February 29, 2012
After the friend wrote the insightful Galatians summary which I posted a few days ago, I then wrote her this: “Comparing what Galatians says with my post for today (2/23/12) [–called “Christ’s Body Parts Are All Brothers”], how might this change the way you live out “religion”? In other words, based on these Truths, what actions, including beliefs, attitudes, motives, thoughts, meditations, words, etc., might you eliminate, and what might you incorporate, into your life?”
Late last night I received her reply, and I then responded with this: “[Your email] is so excellent and touching that I got tears in my eyes. You write very well, describing feelings and Truth clearly. I’m wondering if I can post this…? I believe you have hit the nail on the head by describing not only what you’ve endured through false christianity, but what masses of others are also enduring, but haven’t yet seen the way out. The harlot church is not just the Catholic religion or other religions of legalism and ritual, but the evangelical church itself! I’ll be writing more posts about this soon. It’s the system of men, not Christ. Christ is a Body, as you say, and we are all equal and have our gifts to help His Body function in strength and vitality and joy and love and purity and self-control.”
I did receive her permission to post her exceptionally perceptive words. Ending with the verse she is memorizing (1 Tim. 4:7), here is (with paragraph breaks and italics mine) what she wrote:
I now understand that “religion” is all that I have ever had in my life up to this point. I have been playing church for many years…and not very well I might add. I claimed to love God, but did not live as a daughter of the Most High God would live. I did not really have the desire to fellowship with “true brothers and sisters in Christ” because I did not have the same thoughts, goals, and desires as they did.
I used to go through life content in attending a church service once every month or two. I always said my prayers before eating and most nights before falling off to sleep. Devotions? No. I did not need to read my Bible…that was the job description for my pastor. He is the teacher that needs to know God’s Word. I just need to believe John 3:16 and I am good to go. I just need to believe the Nicene Creed and I will be saved by Jesus and will go to Heaven when I die.
I must also keep the Ten Commandments because they are God’s Law. The Ten Commandments remind me of what a failure I am. How sinful I am. How can God truly love me? Do I even know what love is? It is too scary to trust another with my worries and troubles. I will rely on my own understanding to get me through life’s hard spots. If you want something done right in life…you must do it yourself. It is all about I, Me, My.
Oh…and do you know where this kind of “faith” gets you? A family that is lost, hurt, fractured – broken into a million pieces…a body and mind reeling from the devastation of deep depression and anxiety…living lost in fear…riding the waves of the ocean alone…yet traveling down the broad path of destruction amongst the multitudes…alive in the flesh and dead in the spirit.
Jesus says that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. You are born again through a gift of God when you trust in and obey His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the only way to be a son or daughter of God. We are made righteous through Jesus Christ…and only through Christ alone. Believers are no longer under the Law (Ten Commandments). Jesus Christ fulfilled the law through His death and resurrection. We are now under the Law of the Spirit.
Jesus said all the commandments are encompassed in two: Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul — and Love your neighbor as yourself. I am finally beginning to find out and understand the true Gospel of Christ Jesus. God does not want “religion”. God does not want a dedicated church-goer. He wants a daily personal relationship with His sons and daughters.
I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I am a part of the true “church”…the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Comforter (and much more). To come to know God intimately I must study the Word of God to learn who He truly is. By studying the Word I will grow in understanding and will be able to discern the Truth from lies. It is my responsibility as a daughter of the Most High to know His Word…and not to rely on another to tell me what it is.
I now have a sincere longing to fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to help one another through life….help with each others’ cares, burdens, and joys. We are to sharpen one another and keep each other on the narrow path. If one falls we are to help them back to Christ. I have a responsibility that is assigned to me as part of the Body of Christ. I must daily cultivate my relationship with the Lord to learn to hear His voice to receive direction from Him. I am a baby now, but am working to steadily grow in my faith in Christ. I am falling a lot right now, but I will fall less and less. I will not quit.
I believe that I must not live as non-believers do, but I must learn to live among them to reach them for the glory of Christ. I must sow seeds of love among them so the Holy Spirit can do His work among the lost. I will pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness…and will “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”
February 28, 2012
We who are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) know the Lord’s voice (10:4) because we have trained ourselves to distinguish it from other voices. (v. 5) We’ve done this by taking the time to listen to His voice (v. 27) and follow (obey) what He says. (same verse) He who belongs to God does hear what God says (8:47) and once we are fully trained, we will be like our Teacher. (Luke 6:40) If we do not become conformed to His likeness (Rom. 8:29), we prove we’ve not listened to Him nor followed Him.
