Friends,
God’s Word, His Spirit, and His servants continue to warn the wicked:

Listen, pay attention, and stop being arrogant. (Jer. 13:15) Acknowledge the Lord and give Him glory before you stumble on the darkening hills. (v. 16) You’ve hoped for light, yet because you’ve continued to refuse correction, all you’ll have is thick darkness and deep gloom. (See v. 5:3 & 13:16)

The look on your face testifies against you. (Isa. 3:9) Like Sodom, you parade your sin (same verse); like well-fed, lusty stallions, you all neigh for other men’s wives. (Jer. 5:8) Therefore, I will pull your skirts up over your face and expose your shameless prostitution! (13:26,27) I will command My servants not to pray for you or plead for you any longer (11:14), for ‘The LORD Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you.’ (v. 17) Because you have continually followed other gods, I will bring on you a disaster you cannot escape. (v. 10,11) Your words and your deeds have been against Me, defying My glorious presence (Isa. 3:8), and you will stagger and fall (same verse) under the disaster you’ve brought upon yourself. (v. 9) Yes, you will be paid back for what your hands have done. (v. 11)

Your heart is uncircumcised, stubborn, and deceitful, and you refuse to acknowledge Me (Jer. 9:26,14,6) or repent of your haughty insolence. (48:29,30) Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die?! (Ezek. 33:11) But, if you do not listen and repent, My servants will weep in secret because of your pride. (Jer. 13:17) My eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears because of your captivity (same verse)… because of your destruction. (48:31-33) Turn to Me and be saved. (Isa. 45:22) For before Me every knee will indeed bow (v. 23) and they will say of Me, ‘In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.’ (v. 24) All will see that those who have raged against Me will come to Me and be put to shame. (same verse)

Truly, the LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty (Isa. 2:12), for every stately vessel. (v. 16) And they will be brought low. (v. 12-17) They will wallow in their drunken vomit, an object of ridicule. (Jer. 48:26)

But, the penitent ones will be redeemed. (Isa. 1:27)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Sin is an act that breaks, and shows disrespect toward, God’s moral law which He has put into the conscience of every human being. (Rom. 2:15) It is a willful act of disobedience, thus a crime, thus a move of treason, against the Holy King of the universe who created everything in His creation to be good. (Gen. 1:31 // 1 Tim. 4:4)

Sin is no light thing. All great and merciful kings are given honor, thanksgiving, and reverence, and all the more so should God be given these! Yet many people treat Him with disdain and neglect instead. Why? Because they hate obeying Him. And why is this? Because they hate what He commands and represents: Righteousness, holiness, goodness, and love.

Should not men be punished who refuse to reverence and obey this Greatest King? They should. And they will be. Yet the world, and even most in the church, think that God will “understand” come Judgement Day. What foolish and wishful thinking! No, the man who, on earth, refused to reverence and obey the King of kings will hear, “You wicked, lazy servant! No one who has treated Me with contempt will ever enter My presence. Depart from Me forever!” (Matt. 25:26-30 // Num. 14:21-23 // Heb. 3:18)

How wicked are so many of our guides! Preaching that God’s grace gives people a license to remain slothful and sinful, they teach that God sees Christ’s righteousness imputed to the sinning Christian. This is a false gospel! The true Gospel tells us that Christ’s righteousness is only imputed to those who remain in Christ and His words, and who can prove this position by their deeds (John 5:29 & 15:1-10 // Acts 26:20 // Heb. 5:9 & 10:14,16,26,27 // James 2:14-26 // Rev. 2:5 & 3:2,15,16 to mention only a few) –their deeds of obedience to God’s moral law. (Matt. 19:17 // Rom. 2:13)

