On Wednesday, while evangelizing at the train and bus stops, I again had many good conversations with people about God’s Word –about believing it and applying it to our lives. More than several listened intently and got excited to realize that followers of Christ really do have the Spirit’s power to walk in victory over sin.

Jesus did tell us to be perfect, and to be so just as our Heavenly Father is. (Mt. 5:48) This is a command. Unfortunately, many people think it is an impossible command, so they resist trying, and then they rationalize that Jesus couldn’t have meant it.

“I can hardly go ten minutes,” one “Christian” man told me on Wednesday, “without having a bad, angry, or negative thought about someone.” Another man who had come up to join the conversation agreed.

I was incredulous at such bondage. How sad that this type of thinking does seem to be so pervasive, and amongst those who say they believe God’s Word.

We are told in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in Him [God], must walk [live / conduct oneself] as Jesus did.” This is a command.

How did Jesus conduct Himself? He was always pleasing to the Father. As the Father spoke out from Heaven at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17) Jesus Himself said regarding His relationship with the Father, “I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29) He also said that He spoke only what the Father commanded Him to say and how to say it (12:49,50), and He said, “I love the Father and do exactly what My Father has commanded Me.” (14:31)

But is this also required of us? Yes, it is. Our words are to be God’s words (1 Pe. 4:11), we are to love the Lord fervently (Mark 12:30), which we prove by obeying His commands (John 14:15), and we are to be submitted at all times to the control of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) We are to “be imitators of God.” (Eph. 5:1)

But how?

Well, certainly we must be proactive about it. We cannot sit idle and think that God is going to zap us with His power to obey and overcome. Instead, we must realize that there are steps we must take, and we must choose to engage ourselves daily in that which is necessary.

First we must believe God’s Word –and all that it states. We must believe that it “is living and active” (Heb. 4:12) and that through it we gain the knowledge of God and become saturated with Christ’s divine power for all we need for life and godliness. (2 Pe. 1:3,4) Even those who are not yet born again, if they are willing to humble themselves to learn the Truth, will find God giving them the power to come to the Truth (Jer. 29:13 // John 6:44,45), and if they apply that Truth they learn, they will come into the Light and be free. (John 3:21 & 8:31,32)

One aspect of being free is the crucifixion of self with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24) and the crucifixion of any participation in worldliness. (6:14 // Ja. 4:4 // 1 John 2:15-17) Our old self must be crucified so that we have died to sin (Rom. 6:1-7), so that sin is circumcised off from us (Col. 2:11), so that we are washed clean of every trace of it and its power (Rom. 6:14-18 // 1 Cor. 6:11 // 1 John 3:5), and so that Christ Himself can live through us 24/7. (Gal. 2:20)

This is done, and this freedom is kept, as we read and apply the sanctifying Word of God (John 17:17) / the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17), correctly handling the Word of Truth as we present ourselves to God as a workman who is pleasing to Him. (2:15) For indeed, if we claim to belong to Christ, then we are “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19a) and have been “bought at a price by God and are therefore not our own.” (See v. 19b, 20) We are not to live any longer for ourselves but only for Christ (2 Cor. 5:15), no longer “for human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Pe. 4:2) Is this where we are at? Are we pleasing to God? Is our conduct, our words, our thoughts filled with the Spirit? Only “the person who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:8)

Contrary to what most believe, we can live pleasing to God and conduct ourselves fully submitted to His Spirit. (Rom. 8:13,14 // Gal. 5:16) But it takes effort (2 Pe. 3:14) –a conscious submission of our will (Mt. 7:21 // 2 Cor. 10:5 // Ja. 4:7-10), a careful walk on the Narrow Road (Mt. 7:13,14) while listening to what Jesus is saying and where He is leading (John 10:27,28), and an obedience to His Spirit and His Word. (Mt. 7:24-27 // John 15:10 // 1 John 3:24) By putting Jesus’ words into practice we will become conformed to Christ-likeness, and once fully trained, be just like our Teacher (Luke 6:40,46-49 // Rom. 8:29), pleasing to God. (2 Cor. 5:9 // Eph. 5:10)

We can do it. Christ power is available to us and God’s Word and Spirit are available to guide us into all the Truth which, by applying it, sets us free. It’s the Good News that God wants spread throughout the earth.

with love,

Hopefully, we who are Americans, are, at this Fourth of July holiday time, thanking God that we are able to live in a country that, though far from perfect, has enabled people to enjoy many freedoms. Multitudes have sacrificed their lives for us and we need to be grateful. We need to respect and uphold our laws and our constitution, and we would benefit ourselves and our country to learn the true facts of our nation’s history, especially regarding the decades surrounding 1776.

