Monday, May 30, 2011

Angry Elders

"An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered..." (See context: Titus 1:6-9; Emphasis mine)

“Not quick-tempered.” The word used in the Greek text to convey this idea of “quick temper” is “orgilon.” It means wrath. I think the idea in the Titus text regarding the qualifications of an elder is that an elder is not to be given to exploding often in angry displays of really bad, wrathful behavior. The reasons are obvious. How can an elder manage or rule over the church of God if he cannot rule over his own temper? (See 1 Timothy 3: 5)

The Old Testament book of Proverbs speaks to this very issue.

"A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated."(Proverbs 14:17 NKJV)

A man of quick temper behaves not only foolishly but the conjunction used here, and, in the verse connects a quick-tempered man with a man of wicked intentions.

"He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly." (Proverbs 14:29 NKJV)

This verse tells us that someone who is quick-tempered lacks great understanding and that he is impulsive and thus exalts folly.

But, most importantly, the Bible tells us in the Wisdom Book of Proverbs that we are not to even associate with a quick-tempered man:

"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared." (Proverbs 22:24 - 25 NIV)

An elder in a church who is quick-tempered is NOT qualified to be an elder. In fact, when there are more than two three witnesses (See Matthew 18:16; Deuteronomy 19:15) to this sinful behavior the fact can be confirmed that this is a problem from which the quick-tempered man must repent or step down, or be removed, as an elder.

We are commanded in Scripture not to make friends with or to even associate with such a one making it impossible to submit to the Biblical teaching and or discipline of such an elder.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why We Must Be Tested: God's Sufficient Grace

Let's face it: The trials and tribulations of life that God sovereignly brings into our lives (those which He has ordained before the foundation of the world) are not fun. In fact, they are not pleasant, meaningful, exciting, and, in our carnal minds, we wonder just what is going on and if God has deserted us. The trials and tribulation are so severe sometimes that we find ourselves crying out in despair, unable to eat or drink, and are often so incapacitated by them that we are unable to respond to our families and friends. (See the Old Testament book, Job)

And yet, it is about the trials and tribulations of life that God in His inerrant Word commands us to count or regard as joy when we encounter what can seem to us overwhelming trials of life.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3; NKJV)

Faith never grows so well as when we are under various trials and tribulations. This is a biblical fact and no matter how much we kick and scream against the goads, it is true whether we like it or not. It is the storms of life when the winds are blowing at tornado speeds and wreaking destruction, when the floodwaters rise up to our necks, when faith is the most disciplined and enlightened.

It is often because of the degree of our arrogance that the degree of our tribulation is the greatest. Think about it: The Bible tells us we are but “earthen vessels” all frail, delicate, breakable and yet upon whose sufficiency do we depend to get through life? Our own. Why then do we moan and cry out so when our own sufficiency fails us and we are in trouble as the result? Do we not make it worse when we try to claw our way out of tribulation rather than “count it joy” and depend upon that “treasure” we have in our “earthen vessels” to sustain us?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10; NKJV)

[May I humbly suggest that the “this treasure” in the above text is the “Grace of God” via the ministry of the Holy Spirit.]

We never regard ourselves so weak, much less as earthen vessels, until we find ourselves in circumstances that knock the wind from our self-sufficient sails. What do earthen vessels do? What can they do but sit around until someone comes along and plants a pretty flower in them or knocks them off the shelf. It is when the earthen vessel hits bottom that the realization of just how weak and fragile it is becomes apparent. It cracks up and breaks.

Don't you see that getting knocked off the shelf is exactly why God not only gives us trials but also often does so in such degree so that we can see just how weak and frail we really are apart from His enabling Grace? We never would confess our sinful self-dependence and reliance apart from being rendered weak from the tribulations that God sends us. We never would know how weak we are apart from the trials and tribulations of life. And it is exactly in the position of weakness where God wants His children because that is when we learn to depend on the power and strength of the Grace of God in the middle of trouble. That's why and how we can “count it all joy when you encounter various trials...”

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; NKJV)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Incorruptible Seed

It continues to amaze and sadden me just how many so-called professing believers I run into or hear of who base their salvation in Jesus the Christ upon what is often expressed as, “Oh, I made a decision for Christ when I was young.” Yet, the vast majority of these with whom I am personally acquainted and who tell me this are caught up in besetting sins and are living like the devil himself. I am talking rampant sexual immorality or they are chronic liars and see nothing wrong with doing one or both of these sins while professing Christ as Lord and Savior.

