What's wrong with Christmas?

oo often this time of year we get into the mindset that we need to put Christ back in Christmas, or that we must remember the reason for the season. While this statement is true, so far as we must remember and think intently on what Christ has done for us, should this not be the case every season? Or to put Christ in Christmas, should he not be in our everyday lives. We can make a really good case that the 'holy day' Christmas in itself is not Christian. For instance the time of year is wrong, the early Christians didn't celebrate it, the puritians didn't celebrate it, birthdays are only mentioned twice in the bible and they both ended with murder (pharoh's baker, and John the Baptist), it was a MASS adopted by the Catholic Church which convieniently coincided with the pagan holidays of the surrounding culture, this list goes on and on with reasons we could believe Christmas is not Christian. With that said I will say this, I too celebrate Christmas with my wife and our families, we have an "idol-i-tree", (oops I mean Christmas tree), stockings, the whole works. So I recognize hypocrisy on my part, and that is why I will not tell anyone not to celebrate Christmas.

Here is my real beef with Christmas. It is the fictionization of Christ's coming to this earth. Think about it, we sing these sweet songs: "Away in a manger no crib for a bed the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head" or "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright" yet something seems amiss. We view beautiful manger scences with a perfect looking baby so sweetly gazing into Mary's eyes. We see paintings with a holy glow around Mary and Jesus. My question is, does any of this line up with the real experience of child birth? No. There is pain in delivering a baby, and then it is bloody, and it cries. Usually the head is shaped like a cone. Real child birth certainly is a holy experience I have no doubt, but what we portray as the manger scene is simply fairy tale. It was dirty, labor was hard as it always is, Jesus came into the world as a human, fully human, fully God. He did not come in as an angelic abnormal child like all of our traditions portray him, he came into this world like you and I. This picture that we have painted certainly is not the picture the bible paints, and we wonder why the world continually rejects true Christianity. The "Christmas Christianty" which we too often present is easy to accept because it isn't real, and it is just something fun to believe in, or to pretend to believe in. Yet the real Christianity which is laced with toil, self denial, and the struggle of mastery over the flesh, the faith where we confess we would be nothing but fodder for the pit of hell if it were not by the grace of God, that Christianity is lost in our retelling of the Christmas story. Ah, in the real Christmas story we see that underlying joy amidst the struggle of life, we see the beauty of grace and the humility of Christ. I guess that is what frustrates me the most, it is important to understand that Christ came into a dump for us, that he gave up all he could have. The real Christmas story is such a powerful image of Christ's gospel, yet our tradition makes it into a fantasy with no power at all.

That is all I have for now.

Have a happy December 25, and remember that Christ came into filth, and was born just as any other man or woman is born, and because he came in the flesh, as a human, we can trust in his sacrifice and ressurection.


Eternal Security Part 2

I have found it ironic the way that I deal with the issue of eternal security. I find that when I have commited sin that is bringing me guilt and I am struggling to repent it is in those times when I sruggle with eternal security the most. In the times when things seem to be going well and I have my flesh in submission it is then that I am confident in eternal security. I say this is ironic because typically people on the non eternal security side will view this doctrine as a liscense to sin, and therefore not of God. You would think that when a believer was in sin, or struggling with sin, that they would cling to this doctrine. I have found the opposite to be true. When we are in sin we tend to doubt the infinite forgiveness which is in Christ of all sin, and we begin to believe that even after being justified in someway we must do something to obtain forgiveness. This of course is false, we are saved by grace, not of our own actions. That fact never changes, grace is given not earned, nor diligently kept, it is freely given. Still sin, when it takes occasion in us, brings us to the point where we even doubt the grace we have been given, and our natural response is to seek some sort of work of obedience to bring us back to a right standing with God. We are like dogs returning to our vomit, we once lived believing that we were good enough to get into heaven, and now we fall back into thinking we must be good enough to get into heaven. I am not sure what the answer is for us as believers. It is hard to remember when we sin, that we are redeemed, and that we must simply turn from the sin and keep marching on toward eternity. There is no need to question your eternal destiny, it is a waste of time, emotion, and energy, the battle has been one already, simply move on and continue in grace.


eternal security

It has been a considerable time since I last posted, and I apologize to anyone who checks the blog regularly for my lack diligence. With that said hopefully I will begin posting regularly again, no promises though.

The past two days my thoughts have been centering on eternal security, ‘saved once, for eternity.’ This may be the most numerically divisive issue in Christendom, by numerically divisive I mean 50% believe in eternal security, 50% believe salvation can be lost. However this topic gets glossed over by many Christians. Nearly everyone will take a stand on abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, and [insert controversial subject here], yet among Christians positions on these subjects tend to be lopsided, with a small percentage leaning to the extreme liberal stance, while the majority consider it asinine that a Christian would consider homosexuality normal, abortion acceptable, and so on. We will debate issues that have been settled already, yet the majority of believers avoid the issue of eternal security. What is even more unsettling about this is that everyone has a belief concerning it, and it is typically a strong belief. If you ask a believer if they can still go to hell they will quickly answer yes or no. It is not something where people say they aren’t quite sure about it, or don’t have an opinion, it is always a simple yes or no. Regardless of which side of this argument you fall, it is a critical argument nonetheless. It is a debate that must be enacted, and both sides must search the scriptures and find the truth concerning it. This is not an issue like post-millennialism, or pre-millennialism, or whatever. That issue may be debated among believers who have all other things in common and the first principles of Christianity are not affected by the position held by the believer regarding this subject. Yet this issue of eternal security is foundational to our faith, it is a critical stone in the foundation of our relationship with God. So in this first, and maybe last (I hope not) post concerning eternal security I will just lay out the fundamental reasons it is an important debate.

1. If we are not eternally secure, obedience is required for salvation, if we are eternally secure disobedience cannot result in damnation.
2. If we are not eternally secure, salvation is from Christ, but is conditional based on the believer’s actions. If we are eternally secure salvation is from Christ independent of the believer’s actions.
3. If we are not eternally secure, Christ’s atonement was for past sins, and future sins, which we confess to Him. If we are eternally secure Christ’s atonement was for sins past present and future at the point of salvation.
4. If we are not eternally secure our obedience brings us to a right relationship with God. If we are eternally secure our relationship with God brings us to a point of obedience.
5. If we are not eternally secure God judges us by our actions (non-confessed sin.) If we are eternally secure God judges us by the merits of Christ despite the actions of the flesh.
6. If we are not eternally secure we will be held accountable the deeds of the flesh. If we are eternally secure the deeds of the flesh are not imparted to our eternal soul.

This is just a list of 6 issues that could be addressed concerning eternal security. You can see that these issues are all foundational to what we believe, how we live, and who we think God is. We can gloss over this issue for the sake of unity, but the bottom line is that 50% of Christendom is fundamentally wrong. Either 50% are assuming a freedom that they don’t really have, or 50% are shackled by requirements they don’t need to meet.

That is the premise of the debate on eternal security. I will say that I undoubtedly believe that we are eternally secure, and that to believe otherwise is to stand upon a shaky foundation built by the merits of your own will. I will go further in saying that not believing in eternal security is essentially denying the very core of what God’s grace is. It is like being a Galatian who begins in the spirit but then attempts to be justified by the flesh. It is to call Paul a liar when he says it is no longer I that sin, but sin that dwelleth in me, that is, in my flesh. It is to deny the very imputed righteousness of Christ.

I hope to go more into this at a later time. Please post a comment if you disagree, set me straight if you feel you need to. Or drop some encouragement if you think I am on the right path.


Is God Cruel and Sadistic?

Is God cruel and sadistic? Of course not, that is a stupid question right? Of course it is a stupid question, however until today my understanding of God with regards to the Ten Commandments seemed to point to a cruel sadistic God.

Allow me to explain… Thou shall not covet… Thou shall not bear false witness… Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain… etc. We as Christians understand that it is only by grace and the power imparted to us by the Holy Spirit because of the sacrifice of the Lord that we can be obedient to all Ten Commandments. Before Christ the Jews did put faith in the promise of a coming messiah, however they did not have the imparted righteousness of Christ. To be perfect and righteous the pre-Christ Jew would have to be obedient to all the commandments as well as the rest of the law. So my question is God, or was God cruel and sadistic? The question might not seem so dumb in this light. Think about it, God required perfect righteousness out of those who are complete unable to have any righteousness because they have not yet been imparted with the Spirit and the righteousness of Christ. If God demanded unattainable righteousness of His people then He was cruel and sadistic.

