October 31, 2010
God is sovereign. This means He is the supreme and ultimate Ruler over the entire universe and beyond. He reigns over all the affairs of men, over the beasts, over weather, over circumstances, and over all the good and evil principalities of the spiritual realm. Knowing all things past, present, and future, He retains the right to wield this sovereign power of His whenever He chooses. However, He also retains the right to allow men to reap what they sow. (Gal. 6:7) In other words, God can intervene and changes situations, outcomes, and hearts, or He can allow the gift He’s given of freedom of choice to trump His will.
Not convinced? Then let’s go to God’s Word for doctrine:
Isa. 45:7 — “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
Lam. 3:37,38 — “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”
Amos 3:6 — “When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?”
Ex. 4:11 — “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who give him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”
Dan. 4:32 — “… the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes.”
Dan. 4:26 — “[You must] acknowledge that Heaven rules.”
Dan. 2:21 — “He [God] sets up kings and deposes them.”
Prov. 21:1 — “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.”
Prov. 21:30 — “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.”
Ps. 99:1 — “The LORD reigns…”
Okay, I could go on. But the point is made: The LORD God is the Supreme Ruler over His universe and all that goes on in it. So now we ask, “Does this mean the teachers of Calvinism are correct? Does this mean that God has predestined some people to go to Hell and others to be saved? Does this mean that God preordains (decrees ahead of time) everything that happens? Are all events (and choices) orchestrated at His command? Are all hearts and minds, words and actions, subject to His predestined decisions? If God is The Sovereign over the universe and every minute detail, then are we merely robots?”
Let’s look at some more of God’s Word –and just on the subject of salvation:
1 Tim. 2:5,6 — “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.”
1 John 2:2 — “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
2 Cor. 5:15 — “He died for all…”
John 12:32 — “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that upon dying on the cross, He enacted an automatic drawing (wooing) of all people to Himself. Therefore, not only is the ransom paid, but there is a supernatural draw from the Spirit –an invitation and a wooing– for all men. And why does God offer this? –Because He wants ALL to be saved.)
1 Tim. 2:3,4 — “[Holiness] pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
2 Peter 3:9 — “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I could go on again, but let’s now ask the obvious: “If Jesus paid everyone’s ransom and God wants no one to perish, and God is sovereign, then why are many not coming to Christ, following Him, or obeying Him? And why do so many go on in their willful, rebellious ways, with Hell as their eternal destination?”
The answer is much more simple than Calvinists want to make it. Indeed, they cannot come to the Truth because they cannot submit their high-mindedness to The Counselor, nor toss out their worldly wisdom. Jesus says very clearly in Matt. 18:3, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” These “philosophers” and “theologians” will never enter into Truth until they change –change their minds to accept what God’s Spirit through God’s Word is saying!
But, for the rest of us who listen to God as a trusting child does, let’s reconcile the above verses. First, has God given mankind the gift of free choice? The answer is very clear throughout Scripture as it gives commands to obey, choose, follow, turn, listen, etc. God does not command us to choose to do these things or not do these things if He is really not giving us the choice. We can go all the way back to Gen. 2 & 3 and see this simple truth –that even a small child can see. For example in Gen. 1:16 where God says, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” This is not a hard thing to understand. It’s a simple warning, but it is also the obvious gift of choice –being given to mankind by the Sovereign God.
Unfortunately, the choice to rebel was the choice made, and ever since, every single one of us have the same two choices: Turn to God, or rebel against God. And it continues to be our daily choice.
So, if God is sovereign, yet God has chosen to restrict Himself in order to allow men freedom of choice, what is it that causes Him to often intervene and change situations, kingdoms, and hearts? Answer (besides His own sovereign choice): Asking Him to do so. Simple. Because, besides the gift of choice, and among many wonderful gifts the Lord has given us, we have been given the gift of intercession –His Spirit in us helping us intercede for others, as well as for ourselves. We can ask. We can reason with Him. We can petition, praise, fast, and cry out. We can obey, we can serve, we can worship, we can kneel, we can clap, shout, sing, weep… and quote His Word’s promises back to Him. We’ve been given His power within us, His Spirit, and we can fight off, with spiritual weapons, the enemy who also wants to intervene.