Christ, in other words, has had NO impact upon their personal morality or ethics and their behavior betrays their profession of faith. Why is this so? Why is it that so many think that just because they prayed a prayer, raised a hand, walked an aisle, or signed a card in an evangelistic presentation that they are saved? That sounds good, right? What's wrong, if anything, with a scenario like that?

I can sum up the answer to those questions in one sentence:

God has done all He can for you, now it is your turn.”

I have heard hundreds of variation of this; two are:

God has done His part, now you must do your part.” … “Belief now is what God requires of you and that's all He expects as your part in this.”

And the list can go on and on.

A false, watered down, weak and emaciated gospel is presented in almost every professing evangelical church around the world. An appeal is made to man as if he or she had the ability to make a righteous decision to come to Christ. The results of this message are the shipwrecked lives so dominant in evangelical churches today.

Besides having no real sense of the crushing weight of their sin in their “decision for Christ,” no conviction, there is no understanding of the high calling of the believer in Christ. There is no sense of the New Creature that has been planted into the souls of True believers.

Listen to this:

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” ” (1 Peter 1:13-16)

This is what a valid profession of faith should look like: 1) Resting your hope fully upon the unmerited favor of God; 2) Resting as obedient children; 3) Not walking as we did when we were non-Christians in our former lusts; 4) Walking as holy New Creations because He who called us is Holy. Do not miss this last point: “ holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

The idea here is that if in all your conduct you are not walking as “holy New Creations” in Christ, then you cannot profess to be a Christian. (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17).

It would do the true believer good to keep his or her focus on the high calling of our new natures (New Creations) in Christ. We would fall less and grow more if we devoted our daily devotions less to physical needs and more to our spiritual ones. Take unto one's heart, thinking long and hard, that to be Regenerated, to be born again, is to have a new birth of an incorruptible, not corruptible, seed.

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,” (1 Peter 1:23)

Do you see this? Someone born again, has had a spiritual re-birth, is of an incorruptible seed. If he or she lives as though he or she is of a corruptible seed, then a profession of faith in Jesus Christ cannot be made because He is that incorruptible seed.

We have to understand this calling if we are to be Christians and live like we are Christians. We cannot deny in word, thought, or deed that we are of (born again) an incorruptible seed and then not live as though we are. This we must keep in the forefront of our hearts if we are really born again.

We have to “carry ourselves,” in our conduct, as someone from a high and regal calling, heavenly speaking. In the world, we must, we have no other choice, to live as someone who is not “of the world.” As believers, we must live as though, and we are, of another world—heaven. As those distinguished by and in Sovereign Grace, we must—no alternative—live as holy princes and princesses of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It would be well if, in the spirit of humility, we recognized the true dignity of our regenerated nature, and lived up to it … Let the dignity of your nature, and the brightness of your prospects, O believer in Christ, constrain you to cleave unto holiness, and to avoid the very appearance of evil. ” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lord We're Prone to Wander

The Christians (true believers) in the Body of Christ, the church, represent a vast collection of levels of spiritual maturity. Some are fairly mature while others are depressingly children in the faith. But when our Great High Priest cares for them by interceding for them before the Father, He does not show favorites and treats His elect, the immature and the mature, on an equal basis. The most immature Christian is as precious to Him as is the greatest man or woman of God.

Young Christians are so prone to be all over the place doctrinally and not know the basics of the faith or how to trust God. Much like human toddlers, they are constantly falling down and getting bloodied noses, scraped knees, and eating what they shouldn't be eating. They need tender care with firm but gentle leading and correction. Christ, the Great Shepherd, protects the weak in faith to guide them to some semblance of spiritual maturity.

No matter our level of spiritual maturity when we are waning, on the verge of shipwreck, God comes swiftly with just the right spiritual food to satisfy our hungry souls. When our hearts are ready to break from the stress of life, God comforts fully and leaves nothing to our sinful selves. He knows how to strengthen us, and He does so. We are never left abandoned.

I think of His effective graciousness in bringing me to faith and trust in His Son and how many are the times I have strayed. Yet, lovingly, and not always gently, He worked providentially to bring me back into His fellowship. He loves those whom He disciplines.

Why do we stray? Why do we, no matter our level of spiritual maturity in Christ, seem to lose steam at times in our Walk with God? Why does our fellowship with the Divine sometimes suffer? In a word: tribulations.

I have been writing about the necessity of trials and tribulations in believers’ lives as THE means to stretch us and make our faith grow. James 1:3,4 is a famous example that a lot of Christians memorize and quote to themselves in the midst of the storms for comfort and grace.