Heb. 1:1,2 tell us that in the past God spoke through prophets, but now He has spoken to us through His Son, Christ Jesus. He does this through His Word, for His Son is the Word of God. (John 1:1,14 // Rev. 19:13,16) Is there not reason then, that so many who claim to love and follow Christ while neglecting the reading of His Word, cannot hear His voice?
Jesus tells us in John 6:63 that His words “are spirit / Spirit and they are life.” He is telling us that He speaks to us through His words (those recorded in Scripture, as well as all of Scripture because He is God –1 Peter 1:23 // 2 Peter 1:19-21) as well as through His Spirit –Spirit to our spirit– and that by His words we live. (See also Matt. 4:4 // John 6:32-58) For as Jesus says, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25,26)
Now, since God has chosen to speak to us through His Son, the Word of God, and has chosen to have the Spirit be the One to remind us of His words, then how can we be reminded if we haven’t made ourselves familiar with the Word of God?! How presumptuous to think we can know and walk in the Truth, be led by the Spirit into all Truth (John 16:13), and teach others the Truth, if we are not immersing ourselves in the Truth, God’s Word! (17:17) No wonder we have so many blind leaders! (Matt. 15:14) No wonder so many who follow them fall with them into a pit (same verse) and are not saved! (1 Tim. 4:16 // Jude 1:10-13)
But, for those of us who meditate on God’s Word day and night (Josh. 1:8), feeding on Christ, our sustenance, God will speak to us –leading us and comforting us– by His Spirit in the Word. If we have Both within us, then our conscience, our spirit, our heart… that feeling in our gut… those situations –even predicaments, sufferings, or insults which He allows or brings our way… will be catalysts to motivate us to draw closer to His voice. And He will answer by reminding us of His words in His Word as it relates to what He’s trying to teach us through the experience.
However, if we don’t have “the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly” (see Col. 3:16), we will not understand. (1 Cor. 2:12-14) For having the mind of Christ (v. 16) comes by soaking our mind (thus heart and spirit) in the Word of God who is Christ Jesus our Lord.
February 27, 2012
Faith is being sure and certain of what is not visible (Heb. 11:1) and being so confident of it being true and existent, that we bank our whole life and soul on it in complete trust. In other words, faith acts. If a person says he has faith, but does not act in accordance with that faith, then he merely lies.
We can read all through the famous Hebrews 11 faith chapter how it commends those who had faith (v. 39) by commending what they did in order to prove that faith they had. “By faith Abel offered God…” (v. 4) “By faith Enoch… pleased God.” (v. 5) “By faith Noah… built an ark…” (v. 7) “By faith Abraham… obeyed and went…” (v. 8 ) “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” (v. 17) By faith the Israelites marched around Jericho [at God’s command] and the walls fell. (v. 30) “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” (v. 31) Here, the word “disobedient” can be translated “unbelieving” (as “disobeyed” in 3:18 can be translated “disbelieved”), revealing that God equates the two adjectives as describing one type of person –a rebel under His wrath. (3:7-4:11 & 11:6)
Faith is not merely an acknowledgment with the intellect or a confession of belief. It is that plus whole-hearted trust. This trust relies on, while obeying the instructions of, the one to whom we’ve entrusted our earthly life and eternal soul. It’s not saying to the doctor, “Yes, I believe your medicine will heal me if I take it as you prescribe and quit that which is causing my ailment”, but it’s more than that: It’s following up on that belief and statement accordingly. It’s not saying to the pilot, “Yes, I believe you can fly this jet and get your passengers safely to their destination”, but to actually be one of his passengers. It’s not saying, “Yes, I believe you can wheel people, even me, across Niagara Falls in this wheel-barrow on this tight-rope”, but saying, “Yes, I’ll get in the wheel-barrow and let you take me across.” That’s trust. That’s true faith. And having true faith in Christ and His words is the only faith that will save us.
Any other kind of “faith” is dead as a corpse and useless in attaining salvation. For “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) Again: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (v. 17)
Therefore, the person with true faith will obey God, will please God, and will continue to do what God says. For it is a compulsion and a reality for the one who truly believes the Gospel.