Jesus warns repeatedly about about the destination of those who refuse to become righteous through repentance. Their destination is a fiery pit. Yet so many people say, “But I have repented. I remember the day I asked Jesus into my heart.” Others even say they’ve given their life to Christ. But have they? Really? Their life? Or rather an hour once a week (which isn’t even to Christ, but more so as an appeasement for their conscience)? Or… maybe they have indeed given a lot more –even 40 hours a week. But have they kept anything back? Have they kept Self as the real boss? If so, they’ve not denied and crucified Self, and they will lose their soul in the end. (Luke 9:23-25 & 14:27,33 // Gal. 5:24 & 6:8) Jesus must be Boss –completely. (Luke 16:13) And our old Self, our own will, must be dead –forever– with no looking back. (9:62)

Jesus warns us clearly about the end: “The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:49,50) This destination sounds horrific, but who is it who will be thrown there? The wicked. Who won’t be? The righteous. And how can a person tell which group he will be in? No, it’s not about who has Christ’s righteousness imputed to him and who doesn’t. It’s about that, but that, in turn, is based on deeds. Yes, deeds. Actions. Works. Obedience to God’s moral law. Living out Christ’s commands –because faith is made complete by what we do. (James 2:22) This will determine one’s destination. This will determine if God sees us as righteous or as wicked. As 1 John 3:7 says, “He who does what is right is righteous.” What? Yes, “He who does what is right is righteous.”

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10a) And as verse 8 says, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” God’s Word cannot make it any clearer: Sin is treason against the LORD of lords. Sin is a crime against the Kingdom of Light. To not quit sinning is proof that the sinning person belongs to the evil one. And all who belong to him will inherit Hell.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
All this week on the radio a leading theologian tried to teach us from Rom. 7:7-25 that we, as Christians, do –and will always– battle sin’s mastery within us. How sad, for with the majority of preachers among us drumming this into people’s minds, no wonder there is so much weakness and wickedness everywhere. What a gospel –! Is this what our message is?! That, “Oh, Jesus delivers us from being sin’s prisoner (v. 23-25), but we’re really not delivered”? That, “Oh Jesus rescues me from being sin’s slave (6:16-18), but regardless, I’m still a slave to sin in my sin nature”? What a pathetic gospel –! No wonder the world laughs at the Christian church –!

Apparently many preachers need to get some cues from Olympic coaches. Or even college coaches would do. For it’d be hard to envision any of them giving regular “pep talks” about how everyone on the team, though probably having the desire to be excellent winners, will, in actuality, fail often. What?! This wouldn’t even be mentioned –! Nor would it be tolerated in conversation amongst teammates, let alone lectured about from the coach as being tolerable and normal.

“Why do we still sin?” asked this radio preacher, and then he answered, “Because sin is still there.” Really? Is this what God’s Word teaches? Is sin still in the born-anew person? It absolutely is not! 2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that “the old is gone.” Gone means, not there anymore. So who is lying?

Rom. 6:2 tells us that we’ve died to sin and cannot therefore live in it any longer. Verse 6 tells us that the old self was crucified with Christ so that sin’s power is broken. Verse 7 says we’ve thus been freed from sin. Verses 18 and 22 both say that we’ve been set free from sin and now have a new master –righteousness / holiness / God. Rom. 8:8 says that those still under the control of the sinful nature cannot please God, verse 13 says that such a person will reap death, and Gal. 6:8 says he will reap destruction. Rom. 8:9 says that such a person does not belong to Christ.

It is unbelievable that preachers can misinterpret the Rom. 7:7-25 passage (see my post: https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/their-error-with-romans-7/ ), especially with the exact opposite being taught in the two chapters couching it. Even Rom. 7:1-6 is explaining how we’ve died to one master and belong now to Christ so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit. What is this “new way” of the Spirit? It is to be controlled no longer by the old master, Sin, but instead by righteousness. (Rom. 6:18) This is because we’ve been set free from sin (same verse) by being set free from the sinful nature which we, if we indeed belong to Christ, have crucified. (Rom. 6:6 // Gal. 2:20 & 5:24) By this wonderful grace, we are thus free –and divinely able (2 Peter 1:3,4)– to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. (Titus 2:12)

If only those who are controlled by the Spirit belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9), and if only those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God (v. 14), then those who continue to live out the desires of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:16-21) will absolutely “not inherit the kingdom of God.” (v. 21) God’s Word is clear on this issue (see Eph. 5:5,6), but because people, even preachers, want excuses by which to rationalize their sinfulness, they teach and promote a huge false doctrine. And as they do so, they lead multitudes to Hell.

