One of the most divisive doctrines that is debated here on Sermon Audio, and in other argumentative circles is that of eternal security, or, the concept of ‘once saved always saved’.
Everyone who debates this doctrine seems to believe that it is incredibly important, and even foundational to the Christian faith. However it seems that most of the debaters from both sides miss the point. My position on this issue will not be revealed on this post, or maybe on any because is does not need to be. This debate only confuses the real issue at hand, and draws people away from dealing with it.
The issue is sin. Do believers sin? How much sin is tolerable before one may lose his or her salvation? If a believer cannot lose their salvation is it a license to sin? Can someone stop sinning?
The OSAS position is often a defeatist position. Most (not all) OSAS believer’s belief rests heavily on notion that man will always continue in sin and that God does not save a man from sin in the present but instead leaves a man in sin so that man will always be in need of grace. This salvation then becomes only salvation with regards to eternity, but has little value in the present. The view is that man is perpetually a sinner and ultimately man’s sinfulness is uncorrectable. What a pathetic God those who hold this view serve. Think about it, they have a Christ who did not conquer sin, but only paid the price for it. Their Christ had no need of resurrection; He did His job on the tree and could have left it there. This perpetual sinner view intentionally denies a multitude of scriptures or explains them away using other texts out of their context.
Some OSAS people recognize this issue, and take the position that God’s salvation is a continual thing and that in all true believers He will continue a work of sanctification throughout their life and finish it after their death. With this position, they would say if there is no evidence of continual sanctification, then there is no evidence of salvation. This position believes that God is working sanctification (present tense salvation from sin) in all His children, and He will hold them to this. In other words God will complete the good work which He started. This non-defeatist position assumes that man receives more and more power over sin from the Lord and that man will continue to walk in more and more victory over sin, and that ultimately man after salvation is not a sinner by nature, but instead naturally pursues more and more righteousness by the grace of God.
The non-OSAS position brings a whole different set of issues to the table. The non-OSAS position is usually (not always) an arrogant position. Why is it arrogant? Because you must do something to remain saved, and it is an arrogant denial of grace to believe that people can keep themselves saved, by their own righteousness. The non-OSAS position typically boils down to a salvation dependent on the righteousness of the individual as opposed to Christ. Somehow adherents to the arrogant non-OSAS position feel inclined to believe that by maintaining some standard they can remain in God’s grace, but the unbiased onlooker can quickly point out that God’s grace ceases to be grace if there is a standard that must be maintained. Can you see why the position is arrogant? Is there enough good in any of us to maintain our salvation?
Some non-OSAS people understand this issue. They take the position similar to the OSAS people who view salvation as continual, they recognize that it is only grace that will keep them from sin, and in salvation. Their position differs from that of OSAS in the belief that they while accepting that grace initially, still maintain the ability to reject that grace at a later time. Nonetheless it is entirely of grace that they credit their salvation and rightly so. Some OSAS people, especially the defeatist type will look at the thought of being able to deny God’s grace as a rejection of the very existence of grace. That is extreme, in there goal to have a ‘high view’ of God they go so far as denying human accountability, which is to deny much of scripture. There ‘high view’ really is nothing more than the only way they can get all the bible to fit into some ‘systematic theology’ that they can understand.
So who is right? Who is wrong?
The OSAS defeatist position is dead wrong, and that is the position of a good chunk, if not a majority of the OSAS people who are debating in the various forums I have seen.
The non-OSAS arrogant position is dead wrong, to think that by their own merits they may stay in God’s grace is foolish. This is the position of a good chunk, if not a majority of the non-OSAS people who are debating in the various forums I have seen.
The OSAS and non-OSAS people who have a handle on the sinfulness of man, and also the power of God to deliver man from sin in the present tense disagree on one thing, and that is whether or not a man can reject grace. These two groups spend a lot less time debating OSAS with each other, and have very little trouble fellowshipping with each other. Spurgeon, Reidhead, Ravenhill, Ducan Campbell, Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and so on fell on various sides of this issue but each of these men fellowshipped with those opposed to their theology on this point of OSAS.
Well that was a long dry post, and I do not know if it accomplished anything, in fact I am hesitant to even publish it because it has no bite. Hopefully it helps someone, and ultimately pleases the Lord.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
It is popular for the evangelist to say “There is room at the cross for you” and what they mean is that grace is available to all. What they mean when they this is true, certainly grace is available to all; however there is NOT room AT the cross for you. As Leonard Ravenhill said, “There IS room ON the cross for you.” There is not room at the cross for you, there is room on the cross for you! Now certainly there is no room on the cross for you to pay for your sins, the Lord has done that, but you are welcomed, even required to climb up on that cross as a living sacrifice holy, and acceptable to God.
In this day of “Best Life Now” Christianity, this notion of self-sacrifice is nearly gone. The thought of laying our own lives and temporal desires down for Christ is viewed as mere fanaticism by most of the Church so called today. Of course we are afraid to push sacrifice on our congregations, for a few reasons. The first being that maybe we ourselves are not walking this world as a living sacrifice. How can we exhort a people to live as a sacrifice, counting their lives as nothing, when we ourselves are not living in that realm? The next reason is numbers, we want to see the body of Christ grow, and that is a good and noble thing to desire. In fact we should not be opposed to, and should be fast to embrace ‘Church (capital C) growth’ but we should loathe simple strategies that are designed only for congregation growth or ‘church’ (small c) growth. There is a big difference.
This life of faith that we believers in Christ are called to live is not one of glamour, but of humility. It is not a life a grandeur, but a life of lowliness. This life is not one of self help, but self abasement. This is not a life of becoming all you can be, but becoming nothing that He may be all in all. This life is not yours, you have been bought at a price. That cross is not something that happened long ago, but it is yours to climb on today. When you are on that cross you are as good as dead, and your life is nothing to you.
Is this a morbid message of death, and some downer of a life? No! Death is the ultimate freedom, and you are free to enjoy its benefits while you yet breathe. Do you care what you look like on the cross? No you are free from that, you are dead! Does the car you drive matter on the cross? No you are free from that. Does your retirement plan matter, your house, your insurance, so on and so forth, no! You are free from slavery to everything in this world the moment you cast yourself on the cross. The moment you count your life lost is the moment you enter into the blessed freedom of Christianity. Listen; before anyone casts a stone, insurance, cars, homes, and retirement are not sinful things. They are good things, useful things, but if we indeed living sacrifices, and dead to the world, then these items have no control over us, and must not be a source of worry, or discontentment to us. They are mere benefits, but they matter very little when you are on that cross.