Two Sundays ago our senior pastor gave a sermon that revealed some things I did not know (or hadn’t heard about for a long time) concerning the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Political sermons should be rare in the pulpit, but I do think it is pertinent sometimes, so that, and particularly in this time of political unrest, people will understand the real facts about the founding of our nation. Freedom of religion alongside Christian principles from God’s Word was definitely the foundation in the formation of our Constitution. Please listen to the sermon Gary gave on June 25 by clicking here:

(My brother gave a great sermon yesterday and that can be watched or listened to by clicking at that same link.)

There is another excellent speech I would encourage everyone to watch on youtube. It’s by Trey Gowdy (Congressman from S.C.) and there he begins by asking, “Which do you value more –truth or freedom?” I value both of course, but I would certainly have said, “Truth” for there could not be real, lasting freedom without truth. But note what he says were the answers of those he asked.

Later, at about the 5:25 mark, Mr. Gowdy gives us insight into the art of persuasion, reminding us that neither insults nor hypocrisy work well. (Indeed, so why is there so much of both throughout our country?) Instead, he reminds us, that which will create an atmosphere for being persuasive is relationship –showing others that you truly care about them, and that your true concern for them is the reason why you are trying to persuade them in the first place, even while respecting their freedom to reject your viewpoint. Here is that link:

Aren’t we thankful that we live in a country that values freedom? But we have to have truth to have that freedom. God’s Word is the Truth and yes, our Constitution was formed on the basis of that.

with love,

There is the Truth, and then there are counterfeits to the Truth. Counterfeits are error and they will not set a person free from sin, from sin’s bondage, or from sin’s penalty. The penalty of sinning is slavery to sin (John 8:34), and death. (Rom. 6:23) –Eternal death. This death is banishment from God and from all that is good, forever. (2 Thes. 1:8,9) It is eternal punishment dealt to someone due to a lack of righteous, Christ-empowered deeds he or she accomplished while on earth. (Mt. 25:45,46; see also John 5:29 and 2 Cor. 5:10 and Rev. 3:1-6)

The whole of Rom. 6:23 (literally from the Greek) says, “Indeed, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God, life eternal in Christ Jesus the Lord of us.” We must be IN Christ in order to be possessing eternal life, and we are in Him by obeying His commands and His Spirit in the Word. (John 6:63 & 14:23 & 15:10 // 1 John 2:3,4 & 3:24) If we are not continually submitting to Christ as Boss, we do not possess Him. (Rom. 8:9,13,14)

If we look at the verse right before Rom. 6:23 (verse 22), it says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Therefore we are to understand that Christ-followers are expected and able to do everything God commands because they have been freed from sin, this provision producing the good fruit that results in sanctification, which in turn results in eternal life. Moreover this means that those who do not produce righteous fruit are not standing in a sanctified (cleansed / holy) position before God, and are thus not in Salvation. (Jesus says the same in John 15:2,6)

Verse 18 of Romans chapter 6 has already told us, “We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”, while verse 16 informs us that if we keep sinning, we show that sin is still our master and that this leads to death. The first two verses of this chapter, again from the Greek, read, “What then will we say? Shall we continue in sin that grace might abound? Never may it be! We who died to sin –how still will we live in it?” Then verse 7 says, “The one indeed having died has been freed from sin.” Verses 3-6 have already told us, that by being baptized into Christ’s death and resurrected life, each of us died to the old self and was raised to live as a new creature.

