II Pet.1: 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
What a treasure trove of truth is brought forth in just these two verses! We see the divine power. We see all things that pertain unto life and godliness. We see glory and virtue. We see exceeding great and precious promises. We see the divine nature. All these taken by themselves are volumes of eternal and glorious truth. But as we read do not miss the phrase most important and tucked away within these two verses. It is the very path to all these and everything eternal and spiritual.“Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us”. Oh please do not skip lightly over these words for in them are the issues of life and life everlasting. It seems so simple and logical and yet it seems to be overlooked and diminished by the things of this world as well as most of the teachings of the church. Jesus Himself exhorted us to learn of Him. How then is it possible that most professing believers do not seek to know Him at all? Yes, they know His name and they know His story and they call Him Savior. But do they really know Him and do they pursue the knowledge of Him with an unmistakable passion?
It reminds of the story of a man looking under a street light. Another man asks him what is he looking for and the man says he lost a twenty dollar bill. “Where did you lose it?” asks the man. The man points down the street and says he lost it over there. The other man asks him why he is looking for it here. The man says, “Because the light is better here!”
And so it is with the western church. Seeking Christ is not easy and is not convenient and sometimes the effects are not seen immediately although they often are. The world’s light is much brighter on money and politics and wars and gays and sports. But to earnestly seek Him requires sacrifice. It isn’t a switch that can be turned on and off when the whim strikes us. It is serious spiritual business and it is there where the devil will fight most ardently. The devil is not worried so much when you learn about money or politics or marriage techniques or when the rapture will take place or who might be the antichrist. But if you set your heart to learn the heart of Jesus then you will encounter demonic forces instantly.
Where and when did the church get detoured into morality and patriotism and boycotts and all kinds of self help principles disguised as Biblical truth? And where and when did we leave learning and pursuing Christ and what He lived and taught? Where and when did Jesus become a redemption stamp and not the Master who we love and honor and follow with all our hearts? It is most difficult when we set our hearts to sincerely and deeply follow Him, but it is impossible when we concentrate on everything else and use Jesus for our own self interests. Nationalism at is very heart is self centered and seeks to create and defend a culture which benefits us.
The only answer is Jesus. The only path is Jesus. The only way to interpret the New Testament is Jesus. We are not just a collection of religious people who say Jesus is the way. We are to be living epistles read of all men. And what should they be reading when they watch us and come in contact with us?
They should, they must read Jesus. When the conservative world feels comfortable joining hands with the church then we know the church has ceased to be the church. I submit to all of us that we have completely redefined what it means to be a Christian and we have created our own set of accepted practices which are antithetical to all Jesus lived and taught. Is that too strong for your sensibilities? Well in God’s eyes it is probably not strong enough. We must humbly repent and return to learning of Christ and allowing His transforming life to replace ours and in so doing Jesus will once again walk this earth through humble and meek and self denying disciples.
Until then we will keep practicing a redundant religious structure which is a conservative, moral, American, capitalist exhibition with a little Jesus sprinkled on top to give a conscience soothing flavor.
And so the days dwindle away like snowflakes under a summer Sun. One day after another brings about mostly the same thing perhaps arraigned sometimes but work and play, work and play. But to the seeking believer each new day is another step, another piece of the picture, in knowing and serving Jesus the Christ. It is an adventure, and many times words and truths you have heard a hundred time unfold before your heart as if they were brand new and create in you a new heart of worship once again. This is not mouthing the words on a overhead screen urged on by a paid staff member.No, this is a fertile meadow of worship in which the Spirit brings new life to your spirit and you are broken in love and adoration before Him. Who can explain such a thing? It is a priceless treasure offered to us in a sacred place within the heart of those who humbly seek Him. And sometimes we are taken by surprise. How often have I read some portion of Scripture or some message by a man or woman of God and suddenly, unexpectedly, I am overwhelmed by His presence?
Jesus is not just the truth revealer. He IS the truth. And in Him we find and unfathomable ocean of eternal life. Without the Spirit no man can understand any of it. But when we yield to the Spirit in humility and utter dependence, well, we will find Christ. And when we find Christ He is everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, we can possibly want or need. Praise the Christ of God forever!
Unsaved sinners come in all skin colors. White, black, brown, red, and yellow. But their souls are the same color – black and lifeless. But when they come to Jesus their souls are as white as fine linen. Their skin color remains the same but now their souls are whit as wool and made in the righteousness of Christ.