You do not have a nice home; do you not have a mansion in paradise? You do not have retirement; do you not have an eternal reward to go home to? You do not have the perfect family; are you not going to be forever with the father and your older brother Jesus? You car is junk; will that matter when walking on streets of gold? You are not beautiful; will that matter when staring into His perfect beauty? You are tired and worn out; do you not know that eternal rest is coming?
Do you believe the promises of God concerning the life to come? Do you? Because the things of this earth become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace, and death to self and to this world should be a natural thing in our lives considering who He is, and what He has prepared for us.
Come, there is plenty of room…
ON the cross for you.
Behold I stand at the door and knock-
This is a passage used so often for evangelism, but it is not used by the revelator in that way at all. In fact while this verse seems to be such a happy verse, such an offer of pardon, and such a display of mercy, instead it must be seen as one of the saddest passages in all of the scriptures.
Revelation 3:14-22 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot: ‘So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Because you say; “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
‘Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Behold I stand at the door and knock...
This has to be one of the saddest passages in all of scripture. Back when the Lord led Israel out of Egypt with a great deliverance of power, it was only one short generation later that Israel fell flat on their face and forsook the Lord. We read that account and it breaks our hearts. However that is not near the travesty we see with the Laodicean Church. It was only one short generation after the death and resurrection of our Lord and His deliverance from sin a death that we see this Church falling into a lukewarm state. It is unthinkable that a generation after that amazing outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost the Church would be lukewarm without any zeal. It really is unthinkable, but nonetheless that is the case. We see in Revelation 3:14-19 an explanation of what is happening at Laodicea and an exhortation to buy refined gold. This whole passage up to verse 20 is a total rebuke of the Church in Laodicea, a very brash railing against it. Then we come to the famous words of verse 20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Why in the world would the Lord have to make this offer to a church? Remember this message is to the CHURCH in Laodicea. This is not an evangelistic verse, this is written to the Church, not to the pagan. This is written to you and to I if we are lukewarm, to our church if it indeed is lukewarm. Behold I stand at the door and knock.
To paraphrase this whole passage: Church, you have your own thing, but I am not in it! Look! I am standing at the door and knocking, if someone lets Me in, I will come in indeed, and I will dine with you and you with Me.
This verse is a rebuke, not an evangelistic outreach verse! He is not standing at the door of a person’s heart lightly knocking and just begging them and patiently waiting for them to let Him in. He is standing at the door of the Church, and pounding, waiting for someone to take Him in, and take Him seriously.
What then is our response? Too often I hear so many people complaining about the lukewarm temperature of the church, and it is possibly a valid complaint, but they do not recognize the call of Revelation 3:20. If the Church is lukewarm then you and I are to blame, not everyone else. IF ANYONE HEARS MY VOICE AND LETS ME IN, THEN I WILL COME IN. The issue may very well be that the whole ‘Church’ around you is lukewarm and surely if that is the case then the Lord is standing at the door of your church and knocking, will you be the one to let Him in? See this verse is not about everyone else, it is about you.
Now for the pragmatic, how do you let Him in? Is your life a life of purity that is a rebuke to the unpure? Are your habits and actions leading toward holiness, and causing discomfort to the unholy. Are you so bathed in prayer and the word that each day you leave your home and enter the world with the power of God upon you? He is Lord, if you want to let Him in, you have to be willing that He take over. Maybe the issue at your church is that you have not opened the door. Maybe the reason the fire of God has not fallen on my church is because I have not opened the door. Behold He stands at the door and knocks, and He is not knocking at an unbeliever’s heart, but He is knocking at your Church door, and waiting for YOU to let Him in.
Those who are living in Christ spend far less time complaining about everyone else, and instead spend their time exhorting, reproving, and rebuking in love. They are honestly active in the conversion of souls, and seeking the lost. They make honest efforts to encourage believers, and spurn them on to higher living, and they gratefully receive reproof and rebuke as well. That is how it is done, not by pointing that big fat ugly finger at everyone and telling them they are lukewarm. You and I are the ones who need to open the door and let in the knocking Jesus.
“If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.”
The other big verse used is the one in revelation at the end of the message to the church at Laodicea “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man…” you know the rest.
Now I am not against using these verses in evangelism, in fact I think that both of these verses have some very powerful truth contain in them, and both have tremendous messages of grace, and of pardon. The problem we run into is that we do not look at the historical context of either of these verses, especially Romans 10:9. I will be focusing on that passage in this post, and hopefully the Revelation passage in the next. Historical context is an odd thing, and people only seem to use it when it is convenient to the points they are trying to make, and they will quickly ignore it when it proves to be a thorn in the side of their argument or theology. The evangelical fundamentalist will often ignore the historical context of Romans 10:9 to make a new convert. This verse taken at face value makes salvation a terribly easy thing. If I say to someone “Jesus is Lord” and I believe it, well everything is AOK for me, right? Wrong. Understand that this letter of Paul to the Romans was written to a persecuted people. People who were risking their very lives any time they confessed the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To confess “Jesus is Lord” was no small thing in that day. You counted your life nothing and risked it all to make that precious confession. Today we are more worried about how we can do evangelism without losing any friends. Can you imagine in that day if your best friend got converted, and you were not, and you were out in the marked place with them and a guard walked by and said “Caesar is Lord!” and as everyone repeated it your friend stood silent. We would think, “Just say it man, your gonna get yourself killed, plus you are embarrassing me, why can you not just go along with it?” Then the guard comes up to your friend and says it again, at that point you would get real nervous, just hoping he wouldn’t say those pathetic (in the unconverted eyes) three words, but out of his mouth with trembling lips comes: “Jesus is Lord!.” That is it, the guard gives one more opportunity to say Caesar is Lord, and your friend says no! Jesus is Lord and it is all over, off to prison or executed on the spot.
Now what about us? We are afraid to be a little embarrassed, so we avoid confessing the name, that is unless we are in a place where that is normal like Church. Our entire lives should be a confession that Jesus is Lord, whether it causes us ridicule or not. If our confession that Jesus is Lord has never made us vulnerable or uncomfortable, then maybe our confession is not worthy of the confession explained in Romans 10:9.
((Just a thought, I really have to get going. Sorry about any typos))
We can glance over these verses and sure they sound nice, and we think that it is great that Jesus has released us from captivity but lets get on to the next thing. We would rather get on to some healing, exorcisms, raising the dead, and parables. Yes, we are thankful for the release, but let’s find out what else Jesus will say?
