May 27, 2013
1 Corinthians 3:12-3:15
As is my custom, I am sitting here two days into the twelve days of Christmas thinking about something other than a traditional or customary Christmas message. I must confess that I am a major humbug. Bible College did Christmas in for me. After studying the origins of the holiday and all its peripheral paraphernalia the so-called holy day/holiday was shot in the head and needed to be buried as I see it. Add to it the crass commercialism, higher rates of suicide and sorrow for the lonely and/or poor and I frankly don’t get the enthusiasm that Christians have for these days. Maybe they all need to go to Bible College if it is a good one.
Frankly, Christmas is weird because it is the only birthday celebration where the person with the birthday sort of gets a nod of acknowledgement and usually no gifts. Imagine if on your birthday a big party with thousands of attendees was thrown in your honor. However, when you got to the place where it was to be held they shuffled you over to a chair behind a support beam and left you there. People come and go and give each other presents, hugs and kisses but they seldom even look your way. In fact, if you try to get up or say anything the host gruffly puts you back in your seat and tells you to be quiet. They sing songs about you and maybe even say some things about you but they never say anything to you. Finally, after everyone has left stuffed from food and drink, when you didn’t even get a hors d’oeuvre and a glass of water, the host comes over to escort you through the mess to the door. He practically pushes you out the door without a handshake and then as an afterthought wishes you a happy birthday as he slams the door. Yippee! That’s the kind of birthday I want and yet that is pretty much what Jesus gets and even worse Jesus has to share His celebration with some old fat dude in a red suit that gets more attention then He does though the fat dude is faking some of the powers that Jesus has for real. Talk about adding insult to injury! If it was you it is a good wager that you would be furious and cause a bit of a scene. Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t throw meteors or something at us for the folly we do.
I am firmly convinced that true Christians need to abandon this day that is really unholy. Almost the only thing we do that is biblical is read Luke 2. After that, it goes haywire. We weren’t told to celebrate His birth. We were told to remember His death and we have even botched that celebration but we’ll wait until that time to deal with it. As glorious as the miracles were pertaining to His birth they were only done to prove His deity, His worthiness and ability to be the matchless Lamb of God sacrificed on our behalf. He could have done all that we are told about His birth and the miracles of His ministry and then ascended into Heaven without the Cross and we would all still be in our sins. Yet, we have a bigger blowout for the birth than we do for remembering His sacrifice and through it all we are usually greedy and unthankful for what we give lip service as being the reason for the season.
If we must or desire to celebrate His birth then let’s institute Incarnation Day or Nativity and make it a real birthday celebration for the King. Let’s spend the day in prayer, praise, worship and service. Let’s get the season in the right timeframe as well and separated from the winter solstice. Let’s not just give money for the poor. Let’s go find a poor person or family and seek to meet their needs and not just for a day. The wise men brought him gifts on one day two years after his birth (take them out of your crèche) but what they brought sustained the family for their round-trip to Egypt and their stay there and maybe even until they got established in Nazareth. It met their needs.
If we took all the money that one congregation spent on gifts that would be soon broken, stored and forgotten or being disliked returned or given away we might get them off of welfare or even some education. Man, that sure beats one big meal a year and maybe two if we provide a Thanksgiving meal. Just send a card to the one you love saying that $100 was donated to the Incarnation Day fund in their name. You’ll find out how spiritual they are real quick by the response.
Some would worry about the kids. How will little Johnny survive without a Gameboy®? When the whole family comes to the Church and goes on the mission they will get to see how good they really have it. They might even develop a spirit of gratitude and compassion for others rather than materialistic greed and pride. If that fails, get the Gameboy® later when the crowds are gone and you won’t get trampled in the spirit of Christmas.
I realize that the concept of making the celebration of Christ’s birth actually be all about Him rather than Nieman Marcus and Satan Claws is somewhat radical for this culture but it is rational. That being said I want us to consider a passage that is not the traditional for this season.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
I really do not know how non-securists can look at this and see anything other than eternal security. God gives the gift of salvation and never takes it back but He does evaluate what we did with that gift and will reward us accordingly. This passage certainly sheds some light on 1 Peter 4:18 that says that the righteously will scarcely be saved as well as chapter 5 of this book where Paul says to deliver a saved sinner over to satan that the flesh may be destroyed but the soul saved.
With such a wonderful, priceless gift of love and security given to us it is reasonable to expect that we should want to give Him the best that we can. While we can never repay God for what Jesus did for us, and we should not try, a heart filled with gratitude and love would normally want to express those things with a gift.
In all the rush and hubbub of this season many people will get things they do not need or want by people who really don’t know them but are just getting them a gift because of some felt obligation. After all, you must give gifts at Christmas. It’s the rule! Thus if the person is a relative, boss, co-worker or someone you want to impress or apologize to they will get a gift. Some of these folks you will spend a lot of time trying to get the right gift and others you might get the latest fad or the traditional gift just to get it done. Personally I think they bring out the ugliest ties and sweaters knowing someone will buy them in last minute desperation.
You don’t have to guess what Jesus would want as a gift. It is pretty clear throughout Scripture that God has always wanted His people to trust Him as much as obey Him. Indeed, you have to trust Him before you can obey Him. In these last days, it is even more important to do so as so many are falling away and we are approaching days that will make the Dark Ages seem radiant.
In some ancient Asian cultures, if you save a person’s life they become your slave and you have the right to do with them as you will. Why? If it were not for your action the person would be dead. Since you have, in a manner of speaking, given them life then that life is yours to control. They no longer have a say in it. How much more so should we live our lives with the same attitude? We were dead in trespasses and sins on our way to the Second death. Jesus not only saved us from Hell but He made us kinsmen and joint-heirs with Him. If a man can willingly give up his will and plans because another human saved his life it should be much easier for us to do it for Christ who did a much greater thing.
Unlike that Asian culture we can live without giving Jesus what He truly desires as a gift. We can give Him sorry seconds or thirds. Often people donate things to a Church that should have been trashed but they want a charitable deduction. In reality they are giving their trash to Christ. I have seen things come in for a pounding in rusted unmarked cans or clothes that are ripped or soiled. Those who gave it for the family in need were actually giving those gifts to Christ. You would be offended if someone gave that stuff to you and yet some dare to give such things to Christ.
The bottom line is that Jesus wants us to give Him our lives as a gift just as He gave His for us. That doesn’t necessarily mean He wants you to die physically though some have earned the martyr’s crown. He wants the living sacrifice that Paul speaks of in Romans 12. We are alive physically but dead to all but His will. We say we love Him but there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friend. How can we do less for someone that is now our Saviour and kinsman?
Sadly, what we often give Him is whatever might be left over after we have done what we wanted to do. In essence, we are giving Him wood, hay and stubble. We keep all the good stuff for ourselves but so often what we think are the good things are really junk. We just have bad discernment and a poor sense of value.
I can remember when my Great-Grandfather Beck would come and visit. He always brought me a bag of jelly beans. That was great but he was always chewing something that came out of a can. Since he seemed to enjoy it so much I must have thought that I was getting ripped off and begged him for some of what he had. Well, he put some in behind my lower lip and at first it was a thrill and then I was ill. My mother came out just as my face turned into Joseph’s coat of many colors and then I raced to the apple tree in the corner of the yard and fertilized it. After that, I was glad for the jelly beans and left Pappy have his chaw. My sense of value had changed with experience.
Growing up my wife and I were blessed with real butter. Margarine was not welcome in our families. When I grew up and married there was a long time when I could not afford real butter so my kids grew up on margarine. At some point we had some real butter given to us and my wife and I were thrilled but the kids said, “Yuck” and wouldn’t eat it. Sadly, they had no sense of the real value because they had been too long exposed to the fake.
Sometimes we spend too much time attracted to fake items and God allows us by some experience to get our values realigned. Unfortunately, some of us go through many experiences but never experience the wisdom we should have gained in those times so our stinkin’ thinkin’ and poor values remain until death or we are old and look back on a wasted life. While we can be thankful that our passage teaches us that if we are saved we shall not lose our souls we should be horrified that we may have nothing to give Him in that day.
Rev 4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
We see that the elders who have received crowns cast them at His feet because without Him they would never have gotten those crowns. Crowns also represent glory, honor and power and while they are given those things they realize that He is the source of all that and out of love and awe for Him they give the crowns back as an act of worship.
When we brought our Mothers a gift of dandelions she would often thank us or reward us with a kiss or a cookie. While the Greek word misthos means wages as well as reward I am not ready to toss out the idea that the rewards are more of a thank you in the same manner as Mom’s kisses and cookies. Since we don’t work for our salvation and we are sons and daughters we don’t get a salary as hirelings but we can get rewards for our gifts to Christ in this life.
As is the gift so is the reward, thus if we have lived our life in selfishness, or in vain, then as our life was void of gifts we shall be void of rewards. If we gave Christ bits and pieces of leftovers that wood, hay and stubble shall be burned but we shall be saved. However, if we have lived a life seeking to please Him and to be filled with the Spirit that we might have the power to do so then we will have gold, silver and precious stones to put in one or more crowns that the believer might have given to him or her.
Oh, the joy to have one or more crowns studded with precious stones that would represent the gifts we have given Him in life. Even greater the joy to be able to give those crowns back to Him as a gift of worship in gratitude for the marvelous work He has wrought in us and for the fantastic future about to unfold before us! What a time of rejoicing. It will make the most raucous Pentecostal service look like a funeral.
Yes, that will be a great time for some but what about the others. Before the service, I had one of the deacons hand you a small bead that looked like a diamond. Brothers and sisters, my greatest fear is that when others are tossing intricately studded crowns at His feet all I will have at best is a small gem the size of that bead or worse yet nothing at all. The only thing more horrible than having nothing to cast at His feet would be to be thrown in Hell. Yes, God has promised to wipe away all tears but we cannot imagine the sorrow and weeping that will belong to those who are saved though as by fire!!
Brethren, I want you to look at that bead and ask yourself how you think you will fare at this judgment! What kind of gifts have you been giving to Jesus? Does He get your throwaways or seconds or nothing at all? Is it all about you and all you need Jesus for is to save you from Hell and assure your good health and prosperity? Will the dream house you are building here be a spiritual house burned to the ground leaving only the foundation? Look at your gifts to Him and you will see your reward.
