Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Systems of Man

The Systems of Man
My nephew asked, that since all men sin, then why was I against the political system. His comment was, “Shockingly enough, sinful humans practice sin in every circumstance.” So why was I against that system? It was a legitimate question.

Let me put it this way. All men have lusted and are prone to lust. But that does not allow us to construct systems that encourage lust. Just because all men have fallen short does not justify believers being engaged in strip clubs. You see, it is one thing to sin, but it is another to build systems that encourage and accommodate that sin.

But the church for so long has a limited view of sin which accentuates certain sins and ignores others. Homosexual behavior is a sin but the lying and manipulation of politics can be overlooked. Abortion is sin but a talk show host can make 400 million dollars and that is just “Godly capitalism”. Castigating one’s political enemies is immune to the “love your enemies” scriptural mandate.

Plumbing does not encourage sin. Home building does not encourage sin. And even though men do sin in those vocations, the vocations themselves do not encourage sin or provide a forum for sin. Everything about politics encourages sin, and in fact, necessitates sinful speech and behavior to achieve political success. Even some believers with spiritual integrity have entered politics only to have the system change them.

Fallen systems, when embraced by professing believers, always alter a person’s heart and life. Take ten men, nine with pneumonia and one with good health, and place them in a room. The nine impact the one. Politics by its very nature is fraught with self righteousness and earthly answers that are void of the gospel of redemption. It is a modern revelation of the Tower of Babel which seeks to create a kind of heaven on earth.

But we are free from the systems of this world by the power of the New Testament directives. But what was once a glorious light in the midst of darkness has become a player in a dirty and humanistic system. And this coming Sunday churches by the thousands will pay homage to a nation whose very charter instituted a pluralistic system which in Biblical parlance is idolatry. War will be embraced and fairy tales about the founding fathers will excite the masses. It is always a spectacle of idolatry.

And instead of struggling to be free from such a fallen system, the church wallows in it. How the mighty have fallen! The illusion has become our reality, and the pig pen has replaced the shadow of His wings. When we as believers enter the world’s systems, we surrender our power and privileges as citizens of the kingdom of God.

Look around. We live in a hedonistic culture which murders its unborn, pours out sexual filth, spends billions on sports stadiums, registers 750,000 sex offenders, and offers 1.5 million strip clubs. And in the midst of all this the body of Christ blends in nicely and participates in what the culture dictates. The church has become a part of the system. And it is so entrenched that believers even listen to hours and hours of talk shows that exhibit an overwhelming practice of unbiblical speech. The system has swallowed up the church.

The gospel is not a “system”, and the church is not an organization. The world protests and boycotts, but we are commanded to go and preach. In fact, we are commanded to love sinners and to bless those who may seem like our enemies. We are called to spread the message of redemption, not the spirit of condemnation. Take a look at the coin of condemnation. Now turn it over and see what is written on the other side - “self righteousness”.

But in the largest sense, the church’s affinity for the things of this world is a heartbreaking spectacle. How could anyone who has caught a glimpse of the Christ in all His beauty and majesty ever return to their earthly vomit? The goats have contrived their system and the sheep energetically want to play also? No one needs to cultivate the temporal; it is in our face constantly and it connects with our flesh most powerfully. But the eternal is hidden and requires a seeking, a personal commitment to cultivate. If you do not desire the eternal daily, you will quickly fall prey to the dictates of the temporal. While the temporal is a treadmill of death, the eternal is a fount of life. As our Master exhorted, “Lift up your eyes.”

So what do you desire? Do the systems of this present world capture your interest? Do they fulfill your need for self worth and enlightenment? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when you participate in that which is of this earth? Do the redundant political machinations draw your heart? Are you actively attempting to change this world by means other than His gospel? Has the gospel become an appendage and not the driving force of your being?

We have so reduced the power of the cross. It seems to have no relevance in today’s technological culture of self indulgence. People like Oprah do good works and strive to help people, and while most of the church rejects her theology, they try and change things through the power of the same flesh that empowers Oprah. The eternal majesty of redemption cannot be relegated to a Sunday morning sermon, which is also getting scarce. We as believers must allow the Spirit to open our hearts and our eyes so that we may see things as they truly are.

People in our culture do not need more conservative morals, and they do not need more money. The gays do not need to become straight, and the abortion doctor does not need another profession. The socialist does not need to repent and become a capitalist. What every sinner needs is redemption, without which he will be separated from God forever. Does that even move us anymore? It seems so basic and fundamental, but it has lost its doctrinal incandescence. The gospel is now something over which to defend in discussions of doctrine, but it no longer requires a life of self denial, humility, and painful sacrifice. Sadly, we are now part of this world’s system.

But there is still time, albeit getting shorter. Open your eyes and see the vacuous nature of it all. Set your affections on things above and not on the things of this world. Dwell on the prospect of eternal life and refuse to be imprisoned and compromised by the futile promises of this present dance of death.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

What can tempt a dead man? Go over to his coffin and offer him a piece of cake. Tell him you wish to buy him a car. Ask him which candidate he supports. None of those things move a dead man. And for those who are dead to this world and alive in Christ the things of this world have no place in our hearts. Yes we eat and are clothed, and yes we go to work and raise our family. But as for the revolving circus of the world’s affairs we refuse to get entangled. We are dead to the entire exhibition.

And so I exhort you, come out from among them and be separate and free. No one can know the fullness of His freedom while they still embrace that which is against Him. The prophetic truth states that one day the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.

But until that day, they are the kingdom of antichrist.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Return to the Early Church

A Return to the Early Church?

I Pet.1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

They were days of newness and days of learning. They were days of danger and days of boldness. They were days of revelation and days of community. They were days of sacrifice and days of plenty. They were days of power and days of humility. They were days of excitement and days of caution. They were days of prayer and days of witnessing. They were days of giving and days of receiving. They were days of persecution and days of glory.

These were the days of the early church. They quickly discovered that Christ was their life, and martyrdom was a good possibility. In fact, martyrdom was an incredible privilege. Their earthly lives were living sacrifices to the Risen Christ. But with the Industrial Revolution, and with the advent of an avalanche of material accoutrements, it has become increasingly difficult to deny one’s self and become a living sacrifice. Over the centuries, the Christian faith has left the eternal and become entrenched in the temporal.

That process is called death. Like chains attached to a prisoner’s arms, the church walks in utter bondage to the dictates of this world and the carnal desires of fallen hearts. Oh dear Lord, where has the axe head fallen and how can we recover the sacrificial commitment exhibited by our spiritual ancestors? Where have we lost the vision of His majesty? When did we turn away from His cross and turn toward a mess of pottage?