But, will their followers have an excuse on Judgement Day? They won’t. For they were told to read God’s Word for themselves and to be alert concerning false teachers. They could’ve read 1 John 3:9 which says that no one who is born of God will continue to sin. Or verse 10 which says that anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.

They could’ve read James 2:24 which says that we are in fact justified not by faith alone, but also by what we do. Or Heb. 5:9 which tells us that Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” Or John 5:29 where Jesus warns that “those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Or Heb. 10:26 and Matt. 18:32-35 which inform us that those who sin deliberately, even after having received truth and pardon –and a relationship with Christ (John 15:6 // Rom. 11:22)– will be sent to Hell, as will those who desert Christ by turning to a different gospel. (Gal. 1:6)

But, sadly, most people will not read the Word of God for themselves. They rely on men in the pulpits –even though it is their eternal destinies which hang in the balance. It’s more than sad. It’s horrifying.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

When Weary, Wait On Him

April 27, 2012

Friends,
What are we to do when the day in and day out routine of life brings weariness into our souls, or when our hopes are dragged out until they are so thin we feel we can’t hope anymore? What do we do when the answer to our prayers refuse to materialize, or when people scoff at us for mentioning God’s promises, or when we ourselves are tugged at by doubt? The answer? We wait. We wait on the Lord in hope and faith and patience.

Waiting on the Lord is about trust. It’s about submission to God’s timing. It’s about casting all our cares on Him and leaving them there. Waiting on the Lord means we’ve relinquished what we want and pay attention to what God wants. It means we’ve renounced Self and have our eyes fixed steadily on our Master. It means we desire His will only.

But what does God –our gracious and compassionate God– do when He sees us waiting on Him? He comes down close. He puts His everlasting arms underneath us (Dt. 33:27) and raises us up as on eagles wings (Isa. 40:31), causing us to soar with Him where He rides in His majesty. (Dt. 33:26) There, surrounded in His tireless power and love, we find our strength renewed. (Isa. 40:29)

When our strength is renewed, then we can continue on. We can apply ourselves to the work He’s given us, doing so with renewed joy, contentment, and faith, proclaiming, “In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.” (Isa. 45:24) –And declaring, even if nothing but our attitude has changed, “Because of the Lord’s mercy, I am confident of this: The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. I, therefore, will be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (See Ps. 27:13,14 & 138:8)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Boast In The Lord!

April 26, 2012

Friends,
God is a good God. This is an understatement, is it not? Yes, for God is an exceedingly good God! He extends His goodness to the whole world through countless gifts –a cool breeze, a rainbow, sleep, the ability to reason, the senses… and we could go on. But for those who love Him back and who seek Him diligently, God has abundantly wonderful delights to give us, the main one being His glorious and loving presence. For therein is where we hear Him speak comfort to us, exciting instructions, and things about Himself and His ways that no one else knows. (Jer. 33:3 // Luke 10:21 // 1 Cor. 2:10-16) In these we are actually encouraged to boast! (Jer. 9:24)

Right after teaching about the seed (the Word of God) sown in four types of hearts, Jesus warns us to be careful concerning what we do with the amount of light given to us. (Matt. 13:11-13 // Mark 4:21-25 // Luke 8:16-18) He continues teaching in these passages that if we do not listen wisely and cultivate Him (His Word) in us, then the cares of this world will drown out His voice. And that if this happens, we will wither and be thrown to the fire because of our rebellion and dead uselessness. (John 15:6 // Matt. 13:11-50 & 25:26-30)