A preacher once said, “You do not usually rejoice at the sound of keys jingling, that is unless you are in a dungeon where you have been locked.” See it is about perspective. Often times hellfire preachers get such a bad wrap because they seem to heap condemnation upon condemnation upon the heads of their hearers and some of them should receive a bad wrap. You are not to condemn men and get pleasure and a rush of power and some sort of ego trip from it. However on the flip side nobody will ever hear the beauty of the jingling keys until they realize they are living in the dungeon. There is a place for that sort of hellfire preaching, and there is a place for that sort of writing. Sometimes as a preacher, or a writer you need to turn on a light so that people can see they are in a dungeon, and when they see what is around them it is terrible thing. We spend time preaching freedom to those who have no reality of the fact that they are in bondage. We present freedom, and they do not see freedom as a necessity, but as something they can add to their lives. In our quest for the biggest church with the most prolific ministries we forgo showing the people the dungeon in which they live. Instead we try to make the dungeon more bearable. There is a reason the Church in America is subpar, it is because the preaching is subpar. We do not preach release to the captives, and if we do they do not understand it, because they know not that they are in captivity.
What is this captivity? Sin. Do we not realize that Jesus died to set us free from sin? We better not preach sinless perfection, right? Well I agree, and I think sinfulness is in the very fabric of who we are, but everyone agrees to that. What people have a hard time agreeing with is when you tell them that you are free from sin. However that is just what Jesus came to do, free us from sin. If you are not free from sin, then you are not free at all, in fact you are lost. You are in captivity, bondage, and you have chosen to serve a hard master, one who is never satisfied. Freedom from sin is not perfection, but it is a hatred for sin and a longing for righteousness that occurs not only in your mind, but plays itself out in your life. Can a Christian fall into habitual sin? Yes, but he or she cannot and will not stay there, and while they are there they will be miserable. Why the misery, because they have tasted freedom, and have found themselves again in bondage. You see you cannot serve two masters, you will love one and hate the other, when we serve sin we are in bondage to it, and with our actions we hate God. Sin is so much more sinful than we often realize, and its bondage is so much more real than we give credit. We just want to say a little prayer ask Jesus to come in and get on with our life. Do you really want a comfortable captivity, instead of a pure freedom.
I will it at that, I hope this all made sense, sometimes I run in circles.
((I hope to post soon on confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart, it has a lot to do with this))
Look at these words of Jesus from Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” What a scandal! Do you realize that the Pharisees and the scribes had already set themselves apart for service to God? That these men had memorized the scriptures carried out the commandments, they had performed, or at least attempted to perform the temple worship as prescribed in the law. Then our Lord comes eats with sinners and tax collectors, and has the audacity to tell these scribes and Pharisees I have called these sinners to repentance, I have not come to call you!.” No wonder they wanted to kill Him. To give your whole life to serving God (at least as they understood it) and to have this fanatic come along and undo everything you ever did. Can you sense the tension the Pharisees must have felt as more and more people began to follow Jesus? It is one thing when some flash in the pan cult leader pops up and few people leave the fold to follow him, but this man, this Jesus comes on the scene and the masses are flocking to Him. The Pharisees tend to be the subject of ridicule to the Church today, and they were the subject of ridicule to Jesus as well, but I do not think the Church looks at the reality of what the Pharisees were. They were the self proclaimed bearers of truth, there whole lives were built on this premise, there occupation, reputation and purpose were built on performing the ordinances of God. Then one man undoes it all. He destroyed with His teachings everything they were, and because of Him they went from powerful to obsolete, can you sense why they may cry “Crucify Him.” Many people today are ready to crucify political leaders because of a few ideas they have, like a Hillary Clinton or a George Bush, but neither of them have pulled out the very foundations our lives are built upon. Jesus with His teachings effectively slaughtered the Pharisees and rendered them worse than dead.
But look at what the teaching that crushed them was:
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The clear gospel call is that sinners would come to repentance. The call is that the reprobate would be redeemed, the unclean would be cleansed, the depraved be made holy, and the lost be found. This gospel is not merely a story of forgiveness and the love of God, no it is far more than that. It is the very power of God unto salvation. It has been said before on this blog, the gospel is not a tool! It is the very power of God! It has been said that it takes far more power for God to redeem a man and make Him holy than it took for Him to create the universe, because the universe was a blank canvas for God, yet men are already laden with sin and defilement. The nothingness before the universe came into existence was pure, yet our recreation was from something already stained.
The call is to sinners! The reprobate and depraved, the unclean and the vile, to you and to me, these are the souls whom Jesus has called. This, though it was a great insult to the Pharisees, should be a reason for great rejoicing by us. The issue we fall into is that the Lord in His great mercy and love will begin the work of regeneration in us and we in some case become born again and become the very workmanship of God (see Ephesians 2). Then for whatever reason, be it pride, self reliance, the remnants of unbelief, or something else, we begin to think that we are the righteous. We in our own indolence forgo seeking hard after God, because we have forgotten who we are outside of Him. We see ourselves as righteous and because of that we lose the very calling of God. “I have not called the righteous…” We lose the call and then unbelief creeps in, we question all that we ever did, we doubt every work that God has ever done in us and we render everything meaningless. However if He has begun a good work He will complete it, and if we are ever in that spot of doubt and despair, cling to this: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance.” It is so important for every believer when they begin to doubt to examine themselves. Why do you doubt? It is because at some point you found yourself to be righteous, and not long after that you fell. Why did you fall, because you were “righteous” in your own eyes because of some working that you had done. You fell because you no longer had the call of God, because Christ “did not come ot call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
(I am not sure if any of that made sense, I hope it does.)
I will leave it at that. I hope to post again soon, and I actually hope to post something more uplifting, I tend to be very coarse on this blog, but the tenor of the Christian life is not one of constant brashness and struggling, but one of victory and joy. Yes, we are broken, but we have peace and joy as well. So keep posted.
If we believed the words of John the Baptist in this passage our lives certainly would be a bit different. Upon reading this passage the word 'throughly' should hit us square between the eyes and cause us to fall down an plead God's mercy upon our congregations, homes, schools, offices and so on. Do we not know that the threshing floor will be clean when the day of judgement is past. There will be no remnant missed, no residue of chaff left, and not a kernel of wheat missed. It will ALL either be gathered to the garner, or cast into unquenchable fire.