God’s Spirit in us, and God’s Word and promises in us, can absolutely defeat the enemy –whether it be human or of the invisible realm. But what main thing enables us to put all our weapons to use? It’s our faith. For it’s our faith that extinguishes “all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16), and which overcomes the world (1 John 5:4) –both worlds. (Eph. 6:12 & 1 John 4:3,4 & 2 Cor. 10:4,5) “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6), for without faith it is impossible to choose the way of strength, righteousness, truth, and life. Because faith is about behavior –actions, thoughts, and words. (James 1:8,22,23,26 & 2:17-24)
Why does so much depend on our faith? Why is the moving of mountains contingent upon our faith? Why are we (and others) healed and delivered and saved based upon our faith? Why are circumstances and hearts changed “according to His power that is at work within us”? (Eph. 3:20) –That power which is enacted by our faith? Why does God act on behalf of those who seek Him, petition Him, hope in Him, and wait for His intervention? –Why?
Answer: Because the Sovereign God has decreed that His sovereignty work together with our faith –the choices we make based upon that faith (–or lack thereof.)
It’s really a very simple answer. An answer even a child can understand.
October 30, 2010
Often while I’m evangelizing, as I was at the flea market entrances this afternoon, I get from some people a certain strange reaction. It’s this: “Oh, no thanks, I already know Jesus.” Or, “I’m already a believer.” Or, “I read my Bible.” Or, “No thanks. I’m a Christian.” These statements are all saying basically the same thing –something like: “I’m okay with God and I have no spiritual need.”
Well, I find the reaction sad, and really just strange. For one thing, because if I encountered someone who was handing me something and saying simply, “Scripture,” or “I’m encouraging Bible reading,” I’d get totally excited, take their tract, and say, “Thank you! And this is wonderful that you’re spreading the Gospel.” Then I’d find out what their core doctrine is, and either encourage them or give them some Truth myself.
Now, it’s true that I do get many wonderful, uplifting, and positive reactions, but aside from them and from those who say, “No thanks,” (or those who pretend they are blind and deaf), I find the statements of indifferent “Christians” to be the most bizarre. For I can’t understand how a true Christian –someone in whom dwells the Spirit of God– would not want to take a morsel of God’s Word wherever and whenever they could! To not want to do so, seems to me, to be a sign of self-righteousness pride, as well as apathy toward the Word of God, and unbelief that every bit of it is full of “wonderful words of life” necessary for my hourly spiritual strength.
The tracts I hand out are geared toward those who say they’re believers in God and Christ. Why? Because I believe there is little need in America to re-explain over and over again the core Gospel –that Jesus died on a cross to redeem mankind. Almost everyone has heard that message. And here in the Bible-belt most everyone has heard it many times –either from friends or family, on the radio or T.V., or in church. The messages that need to be given now are those such as having unwavering faith, holiness, commitment, endurance, love, kindness, service, boldness, separation, and perfect obedience.
If we don’t get out and spread the true and whole Gospel –the message that it is a walk in the Holy Spirit and a following after Jesus– then we are allowing multitudes of deceived people to lull their lives away toward eternal destruction. Because the real Message is this:
The road we walk, if we are truly following Jesus, is narrow, it is hard, it is lonely, and it is definitely radical. It is not wimpy, cowardly, worldly, prideful, or selfish. The person on this road does exactly what God tells him to do. For only the one who does God’s will inherits eternal life. (1 John 2:17) The claim of belonging to Christ means absolutely nothing –if not backed up by obedience. This is why, unfortunately, sooooooooooo many people are in for a very rude awakening. For they will stand before the Judge and wonder why they did not take heed to God’s Word. –Like where Jesus says in Matt. 7:21,22, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father. Many will say to Me on that day…” and they will list all their righteous acts –even miracles– which they did IN HIS NAME! But……… Jesus says He “will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you workers of iniquity!” (v. 23)
That’s the message. And it is certainly not being preached much. If some are preaching it, most are not eagerly receiving it in order to obey it and learn more. Some may go to church and listen there, but it’s out of duty and to get their consciences vaccinated. Besides, the regulations and teachings they adhere to, the “appearance of wisdom” that they tout “with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body,” are worthless “in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col. 2:22,23) For afterwards, they go right out and “indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (Eph. 4:19b) Such people live as the unbelievers “do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (v. 17,18) Indeed, their hearts are insensitive! (v. 19a)
However, to be “separated from the life of God” cannot be called “following Jesus” or “belonging to God” –no matter what is being claimed.
