Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Growing Apostasy – Part II

Scriptural Christianity should consist of the conversion of sinners and the continuing transformation of saints. This post is another perspective of a departure from that description of Scriptural Christianity. I would like to address a certain brand of apostasy that flies well under the discernment radar, and that is even embraced by many who would call themselves “orthodox”.

It is the sin of idolatry and we call it nationalism. It is loving a certain country, a certain economic system, and a certain form of government. And this idolatry has crept into the church and is openly taught as godly, when in fact, it is antichrist. This post is surely exhibit A as it pertains to nationalistic idolatry combined with a blatant carelessness about the teachings of Jesus and the souls of men.

It is a willful disregard for the facts to suggest that America was a Christian nation, and no one has ever provided me with any New Testament teachings that endorse violence by believers against any government for any reason. Hence the Revolutionary War was not Christian or ordained by God. In fact the New Testament never hints at divine support for any violence at the hands of believers. The teachings of Jesus are decidedly non-violent.

But let us examine the post to which I linked juxtaposed against the teachings of Jesus and the epistles of Paul. In this post the author makes a case for superior firearms, referring specifically to policemen. While his suggestion may be valid, it still cannot be tethered to the teachings of Jesus. But the comparison using policemen is not the core of the article, in fact far from it.

The author begins the second paragraph with, "Let’s apply this principle to nuclear weapons for a moment." From policemen to nuclear weapons in one giant leap. He takes the perspective that if America rids itself of nuclear weapons “the “good guys” of the world have essentially armed themselves with pop guns–worthless resolutions, sanctions and threats.” Who are these “good guys”? Are these the same fallen sinners that so many of the reformed persuasion insist are dead in their sins? Are they the same ones which fit the “there are none good” description? So the author is generally calling America and her allies the “good guys”.

Think on that for a moment, and compare that with the theology that the author espouses. Unregenerate sinners are fallen and totally depraved unless they are Americans and then they are the “good guys”. And reading further in the same paragraph the author suggests we fear the intentions of Iran and North Korea. Besides the Scriptural admonition that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, where has the New Testament commanded us to worry about the United Nations or the affairs of the fallen league of nations? Where does the gospel fit into all this?

In the last paragraph he makes this statement, “It’s nice to be liked, but when everything you stand for as a nation is at stake, popularity is worth sacrificing.” What does America stand for anyway? Political freedom? Hedonism? Abortion? Sexual freedom? Militarism? As you can see, Christianity has been jettisoned in favor of nationalism. The author ends with this:

“But if we are really willing to disarm and prostrate ourselves in front of possibly the most dangerous threats we’ve yet faced, we’ve already lost.”

Lost what? Christ? Our faith? He suggests that without nuclear weapons we will be disarmed and be prostrating ourselves in front of threats. That sounds similar to Someone who acquiesced to a Roman cross, and who scolded Peter for using a sword instead of telling him to get a bigger sword. Nuclear weapons are a scourge and should have no backing by the church. The entire narrative of the life of Jesus and all His teachings were non-violent. How can we read and believe the Sermon on the Mount and then support the destruction of millions of lost sinners?

Why does this sound so strange to your ears, and why does it seem so liberal and unpatriotic? Because for many decades Christians have been deceived into meshing nationalism with Christianty, and at the awful expense of our faith. We have become comfortable with war and we have allowed ourselves to trade spiritual power for political clout and military might. Our Christian schools brainwash our children from the youngest age to pledge allegiance to a flag, when they should have no other allegiance but to Christ. They are told a revisionist history that suggests that the forefathers were all committed Christians and godly men, and that God was behind the Revolutionary War itself.

And now we are supposed to teach our children that God desires us to be armed with nuclear weapons?? I have been called anything but a Christian from church people who will not entertain even the slightest Biblical perspective that suggests anything but complete and utter patriotism.


And the disciples asked Him, “Who is our neighbor?”

The Master answered, “All who are naturalized U.S. citizens.”

“What about Muslim Americans?”, they asked.

“No!”, replied the Master, “They are taking over!”.

“What about American gays?”, they inquired.

“No!”, shouted the Master, “I came to call the righteous – don’t forget that!!”

“So should we nuke sinners?”, they wondered aloud.

“You betcha, especially if they are radical Islamists. I’ll make sure none of the elect are killed. I did not choose many Muslims anyway so relax”, said the Great Shepherd.


Lord, where is the axe head…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you see it or are you in it?

Do you honestly and wholeheartedly desire to please the Lord Jesus? Are you genuinely committed to remain faithful to His Word? If you say you are, then read this post and decide once and for all, because the apostasy is here and it is gaining momentum throughout the evangelical world.

There are many new faces among the evangelical landscape with many new and interesting thoughts. Brian MacLaren, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Marcus Borg, Peter Rollins, Phyllis Tickle, Miroslav Volf, and many, many others. One notable name that has gained prominence, and who is interactive among all these I have mentioned is Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Michigan. He came from an evangelical background but has now has changed course and teaches an emergent message in a post modern reality.

Many mainstream evangelical churches are using his videos and material in their churches. But let us examine an interview and his responses to questions. These are not isolated answers that can be made more clearly orthodox by some of his other teachings. These are accurate representations of what he believes and teaches. He is a husband, a father, and a pastor. His character is not an issue, but his teachings must be confronted and challenged through the prism of Scriptural redemption and the core of the mission of Jesus and His church.

I want to make it clear that I am not attacking Pastor Bell personally or demeaning his office or in any way addressing him apart from what he is teaching. Against that backdrop let us examine this interview:

The interviewer asks: I’m struck by the fact that I don’t hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you.

Pastor Bell responds: I think we have enough religious people who are going around trying to convert people. My guard is up when somebody is trying to convert me to their thing. Are you talking to me because you actually are interested in this subject, because you care about me as a human, or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity? I don’t have any embarrassment about my religion, and it’s not that I'm too cool, but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity. If you have something to say, whether you're religious or not, if it is truly Christian and Jesus-centered, then it will help and be interesting and compelling to people, regardless of their world view. But I’m not just interested in talking to Christians. I'm interested in what does it mean to be fully human.