Is there any compassion in the hearts or today's professing christians when they look across a crowd, a classroom, a congregation, or a public venue? Do Christians today not remember these words of John the Bapist; "He will throughly purge His threshing floor," or do we sit back without ever considering the gravity of what is going on around us. Today we tend to live as though the threshing floor will never be throughly purged, instead we see it as being partially purged. It is more comfortable to believe that not every person you come in contact really has an eternity before them, it is just too overwhelming. However John the Baptist says NO, the threshing floor is to be "throughly" purged, without a scrap of chaff left.
((to be continued))
Now here is the issue, Christ has paid the price for us regardless of our usefulness. We may accept that payment or reject that payment, to reject it is to render youself of no value in that day of judgement. That which has no value in the end ultimately is cast aside, or thrown away. Jesus speaks of Gehenna, the following is an excerpt from the lexicon from www.blueletterbible.com: (Strongs #G1067)
"Hell is the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction."
So basically the reference to Hell is a trash dump. What goes into a trash dump? That which has absolutely no value. Who goes to hell? He or she who has no value. How can a person have no value? While they are alive it is impossible, because Christ's payment on their behalf is pending, but if that payment is never accepted, that value is never accredited to them and ultimately they go the way of all souls who have no value.
On the other hand by accepting His payment as payment in full He has then secured you from distruction because His work has given you value. Just as coupon by itself has no value, but when it is redeemed it has worth, so too is it with the redemption of a human soul.
Now we are not like the antique clock that has value for no good reason other than being antique. We have value because the Son of God purchased us, not some crazed collector. The Lord has purchased us, but goes a step further, and He determines to restore us. Not only does He purchase us because He loves us, but He purchases us to restore us to usefullness. We are more than a peice of junk He has redeemed, we are a person whom He has determined to fashion into His likeness. He desire to restore us to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ himself. If there is no sanctifying restoring work being performed by the Lord in your life, know this, you have not by faith and repentance truely accepted His payment on your life. You are still a pending transaction.
Please realize that if no noticable change in your dispostion or desires has ever occured because of the transforming work of Christ, then you have yet to truely believe.
Before anyone casts a stone, I do believe in the Sovereignty of God in all things, including salvation. This post tends to emphasize choice, or even free will to accept or reject payment, so do the scriptures. I as the publisher of this post recognize God's sovereign activity in our decisions. The paradox of sovereignty and free will is a philospical issue not a theological one, I simply except both to be true. To say there is no paradox is to be intentionally naive to much of scripture.
Well first off it has been a long time since I have posted, and for that I am sorry. Hopefully I will be getting back at it a little bit more. The Lord has blessed my family and I richly, and His hand is clearly in the Youth Ministry which I have been blessed to oversee. There is much I could say about the volunteers He has supplied, the provisions He has given, and the many ways He is at work, both in the ministries which Kristin and I are involved in, and in our personal lives. What seemed seemed like such a big leap for Kristin and I, now seems a simple step after seeing the Lord provide every need we have. On to the blog...
Why is a Picasso painting worth so much? Is it because Picasso himself painted it? Is it because of the skills Picasso had? Or a Hank Aaron rookie baseball card, why is it so valueable? Is it because he was so great? Is it because the card is so rare? What about the house I live in, is its value determined by its size? The decor? The neighborhood? Where does something receive its value?
If there were another economic depression of the same magnitude of the great depression would a Hank Aaron card lose its value? Certainly it would when people need money for bread. Would a Picasso sell for as much? Certainly not when people could not afford clothing. Would my home retain its value? Of course not. Now does the change in economy affect the rareness of baseball card, the appearance of a painting, or the layout of a home? No, those things remain constant but the value may change drastically. What then determines the value of something? My home is a lower middle class home that would sell for around $110,000 in Toledo Ohio, in West Virginia it may sell for $70,000, and in California it may sell for $500,000. Why is it worth more or less?
The value of an object is not determined the attributes of the object. The value of an object is determined by how much someone will pay for that object. There are many impressionist painters with greater skill than Picasso who have gone unnoticed in the history of art. The value of their paintings though superior in quality are less, because people are not willing to pay as much for them. So what is the point? Your value is not, and never will be based on your skills, your sacrafice, your performance, or anything else about you. All your value rests soley in the price that was paid for you. You are worth very little outside of the payment that Christ paid on your behalf. The purchase price of your soul was so high, therein lies your value. This is important to see, as soon as you can grasp this you will feel the weight of your unworthiness fall off of your shoulders. He has given you value by paying such a high price for you. There is no room for depression in the Christian life, there is no room for feeling worthless, or unwanted, or rejected in this life. The price was paid for you!
The unthinkable thing would be to choose to reject His payment on your behalf and remain of no value. To attempt to stand before the Lord on that day believing yourself to be valuable because you are you, and you are special. Forget it, your value lies only in Christ, the value of your family, your congregation, your friends, is only in the fact that Christ died for them, that He paid the price. He paid that price, and He in the words of Paris Reidhead, "He Deserves the Rewards of His Suffering" in other words He paid for you in full.
He paid the price for you in full. A sobering question is this: Has He received what He paid for?
That is all for tonight.
I have much I desire to write upon and hopefully I will have time soon. A few topics I have in mind are as follows-
Forgoing the American Dream to Pursue the Heavenly Vision
Two worlds colliding in one man on that tree
to name a few.
These words of Jesus are possibly some of the hardest in all of scripture, but nonetheless they are true. Here in America we are the most prosperous (mammon wise) people on all the earth, and we know it, and we are proud of it. We claim this prosperity to be the blessing of God, but I am going to contend that this prosperity amounts to nothing more than scales that blind our eyes to the very majesty and true provision of the Lord. The Lord has provided us much, but our own self-made prosperity has blinded us to the true blessing of the Lord.
When a sacrifce is made for the Lord He receives it and showers blessing upon the sacraficing individual. This is true, the problem is that people in general do not really want true blessing, instead they only want more back of what they gave. The mentality is "If I give money, I will receive more" and the motive for giving is a selfish plan that requires no more faith than putting a 10% of your income into a CD, or stock. The truth is that this type of giving is not serving the Lord, but mammon, and in that final day this giving in order to receive worldly reward will be exposed and that giving will be shown to be nothing more than wood, hay and stubble. What is the real blessing of the Lord? The greatest blessing the Lord can give an individual is fellowship with Himself. There is nothing greater. One of the greatest hinderances to this fellowship is our own prosperity, and yet we are so foolish as to call the very thing that blocks the blessing blessed.