Where is the freedom only realized in Christ when we walk in His Spirit? Believers talk of earthly freedom without recognizing that earthly freedom is indeed a mirage and continues to be used by the enemy of our souls to bring us into a temporal tabernacle filled with earthly idols. And like Hezekiah, we have invited the enemies of Christ to come and see what we have. And the enemies have now carried away the unspeakable treasures of the Spirit and have beckoned us to come and dine with the heathen in their temple. And the church now has forfeited the treasures of the Spirit for the fallen idols of man.

Everything, and I mean everything, in politics and the democratic system is antithetical to all Jesus lived and taught, and all the principles of the kingdom of God. The lying, the distortion, the braggadocio, the slick advertisements, the visceral hatred, and the horrific amount of money that will be spent are all symptoms of a system that is rotten to its very core. And to insist that democracy is at least better than other systems is like saying arsenic is better than a nuclear bomb.

We must reenlist in God’s kingdom which has no King but Christ, fights with spiritual weapons like love, joy, and peace, and whose marching orders are unilateral and singular. Go and preach the gospel to every creature. You cannot preach the gospel of redemption to those with whom you are at war.

Why have we erased the line of demarcation between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of our God? There are two main reasons, nationalism and greed. But in an odd and inconsistent way, the moralists within God’s kingdom are attempting to use an immoral vehicle to achieve some kind of cultural morality. This is quite astonishing and its goal is unredemptive and it method is unbiblical.

We have never been called to change a culture or to leverage moral purity through a democratic process. In fact, democracy itself crowns the majority as god and allows them to demand that the minority adhere to what the majority desires. And without a born again experience, and without the Lordship of Christ, that process is called humanism. Humanism is loosely defined as orchestrating moral dictates through natural means. Many unbelievers are conservative and are only too happy to join with political believers in order to achieve an earthly result.

But is it right to do wrong in order to achieve a right? Is that God’s way? The American political process is so outrageously immoral in almost every way, that to use it as a vehicle for morality is counter productive and an obvious paradox. Like the shirt that says, “Violent people should be shot”, the entire spectacle reveals an incredible compromise, and a volitional ignorance of the moral conundrum inherent within the very system that says it seeks a higher moral plane. So we expect pure water to come from a dirty cup?

Without a sweeping revival the church will continue to sink into the morass of earthly issues and wars. And the majesty of the Lord Jesus will be hidden to a world in desperate need of His redemption. We have not been commissioned to change the world, we have been sent to change men’s hearts through the everlasting gospel. The end never justifies the means, and we have no right to add to or subtract from the commands of our Master.

Oh how I imagine being a part of an early church movement that returns to a life of self denial, prayer, and a deep journey into God’s living Word. Are you satisfied with living as do the heathen, and going to and fro from a building we call “church”? is that what Christ died for, and is that what the Spirit inhabits us? Our hearts and minds have become places of refuge for all sorts of earthly matters. Even the prophets that should be proclaiming the truth with fasting and prayer have succumbed to the dictates and systems of this present world. Many preachers now purchase their messages online, while others tell long and winded stories that have nothing eternal about them.

Behold, our Master returns! But what will He find when He does? His bride is a whore and those who claim His name are undistinguishable from those who do not. The love of many has waxed cold even though their lips suggest otherwise. There is no sense of urgency, and surely no sense of holiness in these modern churches. Self righteousness lives freely among us, and ordained men use vulgarity and speak eloquently about sexual matters. This is not the church that was founded upon the Rock. We have become successful in our journey to be relevant, but that journey has taken us far away from Christ.

But in all our impatience with the visible church, please remember that the King Himself still claims the victory in our stead. And when the final tally comes forth and the secrets of men are made known, all creation will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. Regardless of how we served and how we sacrificed, and even if we had prayed incessantly and witnessed of Him around the world, it will become very clear that He deserves all the glory.

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 - Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Coming Revelation

The Coming Revelation

The Godhead had it all planned before light was. The majesty and power of He who is revealed in three persons is beyond us. In fact, when asked to define a “spirit” we are at a loss. He, the Creator, is all in all, and above all. He is our life. Billions live one heartbeat from hell. Millions live one heartbeat from heaven.

To actually imagine standing before Him is both discomforting as well as thrilling. There are many things which have brought us thrilling moments. When I witnessed the birth of my first son I was beside myself. As an amateur astronomer I was overwhelmed when I saw Saturn for the first time through my telescope. As I watched the collapse of the Twin Towers my entire being shook. I watched in the early morning hours as Neil Armstrong took man’s first moon steps. I waited in line and passed by Michelangelo’s sculpture the “Pieta” which depicted Mary with a deceased Jesus stretched out upon her lap. I watched the Challenger explode in person. The first time I saw “The Passion of the Christ” I was reduced to tears in awe, gratefulness, and wonder.

What have you seen or heard which brought you some thrilling moments? Was it seeing the great mountain ranges? Was it looking across a great ocean? Was it your wedding day? Seeing your children baptized? Think back upon some monumental event which moved your very soul. Perhaps, like me, there are several.

There are many, many paintings that depict Jesus as men imagine He had looked. I am not sure how God views such things, but I do know this: No painting born out of the imagination of man has ever even approached an accurate imagery of the Lord Jesus, to say nothing of the Risen Christ in all His glory. We use the term “glory” so effortlessly and with so little authentic understanding of its meaning and implications. Go back and rehearse the events I have shared, and you will see events that are so diminutive and commonplace when compared to God’s surpassing glory.

Locked in time and space, our perspectives are imprisoned by earthly comparisons. But what about the glory of God? Who can relate a personal and complete experience with that revelation? Paul caught just a glimpse and he was rendered with temporary blindness. Moses saw God’s back side for a moment and his face shone for days. God Himself said that no man can see Him in all His fullness and glory and yet live. In order for anyone to see God in His glory he must be given a new body with new eyes and a new heart.

And so it is. Not only has God redeemed those who believe, but He has a new body that awaits our spirit. And this new body will afford us the greatest privilege ever granted a human. This new body will allow us to see and experience the glory of God as it emanates from the Risen Christ. Again, those words rattle off the tongue and the keyboard, but if we will pause and give them the meditation they deserve, we may well be thrilled ahead of time and even be changed now.

But before we are even granted a prophetic glimpse we must free our minds from the ecclesiastical traditions of man, and every vestige of erroneous presentations through the false prism of Christian television. We must reject any temptation to use earthly comparisons in order to see the veil pulled back ever so slightly. We can use our imagination if they are led by His Spirit, but we can never present our sincere thoughts to be absolute truth. The greatest and most accurate imagination of the Risen Christ is still significantly wanting and falls painfully short of what will one day be a reality.

