Friday, June 30, 2006

The Lord's Supper

Matt.26:26-28 - And as they were eating Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

There are three basic views of the Lord's Supper.

TRANSUBSTANTIATION - This word describes what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, that as a believer eats the bread and drinks the wine they become the real flesh and blood of Jesus Himself. They also mistakenly teach that this communion is part of a means to salvation and imparted grace which will help you get into heaven. That system of religious works is not only manmade, it is Spiritually deadly.

CONSUBSTANTIATION - This is what was taught by Martin Luther who believed that the actual body and blood of Jesus was not present in the bread and wine, but a special Spiritual presence of Jesus somehow was in the bread and wine. He did not believe that the Lord's Supper was in any way part of salvation since redemption was through grace by faith alone.

SYMBOLIC - This is the view that most evangelicals would believe. We believe that the bread and the juice(wine) symbolize the death on the cross of the final Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a Sacred "refocusing" on the life giving sacrifice of our wonderful Savior. Let's look at some Biblical aspects of the Lord's Supper:

1. It is a way for self examination before God. The Scripture teaches us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. Simply put, only true believers should take the Lord's Supper and each individual must examine his own heart to confirm that we are in covenant with God through Christ before we participate in the New Covenant Passover, Communion.
2. It is a good opportunity for believers to repent and receive full forgiveness before our Lord. Every believer knows what it is like to be a true child of God but not be walking right before the Lord. Before and during the Lord's Supper the Holy Spirit gives true believers an offering to return to full fellowship with the Author of the New Covenant.
3. Beside baptism which occurs once for every believer, it is the only outward ritual that Jesus ever gave to the church. It can be a powerful outward sign to unbelievers which can be used by the Spirit to draw them deeper into a conviction about their own standing before God. As the stones in the Jordan were used to get children to ask, "What meaneth these stones" so the Lord's Supper can be used to elicit a curiosity that opens a door of witness.
4. It is a means of worship. To any believer the bread and juice are obvious in their meaning, and the deep sacrifice that the Son of God made for the sins of the world is brought to a personal level as each believer eats and drinks for himself. That should propel us into a place of worship before the Risen Lamb.

Now it is clear that the early church observed the Lord's Supper every Sunday as they gathered as believers. The Old Testament Passover, which through an earthly lamb pictured both one night in Egypt and the coming Lamb of God, was observed on one day a year, the day the children of Israel were "passed over" by the Death Angel. The New Testament Lord's Supper has no earthly lamb because it is a memorial that represents the sacrifice of God's final Lamb, Jesus Christ. It observes an event, laden in a Person, as opposed to a day and therefore the early believers anticipated it every Sunday as they gathered. It was a solemn ritual that not only pictured the cross, but it recreated the actual Last Supper when our Lord changed the Passover observance into the Communion of His sacrifice just hours before He would lay down His life. That was the only time the Lord's Supper was observed before Jesus' death.

Now this sweet, deeply meaningful communion observance was a gift to the church straight from our Lord's own hands. It openly speaks of God's unspeakable love as exhibited eternally on the cross. The blood and the ripped flesh. The thirst and pain. Revealing and revolting. And so intimately our relationship of grace, that Jesus allowed us to picture His death in a way that to the natural man is absurd in its sacred symbolism. The entire story is so profoundly simple so as to be rejected by the prideful nature we inherited from our father Adam, and yet it is so utterly and truly profound it can never be understood by a million Einsteins. And this Spiritual recreation of the most sacrificial and magnificent and surpassing love ever offered anywhere in any place or time and to the most undeserving and depraved creatures has now been relegated to a once a month or once a quarter event that either finds a cramped space in the regular "service", or is conveniently enjoined with some other meeting to "kill two birds with one stone". How sad.

May I make a suggestion for anyone who is interested? How about rising a little early on Sunday morning, take some bread and juice, find a quiet place, or as a family observance, partake of this precious and incredibly symbolic communion with the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. You do not need any church leaders, you only need the One who first broke the bread of His body and gave the cup of His blood, our Savior Himself. He will manifest His presence to you in direct proportion to your heart of worship.

The apostle Paul, via the Holy Spirit, adds three little prophetic words included in the Lord's Supper. I Cor.11:26 - For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till He comes. A reference to another and future coming which should remind us that there are still some visible scars from the death we now show forth, and they come with the Person about Whom we now eat and drink. And in verse 34 Paul teaches that this eating is not to satisfy physical hunger, no this is to create and satisfy Spiritual hunger. The last fellowship that Jesus had with His disciples before He died was over the Lord's Supper, and He exposed Judas before the Communion so as to keep it holy. It is a unique and Sacred observance to the Lord, and we should observe it reverently, solemnly, and without haste. It should have a place of honor in the midst of the gathering. Remembering Jesus and His cross is a fragrance of the heart that should fill our inward man with a worship that sometimes is "unlawful to be uttered".

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? I Cor.10:16

It is almost unthinkable that the Christ of God, the Spotless Lamb of Glory would allow us to enter into a Spiritual communion with the very act of grace and love that proved our guilt. What kind of love is this? What kind of Savior would desire to commune with the ones whose sin drove Him to that Roman cross? Why am I drawn to this open horror and shame? Why is He drawn to me? This is way out of my league and way past my poor earthly mind, I can only touch this glory by God's Spirit. And when I eat the bread of His body I am not repulsed but I am humbled and filled with the love of worship. And when I drink the juice of His blood that mysteriously represents the scarlet robe with which the Father covered His only Son for me, I am transformed by the vision that travels back two thousand years and by God's Spirit is brought fresh to me at that very moment. The world knows nothing of this luxurious and priceless redemption. Gather all your gold, all your silver, all your precious jewels, all your mansions, all your kings and princes, all the stars, all the galaxies, gather them all together in one colossal attempt to impress even the most wide eyed little girl - and it cannot compare -


Bow your head and heart, partake of the bread, drink the juice...and immerse yourself in the worship that only a redeemed child of the Living God can ever know. The depth of the simplicity will forever crown Him in the midst of all of heaven.

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Why the Cross?