So how does this sacrafice work. A properous individual can buy all the food he wants. Yet when this individual sacrafices much he comes to the point where he relies on the Lord for provision. My dad drives a semi truck for McDonalds, and because of this he can get us frozen uncooked quarter pounder meat very cheap. He always just gives it to us. Myself being an engineer in a fairly lucrative position always receive this meat and eat it with out thinking much of it. Now this free food has always been a provision of the Lord, but I never needed it, therefore I never recognized the blessing that it was. Now that I am finding myself in a much different place in life (forgoing engineering for ministry) the very hamburger pattys that I have always had without thinking have become a great blessing in my life. The scales of prosperity have been removed from my eyes and I can now clearly see the hand of the Lord as He feeds me. What a blessing that is. You will never see it so long as you remain fat in prosperity. It certainly is OK to have a lucrative job, but to make no sacrafice is foolish and is willfully remaining blind to real blessing.
This blessing is too great for words, again it is to be able to see God. When Jesus told that young man to sell everything, it was not to be a hard command, but it was a command of love that carried the greatest of blessing. When He says you cannot serve God and wealth, He is not being hard, instead He is trying to open your eyes to real blessedness. A grilled mcdonalds hamburger patty between two slices of bread given by a fellow believer is more satisfying to both body and soul than the finest steak money will ever buy. To hell with getting rich, and all of the wealth that we amass for some later time, would that we would all be paupers feeding from the very hand of the Lord. Again, to have a lucrative job is not unchristian, but to live making little or no sacrifice certainly is.
I must stop, I will probably write much on this topic in weeks to come, it is a passion of mine after seeing already how good the Lord is being and is going to be through this.
I recommend for anyone desiring this to read The Autobiography of George Muller, it is a fantastic testimony to the faithfulness of the Lord.
In light of God's love and mercy it seems to me to be absolutely absurd that we would ever disobey God. If God does not change, and I assure you He does not, and God is Love, and I assure you He is, then we must be able to say that God always has been Love. Not only that, God is also all-wise, and all-powerfull. So if God has given a command it certainly must be a command of Love, regardless of the command. This is important to see. The commandments of God are not a burdensome set of rules designed to restrain you from doing all the things you love, the commands come forth from a loving God who is admonishing you not to do the very things that can kill you (physically and eternally). It is love that brings forth the command.
Let's get really practical with this. If God thru Christ has commanded me not to look upon a woman lustfully and I knowing that I am to turn away still determine to take a look, what does that mean? The answer may suprise you, it means not that I have lust in my heart as much as it means I still have unbelief in my heart. My prayer of confession should be 'Lord help me with my unbelief.' Why is it unbelief? Well, if I believe that God is love, and that He is not a liar, and that He works all things to my good, then clearly I would accept obedience to His word as the very best thing I could do. With that lustful look by my action I have either not believed that God was loving in His commandment, or that we was not wise in His institution of that commandment, or He was not powerful enough to work something better in me if I obeyed the commandment. Can you see how the root of all sin is unbelief. When we sin we are always questioning or doubting the character of God. While in our mind we may still ascend to these truths are actions prove to be evidence of unbelief.
It is God's love, and our entire belief in that love that drives us into holiness and righteous living. It is recognition not only with our minds but with our actions that God is love and that His commandments are born out of that love and meant to bring us unto repentance and life. The pharisees missed this important part, they attempted (with a degree of success) to obey the law by being in bondage to it with out ever realizing that they were to be freed to obey it. It is only by the regenerating work of Christ that the law will ever lose it burdensomeness to us, and become to us the life giving commands of God.
Thanks Bruce for the comment, I need to post more on the love of God than I do.
The focus in evangelical Christianity today seems to be solely on justification. You know, "Let's get as many people saved as possible", however that focus is not the focus of our Lord. Maybe that is a bad statement, 'getting people saved' might be the focus of our Lord, but we must define the term 'saved'. I know I have become a broken record on this blog, but salvation is not just deliverance from eternal punishment, it is deliverance from present tense sin, and is separation from this world.
It is true that God justifies the sinner based on the attoning work of Christ on the cross. Christ suffered once under the wrath of almighty God for our sin, bearing willfully the punishment on our behalf, we are justified based on that work. This is a beautiful unexplainable truth, and that truth must never be minimized. Instead we must look deeper into that justifying work and see what exactly its purpose is. Is justification all that was accomplised on the cross? Was God's entire purpose of the crucifiction to keep undeserving sinners out of hell. The answer is NO, a thousand times no.
Let's focus on Isaiah 53 for a moment. We see in this chapter the punishment poured out on Christ for our sin. Why does a father punish his son. Why would I punish my new son Joseph? If I gave Joseph a command; "do not talk back to your mother or else I will give you a spanking", what must I do if he violates my command? Clearly he must receive the punishment that came with the command. Now why as a father do I punish him? The obvious reason is because I must be true to my word, and his sin must receive the punishment promised, however this is not the only reason, in fact it is not even the primary reason. The reason I would punish him is so that he will no longer talk back to his mother. Lets compare my example to the example of Christ on the cross. Did Christ pay the penalty only because a penalty needed paid? If we were in Him at the crucifiction was it only for the reason of being pardoned for our trangressions? No, he received the punishment on our behalf so that we would not continue in sin. This is so important, we were disciplined unto holiness in Christ. This is not some abstract concept, he was crushed not just to pay for our disobedience, but to put an end to it all together.
Am I saying the sinless perfection is possible? I do not think so, what I am saying is that the ultimate purpose in God's justifying work is to move you ever closer to perfection and perfect holiness as long as you walk this earth. He payed the price in order to purchase a people holy and separte from the world. Did God deliver Israel from Egypt primarily to get them out of bondage to Pharaoh? No, if that had been the case he could have left them in the wilderness. He delivered them from Egypt in order to establish them in the promised land. So it is in our lives, Christ died not only to save us from the penalty of sin, but instead that we would enter into kingdom today. God kept telling Israel to remember their dilverance from Egypt so that they would remember the He has the power to establish them in the promised land. You should remember your justification, but remember it in order to better realize the power of God to keep you holy.
I need to stop because I would have to write a book to explain all the implications of this line of thinking.
I have not proof read this. I wrote it quickly fairly late at night. It was burning in me a little so I thought I would get it down.
Exodus 16 clearly laid out the command that manna should only be gathered for 1 days consumption, except for the day prior to the sabbath on which two days supply must be gathered. When this was violated and there was an attempt to eat old manna it was found to be rotten.
Jesus is the bread of life, the bread from heaven, the new testament manna. When we pray ...give us this day our daily bread... in a sense we are asking for His provision of Himself for our day.
Let's put this all together. You can not live on past experiences of Christ. Period. It is moldy, and holds no value for today. Did you go to promise keepers? Wonderful, that is good for one day, what about the next morning. Did you wake up to fresh bread, or did you pull out that old moldy loaf from the day before. Youth often seem to be prone to relive past events, you know the big rallies and retreats, but the reason they are so afixed on the past is that they have no abiding prescence of God in the present. A popular retreat amongst people in our denomination is call 'The Walk to Emmaus', this is a retreat that focuses around fellowship and preaching (talks) and various other small group interactions. It has had a profound impact on many, and yet the majority of its participants have a tendency to desire to live off that same bread for the next few weeks, months and some even years. Again the reason is that there is a lack of daily abiding in His prescense, so they will go back to that old moldy loaf that was once fresh (for a day).
Much of the ministry done today is an attempt to feed people moldy manna. Pastors preach messages to give people something to chew on until the next sunday, when in truth it is moldy monday morning. Some people will go from event to event trying to get fresh manna, but again it is in vain, you must collect that manna fresh from the ground each and every day. Lets wake up, Christianity is not event based, it is daily from minute to minute relying on fresh revelation from His word, fresh strength from His prescense, not past experiences.
Again preachers are feeding this stuff to their congregations because they often have no fresh manna of their own. They go and find already preached messages that were once fresh. The find 'ministry models' and 'growth strategies' developed by other men, and all of it may have been fresh.... yesterday. They cannot bring a fresh word from God because they have not gone to Him to receive one. They have instead gone to Spurgeon, or to Ravenhill, or to Wesley, or Augstine, or Calvin, or Paisley or whoever they go to, but they have not gone to Him. They find the latest person that preaches with power and try to feed there congregation with another mans power, but again its yesterday's manna.
A few quailifying words before I close this rant. We are certainly called very often in scriptures to remember. Israel is constantly being commanded to remember, and we too are reminded to remember. Past experience is not to be forgotten. Even great words of past preachers are not to be ignored and can be used in preaching. Nonetheless we are to remember the provision in the past only to remind us of the confidence we can have in God for our present provision. We can quote if we must in order to bolster the fresh manna we have received today.
I find the doctrine of original sin a difficult one right now. It is obviously true both in scripture and in the evidence of this world, and I in no way shape or form will deny the truth that we sinned in Adam. However I know it will be difficult to see that child as guilty from day one. Even if he is not 'accountable' (hmmm... I do not have an answer on that) he is nonetheless guilty in Adam. It is a difficult time to assess the need of the second birth of my son when I am so excited for his first birth.
On another note: I have come to grips with a little sliver of the unconditionalness of God's love through this. When I think about my son I realize that he has only been a pain to me thus far. He has forced me to add a room to my house by finishing my dormer. He has forced me to curb some of the activities I enjoy like riding mountain bikes and such. He has placed my wife in a deal of pain and awkwardness. He has made my house look more like the gift shop of a zoo than an adult living space. Because of him I now drive a 4 door car and the list goes on. Yet I have not even met him, and I cannot imagine loving him more than I do. He has done nothing to deserve it, but nonetheless he means so much to me. Now if I being wicked can love someone undeserving like that, how much more does the Father in heaven love His children. Amazing.
Anyways, pray for my wife Kristin and I through this process, she has been amazing through it all and I am so blessed to have a virtuous wife. I imagine I will be posting less in the upcoming months of little or no sleep. If I am posting more (they probably won't be coherent postings) regardless know that a possible hiatus from the blog may be looming.
When you consider that Christ paid the penalty for your sin does it bring you happiness, or sorrow? Do you take great pleasure in the fact that he was nailed to the tree for you? Do you find satisfaction that He endured the forsaking of God because of you? Can you happily accept salvation with out ever contemplating how much it cost?
Salvation is a terrible thing, never forget that. Salvation came about with the Son of God indwelt with your sins falling under the forsaking wrath of His Father against those sins. Think of what you are saying when you say ‘I am so happy that Jesus died for me.’ Are you really? Do you find satisfaction because you ‘got away with’ your sins and someone else ‘got blamed?’ There is a real sense in which I could almost wish myself cursed to hell in order that the Son would not have had to pay that price. Praise God that He has already paid that price, and that I am not accursed, but nonetheless this salvation is a grave thing.
When we think of salvation in light of what it cost it changes everything. Not what it cost us, but what it cost Him! Salvation is as much a breaking as it is a making whole. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ comes into focus when your are breaking at thought of our Lord paying the price. Think of the cost! You have been bought at a price, and can you simply continue in sin? Can you make a mockery of God with your life, and simply honor Him with a few mental ascensions and some pretty words? Do you not remember that because of sin somebody had to die, and not just anybody but the Lord Himself? This mamby pamby ‘Jesus would have died just for you’ so you should feel so special is simply a load of nonsense. The bible is clear that He died for more than just you so do not even waste a moment on this speculation, and if you do think on this take it to its logical conclusion, which is that you alone are so sinful that the blood of the Son of God was required on your behalf.
If salvation involves the sorrowful realization of the price that was paid where is the joy? Jesus died willingly, He chose to pay the price. ‘My sin Oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part but in full was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul.’ Christ chose this, He is love, oh He is love. When no one else could stand for me, He stood. The joy is so real. It is a deep profound and broken joy, but it is true joy nonetheless.
How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
There is nothing miraculous about a growing congregation, unless they are a growing part of the church. Congregation growth is not a sign of congregation health, regardless of what the ‘experts’ say. The sign of the health of a congregation is holiness. Growing a congregation is relatively easy. You can go into a community and ask what they would like the church to be, after that you shape it exactly they way they want it, and bang! Like magic you have a growing congregation. The first person I know of that did this really well was Robert Schuler, after him came your Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels, among others. Now, am I saying that there is no new life in these congregations? No, there likely is some new life, but there is far less life than there appears to be. Today’s ‘successful’ preachers are often nothing more than morticians skilled in the art of making dead things appear to live.
Let’s be honest, it is not just the preachers doing this, it is the rest of us as well. Have we not succumb to the temptations in our various ministries to proclaim success we have not had, or at least to make things appear more alive than they really are. Do we rejoice when someone appears to be alive before we have any idea whether or not they have a Holy Spirit pulse? Are there areas in your life that you are propping up as alive and vibrant, but if someone were to examine and touch them they would find no pulse at all? Are there areas like this in my life?
Enough with this ‘mortuary Christianity’ that only seeks to make dead things appear to have life! We must be sick of it, we must repudiate it, and we must seek to destroy it. Pray for revival in your life, your congregations, and your spheres of influence. Teach, preach, and live the new life, real and vibrant, let go of all that is dead. Prune the branches that do not bear fruit, so that the rest of the tree may be health and that new life may spring forth.
Feeling guilty is taking the side of the devil.
Think about the worn out verses of Romans 7 where Paul is saying that he does not do what he wants to do, and he does what he doesn’t want to do, and so on. Do you sense he feels guilty? I do not think so. He acknowledges in that in his physical person there is a struggle that occurs between his evil flesh, and the holy spirit of God. Notice how he removes himself entirely from the conflict. He takes no credit for righteousness, and no blame for unrighteousness. God himself is at war with Paul’s flesh. The same is true of anyone who has been born of God.
Now if we feel guilty, our mind is saying ‘I am taking my stand on the side of the flesh’ and there is guilt because God assaults the flesh. The mind is attached to the flesh and feels as though God is assaulting it as well. Yet if we operate under a clear conscience we welcome God’s assault on the flesh and we take the side of God.
So should we go on sinning with a clear conscience and just say, “I side with God?” God forbid. If we side with the Spirit why would we desire to go on sinning? It is conceivable for us to say it is no longer we that sin, but sin that dwells in us, yet in the very same breath we must say we have no righteous acts, but that which Christ acts through us. We too often want to take all the credit for our evil, and none of the credit for the good, and thus we are left feeling perpetually guilty. We should take credit for neither, that is if we are born of God, through Christ.
Paul talks about walking in the spirit, and not after the flesh. So with our minds we must constantly consider what the spirit is doing, the moment we consider the flesh our guilt condemns us. When we find that we are following the flesh and with our minds, and feeding the flesh and its desires we must repent. Repentance is taking sides again with the spirit.
This principle of ‘taking sides’ is evident in confession of sin. What is confession, it means ‘to speak the same of’. In other words confession is simply saying ‘God what you say about my flesh is true, and I am in agreement with you.’ Confession is taking God’s side against your flesh. Repentance then is turning to serve the spirit as opposed to the flesh with our mind.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice God welcomes us in taking His side because we are His. We were bought with a price, in fact he rejoices when we side against our flesh with Him. Our problem is that we sometimes think He wants us to reform our flesh, or bring it into submission, but that is not the case. The flesh does not need reformed, or corrected, it is evil to its very core, and it needs crucified. Now we (our old man) were crucified with Christ, so we are dead, yet we live. There is no room for guilt, guilt was the property of the old man, and he has been crucified. When we wallow in guilt we are trying to resurrect the old man.
The one thing that makes this all hard to comprehend for me is the time element. The cross was one moment in time that is effectual for all eternity. It is hard to accept the death of the old man on the cross with Christ when we can see the fruit of the old man’s labor every day.
I know this all seems like high thought, but it is very practical. Guilt hinders everything. When we feel guilty, we attempt to pacify our guilty conscience with our own acts of righteousness. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It is the righteousness of Christ we need. Should we feel remorse for sin? I do not think so. Instead we accept that sin is the deed of the old man who has been crucified, and we leave him behind, and move on toward righteousness.
This morning you and I talked about seeking out our sin, this is the best thing I think we can do. We are telling God when we ask to see our sin that we are on His side, and we desire the flesh to be destroyed. We are then actively participating in God’s act of sanctifying us. We are truly moving towards holiness because we are becoming more and more in accord with God concerning ourselves.
Quite possibly none of that made sense, but it helped me, so it was worth writing. The last thing I want to do is get all philosophical and intellectual so I hope this doesn’t seem that way. I think God is moving us somewhere on this topic, and I am kind of hoping He doesn’t divert us off of it anytime soon. But I choose to be on His side, so if it the topic changes so be it.
Continued in another message
The conversation on guilt is interesting, but it tends toward moving in a bad direction. When we acknowledge the fact that we should bear no guilt for our sin because of the atonement we will too often go one step further and have no remorse over sin. I think there is a distinct difference between remorse and guilt. It should bother us that sin dwells so easily in such close proximity to us, yea even in us, and that is cause for remorse. We know that if we were holy sin could have no part of us, the flesh would be utterly cut off and have no power.
We are not guilty, our guilt was nailed to the cross, yet we are not holy so we end up cohabitating with sin in our mortal bodies. Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? Christ. He can make me so holy that sin and the flesh will have no dominion in my mortal body. I need him to do that. My only goal in life should be to obtain that holiness from Him, to diligently seek Him and obey Him until sin is utterly destroyed.
We need to be so careful not pervert the blessed truth guiltlessness into authorized unholiness.
Well, those are my thoughts for today.
Now as salt, if we lose our savor we are good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men. What then is our savor, or saltiness? The lovey-dovey liberal says our savor is the peace, love, and justice we bring to the world, and maybe so. Still the fire breathing fundamentalist focuses on the salt’s preserving aspects, and its stinging and cleansing aspects. Maybe they are both right… or maybe they are wrong. I think they are both wrong.
Think of where this passage falls, what precedes it? Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are they that mourn… blessed are the meek… blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness… blessed are the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. These are the savor of the Christian life.
We are always so focused on doing so many things, which is not all bad, but we are also called just to be. I just realized something as I am typing here, do you know why we struggle so much with the beatitudes? I just figured it out. It is because they are not commands. We cannot go out and do ‘poor in spirit’. They reach so much past what we do, and they reach into who we are. The Christian life is not the life of a busybody constantly looking for something to do. We must wait. God wants us to fellowship with Him, more than He desires our service. He can accomplish His means with a donkey, or a stick, or a rock, and probably get the job done better with them than us. It is an amazing act of love that He would allow us to carry out His perfect will despite all of our imperfections. It is almost like when the coach of a team gives the ball to the handicapped kid to shoot so that he can be part of the victory.
Gods love and His fellowship are amazing things, but I fear some people (myself included) are too busy trying to conquer injustice, or warn people of hellfire to even see the blessed life. We are too busy trying to work our way out of spiritual poverty, and ignoring the first beatitude that calls the spiritually poor blessed. We are so busy seeking our Christian joy that we do not mourn, and so on.
I guess I ran myself in circles again, but that is what I have been thinking today.
With Love, In Him,
This old mail was a rant to a good friend of mine concerning church growth strategies. This man is so patient for listening to all of these.
We serve a mighty God. Our conversation this morning was not all bad, but we have been so beaten down by the failure which we see that we forget the victory He has won. I think the problem we encounter is that we judge God on the basis of the professing church. When everyone says ‘God is present here,’ or ‘we are spirit led here,’ or ‘revival is happening here’ and whatever else gets said, we assume what they are saying is true. If it is true then this god is pathetic. If all of our claims of how powerfully God is moving in our midst are true, then I want nothing to do with that god, because he is a god we have created. We invented him, and he is so weak. We have taken our works and called them his movements. The god of today’s evangelicalism is lame. At least Baal seemed to be able to help crops grow, this god cannot even make a man turn off his television for a minute or two.
I assure you God is not pathetic, the problem is us. We are not what we claim to be, both as a church and as individuals. We claim to witness powerful workings of God, when really they are usually psychological manipulations of the flesh. I say this with extreme caution because the last thing I want to do is call what actually is a work of the spirit something else. If I say a genuine work of the Spirit is really a work of sinful flesh then I am coming very close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit, I certainly do not want to tread there. I say God is not pathetic because He does move powerfully in His children, he really does. Praying last night in the middle of that field, He met me there, yes the world crept in and I ran, but He met me there, I have no doubt. Seeing him change Kristin’s life direction against her will and desire, He is there. Changing all of my desires, putting this new heart in me, He is there. Taking the burden of this world off of my shoulders and giving me His burden, oh He is a mighty God, and He is mighty to save. Men and women of old, and even today give everything for Him in expectation of nothing in return, but give it all simply because He is worthy. We don’t care about a state of ‘nirvana’ or 72 virgins, or coming back as some cow or something. No! a thousand times no! God has put in His children a love and adoration for Him. We desire heaven because we have perfect fellowship with Him there, nothing else. We do not desire some heaven of our own creation where God is not present.
This God of ours is mighty, and we need Him to break us, and to bring us as a congregation into His fold. As long as we can continue in our own power we will not seek Him, period end of story. Gary this is why that whole thing had me so mad, I am sick of it, seriously sick of it. I cannot do purpose driven, I cannot even do spirit led spirit fed, I just cannot, it is so cheap. IF GODS POWER WAS REALLY MANIFEST IN OUR CHURCH WE WOULD NOT HAVE TO LABEL IT!!! WE WOULD NOT NEED A CLICHÉ TO DESCRIBE IT!!! I was glancing through a magazine Kristin had from the Church about all these new tools and ministry ideas and so on and it makes me start to feel sick, literally. I get frustrated beyond words. It is everywhere, if I thought I could go elsewhere to other churches to avoid it I would leave in a heartbeat.
Well this was a rant, I think you can see that it is love for God and His people that brings me to this point, at least I hope you see that. There are a lot of good things of God I want to discuss, but for now this is place where I am, and I am without power to change it, and praise God it is not my responsibility, but I am to be His willing instrument. I fear what would happen if God used me in a pulpit at xxxx or anywhere else that suffers our plague. I can see how Wesley got kicked out of so many churches.
Well I hope I was not a total downer
Thanks for listening
Just a quick thought on purity. While we are seeking to impart Christ’s will for sexual purity to the children and youth of our church, we must also seek our own purity. Seems obvious right? While we may not struggle so much as youth with sexual purity, our life is nonetheless to be a life of complete purity. Purity in the way we work, the way we talk, the way we interact with our friends, our spouse, our church, and so on.
Think about what all the things in the temple were overlaid with, was it not gold? No, it was pure gold. What about that old law about not having garments made of two different types of material? What is with that? These garments were supposed to be pure. You can go through tons of examples of purity in the Levitical laws and they show us the desires of God. The requirement of purity has not changed since Leviticus, do not fool yourself into thinking it has. The change from old to New Testament is how we become pure. This holy purity is a separation from all the things of this world that spot us. This purity is required and the Lord certainly deserves a holy and pure people.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart…” Psalm 24.
The question we must ask ourselves is: Are we really serious about purity? If so, if we desire to teach the children and youth about sexual purity we to must place ourselves in the refiners fire that our dross may be removed, and we would be as pure gold. We must separate from television that glorifies violence, sex, love of money, and idol worship (we might as well just turn the TV off). We must separate ourselves from the conversations that tend toward lewd joking, lying, bragging, bitterness, and so on. We must drop our grudges, confess our sin, and repent toward holiness. God demands it, “without holiness no one will see the Lord”. Is our life spotted with impurities that we are well aware of? If we know we are impure in an area of our life, then we are being disobedient and must repent. If can live with our impurities and refuse to deal with them, then we cannot expect a move of God through this purity event or anywhere else in our life. God demands a holy people. A people that are repentant and broken when they sin, and a people that are not perfect, but are progressing in sanctification towards that ever distant perfection.
I just bring this up because we desire to bring pure water to cleanse a younger generation, but it will do little good if we try to bring that pure water yet contaminate it with our own filthy vessels.
Warmest Regards In Him,
I know this was a real hard rant, and maybe the theology was poor, but at some point a few brave souls need to truly stand in the gap, cut through the emotional manipulations of big events, and purpose driven painless gospel presentations that mention nothing of repentance unto God. We need preachers that will cut to the heart as the apostle Peter did, those that will stand in the face of the religious establishment and endure the stones as Stephen did, those that will receive the assatination attempts as the apostle Paul did. Maybe then we will hear the healthy cry of the new born child crying out for repentance unto God.
Churches are built upon this principle, create an event, stir some emotions, and then convince the people that because it happened in a church setting it is somehow a move of God. Many movement have sprung from this. Look at the promise keepers, I am not calling that group heretical, but they are deeply steeped in this psychological manipulation method. I have heard so many men come back and talk about what a move of God it was, and how they encountered God in that stadium and yet that deep passion and zeal dies a week or so later. Did God move? Was their a real encounter with God? When these men come down from that mountain top experience do they enter the congregation blazing with the holiness of God? When Moses came down from Sinai the congregation could not even look at him, he had to veil his face.
I will continue later...