Thursday, February 28, 2013

Electing a New Pope - The Spirit of Religion


Every time a new pope is elected I am always amazed at just how unchristian the entire process is. Yes there is scandal galore, but there is scandal throughout evangelicalism as well. Scandal is growing throughout the world in these last days. If all the adultery and drug use and pornography addiction in the church were to be revealed tomorrow it would shock us all. The sirens have called and millions of professing believers have responded.

But the papacy within the Roma Catholic Church is a study in manmade tradition and unbiblical superstition. I certainly hold no ill will toward the common Roman Catholic people, and to a large degree I hold the devil responsible for most of it. But the entire spectacle is built not upon the Rock Jesus, but upon the sinking sand of manmade religion. How can you resolve what you read in the gospels with what you see on television?

Men wearing religious garments invented to set them apart and lift them up. I mean all the different “get-ups” that the Pope wears are almost cartoon like and are crafted to make him to be some sort of god on earth. That in no way resembles the life of Jesus. And when you see all the gold and silver and precious stones as well as the priceless ornate buildings, how can that be of Christ? It is not, and in the light of the abject poverty experienced by millions of Roman Catholic people around the world it is a disgrace. People bow before the Pope and kiss his hand or even his feet. They pay homage to a man who lives in luxury and has servants that wait upon his every whim. All of this is bankrolled by the offerings of common people around the world.

Now some of the vast wealth of the Vatican was gathered during centuries of false promises and the teachings of indulgences and early exits from purgatory, another man made fabrication. So every once in a while we get a glimpse of just how hedonistic the Roman Church is and especially toward a select few. But when you see the man-worship of the pope you cannot help but be amazed and disgusted all at once. And then, with all the child molestation scandal, the cardinals gather to anoint another pope. It is a script right out of Oscars night.

All the useless details about the Pope relinquishing his red shoes, and what people will call him, and where he will spend his retirement. And people are fascinated by all of it. And when the new pope is elected he will change his name according to tradition. The pomp and circumstance will be outrageous. And after centuries of religious layer upon religious layer another pope will take the helm. It is all so carnal, and it would be just disgusting and even somewhat comical if it were not so spiritually diabolical.

The core of deception within the Roman Catholic Church is not the papacy or Mariology or indulgences or even the religious caste system it has created. The most damning element of that church is that they teach a religion of works that suggests that one can be saved by faith and works. In fact, the church used to teach that no one can be saved without being a part of the Catholic Church. But now they teach that God will grant mercy to those of us outside the church but that He still strongly suggests we return to Rome.

It is precisely that teaching that led to the Reformation. The books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews deal specifically with the false teachings that include works in the salvation experience. So regardless of all the other superstitions taught and practiced by the Roman Catholic Church, their teachings about salvation are heretical. Vatican II, the updated version of their teachings, also reveals that a Muslim can be saved without Jesus as well as any other heathen as long as he believes in God and is a good person. And their salvation also comes through the mercy of the Roman Catholic Church as well.

But as you witness this spectacle of another pope’s ascension to the throne, try and juxtapose that against the teachings of Jesus. Paul talks about a man not thinking too highly of himself, and yet here we have a man chosen by other men who claims to be the personal representative of Christ upon the earth. And in matters of divine truth when he speaks he is infallible which means he cannot make a mistake. Many even suggest that this event signals another chapter in the end times. Perhaps.

But to be sure, this in no way is the faith once delivered to the saints. But although we must humbly but strongly expose these unprofitable religious systems, let us not be self righteous since the system now called evangelicalism is crumbling before our very eyes as well. But it is curious that the secular media views the election of a pope with such interest and even such respect. Even the titles are over the top. His Eminence, Cardinal, Archbishop, and Pope among others are once again some kind of caste system. And the garments once again draw attention to men and not God.

The office of the Papacy is a man made concoction that not only elevates a man, but it assigns power way above what the Scriptures teach. And the college of Cardinals meet and then we all wait until we see the puff of white smoke indicating a Pope has been chosen. It is all such religious drama signifying nothing. And yet with all this unscriptural regalia evangelicals by the millions believe the Pope to be a holy man of God who is somewhat like Jesus. Yes, we live in a world of Biblical illiteracy and spiritual blindness.

Perhaps no religious system has captured sinners, given them false hope, and made merchandise of them as has the Roman Catholic Church. Even today they have cleverly disguised who they are in hopes of drawing more converts into their fold. And there does seem to be a stream of disillusioned protestants from Baptists to Pentecostals and even including Mormons and the like who are joining the Roman Church.

But do not be deceived. I do not know if the papacy will play a significant role in the end times. It is possible. But we must keep our hearts pure before Christ and not desire greener pastures which are visions of deception. Keep Christ personal and close to your heart, and do not stop your journey. We live in a time of great deception; however there is coming a time where deception will be stronger and more clever than anything we have ever known. It will seem so wonderful and so filled with spiritual freedom, but it will lead to spiritual death. Watch and pray.

Call to Rememberance

Heb.10: 32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

If indeed there is a god and if only his existence can be surmised but that god cannot be known personally then his existence is irrelevant and inconsequential to human beings. He then becomes no more important than a discussion as to how the New York Yankees will fare this year. In fact, if this is true then religious adherents are only outdistanced in foolishness by those who spend time chastening them.