October 29, 2010
My mom went witnessing with me downtown today and we were so very grateful for the perfect weather the Lord granted. She used to go often with me, but now tires more quickly. However, she’d made 300+ small gift bags –Scripture verses and messages included inside– and was finally able to get down there today, pass them out, and talk with people about the Lord. We continuously thank the Lord for the privilege of spreading His Gospel!
The wonderful thing about walking in the Spirit is that He gives us opportunities almost continuously. –Opportunities to shine, to love, to serve, to laugh, to enjoy, to help, to edify, to exhort, to comfort… others, –and also to be encouraged in return. It’s a lovely thing to see people’s faces light up as they wave us to come over, and then say, “Remember me? You gave me a Valentine gift bag three years ago, and I still have the trinkets and the verse on my dresser.” What’s more, is they go on to inform us of how that inspired them to start reading God’s Word, seeking Him, and finding a way they too can minister to others.
This is told to me a lot! For example, one friend reminds me often of how his spirit began to be lifted out of the depression he was in –enough to decide to get out and talk about the Lord with others who might be depressed. It helped him so much that he continued to do it, to study so as to be prepared, and now, four years later, I’d say he’s a full-blown street evangelist. And get this: Just the other day he told me he’d just finished a great book about how we are free from sin’s mastery! I laughed and hugged him, because he knows that’s the one point where we’ve not seen eye-to-eye. (He’s been of the once-saved, always-saved camp, and such people usually can’t understand that we do not have to sin every day.)
Well, anyway, back to the opportunities… In the town near us, I visit at the nursing home… So the other day I was about to walk in and was saying hi to some of my friends sitting out front. When one guy asked what I was up to, I said, “Not much. What have you been up to?” He said with a slow drawl, “Well, I’m about to preach.” I laughed and clapped my hands and said, “That’s great! Go for it!” Of course I know this friend doesn’t preach and actually has never even seemed to want to talk much with me about the Lord; and plus he’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. So when he said this, I grabbed my opportunity. I said we could all do some preaching, they thought that was a great idea, but then since no one could think of anything to begin with, I said, “Would you like to hear a wonderful verse from the Bible?” They all (there were about nine out there) said they would. So I quoted John 14:27 about the peace Jesus gives.
“Oh, that was so, so lovely,” many of them said. So I asked if they’d like to hear another. They all said yes. So I quoted Matt. 11:28,29 about the rest Jesus gives. Well, I “preached” to the small congregation for about ten minutes and then asked what song they’d like to sing together. No one chose one, so I asked if they’d sing “Amazing Grace” with me. So we all did. Then I prayed. See? It was beautiful. It was the leading of the Spirit –in their hearts and mine. What a glorious walk it is to be led into Spirit-prepared opportunities. Indeed, what an unpredictable yet exciting life it is… –and all because of the awesome Spirit of God who resides in each of us who are born anew of God. It’s a great walk, a great life! It’s not one bit boring or dull, never a drag and never a bondage. Even driving in traffic need not be!
In fact, when I had to leave my parent’s house today after I’d dropped my mom off, I thought, “Oh groan, rush hour… Then suddenly I had the thought, “But it’s more alone time with the Lord!” And I was flooded with joy –immense joy! See? It’s an exceedingly great walk, an exceedingly great life! And why? –All because there’s a Presence! The presence of the God of the universe… –His Spirit who is in me. What a privilege!
Oh, that everyone would know this amazing God –who lovingly grants us this great privilege! ! !
October 28, 2010
Jesus died on the cross to pay sin’s penalty. Why then would anyone continue to crucify Jesus by deliberately sinning?! (Heb. 6:6) We best not, for if we do, His sacrifice will no longer cover us, and we will face Hell. (10:26-31) No, we are to be grateful for the salvation, bow at this risen King’s feet in repentance and loving service, and cling to Him as our Treasure.