Now, I will not deny that obedience to all of these commands is required for perfect righteousness, and perfect righteousness was and is required for salvation. Fortunately now having Christ’s imparted righteousness to us we can stand firmly on His merits before God in the Day of Judgment. We also know that if you believe the promises of God, you receive the promises of God. If you believe that Jesus died for your sin and that by His death and resurrection you will be saved, then certainly you will be saved. Still my question remains what hope was there for the Old Testament Jew without yet having the imparted righteousness of Christ?

Here is the question we must ask: Are the Ten Commandments only commandments or are they also promises? What does the word ‘shall’ mean? Does it mean ‘must’? Yes. Does it mean ‘will’? Yes. God wrote on stone tablets a distinct foreshadowing of the new covenant, think of it: ‘you will not kill’ ‘you will not covet’ ‘you will have no other God’s before me’. Think of these statements as promises of the coming righteousness, which would be imparted to them by Christ. Their eternity was dependent on the belief in these promises, which were fulfilled by Christ. ‘Think not that I come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’ Christ was and is the very fulfillment of the Ten Commandments. God was not cruel in requiring an unattainable command, He was gracious in promising that His people would someday be perfect. When we see only the ‘must’ side of the word ‘shall’ then we have no other option but to say that our God was cruel. Yet if we also recognize the ‘will’ side of the word ‘shall’ we see the Ten Commandments as a glorious promise of God to His people whom He loves.

Do not misunderstand me, the ‘must’ side of the law, the required righteous standard is very much real, but it is no more real than the awesome promise of the ‘will’ side of the law. Next time you are reading exodus 20 remember that those Ten Commandments are more than just standards to condemn, they are the promised righteousness of Christ. The are the schoolmaster that point us to Christ by showing us our need of Him, and also what His sacrifice provides for the believer.


For the weak

I find it brutally ironic when an unregenerate soul boasts that Christianity is for the weak, or for the uniteligent or imcompetent. It is stange that so many unbelievers would say these things and still reject Christ. What sadly is even more ironic than the unbeliever's railings about Christianity being a religon for unintellegent weaklings, is the believer's denial of the accusation. We say Christianity is not for the weak! Christianity is not an incompetent man's religon! If we say these things we are only fooling ourselves. Let me ask you this brother or sister, did you arrive at the cross because you were strong? Did you arrive at the cross because of some intellegent desicion? Of course not! The railings of the world in this matter are certainly true. When you met Christ your were at your bottom, you were well aware of your sin and weakness and from there you gave yourself to Christ. You came to Christ as a fool not on some intellectual quest. I know a Christian who accepted the reality of God when learing about physics, it was not an intellectual thing it was a realization of how much God knows and how much order He created. Christianity certainly is for the weak. It is for those who mourn, and are poor in spirit, it is for the meek, it is for they that are persecuted, it is for those whose faith is as a young child. Christian never believe that you are strong, if you believe that you are strong then what need of God's stength do you have? If you believe you are smart, than why must Christ renew your mind?

It really is ironic. The world makes a true accusation about Christianity as if it is an insult, and Christians then deny the very truth which brought them to the cross in the first place. It is ironic that the world simply does not see its weakness and unintellegence. If they did they would surely see that the very accusations they make are the precise reasons that they themselves should flock to the cross. The next time someone makes these accusations to you your response should be something like this:

"It is true that I am unintellegent and weak, and more than that I have been indecent immoral, even more than that, there is not a single good quality about myself which I can call my own. The accusations you have made are true, and I fully realize this and I am willing to humbly accept your perception of Christianity as true. However let me ask you this, do you see yourself as strong? Intellegent? Moral? After these tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes have crushed us with ease, do you honestly feel strong? As our stock markets go up and down over nothing at all, and our schools fail, and our politcs corrupt, do you really feel smart? As our society spirals into immorality and the family is destroyed do you really feel moral? If you were honest with yourself you too would see that you are unintellegent and weak, and immoral and that the religon you rail against, is the very faith that you need."

I think that would be a very adequate response to the unbelievers who makes these accusations. I will leave it at that for the reader to think about. Maybe you all have come to this conclusion a long time ago, I confess that I just realized it recently. Anyway that is all for tonight


So much more than a smile

Have we sunk so far as to consider offering a smile a ministry, and nodding a head as evangleism? We are in a day when we preach "God is love" but do not prove that love by expounding the gospel message. We are in a day when we preach Christian unity without defining the term Christian. We talk about moral relativism as the evil our society faces, but I will go one step further and say that "Christo-relativism" is the real problem, that is to say that if a religon professes allegiance to Christ it is therefore a 'good' religon. In this age of 'Christo-relativism' we accept unitarianism, mormonism, catholicsm and others as acceptable Christian churches. While I do not desire sepratism, and I would rejoice at all these Churches uniting under Christ the reality is that unity with these churches is not unity in Christ. I could and maybe someday I will go into detail on each of these churches and why they are not in Christ but for now I will only address the results of 'Christo-relativity.'

If we unite with the afore mentioned Churches is mandatory that we do not contradict each other. Those who would have this unification would speak of Christian solidarity. Yet if I say you must believe in Christ, and the unitarian says you must believe in a good God, there is no way those thoughts can be in solidarity. So to show a unified front we must avoid that topic outside of the Church walls. If I were to say that believe means to have full faith and trust, and the Catholic might say believe means a mental acknowledgement of truth we cannot be in solidarity on this point, therefore to show a united front to the world we must avoid these facts outside of the Church walls. If am to say there is one triune God and a Mormon may say he is one of many Gods, we cannot stand unified and must avoid this point to put on a solid front.

Many people will say that we need to look at what each faith has in common, and certainly there is a lot in common between all 'Christian' faiths. But we also must remember that anti-chirsts come in sheeps clothing and that Satan is a great deceiver even to the point of deceiving some of the elect. So we must look at the differences between faiths to test them. For instance a baptist and a methodist may disagree fiercly about God's foreknowledge and election yet on point concerning the finality of the work on the cross, and salvation by Christ alone they are in agreement. Questioning the foreknowledge or the interperation of it is honest discussion. Questioning wether or not there is a time and place to bow down before statues (as in Catholicsm) is trying to determine wether or not idolatry is acceptable. Obviously it is not.

So if we determine to stay united regardless we come to the point that all we can really agree on is that there is a God and that Jesus existed, and that God is love. So the unified gospel message could simply be 'smile God loves you.' (Nevermind the fact that if you are not born again you will be cast into the pit by Him) The gospel so much more than a smile. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel, but preach it to those who reject it, not preach it with those who reject it.

thats my rant for the day.


transactions about prior blogs

The following is e-mail conversation with a friend about the previous 2 blogs.


I your most recent blog stated that we no longer possess a sinful nature. But in your 9-29-2005 blog, you write "The very prescence of God by His Spirit in the believers life is clearly evidence of grace and its purpose is the sanctification of the believer."

If we are already justified/regenerated/no longer possess a sinful nature, what needs to be sanctified.

It sounds like you are contradicting yourself.
(my response)
Sanctification is now natural. While rejection of God and moving further from Him was the nature of the old man, the nature of the new man is to draw near to God. Sanctification is not the changing of our nature, but submission to our nature which being redeemed is the nature of Christ. We still are disobedient, but we can no longer make the claim that disobedience is natural. I am not sure if that made sense or not. If any man be in Christ he is a new creation the old is passed away behold ALL things are become new. That 'all' is troubling if we still retain a sinful nature. Moreover if the work of Christ on the cross was complete and adequate how could we possibly being saved by Him still retain the sinful nature. I understand it is a difficult thing to grasp, and a very difficult thing to explain. At regeneration our nature is changed, the process of sanctification is not the reduction of sinful nature (that nature is gone) but the increase of our obdience and likness of Christ. That is a natural process in the believer and it is condusive to his regenerated nature. I would say that there is no contradiction between the most recent blog and the 9-29 blog. I am sure I contradict myself now and then on various things and I hope not to, but in this case I think I was consistent.

In Christ

So, what it sound like you are saying is the our disobedience is not our nature but an outright defiance of regenerated/justified nature.