There is an element of mystery to be sure in Christianity, and the element of faith is at its core. And the process of spiritual enlightenment seems to be the core factor in the experience of conversion which the Scriptures clearly assign to the Spirit. Yes I believe a sinner can search, but in the end it will be the ministry of the Spirit which will not only draw him to Christ but illuminate his heart/mind to redemptive truth and ultimately will empower him to believe that which is otherwise preposterous.

But in the end the experience of being born again is so real and so permeates our beings that we cannot deny what has happened. Our study of the Word only confirms our experience and we begin to understand things that only days and months ago would have been superstition and even an affront to our intellects. Presented with all the evidence there are still some who suggest man never really visited the Moon. But even though he is well versed in the evidence, Neal Armstrong’s knowledge of the event is overwhelmingly subjective.

He walked on the Moon himself. And although I have studied apologetics and my oldest son has three Masters along those lines, I cling to one subjective experience as my immoveable rock. I once was blind but now I see. And in my forty years of being a believer I have seen some dark days in which I could be tempted to succumb to doubt, depression, and even unbelief. No amount of apologetics would have helped me during those days of darkness. Only a remembrance of my conversion experience comforted me and allowed me to return to spiritual health. It is a kind of Descartes mutation. I know God therefore I am saved regardless of my present expression of that fact.

Never allow your spiritual walk to get so detached from the simplicity and miracle of your original conversion that you live on an autopilot energy. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to recall those former days. You do not have all the answers and you may not be able to adequately answer all the naysayers, but you know that you have been changed by the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And when the rulers discounted the blind man’s testimony of how Jesus had healed him, he honestly said he only knew that he had been blind but now he could see. That should also be our testimony.

I once was blind but now I see. Here I stand, may God have mercy on my soul.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Humiliation of Jesus

Somewhere in a darkened room a young girl descends into a place from which she is powerless to escape. She has been close before but today she has taken that last fateful step. She is now helpless. The memories of her life begin to swirl around inside her head. She remembers one year ago when she last saw her father for a couple of days. She always felt close to her mother until her mother married a man with whom she had no relationship.

And now in the darkness she wants this torture to end. She wished her mother really loved her. She wishes her father cared. She wishes other kids would not make fun of her. She wishes she was prettier. She wishes she was smarter. She wishes God loved her. She wishes people who say they know Jesus loved her. She bows her heavy head and just wishes for something…anything.

Depression had become her closest friend. It went before her and followed her. After several years of cutting herself the pain just would not subside. She could not escape herself and she longed for even one breath of fresh air. But here she is now, just minutes away from the inevitable. She hangs her head not even able to really cry. Placing her brother’s gun up to her head, she hesitates for just one moment. Why would any reason enter now? This is what she wanted. This is what she needed. She drops the gun completely out of strength to even do what she knows is the only way out.

She wanders out of the house and heads for the park where others like her gather. Her consciousness is so detached that just being confused would be an improvement. She is a dead girl walking and she has nothing for which to live.

And while this scenario plays out all across this nation the church continues to condemn sinners and play games. And does our theology suggest that God really cares about a young girl like that? If so, do we care? Week after week we treat sinners and their sin like a political issue without even realizing there are lives literally at stake. How can we say we follow Jesus and yet speak so carelessly about those who dwell in prisons of sin and desperation? Can it be that the heart of God is as callous as ours?

The church has become a well organized institution which serves its own and ministers to unbelievers in ways that require little sacrifice and with an arm’s length distance so as not to get soiled by their sin. Can we not see how self absorbed the church has become?

Robert McCheyne, that faithful Scottish preacher, shared this story of servant hood and ministering the good news to sinners. About the beginning of the 1800’s there were many lepers in the continent of Africa. It was a miserable disease and most contagious. There were many camps to which lepers must go and live and be removed from society.
One day a missionary from England happened to be on a hilltop in South Africa, and as he glanced over the wall that surrounded the leper camp he saw two lepers plowing a filed. One had lost his hands to this horrible and painful disease while the other had lost his feet. The one without hands was carrying the one without feet, and they would stop at each pre-dug hole in the field. The one with hands, riding on the other’s back, would drop a seed into the hole while the other would cover it with dirt by his foot. The missionary was undone. Who could, who would go and be a gospel servant for such as these?
Two young boys, Moravian missionaries, heard about the situation. They began to pray, and both boys felt the leading of the Spirit to go into the leper village and be Jesus to these pitiful souls. They knew the consequences. Once a person enters such a village they were forbidden to come out again. It was a death sentence. But both boys did not hesitate since they were both convinced by the Spirit that this was to be the filed to which they were called.
Those two boys willingly and humbly forsook their entire lives and went to preach to and love these people. And through their example the Spirit drew others that hoped they may soon join them. That my friends is servant hood. That is the faith once delivered to the saints. That is Jesus.

But to fully understand that kind of Christianity we need to look way beyond any narrative and see right into the heart of Jesus. That brand of Christianity has something that is missing in today’s culturized American faith. What those boys had was authentic. Can you imagine giving up your entire future to be a gospel witness to people who were diseased and were treated as worthless by the world? Take a look and understand what the Spirit of Jesus looks and feels and acts like.

