Monday, January 27, 2014

Saved To What?

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. ~ 1 Peter 2:9–11

I write this as one who was a prolific sinner.  I was one of the best, er worst, depraved wretches that walked the streets of Southern California from 1979 to 1989.  Oh there was plenty of sin up to '79 but I began to master it in the '80's.  Until one day the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated my cold, dead, black heart.  Some may say, 'just how bad were you?'  Well, in reality I was an average kid/young adult who looked and acted most likely just like you.  To this day I am being conformed to Christ's image and remain a work in progress not that I have

already obtained or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. ~ 
Philippians 3:12

So this is written with an earnest love for my Savior, an earnest love for His church, an earnest love for my Christian friends now and all the way back to 1989, and last but most, an earnest desire to live holy before My Glorious Redeemer.

To what has our Gracious Master and our Friend saved us?  Did we simply believe on His Son for salvation from eternal judgment and torment and separation from His love?  Did He not come to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into His marvelous light?  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?  Shall we sin more that grace may abound? ~ Romans 6:2, 6:1

It is an utter embarrassment to the name of Christ that many in His church participate in the deeds of darkness.  We are to expose them!  (Ephesians 5:11)  So why, oh why do I read my friends posts and hear my friends talk of the debauchery they see on TV or go pay to sit and watch?   What of the music that entertains your ears?!  Quickly the cries come, "ease up brother", "relax man!", "don't be so quick to throw stones", "you're a legalist!"  Oh really?

Then what say you to Your Lord and Master?  

      As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”~ 1 Peter 1:14–16

The time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. ~ 1 Peter 4:3

"Hey man, I said easy!  I'm not DOING those things!"  No brother, no sister, you are not but you are enjoying them as entertainment to your flesh!   Can I get personal?  Can you really tell me why you can watch celebrities slink around a stage with not enough clothing on for a cheap window in Amsterdam as they virtually have sex on their feet?  Can we "like" Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears?
Are we cool with watching Beyonce prostitute herself on stage?  Are we down with the vulgarity of Hollywood on screen and as they spew their filth on awards shows? Will we drag the Lord Jesus Christ into the places of vile filth with us?

          You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? ~ James 4:4–5

Have you completely ignored that we are to let no immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting. ~ Ephesians 5:3–4

because it is for these very things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~ Ephesians 5:6

I know that many who read this have memorized Titus 2:11-14.  You were or perhaps you are an AWANA leader.  This is burned into your noggin'.  The grace of God has appeared
    instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

This is not an option, it is an imperative!  We are to deny ungodliness not be entertained by it!  We are to deny worldly desires not enjoy them and laugh at them!  Your Savior bought you at a price, the precious blood of Christ! (1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Peter 1:19)  We are to be a people for HIS own possession, not ours, and zealous for good deeds, not ho-hum here we go 'round the mulberry bush!

Do you truly understand that Christ, God very God, came down to earth, this little spinning rock that He holds in His hand, and clothed Himself in human skin?  Your Savior subjected Himself (He who controls the winds) to hunger, to thirst, to cold, to fatigue.  He who formed the earth and the seas. The One who creates light.  This King, this All-Powerful who hung on a cross by allowing sinful, puny man to nail spikes into His hands and His feet, that would jam a crown of thorns on His brow, who mocked Him and cried, "if YOU are the Son of Gooooodddd, come down from that cross."  He who could call down fire and wipe out every rebellious enemy in a nanosecond.  He who could have opened the very earth beneath their feet and swallowed them up for their treachery.  This Jesus chose "Father forgive them them, they know not what they do." ~ Luke 23:34

Can you in light of all He has done for you remain enjoying the very sins you were saved from?  Again the cries come, "it's not that bad", "you're making a big deal out it", "it's just a little harmless pleasure", "to each his own."  Then tell me why did you come to Jesus, if you came at all?  For He Himself told you

take up your cross daily and follow Him while denying (yourself). ~ Luke 9:23

We are just excuse factories billowing out justification for our many sins,

denying the power that saved us, if it indeed saved us. The guilty sinner exclaims "you think you're so much better", "what makes you so special?" The penitent sinner says "oh Lord, cleanse me of my sin", oh Lord, make me more like you!"

If you're Savior has the power to save you from the penalty of sin but not it's power you have two options.  Either He is not powerful enough to make you holy or you're not indwelt by the Spirit.  And that my friend, is not two options but in reality, one.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Which Gospel Is It?