Bell is suspicious of people spreading the gospel in hopes of converting sinners? I find it difficult to even address that since it seems so at odds with New Testament Christianity. He goes on with, “but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity”. Again, what in the world does that mean? Bell continues, “If you have something to say, whether you're religious or not, if it is truly Christian and Jesus-centered, then it will help and be interesting and compelling to people, regardless of their world view.” Are you getting the picture? Tell the martyrs about being interesting and compelling to sinners. Bell finishes with this, “But I’m not just interested in talking to Christians. I'm interested in what does it mean to be fully human” What does it mean to be fully human? Check out the current state of humanity around the world. Is that what it means to be fully human? Again the code speak that doesn’t even address the reason that Bell does not speak very often of Jesus, and armed with just that one fact, we can conclude that he does not teach a Christ centered message. As you can tell much of this new brand of religious jargon is a nebulous language that seems to purposely avoid – the cross. Let’s look at another question.

The interviewer asks: OK, how would you describe what it is that you believe?

Pastor Bell responds: I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That's a beautiful sort of thing.

The ACLU believes the exact same thing. A hopeful outlook? The environment? That is what defines the belief system of Pastor Bell? Is Jesus any part of it? There is no mention of the gospel of redemption, and in fact, the environment takes the stage ahead of the souls of men. This is abominable and completely at odds with Biblical Christianity. In fact it is not Christianity at all.

The interviewer asks: Is religion a part of that?

Pastor Bell responds: At the heart of the Christian story is resurrection, the belief that this word is good, and that, as a follower of Jesus, a belief that God hasn’t abandoned the world, but is actively at work in the world. Even in the midst of what can look like despair and destruction there is a new creation present.

Men like Bell use the resurrection as some kind of metaphor for newness and recreating the world by solving its problems. As per his tradition, there is almost never any mention of the cross, much less a lifting up the cross as the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. As you can see Bell’s concept of Jesus is a solver of the world’s problems and not the Redeemer and Savior of men’s souls. I hope you get the picture.

And on and on goes this new emergent Christianity. But at what point do you even question what is being taught? Like a slowly dripping faucet many are allowing this departure since it has come with such clever verbiage and patient unraveling. I implore you to, with humility and with faithfulness, to examine what is being said with neither a charitable nor a judgmental preconception. Examine these teachings with what you know the Scriptures teach with an emphasis on whether Jesus and His cross is being given the prominence it deserves.
A Theory of Everything

The larger parts of the universe are basically understood through Einstein’s theory of relativity. The atomic levels of matter are usually understood through quantum mechanics. But recently scientists, predominantly Stephen Hawkings, have attempted to understand the large and small of the universe through one system that connects both worlds. They call this a quest for a “theory of everything”.

Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End”.

That statement outlines the only “theory” that connects all things created. Being an amateur astronomer myself, I was amazed beyond words when I gazed at the universe and its colossal grandeur. Before I came to Christ it was evident that creation had to have a Creator. But inside I was empty and without any purpose since there seemed to be a fissure in the foundation as it concerned the material universe. And then I noticed that animals did not question their purpose, or investigate the existence of a Divine Being. Only man looked into the heavens and ask “who and why”.

The Scriptures declare Jesus as the Creator. And He is also the Redeemer of men’s souls. When I was born again in 1975 and the Holy Spirit took up residence in my being I not only felt at peace, I realized that Jesus Himself was the theory of everything. It is He alone who brings all things together in understanding and purpose. Regardless of the science or the superior intellect of men anywhere, whether they are aware of it or not, they are searching for Jesus.

We as His followers must give them Jesus. We cannot afford all these new and philosophical constructs that deal thoroughly with almost everything but Jesus. We cannot toss around the name “God” in the abstract and believe we are serving Jesus and His gospel. Many of these new and intellectually sophisticated teachings in the church are nothing more than spiritual discussions that excite the intellect but leave the gospel untouched. But make no mistake, without a Christ centered message we have no message at all.

Please do not be detoured into going after men and their new and increasingly popular teachings that relegate Jesus to an aside. Do not fall prey to others who worship their theology but yet deny the humility and compassion that is Christ. Resist those who teach that sinners without Christ will eventually find grace through some other vehicle. Set your affections on things above, where your life is hidden in Christ with God. There are no other theories, and there is no other way to life but through Jesus. Listen carefully, denying your fleshly interests, and see if you are hearing Jesus lifted up.

And let us all not become satisfied with rejecting the new and emergent teachings, or the limited atonement teachings, or the health and wealth teachings, or all the other teachings that consign men to the adventures and desires of this present world. Let us cultivate aggressively and with humble brokenness our relationship with the Christ. We cannot afford to spend inordinate amounts of time watching and rehearsing the errors of others, we must tend to our own spiritual garden. The Spirit is drawing our hearts to deeper waters, and just being orthodox can be hollow and void.

Jesus the Christ is our everything.
And in the midst of an ever increasing technological world, He remains the answer to life.
We are His children, we are His followers, we are His worshipers, and we are His witnesses.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Feel Good Gospel
in Various Forms

In many circles you will find articles and teachings that confront what is colloquially called the “feel good gospel”. It generally refers to a gospel presentation that is shallow and directed at building one’s self esteem than it is in presenting the Biblical gospel and allowing the Holy Spirit to use that in the hearts of sinners. The general description would apply to many seeker churches that seem to create an artificial ambiance that lends itself to have favorable responses from sinners. That does not apply to all seeker churches, but that description does have some merit with many churches described as seeker. The same might also apply to some “Purpose Driven” church constructs.

However there are a number of other churches that exhibit a “feel good” gospel that fly under the discernment radar. These are the churches that preach the “true and complete” gospel and that dot every orthodox “i” and cross every orthodox “t”. They are very scrupulous in their doctrine, and they are assiduous in their presentation of the gospel. They teach by the expository method, and they have a systematic theology that substantiates everything they believe and dismantles the errors of others. But unwittingly many of these churches preach a “feel good” gospel as well. How is that you ask?

Well, the gospel they preach makes them feel good about themselves and about their orthodoxy, and in so doing, they have undermined the very essence of Christ and the nature of the gospel itself. It is possible to espouse and teach the true and everlasting gospel through the prism of self righteousness. And sometimes these churches form associations, or religious clubs, that are designed to make each other feel good about their brand. And when they hold conferences they are not designed to speak correction or to challenge each other concerning their shortcomings. They are not even meant to present the whited fields before their eyes and elicit compassion and a greater commitment to reach them. Many of their “get togethers” are formatted to preach their own doctrine to themselves and evoke those same good feelings about themselves.

And when most of the conference goers leave the gathering they feel much better about themselves, their doctrine, and their discipleship. And those good feelings are usually accented and enhanced by a number of exposés of the error of others. And so the orthodoxy becomes self righteous expressions of the truth, and God’s power and grace cannot anoint such doctrinal self aggrandizement. But all in all, it makes them feel good.