When we do this, we’ve entered a Door, we’ve thankfully accepted a ticket, and we’ve committed to following the Leader in complete obedience. Yes, this is called “salvation”; but is our salvation total? No. Every day we must submit anew. Every day we must continue to abide, to follow, to listen for instructions, to commune, to serve, and to learn. Then one day, for those who continue, who overcome, who endure to the end, and who are found faithful, a tree of life will be awarded. But to those who do not, to those who are found worthless, foolish, unready, and unfaithful, a place among the hypocrites will be assigned them. (Matt. 24:51 & 25:8,30)
Therefore, is the ticket in the Door the same as the graduation diploma? It’s not. Anyone can understand that when we excitedly get accepted into the university of our choice, we still realize we’ve got a long way to go before we get what we’re really after. Is the promise of the diploma ours? Yes. Are the rewards of having achieved the diploma expected? Yes. If we continue to study, to learn, to pass tests, to abide by the laws of the school, then we can be assured that we will definitely get what we’ve been promised. We do not have to worry that someone will refuse us our diploma. But it’s contingent upon that word “if” –“If we continue…”
I think of a friend I saw downtown the other day while evangelizing. I hadn’t seen him in over a year and he looked terrible. His hair was long and greasy, more teeth had fallen out, he was skinnier than ever, and he said he is in constant pain. But his blue eyes, beneath the lightening bolt tattoos on his eyebrows that he’s had there since I met him years ago, looked soft and hopeful. His eyes have always looked like that to me. And I think it’s because the Light (Jesus) is working there within him in spite of the consequences he’s been reaping for past sin.
I asked this friend how he’s been. He said he was very thankful to have gotten a prescription for the substitute drug that those who used to be on heroin are offered. He also was very thankful that he’d finally gotten an ID card and said that he’s praying that the local college will accept him so that he can get his GED and get a job. I was amazed at his sweet and grateful spirit, especially when I asked him if he’s been on the streets this whole time and he said, “Yes, but the Lord always provides for me everything I truly need. I always have food.”
At this point, I felt like crying. I shook my head, hugged him, held his hand, and prayed for him. I looked into those eyes and I reminded him that if we can just get through this life faithful to Christ, we have a whole eternity of peace and joy, no more sorrow or pain. His parting words were said with a wistful smile: “Yea, no more pain in this body.” Hmmm…. I love this friend… and prayed for him fervently for many days after –and continue to pray. (Maybe some of my readers will too?)
Well, I tell this experience because it relates to what I’m saying about tickets, diplomas, and enduring to the end. My friend has an ID now. That’s a ticket toward the goal. He has a way to maybe be accepted now at the college. But if they do accept him, does he, the same day, receive a diploma? Of course not. Is he guaranteed a diploma? Yes and no. It’s guaranteed if he does, and continues to do –until the end– what is expected in order to receive one. Otherwise, no. If he goofs off, doesn’t attend class, doesn’t do the work, doesn’t past the exams… then no. Do students get mercy when they sometimes fail? Yes, but not when they deliberately neglect what’s necessary for passing. See the difference?
So is our salvation guaranteed when we enter The Door? Yes and no. –Same as with the college student and his goal, the diploma.
October 27, 2010
As I often do, I went for a jog in our back pasture last evening at dusk, quoting verses, singing to the Lord, and interceding for many, especially for their deliverance from the enemy’s camp. I eventually slowed to a walk and then stopped in the middle of the field, looking toward the house with the very faint rays of light still to be seen over the tops of the oaks. Since we live in a very secluded place, no one can see or hear me, so as I also often do, I raised my hands to the Lord and gazed up at the dark blue expanse. “Lord, You are so great,” I said. “I sure wish that everybody could know you.” And in wondering what else I could do to get people to come out of the dark realm and into the Light, I asked the Lord, “What is the most powerful force in the universe?”
I thought, “Is it love? Some say, ‘Love conquers all.'” Does it? No. I know by experience that it doesn’t, and I thought of the many parents and spouses who could say the same. I thought about how I’ve tried so hard, even with God’s love in me, to love people to Him. But then I thought of the fact that even the Lord (because of the gift of choice He’s given) can’t make people choose to be saved by His love. He does love. He loves perfectly. He is Love. So… love must not be the greatest force.