Phil.2:8 - And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
I Cor.1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The Heavenly Father had told Adam to eat freely of all the trees of the garden - all but one. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil was strictly forbidden to eat from. This tree obviously represented attempting to be a judge which was, like Lucifer, trying to be God. When Adam ate of that fruit there was no chemical that cursed him with death, no, it was the act of disobedience and rebellion against God and His Word that caused Adam's Spiritual death. Adam's sin fathered a family tree of death which grew with every birth. This sin would find its way inherently and volitionally in every person and with that inheritance came a trust account of Spiritual death to be drawn upon at physical death.
Now in the midst of the gross and complete darkness of this Adamic kingdom comes the Light, the Lord Jesus the Anointed One. His end would be our beginning, His shame our honor, His death our life. But why the cross? Why not a quick and private death which still shed Hid blood for the remission of sins? People were killed in all sorts of ways, why did God choose the cross? There are caverns of revelation treasure in those two wooden beams which were cut from a tree that Jesus Himself created. This wasn't some dead Jew on a cross, and this wasn't an arbitrary form of death. This was God Himself in human form and this was the mode God chose and ordained before the foundation of the world. Why?
THE FIRST TREE: In Genesis Adam partakes of the forbidden tree and he Spiritually dies. Every child of Adam, infected by this first tree, finds Spiritual life again from this last tree, the cross. Born of Adam through the tree of sin, born again in Christ through the tree of life. Two trees. One death, one life.
THE INTERSECT POINT: The cross has one place where both beams intersect and our eyes are naturally drawn to that place. It is there that the Son of God is presented as the Savior. The horizontal beam = the first Adam. The vertical beam = the last Adam. Horizontal = human. Vertical = divine. Horizontal = earthly. Vertical = heavenly. This is the intersect point of all history. It has been a little hazy until now, but after the cross there will be only two lines - a broad one leading to hell and a narrow one leading to heaven. The cross is the only place to intersect and change destination.
THE OUTSTRETCHED HANDS: Just the position of His body on the cross is significant. How many times did Jesus in life stretch out His arms and say, for instance, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden..."?. But here at His death it encapsulates God's heart, "Come let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". The placement of His arms say, "Whosoever will may come".
THE LIFTING UP: Notice His feet don't touch the earth, He is lifted up between heaven and earth as a mediator between God and man. The only mediator (I Tim.2:5). By His own words, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me" (Jn.12:32). He is not just a man and yet not just God. He is the Son of man and the Son of God. He is suspended between both as the God-man.
THE PUBLIC SPECTACLE: Jesus will be crucified in front of everyone. Even the Romans won't be able to claim He didn't die, they'll have to make up a story about someone stealing the body. This public viewing will showcase the vileness of our sin and will be used by God the Holy Spirit throughout the years to convict millions of their sin personally. As grotesque as this sight was, it still mysteriously screams "I love you" from the very Person on this cross of shame. It isn't enough for God to have His Son brutally murdered, no, He allows Him to be openly mocked so we will know that Jesus knew how depraved we were as we ridiculed our only Hope.
THE SUFFERING: We know about physical pain and suffering, many men had been crucified. But we can never know about Spiritual pain and suffering which is beyond our limited scope of understanding. The depth of sin against the justice of God results in the suffering of the Scapegoat. Like the physical healing of the man in Mark 2 reveals His ability to forgive sins, His physical suffering reveals His Spiritual suffering as well. And just to let the Heavenly City remember how eternal His suffering on the cross was, He takes His wounds into His glorified body.
THE WOODEN ALTAR: In Genesis Abraham hears God's voice tell him to sacrifice Isaac and he takes his son and lays him on an altar of wood before God stops him and Isaac is spared. Now this cross becomes an altar of wood on which God offers His Son and there is no sparing. A vertical altar of sacrifice, magnificent and bloody, on which Abraham's ram is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus, plucked from the thicket of this cursed earth. Now the ram had horns from which the priests made shofars, the horn which called God's people to worship. As we look on this Messianic Ram let us hear God's call to worship. At this cross we are on holy ground and it should move us to brokenness, repentance, and sometimes tears of love..
THE EXALTATION: Another reason for the cross is the exaltation of God's Son, even in death. which confounds the wise and gives life to the humble. He is symbolically lifted up to be praised and worshiped as He suffers and dies voluntarily and sacrificially for every son of Adam. How many of us once knew about Jesus dying on the cross as religious folklore, but one glorious day(!!!) the Holy Spirit revealed to us what that cross really meant and our knees buckled as we fell in adoration to worship this mutilated and bloody Lion of Judah who bled, suffered, and died in my place! Oh halleluiah, I found what I didn't even know I was looking for when by faith I knelt at this wonderful horror. To say I didn't deserve it is an infinite understatement!!!
THE CONTRAST: As we see the Lamb upon he cross it offers a visual and real contrast to the tomb. The cross was full - the tomb was empty. It begs the question, Where did He go?. We saw Him in all His incredible suffering, it was open for all to see. The Romans, the Jews, the unbelievers, His mother, John, the two thieves, and anyone else who wished to pass by saw the cross was full with Jesus. The Romans, the Jews, His mother, John, and anyone else could now visit the empty tomb. They saw the cross, they see the tomb. The contrast must be reconciled in everyone's heart, something happened - what?
THE DOORPOSTS: In Exodus God told His people to slay the passover lamb and apply the blood to the wooden doorposts and the Death Angel would pass over their house. Upon the wooden doorposts of this cross would be the blood of God's own Passover Lamb by which the angel of the second death would pass over all covered in this blood. The cross represents the bloody doorposts of Egypt and the Door itself bled in the middle of the beams. Wow, there is so much intertwined truth in all this that only the Holy Spirit Himself can lead us into it and make us not only understand the symbolism, but apply it to our hearts making it part of our worship.
THE WARNING: In Deuteronomy God instructs the hanging of men from a tree as a warning to everyone of the judgment of breaking the law. The cross in two tributaries of one great river both offers and warns people simultaneously. It screams REDEMPTION and JUDGMENT. The cross warns unbelievers that this is what they face without this cross being theirs. It is either Christ judged or you. There have been times when a hand grenade has been tossed into a crowd and a brave soldier dove upon it to die as he saves others. The cross warns there is the wrath of God coming, and only Jesus has placed His own body in the path of His Father's wrath, for us. The cross says me. We may never know until the Great White Throne judgment how much our King took in our place.
THE ROD: As Moses and the children of Israel came to the Red Sea the chariots of Pharaoh were quickly approaching. Death was overtaking them when God told Moses "lift thou up thy rod" and stretch it out over the Red Sea and the waters parted and they escaped death on dry land. The wooden rod that parts the sea of sin and provides the eternal escape from death. God holds out the wooden Rod of His cross, parts the sea which leads from eternal damnation to eternal life, and He beckons "walk through by faith".
THE WOODEN ARK OF NOAH: As the people ridiculed Noah as he built the wooden ark God had told him to they could not imagine the judgment that was coming. Why? Some believe it had never rained before so the people had no reference point, but ultimately they did not believe the Word of God. Noah preached for one hundred years with no converts, no seekers, and no baptisms. With no church members who financed the building program? God. The same God who provided the wooden ark of His cross that provided shelter to whosoever will. Judgment is coming no matter if we believe the Word of God or not and the only shelter is the cross. We better make sure we are in God's Ark, completely sealed and safe from the eternal flood of God's wrath, and not some pleasure craft of our own making.
THE MIRACLE OF ELISHA: Elisha had prophesied that a certain woman would conceive a son and she did. But after the child was grown he died and the woman went back to Elisha begging him to do something. Elisha went into the dead child and stretched himself upon the child and the child came to life. When the Son of God stretched Himself upon the cross He made an offering for everyone to come back to life. We were all once dead in trespasses and sins, but after we came to Christ He stretched Himself upon us and we came back to life.
THE AX HEAD: As the sons of the prophets were cutting down trees the ax head came off and sunk into a pool of water. They asked Elisha to help them especially because the ax head was borrowed. Elisha took a stick and threw it into the water and the ax head floated to the surface. Now we were drowning in the borrowed ax head of Adam's sin when God in His mercy placed a wooden cross in the midst of this world. And all who trust in this Holy "stick" will see the ax head of their lives come to the surface, plucked from this world of sin, and restored to become a servant of the Most High.
THE MANGER: God came into this world placed in a wooden manger and He left placed on a wooden cross. Remember He made everything at His birth, the manger, the straw, the animals, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Jesus made them all Himself. He made everything at His death, the cross, the nails, the soldiers, His mother, John, the hill, Jesus made them all Himself. So next time you read about the wooden manger, see the wooden cross. That is why He came anyway.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT: Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". The bronze serpent represented God's judgment, and all the children of Israel had to do was look and live. This symbolism is obvious. Jesus is lifted up on the cross, takes the judgment of God, and now anyone can, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved". That serpent, the Devil, has stung everyone with his poison but his judgment is sealed also on the cross. Jesus said, "...the prince of this world is judged".

There are many more symbolic representations of the cross of Christ that not only edify but teach and I suppose it would take a lifetime to exhaust them all. These are some that God renewed to me and I share them with you. In March of 1975 I don't recall how many of these I knew then, but I suddenly became aware that the cross provided a door for me that I could not provide for myself. By the grace of God the Holy Spirit quickened my understanding and I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not even consider what God could do for me here, I just knew that following Him by faith meant I "would not perish but have eternal life". The honest truth before God is that when I became a believer in 1975 I could have cared less about the things of this world, I only cared about following Him. Thirty years later, after traveling along with the Church of the You Can Have it All with Jesus on the Side, I am trying to return totally to my first love. There is a place in Jesus, shadowed by the Father's wings, that remove the cares of this present world. It is a place of worship and prayer, guided and strengthened by His Word, that transcends and transfigures. To bow your head and meditate on the coming of God Himself and giving His life for you so you might have His life forever, what else matters? It is the Magnificent City of Refuge whose builder and maker is God and to which I continue to walk toward by faith. If you have already gotten there, pray for me.

Hold high His cross!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Preeminence of the Word

I Pet.4:11 - If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;

There is only one truth in the world, God's Word. Everything else, even if it is true, is always subject to change. Most things that are acknowledged as truth are based on man's acceptance, observation, and social metamorphosis which all have their origin and refinement in the fallen intellect of man. Let us look at morality without God's Word. Homosexuality would be perfectly acceptable without the teaching of God's Word. Think about abortion, polygamy, adultery, and all other similar behavior; all legitimate mores without any absolute guidelines. What about stealing, lying, cheating, and even murder? If there is only man's opinion then why are they wrong? As a matter of fact, who said there is any such thing as right and wrong? Without God's Word all the laws that govern man's behavior come from man's mind, and there will always be wide and varied opinions.

The most dangerous deception, therefore, is that which is true but not based on God's Word. Let me illustrate. We would approve of our children's teacher telling our kids not to lie. But what if that teacher is openly gay and his teaching about not lying is based on humanistic reasoning not God's Word. You see, the devil uses that which is true, apart from God's Word, in order to create a moral bridge and deceive our children into accepting homosexuality because the teacher is not only nice, but he has moral standards. Anything, and I mean anything, that does not have the Word of God as its foundation and source is based on the reasoning of fallen man and ultimately is a house built on sinking sand.(Jesus, circa 26 A.D.) We have enough trouble disagreeing over interpretation without creating moral bonds not wholly based on the written Word of God. This notion that anything that is based on the "Judeo-Christian" ethic(which is a man made term) is acceptable is the spirit of antichrist. If any view does not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to eternal life it is a deceptive spirit, no matter what it believes about the ten commandments. The martyrs did not die over moral teachings, their blood was shed because they preached Christ and Christ alone!

From Rush Limbaugh to Dr. Phil to the most conservative politician, they may espouse certain moral issues but they do not claim the Word of God as their foundation, and God teaches us that that "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist"(I Jn.4:3). The "moral and good" spirits are the most "familiar", and they are the hardest to discern. If you think that the war is over morality in any form, you are already deceived. The war is over the Son of God. The rest is moral deception. As an amateur astronomer I am well aware that most scientists are not believers and present truths out of their own observations, and that always changes. Our calling as followers of the Lord Jesus is to read, believe, preach, and conform to the Word of God. Period. Our cause is eternally different and distinct from all other causes on the face of the earth and cannot be compromised by any alliance with other causes, no matter how "moral". Our calling is not of this world, it is Supernatural.

God has called us to be separate from the world. One of the major causes that we as believers have lost the power that was evident both in Acts and other times in the church, is that we now have earthly alliances. Israel was forbidden to join with other groups, and when they did they backslid. If a group is pro-life, pro-family, or against gay rights it should not matter to Spirit filled believers, our calling is to "go into all the world and preach the gospel". When we champion moral causes we misrepresent to the world that we are some kind of moral sheriff. In love we should preach Christ and Him crucified to a lost and dying world. Anything else is asking a dead man to straighten his tie.