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

But, is it not interesting how no matter how long you have been in the faith, no matter how long you have been walking, hopefully, by faith in God and the promises of His Word, that He knows just how to jar you to your soul with a tribulation designed especially for you? And, invariably we are brought so close to the precipice that we end up asking, “Why are you doing this to me, Oh God?” I've asked, “Why?”

In January 2003, my mother suddenly died. She had been sick but told none of us, her children. Less than five months later, my grandnephew lived but a few hours after birth. Two months later, my younger brother was murdered. (We had just moved out of the country and could not get to the funeral.) Nine months later, my best friend, the guy with whom I grew up, who was the best man in my wedding, and whom I had known since we were fourteen years old, died of cancer. To say I felt devastated would be putting it mildly. I asked, “Why?”

To prevent a wandering from my Lord, here is what I did and I suggest the same for you:

  1. Look to God and His holiness. Concentrate on the verses that tell us that He is not only Holy, but also that without the holiness of God, no man shall stand in His sight (1 Peter 1:16; Heb. 12:14).
  2. Look at your union with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection (Romans 6:1-14), and realize that the same God who brought the terrible trials into your life is the same God who graciously, in His mercy, brought you to union in Christ and imputed to you the Righteousness of Christ without which no man shall see God (Heb. 12:14; 2 Cor. 5:21).
  3. Look at the fact of Scripture that it is in the fires of tribulation that what is left of your dependence on your sinful flesh is purged from your body (Dan. 9,24; Psalms 66:10-12).
  4. Look at your identification in Christ and know that in addition to what is mentioned in point #2, we have been co-ascended with Christ (see Colossians 3:1-4) and co-seated with Him in the heavenly places. He, in whom we are united, co-ascended and co-seated, has all principalities, power, and dominion; yes, even all things beneath His feet (Eph. 1: 20-23). The demonic powers that seek to shipwreck your faith are in submission to Him in whom we live and He in us (Gal. 2:20). HE HAS ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET!

Those of us prone to wander He is faithful to bring us back to His fold.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

1 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing; 18th century pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - 1689 LBC - 3

True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
( Canticles 5:2, 3, 6; Psalms 51:8, 12, 14; Psalms 116:11; Psalms 77:7, 8; Psalms 31:22; Psalms 30:7; 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Psalms 42:5, 11; Lamentations 3:26-31 )

Friday, May 20, 2011

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - 1689 LBC - 2

This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
( Hebrews 6:11, 19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 2 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11; Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1-3 )
This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
( Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; Psalms 77:1-12; 1 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Romans 5:1, 2, 5; Romans 14:17; Psalms 119:32; Romans 6:1,2; Titus 2:11, 12, 14 )

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - 1689 LBC - 1

Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
( Job 8:13, 14; Matthew 7:22, 23; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 1 John 5:13; Romans 5:2, 5 )

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world .” (Phil. 2:14-15)

Christians are some of the biggest cry babies on the planet. The degree of their whining and griping can, at times and in some, rival if not exceed that of the non-Christian. It is such a trap into which we can so easily fall and become ensnared into a habit of complaining and disputing that ends up betraying our profession of faith.

When the rod of discipline (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6) strikes the so-called Christians cries the loudest, “What have I done to deserve this from God?”

I have been exercised in this very thing as of late and have had the profoundest conviction of my sinful complaining to God as though I should deserve something better from the hand of the Almighty. Let me ask you, dear Reader, that which I asked recently myself:

Why should I complain of God's working in my life? Just what is it I think I deserve from the hand of God: all sunshine and never a storm cloud and a life where all the good guys wear white hates and the black hooded bad guys always lose the battle between good and evil?”

Sure, we are more than conquerors through Christ but read the entire text:

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

What exactly does, “...all these things...” refer to? Well, if you check the preceding verses, 1-36, you will find what this phrase “all these things” is speaking to:

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written:

For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us...” (Romans 8:35-37)

You cannot be a conqueror with out something over which to conqueror, right? This is talking about the trials and tribulations that God in His sovereignty ordains in our lives. If you never have the tribulations, distresses, persecutions, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, then you will never know what it is to be a conqueror. So, why gripe about it?

Think about how much of the carnal nature you still have in your life and you will soon come to realize just how much you need God's loving hand of discipline (the rod), harsh as it might feel, to draw the corruption out of you. Figure out just how much there is of the flesh there is left in you mixed with what sanctification you have and then can you really bellyache over the discipling hand of God that has come to rid you of it? Is the tribulation really too hard to bear when you need it so badly to make you more and more into the imagine of our Precious Lord Jesus Christ?