Well, the answer did come to me almost immediately (from a Scripture verse), but I continued to check the answer. I thought of gravity. No, nothing physical. I thought of Truth and the Gospel –the proclamation of these, including my own efforts at it. My evangelism, intercession, tears… I’ve prayed, I’ve praised, I’ve fasted, I’ve battled… I’ve often worn myself out… And I thought of the many saints who have done similar and even more. –Who have gone to remote places of the world… translated the Scriptures, planted churches, taught people to read in their own language… endured sufferings, discouragements, illness, death… so little fruit sometimes… until years later… And yes, I remembered that there are many pastors who have served for years and years in their communities, toiling in the service of the King to bring their flock to spiritual maturity.
So how do we bring “salvation to the earth”? (Isa. 26:18) How do we bring deliverance to the captives? How do we pull people out of the clutches of sin and evil’s territory? How can they escape? How does it come about?
Some would answer, “By the Spirit.” This is true. As Zech. 4:6 says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” This could mean, “Not by man’s might or power”, but it could also mean not by God’s direct might and power either. In other words, not by Him raising up in strength like an army. He can and does do that, just as He can rain down brimstone upon Sodom, but He, I believe, is saying here, that He chooses to use His Spirit who draws and works unlike any other power. Of course, we know that it is by the infilling of the Spirit that we receive power. (Acts 1:8) But it’s a spiritual power, having spiritual weapons, and it is not at all like the world’s weapons and power. (2 Cor. 10:4)
What is this purpose of the power from the Spirit? It is to accomplish His purposes on earth. It is that we may do His will and become increasingly conformed to the image of Christ. This is not just for our own sakes or God’s, for if it was, He could just bring us to Heaven as soon as we were reborn. The Spirit’s power is given so that we may further Christ’s Gospel / be His witnesses, and bring salvation to others. (Acts 1:8) And how do we witness? We open our mouths; and just as “the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David…” (v. 16), He does the same for the rest of us who are obedient to open our mouths for Him. It’s a covenant for all who are filled with His Spirit. As Isa. 59:21 says, “‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the LORD. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children [spiritual children who are also born anew of the Spirit], or from the mouths of their descendants [those they too help bring to new birth] from this time on and forever,’ says the LORD.”
Mark 13:11 tells us that whenever we need to speak up we are not to worry “about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” And Matt. 10:20 says, “for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (And the Spirit of the Father is the Spirit of God who is also the Spirit of Christ. –See Rom. 8:9)
So, yes, it’s by the Spirit that we bring the message of salvation to the earth –in power that is effectual, power that transforms lives. But even the Spirit is subject to a greater force. So what is the answer? What is that “greatest force” in the universe? –Aside from God Himself who consists of all that is great and mighty?
I believe the answer is found in one simple verse: Ps. 138:2. It says, “You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.” For if we are filled with the Spirit, we must speak out His word, and write, witness, sing, command, go, and do –all under the authority of the Name. This Name is the name of Jesus, as we know from Phil. 2:9-11 and Acts 4:12. So the Spirit’s power is enacted by the name / the authority of Jesus. But how can His name’s authority be used if it is not spoken out? (Note: if a person is not under the authority of Christ, using His name is not legitimate, and will not work.) But to speak out by the Spirit, in the authority of the name of Jesus… –that is the word –the Word of God.
The Spirit only acts and speaks by the command of God (who is Jesus, the Word of God –John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13); therefore the Spirit submits to the Word of God –that is, to Scripture, to Jesus, and to God’s command. So when Jesus sends us “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…” (Acts 26:18) we will be “filled with the Holy Spirit and speak the word of God boldly.” (See Acts 4:31) As 1 Thes. 1:5 says, “Our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” And the power of the words by the Spirit is done only by the authority of the Name –He who the name represents. –Jesus.
This is how we bring salvation to the earth, deliverance to the captives, transformation from darkness to light. It’s by the greatest force in the universe: The Word of God / Name above all Names / JESUS. But again, He has to be spoken out… proclaimed… the message given… mouths opened… the Spirit’s words coming forth. In other words, it is done through the Spirit in us, but it must first be activated by the command of the Lord (God’s word/ His orders) to the Spirit in us and then delivered in the authority of His name –the name of Jesus.
However, if we keep our mouths closed, the power of this greatest force will not be enacted. Therefore, we see that it is our responsibility to respond to the Spirit in us who is responding to God’s command, and we are to obey the command using the name of Jesus.