Remember, judgment must begin at the house of God. To preach morality to the world in the condition the church is in is not only hypocritical, but obviously ineffective. It is more important to God that His church be revived than our government ban gay marriage. No matter what the government does clerically about gay marriage, homosexuals are still committing sodomy in your neighborhood. And they will gleefully continue, and teach others to do it, unless they become born again followers of Jesus Christ. And the gay community, as well as the whole community, will not be significantly reached unless God sends a supernatural revival among His followers. We need reformation, the world needs regeneration!

The spreading of the seed(God's Word) under the power of God's Spirit is the ONLY answer. Oh how we need an awakening! The church in America is so powerless and assimilated culturally that we are like Samson who,"knew not that his power was gone". We shed more tears over the death of our dogs than over the lost. The early church was built by agonizing, today we organize. I personally do not have revival, I am just a voice who God has awakened to the need. You could say,"Physician heal thyself", and you would be right. Of course that is another deception of the enemy, look at someone else. Get alone somewhere and ask Jesus personally, "Lord, where am I, and where am I supposed to be?". We only have this one life to sacrifice for Him; we'll soon see Him

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Without Distraction

I Cor.7:35 - ...and that you may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
I Cor.7:32 - But I would have you without carefulness.

It must, amazingly, mean something to the Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer of our souls to spend time with us. He even goes so far as to advise some to remain single so they would not be encumbered with the necessary cares that come with marriage, and they would be much more free to fellowship with Him.
The Lord Jesus, through the Spirit, in verse 32 of First Corinthians exhorts us to be "without carefulness" or without worrying about the things of this world. In verse 29 the Lord points out that "they that have wives be as though they had none". From verse 29 through verse 35 He openly indicates how strongly He desires to spend time with His children, and although God clearly instituted marriage, He warns against even letting our spouses come between Him and us. He lists other things in verse 30, emotions and possessions, as areas to guard against in our unique and paramount relationship with Him. And summing it all up He says in verse 31 not to get caught up with this world which will one day pass away.
But let us focus in on that phrase in verse 35, "that you may attend upon the Lord without distraction". How annoying is it to be speaking with someone who is obviously attentive elsewhere? How frustrating and even disrespectful is it? We've all been on either side of that scenario, but we would think it should be God Almighty that would be distracted with greater and higher issues when dealing with our insignificant lives. I mean what do we have to offer Him, and what about us could possibly capture His attention? But incredibly enough it isn't the Lord Who gets distracted with us, no. we get distracted with Him. How transparent of our utter sinfulness that we would allow ourselves to lose Spiritual focus when speaking with our sweet Savior. It is shameful! The Spirit of God calls us to "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ". And here the Redeemer inclines His heart and ear to us and we shortchange Him.
Like the children of Israel who, just after stepping on the miraculous dry land between two mountains of piled up water in the Red Sea, immediately grow fearful and even melancholy about their previous place of slavery, so we are so often distracted by the things of this world as they steal the precious time with our Risen Savior. What has the most gracious Lord offered to us while still in this world?
To hear the Spiritual voice of the Creator Redeemer. He who said, "Let there be light" speaks to us. The voice that proclaimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" speaks to us. The Lamb that spoke, "It is finished" whispers to our spirit. And the Lion of the Tribe of Judah that roared, "Behold I come quickly" has time to share with us.
We are granted the privilege of "beholding the beauty of the Lord". Not with human eyes, oh no, but with Spiritual eyes that see much further and far deeper and with infinitely more definition than the human optic nerve. With a combination of the Scripturally based imagination, the guidance of the Spirit, and through the prism of the Word of God we get an unspeakable glimpse of our majestic Lord.
The everlasting contentment of eternal life. One day we will leave this earth to be with Christ but even now we have eternal life. Eternal life. Our inheritance has been reserved for us and no one can steal it or diminish its brilliance. The passing of this present world only adds to our expectation of entering the celestial city whose builder and maker is God.
The comfort that comes from the one who made us and loves us with an everlasting love. His presence like a Spiritual salve blankets our lives and removes the doubts and fears that "flesh is heir to".
In this multi-task culture let us honor the One who deserves devotional time with His children...without distraction.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Place Called Hell

Rev.20:15 - And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Hell. Even secular writers portray it as an awful place. In scores of places in the Scriptures we are given glimpses, and Jesus Himself first used the word Gehenna to depict it. Gehhenna was the refuse dump outside Jerusalem that was kept burning day and night to keep disease from spreading. Now this place of post death fear has tortured men and women since Adam sinned. It is the message that Lucifer aggressively fights to either keep hidden or at least on the back burner of Christian presentation so as to lull people into a sense that we consider it somewhat of a fairy tale.

Hell. If it does exist as the Bible describes it, what else could take priority over avoiding it. In this candy store theological genre of today we have minimized eternal life as well as eternal damnation. I want you to think about that for a minute. The Lord Jesus Himself taught that if a person dies without Christ they go to a place of torment - FOREVER. That, brothers and sisters, is an incredibly hard reality to believe. Every one of our lives falls way short in substantiating the fact that we believe it.

Hell. Right now there are people burning in this awful place. Tormented and in pain. They are there forever and they know it. When I was about 10 years old I burned my finger on a fourth of July sparkler. I was in real pain and I thought it would never end. If someone had told me I'd have to live with that pain for the rest of my life I would have despaired. That was a finger. A FINGER! You cannot legitimately argue that the average preacher really believes in the reality of hell. Why would he not constantly beat the warning drum for every sinner to hear? Does he not care about people? I think that if we really believed in hell in a deep and profound sense, we would constantly have to reign in our emotions and people around us would certainly feel more uncomfortable than they do. When was the last time you wept openly as you considered the plight of the lost? Yea, me too.

Hell. You would think this would be the chronic warning from the church who professes to believe it. Imagine the meteorologist in New Orleans in 2005. As he teaches people what the weather will be in the coming week, he fails to mention a gigantic, counter-clockwise swirl moving north from the Caribbean. When asked about it, he replies, "Oh yes, that is hurricane Katrina". When pressed further he acknowledges that he believes that Katrina is going to come up through the Gulf of Mexico and devastate New Orleans killing hundreds. When asked why he isn't warning people he replies that people don't want to hear it, people don't like that kind of weather report, and he wants to have an upbeat program that makes people feel good about the weather. Even the world would arrest a person like that, but we in the church put up with and even lift up "preachers" who never warn anyone about hell.

Hell. Have you ever seen a person die a painful death? Imagine a man in the agonizing last moments of his death. You go into the room to say good bye and there he writhes in excruciating pain. You leave and return a month later and there he is, still in painful death. You go away and return one year later and still he pulsates with pain but he cannot die. Ten thousand years passes and still that same man, in mortal agony, cannot die. One million years and no change. The heavens and earth roll away and are replaced with a new universe, but still that man lies there dying but not dead. This is a humble picture of what God calls the "Second Death". If Jesus had warned that all lost sinners will spend a million years in unbearable torture, and then are released to heaven, that would offer a little hope. But the truth is that when a sinner is cast into hell he can never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be released. God help us. Selah.

Hell. Women boldly remove their clothes for men. Homosexuals boldly show public affection. Politicians boldly lie to their constituents. Infidels boldly blaspheme God. Muslims boldly murder Jews and Christians. Hollywood boldly makes its immoral movies. Evolutionists boldly spread their theories. But the church is almost silent concerning the greatest and most profound threat to a sinner's soul. Like a dinosaur, Jonathan Edward's sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is considered a classic that has long since died out. A museum piece, but not relevant. If you remove the cultural clap-trap that passes for preaching, you can hear an ominous Spiritual pin drop, interrupted only by the screams of hell's new arrivals.

Hell. One horrible day the lake of fire will be full. No more games, no more chances, no more extreme makeovers, and no escape. There is no seeker friendly hell. No purpose driven hell. No wealthy hell. No relevant hell. No self esteem hell. No contemplative hell. No emergent hell. No, these are just earthly vessels that are taking millions on a one way cruise to THE EVERLASTING LAKE OF FIRE. This is no game and I am not being melodramatic, this is Spiritual reality. How can we spend so much time with trifles, that at their core are nothing more than attempts to improve our hedonistic lifestyles, and call it "preaching" when eternal death awaits billions? So let us purify our message to include the "should not perish" aspect. Let's ask God to awaken a boldness in our witness that shines His light on the kingdom of darkness. Let's speak, praise, pray, worship, read, and walk in holiness and in such boldness that the world may not believe what we say, but they must believe that we believe it!!!

May the Lamb that was Slain receive the Reward of His Sufferings!!!


