands us to stay away from them for their teachings are…
1 Tim 6:5-9
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. KJV
If you are unsaved today all the wealth in the world will not help you even if you die in your sleep of old age. You will lose your soul in Hell for eternity just like the rich man in Luke. If you are broke but saved then you have more wealth than you can imagine and even if you are physically ill here one day you will be in perfect condition living with your Savior forever.
Maybe you are sick because you have fallen into the trap of coveting wealth and this economy is not helping you achieve your goals and even setting you so far back you never will reach them. Work on prospering you soul and seeking the health that will bring about as you turn over your goals to Christ and being happy that you have food, clothes and even shelter which Paul does not mention. Don’t worry and covet stuff that will burn up but seek the gold, silver and precious stones that will survive the fire at the Bema seat because they were created from a life lived in holiness and in fellowship with Christ. Behold He cometh quickly! Maranatha!!!
April 28, 2013
“It is only the atheist who adopts success as the criterion of right.” – Robert Lewis Dabney
If Dabney were here today he would have to modify that statement to include many so-called Evangelicals. Just because you have a large church and mucho dinero don’t mean God is blessing. We are success driven and we equate huge buildings with success. Crowds may or may not mean much as all as even 100 acres of tares are still just tares. More is not always good.
Indeed, Jesus ran off more “seekers” than He won. People were attracted to his personality and miracles but when He hit them with hard questions and sound doctrine they either took off running or plotted to kill Him.
The biggest crowd ever won was on the day of Pentecost and there was not a positive, seeker sensitive message preached there. It was a finger pointing, Hell and damnation sermon, recounting the history of history, the prophecies and the recent events that brought about conviction and conversion.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. KJV
No God has a wonderful plan for your life or an hour of praise and worship music replete with dancers and dramatic vignettes on this day. No appeal or sermon directed towards the Pharisees and one for the Sadducees and one for the Zealots or Herodians. No classes aimed at the Young or Old Married, College-Career, Women, Men, Boys, those with Blue eyes, the Left Handed or Right Brained and those who love John Deeres. Just one message to all, “Repent”. 3,000 converts with one message would be any preacher’s dream!
There was at least one Church in Scripture that met the modern definition of success and spirituality.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. KJV
Yes, the dead Church that Christ was trying to get into had it all!! They were large, rich, well situated and renown but they were dead spiritually. The pastors had their$5 mill houses and $23K marble toilets in their office. Speaking engagements surely abounded and they had the latest motivational and self-help programs that were the best in the land, but they did not have Jesus inside thus there was no real Intel inside either. They didn’t have Jezebel in that church. She was down the road at Thyatira, but there were probably fans in the congregation who read her books and went to her meetings if they were traveling far from home when she was in the same area as their vacation or company’s conference.
Fleshly manipulation abounded but the fruit of the Spirit was nowhere to be found. Hey, what they did worked so surely God was in it!!! Nope. They locked themselves into their palaces and lived in their make-believe world while Jesus stood outside knocking. Will these be the folks in Matt 7:21-25? I would say they could be called the usual suspects. Folks from small churches will be in that number as well but since we are talking larger numbers it only stands to reason where more will come from in the end.
We need more prayer and piety than pragmatism. We need more people mad at the devil than Madison Avenue admen. Holiness is just uncommonness not something we need to seek. Sin is situational and up to personal conviction as we don’t want to be judgmental or God forbid, legalistic.
We can rewrite His word whenever we feel like it and use whatever we feel it should say since we have a fancy term for adding to or taking away from it, dynamic equivalence. Take out genders, take out the sins the culture doesn’t like since we don’t want to hinder the seeker.
Turn the Church into an entertainment center and a revenue building instead of it being a house of prayer and discipleship. God said to seek the old paths but what does He know? See, it works! Hmm, what is that about unless the Lord builds the house? O yeah, they labor in vain. Makes you wonder whose house a lot of folks are building.