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ~ John 3:3

Recently I was asked about the teachings of a recognizable Evangelical radio ministry.  As is my habit I went directly to the gospel message they present. Why?  This is what undergirds entire ministries.  From it is found the thread that is woven into all its teachings.  So what was the gospel message of this prominent teacher?  Actually not much different than the majority found in today's version of Christianity. 

So let's highlight some major points in this gospel presentation.

  • "You were made to know God"

According to this ministry, "each one of us was made for one thing, a relationship with God."

This statement is just not accurate.  While it is true that any human being can know God in a saving way, scripture reveals that God has varied purposes for created mankind.

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? ~ Romans 9:22

Yet the Sovereign Creator of the universe also has made

vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory ~ Romans 9:23

We, as frail humans, cannot know which is which and we cannot make blanket statements that everyone was created to know God savingly.  To do so places man in a position of sovereignty that he cannot rightfully claim.  The choice now rests upon sinful man to believe in Christ rather than God's own choosing man first.  Indeed man must believe but even that is a gift of God.  (Eph 2:8-9)

Scripture declares that God has

mercy on whom He desires ~ Romans 9:18

and that

it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. ~ Romans 9:16

  • "God wants to give you a better life"

Yes!  Of course life is better in Christ.  The glorious God of all creation would have us to

have life and that more abundantly ~ John 10:10

Yet that is not the purpose of salvation but a benefit of it.  Jesus Christ died to save His people from the penalty and the power of sin.  That is what God wants to give His people, victory over death and the slavery of sin.  Was not Paul sent in order to 

open (Jew and Gentile) eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in (Christ) ~ Acts 26:18

Man is born entirely in sin (Romans 3:9) because Adam fell in the garden (Gen 3:1-6). The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and eternal separation from God (Matthew 13:41-42).  Yet the one who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is freed from the penalty and power of sin!

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who died has been freed from sin. ~ Romans 6:6-7

  • "God isn't mad at you"

What?!  God is not mad at you?  At me?  Can you please explain why God the Father sent His One and Only Son to live in a human body, to suffer persecution and ridicule, beatings and mockings, and was nailed to a chunk of wood?! 

God is a just judge, and is angry with the wicked every day ~ Psalm 7:11

To the wicked He declares,

He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury ~ Psalm 2:4-5

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life ~ Romans 5:10

Oh Christian, do not be a pawn of the enemy and tell sinful man that a Holy, Holy, Holy God is not mad at their sin.  Sin is so disgusting that the Father turned His face away when sin was upon the shoulders of Christ, so repulsive that it required the brutal death of the innocent Son of God. (John 19:6)

Lastly under the section

  • "Come as you are"

we are told that "you must take the first step"

Really?  You?  Have you the ability and power to take the first step?

and you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins ~ Ephesians 2:1

Of His own will He brought us forth ~ James 1:18

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:12-13

God takes the first step.  God by His marvelous grace imparts life.  Dead men cannot step anywhere, not first, not last, because they are not breathing. They are totally unable!  So don't tell your unbelieving friend that He must take the first step toward God.  Tell him he must or she must

believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ~ Acts 16:31


confess with his mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in his heart that God raised Him from the dead, and he will be saved.  ~ Romans 10:9

because faith is the gift of God that no man should boast.  So if we don't present the gospel accurately we may end up participating in damning a lost sinner into a false conversion that leaves them in a worse state than the first.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christ Has Spoken...Listen To Him!

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV)

I love this passage here because it shows such a great transition that many in the charismatic ranks seem to either misinterpret or disregard altogether. Charismania has become so egregiously subjective that just about anything can be heard, seen, or spoken forth as long as some Christian term is involved in it. TBN is very, very good at this, and the evidence of its effectiveness is clear as people still run to the crusades, send money to the Praise-A-Thon or to the various "ministries" that are paraded, and probably still think that these false teachers can somehow speak a "blessing" through the television. 

I always tell people how it amazes me that so-called Christians are continually running around looking for "new" or "fresh" revelation from God when they have not even scratched the surface in mining the depths of truth contained in God's holy Word. It is also telling of an idolatrous and deceived heart that places "revelation" on a higher plane than Scripture: God-breathed Scripture. Some try to soften this revelatory experience by saying that they check what they hear or see, or what has been spoken to them, against the authoritative Scriptures. That's all well and good, however, the passage above makes it clear that all of this chasing after revelation is foolish and unnecessary at best. 

