February 27, 2016
WC, at my comment page,
I truly am encouraged whenever I hear of someone growing in holiness and reading the Word. I hope we all will forever do just that.
I acknowledge that the Lord uses all sorts of means to bring people to Him. I do believe, and have stated it before at times, that people can come to the Truth through false paths –but not because of those paths, but because the Lord, who is merciful, compassionate, and all-powerful, sees the seeking, hurt, or desperate heart, and He, in spite of the “incurable medicine” they are taking, reveals Himself to that person, guiding them to the Real Truth. Thus I’ve said that people in Catholicism can come to the Truth –in spite of Catholicism’s many false teachings– and the same it is for Mormons, New Agers, etc. However, that being said, any apparent deliverance from sin, or any “burning in the bosom” (as Mormons put it) that supposedly proves to them that they possess God’s Spirit, or if there be any other ecstatic feeling, or any power to overcome desires –such things can also be done or experienced with the power, methods, and ideas of the master of deception. (2 Cor. 11:3,4,13-15 // Eph. 2:1-3, 4:17-19 // 2 Thes. 2:9-12 // 1 Tim. 4:1,2 // 1 John 4:1-6)
In Jer. 17:5 we read, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the person who trusts in man, who makes flesh [humans] his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.'” The Lord does often use people, even unregenerate people, –even use them to bring people to repentance and Truth, for “all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) We know He used even a donkey to warn a prophet (Num. 22:20-35), but that does not mean we seek out other donkeys to relay to us the Truth of God. Good habits and good people may help us but we are not to rely on them / put our trust in them, nor are we to neglect to measure them to see if they are lined up with the Truth of God’s Word.
Much of the fruit of CR is bad. Though you may have experienced a helpful group, the method itself promotes reliance on man as well as a focus on everyone’s harmful habits, problems, hang-ups, addictions, etc. –which practices, in short, should just be called “sin” and from which Spirit-indwelt people have been set free. (Rom. 6:18)
Eph. 5:12 says, “For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” When it says “it is shameful even to mention” such things, we should not be organizing groups that not only mention perverse, ugly things, but discuss them to the point of glorifying them! Sin is over for those truly born again as new creatures. (2 Cor. 5:17 // Gal. 5:24 // 1 John 3:6-10) Yes, we are to meet together to encourage one another, but that encouragement comes about supernaturally from the Spirit as we, with music, praise, and thanksgiving to God, “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19) One sinning man telling another sinning man about his sins and how he can overcome sin pales enormously in strength-building compared to being filled with the Spirit of the Almighty God and speaking His words –which we are to do at all times. (1 Pe. 4:11)
Just because a program has or produces some good does not mean it is to be exalted as God’s way. In Acts 16:16-18 we read of a slave girl possessing an evil spirit of fortune-telling. She followed Paul and his evangelism group around shouting. But what was she shouting? She was shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” (v. 17) We don’t hear error in her message. So we see that she was giving a true statement, but by a demon, not by God, and she was doing so in demonic power and method, not under God’s control. I encourage you to meditate on this passage, as well as on such passages as Mark 1:21-27 where we see an evil spirit exclaiming a true statement to everyone in the synagogue –that Jesus is “the Holy One of God!” (v. 24)
Now about what you asserted against me, I say this: False testimony means to give out information that is false, doing so knowingly, or, I would include, unknowingly but carelessly. However, I have written nothing that I know to be false, nor have I investigated carelessly. Therefore, it may possibly be your accusation toward me that is itself false testimony.
Even so, I do want to encourage you. I think I hear your heart for the Lord, and to that I’m very glad.
February 20, 2016
Let’s ask along with Job, “Where does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? Where can wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12,20) Truly, “Man does not comprehend its worth” (v. 13) though “the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.” (v. 18) But wait! “God understands the way to it.” (v. 23) Yes, “He alone knows where it dwells.” (Same verse) Then we know what to do to possess it! Don’t we?