February 26, 2012
I suggested to a friend who is trying to understand God, His Word, His ways, His voice, His leading, and His instructions, that she begin to read and reread Scripture’s books several times within a day (or within a few days) in order to saturate her spirit (mind and heart) with Truth. This practice is the best antidote for fear, doubt, guilt, anger, depression, and all other fiery darts that the devil repeatedly attacks us with. For when we soak ourselves in Truth, then the evil one’s ammunition, its strength being deception, glances off our Shield –He who is our Savior and the Word. (John 1:1,14 // Rev. 19:13,16) For as Prov. 30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Truly, His every word is spirit and life to those who feed on Him. (John 6:32-63)
Being that understanding the Gospel and what it means to obediently follow Christ rests upon a correct view of law versus grace, I suggested last week that this friend begin her new method of study with the book of Galatians. I also asked her to write and send me a summary of it, for by determining to do this, our motivation to comprehend what we’re reading is greatly increased. She did such an excellent job that I asked her to permit me to post it. So here is her summary (paragraph breaks mine for easier reading) :
Paul made a guarantee to the Galatians that he was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ by a revelation from Christ Himself not by any man. That he had shared the true Gospel with them the first time he was with them. Paul explained to them that they could either believe the true Gospel that they originally accepted…the one in which they received the Holy Spirit by believing…or they could accept a false gospel and fall out of the Grace of God.
He stressed to them that they did not have to be circumcised, or follow any other Jewish law, to be justified. They were indeed justified to God ONLY by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. They had to choose…either faith or observance of the Jewish law that could not be followed perfectly. Paul explained that true believers are justified to God by faith in Jesus Christ and that the law was only used to show man his desperate need for a Savior. He explained to them if they were to choose to get circumcised and fall back to the law they would be obligated to obey the whole law and would fall from grace and be estranged from Christ Jesus.
Paul said that the entire law is summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He advised the Galatians to live by the Spirit so their flesh (sinful nature) would not be gratified. That those who belong to Christ have crucified their sinful nature. Brothers and sisters in Christ are to help keep each other on the narrow road…to help carry one another’s burdens. He also warned that God would not be mocked, that every man will reap what he sows. If they live by their sinful nature they will reap destruction and if they live by the Spirit they will reap eternal life. Paul expressed that circumcision was not necessary…what was necessary was that each person was a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I encourage us all to incorporate similar methods of studying God’s Word into our daily schedule, not only that we may hear the Lord speak to us through it that day, but also that we may have it hidden deep within our hearts so that God may, at a moment’s notice, remind us of His Word should temptation or deception run our way.
February 25, 2012
Sitting with my mom at her dining room table this morning, we watched as four Jehovah’s Witnesses got out of their vehicle and started canvasing the block. We discussed our sadness at being reminded of how many people’s false religions cause them to push wearily along a road that will not bring them to the destination they think they are headed toward. We prayed for them and those they’d be talking to, and when one couple came to our door, I felt a love for them as I declined receiving their literature, but quoted to them part of Col. 1:15,16 and then 2:9. They just immediately said thank you and left.
My mom and I then began discussing how deceived so many people are, including those in evangelical churches, and how so few seem to understand the true Gospel as it relates to our faith and our works. I mentioned how grievous it is that often the pendulum swings the other way, with churches teaching that it’s “faith alone” that saves. I said, “That too is a false gospel, for James 2:24 says that we know ‘that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.'” Then I quoted it again, adding that verse 22 informs us that faith is made complete by what we do.
My mom stared at me and said, “Everyone keeps saying, ‘Faith alone.'” I said, “I know. But verse 17 says that faith without deeds (works, actions) is dead and useless.”
“Martin Luther wanted to throw out the book of James,” my mom remarked.
“I know,” I replied and went on to explain what is involved when we cross over from the dark kingdom to the Kingdom of Light: That we must die to the old self, submit to being cleansed as we enter Christ’s Kingdom, and submit to being ruled by Him. And that to neglect to obey simply does not happen if the person has truly received the new self by being born anew. I also discussed how in Luke 13:23-27 Jesus informs us that many will try to enter the narrow gate, but won’t be able to, and that this is because as Acts 14:22 says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (My mom is a wonderful Christian, but I’m also her favorite preacher… smile… )
Well, so, all day I’d been formulating a post in my head about this subject, but when I got home this evening, I received a post alert from israeliteindeed. And, as so often happens, we were both, on the same day though many states apart, being impressed by the Spirit concerning almost the exact same subject! And what an excellent message I read there! What a perfectly clear explanation! What a sobering warning! Here it is:
I very, very strongly suggest that everyone read the entire message, as it could be a matter of coming to see The Truth versus remaining deceived in The False. Therefore please click here:
February 24, 2012
When a person promotes a counterfeit gospel or a counterfeit jesus or a counterfeit spirit or a counterfeit god, that person, no matter how cleverly he makes the false appear to be the Truth, will himself fall into even deeper deceptions. By his arrogance in thinking himself an authority in theology, by his rebellion in not continually seeking Truth in God’s Word while submitted to the Holy Spirit, by his refusal to completely discard the sinful nature, and by his desire to please men over God, he himself grows ever more blind and undiscerning. This, I believe, is what has been going on with John Piper, one of Calvinism’s modern proponents and preachers.