Look at it this way: Does not the fact of trials and tribulations in your life prove that there is much to do with regard to the Holy Spirit's sanctification in your life? Does not the degree of pain and agony in the problems you face indicate that there is much to purge from your sinful flesh to be conformed to the imagine of Christ? (See Romans 8:28-30) And the louder and louder you scream in despair in the trials of your life does this not prove just how much you lack submission to the will of God in your life?

The harder and louder you kick and scream against the trials of life the harder they will be and the longer you will have to endure them. The sooner you recognize and submit to the fact that it is God hand that has wrought the tribulations the quicker you will be able to endure them with the help of the Spirit of God. God corrects in love and in doing so has in His mind the goal to change you into a more holy creation. Stop resisting.

Hebrews 12:6 (New King James Version)

For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hope In The Day of Evil

In His Word, God never tells us that the life of Christians is going to be a cinch. He never intimates that life will be one big roller coaster ride with us eating cotton candy and watching clowns that make us giggle our way through our earthly existence. Our walk through our path of life will have days of enjoyment and days when it feels like all the air has been sucked out of our lungs. Life is not a bed of roses and God never promises that in His Word.

There are times when passenger cars on the roller coaster fly off the tracks, the cotton candy makes us sick, and the clowns that made us laugh with glee now are striking terror in our hearts. And, we begin to wonder through what seems now to be days upon days of dark clouds and storms, whether there ever was a bed of roses that we used to admire for its beauty.

We come to ask, “Where is God in all of this suffering and pain?” Worse yet, we ask, “Surely this should not be happening to me; I am a Christian!”

Don't think that dear Christian much less say it!

Perhaps it seemed easily exciting when you were first brought to faith in Christ by the Sovereign working of God. Persecution was nonexistent; hardships seemed remote; exciting truths from the Bible were learned and you increased in knowledge; Christian fellowship was sweet and never ending. Then, the storm clouds rolled in, imperceptibly at first, until darkness seemed to cover everything in your life.

The most heroic of God's children have had to endure the most painful of trials and tribulations:

"...Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us." (Hebrews 11:35-40)

In Hebrews chapter 11, we are given the not only the definition of what faith is for the Christian but are also shown examples of how our brothers and sisters of the early church endured harrowing trials and temptations and did so by faith. Their horrid circumstances are in this chapter as a lesson to us that no Christian escapes trials. Tribulations are given, writes James, to give us opportunities to show a watching world (and other believers) that no matter in what package life arrives at the doorstep of our lives, we can have joy. Plus, endurance or patience is built into our character. But, warns James, we must let patience or endurance have its “perfect” work in us so that we will become perfect and complete and lacking in nothing. (See James 1:3-8)

No matter how unpleasant the thought, the Biblical fact is that in order to become full-grown children of God (and I am speaking to the issue of sanctification) in our experience or condition upon this earth, we have to have our faith tested through trials and tribulations.

We need to, no, it is essential that our faith be strengthened through trouble, problems, tragedies, unclimbable mountains, unsolvable puzzles, that will force us to deny our sinful dependence upon our flesh and trust in the Triune God. This is how it is and there is no avoiding it. Our God gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:4; James 4:6).

God is our hope, strength, and sustenance in the day of evil (See Jeremiah 17:17).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Can Christians Practice Sin as a Way of Life?

She lies constantly. Each time she is asked her age, she tries convincing the inquirer that she is fifteen to twenty years younger than she actually is. If pressed, she verbalizes an elaborately planned out scheme, presented in a most convincing manner, to cover her fraudulence. Not only is she a chronic liar she also is a pathological gossip. Her gossip is so laced with lies and half-truths that she can't even keep track of what is reality and what isn't. She has undermined at least one couple's marriage with her meddling and has been working on a second one.

This woman claims to be a Christian.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. ” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

In redemption, the shedding of the blood of the Messiah for our atonement, we were purchased. God bought us, body and soul, by a terrible price. The death, resurrection, ascension paid a price we could not possibly pay and made us God's. We are His if indeed Christ is us and we in Him (Gal. 2:20).

Because in body and spirit we are not our own but God's, there can be no neutrality in our hearts and minds. In word, thought, and deed we are either His or we are not. If we belong to Christ then we take everything, even our thoughts, captive to Jesus Christ.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

No neutrality; there is only obedience to the One Who bought us if we profess the name of Christ in our hearts and lives.

