Friday, December 20, 2013

How Quickly We Forget

HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET

Ti.3: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

How prideful and ungrateful we are when we receive the very grace of God only to turn around and condemn the very sinners from which we came. And when we also only condemn those who commit sins that we ourselves do not then we are public hypocrites indeed. These verses I have posted are among many which provide for us a path upon which we should walk as it pertains to how we treat unbelievers. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world. His mission was redemption. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. And are we not commanded to walk in His steps? Are we not exhorted to have the same mind which was in Christ Jesus? Are we not commanded to be clothed with humility?

How quickly we have forgotten just how selfish and foolish we once were and how we were serving all kinds of different lusts. And how convenient it is to forget or at least minimize our sins and thereby minimize the grace that was afforded us. We now speak as if the cross was something we deserved and unsaved sinners should buckle up and fly straight. (pun intended) Paul himself claimed he was the chief of all sinners. That means he sees his sin as worse than murderers or adulterers or the dreaded homosexual sins. And yet we rise up and take umbrage when the lost world embraces the sins of their lost brethren. The greatest deception in the “orthodox” community is that we are blind to the fact that we are filled to the brim with self righteousness.

No longer do we seek, much less embrace, the humility with which we are supposed to be clothed. Among the lost world we are known for our moral tenants and our voting tendencies and even our strong patriotism. But we surely are not known for “showing meekness to all men”. Let us face it. So many who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture do not actually believe the Bible at all. That is a mind numbing conundrum.

We have picked out a few teachings in the Scriptures and made them litmus tests for orthodoxy or at least to receive a conservative membership card. And our love affair with these few tenants is so strong that we even provide provisional membership cards to unbelievers who embrace these tenants. We have created a club whereby unbelievers and believers can join and affirm one another’s moral purity. That, my friends, goes against everything the New Testament teaches but because it serves our political and cultural purposes it is embraced.

These clubs are designed to alienate certain sinners and provide a moral pedestal from which to verbally and legislatively attack them. Believers act like they have climbed the spiritual heights by their own strength and now have earned the right to criticize those miscreants who have as yet to ascend the moral ladder. Grace? Come on. Grace is just an ingredient of the philosophy called salvation, but as far as that grace affecting our thoughts, our attitude, our speech, our love, our meekness, or tempering the way we see sinners it carries very little weight. And this not only negates the power of the Spirit, but this in effect completely misrepresents Jesus and the faith to which we are called.

But please allow me to peel away all the self righteousness and all the moral outrage and return to a hill just outside of the City of Peace. There we see a Jew who is suffering and dying upon two Roman planks. The scene is gruesome and grotesque. It reeks of blood and sweat and wounds and mocking. There are three Jews dying together, but only one wears a crown of thorns piercing his head and with fresh blood oozing down over dried blood. The middle Jew has been beaten severely and his body is ravaged beyond recognition. He can hardly breathe. And of the three he alone is innocent of any sins, much less any crimes.

This is a Jew whose life is being cut short by falsehoods and lies and at the hands of wicked men. He will find no compassion, no mercy, and no stay of execution. He suffers like those with him, however his sufferings go deeper than nerve endings and the sufferings which are common to man. No human can visit the pain he endures, nor will we ever understand the pain associated with the forgiveness of so many sins.

To suffer. To suffer in the flesh. To suffer in the flesh and the spirit. To suffer as God for the sins of others. To suffer as God for the sins of your enemies. To suffer for the sins of the world in the space of 6 hours. Men love to argue and compare notes about different atonement theories and in so doing we are relieved of seeing the pungent reality of His sufferings and His death. Not one atom of any human being was worthy of such suffering love and yet He endured the pain and humiliation for ones such as us. And here we are still throwing stones at lost sinners while ignoring the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and only blotted out by grace through the power of His blood. How contemptuous a race we are.

Heb.12: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

The spotless Lamb of God endured the mocking of lying tongues. He endured the vitriol of false accusations. He endured the unbelief of His disciples. He endured the lashes of Roman whips. He endured the crown of thorns penetrating His scalp. He endured the spittle of wicked men upon His face. He endured the nails, the sweat, the blood, the pain, the wounds. He endured the slings and arrows of all humanity as they invented their own deities. And He who was spotless and sinless became sin for us that we might be made into His righteousness. He did all those things for us.

And yet certain sinners must receive our wrath? Our indignity? Our outrage? Our condemnation? Our castigation? Our moral umbrage? Have we even stopped to do what the Scriptures say we should do? Consider Him…

And yet here we are forgetting what grace was afforded to us while we magnify the sins of others and stitch them together to form fig leave aprons for our own transgressions. Grace for us and condemnation for others. No one can gain eternal life but through faith alone in Christ and His finished redemptive work. But our calling is to be conduits of that redemption through living and sharing His gospel to the most virulent and demonstrative of sinners among us. Of what good is it to just witness Christ to sinners who make us feel comfortable and are not so vile in our sight?

Did not our Great Redeemer die for child molesters? Did He not die for serial murderers? Did he not die for rapists? Did He not die for those who rob the elderly? And if He did die for those sinners should we not be His voice in sharing His sufferings? Of what sense does it make for God to suffer and die for sinners and then send us out to ridicule, condemn, castigate, and work together with unbelievers to see them die in their sins? It mocks the gospel, it mocks the cross, and it mocks our Savior.