We do, for God has revealed the secret through His Word and Spirit. (1 Cor. ch. 2) He tells us it is in Christ (1:24,30) –who is the Word (John 1:1,14), the Truth (14:6), and the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17) He tells us it is by requesting it and then walking in righteous conduct (Ja. 1:5-8, 3:13-18) –which we do by walking under the full control of God’s Spirit. (Rom. 8:9 // Gal. 5:16,24,25)
Indeed, if we have been baptized with Christ, we are living a new life (Rom. 6:1-7) in which our spirit has been (and by our continual choice of submission, continues to be) cleansed, clothed, and saturated by His Spirit (13:14 // Gal. 3:27) so that, in actuality –measurable and obvious– we are eager and able to meet the moral requirements that have been laid down for us by the Almighty Holy God. (Rom. 8:4 // 1 John 5:3,4) Thus we are taught and understand: If we are in Christ, we will be fearing God and rejecting unbelief, rebellion, disobedience, sin, and all evil. (Phil. 2:12-16 // Heb. 3:12, 4:11, 10:26-39) That is wisdom. (Job 28:28) That is understanding. (Same verse)
Let’s understand the Truth: If we are in Christ, we have been set free from sin and its slavery and have been freed up to walk in righteousness, holiness, and eternal life. (Rom. 6:15-23) This walk can also be called “The Walk of Wisdom”. For as 1 Cor. 1:30 tells us, “Moreover, out of Him [out from God / because of God] you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God –that is [consisting of], our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” By being in Christ, we possess, along with all else that is and belongs to Christ, God’s wisdom, which enables us to walk in the will of God, which then results in our salvation. (Same verse // Rom. 6:22 // See also Mt. 7:21 and 1 John 2:17) Thus by the Spirit we can understand all “that God has freely given us” (2:12b) in Christ, through whom we possess the power and wisdom of God (1:24), “spiritual truths” (2:13), and His own mind! (v. 16)
So, “Where does wisdom come from?” It comes from God. “Where does understanding dwell?” It dwells in God / Christ / the Holy Spirit. “Where can we find wisdom?” We find it and possess it by being full of the Spirit of Christ who comes from, and is, God. (Acts 6:3 // 1 Cor. 2:12a)
But do we comprehend wisdom’s worth? If we do, even slightly, we will seek diligently to keep ourselves full of the Spirit of Him who has become for us the wisdom of God.
February 16, 2016
The weather has been wonderfully cooperative for witnessing this month down at the bus and train stops. Many people thank me (and thank my mom too when she goes –like when she went last week and passed out the 300 or so beautiful Valentine treat bags she had made). Frequently we hear statements like, “Thank you so much for doing this!” or “Your message is so true and much needed!” or “It is inspiring that you are out here encouraging people.” Yes, truly the fields are “ripe for harvest” as Jesus has told us (John 4:35), and when workers go forth, it inevitably motivates others to do so as well.
This was the food Jesus ate –harvesting “the crop for eternal life”. (John 4:36) Did He not say, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (v. 34)? Then it should be our food also –to do our part in gathering souls into Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus has told us that He is “the Bread of Life” (6:35), that He is the food we must nourish ourselves with if we want to possess eternal life. (v. 53-58) Thus we must eat (do / obey / abide in) all that He is –the God who is the Word, the Spirit, the Truth, the Love, the Compassion, the Power, the Gospel.
Yet Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Mt. 9:37 // Luke 10:2a) In other words, there is an abundance of people ready to hear the Good News, to hear how to turn from sin, to hear that there is freedom available, and to believe in the Leader who gives us His own divine power and Spirit by which to walk a new, victorious life. But the workers are few.
And yes, Jesus calls them “workers” / “laborers” / “servants” –which means they work, they labor, they serve, they act, they do, they carry out deeds. Can anyone put their “hand to the plow” (Luke 9:62) in “service in the kingdom of God” (same verse) and not understand that plowing is work? Indeed it is work done in the inspiration and power of God (Eph. 2:10 & 3:20 // Phil. 2:13), but nevertheless, it is work! It is effort. To step out to plow is clearly our own choice to obey and make the effort, for although God does give us His command, guidance, and mighty power, He does not force us or move us like robots. We do have the choice to rebel. And many do.
“Go!” Jesus tells His workers. “I am sending you out like sheep / lambs among wolves.” (Mt. 10:16a // Luke 10:3) “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Mt. 10:16b) Is this a contradiction? No. It is Christ’s counsel to us that we need to be ready to use either attitude / position, depending upon the circumstance, the people we encounter, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Jesus in Mt. 9:38 and Luke 10:2b) Are we asking, praying, petitioning the Lord who is Sovereign –the Lord who is able to intervene, to motivate, to train, to woo, to speak, to empower– that He send out more workers? God has decreed that He works through the prayers of His people, as well as through the rest of their obedient efforts. Are we praying? Are we training ourselves to participate in the Great Commission? Are we going out? Are we diligently striving, on a constant basis, to obey Christ in all that He has commanded us to do? Or are we sitting back and saying as some do, “Oh, when God wants me to go out, He will tell me.” No! God has already told everyone to get involved. Let’s ALL do our part. Then, most certainly, here on earth, and later in eternity, there will undoubtably be many who will tell us, “Thank you!”