Babylon the Great


In approximately 600 B.C. ten of the tribes of Israel known as the northern kingdom were conquered and carried away by Assyria. This was a direct result of their sin, hedonism, and idol worship. Subsequently, God once more warned the tribes of Judah and Benjamin that they would suffer the same fate if they did not repent. They would not listen to the voice of God and in 597 B.C. the Babylonians came and carried them into captivity.
Now the Jews were an intelligent and industrious people and they made their way in the Babylonian culture. It wasn't long before they became quite comfortable and even prosperous in their new found home. They had become Babylonians. But after seventy years God called men like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubabbell, and others to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. These men, though, could only find a remnant in Babylon that would go back to Jerusalem and rebuild. God's people had friends, homes, businesses, and roots in Babylon and several generations had been born there. They wanted no part of any Spiritual pilgrimage to rebuild any Temple that they had not even seen in the first place. Happy and prosperous they would stay in the culture they knew and now loved.
Now in Revelation chapters 17 and 18 John refers to Babylon the Great and describes this great city as a false religious system as well as a greedy, hedonistic culture. It doesn't take a doctorate in Biblical studies to see that we are living in the fulfillment of what John prophesied on that Lord's day. We now live in the most convoluted and idolatrous religious system in history, and its Siamese twin is the wealth seeking and hedonistic culture. Together they have not only taken control of the world, but modeled themselves after Biblical examples in order to complete the deception. Even self proclaimed Christian political leaders like Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and the current President Bush have deceived people into believing that spreading democracy and capitalism is the answer for the world's problems.
God is calling a remnant to rebuild the Temple today. What is the Temple?

Rev.21:22 - And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Ps.27:4 - One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.

The temple. The tabernacle. The house of the Lord. In the Old Testament the Lord dwelt in a temple made by Moses. In the New Testament the Lord dwells in believers who are the temple of the Lord. But look at Revelation 21, there is no temple within the Holy City because the Lord and the Lamb ARE the temple. Think about that statement, the temple IS the Lord and the Lamb. What does that teach us?
Look out, now, this is the fine china of God's Word and it must be meditated on to be consumed and understood. Paul reminds us that our lives are "hid with Christ in God" and Paul also teaches us that we have "Christ in us, the hope of glory". Now let's combine these two truths. In this world Christ is in us and in heaven we will be in Christ. Of course we are in Christ positionally now, but upon arrival in the City of God we are literally in the temple - Christ. This is an awesome thought. I cannot fully surround it with my earthly mind, and rightly so. We get the image that in heaven we will be gathered at the throne of Almighty God and the Risen Christ Himself and this is eternally true. But go a little further. We will not be worshipping in a heavenly temple as we worship at His feet, no, somehow, someway, in a majestic mystery, we will be worshipping the Lord who IS the temple. Explain it? Forget about it. We would have more success explaining physics to a dog than for us to completely understand that which God has already told us we see through a "glass darkly".
But look at Psalm 27 and notice it says to "behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple". To enquire or pray in His temple is to pray in the Spirit or pray in Him. He is the temple and He is gloriously beautiful. Beyond words. Beyond imagery. Hold on or we may get lost. How do you explain to a man born blind what the color blue looks like? You cannot even explain what color is. Now the Lord is not just beautiful to the eye, He is beautifully crowned with grace, truth, holiness, and every perfect attribute that IS Him. Those divine attributes adorn Him, uh, visually. And not just with earthly eyes, no, with perfect heavenly eyes that surpass just the light gathering phenomenon of the fleshly retina. Will we hear AND see what He says? Will we see AND hear His attributes? What am I trying to say? I am saying that our Glorious Savior, the Majestic Lord of the Universe, is, in fact, more beautiful and glorious than we can ever hope to imagine this side of our new bodies of grace created specifically to worship Him in all His Splendor! We will experience senses far beyond what we have in this three dimensional realm. Never needing a break from praise, never being distracted by our flesh, never growing weary of worship, sometimes bowing, sometimes shouting, sometimes singing, but all times fully concentrating with all our beings on the wonder of our Alpha and Omega.
So if God in all His majestic persons IS the Temple, then our calling to rebuild the Temple today has nothing to do with brick and mortar, no, it is indeed a calling to rebuild the revelation of the Person of God Himself in the church. It is a call of the Spirit to pick up stakes, leave this Babylonian culture and religious system, and preach the full counsel of Almighty God and lift His true Godhead high and glorious. None of this "sneak up on sinners" preaching that presents Christ as an appendage to a well rounded American lifestyle. To rebuild God's truth about everything which is "Yea and Amen" in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, a return and careful adherence to the written Word of God is paramount. And a deep, searching movement of prayer within the Body of Christ, beseeching His mighty power through our repentance, must be in concert with the preaching of the August Word of God.
Can you hear the Spirit of Ezra calling again to God's people, "Let us rebuild the Temple by His Sovereign Word". Can you hear the Spirit of Nehemiah exhorting us, "It will be a battle, but not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord!". The Spiritual walls are broken down upon the carnal wisdom of pretending preachers, and the modern church gates are burned with fire, the strange fire of false teaching. But there is offered to us the opportunity of a God glorifying revival that will usher in a new reformation that separates us not from the apostate Roman Church this time, but from the apostate evangelical church. Can you feel the freedom that comes from preaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

May Jesus Christ be high and lifted up upon the everlasting throne of His own Word!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Kidnapping of the Bride

II Tim.3:13 - But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment and immediately underwent a sweeping brainwashing. By April, she had embraced her captors to such a degree she was trusted to help rob a bank for which she was later convicted. Now when someone is kidnapped and subsequently joins their abductors it is called the Stockholm effect named after a famous bank robbery in Sweden in which the captives developed an affection for their captors.
In the year 1517 a young monk nailed the 95 thesis's to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and the Reformation was born. Now Martin Luther was very flawed as a person who sometimes had a heart for God and sometimes had an appetite for wine. He was a rabid and vitriolic anti-Semite, but just as God uses imperfect people like you and me, God chose to use Martin Luther. Although the Holy Spirit had much work to accomplish in the theology of the church in subsequent generations, the main theme of this mighty move of God was that salvation was by grace through faith alone and that all teaching must be based solely on the revealed and written Word of God. Miraculously, the Lord had revived and reestablished His church and separated her from the apostate Roman Church.
In later years the Holy Spirit weaved fabrics of revival through America, England, Wales, and other places where saints sought the Lord in prayer and a Sovereign God heard their cries and graciously sent a fresh move of His Spirit which initially brought the believers to glorious repentance, and eventually reached lost souls for the glory of God. There were always some doctrinal differences, but for the most part they were non-essentials that did not affect salvation. Christ was preached, the Word of God was held high, and salvation was by grace through faith alone. Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other denominations strove to advance the kingdom of God.
By the 20th century the Industrial Revolution had matured. With the new technologies, primarily of travel and communication, greed, avarice, competition, and capitalism took a quantum leap in Europe and the western world cultures. As the kingdom of darkness prospered, it cast its eyes on God's bride, only to find that she was gazing back over the wall of God's Word and onto the growing and attractive evil. From that point on it did not take much coaxing to allure the bride out of the protection of the Word and into the excitement of the humanistic culture. One stroll around the devil's dance floor and the bride was mesmerized while not even aware that the evil one was closing the door behind her. She had been abducted and she didn't even know it. As a matter of fact, she was enjoying her new found friends and wonderful freedom, all the while not seeing the shackles that had been placed around her legs. She was in bondage by the one who had promised her freedom.
No longer would the church have any criteria by which to test new converts for their own good. No longer would God's people have to sacrifice anything, on the contrary, they could now lay up for themselves enormous amounts of treasure on this earth and actually teach that it was God's will. Worldly leaders? Yes! Fleshly entertainment? Yes! Millionaire preachers? Yes! Mesh with the culture? Yes! Sanitize the message? Yes! Her dance card was full and she was having the time of her life dancing with Rome, Mormons, liberals, physiologists, politicians, Carnagie, Peal, universalists, and anyone else who at least believed in a god. And to soothe her conscience she changed God's Word to accommodate all her hedonistic ways.
Most egregious of all, as the bride lay in Lucifer's bed, she turned and asked if they could have a membership drive designed to attract as many sinners as possible. Lucifer not only agreed, he said that he had many great and effective ways to reach people. But most importantly he insisted that God's Word must be thoroughly camouflaged since that was what turned people away to begin with. The bride agreed. Lucifer said that there were some principles that could be used as they kicked off their campaign. What do people want; What do people like; What do people need; What makes people happy; and what parts of the Bible do people most strenuously object to - cut them out. The bride wasn't completely convinced, but Lucifer said it all was to reach as many people as possible, "After all wasn't that what God wanted?". That made sense to the bride and she quickly acquiesced and the planning began. Upon these new tactics Lucifer would hang a few token Scriptures and pronounce his theological work of art a "masterpiece". And by and large the church has entirely bought this "masterpiece" and hung it in the gallery of thousands of pulpits for all to admire.
Now this little metaphorical narrative is either the musings of a Spiritual paranoiac, or it is an accurate representation of the subtle deception that continues today throughout the church. And against the backdrop of the August Word of God it appears much, much worse than we can imagine. And like a gigantic and multi-pronged python, the deceptive tentacles of the spirits of anti-christ have wrapped themselves around the hearts of the pulpits of most evangelical churches today and have crept down into the pews and are now squeezing the truth out of the hearts of God's people. And anyone who "cries aloud" with a warning against this obvious departure are rejected as trouble makers and divisive. But in the example of Luther, even though the bride has fallen in love with her captor, should we not still attempt to rescue her? Just because her captor is upbeat and friendly should that absolve us from speaking the truth? Just because her kidnapper offers us a peace treaty, should we sign it? Just because her abductor has a much more fleshly and attractive message, should we change ours to compete?
Some of us know first hand what we are talking about. Some of us have danced on the purpose driven dance floor and being fully deceived we sincerely thought we were helping God out with our creative strategies. And by some gracious miracle, we were rescued by the Spirit of God and mercifully debriefed. So do not think we hate those still trapped in the "cotton candy" ballroom of humanism with a thin layer of "lip synched" Christianity. No, we love them and we will continue to raise the bullhorn to our mouths and loudly exhort them to "come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Lord". The only hate we have is for the one that kidnapped her in the first place. His works are evil, his message is death, his gospel is counterfeit, his words are lies, his plan is deception,

but his time is short.

