November 30, 2014
In order to be saved, we must know the Lord. Moreover, we must know Him increasingly. It is not enough to say that we know about God / Christ, or even that we at one time knew Him. Just as with any relationship, the communication and the togetherness must be continuous, growing, and moving forward. It cannot become stagnant lest the fellowship wane and wither. A good and healthy relationship with the Lord must be maintained, and for this to happen, fellowship must grow so that it remains living and vibrant.
The importance of growing deeper in relationship with the Lord does not seem to be stressed in most of Christendom. Instead, knowledge of the popular parts of the Gospel, knowledge of different doctrines, and knowledge of Church History seem to be some of the main emphases, as well as the knowledge of worship techniques and ways to inspire a crowd.
However, the whole point of our existence is that God wants relationship, and so to this we have been called. God wants fellowship with willing and eager individuals who truly love Him and understand who He is –that He is their Creator, Shepherd, King, Leader, Father, and Best Friend. Yes, He commands obedience because He knows what is best, but He also has given us free will. Yes, God requires that we reverence Him because He is the All-powerful Most High, but He also desires that we delight in Him with attitudes of joy and confidence. Yes, God has created us to worship and praise Him, but the angels, and even the animals, trees, and rocks do, or could, give Him that. Humans are the only ones who can choose to turn from fallenness to God, and who can continue to choose to love Him, worship Him, thank Him, and serve Him. In other words, humans are the only ones who can choose to seek and cultivate intimacy with God. God has called humans to choose to do this, and He has made the way possible for us to do so through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice that appeased God’s wrath –His wrath against sin and sinners.
So are those who believe in Jesus, yet who are not growing in relationship with Him, saved? God’s Word tells us that they are not. (2 Thes. 1:8,9; see also John 15:2a,6 and compare with Mt. 25:1-13 & Acts 5:32 & Titus 2:11-14 & Heb. 5:9) This is the case because, in not knowing God / Jesus, a person is not understanding what He has, or is, saying to them through His Word and Spirit. Thus there is no way to walk in the will of the Lord (and to not walk there is to be damned. –Mt. 7:21 & 1 John 2:17) Such people can know what the Bible says, but they do not have the Word (Jesus / Life) dwelling in them. (John 5:38-40) Such people can have a form of godliness and even be doing “miracles”, but their ability comes from themselves or from the Counterfeiter. (Mt. 7:21-23 // 2 Cor. 11:13-15 // 2 Tim. 3:5-7 // 2 Peter ch. 2)
Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, says in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The statement is plain and clear, is it not? 1 John 5:20 says the same –that in knowing God through Jesus Christ, we know Him who is the true God and eternal life. Thus abiding in Christ and abiding in eternal life are synonymous. (v. 11,12) But, we can’t abide in Christ (neither can He be in us) if we are disobeying His commands. (3:24) In fact, if anyone claims to know Christ yet does not do what He commands, that man is a liar. (2:4) The Truth (Jesus / His teachings / God’s Word) is not in such a man. (same verse) Indeed, having a relationship with the Lord (belonging to Christ / knowing God) rests on whether or not we are obeying Him. (v. 3)
Jesus says it this way in John 15:10: “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” He says in verse 14, “You are My friends if you do what I command.” In 14:23 He states that being in-dwelt with the Spirit of the Father and the Son is contingent upon one’s obedience to His teaching.
In Mt. 19:17 Jesus says that we must obey God’s commandments if we want to enter Life. In 12:50 He says that those who belong to His family are those who do the will of His Father.