I just want you to know that I am not wholy in disagreement but am rather posing what you may find a irritating questions to you help you look at the big picture. And I am not saying that I have a better view but maybe a different angle.
(my response)

That is pretty much what I am saying. The point that I try to hammer home on the blog, is that we cannot attribute our sin to our nature when we have been regenerated. Now as someone who has been regenerated and is not sinful (by nature) it is perfectly plausible for me or you to say "it is not I that sin, but sin that dwelleth in me, that is in my flesh." So in disobedience we give occaision to the flesh, and it always takes that occasion to produce sin. It is not our nature to do so, our nature being regenerated is to deny the flesh and to welcome the conviction of the spirit against our flesh. It is all about association, do we associate ourselves with the regenerated man and call the regenerated state our nature, or do we associate with the flesh of the old man and consider that our nature? In Christ we are a new creation, so I would say we are the new man, the flesh is simply present during this earthly life.


p.s. I plan on posting this dialog on the blog, I don't plan on including your name or anything like that, just the questions and answers. I think they have been very helpful in forcing me to articulate the position I hold to. Tell me if this is a problem.


What's our Nature

We who believe and have been granted faith are not depraved nor do we any longer possess a sinful nature.

I know that is a bold statement and it flies in the face of a lot of things we have been taught and believe, but before you reject this comment hear me out. Christ has saved us from sin. He has imputed his righteousness to us. He has replaced the old man with the new man. On that premise I would say that if we are still naturally sinful or depraved then the work of Christ was incomplete. I would be incomplete in the sense that it only has power over damnation and only brings us righteousness at the point of death. If we are still depraved then Christ merely helps to strengthen us, however if He has replaced our nature then Christ IS our strength. Now I have run these thoughts through my skull a lot before writing any of this, and I have thought of a lot of aspects of this truth and hopefully I will be convincing. I will go through the rebuttals to this that my mind generated There are six of them and they are as follows:

1.) We know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.
2.) We, though regenerated, still sin
3.) There is no one righteous
4.) Romans 7:14-15
5.) We still seem to have a natural attraction to sin
6.) Nobody is perfect / we cannot be perfect

Item 1— We know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.
This a very true statement and any believer surely can attest to the struggle with the desires of the flesh. In the epistle to the Romans Paul clearly outlines this struggle. In the naturally sinful depraved man there is no restraint to the flesh, nor should there be. It is unnatural for the unrighteous to starve the lusts of the flesh. Granted by guilt often the depraved and naturally sinful man will act against his flesh, but it certainly is not his nature to do so. On the other hand it is natural for the regenerated man to be at war with his flesh. My thesis is that a regenerated man is not naturally sinful nor depraved, if this is true the believer’s war against the flesh is a most natural thing. The natural desire of the believer is to NOT gratify the desires of the flesh. The flesh is a most unnatural thing to a believer.

Item 2 – We, though regenerated, still sin.
If we are righteous, why do we sin? Was Adam created good or evil? He was good, he was righteous and certainly no fallen. However by temptation Adam fell. Does that mean that he was not righteous prior to sin? No, it simply meansthat the righteous still may fall to temptation. Moreover if a righteous man is tempted does that make him sinful? If the flesh brings temptation does that imply sinfulness? No! we know Christ was tempted at all points yet he was and is righteous. This is one of the amazing facts of Christ. That he overcame all temptations. Moreover his righteousness has been imputed to us therefore it is possible that we can overcome temptation as well. Moreover it is natural for us to do so. I will address that shortly.

Item 3 -- There is no one righteous – no not one.
This statement is true with regards to all men, excluding the God-man, Christ Jesus. This statement though applies to man before he is converted. If we be in Christ we are a new creation, the old is passed away behold all things are become new. We have been recreated not with a righteousness of our own, but with the righteousness of Christ. We have been created wit hhis nature, we have not been recreated with the same depravity and sinful nature we once had. If we have been recreated and regenerated by God then our regenerated nature must be righteous and good. If we are still sinful by nature then God recreated us as sinful depraved creatures and the cross work of Christ wrought not for this present life, only deliverance from eternal damnation. I contest that Christ saves us in the present as well as the past and the future. Only acknowledging deliverance from hell we are neglecting so great a salvation. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

Item 4 – Romans 7:14-15 “For we know the law is spiritual, but I am carnal sold under sin, for that which I do I allow not: For what I would That do I not: But What I hate that I do.”
When initially recalling this passage and thinking about it I thought that it destroyed my whole premise. Here is Paul who is surely regenerated, yet he speaks as if he is naturally sinful, the exact opposite of what I am proposing. However when reading the context around this passage it becomes clear that Romans 7 does more to support my thesis than any other passage in scripture. Paul is writing specifically about how his flesh is completely unnatural to him. He no longer is naturally sinful, but he still resides in flesh which is inherently wicked. That fact that he is no longer naturally sinful allows him to say in verse 17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” It is clear that Paul is naturally righteous because when a person is converted they have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. This whole passage is Paul making it clear how unnatural the sinful flesh is to the regenerated man.

Item 5 -- 5.) We still seem to have a natural attraction to sin.
This is the masterpiece of Satan. We most certainly are not attracted to sin. We are tempted all the time and because we think we are naturally sinful or depraved we view being tempted as a sin. We then feel like defeated sinful rejects. Being tempted is not a sin!! Because your flesh tempts you to lash out at someone does not mean you sinned. Did Jesus sin because he was tempted by Satan? No! of course not, the temptation is not a sin. Sometimes we are so focused on sinfulness that we will attribute to ourselves sins we did not commit. We are guilty of all sin as the apostle James clearly states, but we have not committed all sin. It is false humility to attribute sin to yourself which you have not committed, moreover it is dishonest. There are enough sins we have actually committed to confess to, so there is no excuse to attribute sin to yourself because you were tempted. So if I am tempted to lust yet the word of God comes to my mind and holds my thoughts captive and my mind is not permitted to wander into concupiscence, should I then get on my knees and repent and plead forgiveness for being tempted to sin? No, I should be on my knees praising God for providing me with that one verse or pure thought that proved to be more powerful than temptation. If we attribute the total depravity of man to the regenerated man we will view everything as a sin. We by clinging to depravity reject the power of regeneration.

Item 6 -- Nobody is perfect / we cannot be perfect
This is true in the unregenerate state. Without Christ’s imputed righteousness perfection is impossible. By the law no flesh is justified. The law makes it clear that in our natural state we are fallen. But by faith we are created anew. Moreover Christ commands us, “Be ye perfect as my father in heaven is perfect.” Did he say this just to prove once again that we fall short? Not at all, the law did that. Christ brought new commands, “I tell you that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment.” He made these commands know full well that he would give us His righteousness, and that by his power they can actually be fulfilled. He did not say “be ye perfect” to condemn us. “Christ did not come to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.”

I conclude: We who are regenerated are not by nature (our new nature) sinful. We are no longer totally depraved. We now have the righteousness of Christ imparted to us so that by his work we may be made perfect. There is no reason to be defeated, just obedient to our new nature which is the nature of Christ.


More on Works

In my Oct 1 post I made a critcal wording blunder that changed the entire meaning of what I was intending to say. However, it has prompted me to think a little more about the subject and I will relay those thoughts here.

First the incorrectly worded statement read:

"Why is it that works are ingrained into our hearts and souls, and why is it that we never seem to be totally purged from them?"

I would have been better saying "Why is it that works based justification is so ingrained into our hearts and souls, and why is it that we never seem to be totally purged from that mentality." -- Had the first sentence of the post read that way the entire thing may have been more clear.

Anyway what I had improperly wrote got me thinking: The motivaton behind good works is the evidence of true Christianity. A Christian has no real motivation for good works, it is their natural inclination. Just as the non Christian has no real motivation to serve themselves it is simply their natural inclination. Now I understand that we do good works for the glory of God "that men may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven." It is as redeemed believers our natural desire to let our lights so shine before men. When we sin now we are acting against our new nature, that is the righteousness of Christ, for what is the no longer natural unrighteousness or fallen state that we once lived in. I know that some people are going to want to rip me on this post by saying that we are all fallen and it is still our nature to sin, but I think that scripture contradicts that. The scriptures do not speak at all about how we will continue in sin after regeneration (God forbid). Moreover the bible makes some very harsh and difficult sayings (like crucifying Christ afresh) concerning sin after conversion. My question is this: Did Christ not conquer sin, and deliver us not only from the punishment of sin, but from sin itself? Have we not received a new nature that is contrary to sin yet finds righteousness to be natural. I confess I still sin against my new nature, just as I used to do good against my old nature. Praise God that there is forgiveness for sin. But I will not insult Christ's imparted nature to me by saying that I still have fallen nature, and His death was not enough to conquer that. I am not being arrogant by saying that I do not have fallen nature, no it is humility to say that I am disobedient to the point of acting against my new nature of righteousness imparted by Christ.