Does this not excite your very soul? How can anything in this present world be more important and more thrilling than even a limited thought concerning the glory of God? If we allow a mental penetration into what will be, and if we surrender to its incompleteness, then we can understand what lies in store for the redeemed. Sinless in heaven, yes. No more sickness and pain, yes. All tears wiped away, yes. But all those things are fringe and tangential when we realize we will see Him as He is. These present eyes would burn within their sockets if we were given a five second glance at His risen glory.

But there we will stand one day. Basking in His everlasting power and glory, and fully engaged with the knowledge of the price that was paid for us, He will receive our worship. Do not think that in and of itself is a small thing, and please do not think that music plays the greater part of that authentic worship. Regardless of any music, our worship will be centered completely on Him. Music may be the driving force in earthly worship, but in His very presence music will only be a vehicle in which true worship and praise rises before our Redeemer.

Only then will we understand the true meaning of worship. And on that day we have no need of a worship leader since the glory of our Great God elicits our worship with a power we have never known on this planet. No one will be in need of coaxing or coercion, and in spite of our thoughts about speaking to Moses or Abraham or Paul or some loved ones, our entire beings will be consumed with Him alone! No lunch buffet distracts us, and no time restraints will dictate our worship. We then will exist in eternity where time and space are a past phenomenon, and in a trillion earth years we will still be worshiping with the exuberance, energy, and awe that we experienced during those first thrilling moments.

But it is not about our worship or anything about us at all. It is all about Him! The great company of angels bow down to His resplendent glory. Listen as the Seraphim keep saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Incessantly they repeat that phrase without an ounce of tired redundancy. Each time they repeat those words all heaven embraces them as if they had been said for the very first time. And it isn’t the words only that move our beings, but those angelic words are juxtaposed upon the visual Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Oh, who can know such wonder!!

Look at the wonder of the heavens. See the stars which even though speak of His glory, but are nothing more than turning hydrogen into helium. Do you require more creative wonder? There are approximately 40 trillion cells in an adult human body. And comprising each cell are 100 trillion atoms. Does that make you shake your head in wonder and amazement? Well that is the creation and not the Creator. The Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, will Himself exhibit and exude more wonder and amazement than all of His creation.

You cannot imagine a trillion cells or a trillion atoms. If you stood on the equator and face east, and if you shot a gun toward the east, and if the bullet traveled parallel to the ground with the speed of light, it would pierce your body seven times in one second. And the closest star is four light years from our Sun. Go ahead, pretend you comprehend creation. But as you surrender to your pitiful mental capacity, remember that you have only surrendered to any understanding of the created universe. Now pause and ponder the glory of the Creator.

Do you now see the utter necessity of being gifted with a new body? And on that day we will know even as we are now known. These are uncharted waters of eternal glory. I hope you can see just how temporal things on this earth are. And even though the stars and galaxies are enormous and sources for wonder, their Creator will not only exhibit glory that far surpasses that of creation, He also will reveal two nail scarred hands.

What??? How can this be??? The Creator Himself, in all His eternal and unfathomable glory, will retain those unjust Roman scars??? Oh my dear friends, creation speaks of His unrivalled power, but His redemption speaks of His holiness enshrined in the mystery of His consuming love revealed in His tortured death. And when you lay eyes upon the spectacle of His unimaginable power and glory, do not forget you will see those scars throughout eternity. Who can understand and fully appreciate a God who gives His life for us, and allows those redemptive wounds to adorn His eternal image? And those scars which were designed to mar His image, now radiate to His eternal glory.

So our perspective of His glory will always be intermingled with His eternal sacrifice for us. Oh my, what love can this be? Do you not feel the spirit of worship welling up inside your heart even now? I have used the word “thrilling” since no human words can fully embrace what lies in store for us. And I leave you with the words of C.H. Spurgeon:

“Upon our first glimpse of the Risen Christ we will think ourselves a thousand fools to have ever been attracted to anything upon this earth.”

Selah. Selah, Selah….

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jerry Sandusky

Jerry Sandusky

He is a monster and a clear reflection of the fallen nature of man. He must pay for his crimes here on earth, however Jesus died for his soul. Even a monster like him can be redeemed. I know, because a monster like me has been redeemed.

On the Doorstep

On the Doorstep of that Great and Terrible Day

Matt.10:32-39 - Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The time has come where believers in Jesus Christ must be engaged in a spiritual war of profound proportions. And yet our war is won by surrender and humility, even as we speak the truth. We must rebuke heretics without neglecting our own spiritual mirror. And if we, by His grace, are led to a deeper devotion and commitment to our Wonderful Master, we might suffer at the hands of those we call family or those with whom we worship. In today’s climate of spiritual compromise and the mixing of the profane with the holy, it is impossible to be committed to Christ and be found unremarkable within most churches.

We will be called “judgmental” and we must certainly guard against such a spirit. We ourselves were sometimes foolish and serving diverse lusts. But our past and present shortcomings cannot deter us from speaking His truth and rejecting that which besmirches His name and causes us to stray from His cross. We are in a war not of our creation. The God of the Universe has already triumphed, and His patience is solely for the benefit of those who stand on the brink of eternal demise.

Dress it up with glitz and glamour, but this life has not one iota of glory when compared with the surpassing glory which awaits those who know Christ as Lord. To see Him for the very first time cannot be fathomed. Jesus is the Creator of all that is, and although man has rendered Him as nothing more than an aid to our earthly success, He will one day be revealed in great glory and in the midst of a great company of His angels. But the church is not interested in His return, and we surely are not concerned with the implications of His glorious return.

This year will see many sermons on morals and politics and all kinds of earthly endeavors. And Jesus will be presented as not much more than a spirit guide who leads us to a greater prosperity. But that is not the Jesus of Scripture, and it is not the Jesus that awaits the Father’s command to mount His steed and bring the divine wrath to all the inhabitants of the earth. There are many symbols found in such prophetic peeks, however the reality will be a thousand times more dramatic and terrible than we can imagine.

These issues are not fringe. These words are not the words of a madman. The warnings of Scripture have been cast aside and replaced by soothing words which distract the soul and provide salve to any conscience that feels the slightest concern. The Joel Osteens have replaced the Jonathan Edwards. The Rick Warrens have replaced the Charles Finneys. But even among the so called “orthodox” clan there is scant talk of His return, and no genuine concern. No one could accuse us of being fanatical about the greatest event that may soon come.

In fact, if lost sinners would be informed about what we say we believe, they would have every right to call us hypocrites and liars. Do we have a holy fear? Do we weep for the plight of our family? Do we lust after the next car or the new house? Is our passion for sports more demonstrative than our passion for Him? If the Lord Jesus is indeed returning to this earth, and if that event will eternally affect all of us, and if that day may be today, then should not that knowledge have a dramatic affect on how we live our lives?