If we are truly a new creature / a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), then the old self is gone and it is with the new self –filled with Christ’s Spirit (same verse // Gal. 2:20 // Eph. 4:24)– that we conduct ourselves in thought, word, and deed. Such an existence means we are following Jesus and His words, which in turn means that we are not carrying sinfulness with us. 1 John 1:9 says from the Greek, “If we should confess the sins of us, faithful He is and just, that He might forgive us [our] sins, and might cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So if we have been cleansed, why would anyone think that Christ-followers would still be producing the fruit of sin? We absolutely must not!

Verse 7 of this same chapter (1 John 1) informs us that we walk purified as we walk in the Light. Jesus is the Light and we must keep in step with Him. (Gal. 5:25) For He says, “I am the Light of the world; whoever is following Me shall not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” (John 8:12) So why, if we are not walking in sin (the darkness) but are instead walking in the Light, would we need to keep confessing our sins?! Yes, IF we do sin, which can still happen when we are tired or caught off guard, then we must repent immediately and God will forgive us and again wash us clean. But falling into sin, even “small” sins, daily? –No! We are walking in the Light of Life, not in the darkness of sin! The person who tries to do both is not in the Truth and is thus not saved. (1 John 1:6 & 2:4)

Indeed, “This is how we know we are in Him [Christ]: The one who claims to abide in Him, ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:6) Jesus says in John 8:28 that He always speaks exactly what the Father has taught Him, and in verse 29 that the Father remains with Him because, “I always do what pleases Him.” THIS perfection is what we are to make every effort, daily, to consistently achieve (Mt. 5:48 // Luke 9:23-25 // 2 Pe. 3:14) if we are claiming to be in union with Christ!

Let’s continue in this John chapter 8 passage, carefully considering what Jesus teaches here about sin versus freedom:

John 8:30: “As He spoke these things, many believed on Him.”

John 8:31: “Therefore Jesus said to those Jews who trusted in Him, ‘If you continue in [live by / walk in / hold to / abide in / put into practice / obey] My Word, then you are truly disciples of Me.'”

John 8:32: “And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”

John 8:33: “They answered to Him, ‘Abraham’s seed we are, and to no one have we been under bondage ever. How can you say, ‘Free you will become’?”

John 8:34: “Jesus answer them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that everyone practicing the sin, is a slave to the sin.'”

John 8:35: “And a slave does not remain in the household [of God] to the age [forever], but a son does remain to the age [forever].”

John 8:36: “If therefore, the Son shall set you free, free [from sin / from bondage to sin] you will be.”

Many in Christendome like to quote this last verse as well as verse 32. However, they often seem to be unfamiliar with the rest of the passage. Yet if they would read all these verses, they could not legitimately deny that Jesus is saying, very clearly, that those who continue to produce the fruit of sin reveal that they are not free from sin, are thus not in the Truth, are therefore not in the Freedom, and are thus not sons of God –even if they have at one time trusted in Christ. (Numerous Scripture passages, just three being Rom. 8:13,14, Heb. 10:26-31, and 1 John 3:5-10, teach the same.)

So, we are to make every effort to be found spotless before God (2 Pe. 3:14), doing so by training ourselves to put into practice Christ’s teaching. (Mt. 28:20 // 1 Tim. 4:7) We absolutely CAN do this through the power of the Spirit of the All-mighty God! (Eph. 1:19) Truly it is a wicked insult to the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29) if we think He is not powerful enough to deliver us from all our sins and to help us live His divine nature (Gal. 2:20 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4) free of sin. (1 John 3:9) He IS able! (Eph. 3:20 // Phil. 4:13) Hence, if we produce the fruit of sin, we are of the devil (1 John 3:8), for we are only righteous by doing what is right. (v. 7) It is our choice to consistently walk in the power God’s grace has made available to us for obedience to Christ. (Titus 2:11-15)

These things being said, may we all diligently study the Word of God for ourselves while viewing other men’s teachings as a grain of salt in comparison. For as Scripture has made plain, there is no righteous position in Christ without abandoning sin (2 Tim. 2:19), without obeying Jesus (John 14:23), and without walking (continuous tense) in God’s will. (Mt. 7:21) We are on Christ’s road as we FOLLOW Him (John 10:27,28) and our position is secure if we do not fall from it through sin or through false doctrine. (Heb. 12:14-17 // 2 Pe. 3:17; see also Gal. 1:6-9 and 1 Tim. 4:16)