Acts 8: 32 “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.” (NIV)

Phil.2: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The word “humble” has been so codified and so diluted that it is almost without teeth as it applies to our lives. People use it carelessly and apply it to all sorts of people and behaviors. Let a person allow someone to cut in line at the grocery store and people say they are humble. Let an actor win an Oscar and if he gives much thanks to others he is humble. And so it goes. But let us replace the word humble with a sharper and more robust and penetrating word that is related to the word humble. Let us say “humiliation”, for I believe that word carries a more accurate description of what our Lord endured in the incarnation and throughout His life and culminating with the unfathomable and august humiliation of the cross.

And so often we read about the humiliation of Jesus and feel sympathy for His struggles and persecution. But we as followers of Jesus are called to that same humiliation. Oh but the flesh recoils violently at even the thought of being humiliated. It goes against everything we have been taught. It goes against the flow of the culture. And, sadly, it goes against the teaching and practice of the evangelical church in the west. The church would have us to be bold and outspoken champions that not only stand our ground but move forward and take the ground of others. Our goal is to change the culture not redeem its inhabitants.

Are you ready to endure, or even embrace, personal humiliation? Are you willing to so diminish your own life so you can reach the lives of others? Will you take the whips and scorns of others with joy? We live in the lap of luxury for the most part. And from high atop our ivory towers we look down on the worthless pieces of humanity and cast a net of condemnation. Without caring for their eternal souls, the church rallies to pass laws that would protect us from rubbing shoulders with such scum and thereby sully our moral atmosphere. The church has no clue as to the pain and heartache that walks just minutes from where we live. And furthermore, the church could not care less.

If we really desire to walk in His footsteps then be prepared to be fully invested. Be prepared for humiliation and self denial. Be prepared to walk in a love that far surpasses a love which is reasonable. Be prepared to love the most despicable sinners on the planet. Be prepared to love those that hate you. Be prepared to love the unlovable. And be prepared to consider the needs of others of much greater value than your own. Be prepared to actually do what Jesus teaches. By prepared to demand your tongue ceases it reckless stream of self serving opinions. Be prepared to place your heart on God’s altar and allow the Spirit to filet it open before your eyes. Be prepared to endure the circumcision of the Spirit as He removes that which is of you and replaces it all with what is of Him.

Be prepared to be made conformable into the life and image of Jesus Christ. And after you have known Christ and drawn near to Him with a searching and broken heart, and after you have consumed the Word and sought the Father in prayer, then you will arrive at the final hill that leads to being Jesus. But again, be prepared, that hill just might lead into your own leper colony where Christ can minister life to those for whom He died. Remember, we live in the midst of all kinds of dirty lepers and who will reach them if we do not? And if you still desire to be His servant among these sinners and completely deny your own will, then you will only need to do one more thing.

You will need to be clothed with humiliation, and therein you will find life.

And oh by the way, the next time you are out and about, the young girl about whom I wrote will still be there. You will recognize her by the stench of sin around her. But what fragrance will you bring to her? But if you go talk with her, or buy her lunch, or give her a ride, by very careful. Your reputation with the church is at stake and you run the risk of being humiliated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Behold I Show You a Mystery of Love


PHIL.2: 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[
b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

He who owned the moon and the stars; He who was worshiped by tens of thousands of angels; He who shone with the brilliance of a billion suns; He who spoke the universe into existence. It was He who left it all to come to this world for the express purpose of rescuing me from sin and the punishment that was waiting for me. What can I tell you? Can I say I was a good person or that my whole life I sought Him? No, I cannot say those things. I was happy in my sin and content to live for myself alone. But God the Son left all that was His and came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And it was all for us sinners.

What kind of love embraces such humiliation? What kind of God comes in such poverty? Look again and peek over the edge of that trough and see the infant who is God in the flesh. This is our gift…this is the beauty we receive for our ashes. While we have nothing He gives everything. This miracle child is God saying “I love you” to the entire wretched human race. He who is holy reaches out and calls those who are unholy. The innocent must die for the guilty to go free.

Oh the beauty of His holiness! There is none like Jesus. He is above all and in all and through us all. He walked among those who had no idea just who He was. But there was something, yes something about this man they called Jesus. O Lord we are fascinated by You. Oh for too long the church has been obsessed with every issue under the Sun. But when will we become obsessed with Jesus? Will the church at large ever return to His feet? We have mastered Martha's kitchen, but when will we rush to sit with Mary?

He left His eternal dwelling place with all His eternal glory for us. What have we left for Him? How can we cling to this world and all its phoniness and fallen glory of wealth and tinsel and in so doing look away from Him? Just one short glimpse of Him as the Risen and Glorified Christ should immobilize us in broken worship and energize our inner man to rise in the power of His resurrection. But in order for us to gaze at the Eternal One this side of heaven we must stop and turn away from all that glitters in this present world and seek His matchless face with a relentless spirit which will not be denied.

Look down at your hand. He made that. Look at your neighbor. He made him. Look at the moon and the stars and He made them. There is nothing that is made without Him. He existed august and emanating a glory which illuminated the halls of heaven. He was worshiped by angels. And He enjoyed the glorious mystery of a Trinitarian fellowship with the Father and the Spirit. And he left all that to put on the rags of human flesh. Does it sound like a tale told by a fool? Yes, it is. I am a fool for Jesus Christ.