God’s Word is clear: Obedience to the Word and Spirit (Christ) is how we come to know God. This relationship is a walk / lifestyle / existence of obedience, not a one-time act. It is a consistent walk, not a wavering between obedience and disobedience. It is a walk in the sphere of God’s love (John 15:10) where we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.” (2 Peter 3:18) It is a striving to possess, in increasing measure, those qualities which make effective our knowledge of Christ so that we will maintain our pure and powerful, and thus saved, position. (v. 17 & 1:2-11)
Therefore, as Ho. 6:3 exhorts us, let us continually press on to know the Lord. Then God, if we seek Him with all our heart and forsake our sins, will pardon us and make Himself known to us. (same verse // Isa. 55:6,7 // Jer. 29:13,14) If we ask the Lord to teach us His ways so that we can know Him (Ex. 33:13), He will grant us our request along with His Presence, His rest, and His favor. (v. 14,17) He will put His Law (Word and Way) in our mind and heart (Jer. 31:33) and forgive us (v. 34), and each of us will be able to legitimately boast that we truly understand and know the Lord. (same verse & 9:24)
In fact, everything else we’ve gained, we will consider rubbish in comparison to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, the Lord, for it is that continued intimacy and oneness with Him which will keep us walking the blessed path of His Presence –that of eternal salvation. (Phil. 3:7-11)
November 24, 2014
1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Do we not believe God’s Word here? Do we not understand that when we sin we are breaking God’s Holy Law –that which commands that we walk “in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Eph. 5:9)? Do we not understand that, regardless of how well we uphold parts of the Law, to stumble at just one point is to break all of it? (Ja. 2:10) Apparently, many are deceiving themselves to Hell as they listen to the Word but are lax in obeying it. (1:22) “Oh, I know and love Jesus!” so many say. Yet because they refuse to obey Christ’s commands, 1 John 2:3,4 condemns them as liars who do not possess the Truth.
So, we read that to sin is to commit lawlessness. To commit lawlessness is to commit rebellion against God. To commit rebellion against God is to commit wickedness. To commit wickedness is to forfeit eternal salvation. (1 Cor. 6:9)
What are the acts of wickedness? They are any of those things which displease God. They are any of those things which go against all goodness, righteousness, and truth. A wicked act is any deed, thought, word, or belief that rebels against the control of the Holy Spirit. (Mt. 5:27-30 // Rom. 8:1-14 // Gal. 5:16-25) Wickedness is anything which comes from the sinful nature.
Many people, even those who claim to follow Jesus, think that they are in-dwelt with the sinful nature even while they claim to also be in-dwelt with God’s nature (–that nature which 1 John 3:9 says born-anew people possess). This they believe, insist upon, and propagate, even when Gal. 5:24 (and such verses) are pointed out to them. This verse says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Is this unclear language to the reader? A few verses up “the acts of the sinful nature” (v. 19) are described. (v. 19-21) And verse 21 ends with, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Is this unclear? It’s not. And neither is 1 Cor. 6:9,10 which states and describes the same; nor is Rev. 21:8.
“Well, I’m not living that bad,” many claim. But haven’t we just reminded ourselves that to transgress at one point of the Law is to break all of it?
Let’s look at Eph. 5:3,4. They say, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed… neither obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking…” How many so-called “Christians” are engaged in hints of impurity? Many! And before we point fingers, let’s examine our own selves. (2 Cor. 13:5) Do we lust? Do we speak even one filthy sentence a week? That’s 52 filths a year. Is that not more than a hint of impurity? Eph. 5:5 warns us, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person –such a man is an idolater– has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.” What about the things we watch and listen to? –Are we not participating in impurity by such means and contaminating the temple of God? We are, and God will destroy the temples of His Holy Spirit which become defiled and refuse to be kept clean. (1 Cor. 3:16,17)
Let’s use some reasoning skills here. Can a person who is committing some kind of sexual impurity, whether he engages in it with his body or his spirit (mind, heart, thoughts, words), have any inheritance with Christ? No, we just read in Eph. 5:5 that he cannot. (Neither can a greedy person.) Why, then, do we keep hearing questions about whether or not the sexually immoral are true Christ-followers? For God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that they are not.
2 Thes. 1:8,9 states it plainly that those who do not know God or obey Christ’s Gospel will be punished with eternal destruction. Jesus says that those who do not do God’s will, regardless of the “good” deeds they think they are doing, will be condemned. (Mt. 7:21-23) Jesus calls such pretenders “hypocrites, blind fools, unclean, wicked, and snakes headed for Hell.” (See Mt. ch. 23) He warns us that if we follow such people, we will become as much (or more) a son of Hell as they are (v. 15) and will fall into the pit with them. (15:14) Eph. 5:6,7 warns us to stay away from the disobedient, for they are recipients of God’s wrath.
Yet even with all this warning from God’s Word, we still have those who refuse to come out and be separate from the unclean. (2 Cor. 6:17) They will not “purify themselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit” (see 7:1), for they do not truly reverence God. (See same verse) Have we not been repeatedly commanded to remove ourselves from those who walk unrighteously? We have! (6:14) If we do not, God is not our Father. (v. 18) If we do not, we will be corrupted along with them (1 Cor. 15:33) and be condemned to Hell. (Mt. 23:13)
Therefore, 1 Cor. 5:9-13 has told us to judge those so-called “Christians” who commit sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, and fraud. We are to expel them from our worship services and not have any association with them. (same verses) We are not to tolerate those who claim to love Jesus but who continue to sin. Only if such sinners have genuinely repented and are asking, with sincerity, for our help, are we to have any association or patience with them. But for hypocrites: Zero tolerance.
