March 24, 2017
Christians may admit, “I absolutely believe we must obey the Lord.” But if that is the case –that to be saved requires obedience to God– then the “faith alone” doctrine cannot be true. –Because obedience, being necessary for salvation, means it is faith plus obedience. Obedience is another way of saying “deeds” or “works” or “actions” or “behavior” or “conduct”. Ja. 2:24 says, “We know that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” We must understand then: “Faith, without works of obedience to God, won’t save.” Thus we can say, “Faith, without actions in line with God’s preordained plans for us [Eph. 2:10], won’t save.” God’s Word tells us that only those who do the will of God inherit eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // 1 John 2:17) This doing of His will is called obedience.
We can say it this way as well, as James 2:22 does: Our faith is made complete by our actions. In other words: Obedience completes faith.
Faith is not mere belief, for even the demons believe and shudder. (Ja. 2:19) Faith is active, which means it involves actions, and those actions must be acts (works / deeds) of obedience to Christ’s commands (Word and Spirit). “Indeed, just as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (v. 26) Dead, useless, lifeless. Thus outright rebellion, or simply the neglect to walk in the plans God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10) –those plans which will involve that of offering ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1,2) so that we are serving God’s purposes with our whole heart (1:9a) and becoming more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ (8:29)– is to have a useless, counterfeit, non-saving faith.
These truths make up what is taught in God’s Word. However, we also read there that growing in Christ-likeness in thought, word, and deed is a process, thus Jesus’ analogy of fruit production. We start out as a spiritual infant and hopefully move quickly to toddler stage and beyond. Of course toddlers aren’t Olympians yet. Of course twigs need time to blossom and bear fruit. So the obedience required of those new to the faith-walk is what any loving father would require of his young child. But everyone is certainly expected to progress to adulthood (spiritual maturity) as we strain toward perfection daily, doing so by diligently studying God’s Word and eagerly putting it into practice. Of course God is merciful and kind, but He is never pleased with disobedience. Whether the command is simple or advanced, He expects us to obey it.
Certainly the maturing process takes some longer than others, and likely those who have been fed major falsehoods will undergo painful confusion that will slow them down as they try to understand and adjust to the Truth. But God’s Word is there to comfort such people, not just to teach them. Truly, “A bruised reed He [the Lord] will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” (Mt. 12:20)
But, does God’s Word teach that He requires His people to obey Him? Or is it that we are simply covered with Christ’s righteousness so that whether we obey God’s commands or not there is no difference made in God’s view of us? Is it true that once we are in Christ, we can neither please God nor displease Him by anything we say, think, or do? No, it is not true. Instead Scripture tells us that we are required to obey the Lord and that if we do, we are pleasing to Him, and that if we do not, we are displeasing to Him. (Gen. 4:7 // 1 Sam. 15:22,23 // Rom. 8:8 // 1 Thes. 4:1) Regardless of our claim of faith, faith is made complete by righteous works, and it is by both that we are justified. (Ja. 2:14-26 // Rev. 3:1-3,15,16)
Yes, we must obey the Lord. It is necessary for salvation.
August 11, 2016
I always appreciate it when my husband ministers with me, especially when it involves things I can’t do. A few days ago he went with me to the home of an elderly friend and he fixed her T.V. Yesterday he went with me to visit another elderly person whose husband died earlier this summer and then on to visit someone else who is having to stay a few months in an elderly care center. This third woman we took out for lunch and drove her to where she needed to go for her errands. My husband had brought with him a leather-covered Bible that he had bought years ago but, being he has several Bibles, he wanted to give this extra (and still unused) one to my new friend. It was his suggestion to do so, not mine, and this suggestion was his sweet response when I had told him that this woman (not a Christ-follower –yet) had texted me to say she had started reading the book of Matthew. When we learned yesterday that the Bible she was using was from the care center’s library, we asked her if she wanted her own Bible and she did! We had it right with us to give to her, and on top of that, as we got ready to sign in it along with Num. 6:24-26 (a blessing prayer), she told us to add “Happy Birthday” as that (unbeknownst to us) was coming up next week. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord arranges things?