A California brought her Bible to the floor and told everyone that unless California restricts abortion the drought will continue at the hands of God. What a pitiful God that is. He could not just kill all the abortion doctors and nurses? He could not control the legislature and make them pass such a bill? He could not write a message in the sky?But in reality that woman and many like her refuse to see the God who went to the cross and who desperately desires to see sinners come to salvation. They create and amalgam between the Old Testament and the New and they present a false God. The God called Jesus through the Spirit is calling people to Himself. The plagues and locusts and famines and all the rest are common to man. But life comes through Jesus Christ. Oh how the Bible and the name of God have been used for battering rams and not to clearly allow men to see God’s redemptive love. I guess the droughts in Sudan which killed hundreds of thousands were God’s hands because He was angry about abortion, uh no, about gay marriage…uh no, or maybe because they were poor and black. BTW many Sundanese women experienced still births because they were so undernourished and thirsty their baby died in their womb. If God caused those circumstances then He is an abortionist.
We are caretakers of the true gospel. Let others play their moralistic games. We will hold high the cross of Calvary!!
Jn.3: 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We as humans see love as flowers or gentle words or marriage vows or even the love we have for our own offspring. But while all of those are human expressions of sincere love they are not in the same league as the love of God. You see the love of God comes forth with the fragrance of blood and sweat and with the visual of a massacre. It is impossible to fully plumb the depths of such a love as this. We can never completely understand the Trinity, however God gave His only begotten Son…for us, His sworn enemies and joyful rebels. It soars way above our ability to comprehend such a truth.And yet there it is…the very center of divine love. The cross. We have made it so neat and sentimental and a religious talisman which can bring us good luck. But the cross is a shocking explosion of divine truth. Many films have been made which picture the crucifixion and some have tried to be true to truth but they, in the end, are just men playing a part. To understand that the man being mutilated was God Himself should break us of our intellectual and religious posturing. How can this be?? I say again, how can this be??
This display of man’s viciousness meted out upon the sinless Lamb of God is the only path to eternal life. But let us not just use it for a stepping stone for our own advantage. Even after we have been grafted into God’s family through that awesome sacrifice let us not treat it as old news. This cross, this crucified Lamb, should pulsate through our beings as we seek to know Him more and more. It is at Golgotha where God’s love was displayed in a Person. And suffer He did. Inside those wounds were my own sins and yours. Every time I sin His sufferings increased. Again, how can this thing be??
He knew I did not deserve Him. And He knew I would fail Him even after He saved my soul. And yet He despised the shame because of the joy that was set before Him? Oh my dear brothers and sisters, we walk on holy and sacred ground here. McCartney said “The love you take is equal to the love you make”. He was completely wrong. God’s love through Christ can never be duplicated and it has no competitors. And even our love for Christ comes from the Spirit and not our own power. But regardless of how we love Him it can never approach His love for us.
This is our legacy. This is our gift. This is our life. There is no other. None.
Lk.14: 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Cost? What cost? To present a sinner with a “count the cost” message would be diametrically opposed to modern evangelistic strategies. Members of the body of Christ live here in a fallen and hedonistic and violent culture which exists antithetical to Christ and His teachings. And yet where is the persecution? Where is the ostracizing? But in fact most professing believers pledge their allegiance to this culture and many die to defend it. It is an incredibly strong deception.Is it possible that the true path to disci0pleship has been lost to the western church and the Spirit is now calling out believers one by one and leading them back to Christ and His teachings? I believe that to be the case. Many of us have received startling revelations over and over again. And to many of us the Word of God has come alive and is changing our hearts and lives even though we may have been faithful church members and, yes, even preachers. But when the Spirit penetrates your heart and opens the eyes of your understanding your spiritual life takes on an entirely new focus and passion.
No one has arrived and indeed no one can. We are called to a journey whose means are the end and with the Lord Jesus not just our Guide but indeed our very life. After so many years to be resurrected spiritual is a miracle of grace. We did not earn anything. And our hearts grieve for those who are still on the western evangelical treadmill believing they are serving Christ. We pray for them.