For those who discern, Rick Warren has been for a while now, viewed as a false teacher. Then why did Piper invite him to speak at his 2010 conference? Would a preacher who repeatedly emphasizes and lauds God’s glory and sovereignty, and who therefore pretends to be in-dwelt by the Spirit of the Most High, not recognize Warren’s blatantly false doctrines promoted in his Purpose Driven books, in Celebrate Recovery which was birthed through his church 20 years ago, in his P.E.A.C.E. plan, and in his other speeches and interviews? Or does Piper recognize the falsehoods but not care because he knows Warren can be of benefit to him in some way?
Well, I came across an insightful comment that James Sundquist made on 2/15/12 at his site, viewable here:
Let’s take note of John Piper’s statement there. Talk about revealing one’s lack of discernment! Should there be any more reason to listen to Piper teach God’s Word?! I quit reading Piper’s books over ten years ago, calling others to do the same. Is there not enough evidence now that Piper does not walk in the Truth?
February 23, 2012
If God is truly our Heavenly Father, then this means we belong to Him and are His sons (and daughters), led and controlled by His Spirit, thus inheritors of eternal life. (Rom. 8:9,13,14) Being then, “sons of God” (v. 14), we are not only all brothers (Matt. 23:8), but we are all royal and holy priests (1 Peter 2:9 // Rev. 1:6) and none of us is to “exercise authority over” (Matt. 20:25) any other one. (v. 26) Nor are we to call anyone “Rabbi” or “father” or “teacher”, for we have only one Master, Father, and Teacher. (Matt. 23:8-10) Nor are we to have divisions among us in doctrine (1 Cor. 1:10-13) by claiming to follow one man over another (v. 12) so that “you will not take pride in one man over against another.” (v. 6) For men are only servants of Christ (3:5), whereas Christ is He whose one Body we make up (12:27), He being the Head. (Eph. 4:15)
If Christ is truly the Head of the Body (–His people), then who should we be receiving our primary instruction from? From Christ. This means from The Word –from His Spirit who teaches us from the Holy Scripture. (1 John 2:27 // John 15:3,4 & 10:27 & 6:63 // Ps. 119:102,105) If we are indeed receiving our instruction from Him, then we won’t be lead astray into false doctrine. (1 John 2:26,27 & 3:7-10) We will discern when lies and counterfeits are thrown our way, even from those who are supposed theological authorities. By choosing obedience to God’s will, we will know who is teaching Truth and who is teaching falsehoods (John 7:17), for the Spirit who guides us into all Truth (16:13) will enable us to make correct judgements. (7:24)
Then, mature and discerning (Heb. 5:14) and filled with the whole measure of Christ (Eph. 4:13), we will be unified in the faith (same verse), full of goodness and complete in knowledge (Rom. 15:14) so that we are “competent to instruct one another.” (same verse) This we do by exercising our different gifts and callings which the Spirit has given to each of us for the common good (1 Cor. 12:4-7) –the good of the Body (v. 27-31 // Eph. 4:11-16) as well as those yet to be saved. (Rom. 15:16 // 2 Cor. 5:18-20)
Now, being that we who are in Christ are all new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), sons of God (Rom. 8:14), and every one of us equipped with gifts and callings, then “there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Cor. 12:25) In fact, “the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor” (v. 23) for God combined the body members in this way so that everyone would be treated as one body. (v. 24,25)
However, concerning everyone who is not of Christ’s Body, there should be division, for they are not of the Truth. (2 Cor. 6:14-18) We are not to try to compromise our doctrine (the Truth) with theirs, for theirs is of Satan. (John 8:43,44,47 // 2 Cor. 11:4,13-15 // 1 Tim. 4:1,2) Whoever knows God will listen to us (1 John 4:6) for we are of the Spirit of Truth (same verse), and everyone on the side of Truth listens to Him. (John 18:37)
Therefore “man of God, flee from all this [false doctrine, sin, and foolishness –1 Tim. 6:3-10], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Tim. 6:11) And who is the “man of God”? We all are. Everyone who is a part of the Body of Christ.