Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Love's Embodiment
God is love...

God does not just give love, or show love, or bestow love, but God is love. You may as well throw away the earthly definitions that are embedded with the term love, for they do not apply here. The world’s view of love is either physical or romantic, they know nothing of the divine power called love which even though God needs nothing, He sacrifices everything. Man has a need for love, God is love, He needs nothing more than Himself. So exactly what kind of love is it that comes in the form of death?

Not the swashbuckling love that faces danger to rescue his damsel, that love results in an enhancement to the hero’s reputation, but God’s love comes with no reputation. Hollywood’s love responds to the beauty and innocence of a lady in distress, God’s love rescues the repulsive enemies of His own nature. Storybook love defeats the enemy with skill and daring while God’s love triumphs with the shame of death’s cross. Fairytale love paints the characters as deserving objects of affection, God’s love pulsates from Himself without the dilution of an attractive object, His love is purely Him and operates from the unconditional glory that defines Him.

And behold, what kind of love, even when given in the smallest particle, is still the whole? What kind of love gives the whole and yet the supply is never diminished? What kind of love gives out its own essence without consideration of its object's worthiness? And when you receive the love of God you receive Him, in all His fullness, and interconnected with the entirety of God’s love to mankind, Himself in Jesus. God did not just send His love, He came as His love and to everyone who believes He seals His love with Himself inside the spirit of every born again follower of Jesus, our Lord and Lover.

The love of God has no depth or width or length or height, it is immeasurable and like the cruse of oil given to the Shunammite woman by the Prophet Elisha, God’s love will never fail. The supply cannot suffer loss and it is embodied in the Lord God Himself and made manifest unto us by the Lord Jesus Christ. God has in times past spoken to us in many different ways and through many different people, but He has in these last days spoken to us through His Son the Lord Jesus.

Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan…

We did not deserve a tiny piece of the afterthought of God’s love, but we have been made recipients of it all. By His matchless grace we have been made worthy of His love by His love. Go ahead and run that one around in that serotonin cesspool we are so proud of, but without the Spirit we cannot even see. God loves us with an everlasting love and the same love wherewith He loved the Son He has loved us also, as has the Son. Now after we have discussed all the many different ways in which God exhibits His love, and after we talk about the love of a mother to her child, and after we submit to the truth that God loved us first, someone might ask, “Can we see God’s love?”. Now no one has seen God and lived, but if you want to see God’s love in all its fullness don’t look into the vast star filled universe; don’t go to Bethlehem’s stable; don’t go to the tomb of Lazarus; don’t go to the parade route into Jerusalem. In those you will see magnificent representations of the God who is love.

But if you want to see God’s love in all its glorious fullness, complete and wanting nothing, then you must remove your shoes, fall to your knees, and lift your head to an inconspicuous place just outside Jerusalem’s gates. You will see soldiers, but they are not your focus. You will see thieves, but they too are not your focus. Open your eyes and your heart and place your entire focus upon the figure in the very center of this bloody scene, hanging upon a horrific cross, bleeding from all parts of His body, mocked and despised, brutally beaten, almost naked before His mother, and abandoned by His Father, and if you get just a glimpse in a moment of understanding,

you will have seen the embodiment of God’s love in all its eternal fullness.
Praise His Matchless Name Forevermore.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Our God and us

Saying, Amen: Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Oh stop and hear the Spirit speak
To hearts of men not ears
His voice is still, and sometimes small
But strong enough to speak to all
And warn of coming fears

It is His love that stays His hand
From judgment’s iron rod
And still the necks remain so stiff
And ears would only open if
They heard the Word of God

But as He warns He offers love
Where God has paid the cost
Escape the judgment that will come
It is the only refuge won
That drips from Calvary’s cross

Incline your hearts and listen well
To what the Spirit speaks
He’ll never slumber, never tire
With circumstances getting dire
To reach the world with gospel fire
Our precious souls He seeks.


He who seeks a reason, who seeks a cause, will find a road that simply and purely leads to Him. And there He stands the Victor, holding forth the only everlasting reason for it all, Himself. At the very first moment in His heavenly presence we will see Him as He is, but we will still be far from absorbing His Majesty in all its glory, and under the power of His presence will we not fall before Who He is and always will be?

The “why’s” have no answer and all the “how’s” are past finding out, but the Who is an irresistible journey that begins and never ends with Him. And when time evaporates into eternity and all man made puzzles of existence are exposed as meaningless frauds, there He stands, drenched in His own glory, and drawing all His subjects to be consumed with Him and Him alone. Without tiring or boredom, discontent or distraction, all of creation will bow in worshipful recognition that He is worthy and He is Ruler and He is everything. And this surrendered worship will be total, unwavering, and exhaustive. No hint of any varied intensity, and every moment will be as fresh as the first breathtaking glimpse when our new beings became acquainted with just the glory of His unveiled face.

On this earth the Spirit attempts to give us some morsels of imagery that excite the spiritual palate and both satisfy while creating an unquenchable thirst for more…of Him. Like a painter’s canvas the Spirit takes the well defined colors of the Word and mixes them together, applying them to our hearts and minds, and causes us to squint at the overwhelming light of His majesty, even if through a glass ever so darkly. August in the heavens, and yet living inside a little girl, He is the glorious package that can never be fully unwrapped, but oh the grace that takes the eyes of our understanding and urges us to keep unwrapping this unspeakable gift. And when we think we have found the final tiny box that will reveal Him to us in all His fullness, and when we tearfully and with brokenness peek into this precious gift that comes labeled as the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”, we discover that we have again been transported to the very beginning again, and again we are desperately thirsty for Jesus, only Jesus.

We should never have been granted a one second audience with Him. Never did we earn any right to His throne room. It is unjust for us to be allowed to view Him. For us to be pronounced eternally guilty, tied up and tortured, and just before being cast into the lake of fire we are granted a moment to bow before Him, would be infinitely more grace than any sinner deserved.

But to be called as sons, but to be granted forgiveness for our heinous transgressions, but to be called to be His witness, but to be identified with His cross, but to be allowed to follow in His resurrection, but to be brought to His eternal dwelling place, but to be granted access to His throne room, but to be made like Him, and finally to be permitted to worship Him forever and forever and forever is grace beyond the most unbridled imagination, and our very eternal beings will redound to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We being like Him, will worship Him, and He will forever be All in All as all of creation reflects the Creator Messiah perpetually.
And we will be there…selah…
To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Growing Darkness

In the midst of my joy which I find in the Lord Jesus, I feel a profound sense of sadness and spiritual grief as I watch what is happening to the church, His body. When I was a boy I would be playing a game of baseball with my friends when we might hear the voices of some of their mothers calling them to come. I remember seeing my friends as they one by one started to leave the game. I was sad. I now see many of the preachers who once bellowed out the Word with authority and anointing walking away to seek new and relevant approaches. To them the Word is no longer relevant.