If this is so, then Christian, who do you trust? On whom do you rely? Who is it that comes up in the conversation with your neighbors? To what do you yield your tongue when asked your age or anything else? The revealing of one's age isn't the point. One could always say something like, “I'd rather not discuss my age.” But to lie and to do it chronically is to practice sin. One has a false profession of faith if there is the practice of lying or any sin in one's life.

Let me make this point even clearer. If you profess to be a Christian, you cannot practice sin as a way of life. Christ became Lord or King over you when and if you are really saved. How then are you serving your Lord and King? What is it you are taking (have taken) captive to the obedience to Jesus Christ? Or, I should say, what is it you are hanging onto sinfully and not yielding to your Lord and King?

If you think that you can call yourself a Christian and serve sin, like my lying friend I mentioned, run, don't walk, away from this thing in your life to the cross of Jesus Christ. Run to Him and yield your obedience to His Scriptures and do what He says. To be a liar means you cannot be a Christian. Obey Christ and not the sinful inclinations of your flesh. Demonstrate your love for Christ in willing obedience to His word.

The true and only proof that you are really saved is that you obey His commandments.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)

If you abide in Christ as 1 John 2: 6 says, then you have to walk as Jesus Christ walked. You have no other choice or option. Jesus was not a liar or deceiver of men. His walk matched His profession to being the Son of God. Your walk, your actions in word, thought, or deed have to match your profession of faith in Christ or you are not a Christian!

I close with a most sobering verse regarding lying:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

An impenitent liar will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Source Of Our Life

By virtue of our union in Christ, Christians have one source of life: Christ. The same person and power that called forth raising Lazarus from the dead is the very same person and power that calls His elect forth from being dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-10). Just as Jesus' friend Lazarus could do nothing to get up and walk out of his place of death and obey Christ's command to “come forth,” neither could we “come forth” to Christ's call when we were also dead and unresponsive to God's message of salvation.

Think of it for a moment: How could a dead man in his grave clothes and tomb have heard the call to “come forth” from the grave much less get up and walk to the opening of the tomb as Jesus bid him? Dead men do not hear anything nor obey a command to get up and come forth! He had to be first and foremost raised from the dead. He had to be made alive from his dead state. Then and only then could Lazarus rise from the tomb and obey the words of Jesus. That same person and power raised us from being dead in our sins so that we could (and risk nothing other than) obey the command to come to Christ in saving faith.

And, in coming to Christ in faith we are joined in union with Him in the likeness of His death and resurrection.

Because of this union, Christ is now the source of our life on this earth. It is in and through His life that we find reason for existing. He is the Person to whom we take all thoughts and actions captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). In doing so, we proclaim that nothing in this sin-filled world of God haters, of those who reject all that God is, can offer us nothing to satisfy our spiritual thirst and hunger.

Why because of our union with, in, and by Christ would we point to any other source to comfort us in times of sorrow and trials, for consolation, for eternal sustenance, or for all things in heaven and on earth? Why would we turn to the things of the world emanating from the vain efforts of men for meaning and help when it is Christ Who is our life?

Charles H. Spurgeon said this:

Where there is the same life within, there will be, there must be, to a great extent, the same developments without; and if we live in near fellowship with the Lord Jesus we shall grow like Him. We shall set him before us as our Divine copy, and we shall seek to tread in His footsteps, until He shall become the crown of our life in glory.”

For the Christian, our sole source and example for life is in and through Christ. “For me to live is Christ.”

Christ who is our life.” Colossians 3:4

Monday, May 9, 2011

At The Place of Power

To sit at someone's right hand is to sit in a place of power. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ, was once hated by men, beaten, bloodied, and crucified on a cross for our sins. However, He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and assumed his rightful place at the right hand of God. He is in His proper place of power sitting at the right hand of God as our advocate (1 John 2:1.2; Hebrews 7:25).

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

The word advocate can mean many things. It often refers to an attorney, backer, champion, defender, and many other definitions. I personally like the word backer to indicate what Christ is to us at his exalted place of ascendancy. He represents us as our eternal and Divine backer: a person who supports or aids a person, cause, enterprise, etc.

When Jesus died on a cross for His people (elect), we had a cessation from God's wrath or redemption from sin's penalty. In His resurrection, He effected for us deliverance from sin's power and control over our lives. When Christ ascended to the right hand of the throne of God (the place of power), He effected Grace and Truth in us and through us. As our advocate and because of what took place on the cross, Christ is our representative head. The raising (His ascension) and the seating of Christ at the right hand of God is His elect's exaltation too.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2,3)

This seating of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of God, His exaltation, is indicative of God's acceptance of our Great High Priest as our Backer (Advocate) and therein lies our assurance of salvation.
This is not only our assurance of salvation, but it is our place of power to survive the tribulation and trials of our sojourn in this world that is hostile toward our heavenly Father. What threat can harm us? What insult can flatten us? What problem is too great for our Representative head who is seated at God's right hand?

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8: 34)

Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God, that position of power, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. What is too hard for Him, the Backer of our faith? What shall overcome us when He in Whom we are hidden (Colossians 3:1-4) is absolute Omnipotence?

The context of this passage is speaking about Christ, our Backer, in whom we are hidden:

"...which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. ” (Ephesians 1: 21-23)

If we are in union with Christ, then what is it that can sway us? Who can harm us? What can shipwreck us in our faith? What enemy of His elect is not under His feet?

By, in, and through our Backer (Advocate), there is no chance of being destroyed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Walking in Saving Faith

If I had but two things to share from the Word of God that would show a believer what it is he or she should seek, they would be these two: A life of saving faith, and a life of walking by that saving faith. To understand these is to understand Biblical Salvation.

These two issues are crucial to the life of the true believer. You will never find a life of saving faith unaccompanied by true piety; nor will you ever find a genuinely pious life that does not have as its foundation the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. And the thing is, you cannot have the one without the other!

There are those who would try and have a cold and calculating orthodox faith bereft of true piety. They have lined all their theological ducks in a row but there is no Christ likeness in them. Then, there are those who seek to mimic true piety but, in their imitations, they have no actual true saving faith.

We must have a living, genuine, saving faith as the foundation of our lives with real and lasting piety as the building that is built on the foundation.

What possible use is a foundation, just the foundation, if there is no building on it? Can one shelter oneself in a storm on foundation? There must be a building erected upon the foundation where one can hide from the dangers of the storm. But, one must have both. If the foundation has no building, then one is not safe. Nor is there safety if there is a building without a foundation. The dangers of the storms of life threaten both.

We need a life of saving faith (the foundation), and a life of walking by that saving faith (the building), if we are to have peace in times of problems and trouble. We cannot seek a life of walking by saving faith (piety) if the foundation of saving faith is not there. To do this is like trying to live in a house with no sure foundation. The winds of life will blow it down.

As therefore ye have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and assured in the faith, even as ye have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6,7)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Great Apostle Paul or The Misogynist ?

Do the pages of Holy Scripture ever refer to a situation as being a cultural circumstance and not applicable to the 21st century? Are there cultural issues in the Bible that perhaps might be changeable for our “day?” I think in answering this question one has got to exercise a great deal of exegetical wisdom and apply a remarkably reliable hermeneutic to come up with the answer. And, how exactly can we know the difference? How can we be sure what we are looking at in Scripture so we do not become guilty of bringing into question the infallibility of the “God breathed” (inspired) Word of the Living God?

A text that some take as being cultural is found in 1 Cor. 7 regarding marriages. Paul's exhortation to remain single seems to be tied to the persecution of the times. Another text, and in my view a stronger one, is the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Regarding head coverings in 1 Cor 11, Paul even says, “judge among yourselves” whether it is proper for a woman to wear a head covering (verse 13). The thing to realize is Paul appeals to custom or tradition if it is not in conflict with the imperative principles of Holy Scripture.

Matthew Henry says: “The Christian religion sanctions national customs wherever these are not against the great principles of truth and holiness; affected singularities receive no countenance from any thing in the Bible.” 1

A text that is NOT speaking to a cultural issue, but is often thought of being just a “cultural thing,” is found in 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

How do we know this is not some misogynistic ploy by the Apostle Paul to bring those rebellious women under control? Why isn't this a trick to make all Christian women into some inferior beings subservient to all those nasty men in the church?

In other words, if the biblical passages merely reflect the chauvinism of a first century rabbinic Jew, they are unworthy of our acceptance. If, however, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and if the New Testament is the Word of God, then the charge of chauvinism must be leveled not only at Paul but at the Holy Spirit Himself - a charge that cannot be leveled with impunity.” 2

I can give you the answer in three words how we know we are not dealing with the culture of the first century: Creation Ordinance Hermeneutic.

Hermeneutics is defined as: “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible) ” 3

The 1 Timothy 2:11-15 text is an excellent example of Paul presenting a truth of Scripture and appealing, not to culture, but to Creation itself as the basis for his Divinely inspired, infallible, and Apostolic teaching.

Rejection of this passage as anything other than what it is, absolute Truth, stems out of liberal theology. “Of course Paul would say this. He is a man.” It is relegated to the boondocks of the cultural boogeyman by those who don't think it is “fair.” When has “fairness” ever been a valid hermeneutic for exegeses of Holy Scripture? (I'm just saying.)

Paul's hermeneutic is to use Genesis chapter one through three as the basis for what he has just said. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and in exercising his Apostolic authority, says women are to keep silent in the church and uses the Creation Ordinance in Genesis as his Divinely inspired reason. He gives no cultural “judge for yourselves” in this text.

R.C. Sproul said:

One of the chief considerations in determining the question of principle or custom is whether the matter involves a Creation ordinance.”

And, my dear readers, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, as distasteful as liberal theology regards it, is tied directly to a Creation Ordinance.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible Public Domain
2   R.C. Sproul

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Following Christ

Are you a Christian, dear reader? What I mean to say is did you, under the crushing weight of your sin, cry out to God for mercy and confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead kind of Christian? (Romans 10:9) If you are that kind of Christian then you are not only saved from the penalty and power of sin but are also a follower of Christ your Lord and King.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

Just as sheep hear and follow the sound of their shepherd's voice, so do we when we hear the voice of The Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. In fact, our Great Shepherd has the right to lead us wherever He deems fit since as His sheep, we are not our own. He bought us with the price of His own blood when He redeemed us (1 Corinthians 6:20). We are His.

It should be noted that we betray our profession of faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior if we dare shut our ears to His calling and directing. We have no right to question His leading and, if we do, we do so at our peril. Obedience to our Lord and King is our solemn duty.

But, some may say, “What if I cannot go where He leads and do what He demands?” Know this, that where and how God leads us, it is His doing and He will provide the means, the needs, the strength, the protection, the courage to do what it is He is directing us to do and where He commands us to go.

Augustine's Confessions: "Give me what you command and command what you will".

Whatever our Prophet, Priest, and King commands you to do, know that He is already there (Omnipresence), He already knows what you need to do His will (Omniscience), and He has the absolute glorious power to supply what you need to do His will (Omnipotence).

No matter if the road to which Christ is directing us is hard, perilous, long, and exhausting, we can have assurance that it will end in everlasting glory with us in the perfect will of God and His loving care. Even if following our Lord's direction leads to death, it will have lead us to the city of God!

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ” (Hebrews 11:10)

Follow your Lord and King no matter where and even if you do not know where you are going.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Abomination Of It All

I've taken a small rest from writing about the doctrinal error known as Easy-Believism. I have several blogs on this subject and hope my readers will check this blog's archive and read what I've been writing. What has sparked my interest to take this theme up again was an event to which my wife was a witness in an evangelistic opportunity with a very young woman last night.

She sat with a distressed 21-year-old woman who has been living with a man three years older than she is. He is a police officer. They have a small child together. They've never married. Now this man has thrown her out and the woman has recently learned he has had another woman all this time that is now pregnant. The young lady is understandably devastated and in shock.

My wife began talking to this woman about her relationship with God. In the course of the conversation, my wife learned that this woman regards herself as a Christian. When my wife asked her how she knew she was a Christian, a believer in Christ as her Lord and Savior, the woman replied that since she made a decision years ago for Christ in this protestant church, she was a Christian.

Do not miss what is being sadly said in this woman's response to my wife's question: the basis upon which this woman believed herself to be a Christian, a believer in Christ as her Lord and Savior, was on a decision for Christ years prior to her deciding to live and fornicate with a man to whom she was not married.

My question is just where was the Lord of her life when she decided to have sex with a man to whom she was not married?

Further investigation by my wife revealed that this woman used to belong to a church in which Easy-Believism is taught. She apparently and obviously never heard from the pulpit of this church that one cannot claim to be a Christian, a follower of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then live one’s life as though He does not exist. She had never heard from the teaching elders of this church that to be brought to faith in Jesus Christ is the result of God the Father giving them, the fallen human, to Christ.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

No one apparently told her the Biblical fact that if she was indeed a true believer then it is not because she decided for Christ. It was not that she made her mind up about anything regarding salvation. It was not that she, as an act of her will, decided to accept the facts surrounding the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, who is the Christ. Besides, it isn't facts to whom the Father draws anyone. It is to a Person: Jesus the Christ. And, unless that human be drawn by the Father to the Son, that human can in no way come to Christ in and of his or her self. It is, as a matter of Biblical fact, impossible (Ephesians 2:1-10).