I write the above to express thankfulness to the Lord as well as to my husband who, though he doesn’t evangelize with me at the bus stops, encourages me in it, makes sure my printer is working, supports me through his job’s income, and was the one who, seven years ago today exactly (on 8/11/09), set up this blog, saying, “Well, even if you said you don’t want a blog, your blog site is ready when you are.” I’ve smiled every time I think of how the Lord inspired him to do that, even when I didn’t yet know such a thing was God’s will for me. So in remembering this, as well as in writing the first paragraph above, I am especially feeling grateful to the Lord. Truly, He is so often reminding us that He is working to bring people to Him through our efforts, efforts that may, to us, seem meager. But are they meager if what we do and communicate is that which plants seeds in people –seeds of hope, of wisdom, of Truth, of encouragement, etc. from Christ’s love and Word– so that He can cultivate their hearts through it? Such efforts are not meager if they help individuals come into fellowship with God so that they too can learn to walk in His will for them.
And what is God’s will? It is that we love Him and others and that we show this love through deeds. It is not enough to merely speak or write, as good as that may be. God does tell us to proclaim His Word, but to do this merely through words on paper, in text, or across the internet is not entire obedience. Mt. 5:14-16 makes it clear that we are to shine Christ through our works (deeds / acts) as well. As Jesus commands there, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” We are to offer to God our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), not just offer our mouths and writings.
Even so, it seems that many bloggers, at the expense of spending alone-time with God, meditating on His Word, listening to His voice, praying on their knees, worshipping with psalms and songs, memorizing Scripture, and going out ministering in every way possible, are instead sitting at their desks, in their comfortable homes, or even in bed, reading what other bloggers write and then writing their own articles about how others should live. Writing against those who commit the sins of not taking up one’s cross or sacrificing one’s life for the Gospel, they remain at home allowing themselves to be the exception, unaware of their hypocrisy.
Truly, if we are not putting into practice what God’s Word says and what we ourselves are preaching, then we’d best refrain from writing and speaking. Jesus tells us to put His words into practice. (Mt. 7:24) He says that even if we hear (listen to / read) His words, if we do not put them into practice, we are headed for an enormous fall and crash (v. 27), even complete destruction. (Luke 6:49) Why? “Because you did not do what I said to do, but rather your own ‘pious’ things.” (See Jesus’ warnings in both passages –Mt. 7:21-27 & Luke 6:46-49)
I met a Bible teacher years ago who told me that he thought the contemporary church was most like the church in Sardis in Rev. 3:1-6. Maybe. Regardless, I do think it does describe many (certainly not all) bloggers. The Lord says there in verse one, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Christ is looking at our deeds / works. He is saying that although we may put forth a godly facade so that we have the reputation of being wise and righteous, He sees that we are dead. In verse two, the Lord commands, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Thus Jesus views this person –who believes herself to be spiritual– to actually be spiritually weak and asleep, and He is warning that any bit of Life in her is about to die! Why? Jesus says in the rest of verse two, “For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” Deeds. It is about deeds. Deeds that follow, match, and test the integrity of our words, our preaching, our promotion of Christ’s words. Our works must be complete, meaning faithful, in line with the Truth, and under the continuous control of the Holy Spirit in every area.
Jesus commands further in Rev. 3:3: “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.” The Truth must be held to and fully obeyed. The decaying one must repent! If she does not, she is not worthy to be clothed in white. (v. 4) She will not overcome and her name is in danger of being erased from the Book of Life.” (v. 5)
Therefore, let us heed the command “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Tim. 6:18) For it is by doing such things that we make for ourselves a firm foundation for the coming age, so that we may have a solid grip on true Life. (v. 19) Yes, good works, done in faith and obedience to the Spirit and Word, is what justifies us before God. (John 15:6,10 // Rom. 8:9 // Ja. 2:24 // 1 John 2:3-6)
Let’s take warning from Ja. 3:13 as well. It says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” That says a lot. It reminds us that the person who is wise, the person who understands God’s Truth and acts accordingly, is revealed to the rest of us by that person’s righteous life, and that such a life consists of deeds –deeds that are done in humility, a humility that comes from wisdom, God’s Wisdom. For men’s wisdom, which aligns with envy, selfish ambition, pride, and a denial of the Truth (v. 14), is a false wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” (v. 15) Deeds produced from this wisdom are Death. (Mt. 7:21-23 again)
So, concerning these “spiritual” people who exempt themselves from Christ’s command to produce good deeds, –what are some of their main excuses? Well, we know this one: “I’m too busy.” Yet time for movies, T.V., ball games, chatter with friends, eating, shopping, hobbies, and surfing the internet, is certainly not left out.