But there is fast approaching a day that will change this present reality and usher in a reality which will confound the wise and create great fear amidst the race we call human. Yes, all those stories many thought as religious superstition will suddenly reveal themselves as the eternal realities that had been waiting for the final revelation. It will all make sense to everyone, but it will spell the death knell for most. The entire human race, past and present, will stand arrested and terrified as the Deity that they had denied makes His entrance.

Who can know it? Who can imagine such an event? We cannot even imagine how one star, our star, can expend more energy in one second than seven million times all the energy of all the nuclear bombs on earth. And yet we pretend to know and understand what the event we call His Second Coming will look and feel like? Here is a secret all who know Christ personally should know. The closer we know and understand Jesus the more we must admit to the majesty of His eternal mystery. That means the more we know the more we experience the glory of what we do not fully know. Yes, the Spirit allows us to experience the majesty of that which we cannot know in all its fullness until that day.

And as men tremble and cry out in fear and even beg for death, we who have been grafted into His very family by grace through faith will tremble under the weight of His surpassing love. How could it be? How could we be granted such an eternal treasure? We did nothing before we knew Him and we did nothing after we knew Him that could possibly earned anything that He has bestowed upon us. But there we will be. Not only basking in His glory, but receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. And to think we might have missed it.

But even while we stand amazed at what has happened to us, and the final revelation of His grace, please do not be distracted in your imagination. For there will be nothing, no streets of gold and no gates of pearls and no robes of white that can draw away the attention and devotion that will consume us as we gaze at the Risen Christ, the Lamb that was Slain. Just to see Him with eternal eyes in all His majestic glory will be reward enough. What can keep us from falling on our faces in worship while still lifting our heads so as to keep our eyes fixated upon Him from Whom the nations fled.

What words can capture Him? What temporal emotions can do justice on that day? There He is manifested in beauty unknown to the human mind. There He sits upon a throne arrayed in His own brilliance and accepting of our worship. Like the immoral woman washing His feet with her hair, the King of the Universe will receive the worship of scoundrels and thieves and liars and sinners of every kind and stripe, but who now have not only been washed by His blood, but have been made to be like Him. Oh my, all our doctrines have been left behind as we enter that kind of revelation.

And although eternity cannot be measured by time, the freshness and overwhelming atmosphere of that first day will not dissipate or grow old as time goes on.

The invisible God who is a spirit now reveals Himself so that we who know Him might see Him. What kind of unspeakable mystery is this which has been granted unto us? Why has He done all this, and why did He sacrifice Himself for us? This is beyond us and too much to understand except to say that as we are in His presence we may understand that God is love. We will not need to have all the answers to our questions. Just to see Him and feel the power of His love will satisfy the saints for all eternity. What will think about our human love then?

We have loved pets and sports teams and cars and preachers and family members, but what will that love look like when we see Him who IS love? When the waves of His love come crashing down upon the blood washed throng, what then of earthly love? Without being granted a new body we would all have to die before Him. So go ahead, look around and see the realities that the Spirit had to describe with human words. It will be that the words gold and silver and jewels and pearls were just used by the Spirit to give us some inkling about what was in store for us. But the tangible realities of heaven will surpass anything we knew here on earth.

And how real is heaven? Paul said that when he was captured into the third heaven, it was so real he could not tell whether it was in or out of the body. That is how real it was. And John the Apostle spent time leaning upon the chest of Jesus here on earth. But when he came face to face with the Risen and Glorified Christ, he fell at His feet as though dead. When all is said and done we will spend all eternity in a place of unimaginable bliss. But again, it is not that which will capture our hearts and minds throughout eternity.

It will be Jesus.
Look around heaven and see what He left for you,
but do it quickly because your eyes will not suffer long away from gazing at Him.

It is Christ and Christ Alone

Jn.14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Matt.16: 13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

I Cor.3: 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

These teachings are either true or they are misleading lies. And if they are lies, or even true with some caveats, then the martyrs were fools. No amount of compassion or sympathy can alter this truth, and this is the absolute truth upon which all others are built. It is also the truth which is the target of most falsehoods and upon which most cults begin. You would think that after two millennia of studying God’s Word and following Jesus that professing believers and churches en masse would agree on this one basic and irrefutable truth: Jesus Christ was and is God, He died for our sins and resurrected from the dead, and only through a personal faith in Him can any soul go the place called heaven. Easy, right?

Not so fast. That truth is being openly and subtly questioned throughout the evangelical community. And although this post is not primarily about this, but those of us who believe that truth have a long way to go to live up to it. So we must never exhibit hubris about truth, however we must never shrink from proclaiming it either, especially this truth. If we cannot defend the deity of Jesus Christ and the exclusivity of His offer of salvation than what can we defend? If this truth crumbles everything is then powerless and moot.

I continue to be amazed, shocked, and dismayed at how many people and preachers tread lightly upon this subject and seem to be adverse to any direct proclamation about Jesus and the gospel. When asked if any sinner can wind up in heaven without a personal faith in Christ before they die preachers begin to sweat. It is a sign of the times that a question which should unite us regardless of other issues is diluted, compromised, and mostly avoided. Throw out the word “hell” and it’s like throwing on a light switch at night and watching the roaches scatter.

