Posts Tagged ‘faith’
Posted by Job on October 12, 2014
Posted by Job on March 22, 2013
In the past, I have vehemently criticized the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith. The reason for this was my ignorance. I took regeneration to be another word for conversion in that it had the exact same meaning.
However, regeneration only refers to passing from death to life. It is what happened in the natural sense when Lazarus and a number of unnamed characters were raised from the dead by those such as Jesus Christ, Elijah and Elisha. Those natural regenerations were types, or prefigurements, of the spiritual regeneration that happens when a sinner becomes a believer. We can include the resurrection of Jesus Christ as this sort of natural regeneration, as Jesus Christ’s physical existence went from being dead to alive. Obviously, being the sinless perfect and pre-existing God and Son of God, Jesus Christ needed no spiritual regeneration of any sort. This is in contrast with Lazarus, who not only experienced natural regeneration after being dead four days, but being one born into original sin and having sinned – as the soul that sinneth shall die as Lazarus did – he needed to receive spiritual regeneration also.
The subject of confusion: being regenerated, being born again, is only part of the salvation process. The actual conversion process happens after regeneration. Further, the effectual calling occurs before regeneration.
1. Effectual call: this is when God (the Holy Spirit) calls the sinner to salvation. It takes place when the sinner hears the gospel. (Note: the providence of God must place the sinner in position to hear the gospel first.)
2. Regeneration: this is when the Holy Spirit raises the sinner from the dead.
3. Conversion: this is when the sinner receives faith from the Holy Spirit, believes the gospel of Jesus Christ and hence fulfills John 3:16, Romans 10:8-9 etc.
The effectual calling cannot and will not happen unless one has first been chosen (elected by God the Father unto salvation from before the foundation of the world). The regeneration will not occur until one has been called. And salvation occurs after regeneration.
Why must regeneration precede faith? I am certain that you have heard that “dead men tell no tales.” Similarly, dead men cannot have faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). How can a dead man have assurance or conviction? A secular dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” How can a dead man have trust or confidence of any sort in anything, let alone a complete and total one in the unseen God? A dead man cannot even have wishy washy confidence in the casket that he is lying in. Why? Because he is dead. He doesn’t even know that he is in a casket. He has no feelings, thoughts or emotions.
This is not a contrivance of philosophy or idle speculation, but a truth clearly taught in scripture. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” But that is Paul’s doctrine, right? Well from the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Now John 3:3 is key. Seeing the kingdom of God or entering the kingdom of God is always used by Jesus Christ to refer to salvation. Always. So, Jesus Christ explicitly states that one must be born again before that person can be saved. Again, when Jesus Christ said “except”, He was making a condition. So, the condition of being saved was being born again. Regeneration precedes conversion or salvation. And take a look at Ephesians 2:8, which says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.” Regeneration precedes salvation. Salvation comes by faith. Thus, regeneration precedes faith. It is clearly, explicitly taught in scripture.
The doctrine of regeneration precedes faith is considered to be a Calvinist distinctive. However, many non-Calvinists believe so also without acknowledging or admitting it. Many non-Calvinists believe that God makes a change in the sinner that allows the sinner to make a choice to accept or reject him. Of course, the acceptance is a decision made through faith, and the rejection is a decision made through a lack of faith according to this doctrine. The non-Calvinist does not refer to this as regeneration, of course, because he recognizes that regeneration must necessarily result in salvation. So the non-Calvinist regards this as God’s merely opening the sinner’s eyes and hearts for the purposes of allowing him a free choice.
Problems with this doctrine are many. The Bible makes it clear that unsaved people are spiritually dead. So the person goes from spiritually dead to “sort of dead”, akin to the woman who says that she is “sort of pregnant”? Just as you are either pregnant or not, you are either dead or not … there is no in-between! Second, how can the “sort of dead/alive” person choose to believe and accept God on this basis in the absence of faith? Simple: he cannot. He cannot accept the gospel and believe without faith. And if God gives him faith, he will inevitably believe. There is no such thing as conditional, decision-based faith that is only activated on choice. So, for the sinner to choose God once God makes this choice possible requires the sinner to already have faith present within himself. And if this faith is present, he never was a sinner to begin with, and he was never spiritually dead to begin with. The Bible states that without faith it is impossible to please God. The converse would mean that those who have faith are already acceptable to God, meaning that they were righteous, justified, regenerate and converted already. Instead of being in a condition of original sin, this person would have had to have been inherently righteous already without having heard the gospel and without need of Jesus Christ. Moreover, if such a righteous person were to confess and repent of his sinful condition and state his need for Christ to be his savior, that person would be a liar!