So the next time you hear someone apply the “feel good” moniker on someone’s gospel, see if that person revels in his own acknowledgement of the truth. Does that person take pleasure in the deception of others? Do they seem upset and concerned about others in error? Are they concerned for the plight of the deceived, or do they display an effervescence in exposing their error?

We did not come to Christ through the prowess of our own spiritual discernment, no, we were drawn and illuminated by God’s Spirit. And any realization of that grace should, no, must manifest a profound humility and a deep concern for those who still stand outside the redemption of Christ. We can joy in Christ and His gospel, but we should never use the errors of others to elevate ourselves to ourselves and make us feel good about ourselves. Let us feel good about Christ and His salvation alone, and ourselves still struggling journeymen of grace.

Friday, September 25, 2009

MESSIAH (χριστος) (משיח)

The Jews had used that word to refer to kings and priests who were anointed in their calling.There had been open pronouncements as well as hidden shadows, all pointing to a future coming of God’s chosen, God’s anointed, and God’s Messiah. Most of the human race felt a deep need to be rescued, and that feeling had produced numerous religions built upon superstition as well as human strength. But unmistakably woven throughout the Old Testament was a vision of a Rescuer, one that would come and deliver His people. The descriptions and metaphors were varied and sometimes confusing.

Some prophecies seemed to describe a powerful ruler, one that would vanquish all His enemies, while others seemed to portray a humble and unlikely servant. But orthodox Jews had always believed that one day a priest and a king would come and deliver Israel from all her enemies. This Anointed One would be after King David and would rule over God’s people from David’s throne. Their vision, although glorious in their sight, was a constricted view that confined the Messiah to Israel and the land that she was given. But that description would prove to be shortsighted and vastly insufficient.

This Messiah would not come to judge Israel’s enemies; this Messiah would come to judge the sins of each and every Jew who called themselves Israelites. No longer would God deal with Israel as a nation, He would now deal with every person individually. This Anointed One would come in disguise. His disguise would not be as a foreigner from another land, no, His disguise would be far more astounding that that, for He would come as one of them. And instead of the loins of Levi, He would come as a son of Judah.

While the Jews would look for Him in a palace nursery, He would arrive in a lowly stable. While they expected royal parents, He came to peasants. While their eyes were on Jerusalem, He graced Bethlehem. As they listened for the hoof beats of His great steed, He arrived through a virgin’s womb. And as they looked for His great throne, He rested in straw. Instead of a robe, he wore strips of common cloth. So came this Messiah.

The Jews assumed this Messiah would come as a Jew and for the Jews, yet the prophet would reveal Him as a “light to lighten the Gentiles”. His ministry would not be restricted to a tabernacle made with hands, and His priestly mission was to all men and women equally. He was sent to the entire earth. So many had predicted He would come with great power, and so He did.

But it was not the kind of power they had assumed, and His mighty power would be wielded through weakness and sacrifice. This king and priest would not be anointed with oil, but with the waters of John’s baptism and the blood of His own veins. His outward appearance would conceal the enormity of His mission and the unassailable dominance He would have over all His enemies.

This Messiah came and fulfilled His ministry and calling. And when He conquered death and the grave, He offered redemption to all sinners everywhere. We were all called to become members of another kingdom, a kingdom of light and not darkness. This Messiah opened a way for all who would to follow, and in His wake came a Spirit, a Spirit that would continue and finish the mission of redemption provided by the Messiah. This Spirit was one with the Messiah, and He would come and speak of the Messiah and provide power for others to speak of Him as well.

This Messiah, the one and only Messiah, still speaks in 2009. His voice is not stopped and His arm is not shortened. He speaks in the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of the Sudan. He moves among the homes in China and on the Indian reservations of America. He is witnessed openly in Canada and secretly in Iran. He is lifted up high in the great rallies in Brazil and in the hush of prison cells in the United States. He speaks in the marriage ceremonies between two believers and in the memorial ceremonies of saints that have passed. He is testified before congregations by parents of an infant, and He is glorified as a once follower of Charles Manson goes home to His dwelling place.

As the world scurries to figure out how the schemes of men can save the world, this Messiah remains the one and only hope for all mankind. And the leaders of countries who profess to be believing followers of Christ seem to compartmentalize him as religious window dressing. But one day this Messiah will return to be acknowledged of all men. His power and countenance will shame the world and all will bow to His glory. The offer of this Messiah’s redemption remains “now”, but one day the door to His ark will be shut forever. What a thought – fearful and unsettling.

Men continue to play at their games and at their religion, but the Messiah’s return looms ever larger. It would do well for the church of the Messiah to lift Him up higher to a world in desperate need of salvation. While men exert such energy to find national peace and safety, we cannot affort to be distracted from our calling. We must not get entangled with the moral and cultural battles armed with the carnal weapons of political leverage. We are a peculiar people, a holy nation, a people that have been called out of that darkness and into His marvelous light.

We must be armed with the weapons of prayer, God’s Word, and lives that speak of Christ’s redemption. We must sound the clarion call to sinners everywhere – “Believe the gospel and be saved!!”. Spread the salt – uncover the light – build His city on the hilltop - and preach both the words of redemption and the living expressions of God’s grace! The Messiah has come, and He calls men everywhere to believe His gospel and prepare ye the way of the Lord. The time of His coming is nigh, and His glory shall be seen by all people everywhere.
A Sister goes Home

Susan Atkins of the Manson family infamy, became a born again believer in the early 70s. She went home to be with Christ this week. Her life is an amazing pictorial of God’s eternal grace.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Day

There have been many miraculous and glorious events throughout creation’s history. The day God created all the universe; the day when the Creator reached down and made Adam after His own likeness; the day when God made Eve from Adam; the day when their first child was born; the day of the flood and the day when eight souls stepped out from the ark; the day the earth stood still; the day God called Abram from Ur; the day God’s people crossed the Red Sea; the day Moses received the law; the day God filled Solomon’s Tabernacle; the day Jesus was born; the day Jesus was baptized; the day Jesus was transfigured; the day Jesus was scourged; the day Jesus was crucified; the day Jesus resurrected; the day Jesus ascended; and the day of Pentecost.

But there is no day, in fact not even the sum of all glorious days, that can provide the smallest competition for one coming day. For that day will encompass and swallow up every day before or after it. This day will rise like rushing smoke, holy and powerful, and burn every fiber of everyone who will witness this day. This day will consume the attention of the universe, and this day will stop the hearts and mouths of all who are granted its witness. Endless throngs will fall on this day as if dead, only to rise in the power of the Spirit to offer up the most sacred and resplendent worship on this day.