So back to the last post. Good works are ingrained in us as believers. Christ's imparted righteousness have made good works a natural desire for the believer. This is why we cannot be justified by works, because we must first have the imparted righteousness of Christ to perform them with a pure heart. That imparted righteousness is a result of faith by grace not ourselves. Moreover the righteousness of Christ will cause us to bear good fruit, because it is our nature, just like an apple tree will naturally bear apples. We could say that faith without works is dead, because faith will naturally bear fruit, if there is no fruit then naturally their must be no faith.

Anyway I still have some others things I need to address concerning Arminianism, and why they aren't quite as far off as we think they are sometimes, and how maybe we could show them their simple flaws that reject the providence of God. I hope to get to it eventually.


Are we so foolish?

note: from Jay Miklovic -- This blog post was worded very poorly, the intent was to address the notion of works justification and sanctification, and how we fall back into a mentality that we must work to receive grace. I understand that it may have come accross that doing good works is bad. That is ridiculous, I will address this more clearly in the next post which should be later today. (Sorry for any confusion) I left the post in its orginal context below, just remeber when reading that when I mention works I am speaking or justification by works. --

Galatians 3:3
3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Why is it that works are ingrained into our hearts and souls, and why is it that we never seem to be totally purged from them? I read again Paul's epistle and it is so evident that too often I am just like the foolish Galatians. Don't we all fall back into the works mentality at some point or other? Think of when we find ourselves committing a sin that we were sure we had once repented of. We struggle and struggle and we question our faith, we question how genuine we were when we had repented in the first place. When this happens it seems that nine times out of ten we will then resort to works to alieviate our discomfort. For instance you sin and instantly you express the need to commit to reading your bible more, and praying more, and fasting, and whatever other good work you may think of. It is as if we try to work our way out of the sin we have committed. Are we so foolish? Were we not saved despite our sin, independent of our works? Yet being justified by faith only are we now going to try to work for the forgiveness of the rest of our sins? My question to anyone reading this is this: Are you trying to work your way out of a sin? Are you attempting to do works to make up for your unfaithfulness? Stop! It was by faith that you were justified, and it is now by faith that you are sanctified. Good works should be our desire as a result of justification at all times, regardless of past sin, but should never be thought of as a contribution to our justification.

There is a lot more that I want to talk about today, and maybe tonight or tommorrow I will get to it, but I am not sure. I have been given some pretty interesting insight that has allowed me to see a little more clearly the arguement between Calvinism and Arminianism, and I am not so sure that either side is totally aware of what the other side believes, and if they are I think there are somethings that both sides intentionally ignore or simply reject because they are more comfortable with their own system of belief.


Sanctifying Grace

In the previous I defended the existence of prevenient grace and also within the entry I made reference also to justifying and sanctifying grace as well. Surely the audience that reads these posts would fall mostly in the reformed, fundamentalist category, as do I. Moreover, most readers take issue with the Methodist church and moreover Wesleyan doctrines of grace. Wesley spoke of three types of grace, prevenient (prior to conversion), justifying (saving), and sactifying (post conversion). Methodism recognizes these three types of grace and I would argue that we (reformed/fundementalists) ought not to reject the existence of these types of grace simply because of our distast for works based theology. I will not go over what the last post said about prevenient grace, and I am going to skip justifying grace (saving grace) because we all agree on it, instead I will focus this entry on sanctifying grace.
Sanctifying grace is real, and it is very much different than prevenient grace and justifying grace. We have no biblical reason of which I am aware to reject the notion that God continues to dispense grace upon us out of His own pleasure after we are converted for the purpose of sanctifying us. If we reject the notion of sanctifying grace then we ourselves are guilty of works based religon, because our sanctification would not be the result of grace (a work of God) but a result of personal obedience wrought by our own will power. Moreover a rejection of santifying grace is a rejection of the presence of the Spirit in a believer's life. The very prescence of God by His Spirit in the believers life is clearly evidence of grace and its purpose is the sanctification of the believer.
I will leave this topic at that. There is no need for us to reject the notion of prevenient, justifying, or sanctifying grace just for the sake of rejecting it. It is more productive for us to embrace these forms a grace and use them to explain the perfect soveriegnty of the Lord to methodists.

Please comment if something needs added, or taken away.


Prevenient Grace

I find that most fundamentalist and reformed Christians seem to absolutely abhor the 'Arminian' or 'Wesleyan' doctrine of prevenient grace. I am still trying to figure out why. True, the conclusion which arminians draw from that doctrine is false, however the existance of prevenient grace cannot be denied. We clearly are by grace presented with the Gospel at various times in life, however until the Lord brings us to acceptance we reject that presentation. Still when the gospel is presented grace is most certainly present. Many people have experienced that grace and are in the pit right now because of their rejection of the grace that was then offered them. What was that grace? Certainly it was not saving or as they say 'justifying' grace. It did not save or justify anyone. Clearly it was not as the Weslyean would say 'sanctifying' grace because it sanctified no one. None the less it is by grace that a sinner hears the gospel whether he receives it or not. Therefore this grace that is experienced prior to conversion is rightly called prevenient grace.
Let's qualify this entry before it gets misconstrued. One by no means can or will be converted by prevenient grace, it is not our reaction to prevenient grace that saves us but the action of Christ alone that opens our eyes to this grace and thus what was prevenient grace becomes justifying grace. It is absolutly proud and puffed up to think that some how we meet Christ in the middle and he saves us. However it is a denial of the actions of God to say that there is no grace depensed to us prior to salvation. It was grace that kept me alive long enough to be saved, that grace was prevenient.
In the next post I will defend the doctrine of sanctifying grace because that too is a proper and just doctrine (also misconstrued). Before I close I want to again make it clear that I do not embrace the thought that by our own action in coming to Christ we are saved, it is only by His action that he brings us to acceptance of Him, there is no mutual work it is all His work for the Father's Glory.

Feel free to question or comment, or steer me staight if I am off topic.


so much is just show

I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night and it really got me thinking about various things. The conversation was about the war in iraq, my friend is very much against the war and against president bush, i don't plan on giving an oppinion here either way. The conversation turned to those little magnets that everyone sticks on there cars, you know the yellow ribbons that say "I support our troops." My question is how? I would say this, i don't support the troops. I support them in prayer, but as far as taking action by donations, or greeting them when they get home, or sending letters, or anything of that nature I have done nothing. For me to say I support the troops is simply a lie. it is my guess that about 90 or more percent of the people who have magnetic ribbons don't support the troops either. I would go even further and say that the people who are against the war (the normal people not the protestors) have a tendency to be doing more to support the troops than the rest of us.

Now we as christians know that the real battle is a spirtual one, and so many people wear their badges, be it their fish on the car or their cross, or their profession of faith, or their weekly worship attendence, we all stand up and say we support the cause of christ. We support the spread of the gospel, we support righteousness, we support morality, but too often we are just posers. it is easier to just say i support the troops, or i am a faithful christian, but we are totally lost and unregenerate if we are still willing to reside on the sidelines and take no action. If christ has wrought in us salvation, how then can we go on watching? when are we as a "christian nation" going to get at it, to get real? The truth is we are not a christian nation, and christianity as a whole in this nation is lukewarm, and lacks the passion and zeal that once characterized america a couple centuries ago. if i were to say i am not a part of the problem i would be a liar. i think i certainly do not follow christ with the energy which should characterize all who are called according to him. i will say this i am not going to post a ribbon to my chest and act as if i am this bold soldier of the gospel, oh i am a soldier of the lord, but too often i just lean on my gun.

that is all for tonight sorry if it was rantish or whiney.


so great a salvation

Recently I listened to a message by Paris Reidhead entitled "So Great a Salvation." It was possibly the best of all the sermons I have listened to on the sermonaudio site.

Too often we as Christians, and a fundamentalists, will look at salvation only as it pertains to deliverance from hell. We talk about when we got saved, and about getting people saved. It is a noble cause, and it is clear that the Lord certainly does want us to preach the gospel that souls may be saved, but salvation from hell is only a part of salvation as a whole. Jesus came to deliever us from our sinful nature that we may exhibit His righteousness here on earth. He died on the cross to conquer sin, not only to attone for it. Clearly we have a sinful nature, and we find ourselves all too often in sin, but on the cross Christ overcame that so that we would not live in bondage to sin right now. If we were purchased by His blood then we are His slaves today. We are to be slaves of righteousness now! There is so much more to Christ's work on the cross then we often attribute to it. Often times I think that we as fundamentalist will focus on God's hell, and preaching about God's hell, and warning people of hell, that we forget about the victory that Christ won for us here on earth. We need to warn of hell, no doubt, but I would go as far to say that we find comfort in preaching only salvation from hell, because we know we have received that. We are much slower to preach salvation from sin here on earth and deliverance from evil hear on earth, power over temptation here on earth, and displaying the righteousness of Christ here on earth. We are slow to preach these things because we know that we don't exhibit these aspects of salvation as we should. Oh it is an easy thing to preach brimstone, and it is an easy thing to know that Christ died to save you from hell, but too many Christians will be entering heaven by the skin of their teeth because they disregarded the salvation from sin here on earth.