The doctrine of regeneration coming after faith – or truthfully that regeneration and conversion are the same – is due to people being determined to believe that God must offer a man a free choice to accept or reject Him in order to be just and righteous. However, accepting God cannot be made in the absence of faith! The Bible is clear on this. Thus, denying that regeneration precedes faith is nothing more than an absolute determination to believe a lie.
This also solves the problem of those who fall away and confirms the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved.” Be not deceived: faith is not mere belief. Faith only comes by the Holy Spirit after the Holy Spirit regenerates you. And after conversion, the Holy Spirit seals you and keeps you in the faith. The Bible is clear on this. The Bible is also clear with the parable of the sower that it is possible to believe the gospel at one point but later renounce that belief. The Bible further states clearly that it is possible to believe the gospel, retain this belief but not bear fruit. The Bible further still states that it is possible to believe the gospel, do good works and bear fruit but not be obedient. These are the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Christ makes it clear that those people (the ones who renounce the gospel after believing at one point, those who believe but do not bear fruit, and those who believe and bear fruit but are disobedient) will be cast into the lake of fire! Why is this so? Because these people believed without receiving faith, and they did not receive faith because they are still unregenerate. You cannot have faith and be spiritually dead, but you can certainly believe and be spiritually dead. Hence, rejecting the truth that regeneration precedes faith is one of the reasons why many Christian denominations (Methodists and many Pentecostals for example) believe that it is possible to lose your salvation. The regeneration precedes faith doctrine provides both absolute proof that those who fall away were never saved to begin with, and provides absolute assurance that those who are truly saved will bear fruit, attain obedience and endure trials and tribulations until the end, even unto death!
So God will accept anyone who comes to Him through His Son, because those who come to God are those that God has called to do so. Is God calling you today? If so, repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. If you wish for more information on how to do so:
Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: ancient of days, conversion, election, faith, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, lose your salvation, once saved always saved, perseverance of the saints, Pneumatology, regeneration, salvation, soteriology, total depravity, typology | 4 Comments »
Posted by Job on January 27, 2012
Posted by Job on January 26, 2012
All right folks. I said that I was going to give this online discernment ministry thing up. The first reason was that there were too many false teachers and doctrines to keep track of. The second reason was that based on my interactions with those following these false preachers even after their unBiblical scandalous doctrines and behavior had been exposed that folks were going to believe what they choose to believe anyway. The third was that I had felt that I had adequately addressed the issue with the 3 years of blogging that I did dedicate to the topic. The fourth was that I felt that the best way to combat error was with the truth, so I decided to take this site in a more exegetical direction. And the last of those was also chosen for practical reasons: I no longer have the time to answer comments and interact with people that I did back when I made exposing false teachers so writing about scripture’s meaning and application seemed to be a superior use of time (and yes I do need to get back to writing about the Bible).
But the T.D. Jakes issue is timely right now due to Jakes’ recent appearance at a respected evangelical event of some estimation where he was “interviewed” by Mark Driscoll, where the topic of Jakes’ rejection of the Holy Trinity was discussed. Now I don’t mean to attack anybody, but one Christian blogger quickly proclaimed Jakes’s statement satisfies me that he is a Trinitarian and that we should celebrate that Jakes has joined the Trinitarian camp. (Which, er, makes all his time as a false preaching modalist heretic and the people that he deceived during that time “ok” I guess. The truth is that at best he was an unregenerate false teacher when he was in the pulpit before, and even if he believes in the Holy Trinity NOW and is born again NOW, he has no business in the pulpit. His previous experience and service is worthless, and he needs to take his place in the pews learning from an actual Christian pastor. Otherwise, we can go get Jewish rabbis, Catholic priests, Buddhist monks, Muslim imams, and liberal “Christians” who perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies and put them into the pulpit immediately after they say a salvation prayer.)