I cannot believe how fast things are changing all around us. The core of the written revelation that came through the pen of man straight from the heart of God that was meant to enlighten, guide, and teach, is now being treated as a self help book that contains some good advice but is not the authentic and inerrant Word of the Living God. And even those who on paper claim to believe the Word of God teach it as a lunch pail/tackle box literary series rather than the powerful, Spiritual food that convicts, corrects, teaches, edifies, and exalts the Person of Jesus Christ. And worst of all the deviations from the truths of the gospel have now become widening caverns, and the guides to these falsehoods wear their altered truths as medallions of honor.

And as the majority of evangelicals turn their hearts from a consuming passion for the Word and unto a consuming passion for money and entertainment, the discernment between false and true teaching diminishes. Have you ever been outside and suddenly it becomes darker and darker and then in a few minutes a storm arrives with rain and violent wind? Well the spiritual atmosphere today is not only growing darker with each day, it is ripe with wide and varied forms of deception. This deception is not just from false religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and others, no, many deceptions are coming from within the Christian church, even from evangelicalism itself.

Does your spirit grieve over the transformation about everything from the Bible to the Lord Jesus Himself. When I fell in love with the Lord Jesus in 1975 I never dreamed that we would come to such a time as this, and now the darkness accelerates at an incredible rate masquerading as a search for truth. Lots of excitement, many wonderful conferences, and a plethora of books and tapes that line the pockets of preachers from every doctrinal perspective are the norm. Conferences about how to improve your life or getting the power to succeed attract the American believer. And even in orthodox conferences, with the church immobilized by powerlessness and sin, a preacher gives a series about “Why I am a Calvinist”. Absolute worthlessness and designed to garner the applause of the choir while absent what God would say to the most hedonistic, deaf church in the world.

The darkness continues to overtake us, ever so slowly yet simultaneously at an alarming rate, it has enveloped the western church and with a sweet song that appeals to the flesh it has piped and we are dancing. Our children live in front of television while never even realizing that there is something called the power of God in revival much less ever seeing it first hand. If you want to teach the little ones or the teenagers about revival you will have to go to the history books because we have not seen one in our lifetime. Incredibly, we are not even thirsty for one.

Is.41:17-18 - When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys, I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water.
Is.44:3 - For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thine offspring.

In 1986 I had gall bladder surgery. When they wheel you to the recovery room they watch the clock and begin to attempt to wake you up from the anesthesia. At first you can hear a distant voice calling your name, and then the voice gets a little clearer but no matter how you try and wake up you cannot. And so it is with the church today, some can hear the voice of the Spirit calling for the church to…

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light”.

The time is short, the situation is desperate, but are we? The devil sleeps with your children, he has vicious plans to destroy them in the future, are you desperate? Your marriage is under attack, seminars are only a band aid, are you desperate? While we sleep the Bible is being carefully and quietly slipped out from under our arms, are you desperate? There are children being molested and abused within walking distance from your home, are you desperate? Men are laying with men in your general neighborhood, are you desperate? The days are evil, they tick by and every morning we are left with one day less to serve our wonderful Lord and Savior, are you desperate for Him? The whole world lies in the Wicked One and the events scream out that the end is near, are you desperate?

The darkness is now palpable, but this dense darkness is only a prophetic sentry telling those who would listen that a divine storm of eternal destruction and judgment is rapidly approaching this very planet and in God’s eternal providence we are alive now. We are being called to an unusual ministry of reconciliation and to spread and exhibit the awesome power of the everlasting gospel and its Author.

But where is the power to awaken from this earthly slumber and not only confront the darkness but spread the incandescent Word of the Living God? Where is the revival we need to violently wrest us away from the things of this world that hold such sway in our hearts and lives? We can barely keep Christian men away from pornography and lust, how can we possibly find the power to accomplish the apostolic mandate to flood the earth with God’s glorious gospel? The prayer lives of Christians and the churches they attend are an embarrassment to the cause of Christ and an affront to His Majesty’s Name, so how will we continue to pretend we have His power? With every new strategy, new relevancy, new worldly method, and new translation designed to appeal to sinners not convict them, why have we not realized we are powerless, void of the power of the Spirit that fell upon dirty, uneducated, common, and insignificant followers who turned the world upside down two thousand years ago? And they had nothing but the fullness of God’s Spirit and the desire to preach Christ and Him crucified.

We are left with this, either Christianity is a lie or we are living one. Can you imagine a man like Christopher Hitchins debating the Apostle Paul and winning the debate? Can you imagine Wesley sitting in a round table discussion on Larry King and blending in? Can you imagine Finney coming to a church and preaching a little series about finances? If you and I were the apostles called on the Day of Pentecost, would the gospel have spread around the world? It is impossible to list and catalogue all the signs of worldliness and death so evident in the church today. We are all asleep and happy to be so. Until we allow the Spirit of God to awaken us from this slumber and fill us with divine desperation, all things will remain the same since the fathers slept.

The darkness grows…the storm is upon us.
But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder,
As they tear your hope apart , as they turn your dream to shame…

Friday, May 25, 2007

In that while we were yet sinners...

The title seems so antiseptic and innocuous, not to mention a sense of universal camaraderie that helps spread the guilt. But that name has a deep and unimaginably sinister meaning, which the very nature of the sin itself attempts to minimize accompanied by a tacit admission of a general guilt. “Everyone is a sinner” is used as a badge of protection in order to accept the guilt but dulling the painful truth by spreading the complicity. A sinner is a complete and aggressive enemy of God Almighty that is filled with moral and spiritual treason against his loving and Holy Creator. He is absolutely worthless and stands adjudicated as eternally guilty without any opportunity of early release on his own, not only because he is incapable of self exoneration, but he is also unmotivated and sees no need to seek such forgiveness.

Have you ever looked into the bathroom mirror and attempted to see yourself from any other perspective than that which has your eyes fixated upon the mirror? It is impossible to see the back of your head without using your own eyes and another mirror, so in essence you are always seeing yourself from your own perspective. It is the same way with sin, we cannot see and understand God’s perspective of sin simply by using the eyes of our own understanding, we must rely completely on someone else’s perspective. God’s. The enemy of all mankind is death and sin is its author. At the very core of sin is the human desire to usurp the authority of God and become its own lord and master. It rejects God and by its action it denies Him fully, and all the while experiencing all the carnal emotions that are the unified siblings arrayed against the Sovereign in useless rebellion. The entire scene is both horrific and senseless and abjectly stupid.

Without realizing that the only reason every sinner hasn’t been destroyed is due entirely to the mercy of God, sin continues to strut and fret its hour upon the stage in a foolish and temporary season of false bravado which will eventually be exposed. And those created souls who have been permeated by sin invite its company and enjoy its escapades. Thinking they have gained an enhancement to their hedonistic lifestyles, sinners have lost it all. Eternity is not just for the reward of those in Christ who have had their sin removed, eternity also looms large for a tormented justice that will continue forever and ever. Every sin will be judged either at one time and place called Golgotha, or forever in the lake of God’s fire of justice.