Jesus warns that darkness can most certainly overtake a person who has been given light. (John 12:35) Many people are indeed being given light. They go to church, they hear sermons on the radio, they live in a land where the Bible is easily accessed. But even so, and even though they claim they’ve put their trust in Jesus, their actions prove otherwise. (Titus 1:16 // James 2:14-26) This is why Jesus commands His listeners to walk in the light they have (John 12:35) so that they will be given more light (Matt. 13:12 // John 3:21), and to put their trust in the light so that they may become sons of light. (John 12:36) For if they do not, the darkness will continue to envelop them so that everyone who succumbs will be left with blind eyes, dead hearts, and unhealed souls. (v. 40) Such people are like beasts which are ruled only by their base instincts (2 Peter 2:12 // Jude 1:19) as they refuse to come into the light because they don’t want their wickedness exposed. (John 3:19,20)

Now, for those of us who love the light (the Truth), then we are to seek more light. We’ve been given the key, the door, the way, and the instructions. This is Jesus –the Word of God and His Spirit in the Word. (John 1:1,14 // Heb. 4:12) Many experts of the law (Luke 11:52) –those who think they teach us God’s Word– have actually tried to take away from us this key. (same verse) They are the men who divide us, who do not have the Spirit (Jude 1:19), and who try to teach us even though they do not know what they are talking about concerning those things they so confidently affirm. (1 Tim. 1:7) Throwing people into confusion, they pervert the Gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7) and teach from a false spirit. (2 Cor. 11:4,13-15)

But we… we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit, and we do not need anyone to teach us except Him. (1 John 2:27 // John 16:13) For those who accept this, for those who love the light, for those who seek God and more Truth from Him alone, God delights to reveal Himself. And as He does so –more and more– we cannot help but boast about the Most High God we are so privileged to fellowship with, exclaiming to all who will listen, “God is an exceedingly wonderful and good God!”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Shame

April 25, 2012

Friends,
Even though it seems that most people try to flippantly enter God’s presence even while their hearts and minds remain corrupt with love for sin, there are a few other people who, after genuinely repenting, still seem to struggle with feelings of unworthiness and shame, even to the point of avoiding communion with God. To this second group, God’s great and deep love, mercy, and forgiveness should be spoken about, as well as the necessity to believe His Word over lies from the evil one.

It’s Satan who reminds a born anew person of his past. It’s Satan who insists to the new creation that he still appears dirty in the eyes of God. And it’s Satan who discredits God’s Word which informs us abundantly that, for the repentant one, God will “hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19) Why does He do this? Verse 18 tells us: It is because He is a God who pardons sin and forgives transgression, a God who does not stay angry forever, but delights to show mercy. Gratefulness should therefore be our theme!

It’s true that sinners reap the consequences of their sins. But it is also true that repentance and petition to God will move God to not only soften the repercussions as He walks with us through them, but He will also work them into good. It’s true that God hates sin. But it is also true that He loves the world He died for –dying for us even while we were still sinning (Rom. 5:8)– and that He did so because He very much desires to have an intimately close relationship with us. And if we are commanded to, through love, overlook offenses others do to us (Eph. 4:32 // 1 Peter 4:8), then God Himself certainly knows how to completely forgive.

There is something amiss when a person can’t accept God’s total acceptance of him because of having committed hideous sins in the past. It is a lack of faith in what God can do –and has done– and in who God is. It is disbelief in the enormity of God’s love and mercy. It also may be pride –for pride and shame do often go together as a person finds it hard to lay himself bare before God, and with the attitude of an obedient child, say such things as, “Lord, here I am again begging for Your companionship, fellowship, help, and comfort. I am nothing in myself; but because of Your Holy Spirit in me, I am strong, pure, and joyful. Please live Your life through me today, for in the name of Jesus, I once again crucify myself.” By genuinely saying such things to God, we are not only humbling ourselves before Him, but we are declaring our trust in His goodness to us.

Unfortunately, some people hang onto shame so as to have an excuse to neglect time spent with God, time spent in His Word, time spent praying for others, and time spent spreading the Gospel. For if they can keep themselves convinced that they are too defiled, then they can keep pandering to Self rather than getting down to doing God’s will. Others hang onto shame to appear conscientious and pious, while some want people to feel sorry or alarmed for them. But whatever the reason, for the person who has quit their “hideous” sins and asked God to forgive them and cleanse them, then to hold on to feelings of shame is an affront to God, a disbelief in His true character –He who is loving, merciful, forgiving, and all-powerful– and a lack of faith that God actually has the ability to cleanse and make one a new creation.