I hope that all made sense I will be back again soon.


Righteousness is the glorfication of God

Deuteronomy 32:50-52
50 There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. 51 This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel."

Moses was denied access to Isreal's promised land, because he followed the command of God, but did not glorify God. When Israel was thirsty and whining that they had nothing to drink, Moses pleaded with the Lord. The Lord told Moses to strike a rock and water would come out. Moses struck the rock, water came out, and that was it. It was this series of events that denied Moses the access to the promised land. After striking the rock Moses in no way glorified the Lord, and I no way did he bless God for providing the flowing water. Though Moses was obedient, God was not ready to honor this work.

Let's contrast this series of events with that of Rahab the harlot, which happened just four chapters later in the bible. Rahab lied when questioned about the two spies who came to spy out the city. She gave them refuge. She was rewarded by the Lord for deception.

Does it seem right that Moses would be punished for and event in which he was obedient to the command, and that Rahab would be rewarded for her deception? Moreover, can these two events both be true and God still be just? These two events are real, and God certianly is just, but how? God desires to be glorified by men. His righteous law and the results of obedience to those laws should bring him glory. However we can obey His laws and glorify ourselves, or glorify no one. In this case we would be more pleasing to God to glorify Him in our disobedience. This is by no means a liscense to transgress God's law, as Paul would say, God forbid. However this is to say that in all things we must glorify God, or else in is meaningless and even punishable.

So what is the application of this. First and foremost we cannot be legalistic. Remember Moses was punished in obedience, and Rahab was rewarded in deception. We must recognize when someone or something is glorifying God, and view it in that light. If a certain action does glorify God though it doesn't fit within the scope of what we see as obedience we must then set aside our views and rejoice that God is glorified. However we must also see when obedience is not glorifying God, take for instance the rich young ruler, his obedience would not be rewarded though he had kept all the commandments from his childhood. The obedience that does not give glory to God is worthless. The roman catholic that does acts of obedience such as feeding the poor, helping the sick and so on will receive only punishment if the attribute any of that obedience to a saint, or Mary or anyone other than the Lord himself. This is not just a dig on Catholicism by any means, to often we glorify our programs, and our pastors, and our authors and everyone else but the Lord. It is only when the Lord is glorified that an action is truely righteous.

Well I hope I was on track with this post. If you have any insights, questions, comments or corrections please leave a comment or send and e-mail. I am sure there are typos, there always are, just fight through them.


Hiding in the shadows of knowledge

Our knowledge can never, and will never overshawdow our sin. To often we view Christian life as a mental ascension to a few essential truths. This is such an incomplete view of the life we are called to. I know this entry will seem really basic and kind of no-brainer but maybe it is something you and I need to stop and think about.

First of all Christian life does certainly involve some sort of mental ascension. The Lord takes your fallen mind, and your wicked way of thinking and turns it towards Him and his truth. It is His working in your heart and mind that cause this "mental ascension." On the flip side we often will take the knowledge we have obtained concerning Christ and His gospel and become puffed up in our own estimate, and actually hide behind the knowledge as if it is the knowledge itself that saves us. The knowledge of the Lord doesn't save us by any means, it is only His blood on the cross that will save us. If I sat at a train station and said "I know that train is going to Georgia" that knowledge unapplied will by no menas get me to Georgia. I could even go further as to have a knowledge of the entire rail system, and I could know everything about the locomotive, I could be devoted to watching it, and washing it and waving at it and calling it good, yet if I am not on the train no matter how much I know, I go nowhere.

To often we pursue new knowledge without ever putting an application to the knowledge we already have. Even worse is that we often in our hearts will devote all of our energy to the pursuit of scriptural knowledge so as too avoid the application of what we already know. I hear people write on the web about the hypostatic union of something or other, I confess I don't what they are talking about, but too many times these same people who have a vast abyss of knowledge haven't even taken time to talk to their neighbor. We will hide behind intellect or the quest for Godly knowledge as an excuse not to apply what we already know. For instance I have been in a park reading my bible and heard many people walk by, I do not even look up and say hi, let alone share with them what I have read. I hide in that bible so as to avoid obedience to the things I already know. I am not by any means against studying the scriptures to know them to the very core, it is a noble task that we all should engage in. My point is simply that knowledge unapplied is really no knowledge at all.

Lets come out from the shadows of the things we are seeking to understand, and lets not seek any deeper truth until we have applied the truth we already know.

Thats all for tonight


Stuck in the "Slough of despond..."

Despondent -- Feeling or showing extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression.

Slough -- A place of deep mud or mire.

If you have recently read John Buyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" you will surely remember the main character's encounter with the slough of despond. This was one of his first difficulties he experienced after setting out on his pilgramage. John Bunyan must have authored this from his own experience and I am sure each of us on our own pilgramages have at least at one time encountered the slough of despond. My question is why?

The apostle Paul encourages us with his espitle to the Phillipians to be joyful in all circumstances and he cleary had every right to command that to us. He being locked in prison was still able to avoid despondency and find joy in Christ. I wish we could just avoid that terrible slough but I find to often we find ourselves neck deep in the mud and mire and in danger of drowning in doubt and despair before we will even recognize that anything is wrong.

What is it that can keep us from wallowing in the mud of despondency? Is it not God's grace that destroys despondence and brings us complete contentment. God has freely given us grace according to His own purpose, and the fact that he has given us that grace leaves us with no rational reason to be despondent. Do you, despondent one, remember that grace which God has showered upon you? Can you see those pierced hands that prove the love of God toward you?

Too often the mud of that wicked slough has covered mine own eyes and I cannot see those nail pierced hands, and I cannot even be sure that they exist and at that point I am so near drowning that I fear there is no salvation from what surely awaits. However, when the Lord empowers that lsst breath to somehow form the cry "Abba, Father." At that moment the strong hand of the Lord plucks me out of the slough and rains His cleansing grace upon me to was the muck that covered my soul. The blood of the lamb purges me of the faithless filth the drove me into that slough and I rejoice. With vision restored and soul cleansed I am free again to serve the living God.

I need to go, but I will you this, call out to God to shower His grace, which we desprately need, upon us daily. This way we can will always see clearly enough to avoid the slough of despond. If the mud even starts to build on your eyes was no time walking further until your vision has been cleared.

That is all for today. Please comment if you have any thoughts.


What's the issue with fundamentalism

Most users of sermonaudio likely consider themselves fundamentalists, and it is a badge people seem to wear with pride. I too, wear the "fundamentalist" title but must admit I see some serious problems with Christian fundamentalism as it is exercised today. I will just outline 3 problems that plague most fundamental churches today.

1. The cheapening of Grace -- While in my estimate Deitrich Boenhoffer was off base on various theological issues there was one point that he hit dead on, that being the modern church has perverted what is free grace into being cheap grace. Too often fundamentalist churches reduce salvation to a sinners prayer, a pat on the back, and boom welcome to heaven. I don't doubt that this method is effective, certianly many Christians have said a prayer like that and I don't doubt they were saved at that point. However I also do not doubt that there are many people who have said that prayer and call themselves Christians that know nothing of the Lord, and have by no means been indwelt by His spirit. To often we who are reformed in our thinking and abhor the thought of trying to earn your way to heaven will go to the opposite extreme and speak of salvation like it is mearly a flame retardent suit that we put on when we say a certain prayer. Works are the evidence of saving faith and we can and must expect works out of Christians, else the evidence shows they are no Christian at all. Certainly we fundamentalists are dead on when we say that we are saved not by works but by grace and that no work is going to earn grace, but grace that yeilds no fruit is cheap, and is not grace at all.

2. Legalism -- Typically anyone who is not a fundamentalist, will make the claim that fundamental Christianity is legalistic. While ture fundamental Christianity is by no means legalistic the typical fundamentalism we see in today's "conservative" church is highly legalistic. In an effort to get rid of sacramentalism we have created our own legalism. We will reject everything which doesn't fit within our scope of Christianity and deem it heretical. For instance we take a 18 year old who is attempting to witness by writing music and turn around and tell them that the music they write comes straight from the pit of hell. C.H. Spurgeon (often the fundamentalist hero) said that he loves imprudence in a young believer. He loves when they will try anything to worship. (See sermon "Church Increase" I think) Yet the legalistic fundamentalism has successfully quenched many young peoples drive to serve God in a way that is real to them. The legalistic fundamentalist has no memory of the Lord's work in them. They forget who they were when they were young Christians attempting to worship the Lord.