Look at those words “bear his cross and come after Me”. You see, there is only one cross and that is the cross of Jesus. So His cross must be ours and our cross must be His. Bearing His cross has nothing to do with politics or taking a stand. It begins with a profound and passionate embracing of personal humility. We must reject the praises of men and the lies our own minds tell us about ourselves. This humility is not to become a spectacle which draws attention to us. No, through prayer and fasting and a devouring of God’s Word we must come to a place where we actually live in Christ and reject the flesh.
How can we do such a thing and where can we find that power? The power to be clothed with humility comes from a continuing quest to see and understand the Lord Jesus. He must be much more than a doctrine embedded in the plan of salvation. We must see Him clearly as Savior and Lord and a thousand other revelations. You see, seeing Jesus, the true and exalted Jesus, cannot help but humble us and create in us a perspective of truth. If a man thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself. How many professing believers are self deceived? And how many professing believers are walking happily upon a path with ne sacrifice, no cost, and no cross?
This is the state of the institutional church and many, by God’s gracious power, are being called out.
Jude 1: 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
To present me faultless?Oh my…oh my. His love and power are twin pillars which join together to make a miscreant like me faultless. The list of my faults is endless and well documented. And if my thought life was added I would be well deserved of hell itself. Would it not be an act of grace just to allow me to squeak by through heaven’s gates? Just to be allowed in would be monumental. But to present me faultless before the presence of His glory is almost too much to bear. I am undone when I think of what that actually means.
This God we serve…this Christ is above all that we could ask or think. We speak these words and yet the coming reality will render all human words and all theologies as completely insufficient and even pitiful. One day, one glorious day, God’s grace purchased at Calvary will come forth and change every born again sinner into a faultless being of worship before His amazing glory. That coming reality casts a dark shadow upon the reality of this present world. This will pass and that which is Him will come forth with an eternal brilliance no one has ever seen or imagined. And there will be you and I. Faultless. Oh my…
A CHRISTLESS GOSPEL
We live in an era and in a culture which is filled with selfishness and political maneuvering. And little by little the church has learned the ways of the world and the culture as is practiced here in America. The first step is bowing in allegiance to this earthly nation and the rest follows suit. Once your heart is invested your thoughts and actions will reflect your heart.And so much of the church separates certain sinners for castigations above and beyond what is given to other sinners. In fact certain sinners have been so singled out that it now clouds spiritual discernment about other sinners. The man seeks his fortune and becomes a millionaire but because he is a patriotic American and a member of a Christian church he can be seen playing golf with well know evangelists. His sins are ignored and even embraced. But if that same person comes out of the closet and admits to having same sex attractions he will be soundly scolded, called to repent, and will see no more golf dates.
This obsession with gay sinners is unseemly and flies in the face of Christ’s ministry and gospel. But it makes for good publicity and engenders much moral support. You see the gay thing invokes confusion and fear in people. And those who profess Christ and yet are invested in this American culture and nation see it as an open threat to the moral fiber of their existence. That is because they do not understand the utter fallen nature of this nation and culture.
But more importantly they are blind to the power and exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is not just a moral change in a sinner’s life. This gospel, when truly believed, creates a brand new person from the inside out. The change in moral perspective is residual and subordinate to the change in a sinner’s heart and soul. And after that sinner is changed and created in the image of Christ Jesus he must see sinners as did our Master. Nowhere did Jesus lead a crusade against sinners of any kind. In fact He was accused of being a friend to sinners. Indeed!
It is a million time easier to castigate a sinner than it is to love him. Self righteousness is fueled by such castigations and the flesh loves a good boycott. But to be sure Christ is not in that kind of false gospel. The true gospel of Jesus Christ recognizes the fallen nature of sinners but still reaches out in love with the good news of Christ Jesus. You cannot be double minded. You cannot champion worldly causes and still claim to follow Jesus and preach His gospel. But that is exactly what many are attempting to do in this nationalistic fervor.
Submit yourself to the Spirit and to His truth and live as well as die for the gospel. But be careful, if you do, the dust of sinners might soil your reputation in the eyes of moralists. But rejoice! That same dust was found in Him while He walked this earth and while He was lifted up off this earth!
Heb.9: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
After Christ died and rose from the dead the law was dead and gone. But men still cling to it in parts or even in whole. The law is a murderer of souls. Christ gives life to souls. You cannot mix the Lifegiver with the dictates of death. But allow me to pull back the veil and expose the unspoken motivation for law keepers and moralists. It is raw self righteousness and it diminishes Christ.