October 26, 2010
There are hoards of brainwashed people walking about. They’re everywhere. –In the stores, on the freeways, in our churches, homes, neighborhoods, and places of work, and behind the pulpits and other places of authority. And what have they been brainwashed with? They’ve been brainwashed with ideologies of the world. Who’s done it to them? The world. Specifically? Others who have power and influence over them who have already bought into the world system — it’s values, beliefs, and ways.
The lowest of these who brainwash others is of course those who have gathered others under their influence through deceptive means, namely, promising care, protection, benefits, and friendship while actually using the victim to their own advantage. This could be a husband, employer, or government, as well as T.V. stations or musicians. But the worst is when it’s a religious leader. For this man incorporates an additional rod of authority by saying, “Thus saith the Lord!” And since so many people do not seek out the Lord for themselves, they rely on what the religious man tells them. Thus the corruption, the twisting of truth, the brainwashing, and the bondage.
God, in His Word, continually calls us “to proclaim freedom for the captives.” (Isa. 61:1 & see also 49:9 & 52:2 & Gal. 5:1) But we cannot do this if we are aligning ourselves with the captors –the world and its ideologies. Yet even most who call themselves “Christians” think nothing of this alignment. They either do not see what they are doing or they don’t think it’s hurting them. Or some, if they can see they are being held to the system, still do not fear the danger, and carelessly think they can remove themselves later –after they’ve enjoyed the benefits. Not so. The longer one remains under brainwashing, the less likely it will be that they can ever come out. Besides this, they’ll no longer see any need or reason. Or even if, by chance, they do see their need, they will be so confused, that they’ll run to a counterfeit for help.
Let’s remember that God’s Word warns us to “come out and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17) and not be aligned with those of the darkness, unrighteousness, or worldliness. (v. 14-16) For worldliness is idolatry, God’s wrath is coming on such participants, and we are commanded not to be partners with them in any way. (Eph. 5:5-7 & Col. 3:5,6) Indeed, God warns, “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4)
Let’s remember, too, that God’s Word warns that those who refuse truth have essentially chosen to be brainwashed. 2 Thes. 2:9-12, for example: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
Let’s take note that these people were deceived because they refused to love the truth; thus God sent them a delusion so they’d believe the lie even further. God does often give us what we want. If we want to be deluded, brainwashed, and mesmerized by a lie… if we want freedom from God’s control… if we want to cater to lawlessness, sin, evil, and the dazzle of counterfeit wonders… then this is what we’ll get. But it will reap not only earthly confusion and emptiness, it will reap the same for eternity… –condemned by the Holy and Mighty God of Truth.
Even everyday experiences teach us that those who refuse to love truth do reap terrible consequences for it. We may say to someone, “If you are sexually promiscuous, you may reap an unwanted pregnancy, emotional heartache, or a disease.” Yet how many choose to ignore these truths and soon enough reap extreme sorrow and pain? Can we not look around us and learn wisdom from what we see happening to others, call out to the God who saves, and love truth more than our daily bread?
No… Most do not… and do not take heed. They love the world too much. They love the friendships, the acclaim, the prestige. The grip on their heart is firm, and only supernatural intervention can loosen it. Of course, if they called out to Jesus, He’d be there to save. But instead, they call out to the very ones who brainwash them. “Oh, I’m so weary,” they say. “I’ll plop down here and watch T.V.” Or, “I feel so alone. I’ll have to go to the nightclub with the group.”
Some don’t go to the T.V. or the nightclub, but they go to the pastors. But the pastors too love the world system. For most of “Christianity” is just another worldly system with a tag slapped on labeled “Truth”. But truth mixed with error is not truth. For to hold to religious teachings and rules of worship taught by men, is to let go of the commands of God, and the effort is thus worthless. (Mark 7:7,8 & Isa. 29:13) How many times must we be warned, “No servant can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and mammon [the world system].” –? (Luke 16:13) And, “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?” (James 4:4)
But, surprisingly, many continue to believe that they can hob-nob with the worldly system (“Christian” and non-Christian), and still be in Christ, in the Truth, and be loving Jesus, the Father, and the Truth. Absolutely, they cannot. Such people are merely deceiving themselves and others, brainwashing themselves and others –and all because of their pride, their sense of entitlement, and their love of sin.