February 9, 2016
It is highly important and beneficial to praise and worship the Lord, with words from our heart and spirit, and especially with singing, in order to start our day off in victory –victory over anything that might try to attack us –such things as worry, depression, anger, listlessness, doubt, etc. When we renounce any known sin that has crept in, when we turn immediately to God when we wake up, and when we proclaim God’s power and salvation, the evil realm does not want to hear it and they flee. In this habit, we continue throughout the day and we thereby walk in faith, in joy, in peace, and in triumph.
God loves us. He wants to help us. He wants us to involve Him so that He can pave the way for blessings and for success in furthering His Kingdom of justice and righteousness. We’ve been given instruction in how to invite Him into our day, our situations, our concerns, and even into the world at large. We pray. We praise. We step out. We go. We obey. And we definitely prepare our hearts, our minds, and our spirits by meditating on His Word of strength and instruction, and then by actually putting it into practice while calling on God to guide us and protect us.
While getting my coffee this morning, I broke out into spontaneous songs of praise to the Lord. Below are two of those songs as best I can recall. I encourage everyone else to make it a habit to do the same and to remember that when we open our mouths to obey God, then His Spirit, using the Word –which we have already studied and have hidden in our hearts– will give us His words and help us to sing what is pleasing to God and powerful to save.
It is a tremendous blessing to abide with the Lord every day, every moment, so let’s remind each other of the way we do so!
EXALTING YOU, GOD, IN SONG:
Break forth, break forth,
Raise the banner of praise!
Clap your hands,
To sing praises to our God,
The Mighty One who saves!
Yes, Lord, You are glorious,
Beautiful in splendor.
We come before You now,
To worship at your feet.
Jesus, we exalt You,
You are the King of kings.
You are the Rock, our Fortress,
We hide in You in faith.
Wisdom, love, power, and glory,
Fill Your throne above.
Majesty and honor,
Are to be ascribe to You –always.
For You, Oh Jesus Savior,
Are King, the Coming Reigning King,
You are worthy of our worship,
Forever and in our day.
AND IN THIS SONG:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.
Yes, come to Jesus!
Come to the King,
The reigning King,
The One who delivers us,
Because of His great love.
Yes, come, come to Jesus!”
“He who fills the earth
With His awesome presence.
By His Spirit we can know,
This God who came to save us
And let us know the Truth.”
“Full of splendor,
Full of majesty,
Glorious in beauty
And marvelous in mercy!”
“The water, the Spirit, and the blood–
The three are in agreement.
He washes away our sin,
When we bow in repentance.”
So the Spirit and bride say, “Come!
Come to Jesus!
He is the Prince, the Prince of peace,
The Lamb who was slain for us.
“He is the Word become human,
And the bodily image of God.
Yes, the Everlasting Father Himself,
The Mighty Creator LORD!”
“We enter Christ’s Kingdom
By being born of water and the Spirit.
The blood washes us clean
And the Word purifies us as we learn it!”
So the Spirt and the bride say, “Come!
Come to Jesus!
He is the God who reigns,
The Resurrection and the Life!”
So the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!
Yes, come to Jesus!”
February 2, 2016
Who of us do not find slavery repugnant? Who of us do not loathe the sentiments of those who used the Bible to support a system that treated others contrary to how they themselves wished to be treated? Who of us would consider slavery to be condoned by Christ’s teachings or by God’s Word as a whole? Is the LORD a God of partiality –a God who approves or disapproves of human beings according to some innate feature of their physical makeup? Or is He the God who created every person in His image and offers to every one of them the gift of His Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:14) that they may be accepted by Him as “His priests”? (See 1 Pe. 2:9 and Rev. 1:5,6 & 5:9,10)
Yesterday Google highlighted the life and contributions of Frederick Douglass, a man who, though formerly a slave, escaped to freedom and used his life to greatly further the cause of equal rights for all. I encourage everyone to read about him.
Thankfully, slavery has been abolished in many parts of the world and is, at least, viewed by most societies as evil. Is the suppression of others –suppression based on one’s physical characteristics– not evil? It is, and certainly all genuine Christ-followers know it.
I ask, then, what is going on with the suppression of women throughout the world and as particularly promoted by religion? No, it is not merely a suppression fostered by the Muslim religion, but by evangelical Christianity as well. Women are not allowed to speak in church or to teach men the Truth of God’s Word? Women are to submit to church elders and obey their husbands in everything? Is this really the doctrine of the Word of God?
Before we answer, let’s consider this verse: “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.” (1 Pe. 5:5)
Now how many young pastors are obeying that command? How many young men –church leaders and lay men alike– are submitting to the directives of older men within their churches? If we are honest, the answer is “few”. And for those who do, should they submit without question, even if they believe God is instructing them otherwise? What about 1 Tim. 4:12 where Paul says to Timothy who is a church overseer, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers…”? And when Paul tells him to “command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1:3), can Timothy’s commands then be directed only to men younger than him?