Pragmatism no longer only belongs to the atheists Dr D. Good thing you are already in glory and missed this generation. You would have been heartbroken and wondered if the Church was being guided by Madison Avenue instead of from the throne on Hallelujah Square. Yes, His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not ours. Let’s seek that which is higher than us though the paths may not seem very practical or pragmatic. Behold, He cometh quickly and what will He find? His expectations were not real high and did not seem to envision mega-churches or even crowds anywhere watching for His return. Nonetheless, Maranatha!
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? KJV
April 28, 2013
One of the churches in the area has been having some consternation and fear about the effect of one member’s viewpoint on the new converts or “baby Christians.” I contend that IF churches were discipling their new converts they would have less fears about confusion. Besides there are far more heresies and things to confuse a new convert on the Net, radio and TV than to worry about one person locally.
After all, most people do not attend churches for doctrine. They attend for the music, the fellowship, the networking and mating possibilities, etc. Most could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag defending their beliefs. They may parrot their pastor or favorite religious celebrity but could not give you a solid analysis based on Scripture as to why they believe what they do about any given issue.
Churches should pass out their doctrinal statements to their members and ask this question after every point in the document(s);
__ Agree Totally, __ Agree partially, __ Disagree, __Don’t Know __ Don’t Care.”
They might be shocked to see how many areas their members including teachers and deacons would mark Disagree, Don’t Know or Don’t Care.
I have had churches send me their paperwork ad I have agreed to go and preach there in view of a call based on them . When I arrive and we start talking I have found that the people in leadeship must not have read what they sent me because they are not in agreement. Those documents may be fifty years old and have not be read nor the elements in them taught or followed in thirty years.
One asked me to come and preach and the didn’t know if they were Baptist or Methodist, Calvinist or Arminian or why the women sat on one side and men on the other during Sunday School or why they had their worship service at 10:00AM and their Sunday School at 11:00AM. I told them that I was not big on written prayers as they had in their bulletin and they said their last preacher did that and they just carried on with it. As best I could, I gave them some instruction and encouraged them to find out who they were and then call a pastor of that stripe. I am confident that they are not alone in their confusion. Many churches arein the same state.
Churches, are your leaders living up to their charge?
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. KJV
Christians, are you living up to yours? God will not ask you what your pastor or hero said. He will ask, “What did I say and what did you do about it?” ” Matt 5:31,32 “It hath been said… But I say unto you…”KJV
Make sure you know who and what you are hearing.
2 Tim 2:14-16
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. KJV
April 27, 2013
You have often heard I and others pray a hedge of protection or thorns about folks but you may not have known where we get the idea from even though you might like it. One lady told me she loved it when I prayed that because it gave her great comfort. Hedges can be a great comfort depending on what they are made of, why they are there, who put them there. Some can be bad news and not having one at all can mean disaster.
The first mention we have of hedges in Scripture is in Job.
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. KJV
Job was a righteous man and was doing quite well in life. Indeed, when God can call your name to the devil for an example of a man God approves you know he had to be quite a fellow. Of course, that ticked the devil off and he accused the Lord of buying him. He said God hedged him in from all the trials and tribulations of life so no wonder Job loved God. Tear down that hedge and see what happens, said the devil.
Note that God never agrees with the charge. He never said he treated Job differently they anyone else. Job may have been merely reaping the rewards of a righteous man versus ending up with the hard life and way of an unbeliever or backslider.
Prov 13:15 Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. KJV
Nevertheless God allowed the devil to go after Job. If God did not have a hedge around Job before He did now. He placed a small one around him so that satan could not touch his life. That was a good hedge to have and it was impregnable since God placed it there.
Some hedges we put up ourselves and they are not so wonderful though they are as nearly as impregnable.