Everyone who sins breaks God’s Law. Everyone who breaks God’s Law is in violation of His holy standard. Everyone who violates God’s holy standard must repent of their rebellion. Repentance is proved by deeds (Acts 26:20) regardless of what false-gospel propagators insist upon.
November 21, 2014
Yesterday while witnessing at the bus stops, my signs and tracts proclaimed that by meditating on Jesus, who is the Word of God, and by applying His words, we are delivered from the dark realm. People are eager and grateful to hear this message of hope, for it is The Truth and The Good News.
One young man who I’d talked with some months ago, asked me to pray for him to get delivered. I told him that I would pray for him, and I did, but I first told him that it is by our own choice to truly believe and apply the message (the one I was proclaiming) that we step out of bondage, are delivered, and walk in freedom from addictions and other sins. He looked so hopefully at me and listened so thoughtfully. I reminded him of the weapons we have as we walk the path of freedom –those of praise to God (which demons hate and flee from), of quoting the Scriptures (which Jesus Himself did against Satan when tempted in the desert), of taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), of petitioning prayer, of staying far away from places and people who cause temptations, and of nourishing our spirits with the powerful Word of God which, in soaking into our spirit (and mind and heart) –convicting us and motivating us to repent– purifies us (Eph. 5:26), thus making us spiritually wise, clean, and strong.
“So,” I said. “As Gal. 5:16 says, ‘If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the sinful nature.’ It’s the sinful nature people are indulging in which is causing most of the wretchedness in the world, is it not? But if we walk in the Spirit, we are abiding in freedom. It begins with each one of us. So let it begin with you and with me. We can be skilled Olympians at it –at walking in the Spirit. And how do we do this? We make the choice to meditate on God’s Word daily, understanding that we must have this Food for our spirit just as we understand we must have physical food for our body. Then we apply the Lord’s words, putting them into practice. We do this every day, every minute. This is how we walk delivered and free.”
Something like that is what I said to this listener. And it’s similar to what I said to many listeners yesterday at the bus stops. It’s the message of hope, of faith, and of freedom. It’s the Great News and the proclamation that everyone needs to hear, understand, and grab hold of.
May all God’s servants believe it whole-heartedly themselves so that they will proclaim it everywhere possible.
November 18, 2014
Mark, who commented at my comment page recently, promotes a gospel that is permissive toward sin. I hope that he, and others who believe as he does, will read the below posts and come to understand the freedom, strength, and victory which Christ has given to those who walk in His Truth. (John 8:31-36)
November 17, 2014
My husband and I, and my parents, went to the hospital today to visit Jean, an 81 year old woman who was a missionary in the Philippines at the same time as my parents. She is in hospice care there and not expected to live much longer, but she still had her good sense of humor. It was cute to watch my dad and her joke together, and a blessing to later witness him bend over her bedside, and putting his forehead on hers, pray a very tender-loving prayer for his sister in Christ.
I thought it precious, too, how my mom thanked Jean for all the sewing she had done for the mission community, mentioning several specific outfits Jean had made or mended for her, one of those being just two weeks ago. I smile even now in gratefulness and awe at how God has helped so many of His willing, eager servants continue ministering into old age. Last year Jean had been dying, but had made a surprise come-back, even going back to her sewing job at the mission center.
Driving back home from the hospital, I looked at the blue sky and the color-changing leaves on the trees a little differently. I tried to think of my loved ones and other people differently. I tried to appreciate everything. The small things –that are really the biggest things, in a way. The pretty leaves –it means I have sight. The seatbelt across my body –it reminds me that I have a car, that I can sit up, that I walked to the car, that I can walk, that I have both legs… The “gratitude list” is immense and can go down many trails.
I also thought again about our legacies –what we leave behind for people to remember about us, and what we added to the world to make it a better place. Life seems so fleeting so often… so short of a time to do good… to help others… to bring comfort and healing and love and Truth to a world for whom Christ died.