Another Christian blogger made a similar – though more guarded – statement: “By far, the session that was most anticipated was the one in which T. D. Jakes was asked to clarify his position on the Trinity. Thankfully, he did so – though perhaps not in a way that would satisfy all of his critics. I believe we should celebrate his affirmation of the truth that there is one God in three Persons.”
The problem with doing so: Jakes own words on the Holy Trinity in the past and present. Now, here is a link to the transcript of the Elephant Room session, judge Jakes for yourself. But what follows is MY evaluation.
Part 1: I used to follow T.D. Jakes. Now … not so much. Without calling him a liar (while actually, you know, calling him a liar) allow me to propose that just because Jakes says something does not make it so. So … just because Jakes says that he believes “One God three Persons” DOES NOT MEAN that we should take it at face value. Jakes has been “less than forthcoming” on many issues in the past, so he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Just because Jakes is in the pulpit and calls himself a Christian does not mean that we should believe what he says. So no, listening to what he says and being “satisfied” requires a presumption that he is telling the truth, a presumption that he does not merit. Does that sound harsh, the bitter words of someone who has “church hurt” as it is called? Well keep reading.
Now in one context I can be SYMPATHETIC to Jakes’ views because I don’t like the wording or terminology used by the Cappadocian fathers myself. But this unease with the Cappadocian formulation needs to be addressed by someone other than Jakes. Why? Because Jakes has been known to be less than honest with the truth, and not merely on this issue. Recall that when Jakes was first challenged on the Trinity doctrine by Christianity Today, he submitted a modalist doctrinal statement that he insisted be accepted as Trinitarian!
Do not take my word on this: another ministry came to the same conclusion, that Jakes was dishonestly trying to pass off modalist heresy for orthodoxy. When challenged on it, he dissembled, claiming that his views on the Trinity were adapting and growing, that he was studying and learning more about it, and how Christians need to stop all this infighting and arguing about such things as minor differences in phraseology and get to the weightier matters of the kingdom, and such excuses for retaining and defending heresy as “these things are too mysterious to be comprehended or explained.” Jakes even resorted to race-baiting, stating “Christians will never agree on every theological issue any more than the colors of our skin will all suddenly match.” So, if Jakes was a liar and a demagogue on this Trinity issue in the past,why should we presume that he is any different now? What has changed to make us presume that Jakes has changed? Especially since he is still preaching heresies in other areas, such as the prosperity doctrine and trying to pass off ecstatic babbling done by mystics in many false religions as “speaking in tongues”?
Part II: From the transcript, it really does appear as if Jakes is fine with “persons” in his Trinitarian statement so long as “persons” is synonymous with “manifestations.” Basically, he says, “well, so long as I can call a ‘person’ a ‘manifestation’ then I am Trinitarian.” He says “My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word” – and Driscoll finishes his thought – “manifestations.” What he says next is a amazing.
“Manifest instead of persons. Which you describe as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 – I didn’t create this, Paul did.” And then he goes onto the time-honored modalist lying techniques from the pit of hell: “I think it’s important that we realize that our God is beyond our intellect. And if you can define Him and completely describe Him and say you are the end-all definition of who God is, then He ceases to be God. Because the reason Paul says it is a mystery, is that we deify the fact that God does things that don’t fit our formulas. And because people’s formulas and understandings of a description of an unbiblical God did doesn’t make them demonic.”
Let us go to his abuse of I Timothy 3:16. Yes, the King James Version that many oneness pentecostal liars claim is the only translation – and I used to be KJV-Only myself, and still today am KJV-Preferred, but not because of the translation itself but the texts used to produce the translation, as I believe text criticism used to produce the new manuscripts is a false science – reads “manifest” as its rendering of the Greek word phaneroō. But other versions translate phaneroō to be “appeared” and “revealed!”
Another thing: phaneroō’s definitions: “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way.” So, rather than being a “mode” or “state” or “relationship” after the doctrines of the oneness heretics (for example, as water has a liquid, solid and gas manifestation as water, ice and vapor) phaneroō’ in this context merely meant how God was shown to men! That is revelation, after the same manner that the Greek word apokalypsis was used in Revelation 1:1. Paul could have just as easily used apokalypsis instead of phaneroō!
Further, according to the definition, what can phaneroō “reveal” or “manifest”? A PERSON! It is right here in definition 1d in a common Bible lexicon placed online via BlueletterBible.com:
1) to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way
a) make actual and visible, realised
b) to make known by teaching
c) to become manifest, be made known
d) of a person
1) expose to view, make manifest, to show one’s self, appear
e) to become known, to be plainly recognised, thoroughly understood
1) who and what one is
Jakes is exposed as a liar by exegesis of the very text that he used to claim that he was telling the truth! In this Jakes fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 10:2, which reads “The wicked in [his] pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.”
Now the dictionary entry makes the Cappadocian utilization of “Person” more justifiable in my mind and it who knows, the Cappadocian fathers might have relied heavily on 1 Timothy 3:16 when they formulated their Trinity doctrine (which would make Jakes’ abuse of that text still more ironic) because that text refers to the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ and not the mere exhibition of a mode of existence or relationship (and moreover this revelation refers to Christ’s existence being shown to the world; for phaneroō to have the meaning that Jakes claims that it does, THE TERM WOULD HAVE TO REFER TO HIS INCARNATION IN THE WOMB OF MARY, NOT HIS EXISTENCE AND WORKS BEING WITNESSED BY MEN, WHICH IS THE TRUE CONTEXT OF 1 Peter 3:16 AS WELL AS REVELATION 1:1, WHICH AGAIN IS WHY APOKALYPSIS COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN USED INSTEAD) but I confess to still uneasy with it. But the difference between me and Jakes is that JAKES IS LYING. That is the bottom line.
But you know what? This is not truly about Jakes anyway. The reason is that anyone who goes and clicks on the T.D. Jakes category on this blog will know why no legitimate Christian pastor should touch Jakes with a 10 foot pole, unless that pastor has been instructed by God to smite Jakes with it. Instead, it is about the people that are embracing him. It is one thing for the decadent TBN (who has their own tag) Pentecostal abomination to embrace Jakes, and please recall that it was TBN who made Jakes into an international figure. TBN is run by a man who paid off a TBN employee with whom he had a homosexual encounter with, and has since been sued by another man making the same charges. These charges and the many other scandals are commonly known by those who patronize that network anyway and … well now you see why I felt that there were better uses of my time than exposing people who have already been exposed because people simply do not care!
But now, TD Jakes is being embraced by the “more respectable” corners of evangelical Christianity as represented by (ironically named) The Gospel Coalition, which includes some of the most prominent pastors and theologians in evangelical Christianity today. Now of course, there was significant “debate” over inviting Jakes. The fears of those objecting were quite founded, as it resulted in Mark Driscoll, himself a very troubling personality, doing very much to rehabilitate Jakes, largely because of Driscoll’s own desire to push his false anti-cessationist doctrines into the Reformed/Calvinistic evangelical movement. Also, those who would have challenged Jakes rather than accommodate him were not allowed to participate. But the fact that there was even a debate at all shows how far gone the evangelical landscape is! Having Jakes in the Elephant Room should have been as much a nonstarter as having Richard Dawkins or Pope Benedict!
And that brings us to the real issue: further evidence that the evangelical church in America is veering off the rails. (It is such times that even people who MILDLY stand against Jakes and his lies are the ones to be mocked, opposed and condemned.) Is the great apostasy, the great falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 upon us? This event is prophesied in scripture, and will come to pass. It is a very tragic development in and of itself, but 2 Thess 2:3 tells us that the great falling away is a precursor to – or more accurately a precondition for – the coming of the beast, the anti-Christ, the man of sin, which occurs during the great tribulation. It is my position that the church will experience this great tribulation, and not be raptured from or otherwise escape it, as many pastors and teachers propose. So as difficult as things are now for the church as evidenced by its willingness to not only suffer but endorse and promote such false teachers as Jakes, it is only paving the way for even tougher times to come. Christian, watch and discern the times. Pray. Be strengthened and encouraged in the Lord so that you will not be deceived, that you will resist temptation, and stay in the faith.
For those of you not in the faith, realize that the proliferation of false doctrines and those who gain wealth, fame and power by teaching them does not undermine Christianity, but rather is evidence that the Bible is true, for Jesus Christ Himself and His apostles predicted that such a time as this would come thousands of years ago; Christ referred to men such as Jakes as ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing. That many will follow such people is evidence that narrow is the gate that leads to salvation, and wide is that which leads to destruction!
Enter into the narrow gate. Be saved in the Name of Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ. Follow
Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: anti - Christ, apokalypsis, apostasy, beast, discernment, elephant room, endtimes, eschatology, evangelical, evangelicalism, faith, fulfilled prophecy, great apostasy, great falling away, heresy, holy trinity, homosexuality, man of sin, Mark Driscoll, modalism, oneness pentecostalism, online discernment ministries, online discernment ministry, phaneroō, prophecy, prosperity doctrine, Prosperity Gospel, sound doctrine, T.D. Jakes, TD Jakes, trinity | 4 Comments »
Posted by Job on January 1, 2011
Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, Jesus Christ | Tagged: audio, comfort, endtimes, eschatology, faith, hope, Iain Campbell, joy, peace, preaching, prophecy, salvation, sermon | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on December 31, 2010
For a better exposition of this issue, please refer to this post, and play audio track 1.
Legitimate Christian evangelism means a lot of hard sayings. It requires convicting people of their personal sins so that they will turn from them in true repentance. It requires informing people of their total depravity and true helpless condition before God so that they will know that they need to rely totally grace based on what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross and not on works, values, morals, culture, creeds or church affiliation. And it requires telling people what will happen if they do not respond with fear and trembling before the Holy God who is not only Saviour but Lord, Judge and a consuming fire with submission and faith, which is a grotesque eternal punishment.
Now it is no surprise that at this the world stumbles and rejects, for the world is dead to spiritual things, and moreover hates and rejects Jesus Christ, and will continue in their rebellion against Him until all things are fulfilled and they will come before Him not to be redeemed but to be judged for their crimes of wickedness.
Instead, the surprise is that so many people in the church reject this. It is not modern. Market driven. Poll tested. Focus group approved. It is not made to order by folks who want to have it their way. So, they say, we need to find a way to win converts that is more in tune with the times. Don’t change the message, however. No, that would be a different gospel! Instead, alter the packaging. Make it nicer, more sunny and warm, and prettier to look at. Who wants to look at a bloody, gnarled wooden cross, a gruesome method of execution by torture used by the Roman Empire, whose victims often lingered painfully for days before succumbing to dehydration, exhaustion or asphyxiation? Instead, give us a nice shiny pretty golden cross, an icon or idol that kind of represents or points to the real thing, only better!
So, let’s not focus on the negative. Let’s accentuate the positive! Don’t talk about what we are against! Tell them what we are for! Don’t tell them what they are! Tell them what they can be! And once we get them to agree to raise a hand, walk the aisle, sign the card or say a prayer, THEN we can deal with the information that brings down the presentation! We can talk about sin and repentance and eternal punishment and the cross and grace while we rush them through (get them to say) the salvation prayer. Or we can do it when we have them (rote and ritualistically) repeat the apostle’s creed at the start of each church service. Or we can instruct them in it during the new member orientation (that most people don’t attend and the rest daydream through, and that is a good thing because they are often led by people who while well meaning and sincere are incapable of answering any serious doctrinal or scriptural questions anyway).
But have the preacher declare it oft from the pulpit at church? Do that and nobody would come! Train the evangelists to go out declaring it door to door? Do that and nobody would go! Go out and declare it in the streets, in the prisons, in the hospitals, in the homeless shelters, in the highways and byways? Nobody would respond! Or at least … not enough.
So, we have to sweeten the deal a little bit. Talk about family values and strengthening families in the church, not about how Jesus Christ said that we’d often have to forsake our families for the sake of the gospel, not that He came to bring peace but a sword, and that our true brothers and sisters are those who believe in Him and do His word. Talk about Christian money management and wealth accumulation techniques, not about the Jesus Christ who told us not to seek and lay up treasure that rust and moth corrupts and thieves steal. Talk about national renewal and revival and how we can lead our Christian nation back to God, and not how all nations will be judged for their wickedness when Jesus Christ returns. Talk about social action, environmentalism, closing the gap between the rich and the poor and not about the Jesus Christ who said that His kingdom is not of this world, and that our hearts should be on the world that is to come. Talk about our need to stand with Israel and help defend her from her enemies, instead of our need to stand before God and examine ourselves to see if we truly be in the faith, and if we are growing in the faith and bearing fruit the way that Jesus Christ told us to lest our unfruitful branch be pruned off and tossed into the unquenchable fire where the worm never dies and whose smoke from the horrible torment will rise up forever. Talk about the Jesus Christ who is the romantic lover and carousing partying best buddy friend, and not the one who is the Holy God who has existed for eternity, will exist for eternity, performed creation, sustains creation, and one day will judge creation. Talk about the Jesus Christ who said “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone” and “judge not”, and not the Jesus Christ who said “Go and sin no more” and “Woe woe woe” and the Jesus Christ who gave us the most detailed, vivid, graphic and horrifying descriptions of hell and the judgment of sinners that exists in the Bible! Talk about anything, everything but what the Bible actually says!
Why? Because you don’t want to drive the people, the paying customers, away, do you? What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy or something? How are we going to pay the mortgages and utilities on these buildings? How are we going to fund our parachurch organizations? How are we going to pay our salaries?
And if the faith of our believers is challenged because the churches aren’t continually growing and getting bigger, if we aren’t always baptizing more people this year than last year, what will happen to that faith? What will happen if our believers are forced to stop relying on things that they can see and measure, and start trusting in things that they can’t see? And what will happen to our faith? If we have to start living by faith, the faith of Abraham, what will happen to us? What will happen to me? And it is not like we are doing something WRONG. After all, haven’t you heard that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?
Well, yes, that is true. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The issue, however, is that Christians are not supposed to be out there trying to catch flies! When Jesus Christ restored Peter after Simon denied Him thrice, Jesus Christ didn’t say “catch my flies.” No, Jesus Christ said “feed my sheep!” Those who are predestined to be born again in Jesus Christ, those that Jesus Christ has been Lord of since the foundation of the world, are not flies! They are sheep! SHEEP! Jesus Christ is the good shepherd, the one who came, loves, died for, resurrected for, and protects the sheep! Jesus Christ was given the sheep by God the Father, was obedient and submissive perfectly to God the Father, and for this reason was glorified by God the Father, and therefore is Lord of the sheep because of God the Father!
So then, what of the flies? Well, they have their lord also. And who is the lord of the flies? Satan! Beelzebub! The word Beelzebub literally means “lord of the flies!” And why? Because flies CORRUPT. They carry GERMS. They lay eggs in food, which hatches into maggots and SPOILS IT! Flies go to things that are pure and good and spoil it, making it loathsome, contemptible, refuse, good for nothing except to be thrown out and burned or used as fertilizer or compost! Put a pile of garbage or excrement on the ground and the flies will head right towards it! To the Jews, flies represented corruption (similar to leaven), corruption represented sin, and Satan, the serpent of old was the ruler of it! So those who are out there attempting to attract flies, as Jesus Christ said as recorded in His gospel, God is not their Father!
Instead, Satan is their father, Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and his children – the ones seeking flies – are deceivers, liars, corruptors and murderers just as is he! They are these things because they withhold the truth, the love, the beauty of God’s Word from people and instead give them things to please the flesh! Things to tickle the ears! Things that sound good to deaf ears, that look good to dull eyes, and feel good to hard, cold dead hearts! You give dogs, swine or flies flesh, rotten corrupt stinking flesh, and they’ll eat it! But God’s children, God’s beloved, precious beautiful children, the ones so precious that God sent His Own Son for, will not eat flesh. They need Spirit! They need the Word of Life! If it is flesh, it is not corrupt, fallen flesh that flies want, but it is the Bread of Life that is Jesus Christ! Those children right now are going hungry, malnourished, wanting for true, good holy spiritual food because oh so many pastors, preachers and teachers are withholding it from them. They are withholding it from them because they are captive to the thinking of this world, and this world esteems a huge towering building full of flies – counting it for success – while despising two or three sheep gathered together in the Name of Jesus Christ, calling it a failed dead church that isn’t growing because what the pastor is preaching is irrelevant!
Irrelevant. Relevant. Did you know that there is actually a “Christian” magazine called “Relevant.” Isn’t that something? Go check it out to see what I am talking about. It’s a magazine for flies. They’re far from the only ones. Charisma? Flies. Christianity Today? Flies. Focus On The Family? Flies. Christian Coalition? Moral Majority? Traditional Values Coalition? Family Research Council? Flies. Civil rights movement? Flies. Sojourners? Flies. All who are after the things of this world, who are after the leaven and not the bread … flies.
You know what is real good at getting after flies. Venus flytraps. But do you know what happens? THE FLY DIES! And why are we surprised? The same lord of the flies is the one whose only mission is to steal, kill and destroy. Do not be satisfied with ministries and works that are of the lord of the flies. Instead, seek Jesus Christ’s true ministry. Go, and do it quickly.
Posted in Bible, Christianity, devotional, evangelism, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: Beelzebub, christian living, faith, relevant, religious left, religious right, seeker sensitive, worldliness | 5 Comments »
Posted by Job on July 3, 2010
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:14-21
Much has been written in the area of spiritual warfare and deliverance. Some of it is based on scripture, some on experience, some on things taught and handed down, some on what purports to be revelation, some on conjecture, and usually the final product is some combination of these things. I do not deny that these techniques cannot yield results, because that would be denying what I have seen with my own eyes and borne witness to with my own testimony. However, “whatever works” cannot be the basis of sound Christian belief and practice. A good reason for this is simple: “results may vary!” In the scientific community, one of the major tests used to establish and verify a theory using experiments or observation is repeatable results. Since the results of the various spiritual warfare techniques, strategies and methods do in fact vary – a fact that the teachers and proponents of these methods freely admit – we cannot rely on unreliable experientialism for our Christian doctrine and practice. Instead, we must rely on the Bible. The Bible is God’s unique, Holy Spirit inspired revelation that is inerrant, infallible and the final authority in all things. So, even though the varying results is enough to justify being suspect of a lot of the spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings, the truth is that the doctrine of scripture means that Christians should not rely on practices and beliefs not supported in scripture even if they did work every time. So even if it does work, then what profit is it if the “work” is not of God and does not glorify God? The purpose of Christian living is to serve and glorify God, not to do the things that we want to do and believe that should be done ourselves. As the Bible is the final authority and is 100% infallible, then the Bible gives us perfect instructions on how to live to serve and glorify God in all areas. The Bible is what teaches us, and the Bible is what we must use to teach others.
So, based on the revelation of Jesus Christ as given to us in the Bible – and the purpose of the entirety of scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ – the best, surest way and the starting point for all spiritual warfare and deliverance is prayer. Prayer is the first and best weapon against the evil one and his forces. Consider, for instance, the Lord’s prayer.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 and also Luke 11:2-4
How many of you knew that this was a spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer? It is. For one thing, it deals with forgiveness of sin, as it asks that our own sins be forgiven by God AND that we forgive the sins of others. Failure to forgive the sins of others, especially against us, leads to anger and resentment that Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us “gives a place to the devil.” For another, it asks that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and it is certainly God’s will for evil spirits and their influence to be bound, hindered, cast out and defeated (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20). But there is also a more direct reference. “Deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s prayer not only means “keep us from sin” (with all the spiritual warfare things that go along with sinning) but many expert theologians and Bible scholars follow Martin Luther in asserting that “deliver us from evil” should read “deliver us from the evil one”, which is Satan.
Now Martin Luther was not one to deny that Christians in our time need to directly confront unclean spirits. Quite the contrary, Luther claimed to have seen Satan and thrown a bottle of ink at him! (Small wonder that a current popular trend – or evil spirit – of deception moving through modern Christianity is to attack Martin Luther and claim that the Reformation, the exodus from the darkness of Roman Catholicism, was a mistake!) So, the Lord’s Prayer is quite literally and unquestionably a direct, powerful spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer. It petitions that God would overcome the presence and effects of sin and evil spirits in our lives. It even addresses the area most often neglected by spiritual warfare teachers, which is the flesh or the old man which still exerts a negative influence on born again Christians as described in Romans 5-7 when asking God to help us to forgive others, and in particular not to view the transgressions of others against us personally more prominently than we view our own transgressions against God. What stronger impulses of the flesh are there than hypocrisy and self-centeredness? And this prayer also explicitly directly asks for protection from all evil spirits through a reference to their leader, Satan. And as Jesus Christ explained in Matthew 12:24-30, being protected from Satan means being protected from all evil spirits.