I believe we need to go back often to when we were first saved. We need to drench our minds in that first saving grace which enlightened our souls and changed our lives. So often we grow in Biblical knowledge and surround ourselves with ecclesiastically mature believers and we forget that fresh air of spiritual freedom we discovered in Christ. We get tied down to the cares and affairs of this world and we become judges rather than incandescent earthen vessels which shine forth the treasure which is Christ.

Bring to your remembrance often the price that was paid for your sin and humble yourselves in His sight. He does not need your moral outrage. He needs you to die to all that so He can live through you and lead sinners to Himself. This is not a day for moral hubris or worthless political battles. This is a day to live and breathe in the prayer closet seeking His face with humble reverence and brokenness.

Forget not all His benefits. Watch and pray. The hour is upon us. The temporal is quickly fading as the eternal rushes in. If we care anything at all about lost sinners we will speak words like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Or more specifically the gospel of Jesus Christ.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very well written!

James

brcorcoran said...

How can anyone add anything to this?...

Thank You Rick!

Anonymous said...

Alleluia and Amen a thousand times over! This so reminds me of walking into the church consecrated by man....

Enter through the door, the chains of human bondage are cast upon you. Wearing these heavy log chains to please man and serve according to his fleshly ways trying to work your way up the shakey aluminum ladder into positions of leadership. Is not leadership where it is at? Oh, to prove how religious, how spiritual, and throwing the steel links of good works at those who are deemed "the lesser" believer as they have not reached the heights of superiority in the natural.

Then Jesus comes....and offers His love, His ways, and His redemption....taking that heavy yoke from you. Those log chains choking your neck until its black and blue, weighting your shoulders down causing such pain, those metal shackles around your feet chained to the deteriorating walls of religion, inflicting its Pharisaical dos and don'ts not even worded in the Holy Scriptures; the traditions of men and women so to speak; inflicting the guilt of human censorship concerning your faith in Christ.

Coming out of a church system who practiced the "selective service" syndrome has been such a delight to my growing faith in our LORD Jesus Christ. Within the walls of the selective service church there are only "selective mercy" and "selective grace" methods imposed upon those who are deemed "worthy" by church authorities, all others are useful idiots to whom carnal judgement is rendered....and the people love it so.

The mercy and grace freely given to us by God, our Holy Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ cannot even begin to compare to the limited compartmentaliztion we have cast upon our God.

LORD, have mercy on us, I pray this day, in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Teresa said...

Praise God! This is the truth, the Gospel truth!

Anonymous said...

Powerful.

J.

Anonymous said...

I understand why this is so important to preach. Souls are weighing in the balance. There are many souls, and I'm thinking particularly of liberals and humanists, and the free-thinking. They are watching and reading what fundamentalist christians are voicing. They are dismayed and cynical about christianity, and no wonder. They comment about how intolerant and mean christians are. How self-righteous and condemning and judgmental they are. They see the great hypocrisy. They say they don't see any good works. In fact, all they see with today's christian are the blockades christians exercise in preventing the poor from getting their physical needs taken care of (through government).

I'm not pushing a social gospel. I am saying if a true christian loves the Lord with all their hearts and soul, and loves others as himself, then it's without debate he'll allow ways to be paved to help the poor. God uses secular ways.

I remember my family needing food stamps once in our lives; and I thanked the Lord God every day; I thanked the Lord for the employees at human resources, at the state and federal levels; I thanked the Lord that national leaders care enough to share for the needy; I thanked the Lord our leaders weren't despots. Then, when we were back on our feet, I rejoiced and thanked the Lord again, and have to constantly remind myself to be generous to those who are without. If my government decides to increase money to needy programs, I rejoice in that too.

So much to think upon, but I know if people who are in need right now hear the commentary and venom of so-called christians (news, media), about the evils of socialism or whatever they fear, the church is dead in the minds of unbelieving souls who are hungry for Christ. It is so sad. Many are dying because they don't see the love of God anywhere.

J.

Anonymous said...

It's true how quickly we forget.

If I could put my finger on the 'why' vocal christians fight the homosexual agendas, I'd say it's because they feel guilt. I know that the idea of two of the same, for heterosexuals, is unnatural to think about, and even disgusting. It gives off a feeling of 'not right'.

But, for those homosexuals who feel it to be 'right', how can we explain it? It's in God's hands and in His omnipotent care. Only the Lord knows why some people have these urges, and many of them believe they were born that way. Who am I to tell them they weren't born that way? I don't have a clue as to how this works. Only the Lord knows. And to the Lord I pray they find Him, just as they are.

The guilt that condemning christians have, I think, is that they know they have secret desires that they battle everyday and the 'homosexual' topic makes them uncomfortable that they have 'urges' of another sort. Maybe porn, or obsessions with an image, or pedophilia, or whatever. Is the reason they are so ready to throw stones is because it temporarily relieves their own sexual guilt? They love to read the OT where God says it's an abomination, but God says many things were an abomination, and 7 things which God hated, like a woman with a "haughty look". I think the judges like to feel they're in the safe camp with God because those unnatural sinners are specifically called out; what they don't realize is their sin was specifically bore on the cross.

It is so true that we forget.

J.