Does that seem too unsophisticated for your post modern sensibility? Does the talk of hell and the lake of fire make you recoil because it seems like so much Dante’s fairy tale and very little of a coming reality? It is this eternal place of justice that should give us a glimpse of how God views sin and its hosts, and with that tiny perspective should we not endeavor to be free from this albatross that will be our everlasting undoing? And instead of seeking relief the whole world invents more and newer nuances of sin to minister to the basest instincts and display the deepest, most blasphemous attitude openly before the Lord of All the Universe. Make no mistake, He has seen everything.

And in the church even the blood washed sinners who have had their eternal penalty removed by the blood of the Lamb of God, continue to conform to their previous lifestyle in an amazing display of ungratefulness or worse yet, a display of an unchanged condition. Sin is not a polite guest, it doesn’t just sit where you tell it to. It may come into a life as a small and submissive friend but as a power hungry parasite it will begin to demand more power while attempting to remain unnoticed, but one day even if noticed it will have gained enough power to resist any assault from its host. And all the while this sin takes on a substantive role in universally excoriating the holiness and authority of the Lord God, no matter how small the sin. Murder and an insignificant lie both equally attack God Himself viciously and tear at the fabric of the law of the Eternal Lawgiver, and in the face of such monstrous horror we feel nothing when we say that men are sinners. As if saying that men are just on another team than God is, we have not only indicted ourselves we have crafted a self serving depiction about which the Great White Throne Judgment will destroy and prove a costly lie.

So with just a little peak from a pitiful pen, have you seen a glimpse of how our Sinbearer sees sinners? Well, you ask, if we were that repulsive how can God love us? Let me suggest that as deep and deathly is the subject of sin, eternally deeper and life giving is God’s love. And in that depth stop fighting it and drown in God’s waves of redemptive love, because if you will by faith drown in Calvary’s blood, the Lifeguard will save you.

Christ died for us.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Glory of the Risen Christ

II Tim.2:10 - Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
II Cor.4:6 - For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The glory of the Lord. We understand finite and earthly glory to suggest a title or office or even power. But all those are of the earth and are only substantive when it is bestowed upon a man, not that he has that intrinsically of himself. Take a baby that is born to a king and bring him to another nation and he is nothing. His princely bloodlines are not recognized in that country so he is without the benefits of his birthright. So in essence he is just another baby if his royal birth is not acknowledged by the people because his comes from a man made king and his blood is only just that, it is not royal in substance.

So that is man’s glory, that which comes from one man to another which can be withdrawn at anytime and exists at the whim of man. Man’s glory is confined to this world and is fallen and passing. Caesar is no longer king, neither Tutankommen or Hitler or Charlemagne, all have passed and are no longer given esteem or power. And this man made glory can pass off a living person also. Soon after a sitting president is not re-elected he loses much of his protective entourage and although he may be still respected the glory he once had is now gone. The glory of man is only of value in the mind of man itself.

But not so with the glory of God. God’s glory of course includes His mighty deeds but they are only a reflection of the glory that abides in the Godhead itself. God’s glory is God Himself. The absolute divine glory that radiates in many forms both visible and invisible generates from Who God is eternally, and His acts of love and mercy and power are vehicles through which His existent glory manifests itself. Before God spoke the first created Word He dwelt in infinite and colossal glory. We who are so dependant on the visual have a difficult time envisioning the glory of God before creation because creation itself reflects His glory, but go a little further in your worship. God is glory in and of Himself and the reflections of that glory are actually reflections of Him.

Now the most visible manifestation of God’s glory is Jesus Christ Himself which again is God Himself. I realize we are going into deep, deep waters but can you not sense the Spirit leading us into the more intimate and breathtaking reflections of the glory of God? If anyone desires to see God in all His inherent glory do not look at the stars, they are reflections. Not the mountains, not the seas, not the planets, they are still magnificent reflections of God’s glory. But there came a day when God said He would remove the veil and reveal a manifestation of His glory that would eclipse any and everything we had seen heretofore. Cast you faith gaze upon Jesus the Christ, He is not just a reflection of God’s glory, behold, He is God’s glory because His is God.

No man has seen God in His fullness and lived, as when the Lord Jesus came to earth He softened the brightness of His glory by a human body. But make no mistake that glory which authenticated His divine Lordship as God and Creator, peeked through His humanity and gave majestic glimpses as to who this earthly stranger was and always had been. God of God, Very God of Very God. Now the God of the Old Testament dwelt among men and displayed the glory of His presence between the cherubim above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. One significant night in Bethlehem God removed His glory from the Temple and brought God's glory with Him in the form of a human son of Judah. The angels gathered in a cloud of God’s glory and proclaimed His arrival to the world but they were just magnificent created instruments of God’s glory, this baby was God in all His glory. To explain it is to diminish it, Paul says it is a great mystery. It is beyond the human mind to realize that as the shepherds peered over the trough and saw the hours old infant they were looking into the face of Him Who had made them. The mysterious God who man had considered unapproachable had now come to both proclaim “I am” and also completely pay for the sin that stood in the way of the knowledge of the Holy One.

So this God man lived upon the world He had made and sinlessly struggled through this cursed earth until He arrives at Jerusalem. This was the battlefield which would decide the eternal glory, and this was the cross that would meet death. The Lifegiver would meet death on its own turf and in an incomprehensible act of glorious power He momentarily surrenders His glory. Or did He?

Oh please, do not ever believe that Jesus the Creator ever gave away any of His glory, on the contrary, the glory of the cross bound Savior shines most brightly upon this instrument of death. While the carnal eyes of the flesh see a dead Jew, the eternal eyes of the Spirit recognize the immensity of a victory that would eternally redound to the glory of its very “victim”. The enemy of death had stalked Bethlehem’s arrival since the day He was born. Having caught up with Him on Golgotha death is suddenly captured in its own snare. The Incarnate One captures death in His own prepared body and defeats it for whosoever will receive it by faith in the Victor. The gore, the cuts, the thorns, the nails, the stripes, and the blood reflect the glory of the sacrificial Lamb, if you can see through the Spirit.

But as infinitely glorious was the cross, the incubation of three additional earth days holds in it a glory that will forever be matchless in its praise. The Captain of our Salvation has not only defeated death in His own body and removed our sins, He has resurrected from that same death. Oh if the enemies of God had only known they might have realized that God was actually using their own evil schemes to perfect His ultimate plan. And on the third day that prepared body rises from the loaned slab with death in shambles, enters into life again, and a new glory walks from Joseph of Aramathea’s tomb. It is now not just Bethlehem’s divine baby, not just the miracle working Messiah, not just Calvary’s Lamb, this is the Risen Christ!