Prov 15:19 The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. KJV
Have you ever heard someone complain about they can never seem to get ahead in life? They can never pay their bills; keep a job and a long list of other problems. Often when you get down to the root of it they are lazy. No matter what advice you give them they always find excuses for not doing it. You tell them about jobs and they don’t apply or wait until it is too late. They complain if they do not get hired or promoted so you tell them what they need to pursue either in education or experience and they never get it done. There is always a difficulty or as scripture puts it, “a lion in the way, a lion in the streets”. (Prov 26:13)
They toss and turn on their beds because they have anxiety over their condition or just because they don’t do enough to be tired. (Prov 26:14) You tell them where food can be procured and they want you to go get it or they don’t want t because it is too hard to prepare. You wonder how they find energy to even eat and if they want to be spoon fed. (Prove 26:15)
Their life is hedged in by thorns of their own making. They may have natural ability to succeed but not the diligence or determination to make it happen. They may even ask for God’s guidance but they don’t move. We all know it is much easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is parked. They want God to tow them to the ideal job or keep feeding them like fledglings in the nest. Every bird has to grow and fly and like the eagle God will push them out of the nest at some point if we don’t continue to enable their laziness in the name of grace or familial love.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: KJV
God did hedge in His people Israel when they were obedient. However there were times when He tore the hedge down and allowed the heathen to punish them for their sin. Habakkuk questioned how God could use the wicked to chastise those that were more righteous. The Lord told David that when Solomon took over that if Israel sinned they would be chastened with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. (2 Sam 7:14) The wicked belong to Him as well as the righteous and He has the right to tear down the hedges if He so desires. What is praiseworthy is that His actions are for redemptive purposes or else we would have no hope.
I believe that America’s hedges are being torn down due to our sin and turning from God and at this late stage in timeline of man there may not be any return or redemption for the country. Individually, all we can do is come before Him and to be sure that we are in a place in our relationship that He does not have to take down our hedge and allow satan to pillage and destroy to get us to return to Him. Worse yet, we want to be sure that He does not have to turn our body over to satan allowing him to take our life though our soul will be saved. (1 Cor 5; 1-5)
Sometimes God looks and expects to find some of us to be used as a protective hedge and He can’t find any. Abraham was hoping for enough souls to be present to be a hedge for Sodom and Gomorrah and had he gone down to one righteous person they would have been spared. He stopped and there were not that many there so God took out four but ended up with three.
Sadly, God often looks to those who are called his men or prophets to be the one who stands in the gap to protect the nation and in Ezekiel he did not find someone. He was going to use them to fill up the gap to make the hedge and they failed so Israel fell. All the prophets had left the Word of God and God and preached what people wanted to hear for their own gain, fame or whatever. They had the titles and position of prophet but they were opportunistic foxes taking spoils where they may in the desert they created by not using the water of God’s Word to irrigate it thus by that drought they set up the country for judgment.
4 O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
5 Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.
6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
7 Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.
9 And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: KJV
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. KJV
When He found the prophets were unworthy in chapter four we see Him in chapter twenty-two saying He sought for a man. Sounds like when the leadership failed He looked for another Amos that He could call though he was not a prophet or a son of a prophet. He just wanted an obedient man and He found none. One righteous man was all that was needed to spare the country and none was found. In chapter fourteen, verse twenty we see God finally got to the point where His anger would no longer spare even if Daniel, Noah and Job were there. They would be spared but not the country. Woe unto us if we have no one God can use to make a hedge to fill in the gap for the country or ourselves. We are in an age where we definitely need to dare to be a Daniel or eschew evil like Job if we hope to have an ark to run to when the flood of God’s wrath comes down on the nation that forgets God.
Sometimes we do not see the benefit of God’s hedge because we are out in sin or rebellion and we are singing “don’t fence me”. It is good to grow up and leave home and find out what life is all about but sometimes we think that means tossing everything we learned or were told in the trash and seeking new things and thoughts. Our eyes catch the glitter of the world’s trinkets and we leave behind or trade out our real treasure for fool’s gold.
5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. KJV
Hosea was told to marry an unfaithful woman or a harlot. She represented Israel whoring about with the pagans and their gods to gain their delicacies and treasures. They seemed better than what God had provided. Yet, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof so all the stuff the pagans had came from the true God they just did not give Him the credit.