It is not too late to start giving Him quality gifts and to be able to give Him a bejeweled crown rather than a bonfire. Lay yourself on the altar and tell Him you want to give Him your life, all of it, not just a couple hours a week or only on Christmas and Easter. Show your love by laying down your life and taking up your Cross not just with lip service.
As sad as it will be to only have the foundation left there may be some here in worse shape. You may have never had the foundation laid. Oh, you attend church, pray and even give a tithe but you have never been born again. Accept the gift of Christ’s salvation then you will truly understand the need and glory of His birth. Give Him your life as He gave His for you and you will know what real gifts and treasures are. Today is the day to receive that gift. We aren’t promised tomorrow. If He returns for His own in what we call the Rapture there will be no second chance because you have heard the Gospel today. He is risen and coming again. Saint and sinner alike, are you ready? Maranatha
May 27, 2013
Not many people think about dung beetles because frankly any animal that eats dung and carcasses normally does not end up on our most desired pet or entrée list. They are actually quite beneficial and can be admired for that. There are however quite a few Christians living and feeding in various dunghills. They are not beneficial to themselves or the Body. Indeed, they are destructive. There is always a need for dung removal in the Body and that has been the job of the prophets and polemicists over the years. However, dunghill Christians dwell in and thrive on things they should have tossed, covered, or flushed long ago.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (KJV)
The Apostle truly understood the New Covenant and what was eternal treasure and what was dung. The manure that he could have hung on to and treasured is unfortunately what many Christians still hold on to as if it were platinum instead of dung.
Many bury themselves in the dunghill of fleshly confidence. We live in an age where the emphasis is on being number one and self-assertiveness. Success is all in the mind and if you project the winning attitude you can anything. What the mind can conceive man can achieve.
Is it any wonder that we have more CEOs, cheerleaders, and motivational speakers in the Church than pastors and prophets? Degrees are more important than doctrine or as one man said, scars. Since man looks on the outside and the carnal heart can understand the flesh maybe some of these techniques have merit in the world but they have no place in the spiritual realm and are toxic to the Body of Christ.
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV)
This is one of the many flaws in modern psychiatry. They may be able to notice common flaws and patterns in man since we are all sinners and desperately wicked. However, a heart that suffers from the same problems cannot properly analyze or evaluate a deceitful and wicked heart. They see the symptoms but since they use a pseudo-science and seek answers in the wrong places they cannot find the cure. This is how criminals manipulate that false science and get away with murder and other crimes.
There has to be a standard for sanity to develop a cure for insanity. That can only be developed and set by the Creator. If the only cars that a person ever saw were rusty and held together by baling wire you would think that is the normal state of a car until you visited the GM or BMW assembly line and saw a new car come off the line.
There has not been a perfect human being seen since the Fall save that of Jesus Christ and they crucified Him. Therefore we are looking at bad data and making bad assessments based upon that data. Unless we go back to the owner’s manual and schematics we are helpless in repairing those of us that are in what appears to be greater disrepair than the rest of us. He is the standard of sanity and His Word is the medicine that cures.
Indeed, our concept of sanity is flawed. All humans are insane. Only the degree varies for if we were sane we would love the Creator and abide by the laws He gave us for our good. Instead we deny Him and justify our actions though they have caused nothing but pain, suffering, wars, and untimely deaths for nearly six thousand years. We keep doing the same things over and over expecting different results and that is a prime proof of insanity thus mankind is stark raving mad. Trusting in our flesh to do anything right let alone live righteously is insane.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (KJV)
Just as a branch is totally dependent upon the main vine to obtain sustenance and the ability to produce fruit so also is the Christian totally dependent upon Christ. Our salvation is totally of Him. We had no power to save ourselves and we have no power to keep ourselves saved. We are wicked to the core. Therefore the only way we are going to manifest the fruit of the Spirit and live the resurrection life of Christ is to fully depend upon Him. What part of nothing don’t we understand?
Once we think we have a handle on things and only need Christ as an occasional rescuer we have fallen from the power of grace in our lives. When that happens carnality is the controlling force in our lives and we can either become arrogant Pharisees, philosophical Sadducees, or backsliders filled with our own ways, which are the things we did in the past. When you find me down at the Honky Tonk kickin’ back Jack Blacks singing Karaoke you will know that I am backslidden.
2Co 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2Co 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
2Co 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (KJV)
A death sentence is pretty serious and all encompassing. When you receive a death sentence all your desires, dreams and plans go out the window. Meetings you were to going to have don’t matter anymore. Most relationships are severed immediately and even the closest ones are about to be severed when the sentence is carried out. Last meals are really not all that tasty no matter if they give you everything you love. There is no aspect of your life that is not affected.
Paul tells us that we need to accept a death sentence when it comes to walking in the Christian life. We are to be dead to sin. We are crucified with Christ. All things are becoming new. We are a branch of the vine so we have no real life outside of what Christ gives us. Our life is hid with Christ because we are dead and He is our life. So why do we strive to do things in our flesh and have confidence or trust in ourselves? We are insanely eating and walking in dung. We need to come out of that sewer.
Another dunghill Paul mentions is religious heritage. So many people trust in the fact that they were born into a Christian family so they must be Christian. I have had one fellow tell me he was literally born a Christian. Salvation is not inherited from your parents but the sin nature and the resulting damnation are inherited.
Pawpaw or Dad may have been a preacher or a deacon. MeMaw or Mom may have sung in the choir, led the Ladies’ group and edited her husband’s sermons but none of that will help you. Your spiritual heritage comes from Adam and that means you are condemned to Hell the moment you understand right from wrong and choose wrong. The age of accountability comes to different people at different ages but once reached your heritage is that of the damned until you are born again.
You could be genetically linked to the Apostle Peter and that will not help you. Some think because they are of Hebrew descent that they are automatically assured a placed in the Kingdom of Heaven. Sadly, there are some Christians who teach the same thing helping to damn souls that might have been saved. Some of us are not reading Scripture. Paul had a dynamic heritage and he called it dung. Let’s see what he says about genetic Judaism.
Rom 9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Rom 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Rom 9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (KJV)
Paul was saved and knew that he could not be accursed or damned but he would be willing to be accursed if it would mean the salvation of his kindred. He obviously believed that they could and would be accursed if they did not receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The Gospel is the power of God to the Jew first! (Romans 1:16)
They had privileges by being born a Jew in that they had access to study the Law and to understand the promises of a Messiah and the kingdom. They also should have known the prophecies as the Rabbis did when they told Herod where the Messiah would be born though the Rabbis didn’t care to follow up on the claim. They had a birthright but like Esau they could choose to sell it or not take advantage of it.
Paul clearly states that though they be genetic seed of Abraham if they are not of the faith of Abraham it profits it them nothing. Genetics are a flesh thing whereas the Kingdom is of faith and spirit. Anyone can bring a child to birth but not all are true parents. It is a blessing to be born a Jew but if the child neglects their faith the blessing is null and void and they are no better off than if they had been born to pagans.
The same goes for children born into a biblical Christian home. They are blessed to be raised up in a household of faith hearing the Gospel and the whole counsel of God but if they fail to be born again or forsake the teachings of their parents then they may as well have been born to crack addicts. It profited them nothing. John the Baptist and Jesus had some things to say about the genetic/religious heritage.
Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Mat 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Mat 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (KJV)
The religious leaders of the day were accustomed to rituals so they had no problem with going through the motions with John’s baptism. In fact, for some it might have been a good political or social move to endear them to the common man but it had no real spiritual meaning for them. After all, they were sons of Abraham and Rabbis not Gentiles or sinners.
John got a bit radical with them. His comments would make the grace and love people of our day faint. He called them vipers and hypocrites. We have the same groups in our day they just go by different names. The Pharisees were orthodox in much of their doctrine but did not live by the same rules that they required for everyone else. The Sadducees were the Liberals denying almost everything in the Word of God but claiming to be to good Jews.
Both groups were as dangerous as vipers and full of poison. Both were made up of genetic sons of Abraham but were warned of being cast into Hell if they did not repent. God, who made the genetic code and atoms could easily rearrange the atoms within stones and weave them into humans with the same genetic code as Abraham. God is not impressed with genes unless they are spiritual ones.
Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (KJV)
Many consider this a parable and thus not a true story. None of the other parables use specific names of people in them. In fact, there may be some irony here since Jesus only names Lazarus. The rich would not know which rich man he was talking about being in Hell because they would not have had a clue as to who Lazarus was but some of the poor would have known and where he begged. It would be like a double slam at the rich because they are supposed to care for the poor and they should have known which beggar was outside of whose house. The poor would have known that rich man and nodded an Amen where the rich would be pondering. The number of brothers would have been a hint but there may have been many rich men with that many brothers as large families were the norm.
We can conjecture about who the rich man was and why he was not called by name but the bottom line is that both the rich man and Lazarus were Jews by genetics but Lazarus was the true son of Abraham. The crowd would have been shocked that a rich man went to Hell and a poor man to Abraham’s bosom because they, like many modern “preachers”, believed that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing but no one seemed upset at the prospect of a Jew being in Hell. Jesus, in His omniscience, killed the current belief right here knowing that heresy would come about in the latter days.
John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (KJV)
We know the rich man is in Hell, but we also know that Judas Iscariot is in Hell and He was a Jew as well.
36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. (KJV)
Daniel is describing the Anti-Christ. There are many speculations as to who he will be and even his ethnicity. Most theologians expect him to be of Jewish descent because he will not “regard the God of his fathers.” This phrase is used throughout the Old Testament in relation to the Jewish people. I concur that he will be Jewish. He will also be cast into Hell with the False Prophet so that makes two Jews currently in Hell and one to be placed there. If even one Jew can be put into Hell then the theory that no Jews go to Hell is shot to pieces. We have three names specifically but there will be more.
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. (KJV)
Note that Jesus is speaking in the synagogue to Pharisees and Sadducees. This group of Jews was fortunate to be born in the very land of the Kingdom but they will not benefit when the Kingdom is established. Indeed, the dispersed Jews, whom may well have been despised as well as Gentiles will be brought into the Kingdom and these privileged folks will be thrust out. Being born a Jew has its privileges in this life but it is not a guarantee of salvation.