God’s Word, not the world or those in places of power or fame, is where Truth is found. And it says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. [Why? Because…] If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) And what does the next verse tell us is of the world? –Cravings, lusts, and boastings. (v. 16) All three are of the world. They are not of the Father / they are not of God; and the one full of these will not inherit eternal life. For as verse 17 says, only the one “who does the will of God lives forever.”
If someone does not accept what God’s Word says here, then they’ve been duped by the counterfeit religion whose god is the world system, brainwashed by its ideologies and doctrines. And the only hope for a brainwashed person is the supernatural intervention of God, and His use of us as we continually intercede, and continually present Truth — over and over… –and over and over again.
October 25, 2010
Some say, “God is a God of love. He’s not going to send anyone to Hell. Well… maybe the exceptionally bad people… but even they will have a second chance there.” We do wonder where they get this teaching. Is it what they and their partners in sin have concluded? Or is it the belief they’ve accepted from their pastors, Bible teachers, or seminary professors?
They should read God’s Word. Read it for themselves. Because there are a lot of warnings in there about fearing God. Yes, fearing God. And it gives the reasons. Reasons such as judgement, being condemned, raging fire, weeping, gnashing of teeth, outer darkness, a fiery furnace…
Unfortunately, these individuals often continue in their argument by announcing that there are flaws in the Bible, and that the Scriptures cannot be totally trusted because it has been tampered with. They pretend this is fact, and they insist that they know it is fact.
Well, getting truthful with oneself and doing some research would help these people. They should find out when the manuscripts were written, how well they’ve been preserved, how probable it would be for even a handful of the Old Testament prophesies to have been fulfilled, and how well God’s Word lines up with history, as well as archeological findings.
But another reason that shouts warnings at us about fearing God is the evil in the world. All this evil… Certainly, if it were true that God is so loving that He doesn’t condemn anyone to Hell, then why does He allow any pain and torture to exist?
Last night we went to hear Gracia Burnham speak about the experience she and and her husband, Martin, endured while being kept hostage by a Muslim terrorist group for over a year. This happened in the southern Philippines, and since I’d grown up there, and since I’d been a high-school classmate of Martin’s brother, their captivity was traumatic to me. Traumatic especially because I’d prayed and prayed, and knew many others were praying, yet God’s deliverance was delayed time and again. It shook my faith greatly. Finally, the end of the ordeal came… a last gun battle where Martin was killed, Gracia –shot in the leg– rescued.
But one thing that really cut into me last night as we listened to Gracia’s inspiring testimony, was about how one of the teenage terrorists –one who had continuously and cruelly pestered Gracia– had gotten sick, and though she had often harbored hatred for him, she’d leaned to forgive and love him with Christ’s help. She said that this kid got increasingly sick, and one day she saw that he had messed his pants and was too sick to do anything about it. So she offered to wash his clothes in the river –and did. As his illness continued, he finally went insane. She said that the last time she saw him he was stretched out and tied between two trees, a sock in his mouth so he couldn’t scream.
I tell this story so we can envision it. Is that evil? Yes. That’s Evil at work. At work in the heart of one who walked in pride, sin, and cruelty, and who later bore the brunt of that evil turning on him. Indeed, Evil –the evil one and all his legions– do this constantly. They tantalize with promises of power… privilege… pleasure… prosperity… fame… But what comes in the end to such a foolish, wicked indulger? In the end, he reaps the exact opposite of what Evil promised him. He reaps chains, insanity, and terror.
Friends, Evil wants this type of eternity for all humankind. And such despair is where everyone is headed. Unless… unless…! we call out to the Savior! He reaches toward us all with hands outstretched –nail-pierced hands– and says, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
There is salvation from the Evil! But without calling out to Christ for help, without believing and repenting, there will be no escape. God does absolutely abhor sin. He hates the cruelty, the perversion, the filth, the corruption, the murders, the vileness of hearts… and His wrath is coming on all of this. If a person has not called out to be saved from this wrath and condemnation, then he too will be swept up and thrown into the eternal fire. For everyone that does not get cleansed, remains filthy and evil in the sight of a Holy, Just, Perfect God; and He has to condemn all that insist on remaining so.
Well, if someone chooses not to fear God, chooses not to be cleansed and reconciled to Him, then they are just utterly foolish. For all across our earth, Truth shines its steady beacon, and Evil too, blares its obvious existence.
Which one we choose to run to, is the one we’re going to reap upon ourselves. Forever.