So at the ascension the Risen Christ in all His eternal glory again enters heaven from whence He had come.
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates and be lift up ye everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!
The Second Person of the Godhead rides as it were back into His eternal dwelling place and there is a throne reserved for Him. Oh look and wonder at Him, He had left with all the fullness of the glory of the Godhead, but can you not see that He has about and in Him an everlasting glory that He has gained through His victory? The Author of Life has defeated death and is the first born from the womb of the grave and His glory illuminates all of heaven. Shield your eyes all you earth dwellers because you will buckle under the weight of such enduring glory. He is He who was dead, Who now lives forevermore, exuding a everlasting glory that crowned His incarnate head when “up from the grave He arose, a mighty Victor ore His foes”.

How is it possible that God, who has all glory, can gain more glory? That question from a son of man exhibit’s a profound lack of understanding about the strength of death found in sin. The victory that Christ won by His death and through the eternal promenade of His resurrection is beyond words. And to document the path to His resurrection He maintains His nail scars, glorious wounds of remebrance lest we forget. And those of us who caused His sufferings can by faith be granted an entrance into His actual presence and allowed to fall before this Majestic Lamb of Glory and worship Him forever. Selah.

So go ahead those of you who feel any sense of awe at the feats of man, or those who swoon at dignitaries and monarchs, or who follow sports figures, or are breathless at great buildings, go ahead. But there is coming a day when upon the very first glimpse of the glory of the Risen Christ all the glories of men and angels will be forever swallowed up in the pitifulness of their own inadequacy, and in just the shadow of His glory will they be seen as darkness.

And all of heaven will at one great and august moment bow before the throne and will be eternally consumed with the object of their worship, the glory of the Risen Christ.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Irreconcilable Differences

Is it wrong to go against one’s conscience and what you believe to be the revealed will of God? What other recourse is there if you are even a modest student of the Word and upon embracing what you honestly discern as God’s truth you see whole movements and teachings either compromising these truths or worse yet changing them altogether? Are these teachings of the Almighty to be taken lightly or even flexible enough to make room for other points of view, or are they of such immutability that our understanding compels us to remain intransigent in our stand? Is there something of eternal value at stake or does the Spirit soften us enough to expand their original intent to such an extent as to make former men of God appear confined by their generation as to their ability to fully develop their encyclopedic and unrestricted nature?

The times they are a changin.

The currency that continues to pay for the right to change the quintessence of faith necessary for revelation concerning the gospel and in some cases the very meaning of salvation is good intentions. The heart relationship between a sinner and the Lord Jesus has been redefined as plutonic rather than a life long commitment of surrender, obedience, and worship. Now either throughout the previous centuries the expansiveness and exclusivity of the gospel has been completely misrepresented thereby disallowing many to enter into the salvation offered by the Christ, or it is being misrepresented by today’s costless discipleship which sees millions entering as it were into a believing followship of the Lord Jesus without a cross and carrying all the earthly hedonistic accoutrements they came with heretofore. There is a theological tension between these two historical views which makes them both mutually exclusive. In other words they cannot both be true.

I do not say this to make my own or anyone else’s experience a matter of pride or even as a theological substance, only the Scriptures can be the absolute basis of truth. But is this question not one of such eternal importance that it comports us to prayerfully and excruciatingly study the will of God in order to glorify our Father and divest ourselves of deceptive complicity? And as far as dialogue can be used of the Spirit to leverage our spiritual understandings let it be so, but let us never be convinced outside the sphere of Scripture itself. And as comfortable and enjoyable it may be to interact with brethren from a different persuasion, no one must rely on the persuasiveness, oratorical prowess, or literary dexterity of any human when it comes to one day standing before Almighty God and give an account for that which we believed. Do you not think that God will hold all who could read and had the written revelation of His Word responsible for discerning His precious truth or will He consider it of little value?

So what are we speaking of when we deal with the gospel, the only message of salvation? Everyone knows the facts. Christ was God in the flesh, He died for our sins on the cross, and on the third day He resurrected. There are the cold, hard facts that even the devil knows. So what does a sinner have to believe to be saved and how should we present the gospel in a clear and urgent way absent any manipulation? And if creative and attractive manipulations are used do they so cloud the truth that the intended responses are of little value and only represent an earthy data base rather than an addition to the Lamb’s Book of Life? These are serious questions for all of us, orthodox, seeker friendly, purpose driven, and emergent alike. It is easy to succumb to the clandestine machinations of the flesh disguised as, of all things, the love of God. Ever softening and ever contouring God’s truth so as to attract believers eventually will not only present the gospel of man, but it will become accepted as the gospel of God.

So to what degree does a person have to understand the nature of sin and specifically his own, or does he only have to understand an innocuous “flannel board” explanation that has all its attachment to Adam and little if any to himself? And if a person desires heaven and wants to avoid hell is that in and of itself enough to be saved? And can a person walk into a service unconcerned about his spiritual situation and at the end of a theatrical presentation that includes lighting, heart stirring stories, and mood music believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved? The answer is yes, by the Spirit. But is it also possible that at the end of such a well oiled production a sinner can make a shallow commitment based on the atmosphere rather than the leading of the Spirit and then be falsely told he is saved? The answer is also yes. It is an extremely serious matter to tell a person he is saved and completely irresponsible and the height of careless conjecture when that pronouncement is endued upon a complete stranger. And when that same pronouncement is conferred like a college degree through the pages of a book and upon an unknown reader it goes beyond irresponsible, it is both reckless and cruel.

Giving false assurance is the devil’s business, not ours. So if a sinner does not have even a elementary comprehension of his sinful standing before God he cannot be saved. Any so called commitment would then be based on a dangling carrot with a disregard for the very nature of the cross. This is what appears to be happening today with great joy and numerical results but little sacrificial disciples. The “count the cost” dimension of the gospel has been completely dismantled and replaced with the “ask Jesus into your life” convenient and costless model which has millions running toward it to get an extreme makeover, which of course is translated into a positive and culturally enhancing experience. This was foreign to the early disciples and much of the former generations of Christians to say nothing of the Fox’s Book of Martyrs.

So the sum total of this little essay is this,
“The differences between the historical salvation gospel presentation and many of the presentations and definitions of the saving gospel today are irreconcilable”.
More to come.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Following His Steps

I Pet. 2:21 - For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

These words are not so simple when applied to a variety of areas of a saved sinner’s earthly life. Peter doesn’t say that we should just follow Him, or just keep Him in sight, or even follow Him closely. The Spirit exhorts us to follow His actual steps. Oh we sometimes boast that we are not only following Jesus, we are actually stepping right into the divine steps of the Incarnate Christ Himself. Wow, what a claim! Now before you get an actual bone fide legal description that substantiates your walk let us examine just a few short snippets of the miraculous life of the Lord Jesus. And for those who claim it is so very easy to become a Christian, they may be holding to a faith doctrine that is sometimes stripped of any teeth of obedience.