It’s either slavery to sin or freedom from it. The former leads to Death while the latter leads to Life, meaning: Hell or Heaven.

with love,

Jesus tells us, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) These commandments are God’s Moral Law –those laws that are the rules by which to treat one another. As Rom. 13:9 informs us, whatever commands there are, such as those prohibiting adultery, murder, theft, and covetousness, –they are all summed up in one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is, therefore, the fulfillment of God’s Law (v. 10), and those who live out love, have, themselves, fulfilled the Law. (v. 8 )

Gal. 5:13, as well, reminds us to serve one another in love, and verse 14 confirms, “The entire Law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” In James 2:8 where this command is repeated, it calls it “the Royal Law found in Scripture.”

This Law is the Law which God has written on the hearts and consciences of all mankind. (Rom. 2:15) It is the Truth of God which, if people live by it, will cause them to come to the Light (John 3:21) –who is Jesus (8:12, 12:46)– and put their faith in Him (12:36) so that they “may become sons of light.” (Same verse) By putting “aside the deeds of darkness” (Rom. 13:12) –all those behaviors that contradict Love– and doing so by the Spirit (8:13), we clothe ourselves with Christ (13:14) who is “the armor of Light” (v. 12) and are thus able to fully live out “the righteous requirements of the Law” (8:4) which beforehand was impossible. (v. 3) This is the freedom for which Christ has set us free! (7:23-25 // Gal. 5:1)

Indeed, God’s good and perfect Law, having been weakened in us because of our strengthening sinful nature, actually became powerless in its effect for us. (Rom. 8:3) Nevertheless, because of Christ’s atonement, sin in sinful man was condemned (same verse) so that those who live by the Spirit are freed from its power! (v. 4) Consequently, the sinful nature’s desires need no longer be fed (Gal. 5:16) for “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (v. 24) Yes, by dying to the old self, sin itself is died to, crucified, and rendered powerless (Rom. 6:6,7 // Col. 3:3) because the sinful nature is completely circumcised off in born anew believers, done so by Christ Himself. (Col. 2:11) This is the Great News! Jesus came to earth “to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8) and “take away our sins” (v. 5) if we, by faith, unite ourselves with Him who is void of all sin! (Same verse // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 2 Cor. 5:17)

What happens when people do not understand “the righteousness that comes from God”? (Rom. 10:3) What happens is that they seek “to establish their own.” (Same verse) The Law written on their consciences becomes foggy or even severed (Eph. 4:18,19 // 1 Tim. 4:2), and they thus deviate further and further from submitting to God’s righteousness. (Rom. 10:3) This fate includes those who think they are “zealous for God” and His Truth even while their zeal is actually stemming from error. (v. 2)

But, for those led by the Spirit, we are not under the supervision of the Law or under the righteousness it demands. (Gal. 3:21-25, 5:18) For God’s Law, itself holy and good (Rom. 7:12), produces Death rather than the Life it is intended to bring (v. 10), for Sin uses it against the sinner. (v. 11) Thus, under Law, we are not ever able to actually attain to God’s righteous requirements. However! By being one with Christ and walking in the power of His Spirit, we come to “know the righteousness that comes from God” (10:3) and thereby live by the Truth (John 3:21, 8:31), know the Truth that sets us free (8:32), fulfill the Royal Law of Love, and abide in Life Everlasting.

It all boils down to fulfilling that one rule within which all God’s Law is summed up. And to being able to do so because of the Spirit of Christ within us –who is leading us and empowering us– and this, because we understood the Message concerning the righteousness that comes from God, which is through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

with love,

We Do Not Possess Two Natures

December 10, 2015

In my last post, I discussed Rom. 7:24,25 and its surrounding context. Much more could have been said, but one verse I want to highlight now is Rom. 6:17. It says, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.”