But as it is, here we sit comfortable in our westernized caricature of the faith once delivered to the saints. This Sunday will be no different than the last, and it will be an exact replica of the next. Revival? Who are we kidding? We cannot even pretend to believe it ourselves. Where is the faith that shakes cities? Where are the prayer gatherings which strip us of ourselves and release inward emotions of conviction and repentance? When were we last completely broken before Him so that nothing mattered but Him and Him alone?

It is easy to doctrinally espouse Bethlehem’s event, but if we say that we believe this:

“…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 that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

Our hearts and lives indict us as giving lip service without life service. The event described in those verses, if completely true, requires more than just a doctrinal genuflect. How can the church suggest it actually believes such things and yet continues to live such unremarkable lives? We study prophecy as if it were a Michelangelo painting, to be admired but not touched. And when we read those words how can we retire to our mundane lives without a tear or a shout or a demonstrable change of life?

And still the church insists it believes such things while night after night the church house is dark except for an exercise class or a boy scout meeting or a choir practice. Where are the prayer meetings that beg and beseech God for His power in order to warn those who are in the divine line of fire? Let a dog die and we weep, but sinners by the hundreds die all around us and we are careless and unconcerned. And still we insist we believe the Scriptures.

If what we say we believe is not true then we are madmen at best. But if Jesus will return in the fashion described in His own Words, then what else matters? Preachers from all persuasions sit on talk show panels and discuss the political and moral issue du jour, but when will they breathlessly look into the camera and knowing the terror of the Lord persuade men to repent and believe the gospel? It has become so antiseptic and so passionless that the world does not even take notice anymore.

Why do the masses flock to the Warrens and the Osteens and the prosperity preachers? Because they speak their nonsense with boldness and clarity, but warning sinners has fallen out of vogue in these last days. And the dearth of sacrificial and deep prayer should be embarrassing to us all, yet we refuse to blush.

You and I cannot look to the institutional church for guidance or exhortation. It has played the harlot and is now enjoying the grass offered in the fields of the wild ass. This church has left the template of the early believers, and has craftily manipulated the Scriptures to accommodate that which the church desires and God despises. It is an overt mockery of the faith once delivered to the saints. The western church has taken the worldly life and all its accouterments and shamelessly pasted the name of Jesus upon it.

As long as there is a building, as long as there is a pastor, as long as people carry Bibles, as long as there are missionaries, we are satisfied that we are serving and imitating the Lord Jesus Christ. But the devils believe and tremble, while those who name His name live without Godly fear and any sense of eternal urgency. The devils tremble and we live without passion and emotion, except when some melodic church solo stirs our flesh.

There can be only one conclusion. When asked if we believe that Jesus will return we nod our heads but with no outward evidence of such a belief. Faith without works is dead, and only that which changes us can truly be considered what we believe. This coming Sunday will find all kinds of sermons which are little more than the processional before the lunch buffet. And this week will find professing believers no more like Jesus and no more moved by His coming than they were last week. It is a disturbing display of redundant unbelief.

Pretty harsh? Read Revelation chapters 2 and 3. My words and pitiful communications when dealing with such sacred and terrible truths. But there is coming a day, and there is coming a God, whose words will melt the mountains and send the stars in hiding. Does it all sound like so much Lord of the Rings? Well, that is what the evil one would have you believe. Can you remember the most amount of fear you have ever felt in your life? Multiply that fear by one million and you will only touch the hem of the garment of fear that will blanket all of mankind when He comes in all His power and glory.

This is not the day to sit back and relax.
This is the day to watch and pray.
Too many are doing neither.

Sleep On, Church

Sleep On, Church

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Sleep on, church.

The devil held a meeting with his demons in order to come up with the most effective strategy for deception. One demon suggested they tell people there is no heaven. The devil was pleased. Another demon suggested they tell people there is no hell. The devil was delighted. But the devil himself suggested they tell people there is no hurry. All hell erupted with applause.

Sleep on, church.

Friday, June 22, 2012

He who has ears to hear

He Who Has Ears to Hear

When juxtaposed against the eternal, the entire temporal existence is a siren which one day will lead people to a mirage they thought was reality. Millions view the Christian faith as a good moral compass and one of the great religions of the world. But a certain day rapidly approaches which will usher in a reality beyond our ability to comprehend. And when this “same Jesus” steps back into time and space, just His presence will render the hearts of men undone. This cataclysmic event is no fable, and it is no trifle.

He that has the Son has life, but he that has not the Son has not life. The time grows very short. Stop and listen. Christ is calling.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jesus or Idols?

Jesus or Idols?

Matt.6:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I Tim.6:7 - For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Phil.2:13 - For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

It is most astounding, and distressing, how the church is able to give lip service to the written Scriptures as God’s Word and openly defy its teachings. In fact, many churches “boldly” proclaim the Bible as “inerrant” while speaking and living at odds with its teachings. Can there be any deeper self righteousness than publicly embracing the Bible as inerrant as a sign of your spiritual integrity? The only sign of spirituality is how much of the Scriptures we reflect, not what we believe about the Scriptures.

We live in a culture consumed with pleasure and money. All elections are swayed by the present economic conditions, and I have often contended that Satan himself would be elected of he brought a great measure of prosperity. And while the average lost person moans and gripes about a bad economy, the church has followed suit. Preachers by the thousands speak against President Obama based in large part because of a bad economy. They point to the national debt while they themselves led the church to borrow great sums to build buildings.

But believers by the millions murmur and complain about many things from gas prices to house equities and food prices. And inherent in those complaints are three blatant sins against the clear teaching of Scripture. First is the sin of complaining, and second is the sin of worry, and third is the sin of greed. The complaints from American believers are usually not because they are starving. Those complaints are because the higher prices mean less money in their pockets, and many, if not most, of these complaints come from people who have personal debts.

The Lord Jesus Himself exhorted us not to worry about tomorrow, especially as it concerns our personal wealth. What kind of people claim to have life eternal secured, and yet complain about temporal things? Who could believe such a people? Our spiritual credibility is sorely undermined when we complain about temporal things and yet attempt to convince others concerning eternal things. Say what you will, but when a person flies an airplane into a building and sacrifices his own life, that does not prove the truth of his belief system, however it does prove his own commitment to his beliefs.

So what are we to say? When God tells us not to worry and not to complain about money and the economic conditions, how do we explain to God our unbiblical speech? And when we praise God for a good economy, but complain about a bad one, does that not place economics as our idol? We hate socialism but love capitalism. And why do we love capitalism? Because it carries the hope of personal prosperity. And what do we call that, class? That is called greed. That is unless you believe God desires to financially proper all His children.