This day will shake the foundations of heaven and will reverberate throughout the corridors of eternity. This day will unveil grandeur beyond the imagination of any created being, and this day will step aside to uncover unspeakable majesty. No one will consider themselves worthy to exist on this day, and even the meaning of grace will blush in seeming inadequacy. This day has been predestined for the predestined, and this day will be a holy gift from the Father to His Son’s bride. All of history, like billions of rivers, will flow into one colossal ocean in this day. All the many and varied spiritual journies of all the sinners made righteous will on this day find complete unity. This day will usher the redeemed into a prepared eternity that has been heretofore unexpected, unthinkable, undeserved, and completely unimaginable.

What is this day?
Let us remove our shoes and speak with a holy whisper.
For ...

This is the day that the Risen Christ is Revealed in All His Glory.
Your Life is Hid

The unbeliever lives “in the moment” and “in himself” while the believer lives “in forever” and “in Christ”.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who Do You Seek?

Jn.18:4 – Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

Jn.18:7 – Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

Jn.20:15 – Jesus saith unto her, Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?

That question is one of greatest importance in the life of a believer. Who do you seek, if you seek anyone at all? What is our passion and how much does it take to distract us from Him? Well, how can we know if we are seeking Him? How can we be sure we are seeking Jesus and not the desires of our own lives? And how can we be sure we are not just seeking doctrine and theology, but that those things are vehicles through which we are seeking and finding His presence?

Can we experience the presence of God today? And if we can, how can we? I do not speak of emotionalism that relies on a manipulated atmosphere, but I do suggest that even though God’s presence is assuredly with us at all times, there are times where God’s presence is manifested in unusual ways. If we desire to know the presence of God and the power of His resurrection, as well as the fellowship of his sufferings, we must seek to draw close to Him. It will require more than daytimer prayer; it will mean fervent and laborious prayer with tears, an open Bible, and a brokenness that crushes and circumcises our very hearts. In short, as we seek Him we must begin the process of death.

I have watched a documentary called “Grizzly Man” which is the controversial account of a man named Timothy Tidwell. He was consumed with Grizzly bears in Alaska, and he spent thirteen seasons watching and filming their activities. He was roundly criticized for being too close to those huge grizzly bears, but he so desired to know them that he was willing to endure the danger. One day the thing that many had feared became a reality, and one of the bears that so consumed Tidwell, consumed him.

We can only pray that we will get so close to Christ that we will be consumed as well.
A Tree Twice Planted

in Palestine,
several millennia
ago, a tree dropped
a seed to the ground,
and that seed became
lodged in the soil and
began to grow. It was planted by God and became a tree. One day
that tree was cut down and hewn into planks. Those planks were
nailed together and men planted that tree, now reshaped, once
more on a small hill
outside Jerusalem.
This time that tree
was planted by men,
and the God who had
planted it first, now
claimed it bodily. Now
this tree was planted
the second time to kill
God, but without realizing
it, men had planted
their own redemption.
The tree had been planted twice so mankind could live once. The
seeds from that twice planted tree continue to fall in good soil and produce

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Modern Day Parables

There seems to be a resurgence in parables today, not the ones in the Bible, but new and modern ones. Many of these parables are philisophical constructs that are meant to be thought provoking rather than truth communicating. A man named Peter Rollins seems to be one of the leading story tellers, and his parables are cloaked in paradox and with a certain attempt to dismantle common Biblical thought. Many of his parables place a priority on human works and are almost void of Christ's redemption and His gospel.

Of course the western mindset is always excited to feast on mystery and cerebral challenges, but that same mindset now seems unattracted to and bored with Christ and His cross and resurrection. "We've heard that story, let's move on," seems to be the unspoken attitude. Well I have been led to from time to time present some parables of my own. Here is the first, which is generally in response to this one from Rollins.


The Deception of Good

In a land called Darkness, and at the entrance to a certain bridge called Redemption, there were five people who were suffering from AIDs, and adding to their discomfort they had not eaten in a week. But like an angel from heaven, one man decided to help these five poor people. He brought them nourishing food, he helped them bathe, and he brought them medicine to ease their pain.

Now as this man helped these five people, buses loaded with people kept passing by and crossing the bridge to a land called Eternal Life. Many buses stopped and asked the man if he desired those five people to get on the bus and cross the bridge. They told him that many people like the ones he was caring for were being cared for on the other side of the bridge. They warned him that it was widely believed that the bridge would soon be taken down, and that anyone left on this side would die, which would seem to ultimately countermand all his valiant efforts to help these people.

The man refused and said he wanted to continue to help these five people, after all they were very grateful for his help. Bus load after bus load passed them by and crossed the bridge. Finally God sent an angel to this man to show him where God had already asked everyone to cross the bridge. After listening to this angel read several parts of God’s Word that made it clear that God wanted everyone to cross the bridge that led to safety, the angel asked him one last time:

“Will you and the five others now leave Darkness, cross on Redemption, and go to Eternal Life? You can bring all your food and medicine with you.”

The man, still feeding those five people, answered,

“You do not understand, go back and tell God we are building our own bridge, and in fact, we already live in the land called Eternal Life.”

The angel shook his head in disbelief, astounded at such deception. The angel returned to God. God informed the angel that he had seen and heard all that this man had said and done. God looked at the angel and said sadly,

"Who would have thought that good has become a great deception?"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Whatever is not of Grace
is not of God

Acts 15:11 – But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Acts 15:28 – For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

The apostles gather in Jerusalem to discuss some extraordinary events that were taking place on the mission field. Rumors were surfacing that suggested Peter and Paul believed that Gentiles could believe on Jesus and be saved in the same way as Jews. This issue had to be discussed, and if it was indeed so, what commandments were these new Gentile believers supposed to obey? Were they supposed to obey the Jewish law? Remember this was during the embryonic days of the church and everyone was still learning and the Holy Spirit was still guiding the church into truths that would astound the early believers.

With James as the presiding pastor of the church at Jerusalem, the meeting takes place. Some of the issues were concerning baptism and circumcision, and just what outward commandments must be followed in order to be saved. The Spirit still had some work to do to completely extricate the early Jewish believers from any semblance of the Old Testament law, and James would prove to be still in that process.

So it was in this atmosphere that first Peter and then Paul gave witness to the salvation of Gentiles without the works of the law. And their testimonies were so convincing that James believed that Gentiles could indeed be saved and without the law. In verse 11 I have noted above that Peter himself strongly testifies of the gospel of grace without any preconditions of the law and without any commandments of the law after sinners are converted. Even the Jews, Peter says, are saved wholly by grace through faith.