That one verse says (and infers) a lot. It reminds us that it was because of God that we are enabled to walk in freedom from our previous slavery to sin. It reminds us that this freedom is also due to our obedience to The Truth (who is Jesus, His words, and correct doctrine). And it reminds us that we are no longer slaves to sin. This is what “though you used to be slaves to sin” means. The verse right before it (Rom. 6:16) has told us that if we are slaves to sin, we walk the death path, but if we are slaves to obedience, we walk the path of righteousness –that Path which, as verses 18 and 22 inform us, is the Path (Way / Life / Lifestyle / Road) that leads to holiness, with the result being eternal life.

So in understanding that we are, by our choices (Rom. 6:12,13), either walking the Eternal Death Path or walking the Eternal Life Path (8:13,14), let’s look again at Rom. 7:24,25. They say, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, the Lord [Boss] of us! So then, I myself, with the mind, am a slave to God’s law; but in the sinful nature, a slave to the law of sin.” In my last post I quoted these verses as literally as possible from the Greek, but the above translation is fine. What is not fine, is when translations render “but in the sinful nature…” as “but in my sinful nature…”, changing “the” to “my”. It is not fine because it makes the reader believe that this verse is teaching that Christ-followers can be slaves to God’s law with their mind while being slaves to sin in their lifestyle. It is not fine because such a doctrine is contrary to the doctrine found in all of Scripture, including in Rom. 7:24,25.

Christians need to be taught that we do not carry around the sinful nature, but instead possess God’s own divine nature (1 John 3:9), which, being the case, makes us unable to continue to sin. (Same verse) Christians need to be taught that we have died to sin (Rom. 6:2) and are not to live in it any longer (same verse) because we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (v. 18) Christians need to be taught that we have made the commitment to follow Jesus and that this means that we follow faithfully and consistently (Luke 9:61,62 & 14:26,27,33 // John 10:27,28), and that we abide in Him and belong to Him through our obedience to His teaching. (John 8:31-36 & 15:10 // 1 John 3:24) Christians need to be taught that we must choose to submit our will to God’s will in order to learn, know, and progress in the Truth (John 7:17) and that following Jesus (His footsteps and His orders) is a requirement for being His servant and one whom the Father will honor. (12:26) Consequently, before inquirers decide to “become a Christian”, they need to be taught that they are signing up to “become slaves to God” (Rom. 6:22) and that they must therefore renounce all that is not pleasing to Him. (Luke 16:13 // 1 Pe. 4:2)

Let’s get it straight: If someone keeps sinning, they do not belong to Christ. (1 John 3:6-10) Instead they belong to the devil. (v. 8,10) Anyone who claims to belong to Christ, anyone who claims, “Christ’s righteousness has forever been imputed to me regardless of whether or not I keep sinning”, is deceiving himself with an enormous lie. For only “he who does what is right is righteous” (v. 7), and, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) Only those who live Christ-like are those whom God views as pure and in fellowship with Him. (1:5-7) Only those who are obedient to Jesus Christ’s commands, and who live as He lived, can legitimately claim to be united with Christ (2:3-6) and thus be possessing Eternal Life. (5:20) Only those who obey Christ’s teaching have the Spirit of the Father and the Son living within them. (John 14:23) Yes, Eternal Life comes only by being in the Son (1 John 5:11), which comes only by remaining in the Truth (2:24,25); and by being in the Son, we also possess the Father. (v. 23-25)

To believe that a Christian possesses both the sinful nature and the nature of God within themselves is to remain in ignorance. (Eph. 4:17-24 // 1 Pe. 1:14) It is to be ignorant of the Truth –the Truth which has taught us to reject our former way of life and our former nature that was in slavery to sin. (Same verses // 2 Pe. 2:17-22) The Truth teaches that we have been baptized into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3) and have been raised with Him to live His life (v. 4 // Gal. 2:20) as entirely new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) who are devoted to His will (v. 15 // 1 Pe. 4:2) and are controlled by His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) Indeed, this last verse says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” How then can people legitimately claim that Rom. 7:25 teaches that those in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit are also still enslaved to the sinful nature? They cannot, for it is not so.

The rest of Rom. 8:9 says, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” So we see that anyone who is still controlled by the sinful nature does not belong to Christ. Could Rom. 7:25 contract this? It cannot and it does not. Instead the verse is contrasting two lifestyles that come as a result of two opposing natures (qualities / characters / dispositions).