Lord Jesus, send us your power to destroy the works that the Deceiver has wrought. Let your powerful Word begin unraveling this humanistic avalanche and set the captives free. Fill us with your love, make our words strong and clear, keep us ever humble, and in ALL things...


Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Jn.8:51 - ...If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
What is death? We have come to fully embrace the world's definition of death as the cessation of the body life. But the Word of God from the mouth of the Lord Himself says that "He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live". Even in some of the raising of the dead miracles that Jesus did he stated that the person was only sleeping. The Scriptures declare that all unbelievers even if physically alive are "dead in trespasses and sins".
It is a deep mystery, the deepest of mysteries, that frightens all men. Have you every seen someone die? I have seen several people take their last breath, including my own mother. It is an unsettling experience when the person is not a follower of Jesus Christ, and it is a faith building experience when they are. Of course one of the tragedies and phenomenons of today is that many people who die are marginal Christians whose death evokes mixed emotions. Leaving the body is the most important time in anyone's life. It is at that moment that our eternal destination is revealed. It is serious business, and it should be considered frequently. Not in a morbid sense, but every person should examine their own mortality in the light of their relationship with Jesus Christ, and all preaching and witnessing should always have at its foundation eternity. What should it profit a man if he gains money, career, and a "blessed life" and lose eternity.
Now consider the most glorious death ever witnessed, the death of Jesus of Nazareth. Either this death was a grotesque massacre of a deluded Jew from the loins of Judah, or it was the apex of the Creator's plan to provide an escape for His doomed creation. It cannot be both, but it must be one or the other. If it is only a man's death than it needs no further inspection or consideration. It is irrelevant. But if it is indeed the sacrificial offering of the Son of God provided by the Heavenly Father Himself, and if it is the ONLY door to eternal life, then it deserves a lifetime of inspection, consideration, and adoration.
To say that Jesus of Nazareth was innocent is an infinite understatement. He was eternally and wholly pure. Beyond words or thoughts. Spotless. Holy. White. Sinless. Unselfish. Blameless. Loving. All descriptions fall short of illuminating the celestial glory that God's Son walked in. Revealed as the Son, but also the Father God Himself. As Paul says, "Great is the mystery of godliness, that God was manifested in the flesh". The Scripture uses the metaphor that Jesus was "led as a lamb to the slaughter", but that imagery can only reach so far. An earthly lamb unknowingly goes to his death, but the Lamb of God willingly goes to His slaughter. For you and me. It seems to us to be such an insignificant reward - us. But that dilutes the unimaginable love of God. To die is the truest expression of one's love, but to die for one's horrible enemy is unthinkable. The death of our Savior, God's Son, propels us to worship the Risen Lamb with all of our hearts. I sometimes cannot believe my amazing fortune, to actually know Him and receive His eternal life! To say I don't deserve it is actually false humility because it is such an understatement. You and I are vile and accursed creatures that had not only forsaken God but had enjoyed being His enemy. Not only did we deserve an eternity in the lake of fire, we actually deserved never to have been created. We even from time to time display some of those repulsive attributes today. And Jesus knew all this as He was being nailed - NAILED - to a wooden instrument of death for me, and publicly ridiculed, mocked, and murdered for us. And the creatures that had most brought shame to their Father, have now been transformed by the grace of God through the cross of Christ and now bring glory to the Risen Lord. It is an unworkable equation that can only be understood by childlike faith.
And now, Death. No more a victor against us. A defeated foe, our greatest foe, lies helpless on the top of Golgotha. So what does "death" bring a follower of Jesus Christ now? Gain!? Paul says GAIN!! God catches the evil one in his own snare and now death brings to us an eternity with the true Victor, our Lord and Savior. We cannot know the exact process, but we do know that when our hearts beat for the very last time and we close out our earthly existence, that very instant we are transported into the very throne room of the Holy Lamb of Almighty God. A new and wondrous world which human eyes cannot see and human lips cannot speak. Sure the angels - sure the seraphim - sure the gold - sure the jewels - sure the thunders - sure the throngs - sure the singing - but lift your spiritual eyes and fix them on the sight that men have longed for since Pentecost. Jesus.
What can we say? What can we give? How can we ever repay Him? We cannot repay, but we can please Him. He desires us. If you and I could receive a record of how many times over the last five years we turned on the TV, or went out to dinner, or talked on the phone, or went on a trip, or fishing, or golf, or all recreations, and over the next five years we spent time with our Lord at the same intervals and the same durations, I believe we would bless the heart of our Father. And the Spiritual benefits would be incalculable! But in order for that to happen we would have to die to ourselves. Passover. That weekend changed the universe. That weekend changed me.

May the Lamb that was slain receive the full reward of His suffering.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Chosen Generation

"A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people"(I Pet.2:9)
A CHOSEN GENERATION - we have generation X, baby boomers, etc. and a plethora of other segments of people that we identify by the history of their earthly birth. God says here that we are not to be identified by our earthly birth, but by the graciousness of our new birth which is not a male/female natural birth but a supernatural, spiritual birth of His choice. The enigma of this incredible birth is that the moment of conception is also the moment of delivery! Furthermore, at the instant you were born you died!? Death and life completely at work together in regeneration and accomplishing the work of the Holy Spirit sent through the cross, exiting through the empty tomb, and searching out awakened hearts to gloriously give life to dead souls and reward the Lamb of God with another younger sibling who now is identified as part of this chosen generation!
A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD - not of the tribe of Levi; not even of Judah; but we are a priesthood of the Spirit. We are called to minister to our Risen Lord. In praises, in worship, in service, in prayer, and in intimate fellowship that can only come through His own blood. Take your time as you diligently seek His presence. No, not just the universal presence of an omnipresent deity, but the infinitely intimate presence of a Holy God revealed in the glorified person of the Risen Christ, who by the Spirit bids us "Come". What offering could satisfy this Lord, who not only HAS everything, but MADE everything? Kneel down before His glorious throne; reach into your bosom, pull out your heart, and as you fall on your face before His loving gaze, place your heart at His feet and by His grace say,"My blessed Savior and Lord, I give my heart to you, it is yours forever". Hear Him say,"Thank you, my child, here is your new heart that is fashioned after My own".
AN HOLY NATION - the original word is "ethnos" meaning ethnic or race. God doesn't mean a country, He means a new and separated race of followers not identified by their outward features, but by their behavior. Not worried or enticed by this present world. Holy. Why should we care about this world? We have eternal life. So as we go about anxious about our money, consumed with our houses, luxurious in our travel, marginal in our giving, drawn to entertainment, exposed in our surface relationships, hollow in our prayer, and a thousand other things that reveal our Babylonian mindset, let us hear the Spirit's call to "Come out from the Chaldeans and come rebuild Jerusalem!". Our Abraham, Jesus, is the Father of our race. We have been born of His seed, the Word of God. We are strangers and pilgrims in this world. If we love this world we are enemies of God. We have been bought with a price and we are not our own. We belong to His race, which is the only eternal race, and this loving racism proclaims that,"There is one body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all".
A PECULIAR PEOPLE - The word actually means "sold". Like seeing the sign in front of a house, it identifies this house as different from the others because it has been purchased. We should have a ambiance around our lives that gives off an aroma that identifies us as different. In Acts chapter four the high priest and others interrogated Peter and John, and when they heard what they said, they,"marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus". Do people take notice that we have been with Jesus? Let us just zero in on one "particular" day, Sunday. Do you purposely and sacrificially rise early to "be with Jesus". Listen to most of the friendly banter among believers as they enter the "church" building. Your health, the weather, your car, your motorcycle, football, and a myriad of other spiritually benign topics expose the fact that most of God's people spent more time combing their hair than they did with Jesus. If all we do on Sunday is leave our houses and meet in a common edifice, sing some songs, hear a speech, and return to our home, we may as well have stayed in bed. If we're not PECULIAR on the Lord's day, when are we? I challenge you this Sunday, set your alarm and rise like you would during the week(yea, a real sacrifice!). Read a whole book(maybe Galations, Ephesians, Philipians, etc.) and pray fervently that God would move not only in your heart, but that He would manifest His presence as you gather together as worshipers. Remember, there were times in the early church that the whole place was SHAKEN by God's presence. Read Acts 4:31. One other challenge, attempt to confine your talk to the things of YOUR LORD before the worship begins. It will be difficult(because we are not in that habit), but REWARDING!!
If that's too much of a sacrifice then ...don't do it. You definitely want to guard against fanaticism - it's so unseemly!

I Am Not Ashamed

Rom.1:17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...
Paul was a thoroughly educated man and fluent in several languages. He had studied the law and was a teacher of the Old Testament. His credentials were impeccable. So it would be natural that he would be mocked and questioned by his former colleagues when it came to his new found faith. Come on, Paul, where is all your learning? You studied at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most respected teachers in the civilized world. You were a Pharisee of Pharisees, a leader among the most astute religious minds of your day. And now, instead of bringing us a higher plane of Spiritual thought which would appeal to our intellectual prowess, you come preaching a "dead Jew on a Roman cross". Come on, Paul, reconsider and come back to us.