This is no small matter. Concerning this truth there cannot be any compromise, in fact there should be no discussion. This is the truth which ultimately makes up our faith. If Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, then the entire building is constructed upon Him. Take away that Stone and the building collapses. But men are so clever and so sophisticated. Listen as they quietly practice a doctrinal sleight of hand. Many times it almost sounds right, but there is just something that doesn’t seem right. Yes, what doesn’t seem right is what they believe and are teaching with a linguistic voodoo that deceives the masses.

But we must never give into these Biblical illusionists. If a man cannot openly, publicly, and clearly present this truth than you can rest assured he doesn’t believe it. And given enough generations that are born into a nebulous stand on this truth and it will not be long before it is no longer nebulous. And that is what we have today. Preachers by the tens of thousands now believe a sincere sinner who believes in God and tries to do right without Jesus will arrive in heaven upon his death. Instead of taking God’s Word as the final arbiter of all truth, they take into consideration a person’s sincerity or his exposure to the gospel or even his monotheism as mitigating factors.

Imagine a plateau that overlooks a deep chasm which descends almost one mile. Now watch as Charles Manson walks toward that cliff. A few even call out to him with very little energy and warn him. But he doesn’t not see the cliff and falls to his death. That incident would be a cause for discussion but not many would lose sleep over it. But now a toddler begins to walk toward that cliff. Almost everyone begins to shout and run to save the child. But he too falls to his death. Everyone begins to cry.

What is the difference? It is because in some way we feel that Manson deserved what he got and the child did not. But the law of gravity felt no such difference. It faithfully pulled both Manson and the child down to their deaths. But why do we accept the laws of nature as immutable but we desire to change the redemptive law of God? We believe in the power of gravity more than the power of Christ? We shape God’s truth based upon the situation of each individual? So your neighbor needs Jesus to go to heaven but the unreached man in the jungles of Borneo is given some latitude which has never been promised by God’s Word?

So in essence we know that gravity will not change based upon innocence but we make God’s Word change when a situation pains us or seems unfair? That is exactly what continues to happen. The truth is we must not change God’s Word…WE MUST CHANGE. When we change God’s Word in things like these it also provides for us an outlet, en excuse, and a way to feel a little better about our spiritual lethargy and the way we spend our money. After all, the unreached peoples of the world can still be saved without Jesus so why all the fuss.

The compromise and even dismantling of God’s redemptive truth is a diabolical strategy of the enemy. And make no mistake about it this isn’t just about defending a doctrine. This is about preserving the faith, not just in written form, but as the only life giving force upon the earth. And in most cases it accomplishes very little to argue with heretics and compromisers, especially in this area. We must expose their works of darkness and also repent of our own lack of surrendered passion. But who could have thought that in these last days the church would question the Person of Christ and the exclusivity of His matchless grace?

There are many false teachers roaming about in these last days, and they have deceived and influenced millions. And then there are many preachers who refuse to address the situation to their flock. They preach an unsharpened message that confronts no one and assuages the hearts and minds of their listeners. And as a result there are millions of believers who follow and read men like Rob Bell and Rick warren and Joel Osteen who sit under a preacher who is himself against their teachings but remains decidedly silent about them.

In the end, to believe and teach that any sinner can get to heaven even though he has not believed in Christ and the gospel is heresy at the highest level. It rips at the very fabric of gospel truth and even renders evangelism as a good way to win souls but not the exclusive way. And if we allow our emotions and our self serving compassion to sculpt our view of truth, then we ascribe to the Mother Theresa method of Christian ministry. She was noble in her humanitarian efforts toward the poor Indian lepers, however she refused to allow her workers to share Jesus with those same lepers. Yes, they died in their sins although the opportunity for the gospel was there. But you see, Mother Theresa believed they could go to heaven without Jesus. The sad truth is Mother Theresa never preached or even knew the gospel. Her gospel was the Roman Catholic Church and helping the poor.

If people can be saved without Jesus than we are all wasting our time. The Word of God is not true, I mean if God’s Word cannot be clear about this fact then what can we even expect to learn from it about anything? The evangelical world has become a melting pot of doctrinal stew. And it isn’t just disagreements over women preachers or baptism or even the nature of Scriptural inspiration. In many, many circles it is now over the primacy of faith in Christ in salvation. And there are those who mince words and have even invented a post death chance for those who die without Christ. That of course is a doctrinal fairy tale which not only gives sinners false hopes, but also dilutes the already lethargic passion of the church for the salvation of lost souls.

There is no salvation outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. His glorious sacrifice on Calvary is the only door to eternal life, and no amount of doctrinal massage can alter that in the slightest way. He alone is the Passover Lamb that was for sinners slain. He alone bore the wounds and bruises for our sins. He alone shed the blood that can wash away the stain of sin. He alone was the ransom for whosoever would believe on Him. Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the only Savior of the world and all that call upon Him will be saved.