This grace issue was a difficult concept to grasp back then, just as it remains difficult today. There is nothing attached to grace, either before salvation or after one is regenerated. Simply by faith in Jesus can a sinner be saved, forgiven, and the recipient of eternal life. Any hint of human works detracts, and possibly voids, the finished work of Jesus Christ when He died for the sins of the world. His sacrifice was offered freely to every sinner with the plea, “only believe”.

This gospel, this good news, is built upon grace alone and still men have tried their best to abrogate the very nature of grace by laying out a set of rules that must be obeyed before men can be saved. While it may be true that a sinner who is born again should exhibit some evidence of that spiritual reality, it has nothing to do with grace. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to regenerate a sinner, as well as it is to know who is and who is not an authentic believer in Jesus Christ. It is possible to identify when a person is trusting in a wrong theology concerning salvation, but it is impossible to declare with certainty a person’s eternal standing before God.

And so continues the church’s vacillating handling of grace, sometimes embracing grace fully and other times revealing a disturbing infidelity to its very essence. We attempt to monitor and even control God’s grace through various systems of self righteousness that are designed to constrict its scope by identifying behavior that might be inconsistent with Biblical exhortations. However it is those very inconsistencies that provide a spiritual purpose for grace. Is it possible, even probable, that many professing believers will be exposed as not genuine? Of course, but God reserves the right for that final analysis.

As recipients of God’s grace we should strive to fellowship in His presence, absorb His Word, spend quality time with Him in prayer, and allow God’s Spirit to mold us into His image. But just like a family that has a child who seems unwilling to conform to his family’s wishes and rules, that child is still part of that family regardless of his rebellion. We need not give false assurance to openly disobedient sinners who profess Christ, but we also cannot discount them wholesale simply based upon their unwillingness to meet our standards.

This gospel will always be one of grace, and we as believers must embrace that grace even when we are tempted to apply our personal template to those who are struggling. Grace should never be an excuse for sin, but neither should self righteousness be an excuse to ignore grace. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God. Whatever is not of grace is not of God.

Whatever is not of grace is not of God.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Abject Arrogance

It is no secret that I reject Calvinism as a Biblical misrepresentation, and even heresy as it concerns limited atonement. However I have close friends who love Jesus and are Calvinists, and many of them are humble believers who do not make Calvinism a constant thorn to everyone they meet. I thank God for them, and I envy how some of them reflect the Lord Jesus in their lives.

However these friends readily admit that there are some Calvinist brethren who project something far different than humility and graciousness. They are quick to argue, quick to judge, and quick to recite the Calvinist party line. Read their blogs and some will rehearse how they were speaking to their pastor just this last Sunday about these groups or those groups and how they are distorting the Scriptures. The error of others seems to fuel their own zest for spiritual life, and the overt implication is that each little local reformed center is an outpost of heaven planted to defend the truth.

But I came across this post written by a man who is an unashamed Calvinist, which is not a point of contention. But I want to first address the quantity of his post which supposedly deals with the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will notice that there are many references to the Koine Greek in his post, and he has said he is now studying that language. That may be helpful in some ways, but there are mountains of research materials that have already translated the New Testament a thousand times over. Many times a person’s knowledge of the Greek gives him an air of superior interpretation, which is not only self righteousness, it is belied by the disagreement among Greek scholars concerning some passages. And if you do not know the Greek, you have to take his word for all his interpretations and verb tenses etc., etc..

Now if you can wade through the Greek, you will see the infinitesimal degree in which he dissects the meaning of the gospel. And he sets strict standards and parameters that God must meet in using any flawed form of a gospel presentation lest God dishonor His own gospel. And yet there are legions of Calvinists who were saved under an Arminian message, and some even under a profoundly flawed presentation. One of my best friends, a staunch Calvinist, was saved in a meeting conducted by a world renowned health and wealth preacher. But the author says this:

“The Gospel is defined very well for us in God’s Word. It is the one and only way God has set up to save His people. If it is messed with or edited in any way then it is no longer the Gospel.”

I readily admit that some like Peter Rollins teaches a social gospel, and I have never heard him present the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. However I have heard some emergents, some health and wealthers, and many others who I would not endorse, present the gospel. And all of us – ALL OF US – have in some ways “messed with” the gospel. Is the author suggesting that his elongated definition must be presented in order for it to the gospel? And if not, let him provide a Miranda-like form from which we can recite the pristine gospel lest we remove its power.

But most disheartening of all, and yet most revealing of all, are these statements:

“The person attempted to derail the content or focus of that article by implying that God could save people any way He wanted so why should we be so narrow and judgmental. The one complaining insisted that he knew of many people that were “emergent,” but who loved the Lord and were excited about serving him, et cetera. However, they would not fit the mold of what I would define as Christian.”

How is suggesting that God can save anyone He chooses, which is the cornerstone of Calvinistic theology, “derailing” that post? It just illuminates the complex and paradoxical nature of Calvinism. On one hand you fervently teach that God will save only who He chooses, and on the other hand you can rebuke certain people for actually believing that they are saved. On one hand you can rest that God is orchestrating everything, while on the other hand you can itemize all the things that are out of control. On one hand you can suggest God will only use your version of the gospel, while on the other hand you are not upset that your version isn’t being spread more pervasively. It is “cake and eat it too” theology on display.

But when the author said these words:

“The one complaining insisted that he knew of many people that were “emergent,” but who loved the Lord and were excited about serving him, et cetera. However, they would not fit the mold of what I would define as Christian.”
(Don’t you love his caricature of someone’s views as “complaining”)

Try and digest this statement that openly suggests that a person who “loves the Lord and is excited about serving Him” does not – get ready – "FIT THE MOLD OF WHAT I WOULD DEFINE AS CHRISTIAN”. Could there possibly be a statement and attitude that was more self righteous and that contained more doctrinal hubris than that one? That is cultish as well, since most cults have their mold which cannot be altered or left to God. There are so many tare harvesters in today’s evangelical world that are in direct violation of Christ’s own admonition.

Judging a person’s salvation is serious business and must be done with humility and love. But when you suggest that loving the Lord and desiring to serve Him is incongruent to your personal mold of what is a Christian, well, that approaches the zenith of arrogance. These types of repulsive expressions, usually driven by a culture of self righteous hatred, are not confined to Calvinists. Sadly, you can find them in almost every segment of evangelical practice.