Another related excuse is this: “I have to make money for my family.” Yes, we should do that for if we do not provide for those God has entrusted us with, we are worse than unbelievers. (1 Tim. 5:4-8) However, we should also ask ourselves if we really need all that we are working to possess. Shouldn’t we try to get down to the bare minimum if it will free us up to better serve Christ? We are to be content in every situation, whether in plenty or in want (Phil. 4:11,12), for we must be devoted to Him alone, not money, possessions, recognition, or anything in the world. (Luke 16:13 // 1 John 2:15)
There is also this excuse: “I’m too tired.” Or, “I don’t have the energy.” Or, “I’m sickly.” Maybe these excuses should be expressed to Joni Eareckson Tada (http://www.joniandfriends.org/blog/) who has not let her quadriplegia stop her from ministering in huge ways across the globe, and find out how she would answer. We know from God’s Word that it is when we feel most unable or weak in ourselves that Christ’s power is made perfect in us to make us humble and strong for every assignment He commands of us! (2 Cor. 12:7-9 // Phil. 4:13) Besides, if a person has the energy to repeatedly write long articles reprimanding the world, it is simply their lack of faith that disables the energy to get out and minister where the Holy Spirit can empower them for every task in line with God’s will.
Someone might use the excuse, “I’m too shy.” But that’s no excuse, for we are not ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) and if we pray and obey, the Holy Spirit makes us bold to preach and minister. (Acts 4:29-31)
What about the excuse that our spouse or parents can’t spare us or simply don’t want us to go, or that we feel an obligation to them? In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus had answers for those with such excuses: “Leave them, and follow and serve Me,” is, in essence, what He said. Though Jesus may order someone, as He did the demoniac He delivered, to, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (8:39), this does not justify remaining at home, preaching to the same family members for years. Jesus has commanded all of His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations… baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19,20) No one is exempt from evangelizing and teaching others throughout the world. If God has called us to remain in one location, we need to be sure that we are ministering across that location, in person, and that we are also aiding those who go to the farthest parts of the earth. Jesus has ordered His followers to do this (same verses / Acts 1:8), so to know it and not obey it, is to commit sin. (Ja. 4:17)
Let’s remember that we are to obey God rather than humans, if they are trying to block us from obeying what we know God has commanded of us. (Acts 4:19) As Jesus taught, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife [or husband] and children, his brothers and sisters –yes, even his own life– he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26) How can it be any clearer? If we shrink back from following Jesus anywhere and everywhere He commands –if we refuse to give up all we have– we cannot be His disciple. (v. 27,33)
“But it’s too dangerous,” is another excuse. Yet didn’t we just read Luke 14:26? Jesus says there that we must hate even our own life, meaning in comparison with our love of doing the will of our Commander. As He taught, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” (9:24) His statement right before that was, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” If we want to be lukewarm about this, we will be spewed out of Christ’s mouth. (Rev. 3:14-16) Are we aware that the lukewarmness referred to here regards DEEDS?! (v. 15)
Truly, for those of us who blog, or hand out tracts, we, like any Christ-follower, must be engaging with people. We cannot write “from an ivory tower”, telling others what it looks like to live out Christ’s example if we are not open examples ourselves, modeling, for everyone possible, what that looks like. Christians and non-Christians must be able to see our lives up close –that we are genuinely Christ-like and are in obedience to His every command. In handing out tracts, we should never do it mechanically, but must listen kindly to people’s questions and beliefs, hug them, pray for them by name, be interested in them, be courteous and gracious, and be truly loving and concerned, helping them in practical ways as God guides us.