And regardless how we would like to weaken and contaminate this truth it remains absolute throughout all eternity. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Horrific Revelation


I found this video at a blog I read HERE.
This documentary provides a visceral look inside a reality which should be horrific to every born again believer in Jesus Christ. This video provides an overview into what has generally happened to the western evangelical church. Somewhere in the late fifties or the early sixties the church began to be diverted from the gospel and from discipling believers and began a step by step entrance into the political arena. Now the foundation and motivating factor for such a shift was twofold.
One motivation was an unhealthy and unreasonable allegiance and love for the particular country in which its members were providentially born. America was not just a place where they could be the planting of the Lord or a place where there was a great mission field of lost sinners. This country became more than just a place on the map. The church began to manifest more than just a fondness for this nation. America became an entity that was to be loved, embraced, supported, and defended at all costs.
The second motivating factor was a magnification of some specific moral issues that the church deemed unbiblical. Now even though the overwhelming majority of the culture does not claim to be born again and therefore would be in need of a Savior, the church decided to fight this battle in the courts, and in congress, and by organizing an eclectic group of American citizens regardless of their spiritual convictions or condition. In essence, as long as people loved America and were dedicated to stand against abortion and the acceptance of gay relationships they could be a part of that movement. even if they rejected Jesus their love for America trumped that spiritual state.
Now that kind of spiritual detour had many adverse affects upon the nature, mission, and heart of the church. In fact, the movement seemed to energize the church and it soon became an obsession within the evangelical community. This obsession remains today. But as you watch that video please try and understand how easy it is to become involved in the world of politics and how difficult it is to get untangled once involved. After all, you are standing for morality, so what could be wrong with that?
Inside the church we are supposed to receive correction and guidance from God’s Word through the offices and ministry of the Holy Spirit. But outside the camp we are to live and preach the gospel and reach out to help people in Jesus’ name. Can you not see the difference? And it is exactly that difference which has been blurred and continues to poison the community of faith. "Who do men say that I am?" has given way to "Who do you say George Washington is?"
But nationalism and moralism has made us feel so good for so long, like a heroin addict we cannot imagine what we would do without them. How could we go on? They have become an accepted part of our faith. Dr. Frankenstein could not bring himself to kill his monster because he had so much invested in him. And so we as the western church have so much invested in this nation that even if shown the error of our ways we are reticent to repent. It is a vicious cycle that cannot broken without a massive move of God’s Spirit.
Yes, there are some of us who by God’s grace have begun to question these things and eventually came out and found freedom…true freedom. But we have met staunch resistance and even harshness when we have presented our testimonies. You see, nationalism is no weak sister. It is a monstrous deception which has been handed down by generations and thereby has deep roots. We know men and women that we admire who love Christ and are true patriots and therefore this must be right. Yes, one of the strengths wherewith this lives is also buttressed by others that we trust.
I was born in 1952 and I was born again in March of 1975. I lived through much of this, and I watched the entire video with a grieving heart. This post is about it. But one thing that stood out for me is that just like in politics today, Christianity and evangelicals are spoken of as entities. With an objectivity void of spiritual passion, this documentary accurately presented the facts but like most was blind to the essence of Christ.

And because the faith has become bedfellows with politics and nationalism, the church at large continues to lose what little spiritual depth it may have once had. In essence, Jesus Himself has become a doctrine, a moral leverage, a religious name, and even a good teacher. But sadly, He is no longer the Lord of Glory in His own church, which in reality is not His own anymore. There is an invisible church made up of different points of light with some being a part of a local fellowship.

But for the most part, the visible church which meets in buildings made with hands is a religious institution which energetically practices its faith without Jesus. It is tale of unimaginable woe and sadness. Aside from some who have emerged from its fog, it continues today unabated and with a redundant energy which keeps it alive. The culture continues its decline into deeper and deeper wickedness, and sinners walk without a care in the world. But the church refuses to even wonder why we have so little light and so little impact on a culture of darkness when we claim to walk with His blinding light.

We have set out tents in Babylon and pledged our allegiance to a myth. And in so doing we have been shackled while claiming to be protecting freedom. Only a dynamic and deeply uncomfortable dismantling of what we have come to accept will afford us the path back to Christ. That is no hyperbole. Instead of seeing America as Babylon we see it as little Jerusalem.That is a horrific fact.

Worshiping the Material Universe

Please read through the entire portion of Scripture I have posted below.
Lk.12: 13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Look how long of a Scripture passage I have posted here. And to what issue does it focus? This teaching which can also be found in Matthew addresses man’s obsession with this material world and all the things it offers. This is perhaps the greatest stumbling block to the church. It is almost ignored in the west. In fact, the entire teaching has been diluted, manipulated, and even reversed in order to accommodate our lust for things. And we can never know Christ in all His fullness while we still lust for things in order to allow our flesh to run wild.

One of the greatest tragedies is that millions of lost sinners are responding to a false message which promises them wealth and material blessings, and in so doing I fear millions have embraced a falsehood and will eventually lose their souls. Oh what a great tragedy! How could we who have known Christ go a-whoring after that which perishes? How can the things of this world compare with the resplendent glory which shines forever in His magnificent face? What kind of spiritual adultery leaves that which is eternal to bed down with that which is passing? And now we have so called preachers holding up riches instead of Christ and calling people to come.

We live in a religious climate which is the enemy of the Spirit and most certainly embraces and presents another Jesus. The church does not seek a sign; it does not seek self denial; it does not seek greater sacrifice; and it surely does not seek Jesus. We have settled into a convenient, redundant, and powerless practice which meets our needs, the needs of our marriages, and the needs of our families. And like a machine which produces enough energy on its own to keep it going, the church does not need, much less seek, God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a cold doctrine or is falsely displayed to create excitement and a feeling of spiritual importance.