First let me praise my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. To even attempt to follow in His steps is a glorious privilege that outshines anything we were ever given. Have you ever turned around and seen an undesirable person following you and wish they would stop? Well our amazing Lord not only desires us to follow Him, He helps us. As a matter of fact, without His power we are helpless and will quickly stop the Christ following journey or at least change the route to accommodate our own desires. He is glorious and He is Majesty captured in a Person. Have you never experienced the time when your utter worthlessness came face to face with His infinite Holiness? And just when you thought you were going to be cast away forever, He gave you the repentant faith to believe on Him. Only a born again believer, sealed by God’s Spirit, can truly and vicariously identify with what I just described. And it is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Now read carefully because this is not just semantics, it is the path to a deeper understanding of Who He is. Our walk that desires to step where He steps can only be dictated by watching Him. What I mean is that if you concentrate on where you are stepping without watching where He steps, well, that can become either frustrating or self righteous. And you can easily lose the joy and the broken worship that only comes from learning of Him and allowing the Spirit to lead to His steps. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. How can we do that?

Secular books can teach you about Jesus to some extent, but only the miraculous, written revelation of Jesus Christ given by and through the Holy Spirit can open the “eyes of our understanding” and lead us to a deeper understanding of Who He is, and by the Spirit we plunge deeper into intimacy between a servant and His Lord, and if you look down you will see that the footsteps into which you step have nail scars. And all the promises in Him are yea and amen. You see, the precepts and commandments are not only contained in Him, they are Him. I am doing a really bad job of communicating what I believe the Spirit is showing me, and in many more ways I am a very poor example of this teaching.

The Spirit uses the Word to teach the Word. Not just comparing Scripture with Scripture, but the Word reveals the Word (Jesus). And the rewards of walking in His steps are not confined to God’s approval of obedience, no, many are the glorifying rewards and crowns that accompany that crucified walk. The obedient walk of a follower whose eyes and heart are not transfixed upon his own steps but are lovingly glued to the forerunner Himself comes with other rewards inherent in that walk. There is the ability of God to use the life of His own child to reach the lost when that believer is supernaturally walking in the Son’s steps.

There are other rewards, but perhaps the supreme treasure is the gracious expanse of the enlightening of our spiritual eyes in seeing, understanding, and loving the Lord Jesus. So in effect walking in His steps creates an increasing desire to more faithfully follow Him which creates an increasing desire to more faithfully…you get the point. And oh the glory that comes from pleasing Him. It sometimes takes you out of this present world and catapults you into the very presence of the One who made the footprints for us to follow.

Following in the revealed footprints of the Incarnate Christ starts with the Scriptural narratives and teachings that you will find are drenched in blood. But Jesus can never be captured in one or two paths that lend themselves easily and predictably to the path follower, no, His steps sometimes lead where you may not have anticipated or even wanted them to go. Just when you have settled into a step by step path that you believe you have mastered, Jesus veers off the course you have prepared for and now you must again choose, His steps or yours. I must confess that many times I have come to a fork in my journey and of course I assumed I know which way Jesus had gone so I go that way. Not long into this path I suddenly look up and realize that I can no longer see Jesus. Where did He go? I again look down and I still see steps but upon a closer examination I can no longer see any blood. I place my foot in the footprint and “what is this?”. This footprint I am stepping in is actually my own, not His. I have taken my own way and followed my own steps and am now on my own path.

You see what I’m saying? Sometimes we have all our doctrinal “I”s dotted and our “t’s” crossed and we have turned on the footsteps “autopilot” and off we go. And suddenly we are compromising where we shouldn’t, judging when He would show compassion, we feel self confident when we should be humble, and most blatant of all we have become religious not spiritual. Make no mistake, we have all been found from time to time lost on that carnal road and by God’s grace have been granted a repentant return to following the One we had thought we were. I have over 32 years changed in some of my doctrinal beliefs about some understandings, not any core beliefs but some clearer teachings about some Biblical truths. If you are a believer for any length of time the Spirit will help you also.

But there have been times when I was convinced that I was following in the steps of Jesus only to discover later I had missed a few steps. I have been bellicose when He desired gentleness, I have been quiet when He desired me to speak up, I have been judgmental when He wanted compassion, I have dialogued when He called me to reprove, and other times when in the moment I thought I was following His steps only to discover I was blazing my own trail. So after many years I’ve discovered that following His steps requires more of me than being right, it many times calls me to ask me how I should be right.

Now after I have sought Him diligently about the way He is going, and after I’ve sought Him in prayer and the instruction of the Word, I lift my eyes and watch where He is going. As He takes His first step I, by faith, lift my left leg and begin to place it in His footprint. Just as I am ready to put my weight upon the first step I hear the Spirit gently but clearly call out for me to wait. Wait? But why, I see my Master’s footprint clearly so why wait? The Spirit lovingly reminds me,

“You have forgotten your cross”

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Grace and Truth

Jn.1:14 - And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Like Siamese twins that share the same heart, grace and truth are inseparable and exist together in God and as the verse specifies they dwell in their fullness in the Lord Jesus. Without grace truth is death and without truth grace is hollow. And so where is the correct mixture? That my friends is a continuing balance that requires much prayer and attending to the Scriptures. Jesus was filled with both.

How is grace presented in the context of truth and how is truth presented in the context of grace? There exists between them both a tension and yet a kinship that substantiates them both. The doctrine of God’s grace is truth and the truth of God is filled with grace. It is a challenge to be both John the Baptist and Barnabas without compromising one element of God’s message at the expense of the other. It is the balance that only the Spirit can walk inside of us and through a consecrated tongue.

And our flesh can find enjoyment of an out of balance presentation of either of these truths. The flesh loves a sloppy grace that requires nothing and offers a continuing of our own selfish and hedonistic lifestyle. (Rom.6:1-2) And of course the flesh enjoys using truth to clobber and destroy people without any buffer of grace. The flesh will gleefully accost a person who smokes while turning a blind eye to its own pride. It will enjoin doctrinal purity with meanness and tell itself “well done”.

This is the chameleon like aspect of our flesh, it can appear religious and yet be of the same substance that drives a drunkard to the gutter. And taking inventory of our own flesh and the part it plays in any and every aspect of our lives requires a painful honesty and openness before our Father. And if you bow before the Father and ask Him to reveal any flesh that has surreptitiously become an active part of your walk, and if the Father says there isn’t any, that isn’t the Father of lights it is the father lies. Paul had to die daily and can we do any less?

There is no salvation besides the grace of God found in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the condition for regeneration is repentant faith. God will not pour out His grace upon an uninterested and unconcerned sinner, and although surrendering completely is a process, He will not bestow His grace upon anyone who refuses to even begin that process. Today we are telling people that God has reserved a place in heaven for them simply based upon a repeated prayer and with no chance to disciple them and see the fruit of that first engrafted seed. It surely comes from the American competitive spirit and the numbers game which is designed to elicit the applause of men. Grace is inactive and a religious lie without truth.