You see, the only difference between the prosperity preachers and those preachers who are against the prosperity message is doctrine. But in practice they are more similar than many would like to admit. And when you steal but scold others that steal, what is that called, class? Hypocrisy. And when you rebuke the prosperity message but seek your own prosperity, what is that called, class? Hypocrisy.

So what has happened to the church? The church has fallen victim to the culture. Instead of aggressively seeking to remain apart from our culture, we have embraced it. Oh we retain our condemnation of homosexuality and drugs and abortion and drinking and cursing and adultery and other sins in order to present our orthodox hamartiology, the doctrine of sin, but we still cling to some of the deepest sins which are tethered to money. Yes, we are infected with the love of money which is the root of all sin.

So as the economy suffers, the world unconsciously watches to see how the eternal people react. And what do they see? They see a reactionary people and not a people of eternal action and commitment. And if the economy had taken a dramatic turn for the good in 20009, and if housing equities doubled, and if salaries skyrocketed, and if our national debt was eliminated, and if the stock market soared above two thousand, how virulent would the verbiage be against President Obama, or any president in office during such a great economy?

The church is married to this culture, and instead of maintaining a spiritual culture unaffected by the secular culture, the church has adopted the secular culture as its own. When Jesus says we are to not to worry even about what we would eat or wear, was He just waxing poetic? Are His words to be seen in the same light as the words of Confucius? Are they just nice suggestions and as uplifting as a Hallmark card? Or are His words filled with eternal power and are to be obeyed as if our earthly ears had heard the voice of God?

So the next time you are tempted to complain, or the next time you hear someone complain, remember, we are not of this world. This present world is passing, and all the great ideas of man cannot stop it from its ultimate demise. So in a way, complaining about the economic conditions of this world is like complaining about what God has already shown us. Not only did Christ command us not to complain, but He also told us beforehand that this world would become more and more wicked and would eventually meet the justice of God.

Now we are not to complain about that scenario or our present circumstances, but we are to run to the shelter provided by the shadow of God’s immutable wings. If you set your hearts upon things eternal, then the temporal things of this world will have no effect upon your hearts and lives.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Unreasonable Redemption

Unreasonable Redemption

If we view the depth of God’s redemptive sacrifice, even with our severely limited perspectives, we must admit that is it on many levels unreasonable. To offer an escape to your worst enemies is something most noble, but to provide that escape through the death of that which is most precious to you is quite another matter. The incarnation itself is a panoramic wonder indeed. But to see Jesus for Who He was, and to juxtapose His sinless majesty upon those Roman planks is stirring and disturbing. It makes no sense in the natural.

Why the shedding of blood? Why the torture? Why Bethlehem? Why a virgin? And the motivation for it all was not our value, but the unsearchable love of God Almighty. Do not think God could not go on without you and me. The Creator could have easily created another universe and another race and doted upon them. But in a display of unrivaled love, God made a way for a rebellious rebels such as us. Again, it is unreasonable.

Now stop and meditate for a moment. It would have been glorious for Christ to die in our place so that we could be redeemed and live eternally here on earth. Or God could have made an eternal paradise where we would live forever in perfection and apart from sin. But who could have imagined that God would redeem us so that we would spend eternity with Him, and to be like Him, and empowered to worship Him in all His glory and splendor. Beyond unreasonable.

But let me connect the unreasonableness of redemption with the unreasonableness of the life laid out for the redeemed. There are so many truths that provide a path for those who claim to follow Jesus and have been changed by His redemptive power. The life revealed by the New Testament is quite astonishing and way beyond the reach of an unregenerate sinner. This life is much more than avoiding the usual pitfalls of smoking and drinking and cursing. The living journey for the child of God is unreasonable.

And so we are to act and think remarkably different than we used to and different than the world’s culture. This includes an incredibly profound teaching that on all levels separates Christianity from all other religions. Of course there is the matter of forgiveness, which we are exhorted to extend to everyone. But much further and much deeper than that, we are to love others. And even further into unreasonableness, we are exhorted to love our enemies. Can there be any more unreasonable command than that?

And it is precisely that principle which dramatically distinguishes the Old Testament from the New Testament. Even the Psalms asks God to exact revenge upon our enemies, and yet Christ says we must love our enemies. The paradox is striking. I am incapable of completely unraveling the mystery of the Old Testament and the bent toward violence and revenge. However, in the New Covenant, the Old Testament contains secrets and revelations of the Lord Jesus. And now the New Testament is foundational and the Old Testament must bow to the completed revelation of God through Jesus Christ.

We as fallen humans are so inadequate when it comes to love, even as it pertains to people we do love. But how can we love our enemies? And so many of the Calvinist/reformed theological bent suggest that God does not love the non-elect, and even hates those sinners. Well let me ask you this: Does God ever ask us to exhibit traits contrary to His own character? Then this “love your enemies” thing must reflect the heart and character of our God. And to love your enemies is no small feat and can only be accomplished by the power of the Spirit through a yielded vessel. But in this modern ecclesiastical community which listens incessantly to the carnal rants of talk show hosts, loving your enemies is not even on the doctrinal landscape.

It has become popular to demonize your enemies and find others of like mind with whom you can exchange like minded vitriol. One only has to listen to the carnal verbiage directed at President Obama and you will see just how far the church has strayed from the faith. Redemption now must be reasonable and fit into a particular political persuasion. In fact, by the attitudes and words of many professing believers, you would think redemption must be earned. It is evident that unlike God’s love our love seemingly must be earned.

And God is not satisfied with suggesting that we love our enemies in our hearts. He is well acquainted with the hollowness of that verbal insistence. But God commands us to do good to our enemies, and even to bless those who despitefully use us. Wow. Do we ever stop and consider the profound implications of such a command? Has it ever been seared into our hearts that God died for us while we were yet His enemies?

But we have sculpted out a caricature of the Christian faith which ignores entire segments of the New Testament but embraces a set of moral tenants, many of which we ourselves have sinned against in the hidden chambers of our hearts. But it suits our need for self righteousness and is conveniently shaped like a club of condemnation and not an overture of redemption. Condemnation of others is reasonable within a framework that resembles a Hindu cast system. But that in no way resembles the unfathomable gospel of redemption that we have been called to preach and live.

And so the question is penetrating. Do we live a reasonable life which embraces things which not only can be explained, but much of which mirrors that which is embraced by many lost people? Or do we live and think and speak in such a way that it seems unreasonably gracious, and is our overtures of gospel redemption so uncompromising that people in the church sometimes accuse us of condoning sin? I submit to you that if no one ever accuses you of being soft on sin, then you probably fall short of a powerful and vulnerable expression of the redemptive grace of God.