And yet we as believers have been captured by a culture whose spirit is against Christ. How have we created this falsehood and acquiesced to that which is death? We no longer just live in the material universe, but now we love and embrace it while pretending to believe in the surpassing glory of the unseen world. Who can believe us? Can we place heaven on a pedestal, shove in a doctrinal corner, and go about our business just like the millions who have no claim to Christ? What kind of fairy tale is that? Angels and demons and spiritual wickedness in high places? Please, go play dungeons and dragons.

Have we become so vain and so jaded that we no longer need something in which to believe? Are we satisfied in believing mythology which can be used as a tool for our own carnal purposes? Hollywood seeks after the material things, so do the politicians, so do the athletes, so does Wall Street, and so does the church. More and more and more is the way of American evangelicalism, and the most joy a preacher and his church can experience is to cut a ribbon and enter into a debt ridden new building. Guns and cars and clothes and houses and phones and televisions and cameras and vacations and savings accounts and restaurants and movies and all kinds of waves of politics and national fervor are the things which drive our lives. Like sitting in a kayak and rushing downstream, being swept by the torrent, the church enjoys all the pleasures of this western culture while still sitting on a doctrinal statement which when taken at its face value should suggest just the opposite.

The church has subscribed to the ugly devil theory. Like the wicked witch in Oz, we have laid out a fairy tale. The devil is beautiful. He is alluring and accommodating. He sings beautifully. He speaks words that soothe. His evil has a fallen glory which reflects the kingdoms of this world. He comes as an angel of light. But the church has constructed a self serving set of absolutes. Earthly success and monetary gain is always God’s blessing. Higher taxes or less money is always of the devil. Good health comes from God and bad health is evil. Promotion is from God, and layoffs are from Satan. Numerical church growth is always good and divine, and numerical decrease is an evil attack.

This kind of thinking has been borrowed from the world and adjusted to fit within the church. The larger the church the greater the pastor’s salary package. The more popular the pastor the greater insight to truth he has. Christian music is a ministry from which people can become wealthy. Christian conferences benefit the body of Christ. Christian cruises are what Jesus would do. All this earthly thinking has infiltrated the church and it revolves around the concept of value. Bigger and more has more value and is therefore better. Popular is a sign of divine blessing. It is all so carnal.

Rom.1: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever

This is a principle clearly outlined in Scripture. It is based upon the first commandment that says we are to have no other gods before the True God. That includes gods of stone, gods of wood, gods of steel, gods of money, gods of success, gods of food, gods with wheels, gods with four feet, and most especially gods with two feet. The teachings of Jesus are so clear concerning this subject that we must be completely dishonest with Scripture to suggest that material things are a divine sign, much less to suggest that God desires us to be wealthy and on a continuing climb to prosperity.

The glory of the Creator can be seen in His creation, however the glory of that Creator surpasses all created glory. We have seen the wonder of Saturn’s rings; we have seen the amazing snow peaked mountain of the Himalayas; we have watched as the Sun was hidden in an eclipse; we have seen comet racing through the night sky; we have seen the power of a tsunami; we have been awed when we have seen the Earth from the vantage point of the moon. But I can give testimony, even as an amateur astronomer, nothing can even compare with the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing at all.

Imagine the world before humans inhabited it. Nothing but rivers and oceans and trees and mountains. Look around now and see the cars and the buildings and the ships and the planes and all the modern technological advances. Now look back at the earth without any of those things. Do you realize that everything we see now came out of the earth? We did not travel to some planet and bring them back. No, we dug them up out of the earth. So when the Creator made the earth, He made it with everything we would ever need.

But what Jesus did not intend was for His people to love and cherish the creation and make it in competition with our love for Him. In essence what we have done is take our hands, dig up some earth, mold into a car or a house or some clothes and bow down to them. Oh we do not literally bow down most of the time. But what we do is bow our hearts to the created universe and still attempt to suggest we love and serve the Creator Jesus. That is a disconnect that will never work regardless how far the church falls.

It is time all who name His name release the affection we have for the things of this world. We are in this world and have need for the material things, however we are not of this world and our hearts must never follow after things. We must evaluate everything according to our needs and not our wants which are our lusts. Jesus deserves all of our hearts and lives. We must not compromise that which is His alone. Creation should remind us of Him and not about what we can have. The world bombards our minds with the allurements of this world. And year after year it chips away at our hearts and minds until the tension disappears because we have surrendered to the world.

And in the end we are faced with a choice. And this is choice with only two choices. There can be no compromise or dilution. There are only two distinct choices. We either serve the Lord Jesus completely, or we create some false construct which uses Jesus but serves the world. Choose you this day who you will serve.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Wrong Train


If people like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter are followers of Jesus, I must be on the wrong train.

The Church - Sanguine While Apostasy Reigns

It is no hyperbole or exaggeration to suggest that apostasy is sweeping through the western evangelical church. False teachers and heretics are growing like weeds, and their popularity continues to skyrocket. The church follows hard after their own lusts and desires and by and large has left following Christ. Even those who would claim the inspiration of Scripture and the exclusivity of Christ in redemption are caught in a spiritual lethargy that is bound by the culture, tradition, and the subtle and overt pursuit of things. And in the midst of all this and more, the church walks with a sanguine disposition and even forcefully teaches us to embrace it and grow it every single day without any deference to the spiritual circumstances all around us.