But truth also contains the magnificent offer of God’s grace within it. As a matter of fact, even the understanding of God’s truth must be through the grace of God. Now this is a very treacherous obstacle course when we speak the truth of God’s Word while striving to have it seasoned with grace. When we speak the truth of God to a lost person we seem to make sure we are speaking the grace of God, but when we are speaking corrective truth to someone who has strayed from the Word our flesh envisions us as a reincarnation of John the Baptist. At times like that we don’t want the beatitudes, no, give us the turning over of the money changers. We reject the weeping over Jerusalem model, we emulate the “you brood of vipers” model and claim that we are just imitating Jesus. Oh yea, you want to do what Jesus did? OK, listen up, you may just want to audit that class.

First, sell all that you have or better yet leave it all - TODAY. OK, that is step one, are you there yet? Wait a minute, we cannot go any further until you complete Jesus 101, so go ahead and leave everything. Well all the miracles, all the weeping, all the humility, all the rejection, all the giving of oneself totally and completely to God’s work will have to wait, you are stuck at phase one. See, I thought you might want to reconsider acting as if you enjoy all the earthly authority of Jesus without the same sacrifice.

So now we are back to being a sinner saved wholly by the grace of God. The difference, you ask? Now we will still speak what Jesus spoke, but in utter humility and filled with God’s grace, which He was filled with. So what happens when you hear someone teaching things that go against the Word of God? You speak with conviction and clarity what the Word teaches and you forcefully correct them, in love. In love? How do you do that and with what tone do you use? You see, we don’t even know how to really do that because we’ve been so concerned with truth we’ve neglected the grace side. The first step is to again focus on honoring God in both ways and in that become more dependant on the directives of the Spirit than we have apparently been. And when we see error, instead of quickly picking up a club, let us ask and hear how the Holy Spirit would have us proceed. Your method and His may just be different from time to time.

And those of you who see nothing wrong with the modern and ever widening parameters of grace without any hint of surrender, you must also take time to seek the Word of Truth to see if your opinions or anyone else’s are valid against the Scriptures. And just because some movements are growing disproportionately does not mean they have God’s approval, you have a responsibility to separate men’s personalities from the Scriptures. Are there legitimate questions being asked and is God’s truth being compromised by attractive packages? And if the Bibles clearly teaches that there will be a falling away and that in the last days teachers will scratch the lustful ears of people, where is this falling away and who are these preachers that will please people? Look around and hold up God’s truth to these new movements and see if it matches, not just so you can change camps, but so you can please the heavenly Father.

There you have it, grace and truth. Both are in their complete fullness in the Person of Christ and so in essence we are not looking for the correct balance, we are looking for…
An Open Letter to Ken Silva

There is no joy, or at least there shouldn’t be, in correction of another believer and especially a pastor and elder. That Pastor Ken Silva is a pastor and an elder is self evident and he serves the Connecticut River Baptist Church as pastor. Let me also say that he was the person whose writings first illuminated me to the movement known as “emergent” so I am grateful that he was used in my own personal life. I do not know him personally, but I have communicated with him via e-mail a number of times.

I am an ordained Baptist preacher not presently in a paying position who has written a blog now for several years and I generally see the doctrinal and presentation dangers exhibited by the seeker/purpose/emergent movements that are rapidly changing the way the church addresses truth itself. When I began my blog I did not even know what a blog was but was encouraged to adjust my e-mail articles into blog form by a brother in Christ. He paid for the set up himself and I am grateful.

I do not remember how I came across Slice of Laodecia but when I read some of the articles I became aware that there were others who were disenchanted with the direction of much of evangelicalism. I am sure to their present dismay two of my articles were posted on that site. So I began the process of being a “blog watchman” which varies in intensity and tone depending on the person. After a few months I noticed that Ingrid, the former manager of Slice, was posting personal and harsh articles about almost everything and anybody, some with so little to do with the general theme of doctrinal falling away that I made my concerns known to her. I was reproved by Ingrid herself which then led me to re-evaluate a woman’s role as a blog manager that corrects ordained men. I still believe that a Christian woman can teach and post doctrinal issues but not personally attack or correct an ordained elder. That is unbiblical.

Well Slice disappeared and then came CRN. Pastor Ken had been a regular contributor to Slice and he now became the editor of the Christian Research Network blog. When Ken became the main writer the tone and communicative style became even more aggressive and disrespectful and sometimes outright immature. I have seen unbelievable things said in Ken’s posts and comments around the blog nation. I have contacted him several times concerning this issue and he continues to claim that I am obsessed with the issue of humility. He is absolutely right, I am very concerned with all of us remaining expressively humble in the midst of the ongoing battle over Biblical interpretation and authority.

And so after much prayer and concern about how we represent the Lord Jesus even when speaking His truth I am writing this open and public letter.

Ken, you have been given a forum to address issues of great importance to the body of Christ and many people need to hear some of the facts about many of these issues, but you have let yourself and your demeaning and name calling style obscure what you are saying. I have also been guilty of some of that (I.e. Spiritual Pedophiles) but God has shown me that I cannot sacrifice Christlikeness on the altar of doctrinal truth and correction and as a matter of fact Christlikeness is doctrinal truth. You cannot use certain statements and events in the life of Christ to justify your words while you ignore the overwhelming number of verses that call us to be “clothed with humility”.

There must be a balance which is a journey that continues to lead all of us to the very heart of humility, the cross. You did not discover truth yourself, God showed it to you and you cannot creatively wrap that truth in demeaning, condescending, and self promoting words and expect people to listen, especially those who need to hear it. And being an ordained pastor does not give you or anyone else license to ignore common courtesies when expounding doctrinal errors even to the offender himself. There is a dramatic difference in being a voice of strong conviction and a dialogue bully.

You are prolific in your research and writing, but you continue to turn a deaf ear to what those who love you as a brother and even agree with your general direction are attempting to share with you. I ask you not to respond but take these and other words before the Lord and listen to Him. I have no unique access to God’s throne but I know He has brought me down to see that I am nothing while still allowing me the privilege to speak forth the Word of Life even in correction. This Spiritual struggle is no competitive game, the stakes are high and the people on all sides are precious to God even if some have been deceived. In fact, demeaning a deceived person is akin to making fun of a blind person who trips over a rock. Even in rebuke we must remain humble and careful in our words and tone, and we must always have the person‘s interest in heart because that is what glorifies our Lord. Winning an argument and a “come and get me” attitude is all flesh and of no Spiritual use. To see what we truly believe we see and then to speak to it is a gut wrenching experience and should never descend into a flippant “tit for tat” conversation.