Life is short. It’s fragile. It’s important. It affects others. For good or for bad. We can add harm and hurt or we can add compassion, true concern, and aid.
As I stroked my “aunt” Jean’s arm today, avoiding her bruised, swollen hands, I thought about how we all will one day leave “the tent” behind. (2 Cor. 5:1-4) And about how new bodies, immortal ones, will be given to us. For Christ-followers, there is nothing sad about that. But what will be sad, is if we find out that we’ve wasted our time and efforts during our brief stay on earth. That is something we all should want to avoid! And thankfully, most of us still have a few years to work on it.
November 10, 2014
For many years now, the Lord has, through different circumstances and conversations, shown me just how true Ps. ch. 133 is. It has only three verses, and this is the part I have memorized: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”
Truly it is interesting how it works that “the living together in unity” comes ahead of “the blessing of the Lord”. Indeed, when someone approaches another person with hostility, jealousy, or a lie, the stage is set for disunity. Even a complaint, a criticism, or a disagreement can do the same, unless, of course, both people are being led by the Spirit to help one another come into full Truth.
But what happens when someone approaches another person with agreement, encouragement, aid, or thankfulness? There is unity. And once that stage is set, and especially if both people are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is even greater good that comes flooding in so that kindness and peace, being nurtured, bloom and grow. The Lord, seeing the individuals choosing to walk in what is good and right and true, what is Christ-like and Christ-honoring, then brings His presence down in an even greater degree, thus causing the blessings of Life (such as peace, wisdom, love, self-control, and joy) to fill the whole area and situation.
Today a woman came up to me, a sweet smile on her face. I greeted her and said it was good to see her again, though I actually didn’t remember the details of our last meeting. She reminded me about it and told me that she and her niece had been so blessed that I had hugged them and prayed for them when they had told me about the grief they’d been experiencing. As I talked with this woman today and tried to encourage her some more by using God’s Word and His Truth, she was in complete agreement with me, adding Scriptures herself. I noticed that the more we talked about the goodness of the Lord, the more the presence of the Lord filled us, our words, and even the vicinity around us, made more apparent as someone nearby joined us in giving God honor.
Those who fear, love, and honor the Lord do speak often of Him to each other. (Mal. 3:16) And when we do, doing so in order to honor and thank the Lord, and in order to edify one another, the Lord will listen, be pleased, and grant Holy Spirit unity. This is exceedingly good and pleasant, and in this place the Lord is able to bestow on us His Life, which means all the blessings involved with abiding in His Life.
November 3, 2014
I have been waiting for Mark to give us support, using God’s Word (not statements from “theologians”), for this statement of his: “Justification is a one-time declaration by the Lord declaring our sins will no longer be counted against us.” By using the word “will” Mark implies that this includes sins committed after the justification declaration. But is this what God’s Word teaches? It does not. (John 15:6 // Heb. 3:12-19 w/ 1 Cor. 10:1-12) In fact, the person who has been “sanctified by the blood of the Covenant” (Heb. 10:29) yet insults the Spirit Of Grace (same verse) by continuing to deliberately sin (v. 26), will be punished more severely than those who were underprivileged in knowing better. (v. 29 // Mt. 11:24 // Luke 12:47,48 // 2 Peter 2:20-22) Mark’s statement, which comes from the teachings of the Calvinists and other OSAS groups, is a twisting of God’s Word, and it gives license for a continuation in sinfulness, which is rebellion against Christ’s authority. (Jude 1:4) By having omitted what is necessary in order to present the Truth of the Gospel, their doctrinal statement becomes the foundation for a false gospel.
The Gospel, as found in the Word of God, can be summarized like this: “Justification has been declared by God, by His grace, for the whole human race, through the atoning sacrifice of Christ (1 John 2:2), but applicable only for those who, by faith / trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord (Rom. 3:23-26 & 10:9-11), choose to step into this grace and new life (2 Cor. 5:17-21), doing so by confessing and renouncing their sins (Rom. 6:1,2 // Eph. 4:21-24 // 1 John 1:9 w/ 2:1), and by abiding in this clean position through their diligent obedience to Christ, this being accomplished by believing and putting into practice everything God’s Word and Spirit says and commands. (Mt. 12:50 & 19:17 // John 10:27 & 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 3:24) Of course there are less cumbersome ways to say that and to expound on it, but the whole Truth is the Gospel, and no main points are to be omitted, added, or twisted.