If being born of the Abrahamic seed is not a guarantee how much less is it one for those of us that are grafted in? If natural branches of the vine can be lost so can the wild ones grafted in. If you are born into a Christian home you have great privileges but unless you personally partake of the True Vine you shall likewise perish. If you are a true born again Christian then you should love the Jew and pray for their souls as well as the peace of Jerusalem albeit there will be no peace in Jerusalem until Shiloh comes and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next Paul speaks to the dunghill of works/personal righteousness/Law. I have had many people tell me over the years that they are going to get into Heaven because they keep the Ten Commandments, are good people, have observed some ritual in some sect, given to charity, doing the best they can, etc. etc.
Interestingly, those who told me they were keeping the Ten Commandments usually could not name them. It is kind of hard to keep a list of rules when you can’t even name them. Others who have said that they are going to make it by doing the best that they can I have asked if they are doing the best that they can. The honest ones answered no. I told them that then they were damned by their own creed.
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (KJV)
Since we are all unclean how can we expect to bring forth clean acts or righteous acts? If I poured crystal clear mountain spring water in a chamber pot would you want to drink out of that pot even if I assured you it were clean. I doubt it. What if you had looked in and saw even a couple of small drops of urine or specks of manure? Would you drink it? No, of course not! The pot and its contents would defile the pure water. Well, we are the pot and no matter what we try to dispense we will defile it by our motives and nature. Anyone see any value in storing up used feminine hygiene cloths? Well, our righteousnesses are like a used one of those meant to be burned or tossed into a garbage heap.
We fade like a leaf. That is a leaf cut off from the tree no longer drawing the sap of life from it. It is dead though it may maintain an appearance of life until all the sap in it is drained or dried. Then the slightest breeze can blow it around. We are cut off from the source of life from birth because we are born dead in sin. We have no spiritual life though we may have some semblance of it or a form of godliness because we participate in some religious system. But we are blown about by every wind of doctrine until the cold wind of death blows us into Hell or the Holy Spirit breathes life into us at conversion. No works of the Law or flesh can do this for us. It is faith alone or nothing.
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (KJV)
I would ask those that claim to be Christian and yet teach salvation by the Law to read this verse and repent. Though you may be orthodox in many other ways you are damning people to Hell by causing them to seek their own righteousness by obedience to something that was ordained to first condemn us to death then point us to the Savior and faith in HIS work, not our works. Nothing needs to be added to His work and nothing can be taken away. Do not stumble over the Rock but rather throw yourself upon it and receive His gift of grace and mercy!
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (KJV)
The law covered every possible work that a person in the flesh can do and if you are trusting in your good works or righteousness you are performing the works of the flesh and cannot be justified by them. David asked the Lord that if He counted iniquities then who can stand before Him and the answer is no one. Because of our deceitful heart that we discussed earlier every work by the flesh is tainted by selfish motives whether we are conscious of them or not. We could be very selfish and deceive ourselves into thinking we are unselfish therefore all works thus motivated are sinful though the act itself may not be sinful. David asked to be kept from secret sin. He wasn’t referring to sins others did not know about but rather sins he didn’t know about.
This should be the death knell for Arminianism and other theologies that demand we get saved by changing our ways or to be kept saved by our own strength and works. If the flesh could get us what we needed then Christ died in vain. Trusting in our works is rolling about in a dunghill that is nothing but a stench in the nostrils of God. No flesh shall be justified by this stench.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (KJV)
The Law only brought cursing because we could not keep the Law. We might be good at a few of them and some folks even good at many of the Laws for long periods of time but that is not good enough. You have to continue in ALL things all the time until death and no one can do that. To offend in one point was to offend in all of them. So a man lives fifty years and as far as he or anyone else knows he has kept every law to the letter and yet one day a person makes him mad and he dies of a heart attack and is damned because for a split second he hated that person enough to kill him. That would be all it took to throw fifty years away. Yet, we know that no one has ever kept the first of the commandments perfectly, let alone the other 600+ commandments in the Old Testament. No one has loved the Lord God with all their heart mind and soul for their whole lifetime. Yea, I wonder if anyone has done it for any large stretch of time. David was a man after God’s own heart yet we know that he lost track of God in his lifetime.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (KJV)
I think that Paul’s testimony here is the final answer or bottom line for our righteousness being anything but a dunghill. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners and yet God used him to write most of the New Testament and to evangelize most of the Gentile world. Did that happen by Paul’s righteousness? Hardly, he says that in his flesh there is no good thing. He readily admits that he is struggling between the flesh and his mind. What frees him from the body of this death is not his good works or self-righteousness but rather Jesus Christ. If the Apostle recognized that all the wonderful things that he had done in man’s eyes were dung then we can do no less.
One last dunghill in our opening passage is zeal.
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (KJV)
The Jews often had great zeal in their religion, but they did not always have knowledge. After all, the Sadducees decided the Bible was a text they could look at with a critical eye and pick and choose what was the Word of God to them and if they didn’t want to believe the miracles that was OK they were still zealous for Jehovah or at least their seats in the synagogues and their popularity among the public.
The Pharisees had great zeal as well but often forgot that the Law had a spirit or principle to it that made the letter come to life. They revered the Word but sometimes they made it suit their purposes and forgot God’s. Jesus had to remind them that the Sabbath was made to benefit man not man made for the Sabbath. They forgot that they were sinners as well as the people and did not identify themselves with the people like Isaiah in Chapter six of his prophecy or Nehemiah in his prayer. They liked to rule over the people rather than shepherd them.
They both had great zeal but not the real knowledge of God or His Word. Many today have the same problem. We often excuse many doctrinal errors because the person is so zealous. We say that as long as they are sincere. The first lad to make homemade wings and tried to fly like a bird was sincere but he fell sincerely to his death if he leapt off a high cliff.
Many cults are sincere. The girls who practiced “flirty fishing”, which was really a form of prostitution in the name of evangelism were sincere but sincerely wrong. People sincerely believe that Jesus was the brother of Satan, but they are wrong. Some think Jesus was a lesser god and not part of the trinity but they are sincerely wrong.
Many mainline sects practice a lot of things in sincerity and many zealous voices are raised in support of these practices but they are sincerely wrong and their zeal misguided without the true knowledge of God or His Word! They are in dunghills of zeal and ignorance and we ought not to walk with them in any form of fellowship. They are unclean and we are to come out from among the unclean.
Maybe some of you reading this are walking in one or more dunghills. It is time to come out and climb to Calvary’s hill. For some of you it may be for salvation to remove the sin’s crust from your soul. For other’s it may be to be sanitized because you have been in the dunghills of self-confidence, some religious heritage, self-righteousness, or having zeal without knowledge. Come to Calvary where sinner and saint can both be made clean and learn to walk in the power of his resurrection. To do so will be a more than just a breath of fresh air after the years you spent in stench but it will be a life more abundant bringing forth fruit for eternity. Won’t you come? Maranatha!
May 27, 2013
No, this not a Masonic or Mormon article but a reflection and praise to God for caring for this son of a widow woman. I am sure I have thought about it before but this morning it came to me that God has surely done wonderful things for me before I even cared to know Him and indeed while I cursed Him.
My father was killed in a car wreck in July, 1959. He would have been 29 in November and I would be 7 that September. I was nearly killed. I have a horseshoe shaped scar on my head. They say if the wound had been another half inch deeper I would have been killed. Mom fared better with just some minor cuts and scratches.
If seatbelts had been invented Dad may have survived and I might have been uninjured. Yet, in January 1970 I was in a car accident where I would have been killed if I would have had my seat belt and shoulder harness buckled. They drove my Dad’s car away and mine was totaled. Only God could have spared the six of us in the overturned Camaro with the roof smashed down even with the seats yet God allowed my Dad to die. Only He knows completely why.
Raising a child alone is never easy but in many ways it was rougher in the 50s and 60s than it is today. There were few, if any, support groups and no entitlement programs. Mom found solace and social life in the bars. I may have learned how to play shuffleboard and the jukebox before I could tie my shoes. Though she was the baby of seven, Mom didn’t get a lot of support from her family as they had plenty of issues of their own. At times it seemed like she was the black sheep of the family and that made me the son of the black sheep.
Ex 22:22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. KJV
While most folks in the towns that I grew up in would have called themselves Christian or religious I would have to say that many did not read this verse. I say towns because we did move a lot for various reasons. I had trouble in school and got beat up a lot by students and teachers alike thus the only recourse was to move. Schools didn’t listen much unless you were a doctor, lawyer or someone in the upper strata. Mom’s problem with alcohol did not help either. In those days, you sneered at the problem rather than help the person. They wondered why I had a problem with authority back then. Go figure.
Prov 23:10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: KJV
Unfortunately, there were also many who took advantage of my Mom’s good heart and naiveté getting her to give them some of what little money she had and never paid it back often lying about even borrowing it. Instead of leaving gleanings in the fields for the widow and fatherless as Scripture commands they gleaned our field without any concern for either of us.
Ps 146:9 The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. KJV
In spite of Mom’s problems, unscrupulous people and my struggles with the loss of my Dad and my lack of social and self-defense skills God did provide for us in many ways because we never lacked food, never lacked for a place to live and never went naked. Though some would have called us poor White trash we lived better than many others we knew in those days. He relieved my widowed Mom in ways we will never know until that final day.
He did all this when neither Mom nor I were saved. We were somewhat religious, but for many years I cursed God for killing my Father and putting Mom and I in the mess that we found ourselves. I hated being the only child because I was so often alone and felt like I had to buy my friends but didn’t have the resources to do much of it. Indeed, when I had my Camaro I had lots of friends but they disappeared when it was gone.
My self image was not very good. I suspect the beatings, the unearned reputation and being voted most likely to be in jail didn’t help that much. I was often accused of things I didn’t do which inspired me to do some other things since it did not seem to matter what I did as I would be punished or under suspicion anyway. I figured if I was going to get the blame and shame I might as well play the game. Ironically, the kind of things I got in trouble for compared to what kids do today would get me voted most likely to succeed if I were in the class of ’07 instead of ’70. They would be considered trivial pranks not the signs of a malevolent nature.