The writer of Hebrews takes us back to "long ago" - to the days of the patriarchs and says that God did speak to them. Oh yes, He definitely did. But the means and method by which He did so were "at many times and in many ways." God used various mediums by which He communicated His message to the patriarchs:

  • angelic visitations
  • visions
  • dreams
  • theophanies/Christophanies
  • direct speech
  • prophets
  • ...and others
But the "many ways" is not what is striking within that particular phrase. It is the "many times" which brings out some important things that we need to understand in order to really grasp what is being said in these verses. What does that phrase indicate?

It indicates that the revelations were progressive and fragmentary.

God did not do a revelation-all-at-once truth dump. As time went on, He would add another aspect of His character and attributes, commands and intentions, thus continually building upon previous truth. But they were segmented and spread out over the course of history. So these types and foreshadows, when looked at as a whole, were used to aim attention somewhere else, or rather, to someone else. 

The writer moves on and tells us that in the last days, God has spoken again. 

However, this time there are no fragments. 
This time there is no progression. 
This time there is no variety of medium. 

This time there is only one voice.

God speaks ultimately and with finality through His Son! Why is this so excellent? The writer explains:

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:3-4, ESV)

Abraham wasn't the radiance of the glory of God.

Joseph wasn't the exact imprint of God's nature.
David did not uphold the universe by the word of his power.
Isaiah, Jonah, Ezekiel, Obadiah...none of these made purification for sins.
Solomon didn't sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Daniel did not become superior to the angels.
Moses had a great name, but his name is not the most excellent name.

Christ is the final voice that anyone needs to hear. I have to wonder why charismatics chase after methods of revelation that the Bible itself declares to be inferior to the last "form" of communication - the Son of God. There is no voice greater than His, and when we place our trust in these other forms of revelation, it is a declaration to Christ that He, nor His Word are sufficient enough to teach and transform us. Who would dare demote Christ from His rightful place as God's ultimate spokesperson, while exalting finite, fallible, sinful men to be in the spotlight as if somehow they hear from God more clearly than Christ Himself does?

Sadly, many do.

Christ is speaking. 
He is speaking with clarity and power.
The question is:
Are you listening?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Honey, There's a Snake In Our Living Room!

But his doctrine is right on man!

This is the common response, the common defense, that is used to justify ungodly behavior and affirming gospel enemies.   Recently Michael Brown sat with that snake of 21st century snakes, Benny Hinn.  He figures it's ok to dance with the devil because he is going to "reach his audience." BeBeBeBeBenny is not the only snake it's cool to coil with.  There's Francis Chan chillin' with Mike Bickle, proclaiming his love for him.

Perhaps the snakes are just huddling out in the open together.

And the naysayers loudly shout, 'Come on man!  His doctrine is rock solid. What's the big deal?" What's the big deal?! Really? Have you not read the Apostle Paul?  The words of Jude?  Have you not heard what the Beloved Apostle John has written?  

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. ~ 2 John 9–11

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 4

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. ~2 Timothy 4:3–4

When the false teacher Cerinthus entered the bathhouse that the beloved apostle was in what happened?  He went Usain Bolt on the place.  John sprang up and said, "Let us flee, lest the bath fall; for Cerinthus, the enemy of truth is within."  The last thing on this godly man's mind was discussion with a false teacher in order to 'reach his audience.' Did you get that?  The Apostle of love bailed as fast as he could and he vehemently opposed all fakes like him.

Today it has become the gracious, pious way to allow for dialogue with false teachers.  Go back to that gray beast with the long trunk where TD Jakes was welcomed as a brother yet denies the Trinity.  Oh yeah, we're sophisticated now.  We have grace.  We believe mere words over practice.  Yet God the Holy Spirit says we must 

prove (ourselves) doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. ~ James 1:22

Paul commanded Timothy to 

carefully follow my doctrine, manner of life... ~ 2 Timothy 3:10

Paul also said Timothy would be constantly nourished on the words of faith and

sound doctrine which you have been following. ~ 1 Timothy 4:6

Get it? Doctrine directs your life or as theologians like to say,

Orthopraxy follows orthodoxy.

What you say doesn't mean diddly if you don't live it.  So rather than give a free pass to big name professing Christians, why not be biblical and test what they say with what they do?  Test what they say with who they hang out with. Best of all, do so in light of scripture

test all things, hold fast to that which is good. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21 

That is unless you're cool with rock solid doctrine that drives celebrity pastors to happen upon events because they are just in the neighborhood.