There came a time when God said He was going to hedge in her path so that she would come back to Him. He made her life difficult with that hedge of thorns so that there was no place she could go or turn was without trouble or pain. He made her allure fade so that those who have loved her no longer found her exciting or pleasurable. All the things they gave her were taken away or not replaced when she had consumed them. The grand life she was living became not as grand as the prodigal son found out centuries later. She, like him, had to come to her senses and say it was better with her husband and thus she returned.
I have referred this passage to many people over the years whose spouse has left them or their children have run away or gone off into sin. I don’t tell them to turn it into an evangelical rosary like some have made the Prayer of Jabez. I do tell them to use this pattern for their situation.
People run off into various sins because the devil has used someone or something to make the path they are taking desirable. To bring them back to reality their way has to become hard and they have to be broken or heartbroken so that the old 20/20 hindsight can kick in. Then they see the foolishness of their ways and if they are broken enough they will seek the Lord and the life they left.
Many people have gotten their life straight because people have prayed for this type of hedge to be placed around their loved ones. Some came back without knowing that a hedge request was being prayed. Some have been told that a parent or spouse was praying the hedge which came to mind when things started going wrong for them and they came back. Some were told that a hedge was being prayed but if they did not heed the hedge then the prayer was for God to save their soul and take them home.
Sound harsh? Remember 1 Cor 5? That is basically what Paul was saying. If they didn’t get right they would get right before the throne. Some people can only hear things when they are rough so telling someone that “I’m going to pray God hedges you in until you get right or He has to kill you” might work for some folks but I would be very sure that I had run that by God before I used that approach. We pray that it would never get to that but we must be aware that it could happen. John tells us about a sin unto death. (1 John 5:16) I believe that is the last resort for God. If you don’t listen here, He will definitely have your undivided attention there.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. KJV
When you think about it, God has the right to expect fruit from His people. We are His vineyard. He has done so much for us than we can comprehend and as Brother John says, far more than we deserve. If He has to tear down the hedge and chastise us to get us to return do we have anyone to blame but ourselves? We are thrilled that once we are saved there is a hedge between us and Hell so why not be grateful and stay within the hedge of His protection by obedience rather than force His hand to deal with our rebellion? If our way is hard then praise His name as it may be that hedge spoken of in Hosea to keep us from evil and evil from us that we might finally see where our true treasure is and where real love abides.
Father, I ask that indeed you would hedge in your obedient children and keep them from evil and evil from them that they might enjoy all that You wish to give them in their relationship with You and that they might be forth much fruit as is only their reasonable service. For those who are straying or about to embark on the wrong path, please hedge them in as well so that they will have no joy or peace until they return to you. Let all that would lead them astray lose interest in them. Let them be deserted so that you can find them in the desert and speak comfortably to them as you did Gomer and return them to you in a betrothal of righteousness, faithfulness, judgment, lovingkindness and in mercies. Amen and amen!! Maranatha!
April 27, 2013
2 Tim 3:12-13
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. KJV
“It must be understod that there are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in Russia or China. The price Christians pay is far tto great. The next point to remember is that persecution has always produced a better Christian-a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.”
Excerpted from Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ. For a copy go to http://www.persecution.com
It would also appear that Islamic persecution is backfiring as well since a mullah on Arab TV was bewailing the fact that six million Muslims are turning to Christ every year.
This brings us to the concept of building a church. Since despite pockets of what appear to be explosive conversions and a few mega-churches the overall the number of Christians in Europe and America are dramatically decreasing so we must conclude that we are not truly building Christ’s church.
Even what we seem to be building are not masses of Christians like Wurmbrand speaks but rather self-centered babies who need to be entertained and fed milk that gives them warm feelings but dulls their mind, deadens their discernment and puts them to sleep.
We are building edifices and filling them predominantly with tares. There are some saved, but they never fully mature as their brethren in persecuted lands. They are gifted, yet carnal, like the Corinthian church while obsessed with prosperity and health like the Laodecians not knowing they are sick and in poverty spiritually. There are many evil men and seducers active in the Church as well as without.