The challenge to anyone who confronts error is to remain humble, do not question anyone's salvation, and to thoroughly and passionately project the absolute truth that we are shamefully far from being mirrors of Christ ourselves.
As like Dickens once wrote, unless this is clearly understood nothing good can come from what we do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exalting Jesus Through His Church

There is much discussion about the doctrine of Jesus. There are descriptions that identify a church by certain distinctives. Baptisms, communion beliefs, theology, and other things define churches. Cities and towns are in the name of many churches. Some churches bear an apostle’s name. Many have Christian, Christ, Savior, and other monikers in their church name. There are few churches that use the name “Jesus” in their name. Most believers use denominational titles to describe their genre of Christian.

But without attempting to be technical, are we not supposed to be believers, imitators, and followers of Jesus the Christ? Why then has He, His incarnate person and model, taken such a back seat in our theology and most assuredly in our practice? In fact, most of evangelicalism is very conflicted concerning how Jesus would behave and act in our modern day society. So in essence we do not even have an accurate Jesus-template against which to measure ourselves. What kind of religion wanders about without an accurate archetypal of their God to which they strive to emulate and obey?

And stuck with such a pitiful and dysfunctional vision of our Master we resort to all sorts of makeshift substitutes designed to fill in the spiritual void that should contain a distinct and unambiguous directive, simply by applying the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so many times the church has been satisfied with being one, nondescript gospel tract that is handed out from afar without the inconvenience of relationships, humanitarian efforts, or tangible expenditures of grace, compassion, and love.

But if we are to evaluate the church in light of the New Testament revelation of the life of Jesus Christ, what conclusions should we reach? Shouldn’t the church be a collective display of ministry that is known for its many and varied manifestations of love? Shouldn’t we be a worldwide continuum that flourishes in the spirit and activities associated with Jesus? If our message is to be taken seriously, shouldn’t our living expressions be at least supportive of our creeds if not in fact visual articulations of the same? The entire Christian narrative of redemption cries out to be released through graphic displays of loving comportments showered upon human kind through the people known as followers of Jesus.

So often we have assigned total power to the written Word without acknowledging the facilitating power of unmistakable and vivid lives that are noticed wholly based upon their selfless missions to minister to whosoever is in need of anything. And if we are restrained in our acts of benevolence through fear of presenting a social message then we have been deceived greatly. The social aspect of the church must be a natural blossom through which the very redemptive fragrance of Jesus draws sinners to the good news of forgiveness and rebirth. Like a relentless suitor the church must be unrestrained in her efforts to lavish the spiritual and material gifts of Jesus upon the loving objects of His cross. We as modern day Eleazars must seek out Rebekkah with the message of Isaac along with the temporal gifts that reflect the nature of her husband to be.

The command to “take up our cross” has been defined with such spiritual narcissism. The message of cross bearing has been preached and defined as either bearing one’s burdens or being separate from this world, and yet the fullness of that message is infinitely greater in scope and even in purpose. What was the purpose of the cross of Jesus, and who were the benefactors of that amazing act? Was Jesus bearing His own burdens on that cross or were His sufferings endured for others? Wasn’t the graphic pictorial we call “Golgotha” meant to be our model as well as our salvation? And if we are to emulate the spirit of Golgotha, then how selfless are we to be? What should be held back and kept for ourselves? And when we practice an antiseptic gospel that just verbalizes the cross of Christ without the living dramatizations of that crucified love, then are we not being unfaithful to the very cross we say we preach?

The church must be the very body of Jesus Christ, living, breathing, and ministering light in the midst of profound need and darkness. What has passed for representing the Savior has sometimes been an act of convenient cowardice. Preaching against sinners has replaced eating with sinners; judgment has replaced redemption; and law has replaced grace. His cleansing of the Temple has been magnified and misinterpreted, while His silently receiving the spittle of sinners has been ignored. Jesus allowed a promiscuous woman to worship Him while we construct our gatherings to insure certain sinners feel most uncomfortable.

The church has cultivated a club mentality and is now identified most prominently by its building and gathering location instead of its remarkable expressions of redemption that permeate the community. The average American church spends most of God’s money on building debt and staff salaries and whatever may be left over may be used as a conscience soothing food pantry. They usually pay no attention to widows, especially if those widows are not believers. Which church school offers free tuition to under privileged children in their community? Which church day care opens its doors to single mothers who cannot afford such “luxuries”?

Shouldn’t the weekends be littered with followers of Jesus who offer free rides to drinking sinners, or sandwiches to hungry drifters, or counsel to those in need? Which church searches out the names of teenagers in jail and reaches out to their families, making any and all of their services available, and assuring them that their loved one is being lifted up in prayer? And where is the weekly prayer meeting where all the needs of people, specific and general, are prayed for and where intercession is a passion? Do churches provide rides for people who have loved ones in the hospital and have no transportation? Will we watch children when a parent has an illness or been in an accident and one parent must do the work of two?

The point is have we as the church sought out modern day expressions of Jesus that stray far from the convenience of the couple of weekly gatherings at the local ecclesiastical edifice? Have we become satisfied with preaching and believing the truth but have painfully and shamefully diminished the fervent efforts to show our love for our neighbors? Have we redefined Christianity itself by confining it to a set of doctrines but have viewed the acts of love as electives?

Have you ever read a church brochure or church sign that claims to “exalt Jesus” at that church? Usually what they mean is that they believe and preach the true gospel and the true Jesus and that may be very true. But I submit that exalting Jesus is much more demonstrative than just what is preached in a church auditorium. Exalting Jesus must be much more public and much more unsterilized than a gathering of unified believers. Exalting Jesus to the darkened world will be filled with compromise and contamination; exalting Jesus outside the church building will require the spiritual soiling of our ecclesiastical reputations; exalting Jesus in the midst of lost sinners will be an inconvenient journey of much more giving than receiving; and frankly, if we are to exalt Jesus through the church, we will have to change everything.
Yes, everything…

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Exclusive Kingdom

II Cor.6: 14-18 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Much of modern Christianity has interpreted those verses to mean that we should avoid marrying an unbeliever, or going into business with an unbeliever, or joining in an endeavor with an unbeliever that would compromise your Christian testimony. All of those things are good warnings to us as followers of Jesus, but the admonitions of these verses are more comprehensive than just those things.