We live in a world of incredible knowledge and sophistication. Technological breakthroughs are the norm and computers boggle the mind. The average $300 home computer is several times more powerful than the one that flew to the moon on the Apollo spacecraft. We've seen the surface of Mars and the bottom of the ocean. From space we can see a picture so clear on earth you can read the headlines of the newspaper someone is reading. And yet the true gospel of Jesus Christ has not progressed technologically. Are you telling me that among all the breathtaking advances in science, astronomy, economics, philosophy, and all the other areas of higher learning, are you saying that you still believe that archaic story about Jesus dying and resurrecting from the dead? Is that what you're telling me?

We live in a world where no one is ashamed of anything anymore. Jerry Springer is not ashamed to offer his senseless show for all to see. Hugh Hefner is not ashamed to proclaim that sex is free for everyone. The gay community is not ashamed to parade publicly to shout their perversion. The talk shows are not ashamed to broadcast their mindless dribble. Hollywood is not ashamed to make their Godless films. The terrorists are not ashamed to film a beheading. And yet we as the church talk about sex, dating, fatherhood, finances, hobbies, success, morality, and a million other fringe issues while we seem to be ashamed of the cross itself. Why not billboards, why not Larry King, why not books, why not television, why not the open, unashamed message of the cross of Jesus Christ wherever we can?

Over a month ago I asked the Lord what could I do to openly, and outside "normal" parameters, witness for Him. Sure I leave tracks and speak for Him when I can, but I wanted Him to direct me to something that would glorify Him. It didn't matter if it was "effective", I wanted to publicly witness for Jesus. He directed me to make a 3 foot by two foot sign and put it on a 2x4 and hold it up. It reads: Prepare Now - I am Coming - Jesus. Now I picked the busiest highway with three turn lanes that don't even fully empty with each light. And I go at rush hour on Friday afternoon, standing for about an hour and a half, with a shirt saying "Following Judah's Lion", and holding high that sign. I know, a real nut. Now let me say that that is nothing compared to being publicly beaten, having your beard pulled out, spit upon, your back lacerated, jeered and mocked, thorns pushed into your skull, forsaken by your loved ones, nailed upon a cross almost naked, and watched like you were some kind of animal on a barbecue spit. If He, the sinless Lamb of God, wasn't ashamed to endure that for me, the least I can do is be a fool for Him.

We live in a church age when the cross of Christ is a side issue. The so called Christian books could easily be placed in the "self help" section of the store. In an effort to appeal to the masses the church has removed the unpleasant parts of the gospel of Christ until all that's left is an earthly "makeover" with a little cross tastefully sprinkled to give it some flavor. The mighty banner of the gospel for which thousands upon thousands of men and women have gladly given their lives for over the centuries, is now no more than a religious perspective that fits comfortably inside an anti-christ culture. In a society that mirrors the description in Romans chapter one, we are accepted as a part. We have left being salt, we are now sugar. God send a revival.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Worthy is the Lamb

Ex.12:12 - For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt...
God had summoned the Death Angel. This must be an amazingly powerful angelic being whose primary purpose is to bring God's message through His wrath and justice. Some of these latter day preachers who teach that God never kills haven't read the Scriptures. The Word is replete with accounts of God killing people from one to multitudes, including a frightening glimpse into the return of Jesus Himself wreaking death throughout the earth. God is God and He does what pleases Him.
As the Death Angel hovers over Egypt God is providing a way of escape for His people. A lamb. Now God can protect His people from their enemies, He can provide a sling and stones, He can give battlefield wisdom, He can part the Red Sea, but what will He provide for protection from His wrath? A lamb. Now God at that time was speaking through Moses and God's people had a choice, they could believe and live, or not and die. When God told Moses "a lamb" He wasn't making a suggestion. All the weapons of all the armies throughout the earth couldn't fend off one moment of God's wrath. A lamb. God, who was about to loose the Death Angel on millions of firstborn males and spill millions of gallons of human blood, says to Moses about the lambs blood, "When I see the blood I will pass over you".
The lamb and his blood were worthy in God's sight to protect each family from the Creator's wrath. We can't strategize out of God's wrath, we can't talk our way out, we can't buy our way out, we can't even hide from the wrath of God. Not a good life - not baptism - not Communion - not church membership - no, no, no, it must be a Lamb, God's Lamb. Male, spotless, and it must be eaten completely and its blood must be applied at God's direction.
Now as astronauts prepare for space they spend many hours in simulators until one day they march out, board the rocket, and leave for space. They have left the simulators and they are now traveling in the real thing. For centuries God provided animal simulators for His people, millions of lambs, millions of observed Passovers, millions of gallons of blood. Then one day, after centuries of silence, God raises up a prophet whose anointing was so powerful that he was asked again and again, "Are you the Messiah?". This prophet replies that he is not even worthy to unloose the coming One's sandals. But now, on a unparticular but chosen day, John lifts his arm, points to Jesus of Nazareth, and proclaims what the universe has been waiting to hear since the first Passover night, "Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!".
Now as the angels hear this identification they are baffled. They know this is their master and their creator, but they still cannot understand why He is masquerading as a man. They've seen the sin and rebellion of these humans so why would their King be one of them? But when they hear Him described as the "Lamb of God" they are deeply confused. They've seen the slaughter of all those lambs over many centuries so why would this prophet identify the Son of God as one of those?
On this day Peter was fishing, Matthew was collecting taxes, all of the disciples were going about their business with no inkling whatsoever that their lives would soon be transformed. For three years Jesus would teach, preach, perform miracles, and conduct a Spiritual class that didn't point the world to David's throne. No, this class pointed to the cross and the three days that would change eternity. The old Passover lamb had tainted blood - The Final Lamb had sinless blood. The old Passover lamb was slaughtered quickly - the Final Lamb will suffer. The old Passover lamb was sacrificed for one family - the Final Lamb was sacrificed for the entire world. The old Passover lamb was created - the Final Lamb was The Creator. The old Passover lamb postpones God's wrath - the Final Lamb took God's wrath.
Now throughout Israel's history, including millions of Passover lambs, not one, not one - NOT ONE ever rose from the dead after having been slaughtered. But this Final Passover Lamb, after shedding His blood and dying, came back to life after three days. Never to be spit on again, never to be punched again, never to suffer again, never to be scourged again, never to bleed again, and never, ever to die again. He lives forevermore!
The fifth chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ records an event that has prophetically hop scotched across history. From the animal skins that clothed Adam, to the first Passover, to John the Baptist, to the cross, to the resurrection, to the ascension, and finally, like a prophetic drawstring, all the angels, beasts, elders, and the hosts of heaven seal it forever shouting, "WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN!!".
Nothing on this earth, not your wedding day, not the birth of your child, not even the feeling you were allowed to experience on the day you were saved, nothing can prepare you for the complete and supernatural feeling of awe and worship we will experience on the first moment we lay our heavenly eyes upon the Risen Lamb of Glory, exalted on a throne, in the midst of heaven. And with a voice of exhilarated praise we will proclaim:



Saturday, June 17, 2006

Would You Still Follow Him?

I would like the Spirit of God to ask you a question that perhaps you've never been asked before. You see, He asked me this same penetrating question. It is a question that I've never been asked before, and in 31 years of being a follower of Jesus Christ I really had not thought about because I was born again in the perverted Christian atmosphere that permeates ever rotten corner of contemporary Christianity. It is a question that pulls down the fabric and foundation of what I had grown to acknowledge as truth, and like the rudder on a large vessel it turns the direction and perspective of my entire Christian journey. My Spiritual compass had been magnetized by a false motivation of what the life of a follower of Jesus Christ should be. Now here is the question:

Would you have become a follower of Jesus Christ if there was no promise of heaven after death?
Now many people commit themselves to affairs even when they know the other party will never leave their spouses to marry them. Many people practice long, arduous hours at a sport they realize they'll never be good at. Many people stay at a career about which their position will not change. The central core of a follower of Jesus Christ is not going to heaven when he dies, no, it is the glory of God Almighty and the Risen Christ our Savior. Have you, as a believer and follower, had such a Spiritual revelation of Jesus Christ that you realize that He deserves all glory regardless of our happiness and pleasure?
In the movie "Close Encounters" the people who had a brief encounter with these aliens were forever obsessed with going to be with them. Ever waking moment they meditated on the next meeting. There was no inconvenience too great, there was no embarrassment too much, and there was no expense too extravagant as they lived their entire lives pointing toward that final encounter. They were completely consumed. Those of us who have had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, are we obsessed with glorifying Him? Do we awake each morning to pick up where we left off the night before and incline our ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to us?
Let's move it even further along. Do we witness to others to glorify Jesus and add to the praise of His cross, or do we witness for the benefit of others. It seems like semantics, but it is a stark line of demarcation between the glory of God and the happiness of man. Would we tell people about Christ if we knew there was no hereafter? Is His majesty such that it transcends our reward and is solely fixated on His Personhood? Would just the knowledge of Him be a reward in and of itself? If we question any of those then we haven't fully come to know Him.

Would you have become a follower of Jesus Christ if you still knew you'd end up in hell anyway?
Wow, there is an incredibly self stripping question. The essence of this query draws into total focus the consuming thought - Is the Lord Jesus Christ so glorious that anyone would desire the chance to serve and glorify Him for their entire earthly lives while knowingly receive no eternal reward and still be punished for one's sins forever? The betrayal of the ages is that following the Lord Jesus Christ today has been portrayed not as a living sacrifice in this life with an eternal reward promised, no, we have been told that Jesus exists to make us happy in this life and in the life to come. People even believe heaven was created for us!? It used to be that people would become followers of Christ purely to gain eternal life which is still humanistic at its core, but today people become "followers" to gain the earthly favor of their Creator and have Him make their journey more pleasurable which is humanism through and through. People today are not following Jesus at all, they are following themselves and they have borrowed the name "Jesus".
How many people are actually born again and have entered into a sacrificial life that seeks nothing but the glory and praise of the Risen Son of the Living God? Only God knows the answer to that question, but it is a frightening prospect to think that tens of millions of "professing" followers have been lied to! Singing on Sundays but bound for hell. Hearing "another Jesus" preached and saying "Amen!". I'm not talking about liberal theologians or cults that we all would recognize. No, I am speaking about mainstream American evangelical churches that speak of being lost and saved, that are interested in missions, that use the Bible, that somewhat believe in prayer, but have "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man". They make false promises that Jesus never made and with them draw unsuspecting sinners to a man made Santa Claus/Jesus, and after they pray to this modern evangelical Dagon they tell these still unregenerate sinners "You're saved!". They bring in secular songs, some of them written by demon possessed men, and with them they draw men by their emotions to a finely crafted altar call designed to quickly and efficiently get people to "make a profession" as a result of their tactics not as a result of the deep working of the Spirit of God. They have "baptism days" which provide a carnival like atmosphere in which people can feel comfortable among many others while they "publicly" profess Christ without even the most surface testing of the Spirits and like lemmings they go over the cliff and drown in the ocean of false assurance.
You think people like me are being too harsh? There is no middle ground. Either Wesley, Luther, Edwards, Spurgeon, Moody, Stoddard, Judson, Carey, Whitfield, Knox, Huss, Calvin, and may I add Jeremiah, Isaiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Paul, James, Peter, John, and John the Baptist were right in their unveiling of who God is, or Rick Warren, Hybels, Schuller, Osteen, and all the other Pied Pipers of bloodless makeovers are. There is no compromise. If you are reading this exposé and you agree, then you are inwardly saying "Amen". But if you are reading this and you really don't understand what all the fuss is about, I BEG YOU, ask the Lord to help you do some research about what the evangelicals believed in former generations and compare that with the changeless Word of the Living God. Not just to find the interesting theological schisms they would have from today, no, much deeper than that. We are in Laodicea(Rev.3) today and the true message of salvation has been changed. It sounds the same, it looks the same, it's pleasant to the touch, it's costless, and the cover is quite attractive. It has pushed God's Word off the top ten and become the #1 bestseller. But open to the title page and read the title. "How to be God and have Jesus Serve You", by the Angel of Light.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Tracking a Cult

Acts 28:22 - ...for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
The headlines said it was a ritualistic style killing. The entire community was uneasy, perhaps there was a religious cult within their midst. The police had discovered members of this cult living all over the city and they were considered very dangerous. Among other cultic practices they showed exclusive obedience to their mysterious leader, who only a handful of followers had actually seen, and they refused to pledge any of their allegiance to anyone or anything but Him. They seemed to communicate with their leader in a somewhat telepathic way which they collectively and individually confirmed through a manual, similar to the enigma of WW II, which deciphered and authenticated all communications. It was extremely frustrating for the authorities to intercept and understand their messages because the manual seemed so clear and yet the police knew there must be more to it than just what was written. To encode the manual as to appear simple and almost childlike was ingenious, but the special police knew it was just a matter of time before their trained specialists would find the real meaning of some of the cryptic terms.
One of the reasons it was difficult to identify followers of this cult leader is that active membership seemed to vacillate so often. Just as the police were closing in on a family they had been observing as active in this cult, the household suddenly went inactive. The dilemma was always, "Were they still followers or not?". There was another problem for the task force, the leader seemed to be everywhere and yet nowhere. Many times they had some solid information that the leader would be at a particular meeting, but after securing the exits and bursting into the meeting they were never able to find this elusive figure. The more they attempted to kill any followers they had found, the more the number of followers increased.
The most shocking aspect of this group is their belief in human sacrifice. These followers even admitted that "We killed our leader". This was another of the disguised messages that didn't make sense considering the leader they referred to was killed several thousands of years ago. How could they have been there? They even went through a reenactment ceremony using juice, representing blood, and bread, representing flesh. How repulsive. It would be like people today carrying miniature electric chairs around their necks, and volunteering to be slightly "zapped" to recreate the event. These followers even ate and drank these representations of their leader's flesh and blood because their leader himself had commanded them to do so, often. The police were convinced that there was something subversive going on here but they were baffled as to what. They had examined the juice and bread in their lab and they had uncovered nothing. Strange...
Now these fanatics still claimed that their leader wasn't dead, he had risen after three days. The prosecutor's office presented much evidence to support their theory that no one has ever risen from the dead, and no one ever will. Of course they would have liked to have the body, but they would have to work with what they have. The entire movement had morphed into many different sects until it now was not only impossible to identify the original cult and its followers, but the sects had become much less unusual, exclusive, and obsessed with proselytizing, and even though they still claimed to believe their leader was alive, they had long since abandoned the archaic practice of gathering together to "talk" to Him. They continued to change into a nice group of citizens who were appreciated for contributing their religious perspective needed to enrich a well rounded community.
At the last meeting of the task force it was decided they could now disband. After all, most of them were now members of this so called cult, even though they were a little embarrassed by the history of their group. It seemed their early predecessors were somewhat "Neanderthal" in their approach. Rumors were surfacing, though, that some of the cult members were desiring to return to the early days. Turning back the clock on two thousand years of progress. Some people can be so intransigent. Remember, the manual is a mercurial document.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

His Presence

Ps.27:4 - One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
What we DO, is what we BELIEVE; everything else is religious talk. I watched a religious TV show several months ago that dealt with reaching homosexuals for Jesus Christ. On the show was a former homosexual who now is a servant of Jesus Christ and has a wife, children, and is the founder of an organization that reaches the gay community. Although he still had some effeminate mannerisms, he spoke with the unmistakable anointing of a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the most poignant moment came when he was asked how he walked in victory and where he got the strength to avoid relapses. His immediate reply was,"The strength is in HIS presence". What was he saying? He further expounded,"The deeper into HIS presence I get, the greater the strength there is to overcome any strongholds and sin".
Now there is an enormous difference in being aware of His presence, and being IN His presence. You can be aware of His presence and still live according to your own fleshly desires. We all have from time to time been confronted with a situation in which we had to choose between our desires and God's will. All of us have sometimes made the wrong choice while being aware of God's presence. These were not the times when we neither were aware or cared about God's presence, we've all had too many of those. No, these were times when we were definitely aware of His presence and did not find the strength to overcome.
It takes more than being aware of His presence, it takes being IN His presence. You and I can wander about the outer court and smell the incense that escapes from the Holy Place. We can even be aware that God's presence is just a few feet from us, but to be in His presence will require a sacred journey that has a God ordained chronology that cannot be altered. Metaphorically speaking, of course, no one can lift one of the three outer coverings and enter the Holy of Holies. We must proceed through the parted veil.
After, and only after, you have been through the Brazen Altar, you can now wash yourself at the Brazen Laver. There you can confess your sin and receive the forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness. You are now ready to enter into the Holy Place. Approach the Table of Shewbread and consume the Word. Not just a nibbling as if you really weren't hungry, but a consistent and ravenous eating produced by an insatiable appetite that comes from living by "every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God".
Look across the room and see the Golden Candlestick. You see, the Word has changed, is changing, and will continue to change you into a reflection of Jesus' exhortation that,"You are the light of the world". The Holy Spirit has taken the Word of God within you and has ignited it to create an unmistakable light in a dark world. People may now ask,"What is the reason for the hope in you?".
Now approach the Altar of Incense, the last piece of furniture in the Holy Place. Even though the burning incense changes the aroma in the Holy Place, its upward destination is definitely headed into the Holy of Holies. The Word teaches us that the incense represents prayer. These are not "Polly want a cracker" prayers, these are broken, seeking, and travailing prayers that seek the heart of God Himself. They beg God to capture me, use me, take me, and allow me to see your face. We all may sing "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord", but it will take more than singing to enter into a presence that strips you of everything. You see, "No man has seen God and lived". All who wish to enter into His Sacred presence must die.
How long did it take our Blessed Lord and Savior to die? Six agonizing hours. How arrogant are we to think, if we even give it a thought, that we can die at a moment's notice and experience the fellowship of His sufferings? A two-minute while driving prayer. A five minute reading of a devotional. A ten minute reading of a religious publication while in the bathroom. Listening to Christian CDs. No, it must be an incredibly rewarding path that seeks and seeks and seeks His presence. Narrow is the path that leads to eternal life, but even more narrow is the path that leads into His Very Presence. Check your schedule for today, this week. Is His name carefully given special appointments that by an outsiders account would overwhelmingly show His preeminence in your life? Remember, spending time with Him is more important than anything congress, Bill Gates, or the United Nations will ever do. People call - work calls - meetings call - children call - newspapers call - TV calls .....but HE calls...

He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit says...Come! PTL-Rick

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ministers of the New Testament

II Cor.3:5-6 - Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit;
Paul says, when referring to our ministry to be a sweet savour of Christ, "Who is sufficient for these things?". He answers it later with "Our sufficiency is of God" with a special emphasis on ministering in the Spirit. It is impossible to ever completely describe or unveil the glorified Christ with mere words, the Holy Spirit's ministry must speak of the majesty of the Lord Jesus in words "unlawful to utter". The glory of God on the face of Moses reflected the glory of the Old Testament law that was written on stone and was given with the divine purpose of one day passing away. It was called a ministry of death(II Cor.3:7) and yet even the limited and finite Old Testament law was so glorious that people couldn't even look at the reflection of that glory in the face of Moses. The ministry of condemnation was glorious. Wow.
Now comes the New Testament through it's author and embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, who also is the Creator of the universe. The Old Testament law was given with a built in self destruct when faced with the death, burial, and resurrection of it's maker, and as a matter of fact, it's primary purpose was to steer people to its Author, and upon His arrival the death knell was cast for the ministry in stone. Now why does Paul accentuate the Spirit in describing the New Testament? Because human words cannot fully communicate the glory of the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, the virgin birth, the incarnation, in short - the Person of Jesus Christ. The glory of God Himself is not something that should be manhandled by carnal and self serving men with their own agenda and carried on the wings of their own intellect, no, it must be done God's way by the Spirit.
Now enters today's relevant dynasty that uses slick entertainment, sales strategies, political issues, creative themes, television series phrases, and earthly relationship psychology to represent this New and glorious Covenant sealed with the Blood of God Himself. With the spirit of Uzzah this new ox cart attempts to carry the very glory of the Person of the Risen Christ in made man artifacts and reaches to keep it steady by enticing words of men's wisdom. Never before has Jesus been preached less and misrepresented more. It is a difficult enough prospect for a sinner saved by grace to allow the Spirit of God such access and control of his spirit so as to preach and lift up the Lamb that was Slain, but today we have removed Him from His sacred throne and portrayed Him as a celestial Dr. Phil, ready to solve our problems. The false prophets proclaim, "Jesus will heal you, Jesus will prosper you, Jesus will get you out of debt, Jesus will heal your marriage, Jesus will advance your career", and on and on stream the lies. The offer of the gospel is not that Jesus wants to come and serve you, no, it is He who offers us eternal life if we will come and worship Him!
Oh the beggarly elements of this world have replaced the resplendent Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This present world and all its sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, how much more His glory that illuminates all of heaven! Do you dream of gazing upon Him from regal head to burning toes? Does the Spirit ever lift you out of your earthly box as you look for that Blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ? Can you momentarily leave this "vapor" and rejoice at the life to come? One quiet morning, a morning that had been chosen before the foundation of the world, God Himself lay dead in a dark and borrowed tomb. I said God lay dead!? Selah. The lifeless body that the Father had given His Son was cold and still, lying on a slab. Suddenly, prophetically, amazingly, and gloriously God's life re-entered that corpse. At that very moment the first fruits budded and eternal life for us was sealed. I can never fully comprehend how, God dead - God alive? I don't know how but I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day!
Now compare that truth with all your how to be a CEO preaching. Go ahead and feed on the paltry "makeover" menu. Let the "Tips for Dating" take you into the heavenlies. All of our preaching, and I mean ALL, must center on the Person, the Priesthood, the Attributes, the Work, the Cross, the Resurrection, and the glorious Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ONLY way men can be drawn to salvation is, in Jesus' own Words, "If I be lifted up!".

Bow before the Sacred Head; Prostrate before the Royal Throne; Cover your face before His Holiness; Lift your praise before His Grace;
At this very moment, as you read this, all of heaven worships before Him...and He waits for you.

Worship Him alone...Forever and ever...Amen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Personal Revival

Rev.3:17 - Because thou sayest I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing...
Heb.11:6 - ...for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Phil.3:13,14 - Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do...I press toward the mark...

Many times in our effort to confront the growing humanistic gospel in theology and presentation we fail to fully look ourselves in the Spiritual mirror(James). Are we satisfied personally with where we are with our relationship and knowledge of our Savior? Do we "have need of nothing? Is God calling us to personal revival that carries with it a quantum leap in our prayer life? Is it enough that we are on the "right side" of the Spiritual discourse and thereby we are fed from the table of "contending for the faith" while we let a personal brokeness and searching journey for the face of Jesus Christ in our own walk remain on the back burner.
As Abram drove the birds from the sacrifice in Genesis 15, he ran the risk of leaving that sacrifice. As Nehemiah's builders also weilded a sword, they ran the risk of leaving the hammer. But as the greatest prophet of them all proclaimed "Behold the Lamb of God...", he knew that he would decrease as Christ would increase. While we stand on guard against the falling away, should we not also look to ourselves that we aren't just Scriptural but not Spiritual; searching for apostacy witout seeking Him; reporting publicly without repenting personally; perusing in cyberspace without praying in the heavenlies?
The voices that "cry aloud" against the spirits of anti-christ must continue and even increase, but never at the expense of our personal pursuit of our Master Himself. Let us not just be content with pointing out the sin of others while neglecting our own sins which are many. Why does the tidal wave of carnal Christianity continue to grow disproportionately? The allurement of the message; the cultural assimilation of the church; the "rock star" status of the preachers; the deception of Lucifer; and, maybe, the lack of Spiritual power of the "theologically correct" crowd.
It is obedient and urgent to sound the alarm to the unsuspecting sheep about the shameful and swift retreat from the cross itself in today's Christian genre, but isn't the Holy Spirit prompting our hearts to quantify and qualify our journey to the "Celestial City" so that we, personally, may "know Him, and the fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His resurrection"? We cannot point to the poison waters of the New Evanglicals while all we have is a stagnant pond.

"Where is the Lord God of Elijah"???

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Power of Damnation

Matt.10:28 - And fear not them which kill the body, but arenot able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
And so the Lord gives a frightening warning about which we all have not given it it's consummate position. Jesus says that we should not fear he (or that) which can kill the body, and that is what we most strongly fear. Think about what can kill a person, a two year old with a gun; a microscopic germ; a drug overdose; a hundred different animals; an avalanche; a tornado; an infection; old age; and a "thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to"(Shakespeare). Those are minor league compared to the center of the sun; a direct hit from an asteroid; no air; no water; a black hole; and a million other variations of things that can cause death to the body. But our Lord said not to fear anything or anyone that can kill the body, for the physical body is temporal, not eternal.
But against that backdrop Jesus exhorted us to fear Him who can cast the soul into hell. Nothing and no one has that power save "He who sits upon the Great White Throne". How many of us have had a dream where we jump, or fall, or are pushed, and we begin to fall to our death? It is an extremely unpleasant and frightening vision and some of us have awakened in a panicked sweat at the thought. Falling over a cliff conjures up monstrous emotions that we have been separated from the earth; we are heading for a horrible death; we cannot be helped; the situation is irreversible; our lives pass before us; and the final impact will be catastrophic and yet unclear. Upon awakening from that nightmare we experience both relief and a residue of fear.
The power to damn a soul in the lake of fire, forever, eclipses every power in heaven and earth except one - the power of the resurrection. I believe there is an incredible dearth of bone rattling and soul inspecting fear, both in the world and in the church. And it is a direct result of two realities in the body of Christ today. We don't preach it with the accompanying urgency because we don't believe it. Now we cannot compare ourselves with the "cotton candy" messages of much of the church today and thereby feel good about our own situation. That is a deception straight from the Deceiver himself. But upon laying open our hearts before the Almighty, and beseeching Him to search us, we may find that we need a revival that so revolutionizes our truth reservoir that our Biblical "creed" escapes from the "church shaped bushel" and powerfully lights up the world in which we live.
How can we say we believe the "story" of the Great White Throne, where souls are cast into the eternal lake of fire, and never act outside accepted social parameters? On the Day of Pentecost the disciples, filled and empowered by God's Spirit, spilled out into the street and preached a message they had only just learned themselves. We treat the Day of Pentecost as a benchmark of the birth of the church, but we don't even recognize that these followers of Jesus were in such powerful abandonment that they were accused of being drunk. And why does the Holy Spirit of God desire to fill the followers of Christ in such a way as to draw attention the message? Because the whole world is damned and needs salvation!!! Now if you believe that man doesn't have even the slightest sliver of free will, or if you do not even consider that there is a mystery to that, then go back to studying your Systematic Theology. With you there is no urgency. But if you just consider what has transpired in church history, and if you've ever read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and if you've ever read the biographies of great missionaries of God, and if you've ever flipped through the accounts of great revivals, then just maybe you feel the hunger for God to use your life outside the box you now dwell in.
And if you've ever read Revelation chapters 19&20(I challenge you to read them five nights in a row) and asked God to help you believe it, then you and I could actually speak and behave as if there was an urgency that transcends this physical realm. People then might not believe what we say, but they might be convinced we do! In the rapidly approaching moment when heaven and earth will flee away from the face of Him who sits on the Great White Throne, at that moment, all history will gather and only that which was done for the redemptive cause of Christ Himself will mean anything. Jesus didn't die and resurrect to give us a more pleasurable life here on earth. That is residual.

Jesus, the Christ, alone, has the power to damn the souls of men by the application of the justice of Almighty God.

He resurrected to eternally break that power.

It must always be our clear and consuming warning shared with a loving fire.