The life that seeks to exhibit Christ does not make earthly sense. The world accuses and excuses each other based upon what standard you wish to apply to yourself and to others. But Jesus Himself warned the religious folk of His day that publicans and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before the self righteous. Can you imagine someone suggesting such a thing today? It would be like saying some pro-choice sinners will enter God’s kingdom before some large church pastors. Hmm…

That does not sound too reasonable.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Martin Luther

Martin Luther - A Very Poor Example

Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” - Martin Luther

As you can see, Martin Luther was used of God to bring back justification by faith, however he is no one to follow or from which to receive any Christian living advice.

A Blessed Grandpa

I Am a Blessed Grandpa!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Great Deceptions in the Church

Great Deceptions in the Church

Unreached sinners can still go to heaven

God approves of the gay lifestyle

Gays cannot be saved without being completely changed

Borrowing from the world is acceptable

War is part of God’s New Testament way

Democracy is God’s approved governmental system

Capitalism is the divine economic system

Jesus can be found in other religions

Human works are part of salvation

Gad hates sinners

God only endorses certain music forms

God wants churches to build ornate buildings

We should concentrate on temporal things

Certain techniques can lead us to experience God

The focus on sex is Biblical

The church owes allegiance to a country

Find out what people want to hear and preach that

The Bible is more about us than about Jesus

The return of Jesus is nothing to be concerned about

Hell is just a metaphor

More people means a church is more spiritual

I think there are many more than just these.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What is the Way of Jesus?

What is the Way of Jesus?

Jn.14:5 - Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 9:1 - And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

The word “Christian”, originally a derisive term for believers, has been adopted by believers as the proper pronoun to which we identify ourselves. But the term itself, once used to identify those who lived like Jesus and refused to bow before Caesar, has slowly become a catch all for anyone who seems to have some kind of faith in Jesus. From superstition to traditional and even delineating an ethnicity, the word Christian has lost all semblance of distinctiveness. A person can identify himself as a Christian because he was raised as one or even because he is not a Jew or a Muslim.

Now there are a set of theological doctrines which are inherent to the Christian faith, and most churches identify themselves as Christian by those doctrines. But while salvation is by faith alone and without the addition of any human works, is the Christian faith solely based upon an acknowledgement of those doctrines? Is the way of Jesus exclusively paved with doctrinal stones and the way in which we live our lives is an elective?

Many of the doctrines which are designated as “cardinal” have no life correlation or behavioral manifestation. How does one live the Trinity? How can a life project the virgin birth? These are theological truths taught in Scripture but they do not seem to have a behavioral counter part. And on one level it is much, much easier to embrace theological doctrines than it is to live an unmistakable expression of the Incarnate Christ. Liberals seem to downplay cardinal doctrines while the orthodox crowd seems to downplay the living manifestation of Christ Himself.

And so we have compromised with the word “Christian” which seems to be an innocuous label which has also been disemboweled of all the sacrificial and self denying elements of the Incarnate Christ. And in the midst of the most violent and hedonistic culture imaginable, the Christian faith has been presented in the most pedestrian and ordinary framework. And our lifestyles are so innocuous and benign that they are unrecognizable as any different than the unregenerate sinner next door.

But the more seeker and emergent people have stooped to using lights and secular sensationalism and all sorts of theatrics to attempt to be separate from the religious crowd. Today is a real mess. And when we see these worldly exhibitions we cling to out doctrinal statements to separate ourselves from them. But the orthodox churches are packed full of the traditions of men as well as a stifling air of self righteousness. Again, a real mess.

But the Christian life is more than nodding to a set of doctrines, and it is much more than an electric light show. In fact the Christian faith is a way; a way of life as well as a way of death. It is transcendent and supernatural. It is practical and mystical. It is glorious and humbling. It is Him and Him alone. The life that follows and reveals the Risen Christ and the Suffering Redeemer should be, must be, an incandescent treasure housed in earthen vessels. And His excellent power must be released daily through the open cracks of a broken vessel. There is no room for smugness or selfishness; no room for greed or avarice; no room for lust or earthly desire; no room for conceit or pride; no room for idolatry or other gods; no room for fear or double mindedness; there is only room for Him. And He is all in all.

But somehow we have attempted to incorporate Christ into out hustle and bustle, and with little more than doctrinal lip service we claim He is Lord. Can there be a more profound lie? Where are the voices all around us wondering why our lives are so very different? Not just that we have differnt views, but that our very lives seem so unfettered from the cares of this world. As the church gladly participates in the moral melee and the political circus, the kingdom of darkness dismisses us as nothing more than a religious people whose spirituality ascends no higher than a battle of words. And they are correct.

The faith of Jesus Christ has been swallowed up in a culture that embraces religion and even different moral perspectives, but considers humility and self denial as cultish and extremism. We have exchanged salt and light for conservative and capitalism. Instead of living epistles we have become living Americans. Bow your heads and weep because that which was purchased for us, and that which is rightfully His, has been thrown to the winds of this world. Can it ever be resurrected?

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

Pray, repent, and pray again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Christian Nation

A Christian Nation

When a nation borrows exorbitant amounts of money; when a nation leads the world in pornography; when a nation is the military powerhouse; when a nation recognizes gay marriage; when a nation annihilated the American Indians; when a nation’s conservatives hate the liberals and vice versa; when a nation aborts tens of millions of unborn babies; when a nation used millions of African slaves to boost its economy; when a nation is the premier drug user; when a nation has sprawling ecclesiastical complexes; when a nation makes billionaires of its athletes; when a nation prays to all sorts of gods; when a nation considers all its wars as just; when a nation uses the world’s natural resources as if they owned them; and when a nation spends billions of dollars just to elect men and women they hope will help them financially, well, that is a Christian nation.

No more questions.



Capitalism is at once far too rational, trusting in nothing that it cannot weigh and measure, and far too little as well, accumulating wealth as an end in itself. —Terry Eagleton, Harper's, March 2005

There are many nuances of the economic system called capitalism. Less government and free markets are usually hallmarks of such a system. But generally a path to personal wealth and financial accumulation is what capitalism is designed to produce. Within a capitalist culture most people are taught to be discontented with their present financial condition, and they are also taught that in order to “get ahead” one must be aggressive in his pursuit of prosperity. The greater material accoutrements one has is usually directly proportionate to the amount of time and energy one devotes to applying the capitalist principles.

It is quite astonishing that almost all the teachings of Christ seem to be outside the capitalist mold as well as His earthly lifestyle. But even in the face of such overwhelming evidence the church has adopted capitalism as the divinely approved economic system. And the pursuit of personal wealth, warned against in Scripture, is now an acceptable way of life.