Our hearts should be broken not only about the falling away, but our own powerlessness. And if indeed there is no change in your tone and haughty hyperbole I will continue to encourage blogs to remove CRN from their blog links. We serve Christ alone and He must increase and we must decrease.

This post is prayerfully for your good and the glory of God from one who is nothing but on a very slow journey to be like Him.
In Christ,
Rick Frueh

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Eternity's Black Hole

Matt.24:3-14 - And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

A super massive black hole haunts and controls every galaxy including the Milky Way. In the very center of our galaxy is an object so massive and so dense that nothing escapes its gravitational pull, not even light. So if light cannot escape how can it be seen? It cannot. Well then how do we know it exists? Because of the effect it has on other objects that enter its sphere of gravitational influence which is extensive. As a matter of fact the entire spinning galaxy revolves around the center which is inhabited by this super massive black hole.

Now as the galaxy continues to spin some stars and other objects get too close to this massive object and they begin to speed up as the gravitational pull begins to bring them closer and closer to the black hole and just before these objects eventually are gobbled up into this object they begin to get extremely hot due to their incredible speed as they go around the black hole on a death journey to its center. As they get hotter they become very bright and appear as giant fireballs through the great telescopes around the world. This phenomenon is called “feeding” when the black hole draws matter into itself. This is one of the clearest ways to see the presence of the black hole.

Well eternity is like a super massive black hole that cannot be seen with the natural eye but its presence can definitely be measured by the effect it has on the seen world. Eternal are the invisible things of reality but with the effect on things around us we can sense and experience its true nature. We are commanded by God to look on the eternal things not the temporal things, but the New and Old Testament has given us plenty of prophetic indications that point to the coming day when eternity eclipses and swallows up the temporal. Look around with the eyes of the Spirit, can we not see that this earth and the things in it are beginning to appear more and more bright as eternity is rapidly feeding on the things of this present world. History is feeding on the future bringing it rapidly into the present and disappearing into the past.

Violence covers the globe and wars and rumors of wars plaster the news. Violence against women, violence against children, violence against the unborn, violence between races, and nation against nation illuminate the Words of Jesus spoken several millennia ago. Eternity is feeding. Idolatry is much worse today than ever. Idol worship of false gods, idol worship of man, idol worship of intellect, idol worship of money, and idol worship of religion has increased in depth and brightness. Eternity is feeding.

The god of sex knows no boundaries. Adults with children, Men with men, Women with women, men with animals, role playing, pictures, movies, adultery, rape, and every form of perversion runs unbound throughout the world. Eternity is feeding. Weather grows more unusual. Tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, cold, warm, earthquakes, and all sorts of unexplainable phenomenon continue to confound the wise. Eternity is feeding.

And while all this comes forth prophetically bright, and as it warns us of the presence of eternity and its coming violent transition, Israel stands in the middle as the incandescent apple of God’s prophetic eye. The more dazzling the nation of Israel, the closer to eternity the world draws. The magnificent plan of God accelerates the events of the prophetic timetable and illuminates the Word of Almighty God, speaking to this generation that the King is returning to take His kingdom by the Word of His power. Time is short and sin grows brighter. The door of God’s ark of grace begins to close and the flood of His eternal judgment is seen coming over the horizon like the size of a man’s hand. Is this meant to frighten earth's inhabitants? Absolutely.

I have heard for thirty years that the day of the Lord looms, but never have I seen the signs so visually luminescent and almost shouting at us, “Repent and believe the gospel. Flee the wrath to come!”.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Salvation Labyrinth

Gal.1:11-12 - But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Go ahead and read that again, Paul received the gospel from Jesus Himself. So I ask you Brian MacLaren, from whom did you receive it? How about you Rick Warren, from whom did you receive it? And all the modern emergent teachers and the relevant teachers and all the rest of the evangelical morass, from whom did you receive it? The health and wealth preachers, who taught you the gospel? If not from Paul you have a false gospel.

In the letter to the Galatians the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit shares a truth that some consider intransigent and at the same time has a ripple effect across the modern labyrinth of salvation teachings. Paul informs the Galatians that if they attempt to incorporate Jesus as a component of the law then they will not receive the grace that Christ offers. Think about that against the backdrop of the nebulous doctrinal genre that is alive and well today. What would be so wrong with a Jew that believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior but still believes we must adhere to the law? I mean Paul is being a little inflexible here, don’t you think?

And if a person believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation but they mistakenly believe that He just adds the last link to the law but doesn’t replace it, surely God would overlook that, wouldn’t He? Wouldn’t a gracious God understand when a person believes that Jesus is God and died for our sins but that He requires circumcision for salvation?(or baptism, works, etc.) Well let us see what that God of grace has to say about it Himself.

Gal.5:2 - behold, I Paul say unto you that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal.5:4 - Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

In this day of tolerance and dialogue Paul’s teachings in the New Testament that regard the Old Testament law abiders as unsaved would be looked upon as intolerant and exclusive. Think soberly about the implications of Paul’s inspired teachings.

We are so prone to journey upon the wings of our subjective feelings and our fleshly sense of fairness. We apply our reason to the discussion about how “generous” the Lord is about His salvation and since it contains no works of man we neglect to see that many are adding their own intellectual, cultural, and post modern understandings to God’s transcendent offer of salvation. Ultimately these are also the works of man albeit not feeding the poor, baptism, or any other type of ceremonial works of man but works nonetheless. Mental ascension to the gospel is an intellectual work that will not save and intellectual additions and subtractions to the gospel presentation inadvertently and sometimes purposely make the gospel fraught with the carnal intellectual works of man which poison it altogether.

How many modern and compassionate thinkers would reject a Jew who believed today that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God and he became a follower while still believing everyone must adhere to the law? They would offer him a “generous orthodoxy” would they not? But not so the Apostle Paul and not so the Author of the everlasting gospel. The apostle teaches a full surrender, even in a process, but necessitating a complete rejection of all former vestiges of past religious systems that were not Christ and Christ alone. Jesus refuses to have a seat at the spiritual table, He comes in as Lord as all others scatter forever. Today many attempt to gather Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Universalism, liberal Protestantism, and many other deceptions of man and they try and bring them all under the umbrella of the true gospel which in Biblical terms is impossible. Paul prophetically warns us that "they zealously affect you, but not well" and God instructs us to "cast out the bondwoman and her son (works, both physical and mental).

I’ve often thought about what if I were God. If I saw a Mother Teresa, for instance, and she gave her entire life serving the poorest of the poor and was the epitome of kind and gracious, but she believed that her baptism and her good works along with Christ saved her, if I were God I would let her in. But you see, that is me not God. Why do I feel that way in my flesh? Because my sense of fairness is fallen and I see things in a depraved perspective and not as God sees them. I don't fully realize the horror of sin and the colossal rebellous nature of pride, and I have not seen the infinite breach to the holy justice of God that man's fallen works brings. The reason anyone who adds to the perfect work of Christ cannot be saved is because it removes the glory of the cross and it lets the works of man share the sacrifice of God the Son which is blasphemy. We better not allow what God Himself has disallowed, ever.