Rom. 8:1-14 describes the contrast as well, and verses 5-8 teach that those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on sin, have minds that are hostile to God, are people thereby not able to please God, and are people thus walking in death (the Eternal Death Path). This is the opposite of those who live by the Spirit, and who, with their minds set on what the Spirit wants, have allowed their minds to be controlled by Him, and are thus walking in Life and Peace (the Eternal Life Path).

How can there be so many church-goers insisting that Rom. 7:25 teaches that we can, in our mind, be a slave to God’s law while at the same time, in practice, be a slave to the law of sin? They are in error, for the two natures are not compatible within one person. They teach a falsehood, for anyone possessing the Holy Spirit cannot possess the sinful nature. As Rom. 8:10,11 tell us, if Christ is in us, our old self is dead, while our spirit, along with our mortal body –yes, our existing mortal body– has been given a new life, and this by the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Rom. 6:1-15 speaks of this concept also, telling us that because Christ died to sin once for all, we, “as those who have been brought from death to Life” (v. 13), are finished with sin, even in our mortal body, and that this is because we are under grace, not law. The chapter in question (Rom. ch. 7) speaks of this same thing –that we have died to the old husband / master / reality / way / lifestyle / mindset / nature (v. 1-6), that we have died to the old self who was “controlled by the sinful nature” (v. 5) and who was “unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (v. 14), that it is God, through Jesus, who has rescued us (v. 24,25), and that we now “serve in the new way of the Spirit.” (v. 6) All three chapters (Rom. ch. 6-8) are informing us that the divine nature and the sinful nature are entirely incompatible!

Gal. 5:17 is another verse that speaks about the contrasting natures, and along with its surrounding context, we are taught that our choices have us following the Spirit (the divine nature) or have us following the sinful nature, our eternal destiny being determined by our subsequent behavior. Those who live by the sinful nature “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (v. 21), whereas “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (v. 24) This same thing is what Romans chapters 6-8 are most emphatically teaching –that “our old self was crucified with Him [Christ] so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (6:6,7)

Let’s go back to the verse I began with today –Rom. 6:17. It says, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Are we hearing what God’s Word is telling us? Christ-followers (those who belong to Christ / those who are saved) used to be slaves to sin, but through Jesus we have crucified that defiled body and have been raised to a new life –the life of and in Christ. Moreover, it has been explained to us how this life is lived out: It is by continually submitting to the Holy Spirit who guides us into all Truth (John 16:13) and who reminds us of all that Jesus has said (14:26), including that He has taught that remaining in Him and in eternal life comes by eating and drinking Him (6:53-58) –meaning The Word. (1:1,14) For as He has said, “The Spirit gives Life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are Life.” (6:63) Therefore, by obeying the Truth, we are kept cleansed (1 Pe. 1:22), fully able to enact our obedience through the power, faith, armor, and gifts God has given us. (1 Cor. 12:4-11 // Eph. 1:19 & 3:20 & 6:10-18 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4 // 1 John 5:3-5)

Let’s solidify within ourselves the Truth from Rom. 6:17: “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” If we do so, no one will be able to deceive us when they twist Romans chapter 7, particularly verses 24 and 25, claiming that Christians still possess the sinful nature and are therefore still enslaved to sin. God’s Word states the opposite: That we have been freed. So let’s live in accordance with that.

with love,

It was a great way for me to celebrate Veterans Day, 2015: Alongside my parents and many other missionaries and praying people, I attended their mission’s Day of Prayer hosted by a local church. We broke into separate sessions that focused on specific parts of the globe, and using information sheets filled with various praise and prayer requests, we petitioned the Lord aloud in small groups. Afterward, we all met together in the sanctuary to hear, reverently read, the names of the missionaries who died this year, to hear encouraging news of God’s work overseas, and to worship in song, as well as through communion.

In speaking about the body and blood of Jesus, which the wafer and the juice signify, the pastor reminded us that our Savior sacrificed His life too that we may live, and live free from evil forever. Christ let His body be crushed and His blood flow to atone for the sins of mankind that we may believe, repent, and be ransomed from evil and its curse. Through His death, Jesus bought for us the freedom to live the real Life.