I Tim.6:8 - And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The teachings concerning money are prevalent throughout the New Testament. But those teachings are without the compromise of the Industrial Revolution and the many centuries of accepted greed and avarice. In today’s western culture people can waste obscene amounts of money on everything from entertainment to exotic foods to extravagant clothing even while others perish. Even church buildings must have a touch of opulence and modern technology, and most of them are built with money borrowed from Pharaoh. And believers are no better than the hedonistic culture in which they live. Slowly but surely the church has invited hedonism and greed into its belief system and practice. Self denial and sacrifice has long since been rejected as a Christian virtue.

Capitalism is even seen in the way churches format their staff salaries. I once heard a pastor suggest that the church should pay him what he could make in the secular marketplace. And most church’s would completely agree with that measuring stick. Many salary “packages” for preachers are an embarrassment to the faith of Christ. Lined with all kinds of accoutrements and many weeks of vacation, they are imprisoned by a capitalist mentality. And as a rule, as the church grows in numbers and offerings, so does the preacher’s salary. In fact, when a church reaches a large number of people and buildings, the academic requirements to be the senior pastor become much greater. The world must view the man as a “doctor” before he is even considered.

Step back and assess what has happened just in our lifetime. The telephone has gone from the kitchen wall to being a complete entertainment center. Women’s makeup and men’s grooming products are multi-billion dollar industries. Clothing is now a fashion statement, and kids sneakers, yes I said sneakers, can run into hundreds of dollars. Most homes have multiple televisions, and your neighborhood cable service will provide pornography right into your home if you pay for it. Cars are now mobile homes with all kind of expensive accessories. Most ministries and many churches now receive offerings via credit card. And all this and more describe a culture which bathes itself in materialism and entertainment but will not provide health care to all its citizens. And why will it not provide that service? Simple, it does not make money. If healthcare was profitable everyone would have it.

Capitalism is the pursuit of money, plain and simple. All earthly economic systems are fallen and are out of step with the kingdom of God. In fact almost all earthly economic systems have as their goal personal and community prosperity. The pursuit of money is at the heart of almost every endeavor. Prostitution, gambling, drugs, and all vices have a money component. Elections are decided primarily along economic lines. But the tragedy is that capitalism and the pursuit of personal wealth is now embraced and even taught within the church. Many times church governing bodies are made up of men and women who have been secularly successful.

And so the western church is mired in a sea of compromise and the love of money. Gone is our spiritual power. We have been relegated to political activism and the support of cultists. Prayer and fasting are second tier teaching topics but have little or no place in practice. The culture around is continues to descend into humanism and hedonism and is headed for a lost eternity but instead of the church having a tangible sense of extreme urgency this same church enjoys the fruits of this fallen culture.

Deaf to the Spirit’s voice and blind to the Scriptural outlines for discipleship, the church has morphed into a well oiled machine that encourages its lukewarm congregants with services that appeal to the flesh but avoids any intrusion into areas of inconvenience and sacrifice. And filled with practicing capitalists, the Sunday morning gathering comes and goes with little change from the previous week and having accomplished what it is designed for - people leaving happy. The faith of the New Testament is no longer practiced and the people love to have it so.

Capitalism? It’s no better or worse than any other fallen economic system. I guess in a future post I could delineate all the many verses that give us divine direction concerning money and the kingdom of God. But until then, I exhort you simply to read the New Testament completely through in one month’s time and see what God is really saying.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Until We See, We Will Not See

Until We See, We Will Not See

All war stories are usually only an antiseptic perspective that is captured by history and can be viewed as anything but what it is in reality. War is an incredibly brutal portal into the barbarous nature of a fallen race, regardless of which side seems to have the more “righteous” cause. And the many different ways in which this same fallen race has magnified and glorified the act of war is just another looking glass into the unfathomable depth of that which we call the fallen nature of man. We would consider it most horrific had we not been inoculated through systematic exposure in television, movies, and books, as well as being taught that violence is a primary measuring stick of valor.

This is in addition to violence being antithetical to all that Jesus, the final and complete revelation, lived and taught. It is an astonishing act of deception that violence, even the ultimate practice of violence called war, has been made an acceptable element of the Christian faith. The Trojan Horse called nationalism has dragged war inside the Christian camp and convinced professing believers that all the teachings of Jesus must give way to a more patriotic view of world affairs. It is situational ethics at its ultimate compromise.

But it is true that if you have allegiance to any nation, then war will always be a viable option to preserve, protect, and defend the rights and lifestyle of your national loyalties. But inherent in such a view is a catastrophic compromise that does spiritual violence to the very essence of the faith of Jesus. This is no eschatological disagreement or some minor doctrinal variance. Violence, and especially violence on a sweeping scale, cannot be seen as anything but in opposition to the principles of Christ.

But when we are reared in a society and culture of violence we are ultimately numbed to the utter horror of such things. We are bombarded with all kinds of violent scenes, many of which depict victory through violence for some greater moral cause. And added to that we have listened to many a sermon which openly suggests that God supports certain kinds of violence, especially when it pertains to the cause of earthly freedom. And America happens to be, coincidentally, the earthly champion of such freedom.

But if we take the Word of God as the Word of God, and if we take the New Testament as the applicable revelation to the church, then we must be disingenuous with the Scriptures to embrace war and violence. The writer of Hebrews tells us that God spoke and acted in many different ways in the Old Testament, but that God speaks now and completely through Jesus Christ. In fact, everything that happened in the Old Testament were shadows that pictured the Lord Jesus Himself. “You have heard, but I say,” is more than just an added emphasis. In fact, Jesus Himself is the Word.

Do not ask me to explain all the mysteries contained in the Old Testament. There are many things which seem very curious, especially in light of the teachings of Christ. But this we do know: That Jesus is God in the flesh, and what proceeds from His mouth is absolute truth and must not be compromised by the mixing of either Old Testament scenarios or modern views of nationalism and patriotism.

And it is here the kidnapping began. When Constantine incorporated Christianity into his government and for his own purposes, the trail of tears began. Slowly but surely believers embraced a compromised version of the faith of Jesus even to where they believed God took sides in war and violence and used such carnage to further His own kingdom. And against all that Jesus taught and lived, the organized church lent her garments to earthly governments and earthly allegiances and thereby turned her back upon the Redeemer.

And when such a compromise finds its way into the church, it begins to grow and seep into all areas of the church. No longer does the church see sinners as whited fields ready for the gospel, but we now see them as enemies that we label liberals or atheists or gays or Muslims or many other demeaning monikers. And all that is necessary for believers to descend into carnal self righteousness is to make the souls of men our enemies. And yet our Redeemer dies for those souls we so callously drape with our caustic rhetoric. It is most unseemly and completely outside the Person of Jesus Christ.