Those who preach God’s Word cannot resort to words only. We must back up our teachings by deeds that everyone can see. Not in a way so as to boast, like some ministers may do, but only that others may understand that we, like every Bible-believer should, are doing what we are exhorting others to do.
As Paul instructs in Phil. 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me –put it into practice.” Can all of us say this to everyone that hears us or watches us? It should be so, for the precise reason that we ourselves are doing the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
While evangelizing downtown for a couple of hours yesterday, another believer who I met and spoke with, said that he likes to remind people that if we claim to house the Holy Spirit then we need to have His personality. I liked what he said. He brought up Gal. 5:22,23 and that having the Spirit’s fruit means to have the Holy Spirit’s personality. He lamented that so many “Christians” do not seem to believe this is necessary in the life of a born-again Christ-follower. How right-on this guy’s assessment is. For we are commanded to “obey God” (Rom. 15:18), hold to the teaching of Jesus (John 8:31), and be teaching everyone to obey everything the Lord has commanded. (Mt. 28:20) Yes, only those who obey the Holy Spirit of God and Christ are inheritors of Eternal Life. (Mt. 7:21-23 // John 15:10 // Rom. 8:9,13,14 // Gal. 5:19-21 // 1 John 2:6 & 3:24)
Consequently, if we claim to belong to Christ, then we must be in submission to His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9,14) If we are in submission to Christ’s Spirit, then His righteousness will bloom and grow in us, being revealed through our conduct, our thoughts, our attitudes, our words, where we go, what we do, and what we refuse. It is Christ’s life permeating our life and consistently shining out for all to see, ever increasingly brighter.
Are we loving, patient, gentle, and self-controlled? This is the personality of the Holy Spirit written about in Gal. 5:22,23. Are we full of joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness (to God and others), and full of all goodness? All of these are there in those two verses. Contrary to popular opinion (including the majority of “Christian” opinion), we must be participating in the divine nature and no longer be sinful. (2 Pe. 1:3,4 // 1 John 3:6-10) Indeed, only the person who DOES what is RIGHT is righteous! (1 John 3:7) “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) Instead that person is of Satan (same verse), for, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” (v. 8 )
Let us understand what God’s Word is telling us: We can have God’s personality or the devil’s personality. What we choose to DO determines it, which then determines our permanent destination and which God/god we will dwell with eternally. (Mt. 25:41-46 // 2 Thes. 1:8,9)
As Jesus warns, “Do not be amazed… –those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29)
October 16, 2015
Several days ago, in commenting (through email) on my 10/8/15 post, a friend wrote this insight to me:
“What I am up to is where I am… I am either doing what is right or doing what is sinful. I am either obeying God’s commands or being disobedient. I am either in the sphere of the Lord’s love or outside of it. If I am outside, I remain condemned in my sin. If I am inside, I remain there and will be doing what is right.”
I think her concise commentary is excellent. It is to the point and summarizes clearly what God’s Word, particularly 1 John 3:6-10, is telling us. She is saying, “What I am doing, is the place I am in.” How true!
This morning as I was practicing my Scripture memory verses, I was reminded again of how necessary it is for us to be choosing to do what is right in God’s eyes, choosing to do what is in line with obedience to Christ, the Word, the Holy Spirit, and God’s will, and to be choosing this because we love God and others and so that we may remain in God’s love, not under His wrath.
One of the verses that I took extra note of was 2 Chron. 19:11. It is a command, among other commands, that the God-fearing King Jehoshaphat of Judah gave to those he was appointing as judges. He told them to carry out their duties with courage (v. 11), to judge carefully and as God judges –without injustice, partiality, or bribery (v. 7)– and with the fear of the Lord upon them. (Same verse) He told them to warn the people not to sin against the Lord (v. 10) and told them that they were not instructing and judging for man but as a representative of the Lord Himself. (v. 6) We too should heed this counsel in all our decisions, choices, actions, and judgements.