This, my dear friend, is a perfect example of the faulty and abominable doctrine that is being preached in the vast majority of Evangelical churches today. They are teaching that God has done His part and now you must do your part in making a decision, as an act of your will, for Christ lest you burn in eternal Hellfire.

So, what exactly is this Decisionalism or Easy-Believism salvation? And why does it produce such flimsy and false professions of faith in which these so-called believers can go about their lives after their decision and live like everyone else in the world?

The term “easy-believism” is a usually derogatory label, used to characterize the faulty understanding of the nature of saving faith adhered to by much of contemporary Evangelicalism, most notably (and extremely) by such Dispensational authors as Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges. The term was popularized in an ongoing debate between Hodges, to whose theology the label “easy-believism” was affixed, and John MacArthur, to whom the term “lordship salvation” came to be applied.” i

This doctrinal error or heresy teaches that all one needs to do to come to faith in Christ, or to come to a saving faith, is the acquiescence to some facts about the Gospel followed by an appeal to Christ for salvation. It is not required, so say the advocates of this soteriology,ii that someone submit, in any sense of the word, to Christ's rule or Kingship over his or her life. Amazingly, some of the advocates of this very dangerous error actually teach that someone can even be unwilling to obey the commands of Christ after making this appeal for salvation and still be considered a Christian.

I cannot begin to fathom the exegetical reasoning behind this theological position.

In recent months, I have been personally involved in the moral crisis of families in my own church in which this easy-believism doctrine is taught: “God has done His part and now it is up to you to do your part.” This semi-pelagianism, and that is exactly what this abomination is, shows its practical result in the morality, or lack thereof, in the lives of those who believe this lie. They think that because they made a decision for Christ, as an act of their fallen and totally depraved human wills, that they are now, “Once Saved Always Saved,” and it does not matter how they then live their lives. Obedience to the commands of God never entered or enters the salvation equation and the outcome of this theology is painfully and tragically all too apparent.

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." (1 John 2: 3-6)

Do not miss the point of this text: The proof of one's claim to know Christ in a salvificiii sense is: “If we keep His commandments.” If you say that you “know Him” and do not keep His commandments (to keep the commandments is another way of saying to obey the commandments), then you are a liar and the truth is not in you! If you say you are in Christ then you have “to walk as Christ walked.”

If you claim to be a believer in Christ as your Lord and Savior then you MUST be living as though He is indeed your Lord and that will be evident by you keeping His commandments. If your heart and life are not inclined to keeping His commandments, then stop professing falsely that you are a Christian. It is just as simple as that. Read First John for confirmation of what I have just said.

This is serious and it is dangerous. The vast majority of professing Evangelical churches all over the world are teaching that you can decide yourself into the Kingdom God by a mere exercise of your sinfully fallen and depraved human will without any change whatsoever in your life.

God's answer in His Word (1 John) to that proposition is that it is a lie!

iiSoteriology is the doctrine of salvation
iiiSalvific sense = salvationally or in a salvation sense

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Is Your Passion?

The true Christian, the genuine believer in Christ as Lord and Savior, will be characterized by the unassailable passion to glorify God in his or her life. Everything else in the life of the Christian should be secondary. The driving inclination in the believer's life is that the glory of the Triune God would be manifested in and through his or her life.

The believer might want to see success in life's endeavors but only to the extent that God is glorified. A professing believer is not evidencing a credible testimony if there exists any other motive than to show God off, to glorify Him, in any and all aspects of the believer's life.

The Bible is explicit in this regard. It is very clear, it is precise, that we are to glorify God. But, why?

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

Christ redeeming us with the price of His blood purchased us for God. It is because of that terrible price that we are not our own. If we have been bought by the blood of Christ, if we are therefore Christians, then we have no right to do anything other than glorify God in and through our bodies.

Glorifying God has got to be our soul's desire. To glorify God has got to be the basis for all our affairs. There is nothing in our lives this does not touch. Whether business, fame, fortune, marriage, children, church, driving a car, there is nothing in life that escapes the command to glorify God in our bodies.

And, we must grow in our desire to glorify God. We must search out any nook or cranny in the cupboards of our hearts where He is not being glorified and crucify that thing afresh to the glory of the Living God.

Let it be an ever-increasing passion!