And when we see the church spend inordinate amounts of time and money attempting to clean the outside of the cultural cup through ballots and information and political activism, then we can be assured that the church no longer actually believes the gospel outside some distant doctrinal sense. The church has all but forsaken the gospel except a few end of sermon cameos. We no longer believe that the power of the gospel through a broken and praying church can change the world.

Who would ever believed that we could leave Jesus and trust in horses and chariots? Who would have thought that we would agree with the kingdom of darkness that politics could change the culture? Who could ever have imagined that the church would join hands with unbelievers and cultists and even conservative hedonists? But in our own lifetime these things have come to pass.

The organized church has become a whore. She has invited the enemies of God into her very bedchambers and committed spiritual adultery, and she invites God to watch. So called preachers climb on church rooftops so everyone can witness their bed chambers. Could anyone have predicted such a thing? Preachers encourage church members to have sex every day for a month. Why is there no exhortation to pray for two hours every day for a month? The entire spectacle is insane.

And yet from Ravi Zacharias to Rob Bell to John MacArthur to Rick Warren to Joel Osteen to Kenneth Copeland and all the rest, they all are joined in a debilitating form of idolatry. Nationalism. Until we repent and cast out the bondwoman the church will continue to limp along like Tiny Tim and without an authentic demonstration of the power of God’s Spirit. Is not something dramatically wrong? How long will we blame the liberals and the prosperity folks or the emergent movement?

How long will we refuse to gaze into God’s mirror and see what He desires for us?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Which Camp Do You Claim

Which Camp Do You Claim?

There are many believers who can Biblically defend the doctrine of grace, but never find a place for it in their hearts or exhibit it in their lives. Among the believers who hold the Scriptures as God’s Word, there are in general two camps which have in them adherents who hold to an extreme point of view. So each camp is affected and infected by these extremist views. And how these camps define Christianity and the Christian life defines them. Both camps embrace salvation by grace through faith, however both camps have much different views about how a life can be discerned as Christian.

Let us be clear, God’s grace does not condone sin, but grace forgives and redeems sin. And that glorious process takes place by faith alone in the Lord Jesus and His finished and exclusive work, and all of it without one single shred of human works. In fact, like adding arsenic to a healthy meal, when human works are added to God’s redemptive work, it poisons it and renders it ineffective and vacuous. That is some serious business.

Now there are definitely some outward signs that reveal such a dramatic inward transformation when a sinner become born again. Some lives are initially and dramatically changed, while others seem to exhibit a process. But all lives should exhibit some change if they have been redeemed and inhabited by God’s Spirit. But how we measure these changes and how we assess a person’s salvation experience varies greatly between the afore mentioned two camps.

One camp tends to give a wide latitude while the other camp tends to a stricter evaluation. And within each camp there are variations of perspective as well, but for the purpose of this post I have clumped them into two general camps. Again, for purposes of identification, one camp might be called “easy believism” while the other might be called “legalistic”. Both camps have some credible points but both camps also exhibit some unbiblical liabilities as well.

The path to accurately balance grace and truth is a lifelong journey which usually see us struggle with different levels of both. Sometimes when we valiantly uphold truth, we are prone to wander into legalistic territory. And sometimes when we valiantly uphold grace, we are prone to wander into compromise territory. These are not easy and clear cut territories, especially when our perspectives are not absolute. To be always completely sure of yourself is an open door to self righteousness. I have often found myself cloaked in the garments of self righteousness even when I am standing upon God’s eternal truth.

Humility is an elusive fruit, and its nectar is rarely sought in these days of self elevation and bold assertiveness. Even within the church, and many times emanating from the pulpit itself, humility is swallowed up in self righteousness. Do not ever thing we can be clothed with humility once and assume it will last even for another day. Self righteousness stalks us relentlessly, and without doing spiritual sentry duty, self righteousness can set up its tent within our hearts while claiming to be a bold stand for truth. I have often been exposed as a hypocrite by God’s Spirit even though I thought I was defending His honor.

The authentic path of discipleship is paved with humility. We cannot expect to have His life exhibited through us if our own flesh is involved. And yet that same discipleship path is also lined with God’s truth. And there you have it. It is not enough to be humble since men like Gandhi exhibited humility. And it is not enough to embrace orthodox truth since the prodigal’s brother is an example of that. And that renders the path to discipleship as one of daily prayer and meditation, and a sincere and even painful inventory of our own hearts before we can humbly correct others. And since we live in a culture that is diametrically opposed to all things in Christ, our path is one of self denial and sacrifice.

But there are those who refuse to completely align themselves with God’s Word. In fact, they treat God’s Word as a narrative and a compilation of good sayings and suggestions. They sometimes show grace, but often times they are prone to a sloppy gospel which does little more than address earthly problems and humanitarian concerns. These people are dangerous, and although some could still be called Biblical, there are others who continue to stray from any truth that seems unpleasant. And when someone has a winsome personality and effective communication skills, well then that person leads others astray.

It is no small task to believe and stand for the truth of God’s written revelation while simultaneously allowing the Spirit to bring your own life into Scriptural compliance. Often is the case where someone rails at those who alter God’s Word but do it in a way that is antithetical to the Scriptural outlines for speech and conduct, to say nothing of the example of our Master’s life. This is very sad and in the long run is counter productive to the kingdom of God.

The core issue is whether or not there are two eternal places in which the spirits of men dwell forever. And these two places, one very bad and one in God’s presence, are eternal. And we must believe this revelation, as well as believe that only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can a sinner’s spirit find an eternal dwelling place with Christ. And if a sinner’s sins have never found redemption through Christ and by faith, then that sinner is lost forever. It seems as if that debate is what ultimately separates those who believe the Scriptures and those who manipulate it for their own fleshly designs.

These unscriptural views are spreading like wild fire in the western evangelical community. People love to hear about achieving success and embracing all the allurements of this present life, and they recoil at anything that suggests sacrifice and self denial. And gone are the days when we could perceive a person’s relationship with Christ by his desire to live holy and an uncompromising pursuit to know Christ more deeply. The measuring stick is now earthly success and material gain. That is not Christianity.

But having said all that, I exhort you not to be in any “camp” but His. The Corinthian church had divided loyalties to different men. That should never be. Our Captain is Christ, and to Him alone do we give our allegiance. We must not only defend Gods truth, but we must also live it. God’s truth is not a walk through a Scriptural museum. It is a living and breathing power that transforms hearts and lives. We should not just exegete the epistles, but we should be living and walking manifestations of those epistles.

Many have said that our lives should substantiate what we teach. But I see it somewhat differently. What we teach should be what we live. You see, what we do IS what we believe, everything else is just some religious talk.