3. Backlash -- I am not sure what else to call it. To often we fundamentalists will overcompensate when correcting errors in doctrine. For instance in rejection of the Catholic church's hyperveneration of Mary, fundamentalists often downplay the magnitude of her obedience, and her role in the life of Christ. In refuting Arminianism many fundamentalists will downplay the role of a John Wesley or George Whitfield and their role in the spiritual renewal in England.

Maybe it is time for us who claim to be fundimental to take a good hard look at ourselves, our sucesses in Christ, and our failures. It is long past time for many fundementalists to be zealous for Christ as opposed to fundamentalism as they know it.

Thats all for now.


Radical Islam

Is radical Islam really so wicked? I suppose if I were ever thinking about running for a government office the following entry would be used against me, because a lot of what I will say is going to sound awful if taken out of context. I have a few words of praise for the fundamental radical Islamic militants who blew up our trade centers and the pentagon as well as the crash in Pennsylvania, plus the recent bombings in London and Egypt. These people know what they believe, and they are willing to forsake everything to act upon this belief. This makes these terrorists admireable, in a twisted way. While we know as Christians that the perpetrators of radical fundemental Islam have a brutal eternity waiting for them I would be willing to say that the eternity of the life long church goer who has no relationship with the Lord will be far worse.

Revelation 3:16
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

In our society we are often pummeled with so much media and converstation that is all focus on making us see things in a certain light, and we too often let down our guard and begin to become the people the media is creating us to be. We see images of the aweful terror inflicted by hellbound Islamic militants and we end up with rage in our hearts. We build up all this pride in our country (not a bad thing) but that pride very quickly becomes self righteousness and we find ourselves dragged into sin by the work of suicide bombers. We don't see ourselves become rage filled self rightous people, but that is the result of suicide bombings, it is a masterpiece of satan.

Still I say that the peaceful false professor of Christianity is more of an abomination than the violent hate filled militant who blows himself and others up for the promotion of his demonic religon. How could anyone make the claim I just made. The radical militant does more to show the supremecy of Christ and glory of God than the hypocritical false professor. The death and destruction cause by "Allah" makes Jehovah's righteousness shine even brighter. It is like putting a diamond on a black cloth. The black backdrop makes the diamond to shine, so too does all the iniquity of the world committed by non-christians make the true righteousness of Christ shine. On the flip side while a professing Christian may only be a little black speck of iniquity in comparison to the vast cloth of the militant, that little speck as attached itself to the diamond. Instead of bringing Christ and his church glory as the black backdrop does, this false Christian taints what should be a spotless diamond.

Professors of Christianity who have no desire for the Lord and the things of God certainly have more of a negative impact on Christs church than the radical islamic militant. Is it more shameful that a militan would blow up 80 people, or that a unbelieving pastor would preach a gospel contrary to that of Christ and thus lead his congregation and their families to the pit, all while feeding the poor and doing community service.

I know this is a kind of brutal rant, but give me some feedback and leave a comment if you think I am of base or on track.


The State of Our Union

I made the comment in the last post about how an understanding of God's sovriegnty helps us to understand the state of our union, the condition of our nation. I have been thinking about this for awhile now and I have come to realize that we have been duped by the "religous right." Are we so foolish as to believe that we control the destiny of this nation. I remember hearing the rejoicing of Christians around the country when Bush was elected president, and I also was happy about it. Everyone said "God's man is in office." Duh, in this nation every president since George Washington was God's choice. The real test would have been rejoicing if John Kerry had been elected. Clearly if we see God's sovriegnty over government as meaning that he chooses the powers that be for his purposes then whomever gets put into office we should willingly accept because it is the will of God. This is why we must submit the the authorities that be, because they are the Lord's instruments of justice.

So this all begs the question, should we vote? Absolutely! Why? The Lord has given us an oppurtunity to take part in carrying out His will in a way that many people around the world don't get. It really is no different then questioning if we should preach considering those who will be saved are predestined to heaven. Of course we should preach, it is God's will that we be a part of His work of saving souls, and it is gracious of Him to give us the command to make disciples and to see the fruit of His work on the cross right before our eyes. What a blessing it is to be included and used in carrying out God's will.

Back to the "religous right" for one minute. This past election cycle the whole election seemed to hinge on the "moral majority." Afterwards you heard the liberals saying that the democratic party needed "born again" and that they need to seek their "Christian roots." In the mean time the republican party has basically stamped itself the party of God, and we are foolish if we ignore the level of corruption that exists on the right side of the isle as well as the left. After the last election the "religous right" has become puffed up, believing that their morality has earned them power. We know that power is given and taken away by the Lord based on His own desires not our claimed righteousness. I know I am ranting, but I get tired of the inconsistancy of fundementalists when it comes to government, if you are a fundamentalist you must also apply that to your view of the government, and somehow we all seem to be a little more pelagian and have a little higher view of our selves when November 2 rolls around.

Thats all, I quit for today.


Pharoah's Hard heart

Romans 9:18
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

I know I have been hit a little on election and predestination in the last post and it isn't my desire to keep hounding on this doctrine, but it is important that we take a look past just what predestination is. It is important that we make the mental ascension, or acknowledgement of God's sovriegn election because it is foundational to a true understanding of grace. Beyond this we must look at what application this doctrine has in our day to day life.

We all remember when the Lord used Moses to deliver His people from bondage. The Lord performed many signs and wonders and after each sign Pharoh would not respond righteously, as the scripture say the Lord hardened His heart. I know that when I read this story it is almost tiresome to read because Pharoh rejects the plea of Moses over and over and over again, and the Lord continually hardens Pharoh's heart. The Lord had predetermined Pharoh's actions for the purpose of His own glory and the deliverance of His people. What then by way of application can we garner from Moses and Pharoh.

1. Calm Reaction to the rejection of Christ's Gospel

We Christians too often feel the need to save souls and when witnessing and explaining the simple gospel will get frustrated at its rejection. Sometimes we wonder how people just cannot see the truth. Moses simply continued performing the tasks God gave him without questioning the Lord's intent. So are we called to witness and make disciples and to contine in doing so regardless of the results.

2. Understanding the state of our Union

I know this seems like an odd statement to make, but I think too often we sacrafice some of our basic Christian belief and behaviour by claiming some kind of allegiance to a politcal party or movement. I proper understanding of God's authority in Government would make us realize that he has His players in place for His purposes. Pharoh was ruthless to the Hebrews, but the Lord allowed it, in fact he intended it. Therefore when the talking heads of the moral majority say it is not God's will that Hillary be president so vote for so and so don't listen. God's will is going to be done, wether it is performed by the immoral or moral. The hardened, or softened.

3. Freedom from fear.

If God has called you His, and He is in complete control then neither death nor life nor angels nor demons... nothing at all can separate you from Him.

There are more which intend possibly to share later, but I have to go for now.


Election and why people reject it

I have been doing some thinking about predestination and God's sovriegnty. Looking at the scripture God's election and predestination seem to me to be an obvious doctrine. Why then do some, and even myself in the past choose to reject this doctrine?

Clearly if you take the doctrine of predestination to its logical conclusion you will begin to see that man has no power and that God has infinite power. You will begin to see that all things that have ever happened were forordained by the Lord. While this is a tough pill for human reasoning to swallow it is nonetheless the truth of scripture.

As humans our natural tendency is to reject a God that would act against our will, because we think "not God's will, but mine be done." We to often define fine God with our own human reasoning. We may say that God is love, therefore he would never let any perish, but we are putting our definition of love on God and therefore attempting to limit Him to human logic.

The sole reason people would ever reject any sort of predestination cannot be scripture, because the scripture clearly teaches otherwise. The sole reason is because people have the misconception that they have power and that God is merely a passive judge, and not an active player. He is in their eyes only active when they ask Him to be by prayer and petition.

I have to get back to work, maybe I will continue this later.


Back Again

It has been two weeks since my last post so I am well overdue. This past week my wife and I were on vacation, a mini honeymoon and it was excellent. Anyway onto what the Lord has taught me in these past few days.

Mark 10:21
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

When the bible speaks of love, especially when used as a verb it means to seek to do one good. You could replace "I love you" with "I seek to do you good." Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and loved him. He sought to do him good and proceeded to tell him to sell everything. We know that the ruler left feeling upset and unhappy. How often do we desire the blessings of God only to be met with a "sell everything" response?