Here is what 2 Chron. 19:11b says: “Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well.” Another version says, “Serve courageously, and the LORD will be with the upright.” At biblehub.com readers can see other versions, but combining the versions, I chose to add it to my memory verse booklet back on 1/2/13 (a significant day for me) like this: “Be strong and act! And may the LORD be with those who do well.” As the Lord impressed on me that day, and since, through this verse, it is we who are to make the choices that are in line with courage and action, along with the patience, self-control, love, and wisdom which the Lord has previously been training us in.
Let us take note that 2 Chron. 19:11 is teaching us that action is necessary. –That we must act and do so with courage, and that only after we resolve to do this by taking up our stand and our spiritual weapons, and only after stepping into and walking in the revelation we have so far been given, then the Lord will be with us. In other words, if we choose to remain inactive when we’ve been shown what to do, even if it is just one tiny step, the Lord will not be partnering with us. How can He? We are refusing to partner with Him. In being disobedient to the guidance He is giving us, we are not operating in faith but instead in sin. (Rom. 14:23 // Ja.4:17) In fact, lack of faith and courage incur God’s wrath! (Heb. 10:38,39 & 11:6 // Rev. 21:8) Now of course if the Lord has told us to wait, then obeying that command takes strength and courage too. For waiting on the Lord is definitely not an inactive position, as praising, listening, and getting prepared is certainly work!
Another verse that struck me this morning in my memory-verse rehearsal, was Jude 1:20. It says, “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” This verse is teaching us to be active. It is teaching us to “keep ourselves in God’s love.” It is teaching us that by our choices (of actions, words, and thoughts), we are the ones who keep ourselves in that safe position; and combined with such verses as Eph. 3:20 and 2 Pe. 1:3,4, we know we are enabled to do this through God’s own power. This “keeping ourselves in”, we are told we do as we wait to arrive at our final destination of eternal life. This verse does reveal that we are not in eternal life in all its fullness. As we walk its road, we are still waiting for the fullness of it even as we are waiting for Christ’s continuous mercy to help us the whole way. Jude 1:20 is definitely teaching us that we must remain in God’s love so we can arrive at Eternal Life’s final place and that we do so by our choices.
We have a whole Bible that tells us how we keep ourselves in God’s love and which encourages us by reminding us that we have God’s fully-adequate power to do so. (Eph. 1:17-21) It tells us that we are enabled to be free (Gal. 5:1) by our obedience to Christ’s teaching. (John 8:31,32) It tells us to thereby put away falsehoods and every speck of impurity (Eph. 4:25 & 5:3-12 // Ja. 1:21), to put off our old self and to put on the new self (Eph. 4:22-24), to “live a life of love” (5:1), to speak the truth in love (4:15), to train ourselves to be godly with the strictest of training (1 Cor. 9:24-27 // 1 Tim. 4:7), to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so we won’t fall from our secure position (2 Pe. 3:17,18), and to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24) This all means we are to be doing what is right, good, and holy. Only then are we in Christ (1 John 3:6,24), and only then are we considered righteous in God’s sight. (v. 7-10)
Jesus sums it up very clearly for us: “Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (John 15:9,10) And, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) Only then will we receive the goal of our faith (1 Pe. 1:9,13-17) –the grace to be given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. (v. 13) –That grace and mercy that will be given to us for the salvation of our souls, eternally. (v. 9,13 // Jude 1:20)
It is “obedience that leads to righteousness” (Rom. 6:16), not a confession / claim / belief / prayer. (Titus 1:16 // 1 John 2:3,4) It is obedience that enables God to give us the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:32 // Rom. 8:9) And it is obedience that brings us to eternal salvation. (Heb. 5:9 & 10:26-31) Therefore, possessing righteousness, possessing a clean standing with God, possessing the Holy Spirit, and possessing a guarantee unto eternal life comes only by remaining in Christ’s love. And that comes only by obeying His commands.
Let’s read again the insight my friend wrote:
“What I am up to is where I am… I am either doing what is right or doing what is sinful. I am either obeying God’s commands or being disobedient. I am either in the sphere of the Lord’s love or outside of it. If I am outside, I remain condemned in my sin. If I am inside, I remain there and will be doing what is right.”