Thus, in the final analysis, if the free world is to see the remarkable church growth it desires and the strong saints of the past then we can but do one thing and that is pray earnestly for persecution and that we might be granted the honor to suffer with Christ and even to die for His name’s sake.
Anyone up for prayer?
Father, we need to be dragged from our beds of ease and into the paths of the saints of old and the saints in persecuted lands. We must learn obedience by the rod of persecution and the path to joy unspeakable through the fellowship of His sufferings. God prepare us and find us worthy to know Your power and praise You in persecution. The Western Church is all but dead not knowing its bed of ease is a bed of disease and death not of Your blessing.
History has shown that the Church thrives when it bleeds and more souls are saved when it bleeds richly. Lord, if that is the path for harvest then fertilize your field for a final harvest the size of which has never yet been seen. Amen! Maranatha!!
April 27, 2013
There is a group on one of the social networks that was issuing a call to return to radical Christianity. I love the concept and joined the group but I wanted to feel out how they defined radical and if they were really up to radical Christianity thus I posted this in the group’s discussion area.
Are you suggesting we dump all the fad, flash and fleshly foolishness of the seeker churches and get back to 1st Century Christianity?
Yes, many of the mainline Churches have fallen away into apostasy but today’s entertainment arcades called churches are not radical Christianity but rather effeminate weak-kneed places where cheer leaders and motivational speakers man the pulpits doing religious non-speak for fear of offending the crowd or even the World with the truth. They should be called Houses of Scratch for the itching ears, not churches that are supposed to be the pillar and ground of truth.
There is no need for evangelical rosaries or programs of purpose in true radical Christianity. Matthew 28:18-20 and Ephesians 4:11-16 give the purpose of the saint and church. That is all the 1st Century martyrs needed. Repetition of one man’s prayer will gain no more than any other mantra with the God who commands it not to be done.
Prosperity? Funny, the apostles did not live in multi-million dollar homes or have marble toilets. Most of them died in relative poverty by worldly standards but died with greater wealth than Buffet and Gates could ever conceive. Did they need to meet in Taj Mahals fully equipped with huge screens and awesome sound systems? Nay, I say Paul’s and Silas’ A Capella song in prison or of the songs of those on their way to be fed to lions and as they burned at stakes make our praise and worship songs off key and out of rhythm with the symphony that the Master is conducting.
Radical Christianity? None in the so-called first world nations have half a clue about what constitutes mundane Christianity let alone radical Christianity. Hear the songs from the prisons overseas where our brethren languish physically but are robust in true spiritual health. Hear their blood call out from their graves wondering when we will get off our sanctimonious sacroiliacs and sell out completely to the true and living God who died for us. We play Church and they live Christ.
They pray for souls and to live another day to serve while we pray for bigger paychecks and stuff but seldom witness though we sang for an hour on Sunday about how great is our God. We sing, “Word of God speak” and then gag Him if He gets too doctrinal or makes the wrong demands upon our life. We are sickly, sallow, sated saints while our brethren who often only have one meal a day are strong soldiers serving saturated in their own blood receiving more than the blessings we crave and cannot receive.
No one wants really radical Christianity in the citadels of civilization. Radical Christianity would be uncultured and crude making itself unwelcome on TV shows where those who would be princes cannot tell a lost man that he is lost and so are all who do not receive Christ as Saviour. How can radical Christianity possibly exist in places where Christians bow the knee and kiss the feet of the culture to accept us by catering to their political correctness and their standards of what makes a successful church or pastor?
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. KJV
Where are the Christians that will turn the world upside down and cause such a ruckus? I am afraid that most are dead already and the rest are no where to be found in America, Canada, Australia or Europe. Radical and true Christianity does exist in the countries where to be a Christian can mean having no job or the most menial ones and living each day knowing it could be the one where you are carted off to prison and to win a soul to Christ means the end of your life. You have to truly believe if you know that once your conversion is known you may meet Jesus that day.