I know that when the Lord convicts me of sin I can confess it and repent, or I can put off confession and repentance, or and this is where most believers struggle, I can confess but fail to repent. Now when you go to prayer and there is a nagging sin that is constantly entering your consciousness that is the Lord "seeking to do you good" and telling you to sell everything. The one thing that you know you must confess and repent of is the one thing that is keeping you from that communion with God. Don't mess around, confess and repent. I have found myself in this situation the past few weeks and my sin is regarding finances and honesty and I could not commune with the Lord until I confessed to him, and just as importantly repented and came clean. At the moment of repentance the consequences of the sin (which often are realized after repentance) were insignificant in comparison to the renewed communion with the Lord. The believer's desire must be comfort with the Lord and not with the world. In my case I clung to a sin that left my life comfortable yet it gradually destroyed my relationship with the Lord. The longer I put off repentance the harder my heart became and in turn I committed more and more sin.

Is the Lord "seeking to do you good" by convicting you of something you need to change in your life? If so immediate response to Him is necessary. Prolonging the response leaves you with a heart that is hardened to the things of God.


Television Filters??

I heard an advertisement on the radio yesterday for the local cable company and after about one minute of thought I found it to be beyond ridiculous. Buckeyecable system is now offering filtering controls so that parents can control what their children watch. Of course this feature is at an added cost. They must really be concerned about the impressionable minds of the toledo area children right? Dead wrong. This service is a product meant to make money, and the key to selling any product is to create demand for it. What is the only way to create demand for a product that filters morally offensive material. That is to create morally offensive material. Now I understand that internet filters are legit because of the vast material already existing on the web, but cable systems already control all the content that is fed through the cable meaning that they send you the channels (and charge you for them) and then make you pay to filter them. The whole time this goes on the average unsuspecting persons views the cable system as taking a step to combat the moral decline of the area's children. Cancel the cable, read you bible, pick up a book, go help someone, anything.


The Hinge of Love

I have heard people tell me that the scripture is all about love. The have told me that the christian life is all about love. I could not agree with them more. A quick reading of 1 John 4 gives you a good overview of the importance of and essence of love. The two great commandments that sum up the rest of the commandments are to love. Love God, and love your
neighbor. When the hit song said "All you need is love" it was correct. Love is the very essence of God, as John wrote; "God is love." This doesn't mean that love is God, but that is a topic for another time. All love that is real and Godly hinges on Christ. The word tells us "That we love because Christ first loved us." Now we know that God loves us
because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, the ungodly. Any love that is outside of Christ is a mockery of true Godly love. Think of when Christ first called His disciples, he dashed into peices their former view of love. When one wanted to bury his beloved father, Christ said let the dead bury their own dead. He redefined love for that disciple. Or when Jesus said if you don't hate your family you are not worthy to follow me, he redifined love to His hearers. Christ put our former view of love in its place. Our first love must be Christ! It is then that we will be capable of loving our family with a true godly love. If our first love is Christ, then it will be natural to love our enemies. If we forsake our wives, husbands, children, parents, and friends for Christ, then the ultimate love will dwell in us. Then we will be able to dispense that love back to those whom we once thought to be number 1 in our lives. If our first love is Christ then the ultimate love dwells in us. Any love outside of Christ is not born of God. Any good we seek to do for someone that is not fueled by the love of Christ certainly has a form of Godliness, but it denies the power thereof. False religons that will not accept the work of Christ on the cross, God's ultimate dispensation of love, only make a mockery of true love because the deny the very source of it. Ghandi did clearly have a form of Godliness, but in denying Christ, he denied the power thereof. It was a man centered humanistic love, and if you look at his work today you will see that the only one who was glorified by his work was himself. We hear of how great he (Ghandi) was. Now when I think of Martin Luther King whose work was centered in Christ, on the basis of scripture, that all people are of one blood, I think of a glorious work that God did in this country. MLK was merely his servant. Of course our textbooks today do plenty to glorify MLK without acknowledging God, but as Christians we know better. So in conclusion, love is the very essence of God's existence, and that love is only manifest in Christ and ultimately in His willing death on the cross. If one denies the magnitude and nescessity of that action, clearly they do not recognize the love from God, the only true love.


Lay it Down

Oswald made an excellent point in todays devotion, that is that it is more difficult to lay your life down for Christ, than to die for Him. Think about it.

Just Starting

Thanks for visiting my blog, I plan on adding an entry every few days, please come back often to see what is new. Feel free to comment. The entry from June 8 is a little bit long and was a message that was prepared for a worship service, typically they will be much shorter than that (I hope).

The Rent Veil

The Rent Veil
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:50-51
50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (KJV)
What does rent in twain mean?

The NIV reads:

Matthew 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

Rent in twain in modern English simply means torn in two. It is important that you make a mental note of that. Rent in twain, torn in two. Rent in twain, torn in two. Rent in twain----- you know.

Why is the tearing of the veil important? Maybe an even better question to ask would be; is the tearing of the veil important? From what we just read we know that Matthew wrote: 50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; But Mark also wrote: 37And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And moreover Luke wrote: 45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

God inspired three of the four gospel writers to record the fact that at the moment of Jesus’ death the veil of the temple was physically torn into two pieces. This tells us two things. First; the tearing of the veil actually happened! As Christians we believe the miracles described in scripture to be true and this certainly is one of those miracles. Second; Due to the three times it is mentioned God clearly wanted us to take note of it. It is important!

The tearing of the veil is important, why is it important. The veil was just a curtain, and a torn veil is just a torn curtain. This curtain, this veil, was not some ordinary curtain. The veil of the temple was the one thing that separated the most holy place, from the rest of the temple. The most holy place was and is the place where God’s glory resides, and where man can find mercy and forgiveness. The ritual of the temple as God had commanded to Moses was basically as follows: Once a year the high priest would enter into the most holy place with the blood of a perfect lamb without blemish, he would offer it to God as a sacrifice for all the sin of Israel. This entering could only happen once a year, and only the high priest could enter the most holy place. Nobody else would dare enter into that room for fear of death, and the high priest himself would never dare enter that room without the blood of a perfect spotless lamb for fear of their life. There also was a series of rituals the high priest must perform before considering entering the most holy place. These rituals were essential for the priest to enter the most holy place.

But now – Behold the veil was rent in twain from top to bottom! What can this mean? This is the gospel climax! Behold the veil no longer separates you from that most holy place! You no longer need to wait for a priest once a year to make an offering for your sins so that you may be forgiven. No more secrecy, no more questions about that holy place, the veil is rent in twain and access therein is freely granted to all.

As the veil was rent, so too was the priesthood itself rent, destroyed and made obsolete. No longer does anyone have to have a human mediate for them. Nobody must burn incense for you, and there is no human priest by which you must confess sin. The veil is torn in two confess to God himself!! The veil is rent, He is now in the open and willing to offer forgiveness and mercy. No longer must you stand up, sit down, kneel, and recite readings to be forgiven. There are no hand motions or rituals required. Ritualism along with the veil were torn. Now that the veil is torn all that is required is for you to walk through it and enter this most holy place.

You must walk through the veil to enter the holy place. Where is the veil, or what is the veil, how do I find it to walk through it. Hebrews 10:19-20 reads: “19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Christ is the veil Rent on the cross the cross that through him we might enter into the most holy place and commune with God the father himself. I beg you now, if you have not yet walked through that veil, and by Christ entered into that most holy place please listen ever so closely to the rest of this message.

Christ is the rent veil. If you want to see that most holy place, if you truly want to see God’s glory you must peer through the rent veil. You must view God through the veil, Christ our Lord rent on the cross, if you ever plan on seeing God’s glory. It is only through Him, that we truly see the God of forgiveness, the God who is love, the merciful and true God. If you want to see God the only way is Christ! True, you may see a fragment of God’s glory in creation, or in the eyes of a child, but if you want to see God’s true glory and beauty the only place you will ever find it is through Christ who is the veil rent by God the father himself that you might see God. Praise God through Christ that we now have access to His throne.
Behold… Look… Witness the veil is torn in two. This is, it must be, the greatest news this earth has known. Jesus said He is the way, he said he is the door, and the word says that he is the rent veil. This is no doubt great news for those who walk through that veil, those who have accepted Christ as their Lord. On a more solemn note though, the rent veil leaves no one with excuse. There are far too many people, I am sure even some who are in our midst this evening who have refused to walk through the veil. Ah, they peak inside, and they marvel at the veil and Christ crucified, but they refuse to enter into that most holy place. To drop all and trust Him.