Yet in those not so happy school years, God provided three teachers that had some faith in me. I still remember my poor Algebra teacher whose class I would always be in when they called me to the office. She truly seemed to like me and was interested in my welfare. Then there was the English teacher in tenth grade that got me interested in writing poetry. That gave me a way to express my feelings in a way that wouldn’t get me beat up or sent to the office and has served me well even unto this day.
Lastly there was my Music teacher who wrote a musical and insisted that I try out though I felt I had no chance to get anything other than a small part, if any. Only later did I find out that he wrote one of the leads with me in mind. Wow! Imagine the redneck, rebel son of a widow woman getting a lead in a school where most of the teachers and administration hated me and disrespected my Mom. That part was truly preparing a table before me in the presence of mine enemies before I even knew those words existed. God was giving me some relief and treating me far better than I deserved.
4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. KJV
Looking back on now 54 years of my life and 47 as a fatherless son of the widow woman I have to sing praises to His name and extol Him publicly. He cared for me and my Mom when no one else did. When I think of all the crazy things that I did before I was saved that could have killed me or gotten me killed and sent to Hell it is obvious that He was being a loving father to me. Even since salvation, I have to confess that I have not always been the best of Christians but He has remained faithful even when I have not been.
The fact that He has spared me and allowed me a life far more successful than I deserve speaks not only to His care of the fatherless but of His being a judge to the widows. A lot of people criticized my Mom over the years but she did the best she could with the tools she had. Had we both been saved sooner we both would have had less scars and ghosts to haunt us. Yet, He preserved both of us and led us to Himself so that my Mom’s end was better than her beginning with all of her pain and sorrow now removed in His presence. Her heritage is doing better than any of her critics expected and better than some of their children. God has acted in her behalf. Praise His name!
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. KJV
You will find many injunctions throughout Scripture to care for the fatherless and widows. James says that along with personal holiness or separation that the care of the fatherless and widows is the manifestation or practice of pure religion. There are too many of us that have not learned this lesson. We rely too much upon government programs to take care of OUR duty, not the government’s duty. This may be why we have missed out on so many blessings because we have abandoned our religion and handed these souls over to the secularists. We need to review our priorities as Christians and Churches. Where were the Christians when my Mom and I needed them? I am afraid too many were in their Sunday best singing about being blest but not wanting to soil their hands to reach down to us.
They may have failed but God never did. Those who are reading this that are widows or fatherless do not look at what you don’t have or what has happened but rather look at what could have happened and at what you have. You will find that you have received many more blessings, gifts and relief from the hands of a loving Father than you ever realized.
If you not Christians, please do not only accept the material gifts that He bestows and miss out on the greatest gift He offers. Receive His son’s sacrifice on the Cross as the payment for you sins and be born again into His family. You will never be fatherless again and to you widows He will become your Husband. Those are eternal relationships that can never be broken. Please come into the family. I will never have enough brothers, sisters and mothers. He will never have enough children until all have come unto that are willing to come. Why spend another minute fatherless and as a widow? Come to Him now!!!
May 27, 2013
Over the years we have seen a lot of celebrities accused of numerous various crimes but often acquitted because of a technicality or hung juries. Often the public knew these people were guilty wanting to truly hang the juries while others declared them innocent. It is doubtful that we will ever know the full truth in this life.
It is good that you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or else the jails would be far fuller than they are now with innocent people though some guilty parties do manage to escape. There are so many laws on the books that it is really possible that there is not a day that goes by that some law abiding citizen does not break a law he has never heard of or one that is antiquated but never taken off the books.
In the case of the antiquated ones if someone were accused of the crime he would surely be acquitted though clearly guilty. It was once rare for a person known to be guilty to be acquitted but with that state of our culture it is becoming more common place. Normally, you have to have money for that to happen though because of loose interpretations of laws and judges litigating from the bench others have unjustly gotten their get out of jail free card.
Most of us have been accused of things we did not do and have done things that we were never accused of though we were guilty. Growing up, I had a lot of that happen. Once I got a reputation as being the bad boy in town it did not matter if I had done the deed or not. Thus it got to be a balancing act. I figured if I did a few things and got away with them it made up for some of the things I was accused and punished for that I did not do. If I was going to have to bear the constant blame and shame I ought to win the game.
Even as adults we will be blamed for things if we are the new guy on the job or the guy who just left a job. Isn’t it amazing that none of the old crew ever makes a mistake unless they retire? Your name is never more famous in a work area as at those two points in your career. Being blamed is no fun. If it happens a lot it gets old really fast and you consider job or church changes. What you may not know is that if you are a Christian you are accused day and night every day of your life.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (KJV)
As we see here our adversary the devil has a prosecuting fit daily. He knows he is condemned and he cannot stand that lesser creations of God can be called the sons of God when they are so fallible and gullible falling for his deceits daily. I am sure that the devil can spend many hours just calling off my list of indictments before the Judge. He is demanding the death penalty and for me to be cast into the Hell he knows he someday will inhabit.
Brethren, if he were to succeed as a prosecuting attorney our futures would be very bleak indeed. We are not being accused of things we are not guilty of but rather things we are clearly guilty of in thought, word, deed be it by commission or omission. He has the goods on us. The evidence is airtight! There is video and audio abounding. We are undone.
I am not much for rote repetitive prayers, but the old office of Compline is an end of day prayer.
“I confess to almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and before all the company of Heaven, that I have sinned, in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, my own grievous fault; wherefore I pray, almighty God, to have mercy upon me, to forgive all my sins, and to make clean my heart within me.”
Brethren that calls the roll and says it all!! It makes you accept accountability and responsibility. There are enough witnesses for the prosecution to choke a blue whale and then some! There is only one witness for the defense! Or so it seems!
We see in this passage that the defense plea for the Tribulation saints that it is referencing has three points, the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto death. There is a sermon in itself but we are going to look only at the Blood of the Lamb as our star witness in this daily court room.
22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (KJV)
This is why the Blood of the Lamb is powerful! We know that in the Old Testament that sin was only remitted by the shedding of blood hence the elaborate sacrificial law with various animals for various sins as well as other offerings. Some animal had to die for the sins of a person. This substitutionary death brought life and forgiveness to the sinner!
Yet, in that process a sinner High Priest had to offer up daily the sacrifices for his own sins before he could offer up the ones for the people. If he messed up he was struck dead and the sacrifice was not accepted. A dangerous job to say the least and an awesome responsibility! There was definitely job security as the priest and the people sinned constantly. Imagine the tension and even fear on part of both priest and people until it was positive that the sacrifice was accepted. The fact the one who offered the sacrifice still lived was that proof!
Then God sent His own Son in the flesh to offer up Himself as the perfect Lamb for the once and for all perfect sacrifice for sin. He only had to do it once because His Blood covered all sins from the first to the last because He is Alpha and Omega! We know that the sacrifice was accepted because the One who made it is still alive!!! He died and rose the third day and is now on the right hand of God the Father to ever make intercession for us based on that once and for all sacrifice of His Blood! No more daily rituals, which is why the Mass is an abomination for it offers Him up continually and puts Him to an open shame as it speaks to a Saviour that is not much different than a man. He need not offer up a sacrifice for Himself for He is sinless and His work is accomplished needing not to be repeated in reality or ritual!
Thus my Brothers and Sister when that old devil stands up and makes accusations against us with all the facts and evidence he still loses the case. For the Saviour need but show His scars and point to the blood stained altar and say that we are guilty as charged but that those sins were covered by that Blood the day we were born again.
Yet another witness can also speak to our defense as the Holy Spirit illuminates the seal of God that He placed on us that day of new birth. That seal says that we are sealed unto the day of redemption and no man or anything else can separate us from the love of God and remove that seal.
With that God the Father can do nothing else but bear witness to the truth for He is truth. He smiles at His Son and the Spirit turning to face the prosecutor with a scowl and smashing His gavel down with a resounding crash says, “This child of mine is accused but acquitted and forgiven! Case dismissed!” And the crowd of witnesses against us roars, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Church of God can you say Amen and lift up your hands in praise? Hallelujah for the Cross and the Blood of the Lamb!! The guilty is acquitted by the mercy of the court!!!
O Brethren the devil never gives up and though he loses daily in the celestial halls of justice he will accuse you in a different court. He will rant and rave in the courtroom of your mind and heart. He knows that you willingly bear witness against yourself as he points out your flaws and weaknesses. You will say amen as he lists all your sins. You will readily condemn yourself and sentence yourself to a life in defeat and despair. He knows you will scream, “Guilty! Guilty! Condemned! Condemned!” while doubting your salvation and forgetting to call your key witness to the stand.
O Child of God, be not ignorant of his devices and call on Jesus! Plead His Blood on your behalf in the face of your accuser. Acknowledge the sins cast in your teeth then confess them to Jesus and rejoice in the forgiveness you receive! Slick and sly as Old Slewfoot is you have access to the wisdom of God for the asking from the Paraclete, the one called along side, the Holy Spirit who will bring to mind those things Jesus said and guide you into all truth! Once satan is pummeled by the truth received as you submitted yourself unto God and used it to resist the devil he can do nothing else but flee!
Don’t let him accuse you without resistance! You are a Child of the King! You are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb! You are justified and sanctified by the grace and mercy of Almighty God! Don’t take the abuse! Admit the guilt but accept the acquittal! Seek the filling of the Spirit that you may walk in the light as He is the Light so that there is less material for the devil to work with but don’t accept his call for condemnation! The Holy Spirit convicts you of sin to lead you to repentance and restoration. The devil only accuses you to destroy your life and testimony. Receive the decree of Heaven and walk in the freedom and joy of that decree of love!!! Shout glory! Quote Revelation 20:10 out loud and remind the devil that he has no Saviour, no mediator, and no seal but of damnation and no hope forever because of the Blood that bought you!!! Walk in that victory given to you at Calvary! Walk as one accused but acquitted and free in Christ!
Friend, you might be reading this and you are not a Christian. You may feel guilt over your life’s decisions and actions. The devil doesn’t bring you up in the courtroom of Heaven for he knows he has you. He accuses you in your mind only to torment you before the time you die and drop into Hell. Worse, he may excuse you and give you excuses so that you feel no need of a Savior. Don’t listen to the liar whether he says you are without hope or have no need. There is hope for you are alive and you have need more than you can comprehend. Most Christians better understand their need of Christ years after their salvation but they understood it enough to accept the acquittal and be born again or saved by Jesus Christ.
Will you do that now? Call upon Him as Lord and Saviour so that you won’t have to face him as judge! He is willing to acquit if you will admit. Don’t delay! Judgment Day is one breath away! Maranatha!
May 27, 2013
by Dr Ronald Shultz
1 Corinthians 11:18-11:19
Scanning some of the blog comments on FaceBook and others I find a common theme that Baptists need to be right or are intent on everyone else being wrong. The old rock song asked, “Why Does It Have To Be Wrong Or Right?” It is kind of a goofy song because in most things we want right or wrong. We want the right change, the right value for our money, the right food we ordered, the right prescription, right surgery, etc, etc. When the things we want to be right turn out wrong we have a hissy fit and sue, shoot or spit on the offender and demand the wrong be made right. Yet, when it comes to God and doctrine which will determinate our quality of life here and hereafter we want to be sloppy.
1 Cor 11:18-19
18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (KJV)
All the people fussing about unity and yelling stop being divisive need to read these verses. Yes, we are all supposed to speak the same thing and be in accord but we don’t and aren’t. God through Paul acknowledges that fact. John said they went out from us because they were not all of us and Paul says that the divisions are to make the approved manifest. There has been division since the 1st Century and it isn’t going to stop until He comes back. Hence, doctrine is important. False doctrine divides and that makes it and splitting a church over carnal issues heresy. So to be approved I need to avoid heresy and point out those who are causing divisions by their heresy.
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (KJV)
Let’s face it many are into religions, including perversions of Christianity, for money, fame, power, booty or whatever. A Christian is instructed to mark or point out those folks because they are not being in accord with the doctrine taught in Scripture. Are there some Baptists like that? Sure, and I am on my own people’s backs more than anyone else.
I believe that the Independent Fundamental Baptists are the closest in doctrine to the First Century Church than any other group but we are not without flaws. We have some real dorks in the house that give us, and the Lord, a bad name. Even some of the best of us have made some bad calls over the years. We sometimes choose wrong hills to die on and wrong issues to put on the front burner but in core doctrines and practice we are in better shape than the other sects. Doesn’t mean that all of them are going to Hell but some have fully apostatized and some are on the way. I despise false doctrine and false teachers but not Joe and Jane Pewsitter. They don’ know any better so I teach them and rail on the Pharisees and Sadducees in leadership.
Ironically, most folks on here have bashed the Southern Baptists as ultra-Conservative but compared to what they were in the 1940’s and 50’s many of them are downright Liberal and some hold to some really bad heretical viewpoints. I have some in the Independents that have gotten weak as well but since we are in an age of apostasy that should be no shock.
Luke 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (KJV)
In spite of all the hype of some of the mega-church movement folks and the prosperity people Jesus posed this question. It sounds more like there will be the few, the proud, the Marines amounts of Christians when He returns not mega-churches or even mega-numbers of the population.
The prosperity folks haven’t read Hebrews 11:33-40 nor noticed that the only “rich” church in Revelation was the one He said was poor, naked and blind.
So, do I have to be right? I need to seek to be right in all things if I want to be one of the approved. I can’t be lazy and sloppy about it just so I can be tolerant or inclusive.
I Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (KJV)
There are no gray areas to God. It is light or darkness, black or right. The heresy of non-essential doctrine is one of the biggest heresies around because it leaves people in darkness. If God took the time to speak to an issue He must have found it important. Salvation is not the only doctrine in Scripture. A saved person can be wrong on other doctrines and if I love a person I don’t leave them in error I lead them out of it.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (KJV)
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (KJV)
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
Hmm, not supposed to turn right or left, add or take away and the way is strait or narrow. God is not real tolerant or inclusive. It is His strait way or the highway to Hell.
I hate that anyone goes to Hell, but they do. I don’t fuss about doctrinal differences just for the fun of it. They are important.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (KJV)
Most people preach this verse as an example of the adage, “Major on the majors don’t major on the minors.” That’s not true. Jesus said to do both the major and the minor. He said they were right to do the mint tithe but they didn’t do the others. Jots and tittles are important to God.
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)
Not ONE jot or tittle shall pass away and yet we swallow camels and yea, blue whales! You bet this Baptist wants to be right and so should you. Meandering milquetoasts aren’t what God called us to be!
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (KJV)
Where does it say to be tolerant here? It doesn’t.
2 Tim 4:1-5
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (KJV)
Welcome to the 21st Century Church and unchurched alike. Rebuke, reprove, exhort? Nope!
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. (KJV)
All you smooth preachers and smooth hearers better get ready because judgment is coming and it won’t be smooth!!!
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)
It is high time for true Christians to quit being babies that need to be entertained and exhorted to wealth to get off the milk of the Word and grow up and eat some steak. No one knows what is good or evil any more because they don’t have their senses exercised by the Word and the Spirit. No one has convictions anymore because they don’t let the Word and Spirit convict them cuz all that counts is that I am saved and I have my experience. Doctrine is nothing! O, the damnable heresy of all that!!!!
Grow up before it is too late and come out of the unclean “churches” and other associations. Get real with God and you will see things a lot more differently than you do right now.
2 Tim 2:15-16
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)
There is a whole lot of wrongly dividing of the Word going on. Hit the Book, get right, and join the fight in the Light!!!
May 27, 2013
1 Peter 1:14-1:16
I have a co-worker who is trying to share with the folks at his church his understanding of holiness and spiritual warfare. When I first heard him, I was not very receptive for I thought he had fallen into the error of sinless perfection. In addition, he seemed obsessed by battling demons, which was something I would expect from some type of cult.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in spiritual warfare and demons but I have heard the folks that cast out the baby crying demon, the burping demon, the wart demon and the like so my shields go up and my phasers are fully charged when I hear something that sounds like that.
As I have listened to him over the years, I have come to believe that he has some things right and his perspective towards sin is more biblical than most Christians. He is at least strives for holiness and to be as sinless as possible. The modern church’s perspective heavily leans on mercy and grace after the failure instead of seeking the power to be victorious and overcoming the temptation. Outside of “Jesus wept” and John 3:16 the best-known and memorized verse among Christians is 1 John 1:9. We have taken it from the solution to “If we sin” to when we sin. The verse is not a blank check but more like accidental overdraw protection.
If we could get most Christians to be as afraid of sin as they are of holiness, we would see a much stronger church. Instead of expecting to fail, if we would concentrate on expecting victory and living in holiness as God gives us the power to do we would fail much less and thus sin less though we may never become sinless in this life. Sin should be a rarity in the Christian’s life not an inevitable event. My co-worker calls the current perspective the SRC, the sin and repent club.
Since my co-worker’s approach to sin and holiness does not fit the common consensus of seminarians or theologians, he is having a hard row to hoe at his church. He has been relieved of his teaching position in AWANA. His pastor has even preached two sermons slapping him in the eye without calling his name. However since many in the church know of the issue and his theological premise he may as well just said that Randy is a nutcase and avoid him. What a crime it is trying to teach children to be holy and live a victorious life versus a defeated and guilt ridden one like the rest of the Christians. How dare he?
The pastor’s take on holiness was interesting in that he wanted to emphasize that connotation of holiness that means to be separate or different from the world. He used the term uncommon in effect minimizing holiness. Separation is one part of it but God is more than uncommon and He is holy. In Hebrew holy also relates to brightness as well as separation. That is understandable since He is light and He has no shadow or gray area in Him. Somehow calling God the Uncommon One of Israel or our Uncommon Father does not match for He is past uncommon in all His ways.
7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
8 And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you. KJV
The Hebrew word for holy in this verse is another form of the word sanctify. Holiness and sanctification are intrinsically the same concept. If you want to be holy you have to be sanctified and all that includes being clean or pure and obedient to His Word or the commands and statutes. God commands His people to be holy.
44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. KJV
Note we are to be holy because He is holy. Holiness is more than just a list of do’s and don’ts though they are a part of the whole picture. To be holy like God entails much, much more than the external. That is where the Pharisees went wrong because they worked on externals, the letter of the law, to the neglect of the internal aspects or the spirit of the law. Albeit the modern church has gone too far the other way and made it all a matter of the heart or spirit, if you will, and have tossed out the letter or doctrine. There must be a balance.
James called it showing your faith/heart/spirit by your works. The spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, manifests itself in the proper application of the letter. The spirit without the works is as dead as the works without the spirit. To have life you must have both elements functioning as one. James was trying to show the balance of Paul’s teaching to those scattered Jews and brethren that may have only been getting hearsay information or misunderstood the Gospel. Too many were taking Paul to say that there was no need for works since works do not save or as some thought he was teaching to sin like crazy so grace may abound. Others were trying to mix the Old and New covenants. The Gospel was and is still radical teaching when properly taught. It is amazing how the simple Word destroys many theologies and traditions as well as worldly philosophies.
1 Peter 1:14-16
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. KJV
Indeed, we have the OT quoted in the NT, which I know irritates the Church of Christ and others who go to the other extreme of the Judaizers, in essence wanting to toss out the OT altogether though the Apostles, after Pentecost, quote it and use it for Church applications. Again, we must seek the balance.
The question is what does it mean to be holy? We know that it entails obedience. It also includes separation from worldliness though the current age has no clue to what that means since the Church caters to the world. Indeed, the Evangelical world is practicing the errors of Roman Catholicism. Instead of standing firm against the paganism and humanism, the modernists kiss their feet and “redeem” their philosophies and practices to appeal to the “seekers.”
Interestingly the Scriptures say that there is none that seek after God so the term “seeker churches” is at best a misnomer and at worst a heretical concept that is contributing to the apostasy of the Western Church. My position is that it is the latter. Instead of coming out from among them and being holy/separate/sanctified we adopt the world’s attire, language, music, and basic culture in order to win them. Truly, this is no different than Catholicism’s adopting/adapting the pagan holidays, rituals and even gods to bring the pagans under control of the organization rather than into the Kingdom. Blessing the flesh instead of demanding it to be mortified is not holiness or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the appeasement theology of an apostate Church. The current trend is not even being uncommon as my co-worker’s pastor put it. It is being common, vulgar or profane.
God is holy in His works but also in His character. He is not uncommon. He is incomparable. He is untainted by the world though He is in it. He is in the world but not of the world. Hmm, I believe He said the same about Christians. That would mean that we should not love the world or the things that are in the world for they are the enemies of God. If we are to be holy as He is holy then they should be our enemies as well. We cannot incorporate the world’s ways or thoughts into our worship and walk with God because His ways are not their ways nor are His thoughts their thoughts. As He is above all those things so are we to be as well.
Some would say, but Ron, these things are working. Are they really? Yes, there are some big churches out there with lots of money and activity. Are we to practice pragmatic Christianity or biblical Christianity? The richest church in Revelation is the dead church of Laodicea so worldly success is not proof of God’s blessing.
There are many cheerleaders or motivational speakers out there bubbling over with pop psychobabble or mystical manure. Fewer and fewer men teach sound doctrine. There cannot be true holiness without sound doctrine as false doctrine paints a poor picture of God and yea creates a god after man’s own image that is nothing more than idolatry though it bows not at a statue.
To be holy is to not sin for sin is ungodly and God is holy. However, one has to know what sin is and what it is not before one does not sin. We live in a culture that calls good evil and evil good that the church cannot fight for it is confused about what sin is itself. So many things that were once considered sin even as recently as when I was saved, in 1975, are now abundant in the church corporate and personal practices of the believer.
We have redefined legalism, as anything that might tell me what I like is sin. We have corrupted the doctrine of soul liberty to mean I can do anything I feel comfortable with because I am under grace. As long as I am not convicted of it being wrong, then it is OK for me though it might not be for someone else as if God has double standards for His children. We have reinterpreted Romans 14 and 15 as “weaker brother, grow up” instead of the stronger denying his own liberty if it will keep a weaker brother from stumbling.
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 can never hope to be holy if we lack discernment and are content to suck milk instead of hungering for strong meat. If all the Bible is good for is salvation then God really went into overkill mode when He put in all the rest of the subjects. After all, we could read it through more often and even memorize more of it if there were less in it. We only needed the “essential” doctrines. He could left out the “nonessential”, which are just so cotton picking controversial let alone so meddling into our lives.
We are not holy for we tell God what is important in His Word and what is not. We are not holy for we are lazy and biblically illiterate. We are not holy for we lack the discernment of what is sinful and what is holy. We are not holy for we are not separate from the world. We are not holy for we are not the light we are supposed to be. We are not holy in the externals neither are we holy in the internals. We cannot be holy because we like to write off much of the Word as nonessential and we do not want to offend anyone instead of letting God’s yea be yea and His nay be nay.
We want to offer God’s terms of peace and love to people before we give them God’s estimation of them and their guilt before a Holy God that demands their damnation. We offer them God’s blessings without them seeing their need for repentance. We promise them liberty while polishing their chains or putting Christian logos or mottos on them. We promise them earthly prosperity that the Prophets, Jesus, or the Apostles never enjoyed.
We are not holy because we use our thoughts and our ways to live our lives, worship and do ministry. We are not holy because we love the world and the things that are in the world.
Lev 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
Brethren, it is long overdue for us to holy. Both the living Word and written word demands us to be holy! The world needs us to be holy if any shall be saved from the coming wrath of the holy God. God is not uncommon but He is intrinsically holy. What is uncommon is for his people to be holy. Brethren, will you leave this world behind and join the uncommon few who seek to be holy for the God they serve is holy? Maranatha!!
May 27, 2013
One student was denied a referral by his science Prof because the student believed in Creation. A scientist was fired because he made a comment in a private conversion with his boss that he was a creationist. Evolution is a faith and it seems its adherents are very radical about their faith.
Why do I say faith? I believe it was Aldus Huxley that said that there are only two possibilities for our existence, evolution or creation. He admitted that evolution had many holes in it but refused to even consider creation. That is faith, not science. Real science would explore both avenues not just toss one to the curb.
They have no real empirical evidence for evolution. They do have great imagination for they can “create” a creature from a few bones and tell you its habits, what kind of skin it had and even markings. They even built a whole supposed humanoid and its family from one tooth that turned out to be the tooth of a pig.
The Scopes trial was based on that so-called evidence. I would say the ruling has been overturned and anything that came out of that trial needs to trashed including teaching this faith based pseudo-science in schools.
Indeed, all empirical evidence points to creation. The Intelligent Design people are getting closer to the truth but they have a way to go as well. There is an abundance of information and sound science at http://www.answersingenesis.org for those who are truly desiring to be scientists.
However, we will never get God under a microscope so no matter how much we can prove scientifically salvation will still be of faith for you cannot find God in science. You can see His footprints and thumbprints, yea even a signature on His creation like an artist who signs his piece, but you will never see God unto perfection or completion. He is spiritually discerned by faith and manifested by obedience. Hence, those who must see God completely through science will be damned though they hold thousands of pieces of His work in their hands. He is the creator of the puzzle they hold not the puzzle itself.
You have to deal with a question even harder than which came first the chicken or the egg. You must believe in something that has existed for eternity, either a chunk of matter of some size and density that just exploded one day and out of the chaos we see all this highly organized and varied forms of life that came from one simple structure that somehow got complicated despite the second law of thermodynamics or you have to believe in God who spoke and created all things in their order and complexity.
Indeed, the second law of thermodynamics fits perfectly with the Bible record of sin bringing about death in mankind and the whole creation itself. We are devolving not evolving. The evolutionists say that one day the universe will be cold and lifeless when energy runs out. God said dying, ye shall dying and that is what we and the universe are doing and without the coming intervention from God the scientists would be correct though no one would be around to give them a Nobel prize.
If I were a true diehard atheistic scientist and an environmentalist, I would devise a means to rid the earth of humans. After all, as Scrooge said, we are a blight upon the earth. If we are the only species cognizant of ourselves or sentient then let the doom of the universe fall upon creatures that will not care.
Why continue to allow mankind to destroy the earth before its time and why allow people to suffer from war, disease and all the other sorrows of this life while struggling to maintain the race that will only die no matter how advanced we get or how far out in space we can travel?
No one can escape death let alone the death of the universe therefore human existence is vain. Let the animals and bugs that have an equal right to existence as man have the world and its dying universe. They will not know it’s coming or fear it. They will go out quietly and peacefully.
Fortunately, there is an alternate and more scientific view of the universe. While it is indeed dying from the curse and we see the effects of the judgment of God both from the original curse and the global flood the same document that points us to the evidence and to God also tells us that we can be delivered from ultimate judgment of eternity in Hell. Even the universe has the promise of rebirth.
All the evidence we need is there for both the origin and the final destiny of man and the universe. We are not required to assassinate our brain. God has given us enough to be rational and not quixotic. Yet, not enough evidence to rule out the need for faith or trust.
Man fell because he trusted his own judgment at the encouragement of satan over the judgment of God. Man trusted what he said and felt or we might say a simple form of empirical science. His understanding was limited and his facts incomplete but he choose that over faith or trust in the One he walked with daily. He knew that his spouse was created by that God who had done nothing but love and provide for him yet he chose not to trust Him.
All through man’s history, God has interacted with man in many ways and in the end; the results were either good or bad depending on the faith/trust man had in God. He gave His Son to die and pay for our sins that we might be restored to the relationship that the first had with Him.
There is plenty of evidence for that as well. One lawyer even approached the evidence from that perspective and found it to be more than sufficient to win in a court of law with even more evidence than many other cases that have been decided on evidence.
Be a true scientist or even a lawyer and examine the evidence. God even told Israel to come and reason with him. He has given you a mind that can discern the facts if you really want to know the truth. If you just want to argue and make demands then no evidence in the universe will ever convince you.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. KJV
Diligently seek and you will find.
May 27, 2013
2 Corinthians 11:16-12:1
I don’t know about some of you but the hardest thing for me when seeking a job or a pastorate is the interview and the resume. I try very hard to be a good worker wherever I am employed but the interview is the tough part. Even looking at the interview tips that are online doesn’t help much. Each interviewer is different and some want you to tell it all and others want a synopsis. If you don’t tell how wonderful you are and maybe appear laid back one man may think you are lazy and lack self-confidence. Another thinks you are a braggart if you try to show confidence and highlight your achievements. I got two jobs when I thought I had blown the interview because I kept saying that I didn’t have any experience in the areas they were asking me about yet did not get jobs when I did know the topics and had experience. Go figure!
Proverbs 27:2 says “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” (KJV)
That makes the whole process even more difficult. The best job I ever got in respect to this passage was the one where they never even called me let alone interviewed me. I sent in the paperwork and the next thing I know I was given an appointment for a physical. After that, I got a start date. It was grand!
Some of you may have never had to this but one time. The first job you took is the one you still have or you have retired from and that is wonderful. Unfortunately, I have had quite a varied career after I left the military. Getting a job and keeping it was tough for awhile due to graduating in the middle of a recession. I later found out that I was often hindered because of my military background. Hmm, and I had heard that “your best bet was to a hire a Vet” but not everyone agreed. Also, I know that I was discriminated against a few times because my degree was in Religious Education. Other times I knew that there were other things beyond my control that caused me to be discriminated against but God always took care of me and now I am four months from being able to retire from a thirty year career. Yet, I am still not done with resumes and interviews in this life or the next.
It is tough enough to go through a process of having to let your resume speak for you or to defend your qualifications when you are applying for a job. It would be even tougher if you were the founder of the corporation and had to prove yourself to the people you employed because they questioned your authority, sought to replace you and even discredit you. You say, that’s nuts! How can that happen? Well, something similar happened to the Apostle Paul.
When Paul entered Corinth it was a city of paganism steeped in idolatry, prostitution and materialism. Sounds a bit like any metropolitan area in the US or the world for the matter. Consequently, Paul was the founder of the 1st Baptist Church of Corinth and anyone who was a Christian in that city was won to Christ by him or one of his converts. You would have thought that there would have been some definite gratitude and loyalty in the hearts of the believers. You would have thought.
Unfortunately, though God had blessed that church with every spiritual gift they never matured beyond babyhood. They elevated the least of all the gifts to pre-eminence. They carried over some of the practices of the orgies into the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. They tolerated sin in the church. The rich flaunted their wealth before the poor in the church and they still had respect of persons. Man, and to think there are so many churches today that look to the Church of Corinth as a model to emulate instead of an example of how to not do church. That place was a catastrophe and it had the greatest Doctor and theologian of all time, other than Christ Himself, as its founder and teacher. Makes you wonder why we place so much emphasis on degrees and theologians when it is obvious there is no guarantee that the holder of those degrees will do any better than the fishermen who made up the majority of the Apostles.
The “respecter of persons” thing is what got Paul called into question. Once some of the lads in Jerusalem who believed in Jesus plus the law heard of the success in Corinth they had to jump in and infiltrate. They would not have gotten their hands dirty or taken the risk in starting a church in such an area but they could steal sheep. These lads would show up in their long robes looking very respectable. They carried themselves with charm and class calling each other Rabbi; meaning master or doctor. They were grand orators and philosophers. Those in the Corinthian upper crust would love these guys and believe everything they said. Thus when they started criticizing Paul and preaching their errors, Paul had to write the Church and defend his credentials and supply his resume.
Unlike a person applying for a job, Paul was pretty blunt with them and even downright rude by our namby-pamby standards of tolerance and etiquette. Of course, Paul was not speaking this way to the membership but to the Elders he had chosen who had turned against him for these pretty boys from Jerusalem University.
2 Cor 11:16-12:1
16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. KJV
None of those fancy boys from Jerusalem could have come close to having a resume like that and neither did any of those in the Corinthian church that loved those lads. Paul had a little of the same problem in Galatia and he added this bottom line to his resume.
Gal 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. KJV
Paul had a tremendous resume and handled the “interview” very well, but what about us? Some have asked the question that if Christianity were a crime would there be enough evidence to convict you. Better yet, if as so many of the jokes say, that Peter interviews you at the gate of Heaven before he lets you in how would you answer his questions and what would he see on your life record, which is your resume?
If Peter asked you, what was your greatest accomplishment for Christ, would you say that you made it to church every other Sunday morning? If he asked how you exercised you spiritual gift would you say, huh? How about your greatest suffering for Christ? Would it be that it was sitting in a too hot or too cold auditorium listening to Brother Ron for forty-five minutes? Would he say, I see where you once said that you cared a great deal about the mission of the Church but you only came on Sunday mornings, never tithed, never witnessed or invited someone to Church? Can you explain how that expressed your care about the mission? Peter may say I see where you said you loved the Lord but no one at your job ever knew you were a Christian and there was a co-worker who killed himself that would have been saved had you witnessed to him. Another one would not have divorced her husband and left her children had you prayed with her. You never cared about seeking to be holy, but you loved 1 John 1:9. You loved the milk of the Word but you never sought the meat. Your love for God never seemed to inconvenience you. How much did you love the Lord?
What a grill that might be, but Peter won’t be the one asking the questions on reviewing the resume.
2 Cor 5:10-11
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. KJV
Since Paul mentions the terror of the Lord, I suspect that Jesus’ questions will be far more probing than the ones I used for Peter. Common business practice is to only list the last 5-10 years on your resume and try to keep it to one or two pages. Our resume at that judgment seat will have every detail for however many years we lived. Ouch!!!
We won’t be able to lie or leave out any facts to enhance our interview. We won’t be able to brag because He knows that what sounds good on paper is just creative writing and wasn’t nearly as spectacular as we might want to make it. He also knows that we did things for the eyes of men though we told folks that it was for the glory of God.
We have in the Word of God many resumes of people both good and bad. We can read some of the interviews that God had with them and how He reacted to the answers He got, especially the excuses. We see how those didn’t fly. How should we then live?
12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. KJV
I fear that we have far more bastards in the churches than sons. Oh, was that shocking? Well, it’s in the Book. There are a lot of folks showing up in church whose resumes seem to be more fitting for one of the devil’s debutantes than of one of God’s children. Many who call themselves Christians don’t have enough evidence to convict them and they can’t resist sin but they can really resist the alarm clock on Sunday morning.
It’s time we all started adding better entries to our resume or we are really, really going to be disappointed at that last interview. Thank God salvation is by grace through faith in His shed blood and resurrection or no one could qualify based upon their resumes. We definitely would not provide good answers at the interview. Yet, if we do not seek to be obedient and resist the devil we are not going to comprehend our sorrow when we see His face.
If you are not saved, your resume might actually look better than mine but without that one entry where you were born again on such and such date you will still go to Hell. Don’t go there. Add today as the day you were saved and then create a glorious resume through His Spirit and His Word!!! GLORY! Maranatha!!!
May 26, 2013
1 Corinthians 1:10-1:10
Are Christians Destined To Be Borg?
If you are not a Star Trek fan you may be wondering what in the world is up with that title. Star Trek has been used to preach “another gospel” since the original series came on in 1965. Only since I became a Christian in 1975 have I understood the Star Trek message. Before that it was just cool entertainment that took a thirteen-year-old boy from having cowboys and GIs as heroes to desiring “to go where no man has gone before”.
That original series spun off to several others and now we even have a series that goes back to before the time frame of the original. Hard core Trekkies will always say that the original is the best though they will be devotees to at least one, if not all, of the spin-offs.
The Borg do not appear on the scene until Star Trek, The Next Generation. They fly around in ships shaped like cubes that are so large that they make the best ship in the Federation fleet look like a minnow next to a blue whale. The Borg cube heals itself after being attacked and seems nearly impregnable. The Collective is made up of various races that have been assimilated into the Borg. They are mechanically enhanced and so wired that the Collective share the total thoughts and knowledge of everyone in it. The first words out of their mouth to any new species they encounter are, “We are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” They are a very endearing group to say the least.
Could the creators of the series have gotten their concept from their perspective of the Bible and Christians? Is it a hidden slap at Christians? Both thoughts are very plausible. Let’s look at the Borg ship first by taking a look at the Bible’s description of the New Jerusalem.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. (KJV)
Twelve thousand furlongs equates to fifteen hundred miles. The cubit measure comes out to two hundred and sixteen feet using eighteen inches for a cubit. That is pretty massive. In Revelation we see it descending out of Heaven. For unbelievers, this sounds like a ship landing. The show Stargate Atlantis shows Atlantis not as a lost continent but rather a city that can fly through space or submerge if necessary. Unbelievers see the wheels in Ezekiel as symbols of spacecraft as well as Elijah’s chariot of fire and other symbols.
Why is there all of this obsession with spacecraft in the Bible by unbelievers? Well, first off you know that the Bible cannot be understood by the natural man because it is spiritually discerned. Therefore not understanding the power of God due to unbelief they have to explain things by their viewpoint. When you believe in evolution and see the vast regions of space you have to think that if the dice roll of random chance produced life here than surely it did so somewhere else. Maybe they are further ahead of us on the scale and have visited us. If so, our not so smart ancestors would have explained spacecraft in terms they could relate to and of course consider the aliens as gods. StarGate SG-1 pushes that premise deeply.
Contrary to the popular “Left Behind” series, we know that Thessalonians teaches that after the Rapture those who have heard, understood, and either rejected or put off salvation will be given over to a strong delusion and will believe a lie. What possible explanation can be given to explain the disappearance of masses of people around the world? Alien abduction is a strong possibility.
Ever since the War of the Worlds was first written in the 19th century we have had a compulsion to look for critters or kin from outer space. As I said, evolution nearly demands that such beings exist and surely they will also be looking for intelligent life. Sadly, I am afraid that they would find very little of that if they stopped off here. A former co-worker’s email banner read, “There is only so much intelligence per planet and the population is growing.” From personal experience and world events, I would have to say that he makes a strong point.
Anyway, with all the speculations of alien life from the Roswell incident, the movies of the 50’s, stories of abductions, crop circles, cattle mutilation and the like it will be very easy to convince people that a large scale abduction has taken place. It will make perfect sense to a world bombarded with the concept’s possibility for nearly a century.
Ironically, there is a group in California, where else, that teaches that when God’s man appears on the scene all the wicked people will be taken off the earth. That is a typical satanic tactic of twisting or spinning the truth. You see the devil at it regularly in the media and politics. After all, he has had lots of practice since the garden so we would expect him to be a master of it by now.
Let’s look at the Borg themselves. They are made up of all sorts of species that were assimilated against their will. They are fitted with a myriad of tech stuff making them a cyborg. They are assigned to units of nine. They identify themselves as Seven of Nine or Eight of Nine not by a personal name like Billy Bob. They have no individuality. They have no individual or private thought for they can hear everyone in the collective at all times and can share information to the whole collective just by thinking it. That certainly doesn’t sound like the good old American way.
1 Cor 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. KJV
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. KJV
1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. KJV
Has Hollywood misunderstood these passages and thus created the Borg as their view of the poor Christians who are no longer individuals but just puppets and parrots? That is a good possibility. Remember they can’t understand the Word but they try to use it to slam Christians and discredit the message. Unfortunately, many cults do give them some ammunition for these attacks. Hey, satan has many avenues to proclaim his message and to wage war against the saints. Therefore it should be no surprise if he creates some straw men to support his premises and keep the glorious light of the gospel from shining on those he has blinded. After all, we are not ignorant of his devices or at least we should not be ignorant.
What is interesting is that the Left are the ones who often speak of tolerance in the public forums of thought yet they shut down anyone who doesn’t agree with them while calling Christians closed minded and intolerant. Go figure. They don’t want tolerance in the true sense of the word. They want subjugation to their will and obliteration of Christianity, by any means. I tend to be quite intolerant of that agenda.
Next let’s look at the Borg message. “We are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” That is short and to the point. They have the sound bites that I am not good at making. Let’s see. We show up at a person’s door and say, “I am Ron from Macedonia Baptist Church. If you die to tonight, do you know where you will go? Except you are born again you will go to Hell.” We talk far more than that but if we had to synopsize our message this would be it. We are Christians. You will be assimilated or be cast off. Resistance is futile. That is how it might sound to an unbeliever.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. KJV
Matt 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. KJV
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. KJV
They might pull these verses out to prove their point. Hey, it sounds like there is no choice. Yet, that is where they are wrong. Unlike the Borg, God offers His forgiveness and adoption into the family and you have the free will to accept or reject the offer. I once read where a prisoner was offered a pardon by a governor. All he had to do was sign it and he was free. He refused to do so and was executed. When he refused the pardon of grace the law did what it was ordained to do. We are all prisoners of sin with a death sentence already decreed. All that is lacking is the execution of that decree. If we fail to take the pardon offered unto us in Jesus Christ there is nothing else left but to allow the law to take its course. Our free will chooses for us death or life.
Like the Borg ship the Gospel Ship of Zion does heal itself after each attack. Unlike the Borg it is indeed impregnable and unsinkable. Many assaults have been made on the Word of God and the Church but both remain and shall do so until the coming of the Captain of the Host, Jesus Christ, who shall reign from Jerusalem. When He returns with His airborne cavalry the hope of all unbelievers will be dashed to pieces.
In that respect it is correct to say that resistance will be futile. They placed their hope and energy into vain imaginations and unscientific theories so futility was all they had and all they could possibly achieve. They resisted the truth so it is not God who forced them into destruction. It was their foolish dreams. Neither did He force them to assimilate. They chose their fate.
One can either receive truth or reject it but truth is still truth. It is astounding that the same people who insist that two plus two is always four and that all things left to the law of gravity will fall; speak of there being no absolutes. They discuss laws of physics and write human laws of conduct but when it comes to other subjects like theology, they are loaded with gray areas and relative truths.
Once one comes to grip with the fact that there are absolute truths he is not a mental slave or mindless follower if he unites with others who have found that truth. If every elementary school teacher states that two and two are four are they parrots or slaves to mindless dogmatism? I think not. Hence once people find the eternal absolutes in the Word of God it is only reasonable to expect them to say the same thing about those truths.
The irony is that while unbelievers think we are mindless parrots there are so many variations of “Christianity” it is pitiful. It should not be so, but it is, thus it would seem that the unbelievers are wrong in their assessment of the current conditions. Yet, IF Christians were right with God, His Word and His Spirit we would all say the same thing about all things because there is only one truth about every issue. The divisions show that most are in error and are not listening to God, His Word or His Spirit.
Therefore we are not mindless parrots but rather most of us are out of our mind. For we have the mind of Christ and His mind is not divided so where does this confusion of doctrine originate? Hell. The devil is the author of confusion, not God. We should all speak the same thing.
Now does that mean that we have no individuality or personality? One need only look at the ones God used to pen His Word to answer that question. Through verbal inspiration God used the personality and experiences of men from nobility and from simplicity over hundreds of years to provide us with such uniformity of truth as could never happen by pure human endeavors. God allows us to be individuals but truth is universal and His commands are for all humans in all times and circumstances.
Look around your Church and you can see some who are suit folks and others that are jeans and boots people. Some clap and shout and let their feelings out and some are silent or softly say, Amen. In the parking lot you will see various makes and models of vehicles. They live in different types of houses and decorate differently. They chose different types of careers and like different styles of music. There are many expressions of individuality and yet when it comes to God and His Word they should all say the same thing for the Scripture is of no private interpretation and God does not have different house rules for different children. That doesn’t make us Seven of Nine members of the Collective.
Some of you are wondering why I chose to use Star Trek imagery for this sermon. What you must understand is that the entertainment industry is not just about entertainment. It is about indoctrination. They are seeking to prepare people for the Utopian lifestyle portrayed in the Star Trek series and to promote evolution. Ideally, they want to destroy all religion and replace it with the religion of humanism and evolution. If they cannot reach their ideal, they can tolerate some religions but they hate biblical Christianity most and if they can destroy it then Judaism and the rest will follow in due course.
Many of the things I spoke about are subtle and unless you are a believer you will most likely not catch the message if you watch the shows. That is not surprising.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. KJV
The message does not have to be point blank in its attack on God. Just exalt man and his science about God and true science. Work in story lines where the Egyptian and Roman gods are portrayed as aliens. Have the “Q” possess many of the qualities of God and even have humans landing on primitive planets where the natives start to make gods of them because of the advanced technology. One episode showed a picture of the devil that looked a lot like Mr. Spock. Have people of faith either do evil things or act insanely and you can make people not want to be one of those fanatics. I am curious if the Ori of SG-1 are supposed to represent fundamental Christians who are hypocrites changing their holy book’s meaning to fit their goals of conquest or if they were meant to represent the tele-evangelists. Not that any of the writers would admit that these episodes, characters and themes were specifically designed to slam religion especially Christianity. The disclaimer is that any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
No, the attacks do not have to be outright but after decades of watching these shows if you are not a Christian it might be pretty tough to believe that Bible. That is why we must be very careful about what our children see and indeed what we watch ourselves. I am sure that I have missed a lot of things even though I was watching with a more critical eye than the average person just seeking entertainment. The media is an excellent tool for brainwashing. We need to wash ours with the water of the Word so that we can bring into effect the renewing of our mind as we are enjoined to do and not be conformed to this world.
The utopia the unbelievers seek will arrive. We will get a foretaste in the Millennium and then live it forever in the new heaven and new earth. Receive Christ and be saved. That is the only way you will live long and prosper. There is no Mother Ship coming but there is a Son of God on His way to pick up His own and deal with the devil’s kids. Will He beam you up or will you be left behind?
If you are saved, then you are in this world but not of it hence you are an alien ambassador sent to make peace between God and the Lost. Are you doing your job? Maranatha!!!
May 26, 2013
1 Corinthians 13:11-13:11
Only in America can a pastor with a German name do a Hispanic “bat mitzvah.” I even welcomed folks in Spanish. Only one sentence but they seemed impressed. This was “milder” version of the tradition but I think it would be good if the Anglos developed a ceremony for boys and girls coming of age. Something other than the birthday party with junk food though that can be a part of it but with more of a spiritual tenor and a charge for their life.
We are here to celebrate the coming of age of Colleen. This is a time of joy. It is a time of reminiscing for her parents as they look back on the time she was born and all the first things that a child does in their life. To Colleen, it is a time of consideration and looking forward as she is now no longer a child but a young lady, who has many opportunities before her. She has to start asking the Lord what career He may have in mine for her and then what school she needs to attend to reach towards that goal.
Her father and I have already talked and one thing we agreed on was that it was not a time for her to start considering a husband. That time is at least several years away. I told my daughter that she was allowed to get married at age sixty with my signed consent. Colleen may not have to wait that long but age 22 is a good round number to start looking for a husband as it gives her the time to get through college. We want her to graduate summa cum laude not marry some dumb clod.
Although marriage is some time away high school graduation and college is rapidly approaching. She will have to study hard these next three years and pray even harder seeking God’s guidance. Many challenging decisions will be coming her way and sometimes it may seem like her life is a runaway train or a wild roller coaster. Thankfully, the Lord will be there to slow her down and take control if she will let Him.
Ps 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. KJV
God gave Colleen to her parents as a precious gift. She is dearly beloved of God and He expects her to be loved by her parents because of her priceless value to God. He not only gave her life but also gave the life of His Son Jesus to save her soul. While she has earthly parents, her Father is God for she has been born-again and made a joint heir to all the Father has given to Jesus Christ.
Daughters are very special. Speaking as a father, a man’s son is always his son but his daughter is always his baby girl or princess so it is fitting that Colleen is wearing her tiara today and has maids in waiting like a princess. Colleen is not going to want her Dad talking to me anymore after today because I also gave him an idea of what to say to a future son-in-law many years from now. I told mine that my daughter would always be my baby girl and that if he ever hurt her I would make the Death Angel look like the Tooth Fairy. Therefore, if your Dad ever says that on your wedding day you can blame Brother Ron. We always protect our daughters until our last breath. It is what Daddies do. We cannot help it. If Dad ever embarrasses you, chalk it up to that protective spirit and know he loves you. Yet, even with that protective spirit and love, God the Father and Jesus Christ love you best and will be there even if your parents cannot. Rejoice in that love!
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
Today, this verse has much meaning for you. We are no longer looking at you as a child and therefore we will be looking for you to think and act as a young adult. I can say that I do not think that will be much of a problem for you as it might be for some. You are already a sweet girl and a tad bit shy since you will not give the three-hour speech I asked you to prepare. Someday you may find yourself giving lectures as a teacher or in whatever discipline the Lord directs you to serve Him. Often those who are shy when they are young become outspoken as they mature. There was a time when even I was shy and look at me now so only God knows how many people you may address one day.
We have already spoken to some of the things of a woman that you will have to consider and to do that you will have to put away the things of a child. It is very appropriate that on this day you will receive your last doll as token of that passing childhood. It does not mean you cannot have fun anymore. It just means your adventures will be different and you will find some things are not as much fun as they once were. You will have fun in new ways and that is a good thing. Parents may want their babies to stay babies forever but in most cases, the babies want to grow up, as they should.
Eccl 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. KJV
As an adult, you only have two things you need to be concerned about and they are in this verse. If you fear God and keep His commandments then everything else will fall into place. You will spare yourself much sorrow or wasted years. You will be able to sleep peacefully at night and look at any difficulty knowing God will be there with you to get your through it. If you fear God, you need fear nothing else for no one or no thing can ever do you any extended damage. If God be for you who can be against you and prosper? No one at all and that is a promise of God.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. KJV
As you grow in the grace and admonition of the Lord by walking in His paths, you will acquire the character and do the deeds that will earn you the praise of these verses. Someday in your old age, your children and husband will rise up and call you blessed. You will be known in your community and your Church as a woman of virtue, wisdom and godliness. There is nothing greater for anyone, man or woman, to desire than to have that reputation. May you have it at an early age and wear it as a crown all your life until; one day in Heaven, you cast your crowns before Jesus!
Now, my daughter and sister in the Lord, may
24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. KJV
And all of God’s people said Amen and Amen!