No, radical Christianity does not and cannot exist where pop psychiatry that is lightly verse laced and vanilla theology squeak out from the pulpits to the groupies that came for the concert more than the Word and certainly not for conviction as they grab their designer coffee from the shop in the hallway on their way to Yoga classes or the 12 Easy Steps to Holiness and Prosperity session.
Since we have churches where the pastor speaks over the network at several churches the day may soon come when they will hand out the 3D glasses so that congregation can at least get the feel of having him there during virtual vespers. Hospital visitation will be done by iPhone and you can get married at home to a Podcast after you send in your papers to have them signed and returned. They will come with a framed copy with the Teaching Pastor’s signature for $99.95 or you can get an Assistant’s signature for $29.95. Now that’s radical marketing which seems to be what the modern church seems to do best.
That is the only radicalness you can expect to see from generic plain brown wrapper 1st World, 21st Century Christianity. 3rd World Christians are closer to 1st Century but when the persecution hits the 1st World we will get a taste of it, but most will not like the taste. Maranatha!!
April 27, 2013
I have noticed that there are a lot of folks over 40 looking for a mate on the social networks. My son met his wife online and I am a Techie so I am not opposed to the concept. I will say y’all need to be careful. A lot of danger lurks on the web.
I have learned over the years from my many degrees earned at Hard Knocks University and my counseling people that until you learn to love yourself by discovering yourself there will never be a mate to complete you. Unless you know what you have in yourself you won’t really know what you need to complete yourself. Hunkness and Babeness goes away pretty quickly so you can’t depend on your body to please you for very long. You must know in your soul and spirit the gifts that God gave you and then find someone those gifts will complement for they will most likely have the gifts that will complement you. Only then will both of you be complete and able to endure the hardships of life as well as enjoy its pleasures.
The old country song warns about “looking for love in all the wrong places searchin’ for love in too many faces” and that is a good warning. Develop a list of traits you feel are what will complement yours and be nice to those who do not fit that list but zero in on the few that do. As a pastor, I would be remiss if I did not tell you to pray for the right mate. He knows better than you what you need. I have seen too many marriages and relationships fail that I knew were doomed from the start but one or both of the folks involved were blinded by the heated rush of lust or drunken on the sweet wine of romance but they did not have the internal fuel to keep the flame burning for life after both of those pieces of tinder were consumed.
Another reason to learn to love yourself and be content with the state that you are in is because you indeed may be alone the rest of your life. The surveys show that chances of finding that true love after 40 are pretty tough. After 40, the good lads and lassies are usually already taken or dead. Especially the lads, as MIs become quite common after 40 and 50% of those first time MIs are last time MIs thus the number of eligible women increase and the number of men period decrease making the competition stiffer. They then go on to list the amount of “undesirables” that are available knocking down the potential mates as well. In many places, women outnumber the men by as much as 7 to 1. That is great for the guys who are looking for the record for bedding women and the ones looking for something much better but for the women those stats stink.
So do you give up since it seems impossible?
No, just get the right matchmaker and it isn’t any of the online ones.
Luke 18:27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. KJV
Eternal salvation is impossible without Christ and a truly fulfilling life relationship is also impossible without Him. God knows what we need and He said that if we would seek the kingdom of God first all we need will come when we find Him. Be safe. Be Blessed! Maranatha!
April 27, 2013
1 Cor 4:1-2
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards , that a man be found faithful. KJV
There are some people who believe that as long as there is a building you should do all you can to keep a church from closing. I disagree. One of the many problems that the American Church has is building worship. Just because God used a church 20 years ago or 50 years ago does not mean He will use it until the Rapture. Even the churches He praised in Revelation died out at some point.
I have a friend that believes that a church is like a person. It is birthed and goes from adolescence to maturity and eventually to old age and dies. That may be the way it is supposed to go but there are way too many churches in America on life support that should have died long ago. They are dead and too dumb to drop over as we said when I was a kid.