Apostasy is now minor issue. It is the most serious of all ecclesiastical conditions. It reveals such spiritual treason and such a breach of spiritual integrity that it forces God Himself to abandon a church or even a person. It is marked by such a violation of truth that the gospel itself is no longer believed or taught, and in that condition the mouth of hell is enlarged. How’s that for serious? The games have long since past. Apostasy is not just on the rise, it has buried its roots, taken many hostages, and implemented a strategy whereby it can spread throughout the evangelical community. It already had the liberal wings of Christianity, but its desire for spiritual death has now turned upon those who rested upon their “orthodox” laurels.

The word sanguine has a few definitions, but in this case it represents a bold contentment and a strong confidence. It means that the evangelical church operates with no real sense of desperation. And in spite of the compromised condition of the church it still rehearses a redundant religious practice that has less power than mothers against drunk drivers or even the SPCA. And yet she sails through life with head held high even while believers seek the material world with a sacrificial passion.

But the compromise that began after the Industrial Revolution has long since turned into a systematic apostasy. But here is the diabolical strategy that has come to pass. Most orthodox churches would never deny Christ or His gospel. And if they have a statement of faith it may look in Biblical order. But in a stunning and breathtaking display of wicked genius, these churches have walked in such cultural compromise that these Biblical truths including the gospel have been rendered impotent. And when the teachings of Jesus are compared with what the church does, it reveals a deadly spiritual infection that continues to destroy what little spiritual integrity is left.

We say Jesus is coming back but our preparations for the Super Bowl are far greater than any preparations for His coming. We say we do not seek things but we rejoice when we are approved for loans by which we can by things. We say we do not love money but we save up funds to spend upon ourselves at some later date. We say we believe in prayer but we spend more time on the toilet than we do in deep intercessory prayer. We say we love lost sinners and yet we join hands with unbelievers to come against the lost. We say we believe in missions and yet we witness very little and we give more to mortgage companies than we do missions. We say we believe fasting increases spiritual power and yet we only fast to lose weight. Yes, we say a lot of things.

We say we believe in the eternal and yet where is the Sunday School class in room 101 that is labeled “Preparing for Eternity”? And yet we do have one that says “Biblical Finances” or “How to (fill in the blank)”. We are kinda interested in the ten toes of Daniel but we are completely disinterested in the ten toes on the feet of starving children around the world. We are interested in date night and guessing the date of the rapture but we are disinterested in the date in which our neighbor may die. We are interested in reducing higher taxes here in America but we are disinterested in reducing death rates in Uganda. We are interested in a shoe sale but we are disinterested in millions who have no shoes. We are interested in the next church conference but we are disinterested in those who have no gospel witness. We are interested in ferreting out welfare cheats but we are disinterested in personally reaching those who need more than just government help.

And yet with that kind of resume the church still walks with a resolute sanguine air believing that the redundant, benign, and self serving ecclesiastical structure pleases God because it pleases us. With a well oiled praise and worship machine, week after week we prove it is little more than musical manipulation. How do we prove that? Watch as we march to and fro, week after week, with no more authentic change than the tree in our back yard. If we are suggesting you can actually meet with the Risen Christ, go stuff your belly, and relax to watch a football game until Monday draws us to work once again, then we are now able to tell colossal fairy tales without even speaking them.

Is it any wonder the world accepts us a voice among many in the doings of men? And when we jump into politics we have landed in the world’s territory and immediately we have lost what little message we once had. I have watched as men and women who were very restrained in their worship in church wept during 4th of July celebrations which featured patriotic music. So people can endure a time of worship without much emotion to say nothing of brokenness, and yet they weep during an idolatrous spectacle? And you still have a problem with the word “apostasy”?

Can we remain sanguine in light of the spiritual condition in which we find ourselves? Is all this heaven and hell talk nothing more than talk? Do we really believe in eternal life and eternal death? Let us cut to the chase and reveal for the entire world to see exactly what we say we believe and then can we continue to live and think and act like those around us who express no such beliefs? What kind of self serving callousness does it take in order to profess something so august, so imposing, and so monumental and yet with so little dramatic demonstration which could possibly reflect the belief system we say we espouse? The evangelical church has become a scandal in the eyes of heaven.

But it isn’t enough to construct a religious expression which demands little and literally only denies the flesh a limited list of approved sins. But the church is filled with attempts to promote self esteem and a seeking to fulfill the dreams and desires of the flesh. Yes, the entire construct is geared toward the flesh with little room for the Spirit. And in light of this kind of religious institution, the human product it produces openly and unambiguously reflects the teachings it purports. And we have ended up as products of the culture with little more than a suggested doctrinal difference.

But all this has come to pass just as the spirit of prophecy has foretold. This has not taken God by surprise. Just as Adam disobeyed God so has the church followed in Adam’s footsteps and inherited a hedonistic curse even though we call it the blessings of God. The end is unraveling and our ears are itching to be tickled with songs of fallen pleasures and self affirmation. That which is truly of Jesus is not longer palatable except woven into a doctrinal statement. We live and drink and are merry and are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.

The only problem is that we are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Did I mention we are still sanguine?