And so we come to a dialogue that now entertains the idea that a good Muslim, among others, who never hears the gospel could be saved in God’s generous and universal love. Even the Pope is considered saved in most evangelical circles even though he espouses and teaches a false and man made gospel and also claims to be the representative of Christ on earth. Oh how far our human compassion has expanded the Biblical teachings. One of the reasons many fall into these deceptions is because they don’t search the Scriptures for themselves, they rely on books, television, tapes, and a forty minute sermonette delivered by a man who resembles more of a successful American than a rejected prophet of God’s truth and speaks more like Dr. Phil than John Wesley. Christians are now tired of the gospel story of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, it has become stale and familiar. This world has so many more exiting and sensory things that move the human spirit so the divine message has its place within a small time frame a couple of times a week.

And most tragic of all we have changed the gospel offer to be much more expansive and much less exclusive so our conscious can be soothed. Let’s face it, if it got out that we believed that only sinners that became born again followers of the Lord Jesus will go to heaven and all the rest go to an eternal, eternal, eternal punishment, well that would make us the most hypocritical of all, would it not? I mean why did we not go to the grocery store today and tell someone? How about the guy who lives across the street? How many times will we fast for someone’s salvation this week? Will God see us purposely rise early this week in order to get on our faces before the Throne of Grace and beg God to use us to spread His gospel?

So obviously you've read too far, you were “down with it” when I mentioned the message changers, weren’t you? But here we are talking about us and suddenly the ambiance becomes less comfortable and attack oriented because the people in the mirror have suddenly become very familiar, no? The salvation labyrinth continues to expand way beyond Christ’s teachings, but will we surrender to an unusual desperation and anointing in reaching the entire world with the grace that was given to us?

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.

The days are evil…very evil.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Manipulating the Spirit

I Cor.1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us that are saved it is the POWER OF GOD.
I Cor.3:7 - So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but GOD THAT GIVETH THE INCREASE.

In the early and embryonic church there was great power and much enthusiasm but very little knowledge as to many of the doctrines we take for granted today. They preached Christ and Him crucified but never entertained the thought of creative strategies to get the gospel to seem more attractive to all the Mediterranean cultures. They were message oriented fueled by the power of the Spirit which was given in direct proportion to their fasting and prayer. Trading Spiritual power for relevant interaction and softening the painful edge of the gospel would have saved many a martyr's life, but they counted not their lives dear in the cause of powerfully representing their Lord and Savior. It was experiential truth to them and they dare not sell a watered down version of what had changed their lives forever, and I‘m sure it just made common sense to tell EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. What else could make sense?

They were not interested in results, they were obsessed with glorifying and obeying their Master. The results were in His hands.

If a doctor could add some sweet tasting ingredient to his medicine he definitely could get his patients to take what they needed more readily. There would be no harm in that because people were getting the cure they needed even if they were taking it sometimes based on the taste. Now doesn’t that seem to be a good idea for the gospel message? I mean if you make sure to include the core message, what harm does it do a person if indeed the cure is somewhere in the message? Along with all the other things he is accepting, he receives the gospel too, right?

That might work for medicine but it doesn’t work for the gospel. Why not? Because you have left out one extremely important element that isn’t necessary in receiving the medicine that is essential in receiving the gospel, the intent and heart of the recipient. If a person doesn’t believe the medicine will help him but it is the correct medicine for his sickness, it will still work in spite of his skepticism or even his enjoying the great taste. But if a person enjoys the great taste that is presented to him about the gospel concerning all the earthly benefits but he doesn’t actually fully embrace the core truths and the implications it must have for his life, unlike the medicine the gospel will have no affect on him. You see, the heart is essential for faith and if the object has been altered then the faith that a person has is useless, having been placed upon a religious lie and not the Lord Jesus Christ.

What if a doctor handed a person a sweet tasting medicine and the patient was informed that this would cure his disease but in fact there was no medicine in the candy, would it cure him? The patient believed he was taking medicine but in reality he was taking candy and his faith was useless. The same thing is happening today when preachers all over America and other parts of the world are presenting an earthly and powerless gospel that if believed is useless. We wrap a pill inside a hot dog to fool our dogs, but the only thing that the Son of God should be wrapped in is His own breathtaking glory. Nothing, I said NOTHING, on this earth can be attached as a benefit in the presentation of the gospel. If God wanted to kill you the moment you believed that is up to Him, but he has not promised anything but that which comes from forgiveness, conversion, regeneration, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit. And that promise is eternal life.

Is that not enough for our self centered and lustful hearts??
To manipulate the message and the hearers is to attempt to manipulate the Holy Spirit which by definition is an insult to Him. Only the Holy Spirit can draw a sinner to the cross and illuminate his eyes as to who this Savior really is. Even a true believer in a free will should know that only the Holy Spirit knows Who Jesus really is and no man can figure it out, they just have a responsibility as far as it concerns response. One of the greatest miscarriages of the glory of God is to bring the Son of the Living God down to earth, adorn Him with the hedonistic lusts of mankind, and introduce Him as the Christ of God. And when self centered sinners, consumed with their own lusts, see this man made caricature and run to have Him come and adjust their lifestyles in a self aggrandizing way, their faith falls uselessly upon another Jesus.
Here are some evangelical colloquialisms that besmirch the truth:

1. Man says - Ask Jesus into your life.
The Scripture says - Take up your cross and follow Me.
2. Man says - Ask Jesus into your heart.
The Scripture says - Repent and believe the gospel
3. Man says - Pray this prayer
The Scripture says - Their lips draw nigh unto Me but their heart is far from Me
4. Man says - Do you want to go to heaven?
The Scripture says - The wages of sin is death.
5. Man says - Jesus wants to be your friend.
The Scripture says - That you might walk worthy of the Lord.
6. Man says - Just believe, nothing more.
The Scripture says - Faith without works is dead.
7. Man says - Jesus wants to bless you financially.
The Scripture says - But godliness with contentment is great gain.
8. Man says - Jesus can be found in everyone.
The Scripture says - when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Man continues to say a lot of things that are deceiving many and the church enjoys the rapid slide into heretical slumber because it is to her advantage and not God’s glory. The church had a problem reconciling her worldly lifestyle so she changed the Word to accommodate her choices and soothe her conscious. Some, a small remnant, are just beginning to see what has and continues to happen. We will have to look into the mirror first before God will trust anyone with the divine power necessary to part the Jordan and lead people into what God has promised, Spiritual warfare and ultimately the glory of the everlasting gospel.
The first step is to repent of attempting to manipulate the Spirit, stand still, and see the salvation of our Lord wholly by the Word of HIS power.
Here is a link to a modern day martyr story. Do not think that this is an isolated case. Pray for our persecuted brethren!