Paul refers to us all as “workers together with Him” at the beginning of the chapter, and his exhortation is for us to be without offense in all things so that the ministry is not blamed. That is the thrust of chapter six – that we are blameless in all things so we do not bring reproach and misrepresentation to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in verses 14 through 18 Paul gets more specific about the Spirit’s reasons for our separate status. Of course Paul has made it clear that we are to have contact with sinners for the express purpose of sharing Christ and His gospel, but these verses warn against being tethered to unbelievers in any form of agreement or covenant that would dilute our Christian witness. This is not some healthy suggestion, this is a spiritual mandate that has seen and unseen ramifications.
When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we sacrifice the Spirit’s blessing and power needed to reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God desires to empower vessels that are set apart for His exclusive use. When we are yoked with unbelievers, especially in endeavors of moral reformation, we relinquish the power of the Spirit that is exclusively for the gospel ministry and witness. (Acts 1:8)

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we are susceptible to temporal distractions.

Many moral and political movements bring our focus onto earthly issues and not issues of the kingdom of God. The salvation of souls is our desire and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to see that come to pass.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we may be influenced by their fallen attitudes.

Politics and certain moral issues can and do influence believers to hate people whose views are different than those expressed in God’s Word. Mockery, self righteousness, demeaning satire, and a general atmosphere of disrespect and hatred are easily seen in the political arena. This is at odds with everything we know about our Master Jesus Christ.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we can allow ourselves to use their carnal weapons.

It cannot be denied that one way to leverage political advantage is to attack and demean your supposed opponent. Instead of showing love and grace many believers have adopted the ways of the heathen, even applauding them as “conservative” voices of morality. God’s kingdom uses prayer and His Word as His only weapons, and humility, grace, mercy, and love as the wielding of His weapons.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we may become blind to the reality of their spiritual standing.

Regardless of how a lost person espouses any moral issue, whether it be abortion or the sanctity of marriage, he is still eternally lost without Christ, and though he may have the most impeccable moral views he remains a rebel to the gospel and Jesus Christ. If we lose sight of that by joining with him we may well add to his blindness and ours.

When we are unscripturally connected to unbelievers we are attempting to bring two opposing kingdoms together.

Light and darkness cannot mix, and in fact, light always triumphs over darkness. When we join with the kingdom of darkness over anything we allow the darkness to have credibility. Those unscriptural associations place a bushel over the light of the gospel, and when the darkness agrees to a union with believers is exposes the weakness of the gospel light.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers the gospel of Jesus Christ has been compromised and we have accommodated the lost world.

Why would we leave our resting place of divine life and redemption? Why would we succumb to the sirens that call us to Martha’s kitchen and leave the feet of the gospel’s Author? It seems so insidious, but it is in fact a dynamic that changes the entire landscape and infuses the followers of Jesus into the crowd of other causes and ultimately presents us as one of them, only with a little different take on religion.

It is time for a sweeping revival that awakens the church to the exclusiveness of God’s gospel kingdom. The early church did not set up lobbyists in Rome; the early church did not petition Caesar to pass laws beneficial to their cause; the early church did not spread the message of moral values; the early church preached and died for the message of the everlasting gospel and in so doing they shook the civilized world. It is this foundation from which we have strayed. The church now believes that politics and voting blocks can press forward God’s eternal kingdom when in fact it countermands the very message of redemption itself. People and nations do not need to come into compliance with God's moral dictates, and in a real sense they cannot do so. They need the redemption that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Many parts of the visible church in the west regularly attack past and present presidents concerning money, morals, foreign affairs, and a host of other earthly matters. And many display an attitude and rhetoric in direct violation to the mandates of the New Testament and the life of Christ. This just adds to the confusion about the gospel since on one hand the church teaches that men without Christ are dead in their sins yet they consistently admonish them for those sins and seemingly attempt to get them to stop by a variety of vicious slurs and creative vitriol. The gospel, therefore, is by default only a caveat and not the unrivaled and exclusive message that it should be.

And in the midst of all this political verbiage and conservative vs. liberal altercations, the gospel has not only been misrepresented, the Christlike pattern of life is abrogated in favor of hostility toward “political enemies” in general and many unscriptural alliances. The sum total is a powerless gospel that reduces redemption to moral and political legalism and is a de facto rejection of Jesus Christ and His gospel. It has pervaded the church and made us spiritually impotent and prisoners of the very culture we say we reject.

The Spirit has opened new caverns of disobedience in my own life and just avoiding political involvement and moral crusades will not be enough for me or any believer. We must seek a new and vast frontier in Christ that allows us to be clothed in humility, walking in the reality of His presence, and seeking the power of His Spirit through broken obedience, prayer, and the two greatest tenants of love. Please do not use me as an example or template, for I am just a pilgrim who continues to fall and learn, which brings me to realize more profoundly each day my utter dependence of God’s amazing grace. There is no other way than grace – there is no other way than grace.

There is no other way than grace. Selah…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moral Movements

Moral movements, however noble and righteous may be the issue, are anti-gospel. Most of these movements misrepresent God’s will as being a moral crusade rather than a “seek and save that which was lost” commission.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Original Languages

I believe there is an overemphasis and even a self righteousness concerning the original langauges. There are many satisfactory translations which have done all the necessary linguistic homework for all of us. A pure and passionate pursuit of following Christ does not hinge on any knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Let us openly admit that we fall embarrassingly short of just obeying the English.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Doctrines of Grace

It is one thing to believe a theology when you print it upon a clean piece of paper, it is quite another to believe it enough to imprint upon a dirty sinner.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
The Disciple's Light

What is our hope? I do not mean what is our ultimate hope, while we treat other things as temporary hopes with some power to save, deliver, and sustain life. The time has come, and indeed is long overdue, that the believing followers of Jesus Christ walk away from everything that keeps us from experiencing and modeling an outright fanatical, desperate, and peace filled confidence in Jesus Christ, our only Hope. How is it that our lives are so conveniently hidden within a world of darkness? Where is our light? And why don’t sinners ask us about our hope?

We have dispensed out our lives in so many different directions and with so many attachments that it has become impossible for others to see any remarkable difference in us. Our worries, our cares, our finances, our minds, our emotions, our time, and most of our energies are allocated to endeavors of this world. And even when we gather together for the expressed purpose of worshiping the Risen Christ we come without prepared hearts and are consumed with the event rather than the Christ. And five minutes after we leave the building we are well on our way to the same innocuous and insipid life we lived the previous week. In short, we have become locked into a changeless and indistinct existence that reflects so little light that Christ is obscure and anonymous in the very life from which He should radiate.