Therefore, let us “make every effort” (2 Pe. 1:5) to walk in behavior and attitudes that are increasingly holy (v. 5-8) so that we will be making our “calling and election sure.” (v. 10) And this, so that we will never fall from that mercy and grace that grants us, That Final Day, a rich welcome into the Eternal Kingdom of Christ Jesus, the King. (v. 10,11 // Mt. ch. 25)
October 10, 2015
Out of the numerous positive responses, inquiries, and conversations I have every single time I go out witnessing on the streets, I usually have only one, maybe two, encounters that I consider frustrating. Yesterday it was from the most unlikely (it seemed at first) person.
A nice-looking family –a man, woman, and their young children– smiled at me, took one of my tracts, and asked me for directions to the aquarium, which I gave to them. A few hours later, in seeing them again, I said, “Oh, hi! Did you have a fun time at the aquarium?” The woman came over to me and said, without smiling, “Yes, but I want to ask you a question about your tract. It indicates that you are stating that people must obey Jesus, not simply believe in Him. Is that what you are saying?” I told her that that is precisely what I am stating because it is what the Word of God teaches. She was very upset and said that it was not good that I would be telling all these people such a thing. When I quoted some verses about obedience, she said that obedience verses are all about the initial act of turning to Christ at which time His righteousness is imputed to us forever, no matter what we do after that. (I sigh even now thinking of the wickedness of false christianity.)
I responded that we have Christ’s righteousness only as we remain in His love which we do through obedience to His commands. I quoted John 15:9,10 where Jesus says, “Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” Again she said that the commands are about believing in Jesus. I said, “Believing in Him means to hold to His teaching.” Then I quoted John 8:31 where Jesus says, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.” She said that Jesus was saying that only to His twelve disciples. I said, “No, everyone is to follow Him and His teaching, and following is to be His disciple. Following means to be listening to His voice and be obediently following Him and what He says, which is how we will never perish.” (I was at this point referring to John 10:27,28 which I figured she knew.) However, she would not accept what I was explaining and instead continued to insist that we have Christ’s righteousness through believing in Him, not through obeying Him.
It’s sad that although this woman asked me to clarify my beliefs and teachings for her, she did not like the answer and so would hardly let me give my reasons. Though I quoted many verses for her, including John 5:29 where Jesus says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” and 1 John 3:24 which says, “Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them”, she just kept interrupting, trying to straighten me out; and while shaking her head, she would talk over me saying things like, “No, no, you must be taking those verses out of context.” Truly how alarming it is that those who call themselves “Christians” will not listen even when numerous Scripture verses are quoted for them.
Here is my tract that she was reacting against:
Many so-called “Christians” believe that they can “believe” and that that is enough. It is not enough. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe. Of course they do. They actually know. But believing or knowing doesn’t save. Believing, trusting in, and obeying saves.
“Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord [Jesus] must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Tim. 2:19) “Turn away” means a life of constant turning AWAY –not towards. For even a dot of sin is “wickedness” to the Perfect Holy God.
So, it is only THE gospel that saves –no speck of arsenic in The Truth glass is allowed! Or it will kill you. 1 Cor. 15:2 says, “By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. OTHERWISE YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN VAIN.” Read the Bible to learn the true gospel.
That Truth is what this woman was refusing to believe. And when I supported it with more Scripture, she still refused. She didn’t mention my signs specifically (see the second and third photos below to see which ones I was wearing yesterday), but she probably didn’t truly believe those either, though both come straight from Scripture. The one about the kingdoms is from Col. 1:13,14 (as well as from John 3:19,20), and the one about sin’s captives called to freedom is from Isa. 49:9 (as well as from John 8:31-36).
Well, today I decided to make a sign that would not cause any doubt as to what I believe. And I included several Scripture references to point to for those who think we should all adhere, as they do, to a doctrine that denies the necessity of obeying Christ’s commands in order to walk in Eternal Life.
5. This last photo was taken a couple of weeks ago (9/28/15) because this young man had someone take it with his camera and he sent it to me (and I got his permission to post it). He is a Christian and we had a wonderful conversation about God’s Word. When using this sign I often quote 2 Cor. 10:5 which teaches us to take every thought captive to be obedient to Christ. I often add, “Because where our thoughts go, there go we.” And everyone understands that!