Let’s consider this verse: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21) Doesn’t this sound like a command? Why then is it so often not followed amongst preachers? Why are most pastors not submitting to any other pastor? Why are elders not in submission to all other Christian elders? Is every believer to submit to every other believer? Or might these verses be models for us that work if other Christ-followers are using it as a model as well? Shouldn’t submitting “as is fitting in the Lord” (Col. 3:18) be applicable in every relationship?
Let’s consider this verse: “…in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) Are we really to consider every person better than ourselves, or is this a command to heed when we are tempted to think more highly of ourselves than another? And what does the next verse command? It says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” All others? Or at least all others who we come in contact with? Are we really responsible to attend to everyone’s concerns? Or is this, too, a command to use as a guide, a model, a confirmation for when the Holy Spirit lays a person, or group of people, on our hearts that we should give to or sacrifice ourselves for? 1 Cor. 10:24 says, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Really? Nobody should seek his own good? Or is this verse an instruction to be used by the Spirit in guiding us through particular situations where others need our attention and help?
Let’s consider the issue of refuting that which we know to be false doctrine. In 2 Tim. 2:23-26 we see that the Lord’s servant is commanded to not quarrel with those opposed to him, but is to instruct them gently. Yet in Titus we read that bad doctrine is to be refuted (1:9), the adherents rebuked sharply (v. 13), those who continue to reject the Truth, shunned (3:9-11), and rebukes are to be given “with all authority.” (2:15) This would be beneficial if all who claim Christ would make sure they were in line with 1 Pe. 4:11: “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” But how many Christians, even preachers, have a flippant attitude about this verse, particularly when they comment at blogs, rebuke someone who tries to correct them, or try to be entertaining in the pulpit?
1 Tim. 5:4 tells us that children and grandchildren are to put their religion into practice by caring for their families, including their parents and grandparents. How many Westerners are obeying this? Yet verse 8 states that those who do not provide for their relatives are actually denying the faith. Jesus teaches the same concept in Mark 7:6-13.
In Mt. 5:23,24 we see our Lord teaching that when someone has a grudge against us, we are not to come before God with our gifts (of worship, service, money, praise, prayer, etc.) until we are reconciled to that offended person. But who obeys this command with every person that gets angry at us or rejects us? Don’t we instead use it as a guide alongside Rom. 12:18 that says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”–?
Now that we’ve been reminded that the Scriptures can be correctly applied only under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let’s go back to some more of the “submit” verses. There are many, but let’s look at just a few more –like Eph. 5:24: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” And Col. 3:22: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything.” And Rom. 13:1,2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities… [for, in fact,] he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…” And 1 Pe. 2:13: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men, whether to the king… or to governors…” Are these commands not for everyone, or are they directed only to certain races or to one gender? And what should a man do if a person in authority above him tells him to do something that goes against his conscience or God’s Word? Certainly we know we should answer that with verses such as Acts 4:18-20 and 5:27-29 which teach us that obeying God takes precedence over obeying any person, law, or institution.
So, was (and is) the motto of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper correct? The motto was, “Right is of no Sex [Gender], Truth is of no Color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” Does this line up with the whole counsel of God’s Word? It does. And does this apply across the board, including in families and in churches? Well, have all those who have put their trust in Christ and been baptized into Him also been clothed with Him? Gal. 3:26,27 tell us “yes”. This is why verse 28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So then, all who are in Christ are clothed with Christ, and all who are clothed with Christ are one body with no inferior parts and no parts that can claim supremacy. (1 Cor. ch. 12) “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (v. 13) and the Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each person as He, and He alone, chooses. (v. 4-11) Therefore, if anyone tries to suppress the work of the Spirit in anyone else’s life, the oppressor should understand that he is not gathering with Christ but instead scattering, and that he is not with Christ, but rather against Christ. (Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:23)
Made in God’s image, every human is intrinsically equal, and yes, everyone in Christ is also –regardless of race, age, gender, or any other physical characteristic. No one within Christ’s church, His body, has the right to exercise authority over anyone else. (Mark 10:42-45) Those who lead are to be everyone’s slave. (v. 44) And everyone is to submit to everyone. –As is fitting in the Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ is our one and only Mediator, Teacher, and Master of God’s commands. (Mt. 23:8-10 // 1 Tim. 2:5)
Slavery has been abolished in civilized societies, even though the Bible was vigorously used by many to support it. Why then do we see the continuation of this horrible sin of suppressing, and oppressing, women? Truly the proponents do not have the mind of Christ on the issue.