I am also waiting for Mark to point out where I have taught the statement which he essentially claims that I teach: “If I am not absolutely sinless God is going to reject me.” Just as he allows himself to twist God’s Word, he also allows himself to twist my words. Nevertheless, honest readers can see that I teach striving consistently for perfection by utilizing the Word and Spirit whom God has equipped us with in order to accomplish that goal.
In my latest response to Mark at my comment page, I said, “I teach packing the parachute correctly and not being at all careless.” That comes from an analogy the Lord gave me that day –that obedience to God, and teaching others about it, can be likened to a skydiving instructor teaching others to pack their chutes. Precision is of utmost importance. But what if an instructor tells his students that non-precision in packing a chute is acceptable? Well, of course the consequences concerning his students’ fates would undoubtably be disastrous.
What about an instructor who insists that packing one’s parachute is to be done, every time, with extreme care? Is this not how an instructor should instruct? Of course. Does he deride those who are beginners and who thus make mistakes? No, but he double-checks each fold and reminds them about how to do it and the importance of doing so. On the other hand, if anyone who should know better is repeatedly careless, that instructor will likely exclude that foolish one from his class.
Now, let’s imagine that the permissive instructor comes over to the careful instructor and says something like this: “Why are you being so hard on your students?! Everyone makes mistakes. Your insistence on packing chutes perfectly is causing paranoia amongst the students.”
I don’t think I really need to elucidate much more there. Can not any reasonable person understand that it is of great importance to instruct others to follow exact directions? It is not cruel or insensitive to do so, but it is actually cruel, insensitive, –and wicked– not to do so. Doesn’t neglecting to mention one turn while giving directions to a physical location send a person off course? And isn’t it important that a recipe be followed precisely if a restaurant owner wants his food to taste just so? How much more important is it to follow instructions concerning one’s eternal future?!
But, unfortunately, we seem to have teachers who refuse to understand the importance. “Following Christ’s instructions do not have to be followed exactly or all of the time,” they say. “For no one is perfect.” They are like that skydiving instructor who says, “Following the instructions for packing your chute do not have to be followed exactly or all of the time. For, of course, no one is perfect.”
So, we understand that a conscientious skydiving instructor is meticulous in parachute packing every time and that he always aims for perfection. However, we also know that even he, especially if he is packing chutes all day, every day, is not immune from slip-ups. But, does he take care to get enough sleep, food, exercise, and practice, to not be found carousing or neglectful, and to rehearse the instructions often for the benefit of himself and others? Certainly he does these things so that neither he nor his students fall prey to mistakes, slothfulness, –or death.
Now let’s decide which type of “skydiving instructor” the Scriptures portray Jesus to be. Though we could pick almost any verse, let’s pick just this one –Mt. 5:29. There Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell.” If those “spiritual teachers / Bible teachers” who are nervous about others being offended (or becoming paranoid about going to Hell) would meditate even on this one verse, it should cause them to change their lack of fervency in regards to teaching others the importance of renouncing and quitting sin.
Mark also asked me this in his latest comment: “As an aside, I would be curious to know who are your favorite authors, Christian speakers and/or pastors? Anyone of note?” Is Mark not trying to determine whether or not he approves of those I may have listened to so that he can more quickly determine the extent of his approval of me? Yet 2 Cor. 10:12 tells us that those who try to classify, compare, commend, or measure others by others are not wise. “Those who say, ‘I follow Paul’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos’ are acting like mere men.” (See 1 Cor. 3:4) Such men are worldly (v. 3), “mere infants in Christ.” (v. 1) Our approval before God comes from Him alone (2 Cor. 10:18) and that is what we seek. (Gal. 1:10) Whether or not other Spirit-filled people have helped in our learning process, our doctrine is to come directly from the Spirit of Christ who is/indwells the Word and who dwells in His followers. (v. 11,12 // 1 John 2:27) Thus the doctrine which a person teaches should be judged by how accurately that doctrine lines up with that taught in God’s Word. So, if I am backing up what I teach by quoting directly from THE Authority –the Word of God– why should it matter one bit to Mark what humans I’ve listened to? Needless to say, I find Mark’s question inappropriate.
Theological discussions can be worthwhile as well as enjoyable. However, it is necessary that both parties are straight-forward and honest, non-evasive, do not steer toward rabbit trails, do admit it when it has been pointed out that God’s Word has just been contradicted, and when Scripture is handled correctly to support every belief that is held and taught.