Well, witnessing about Jesus and His Word is a huge privilege. I love doing it! And though the frustrating people spur me on to keep studying, writing, and witnessing, the rest of my encounters –precious people and conversations also filled with the power of the Holy Spirit– spur me on as well.
May we all always seek the Truth of God’s Word fervently and teach only what is there between its pages.
October 8, 2015
We are either in the love of the Lord or we are under His wrath. The people of the whole world exist under God’s condemnation for having –each one of us (Rom. 3:23)– committed lawlessness (1 John 3:4) against His Royal Law of Righteousness. (John 3:18 // Gal. 3:22 // Ja. 2:8-10) But, thanks be to God, through Jesus, those who believe and obey God’s Word are rescued from this state! (Rom. 7:24,25 // Ja. 1:18 // 1 Pe. 1:22,23) Through Him we are rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into Christ’s Kingdom. (Col. 1:13,14) By being baptized into Him we have had the sinful nature circumcised off and live instead with a new nature birthed and enabled by His Spirit and Word. (Rom. 6:1-7 & 7:6 & 8:9 // Gal. 5:24 // Col. 2:11,12 // Ja. 1:18 // 1 Pe. 1:22,23)
Now, once we are in Christ, we must produce fruit. We do this by remaining in our Lord, who then remains in us. (John 15:4) If we neglect to feed on Him, we will be rejecting the flow of Eternal Life (6:53-57), be unable to bear fruit (15:4,5), and will be cut off from Christ by God Himself. (v. 2,6) This severance means we will no longer be in God’s love (His kindness and mercy), but rather be once again under His condemnation. (Rom. 11:20-22) If genuine repentance occurs and there is a real change, we may be accepted back (v. 23 // 1 Cor. 5:5), but for some the condemnation is final. (Mt. 18:32-34 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 10:26 & 12:14-17)
So, let us heed the Lord’s words when He says, “Now remain in My love.” (John 15:9) And how do we do so? He tells us: “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (v. 10) Obedience to Christ’s commands is the only way to remain within God’s love. (1 John 2:5) It is the only way to remain one with His Spirit. (3:24) It is the only way we can be (legitimately) confident concerning the Day of Judgement. (4:17) Why? “Because in this world we are like Him.” (same verse) Because in this world we conducted ourselves as Christ did. (2:6)
“No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning.” (1 John 3:6) This is plain wording. Those born of God cannot go on sinning because God’s own nature abides within them. (3:9 & 5:18) This is not, as so many teach, referring to Christ’s righteousness covering over a person who remains sinful, but refers to the believers themselves being pure and holy in mind, heart, and conduct! As we are told, “He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” (3:7,8) And again, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) And again, “…everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” (2:29) The meaning is plain: What we do –our behavior, our words, our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions (deeds / works)– reveals who we belong to –God or Satan. So as Jesus says in John 5:29, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
Everyone is either doing what is right or doing what is sinful. Everyone is either obeying God’s commands or being disobedient. Everyone is either in the sphere of the Lord’s love or outside of it. Those outside remain condemned in their sin. Those inside are remaining there by doing what is right.
It is about doing. Doing sinfulness or doing righteousness.
It is about doing.
September 26, 2015
The Lord is a fortress. In fact, He is the Supreme Fortress, the Almighty Fortress. But is He this for everyone? He is not. For He guarantees this only for those who call out to Him and wait in patient trust for Him to act –to act in His timing and His way. And His ways are certainly not the same as man’s methods.
There is another thing which people need to have in order for God to be their fortress. It is “the fear of the Lord.”
Pr. 14:26 says, “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress.” Yes, the Lord Himself is the Secure Fortress, but let’s look at the rest of the verse: “…and for his children it will be a refuge.” Children, being they are legitimately under the care of the parent who fears the Lord, will be included under God’s protection. But here I am emphasizing that it is “the fear of the Lord” itself that gives a person The Secure Fortress into which they may take refuge.
What, then, does this mean for those who say they love God but who lack “the fear of the Lord”? It means that they do not have any guarantee of being secure, not only from the evil realm, but also from God’s wrath against all that remains a part of the evil realm. This should be cause for all to desire to know what the “fear of the Lord” entails.