I have seen churches that can seat 400 have 12 members and an 80+ year old pastor. They were thrilled and felt God was still with them because they could pay the $50K roof repair bill. They had a parsonage that would rival Tara from Gone With The Wind and 12 people. That’s not God. That’s man’s money and man’s stubbornness and terribly poor stewardship.
There was a time when having a church every 3-5 miles may have been expedient when travel was by horse and buggy. That is no longer the case and to maintain so many buildings is a waste of God’s money and manpower. I am talking about churches of like faith.
A few years back I found eight SBC churches in about a twenty mile radius that even if they would have merged congregations they would not have reached three hundred and at least one of them could have held 350. I tried to get just two of them to merge not all eight as some were three miles apart and you would have thought I had suggesting destroying the Ark of the Covenant if we could find it. None of the eight wanted to merge with its close “sister” church.
By the way, none of them had a pastor at the time as 13 and 17 people struggle to keep the doors open let alone support a pastor. One of the larger ones refused saying they had just hired a young PT pastor and expected to grow. I wished them luck as statistics showed that most of the SBC churches in the Dallas area were declining or at best stagnant. Things are even worse among Independent Baptists. Pride, not reality or anything else biblical or holy prevented these churches from merging and they will slowly die in their pride.
When I was an Associate Pastor at one church I offered another church in dire straits the opportunity to merge with us and a pastor who sent some lad to fill in called and practically cussed out my Senior Pastor for allowing me to even suggest such a thing. They were down to about 12 and most in their 70’s and 80’s having had a pastor every year in the last five years. They were also in danger of losing their building since they were right behind a fire station and the city could have easily exercised eminent domain and took it for little to nothing. In another few years they will be dead but the other pastor did not want them to merge with him. He couldn’t handle closing a building even though the church’s ministry was over. He could not let it die because buildings are SOOO important.
In the Bible, there was only ONE church per town. If we really believe that we shall live in Heaven forever why can’t we worship in the same building if we hold the same doctrine? The reason has many answers and all are carnal. Pride, power, prejudice, and preferences separate us. We bought into the age group nonsense so young and old will not worship together even though the older are supposed to teach the younger. Can you imagine if the lad with the five loads and two small fishes were in junior church what Jesus would have had to do to feed the 5K?
It is the same Bible and the same truths. Odd that God did not have His men write the Word with titles like I and II Young Marrieds, I, II and III College Career, The Gospel of the Single or Divorced or had Psalms divided by age groups. The Word says that we are to study it “line upon line, precept upon precept” not by age groups or the 5 Minute Holiness Manager or 12 Steps to Prosperity. In the early church they read the ENTIRE epistle at each service not tidbits or even passages or chapters. No 15 minute sermon and 45 minute singing sessions. They met daily and one service even lasted until Midnight. One would have to ask that if our ways are so smart, seeker sensitive and such why is the church’s influence waning and Christians so biblically illiterate and immature living on shifting emotion and not standing on solid doctrine?
No wonder we can’t close churches and worship together though we say we are one in the Spirit. We really aren’t one practically. Yes, all saved people are in ONE Body but we are not in one accord or all saying the same thing as we are supposed to be doing since the Spirit was given to lead us into ALL truth.
Realistically, I know that you can’t put Baptists, Charismatics, Methodists and such in the same building because of doctrinal differences. However, if there are more than one church with the same doctrinal statement in a town all but one are superfluous especially if they are a few blocks or miles apart.
Many churches are not called of God but born from the arguments and feuds of men started by petty carnal lusts not defending the faith or biblical doctrines. It is time to bury the hatchet in the name of Christ and out of love for the unbelievers who need Jesus but won’t come to Him because we are such jerks who sing about unity and brotherhood but do not practice either one.
If you are in a church that is dying, let it die. I can pretty much guess there is a church of like faith nearby that you could join. Sell the properties and give the money to missions or to the poor rather than wasting more money on something that is only a matter of time from death. Don’t make it suffer. Put it out of its misery and be good stewards of God’s money and the gifts and talents He gave you to do more than just keep a building from falling down.