Veterans Day is a good reminder and opportunity to honor all, missionaries included, who have put their own life at risk for the sake of others, to thank God for giving those men and women the bravery and fortitude it took to fight for the freedoms we’ve been privileged to possess, and to meditate on the Sovereign King-Creator-God who, by becoming human, and by suffering, dying, and conquering death through His resurrection three days later, paid our ransom and gave us freedom so that we might truly live. Truly live now, and forever.

Veterans Day is definitely a day to recognize, and a day on which to show honor and gratitude for those who have sacrificed themselves for the benefit of others.

with love,

Downtown Last Thursday

August 25, 2015

Last Thursday, while witnessing downtown at the bus and train stops, I had many excellent and exciting conversations (as I so often do) with people about what it means to follow Jesus. Really, I have a very easy mission field compared to the fields many are sowing in, and I am certainly thankful for it. Many people give me the thumbs up signal as they walk by, or even, from across the street (or railway tracks), some yell something positive to me about my signs. Each time I go, there will be some individuals, and occasionally even those in law-enforcement, who will come up to me and say, “Thank you for what you’re doing. It’s appreciated.” Others come over and ask me to pray for them, or will ask me a question about God’s Word and requirements, and commonly, while we are talking, others will come up and join in the discussion. Truly, it is a huge joy to be smack in the middle of the Lord’s will, sharing the Gospel for hours in the power of the Holy Spirit!

There are two things I wanted to mention, though, regarding this last Thursday. One was that, during the last hour down there, the Lord gave me a unique blessing by which I presented Him. A preacher that is often down there (who I don’t like because he often jumps around screeching, saying judgmental things about those he knows nothing about) finally left the spot that is most conducive for preaching. So I hung out there, and had many more conversations. But I kept feeling the Lord wanted me to lift up my voice to the crowds (which I have done periodically, mostly by quoting Scripture verses), but no, that didn’t seem to be exactly what God was prompting me to do. So finally, instead of praying quietly (as I do while waiting for another person to approach me), I started softly singing songs I was making up with the Spirit’s help. This I habitually do as well, but this time I got louder and louder. Pretty soon I was singing surprisingly loud –very loud –and beautifully (for without the Spirit I do not have a good singing voice). It was really special!!!!!

The thought came to me at one point, “You look foolish and no one can hear but a few words, if any, as they drive or walk by.” However, immediately the Lord reminded me of 1 Cor. 1:27 in His Word (truly, when the devil attacks, it is highly beneficially to know the Word well), saying to me, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the ‘wise’.” I accepted this encouragement and felt extreme joy, boldness, and love well up in me, so that all the more I sang wonderful praise songs to God, as well as intercession songs for His mercy to come to the people. The Lord also encouraged me by telling me that even if many could not hear me, they could certainly see me and see Him shining through me. Isn’t this what Jesus commissioned us to do in Mt. 5:16? For He said, “Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise you Father in heaven.” This is a command (not a suggestion) –that we put His Light, which is in us (–the Light being His Spirit), in a visible place so that men may see The Light and glorify God for who He is and what He has done. I too praise God for using those things that, “by human standards” (1 Cor. 1:26), are “despised and weak” (see v. 27,28), for that means He is able to use me, and even powerfully! This should encourage everyone willing to submit to being a light for Christ!

The other experience I wanted to write about is this: Right after the other preacher left and I went and stood near “his” spot, a young man came up and with obvious anxiety over the state of his soul, asked me questions about holiness, sin, and judgement. While we were talking, another guy came up and let me know, cordially enough, that we should be sure we are presenting the Gospel as it really is, and that is, that God is love and grants salvation to all who believe. See, my back sign said, “Jesus delivers all those who APPLY His Words. John 8:31-36”, while my front sign said, “Christ’s cross doesn’t cover a continuation in sin. Heb. 10:26”. This second man stated that he himself is an evangelist and that he has been one for many years.

While talking with this guy, and the first guy quietly listening, a third man came up. Pointing to my front sign and frowning worriedly, his remark was something to the effect of, “I really don’t think that is a good message, nor exactly true, for even believers sin every day and we are still saved. I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years and I know about this.”