So what does it mean to possess “the fear of the Lord”? It means to respect Him, to be in awe of Him, and to honor Him passionately. It also means to be afraid of Him. True, if we are walking in continual obedience to the Lord, then His love surrounds us with protection and we should not fear but instead have confidence concerning the Day of Judgement. (1 John 2:5,6 & 4:17,18) This does not mean, though, that there is no realm of fear that exists right there outside of the realm of God’s love. Obedient servants walk in God’s love where fear has been excluded, but disobedient ones are spurning this sphere of blessing, and so they do have reason to fear!
Let’s view it like this: If we have an illness, but one that is completely curable through an antibiotic, then do we have reason to fear if we are taking the prescription faithfully? No. But what if we reject taking it, or take it haphazardly? Should we fear that we will likely not recover? We should fear! Only the foolish would not.
Let’s use this example: If we are the employer and we have a great employee who works hard, fulfills his obligations, and strives to maintain a considerate, helpful, respectful relationship with us and his coworkers, would that employee have reason for any fear? He shouldn’t and wouldn’t. But would he have reason to fear if he was slack and rude to us and others? He definitely would have reason to fear, and he would, if he did not quit his nonsense, be fired from the company.
We could use other examples, but the obvious is clear: Obedience to a leader and a good attitude toward him and others will be cause for confidence, not fear. But disobedience to a leader and a bad attitude toward him and others should and will be cause for fear, as well as cause for punishment.
Let’s go back to Pr. 14:26: “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” We are being taught that when we fear the Lord, the fear of Him becomes for us (and for those children under our care) the “ticket” into the Secure Fortress and Refuge. If we are in a secure fortress, we have no reason to fear. Therefore, if we are abiding in Christ, we have no reason to fear. But should we walk out of that safe place –that place we remain in through the obedience that comes from fearing the Lord– then we are no longer safe, and we do have reason to fear. The reason to fear is that we ourselves have jeopardize our well-being, doing so by a lack of fearing the Lord.
What, exactly, does it mean to lack the fear of the Lord? It means we are committing sin. It means we are rejecting wisdom. It means we are rejecting righteousness. It means we are rejecting the commands and guidance of the Lord. It means we are engaging in treason against God, the Supreme Ruler. Can such a person abide in Christ’s love? He cannot, for it is only through obedience that a person remains in that safe position. (John 15:10 // 2 Peter 3:17)
The safe position, the secure refuge, is the Lord. But He is walking. Therefore, we must follow. If we do not follow (closely, obediently, and consistently), then we are not safe in His hand (His love) or safe eternally. (John 10:27,28 & 15:6,10) Turning back, lagging back, or standing still will keep us from remaining in the Secure Fortress, and we will instead be living, whether we realize it or not, in the abode of fear, which is under the wrath, not love, of God. (Rom. 14:23 // Heb. 10:38,39 // 1 John 4:18 // Rev. 21:8) As Jesus warns, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32)
Lot’s wife, because she took God’s escape with reluctance, God’s judgement, which rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, engulfed her as well. (Gen. 19:12-29) She started the escape, but she looked back to her sinful, pleasurable home with longing. She believed the escape was necessary, but she did not fear God enough to run. She lagged, she hesitated, and her heart was not fully devoted to escaping the wicked city. Her half-hearted obedience, revealing her lack of “the fear the Lord”, landed her under the judgement of raining sulfur. As Jesus continues after reminding everyone of her, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
If a person fears the Lord, he will stay away from sin, which will thereby allow him to walk in full confidence with the Lord. As Ex. 20:20 says, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The man who fears God runs from sin and its temptations. He will never be ruled by sin but will be submitting faithfully to Christ’s rule, and will thus be walking in freedom from fear. By being willingly obedient, such a man continues to be one in spirit with Him who is Perfect Love and Eternal Security Himself. (John 15:9,10 // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 1 John 3:24 & 4:16-18 & 5:20)
Truly, the person who fears the Lord possesses, with assurance, the Secure Fortress and Refuge, and he does so because he is consistently obeying the Lord.