It is not wrong to be faithful to the mundane concerns of this world, but it a grievous wrong when those things are the center of our lives, and in some cases, the exclusive core of our entire lifestyle. To profess that the Creator of the Universe actually lives within us, and then to exhibit such little residual evidence of that truth is to live the most profound lie of all. What we say we believe is staggering, and if true, its impact should and must be extraordinary in the assembly line world of human ants struggling to achieve some level of significance and purpose. The life of a believing follower of Jesus Christ should be a beacon of love, grace, redemption, and one that is marked by prayer and commitment that would be unexplainable under any normal circumstances. But, sadly, our churches have so lowered the bar of Biblical discipleship that many millions can be faithful to the weekly gatherings without the slightest evidence of a Christ filled life and still feel the satisfaction of meeting their religious obligations.

As the culture has compromised and even swallowed up our Christian witness, the church has diluted its message and the depth of its challenge to accommodate, and in some cases integrate, the cultural effects. What then remains is a well managed and well rounded western lifestyle that acknowledges all the correct moral views and the gospel tenants, but is so homogeneous to its surroundings that is must be considered fully clandestine and completely inconspicuous. Again we are left with a lifestyle that is alien to the Book of Acts and inconsistent to many examples of church history that, instead of receiving the imprint of their culture, have left His mark upon their human environment.

So what does it mean to be a faithful, and even a passionate follower of Jesus Christ? What spiritual accoutrements that are reflections of the Incarnate life have we compromised and even discarded? And what cultural parasites have we allowed to contaminate and misrepresent what it means to be a follower of Christ, and in fact misrepresent Christ Himself? And the overriding question will be the motivating factor as to how far and how deep we reexamine our personal commitment to the Lord Jesus.

The question is this:

Is Jesus worth more, much more, than we now give and surrender to Him?

Think on that question which should be rhetorical as well as a convicting indictment. I will in the future address certain spiritual and Biblical truths juxtaposed against what should be our practical manifestations of those truths.
Seeing Politics

If at this point you still cannot see the utter carnality and spiritual hindrance of American politics, then it is just possible you never will.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Measuring Grace by Law

It is the highest convolution to measure God’s grace through the prism of law.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
The Eternal Paradox
Redemption's Grace

Redemption is delicately durable – ruggedly frail – and imperishably brittle. It can withstand the most monstrous sins and yet collapse at the first sign of good works.

The eternal paradox God calls grace.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009
When His Blood Runs Cold

Any gospel projection of self righteousness, or moral elitism, or judgmentalism, makes His blood run cold. Literally.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Which Master Will You Serve?

Read this article.

This is part of the deep delusion that has followers in Jesus confused and deceived. One of the greatest deceptions is to work in and through those who claim to be uncovering and exposing deception. It is a profound paradox in which the Evil One operates and delights. There is little doubt that men like Peter Rollins are reducing Christianity to humanitarian acts and social justice, and those deceptions are insidious and deadly to be sure.

But some of the greatest distractions, and deceptions, are the political battles in which followers of Jesus become embroiled. Did not our Master weep over the city that would soon take His life? And where did our Lord divide sinners into political categories? But in the article referenced in my link you will find visceral hatred for a lost person named Obama, an unbiblical love for a country, and in a stunning display of hypocrisy a long quote from one who despised Christ. This is from blogger who frequently criticizes other believers who quote heretics and liberal theologians. The gander must be different than the goose.

But read this statement from the Declaration of Independence:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”

I now present a challenge to all who read this post. Show me in the New Testament where Christ gives us license to take up arms against an unjust government, regardless if it is over taxes or laws against free worship. And the other challenge is for others to provide New Testament verses that present the followers of Jesus with a different course that endures hardships and persecution with joy and humility.

Are we not supposed to suffer for His sake?
Are we not commanded to return good for evil?
Did not our Lord command us to pray for those who despitefully use us?
So which Christ should we follow – the one who as Jehovah Jireh provides us with bombs and guns with which to kill any government we feel is despotic – or the one who lays down His life for His enemies?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In Search of Jesus

Once upon a time, in a land and time far away, a human Seed was murdered. And as this Seed died and was buried He seemed to be gone forever. But after three long and dark days, the morning of the third day arrived. And on this morning this Man got up from death and left His tomb in a resurrected mystery. And the Seed that died alone, arose with a harvest of other coming seeds.

Now the path of redemption was now complete and wide open for all who would believe in this Man, Jesus. The message of the cross and resurrection was to be preached throughout the entire world, and the offer of redemption was to be to all men. And the call, for all who by faith would become born again followers of this Risen Jesus, would be a call to humility, love, and power.

These followers of Jesus would be peacemakers and gentle, seeking the good of everyone else above their own. They would be known for their love, and although they would not compromise the gospel message, they would present it in humble boldness and bathed in fervent prayer.

These citizens of a new kingdom would eschew all earthly endeavors meant to bring about change without Jesus. They would humbly be separate and different than others yet completely engaged in other ways meant to showcase the redemption of Jesus. They were free slaves of the Most High and were busy spreading the knowledge of their Savior and Lord. Their eyes were set on eternity and their sojourning here was meant to point to the eternal. And among a world of hatred and selfishness, their lives would be remarkably different and conduits for people to see the Creator and His offer of eternal redemption.

Their lives would substantiate the gospel message. That plan, that commission, has been abandoned in favor of earthly endeavors, political infighting, words of hatred, judgment toward sinners, and using Jesus as a doctrinal tug-of-war. The life of humble sacrifice is considered too timid. Expressions of divine love for lost rebels is considered compromise. Receiving attacks without responding is considered surrender. Showing grace is considered condoning sin. And if you line up 100 different evangelical groups, from the most staunch Calvinist to the most liberal emergent, you will not see a smidgen of difference in their living expressions of Jesus Christ. The only distinct difference will be battles of ink and paper.

So if a lost sinner would ask, “Where can I go to find Jesus on this earth?”what would we tell that person? Would we have to recite the gospel plan without being able to point to any dramatic lifestyles that could be used as evidence? And when that sinner says, “You mean to tell me that you actually believe you have eternal life with Jesus, and that all who do not believe in Jesus will live eternally in a very bad place, and yet your life doesn’t seem much different than mine?” how do we respond?. And then that perceptive sinner asks these questions:

“Why are you in debt if you are just passing through this life?”
“Why do some Christians speak so harshly of lost people if they need Jesus?”
“If there are so many lost people heading for eternal death, why do you never weep?”
“If you are content in Jesus, why do care what America does?”
“If everything you have belongs to Jesus, why do you fight so much to keep it?”
“Would you give your life for me?”

Are we witnessing the death of New Testament Jesus following?