Right about then, a fourth man came up and said something like, “Yeah, the Gospel I know about tells us to love and not judge, so this is really bad what you’re doing.” Thankfully, that guy just put in his “two cents worth” and kept walking.

So, here I was, having been encouraging the first guy, who was obviously welling up with hope in the fact that Someone (Christ Jesus) had emancipated sinners from their sins, and two other “Christians” had to step in and try to negate what I was saying. The third man brought up that even Paul, in Romans chapter seven, says that he struggled with sin, to which the evangelist laughed triumphantly, while heartily agreeing. “No,” I countered quickly. “Paul says at the end of that chapter, ‘But Jesus Christ rescues me from this!'”

Truly, it is awful that “Christians” believe they can fall back on Rom. 7:7-25 where Paul, using a first-person, present-tense literary (and debating) style, is showing how knowing the good one ought to do is not powerful enough for actually doing good and that we need the One who really does give freedom. How awful that they can see in Rom. 6:18 Paul telling us that we “have been set free from sin”, telling us in Rom. 7:14, “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin”, telling us in verses 24,25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God– through Jesus Christ our Lord!”, telling us in verses 1-6 (and elsewhere, like in Col. 2:11) that we have died to, and been liberated from (actually severed from), the sinful nature which once chained, owned, and controlled us, and telling us in Rom. 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you”, and still think that the person belonging to Christ cannot help but sin daily!!! Did the Holy Spirit live in Paul? Of course. And while often telling us that he, and we, are new creations in Christ, Paul also tells us at least six times throughout his writings to imitate his example! No, Paul, in that Rom. ch. 7 passage –which sin-safely-lovers think they can fall back on– is putting himself in the role of the unregenerate man –the man still locked in the prison of sin (v. 23) –the man who has not yet let Christ rescue him.

So, we were all being polite, but it was certainly alarming to see that the two “Christians” who claimed to be following Jesus were trying to nullify the reality of believers’ freedom and explain away the verses I was bringing up, even while the non-Christian appeared to be eagerly trying to grasp the Word and its Great News. The two “Christians” just kept insisting that the Gospel does not state that (true) believers have been freed from sin, even when I quoted 1 John 3:9 which says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s nature abides in him. He cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” And even when I quoted Gal. 5:24 which says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” There were several other Scripture verses that I quoted during the course of the debate, along with their references in case they wanted to check them out for themselves in the Word, but the only one really taking the verses to heart seemed to be the initial inquirer. In fact, about an hour after this encounter, he came back to me and asked me some more questions, including, “What happens if we don’t repent?” to which I answered with sadness, “Jesus says in Luke 13:3, ‘Unless you repent, you too will all perish.’ And perish means banishment to Hell.”

Well, the man who had claimed to be a Christian for over 20 years suddenly saw that his train had arrived and so he hurriedly exited our presence. The “evangelist”, who seemed a little persuaded, reminded me some more about God’s love, stating that he hardly ever mentions sin but rather just encourages people. Smiling, and seeming to be satisfied that I was probably giving a message of hope and love, he too soon said goodbye, but not without adding as he went, “They call me ‘Soldier for Christ’.” “Hmmm…” I thought. “I wonder if the Lord calls him that, considering all those whom he has refused to alert concerning the cancer within them.” I was saddened to think of his impotent message and I felt great dismay as I thought of how false Christianity has indeed become the norm for those who claim to be Christians. Contrary to God’s Word, their gospel is not about renouncing and rejecting all known sin, not about freedom from sin’s power, not about consistent obedience to Christ, not about f-o-l-l-o-w-i-n-g His commands, not about walking in the will of God daily, and not about being controlled by the Holy Spirit at all times throughout each day and night. By not believing the Truth, even when faced with clear statements from the Word of God, they deny God’s Word and thus walk in a counterfeit truth.

Aside from this troubling experience, the majority of my encounters were wonderful –absolutely wonderful. Definitely, it is exciting to be used of God to present the Good News of Salvation, Freedom, and Righteousness, and to explain how to walk in Truth’s Power. Without question, no task could be better.

with love,