I am sure everyone remembers hearing about when Moses stuck his rod in the sand and God parted the Red Sea. The entire sea was rent in twain with walls of water on both sides. Israel fled through that Red Sea to safety and eventually to God’s promised land. Pharaoh’s army was hot in pursuit ready to slaughter God’s people. What if they had refused to flee through the torn Red Sea? Surely they would have been slaughtered. Do you also remember when God parted the Jordan? The Jordan also was rent in twain and had Israel not passed through the torn Jordan they never would have entered the land God had promised them.

We must then recognize that God was truly gracious to his people by providing them with a way to escape wrath, and a way to enter his promised land. Israel had no other way to freedom but by the Red Sea, and the river Jordan. Just as Pharaoh’s army chased Israel, so does Satan chase men and women seeking to slaughter them. Just as the sea was rent, so is the veil rent, that is Christ crucified, that we may receive safe passage. It is a frightful thought of what would have transpired had Israel not passed through the Red Sea, so also is it a frightful thought of what happens to men and women who do not accept God’s offer of salvation through Christ our Lord, the veil rent on the cross for our sake. I know it is not popular to say that he is the only way, but His word makes this perfectly clear. Oh, how I wish all would have their eyes opened and accept Christ and pass through the veil into the most holy place. The gift of salvation is free. It is not as if Christians are so bigoted to hoard this gift to themselves, this is not the case. God does not say that Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus are not allowed into the most holy place. No! He invites them to come in as well through the rent veil, Christ. By accepting Christ any man woman or child may enter into eternal fellowship with God. Unfortunately many will die never walking through that rent veil, never accepting Christ. Just as the Red Sea crashed in after Israel had passed through, so to does that veil close after people take their last breath. Believers wake up! Do you assume that all who posses some sort of spirituality will enter that most holy place. Will you not point everyone you can in the direction of the cross, and Christ the only entrance into that most holy place. Or will you sit back a pretend that there are other points of entry to the most holy place. If that is what you say, if you say there are many ways to God’s prescence, then friends what you are saying is that the veil was rent in not in twain, but in vain. Christ did not need to die if there is another way! If you believe that there are other ways then you are denying the magnitude of the most precious gift ever given, and blaspheming the very work of Christ on Calvary’s cross. Friend I urge you point all to Christ, assume nobody is saved until you have fellowshipped with them in that most holy place.
I apologize that this comes off as fire and brimstone, but it is the simple truth of the scriptures. Open them for yourselves and you will find the same thing. The good news is that through Christ God saves people… saves them from what??? Pain, suffering, and trauma, no scripture promises that.

Don’t open your bible and subject it to your feelings and intellect and twist its words until you are comfortable with them. Instead of changing the bible, open your heart, your feelings and your intellect and subject them to the bible, and let God change you. Christ is the rent veil, and it is essential according to His word that all pass through Him. Is it too much tonight, or on a Sunday morning to ask the person sitting next to you if they are saved, or if they trust in Jesus? Anyone who believes would love to have that question asked them because they can answer with a resounding “Yes!” Then he or she and the questioner can enjoy fellowship together in Christ. It is always a wonderful event when two previously unacquainted Christians meet for the first time. Many who have not accepted Christ are simply waiting to be asked, and in that case you may be God’s vessel of salvation to that person, and what an amazing experience that is. Then there is the person who refuses all together to believe and tells you “No and I desire not to believe” even that person will go home feeling different because the question was posed directly to him, and surely your words will ring in his ears until at some point he comes to grips with Christ the rent veil.

So here we are today June 8, 2005. We are here to worship God, to express our love for Him, and our devotion to Him. It is a beautiful thing when God’s People come into this place to worship Him. We must realize that true worship from the heart can only happen within that most holy place. In the most holy place, inside the veil, we cannot fathom words to express our worship. We sing “Amazing grace how sweet the sound…” but somehow we feel those words to be inadequate to express our joy. We sing “Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing, power and majesty praise to the King,” but our mouth cannot form words to express what our heart desires to speak. Some of us will clap our hands together simply to attempt to put into physical motion the praise that exists in our hearts. Still even this gesture we find inadequate to express our praise. Oh if we could just praise and glorify God as our heart desires. This is true worship, when we grasp at any song or any word or any motion that would bring Him glory. It is worship when we hear His word and we accept the force of His truth, oh and our hearts rejoice in Christ the veil rent for our forgiveness. Oh the true heart worship hears what the world would consider an awful church solo as a beautiful display of a believer attempting with all their heart to praise God.

There is another type of worship that goes on, if I dare call it worship at all. I hope and pray that you are not someone who worships in this way. As a young child and all the way through the end of my high school years this is the way I worshipped. Too many people in too many churches and I am afraid even here at Maumee United Methodist worship from outside the veil. They may peer inside the veil and see what those in the most holy place are doing and duplicate it. They hear the worship music and it is pleasing to their ear so they sing along. They show up to worship so that they may be lifted up to face their week. Worship to these people is not at all about Christ and Him crucified it is about entertainment, singing songs, and being merry. They may sing “Rock of ages, Jesus is the Rock” and it feels good to sing, but they have no intention of building their lives on that rock. How many people arrive weekly at church and sing, and give, and recite prayer and tie knots in quilts, yet never give real thought to Christ the veil rent on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. When I was in high school I came here on Thursday night services and I sang along and it felt good to sing along. It was the same feeling as when you are at a concert and your favorite band is playing your favorite song. Later I found that I could duplicate that feeling by singing along to the vile songs of secular radio. Worship from outside the veil loves the song, worship from inside the veil loves the Lord. Please do not misunderstand me I do cherish certain songs, like Amazing Grace, Great is thy Faithfulness, and many of the songs Fountain of Truth plays, but that is because they provide a means of attempting to glorify God. Why did you come here tonight? Was it to be picked up? Or because the second Wednesday of every month is another opportunity for you to lift Him up?

This brings us to our last point before we conclude. The veil was torn in two from the top to the bottom. This is not a partially torn veil, it is torn in two with a great opening for all to walk through. If it had only partially torn the new may only have been able to peak in. We would merely dabble in Christianity but never be expected to give our entire life to God. This is not the case though. The veil is rent in twain, torn in two from top to bottom. Nothing my friends absolutely nothing can keep you from walking through that veil. The only thing that can make you refuse to give your life to Him is you own self. No sin of yours is too great, no earthly attachment is too strong, no! There is nothing that can keep you out of that most holy place. You say but, but, but… you do not know what I have done. Oh but you must think of what He has done for you. Christ the veil was torn on the cross for all sin, surely no matter what you have done it is not beyond what the Son of God has done to atone for it. You can accept Christ as your entry into that most holy place and I pray that you will. Please do this.

This message is not just for those outside the veil, Christian this message has something for you too. We talked about worshipping in the most holy place, and you may have sat in your pew and thought he is speaking about a form of worship from the heart that I am not experiencing. Brother, sister, I know that you trust Jesus but what is holding you back from that deep heart worship. Friend look to the rent veil. Think of Christ crucified on your behalf, think of the father that raised him from the dead. Behold the veil is rent and you may enter the most holy place. Have these thoughts on your mind and your heart will be free to worship from the very depths of your being. I know there are times when we all fail to worship Christ as we should, but focus on what he has done, and soon you will not be able to do anything but worship from the depths of your being.
I know there are other Christians here who are backslidden. Believers whose lives are falling away from Christ. Backslidden brothers and sisters behold Christ torn on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. He has done the work accept His forgiveness for your backsliding and waste no time by beating yourself up. The veil is rent that you may have fellowship with God, not that you may bear the guilt of all your sin.

I also know that there are Christians who entered this place tonight who are currently living in that divine uninterrupted fellowship with our Lord. Praise God for that. That is place we all desire to be and be thankful that you are there right now. Praise God that you have been drawn through that rent veil into fellowship with God the father.

Finally for those outside the veil, Pharaoh and his army are hot in pursuit, and the red sea stands rent before you, will you flee the coming wrath? The veil is torn, and by confessing with your mouth to someone that Jesus is your Lord, and believing in your heart that God the father raised Him from the dead you will be saved. God awaits do not be too proud or too ashamed, just accept Christ as Lord. Christ Said he is the way, go that way, he said he is the door, run through that door. If you have been touched by the Lord this evening please seek someone out after this service to talk to about it. I will be here and so will others as God’s servants to you. Make this decision and experience worship from inside the veil.

50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (KJV)