Shame has no place in the born anew person’s life. It comes from the dark realm and it is debilitating. Conviction, on the other hand, comes from God, and the humble child of God will seek to be restored by turning from sin. But in regards to shame –if it tries to lurk around, it’s to be dealt with immediately and replaced with grateful praises to God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God is doing a work in all of us. This work is to conform us to Christ-likeness (Rom. 8:29), and He does so in order that we may be saved (v. 29,30) and have a share in His purposes and glory. (v. 17,18,28,30,32) God ordained, prepared, and commissioned us for good works (Eph. 2:10), extending to everyone the power to willingly choose and do what He calls us to do. (John 12:32 // 2 Peter 1:3,4)

But, can people repress this drawing of God? Can they turn aside to those enticements which the devil’s realm puts before them by which to tempt them? Of course. And if a person turns to focus on these things, he has, by choice, then turned his focus away from Christ and become a rebel. (Rom. 1:18,21 // James 4:4)

However, for those of us who claim Jesus as our Lord (Boss), then we are called to live as He did. (1 John 2:6) We are to live completely holy lives (1 Thes. 4:7) –pure and blameless in all we do (1 Peter 1:15 // 2 Peter 3:14), without even a hint of impurity or greed (Eph. 5:3 // Titus 2:11-14) or any kind of evil. (1 Thes. 5:22) Instead, we are to live such good lives that we will be the cause for others to glorify God. (1 Peter 2:12 // Matt. 5:16) This is what it means to live a life worthy of the calling we’ve received (Eph. 4:1) –that of being just like Christ.

What, though, are two characteristics of Christ which the world, as well as most in the church, seem to mock in those who truly follow Jesus? It’s gentleness and humility. Definitely, we all want others to treat us gently, and we certainly find it next to nauseating to be around an arrogant person, yet ironically, the world seems to bow at the feet of those who tout power, dominance, and pride! In spite of the fact that such people are the ones who take advantage of others for their own gain, the world continues to idolize them –and to try to become like them. Thus the scramble to defeat others using displays of self-importance and might. Most Christian-claimers do it too, but it is far from Christ’s way or attitude.

Jesus tells the weary and burdened to come to Him. (Matt. 11:28) This means all of us, for we all live on a fallen planet where toil and hardships and evil weigh us down. Yet amid this, Jesus promises rest (Matt. 11:28 also), but only if we come to Him, take His yoke upon us, and learn from Him. (v. 29) Why is this true rest? Jesus tells us in verse 30 that it is because His yoke and burden He gives us is easy and light. And why does He do this? –Because He is gentle and humble in heart! (v. 29) Jesus is? –Even though He said many hard statements concerning Hell and the necessity of our obedience to His commands? –Even though He drove the money-changers out of the temple with a whip? –Even though He called people hypocrites or white-washed tombs? Yes.

What does this tell us then about the command to be humble and gentle like Christ? It tells us that humility and gentleness are attitudes that are to be expressed through actions led by the Spirit. It tells us that we’re not to refrain from speaking out Truth and confronting sin, but that we are to do it with a humble heart, a heart which cares deeply for one’s fellowman, a heart that is kind, compassionate, tender, merciful, forgiving, and not easily angered. –A heart that is not only “humble and gentle, but patient because it loves.” (Eph. 4:2 paraphrased) Therefore, being gentle and humble does not mean we tolerate sin, but it does mean we combat it as Christ would.

Yesterday, in speaking about a young man my parents had staying with them all last week (because he was interviewing missionaries for his M.A. thesis), my mom said, “He is such a sweet and humble guy. He made me see what a beautiful thing humility is.” I’ve been thinking of her statements ever since –wishing that this could be said of everyone, especially those of us who want to live lives worthy of the calling we’ve received.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel