Leonard Ravenhill used to always say “Christianity is not N-O-T, a sinning religion.” He would also say “It isn’t that it is impossible for a Christian to sin, however it is possible for a Christian not to sin, and that distinction makes all the difference in the world.”

Unfortunately when speaking about the possibility of not sinning the majority of Christians will turn you off immediately. The well versed Christian will quickly point you to 1 John 1:10 which reads: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Certainly that verse is true, and is in perfect accord with Paul in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The question I have for those who quote 1 John 1:10 is whether or not they have read the next verse?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
(1 John 2:1)

There is a little 2 letter word in that verse that makes all the difference in the world, IF anyone sins… The normal Christian life is not a life of sin. Read the rest of John’s first epistle, you can not read that honestly and believe that a Christian life can be marked by continuous sin. I am so sick of hearing people talk about human nature, and our wicked free will. If you have been born again, that free will of yours now desires righteousness, and carnality and sin is a very unnatural thing for you. John goes on writing in 1 John…

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
(1 John 2:3-5)

I am not going to commentate on these verses, let them stand as they are. Again I recognize that I personally am not perfect, and I am thankful that I have an Advocate with the Father, but at the same time I do not have a sin nature that runs continually to sin, and continually desires sin, that nature has been crucified. If you cannot honestly say that, well, maybe you ought to heed Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves, or do you not know this about yourselves, that Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test.”

Did Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery to go, and sin less? Of course not, He said “Go and sin no more.” This was before the promised Holy Spirit came… do not believe for a minute that we who are indwelt with
the Spirit of God have an excuse to sin. Again, I think the genuine believer does have a tendency to try to find a place for assurance in the scripture when they have sinned, and there are a few places that we always run. We run to 1 John 1:9-10, Romans 7, and Luke 15 among other places. We do not run to verses like 1 John 2:1-5, or 2 Corinthians 5:17, Jude 24, and others.

Unfortunately the verses we avoid in times of sin are the very verses we need the most. Think of 1 John 2:1… yes it states clearly IF anyone sins, immediately we recognize that sin is not normal in the Christian life… this should bring us joy because when we sin it certainly leaves us feeling abnormal. Do not comfort yourself by saying sin is normal. Moreover we should be comforted because If anyone sins… we have an Advocate with the Father! That is a joyful thing.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
(Jude 1:24)

So you have sinned, you have an Advocate, and more over He is able to keep you from stumbling the next time!!

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are a new creature… if you were not you could be content in your sin, or make excuses for your sin. However your old nature is gone. The new nature loathes the sin you have committed, and rejoices at the thought that God is able to keep you from stumbling.

This business about the perpetually sinning Christian is a load of garbage. That sounds a lot like sin abounding so that grace can abound even more, to which the apostle Paul would give a resounding... God forbid!! So let’s look practically at this. Again we are not talking about sinless perfection in the sense of never sinning again, but what we are looking at is the power to not sin in the present. In other words you can get up from reading this blog and face the world having faith that He can keep you from stumbling. Do not dare say “No He can’t,” you come close to blaspheming if you say that.

keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21)

There is a sense of keeping yourself in the love of God. So long as you keep yourself in the love of God by faith you will not sin. When you do not keep faith, or you disbelieve His promises concerning keeping you from stumbling, that is when you and I fall into sin.

((That was a bit of a ramble, good job to anyone who read this far))



The Sovereignty of God – Practically

Unfortunately the first few paragraphs of this post are spent discussing something fairly divisive and I know a number here may disagree entirely, and I am open to comments and correction. Please know that I do not view myself as above correction, and I welcome any iron sharpening iron. However the last few paragraphs should be read, even if you disagree with the first few.

Does anyone look at the sovereignty of God practically anymore? It really is disturbing how polarizing this issue is. It seems as though many would view the sovereignty of God as meaning virtually nothing, except that God has allowed things to happen therefore He is passively sovereign. Others seem to view God as sovereign over every decision choosing more than just the outcome from each decision or action, but actually choosing the action taken as well. This view the supposed ‘high view of God’ is often espoused around here (that is SA). Unfortunately the first view might as well be deism, because it is not Christianity, and the second view is fatalism, or as some call it hyper-Calvinism and entirely removes the responsibility of man. I understand the hyper-Calvinist can usually find some way to explain that man is still responsible within their theological construct, but it requires some serious explaining.

What is true concerning sovereignty?

First with regard to salvation, it requires the action of God to make a totally depraved heart seek or open itself to Him. (It would surprise many to know this is the Wesleyan position as well as the Calvinist position). This is a sovereign action, and if God does not act, there is no chance for salvation. God is sovereign over salvation… period. However because He is sovereign does not mean He is irresistible. If I am feeding my son and he appears that he is going to throw his food on the floor, I am sovereign over him and can stay his hand, or I can let him let it fly. It is not my will that he fling oatmeal across the dining room, but if I let him throw it so that I may discipline him so he will not do it again, does that make me any less sovereign? Of course not, I chose to allow it, in order that I may discipline him so he would not do it again. Again my will is that he not throw oatmeal, but I will exercise sovereignty by using his disobedience to bring him under proper submission to my will. Nonetheless, his throw was his choice, an act of his free will. At the same time I was entirely sovereign over that action. In fact it could be said that being sovereign over his free will was a greater exertion of power than had I denied him free will and simply stayed his hand. Did I choose what he would do? No he chose, however knowing my son I had foreknowledge that the oatmeal was going to fly, and in my sovereignty I allowed it, for my own purpose in order that I would be able to discipline him and actively change his intentions for the next time he had oatmeal.

I hope that made sense. A high view of God is view that shows His sovereignty over the free will of man. Not that he continually controls the actions of all men, but that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. God is active in creation, sometimes He intervenes and actively controls a situation, and at other times He removes His hand from a situation in order to serve His purposes.

If we, whether we lean toward an Arminian or Calvinistic understanding of sovereignty, believe that God is sovereign over the affairs of man, and that He is active in the causes and effects that make up life then we should look very carefully at some cause and effect scriptures.

For instance:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Looking at 1 John 1:9 and believing that God is sovereign and His word is true, then clearly if sin is confessed, we will be cleansed from unrighteousness. Cleansing meaning, purged, removal of impurity, etc… If God indeed is sovereign the reality of your confession can be determined by the reality of your cleansing. Have you been cleansed? If you believe God’s word to be true, and God to be sovereign then you must look at every cause and effect relationship in the bible in that light. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature… Logically if any many is not a new creature he is not in Christ. This sounds very simple, but begin applying it to all passages and you will find that many of the promised results of obedience are not evident in your life. If God is sovereign, and He is, and the promised results of obedience are not evident, then the only conclusion can be that the cause, or obedience, is not manifest in your life.

This all seems like a big ‘no duh’, and it should. But do not ever dare read the scriptures without examining yourself. Do you have rivers of living water flowing out of you? Are you a new creation? Are you actually cleansed from sin? Is the old man dead? You must answer these questions and see if you are in the faith.

Then again, if God is not sovereign, then you can disregard the cause and effect altogether, but if God is not sovereign then He is no God.

I apologize this may be one of my lamer posts, but I published it anyway.


Where whould you find this?

In doing some preparation for a class I am teaching my research led me to a number of statements. Read them, and while you are reading try to guess where I found them. The answer is at the bottom, but do not cheat. Also I typed this from the sourse so if there is spelling mistakes they are mine.

Hint #1
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.

Note: I did not add the part in parenthesis, it is original to the document.

Hint #2
We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.

Hint #3
Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.

Hint #4
The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshipping, and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.

Hint #5
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive church, to have public prayer in the church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.

Final Hint #6
The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church. The names of the canonical books are…
[note: all 66 canonical books listed].

Any guesses

These statements were found in ‘The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church year 2000 edition” on pages 59-63.

Why would I bring this up? Well firstly because I work in the United Methodist church. Second, because it seems when someone says they are Arminian, or Methodist, or Wesleyan, that all Calvinists write us off as believing works based salvation, or being Pelagian. Moreover, it is clear that United Methodism has been involved in unbiblical ecumenism, specifically with the Roman Catholics, but that ecumenism is deviant to the stated theology of Methodism. Now it should be noted that the hints quoted have been basically etched in stone and are set in the Discipline in such a way that they cannot be changed. Later in the discipline these things are interpreted sometimes to water them down, or change their meaning, but nonetheless at the outset the firm foundation is laid, and Methodists can be appalled at the direction their church is heading, but can stand firmly on the churches stated doctrine.

Finally, there are many fundamental UMC pastors and laity, don’t let the crackpots you see in the news dissuade you into thinking the entire denomination is out in left field.

If it goes against your conscience to read a blog written by a Methodist, well pretend you never read this post and keep reading as I post more.


Mourning at the White Throne

I will wipe away every tear…

There is much fascination about the end times in the church today, and there is much fascination about heaven as well. This certainly is understandable, because our treasure and our home are in heaven, and we know that in the end Jesus Christ will reign visibly supreme. Clearly these things are the desires of our hearts. Our fascination with heaven and the end however have often caused us to lose sense of the reality of Christ working with us through us, and among us today. Moreover this heavenly fascination has given way to fables and a heaven designed by mankind.

I posted last night concerning the white throne, and judgment, and in speaking with friends on this topic I always hear the question: “will believers face judgment, and will that judgment be painful, sad, or in any way non-blissful?” I have never really had an answer to that question. There are so many references to ALL facing judgment for deeds done in the flesh, including the believer. We know without a doubt that we will stand before the Father with the merit of the Son, and ultimately we will be judged as sons and not enemies. We will still be judged though. Let me quote Revelation 20:12-15.

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:12-15)

From a simple reading of this text it appears that the white throne judgment is for all, and the separation to the lake of fire occurs after this judgment. In other words, we will stand judgment according to our deeds. So the concern arises, how can I stand before the throne knowing the deeds I have committed? I know sin will be forgiven, yea sin is forgiven, nonetheless what will it be like to peer into His eyes? The eyes from which heaven and earth flee. Knowing that I will be judged according to my deeds is a frightening and mournful thing. At this point I imagine there is some contention with most readers of this post, and understandably so, I mean, we are going to be judged based on the merit of Christ right? Yes, at least as far as final judgment is concerned, but do not blaspheme the blood of Christ by believing that the blood in some way removes all accountability for your actions.

I came to this down by the Maumee River earlier today, all alone on an island with my mountain bike (when the water is low you can walk to the island). I was sitting in prayer and opened back to Revelation 20 which I posted on last night, and this same question came to my mind. How can heaven be heavenly if we have to face judgment? How can I stand on that day? Certainly there will be some disappointment at the white throne. So I read on past the above quoted scripture. Unfortunately chapter 20 ends at verse 15, so we have a natural tendency to stop there. But the next chapter picks up as follows. (remember the original text would not have had a chapter division here so typically one would have read this all together.)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
(Revelation 21:1-4)

My question changed. Why would God Himself have to wipe away tears from His people? It dawned on me while I was sitting by the river that the judgment of God will come to us who believe, and we will be judged like we are judged by a loving Father. Our sin will be exposed, our wrong doings will be evident, all things will be made known, and we will see the ways we have offended a Holy, Holy, Holy, God. This must occur, because after being exposed and then seeing that God is still gracious and wipes our tears away will be overcome with the eternal gratefulness and reverence that will only increase for all of eternity. God will wipe away the tears we shed at the White Throne. What a terrible and wonderful truth. We will mourn our sin after we die, and yet the king of kings will wipe away the tears and we will enter into eternal grateful ecstasy.

Imagine, we will see all the sin of everyone, and then see that God is still gracious, and we will see the true price Christ paid. After seeing that it is easy to understand why we will spend all of eternity in worship, and serving the most Gracious King!


Judging others

“Judge not, lest ye be judged…” Matthew 7:1

This may be one of the most misunderstood verses in all of scripture. I find that it is the most often quoted by the unbeliever, and yet at the same time I find many believers forgoing all discernment based on this verse. They have allowed this verse to handcuff them from exercising any sort of discipline, or evangelism. Now with that said I think that fundamentalists quickly write this verse off as meaningless. They say ‘look down the page and read the rest of Matthew 7’ of course making reference to ‘…you will know them by their fruits…’ which seems to be a call to make judgment. Moreover those of the fundamental persuasion will tend to take the verses immediately following Matthew 7:1 about the speck in your brother’s eye, and the log in your own, and quickly point out that we are still to remove the speck from our brother’s eye, we just need to judge ourselves first and remove the planks from our own. That is true, but it misses the point of the passage, and in a way creates a loophole. At the very least it eases the conscience of some who are unbiblically judgmental. Remember I am a 'fundamentalist', I write this from experience in talking with others like myself, and from my own struggles with judgement.

I am a youth minister and typically in a youth ministry setting the youth minister will give a bunch of examples of how when you judge people before you know them a lot of times you are wrong. What they fail to mention is that most of the time you a right. For instance, you see a man frequently going to a bar, you may judge “He is a drunk”, you could be wrong, but likely you are correct. You see a youth dressed in total grunge always looking zoned out, you may judge ‘she is a drug user’, you may be wrong, but are likely correct. If your reason for not judging others is simply because sometimes you judge wrongly than your reason is weak, and moreover when you know you are right beyond a shadow of a doubt you will still be quick to judge. Why then should you not judge… at all.

Start Here:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (Revelation 20:11-12)

Do you realize that John the revelator saw you there? You were a part of the crowd. Yes, and you will stand before the great white throne to be judged. This is not up for debate, you will be there and so will I. With that picture in mind, knowing that you will be judged according to your deeds then maybe the following verse will carry more weight in your heart…

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

The non-negotiable detail in this whole equation is that you will stand at the white throne and be judged… how harshly do you want to be judged? How mercifully do you want to be judged? “…by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” You see if your focus is on the judgment seat, and you are gazing into eternity knowing you will be judged for your deeds, certainly you will find no room to judge others. I am not saying to be passive, there is a time to discern, but unless you are in a position of authority and need to settle disputes, there is no time to judge. Not because you could be wrong… but because you will be judged in the same way.

Let me give a very practical example: During presidential campaigns people will say things like, “Barack Obama is an idiot when it comes to foreign policy.” Do you realize what you have done in saying that? You, because you know Matthew 7:1-2, have agreed to stand before the judgment seat and be judged based on your wisdom of foreign policy! Which likely you have very little. Now in proper context you could say “His lack of foreign policy experience makes him unqualified for the presidency.” At that point you are not judging the man’s character, you are discerning his qualifications, and there is a big difference.

Be careful the way you judge. Am I saying you cannot say that someone is a gossip, or a liar, or whatever? I am saying use very extreme caution, and only judge out of utter humility having already judged yourself and repented of your own sin. There are many self-righteous fundamentalists out there who are piling judgments upon themselves and will be in for terrible awakening at the White Throne. Will they be saved from the lake of fire? Maybe, but not after feeling the horrible humiliation and judgment by the very standards they set.