However, the importance and primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is often overlooked. Instead, the commonly advised and emulated strategy is to imitate the actions of Jesus Christ and His apostles during their spectacular encounters with evil spirits, and also to mix in things learned from other teachings and our own experiences. In doing so, we ignore that the most repeated and striking thing concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ was His prayer life. His ministry began with 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness, and the gospels make it clear that seeking the will of God the Father in prayer was far more prominent in the ministry of Jesus Christ than all the sermons, exorcisms and miracles put together. To put it better, Jesus Christ came not so much to preach and perform miracles and exorcisms as He did to do the will of God the Father, and so Jesus Christ only preached, performed miracles and did exorcisms when it was the will of God the Father that He do so. When it was not the will of God the Father for Him to do so, Jesus Christ did no sermons, miracles or exorcisms, because even being God in the flesh with power and being deserving of praise and glory Himself, had Jesus Christ done those things of His own accord or on His own initiative, God the Father would not have been glorified, and Jesus Christ would have thereby sinned. (Of course, we know that Jesus Christ, being God, cannot sin.) And this was how Satan tempted Jesus Christ during His time of fast … by attempting to get Jesus Christ to take an action apart from the will and direction of God. It was the same temptation that Satan gave to Adam. Where Adam failed, Jesus Christ succeeded. And Christians are to follow Jesus Christ’s success and not Adam’s failure. Follow Adam, and man is glorified. Follow Jesus Christ and God is glorified. To God alone be the glory!
That is why spiritual warfare and deliverance must begin with and be dominated by prayer. We cannot take initiative or authority upon ourselves. We cannot presume to know, for instance, if the issue that we are addressing is motivated by evil spirits in the first place. We also cannot presume the manner and time in which God desires the evil spirit to be cast out. Further, we cannot even presume that God wants the evil spirit to be driven off in the first place! A powerful example of this is the thorn in the flesh described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Now there has been a lot of needless conjecture as to what exactly the “thorn in the flesh” was, but this is only because people have such difficulty believing what the text plainly says, often for doctrinal reasons. But it is clear: “the messenger of Satan” is clearly in the Greek “the angel of Satan”, and we all know that angels of Satan are evil, unclean spirits, or demons. Now for some people, the idea that a born again Christian, an apostle no less, would be tormented by a demon is doctrinally troublesome. For others, the wording of the passage makes it appear as “there was given to me” means that God gave the demon to Paul, which would seem to charge God with being responsible for temptation or evil where scripture tells us that God cannot be the author of evil. However, this stunning passage does recall how God allowed and used Satan in His dealings with Job in the Old Testament. Just as God allowed Satan to attack Job in the Old Testament for purposes that glorified God and ultimately were a blessing to Job, God allowed one of Satan’s demons to do the same regarding the apostle of Jesus Christ Paul. So then, it would not have been to the will of God or glory of God to drive this evil spirit from oppressing or tormenting Paul. Please recall: the evil spirit could not possess Paul because Christians are possessed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So, the demon could only afflict Paul.
And please note that Paul first sought the Lord in prayer concerning the evil spirit. Scripture does not record failed attempts at spiritual warfare and deliverance by Paul concerning the demon, and we cannot presume that these failed attempts existed because the Bible does not record them. Instead, it records Paul’s asking God three times for permission to drive the demon away, and God denying this permission for His own sovereign, God-glorifying purposes which were in service to God’s plan to conform Paul into the image of Jesus Christ! So let us not be deceived. These are not matters to be trifled with. Christians in the spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries must not act according to presumption, self-will and self-initiative. Instead, we must be guided and directed by God’s Holy Spirit. Being Holy Spirit-led and Holy Spirit-filled requires much preparation in ways that include prayer, Bible study, fellowship and good works which are conducive to spiritual maturity in advance (Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting) and also seeking God’s will during the necessary time. Note that I did not say during the time of spiritual confrontation with the forces of evil, for God must permit and instruct us when and whether He wants us to participate in such spiritual confrontations to begin with. Again, it is God’s will that is being done, not ours. It is God that is being glorified, not us. And we are acting in accordance to God’s sovereign will and not our own desires or feelings. This is why we must rely on prayer. We must humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God’s design, God’s plan, and God’s actions through prayer. Otherwise, we take rash actions of self-interest and self-will as did King Saul, who failed to wait on the Lord and found his kingdom and life – and those of his sons – taken from him.
Returning to apostle Paul, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministers have centered on the Ephesians 6:10-17 as one of their favorites for study and practice.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Regrettably, one of the reasons for this is that this passage, when taken incautiously, can invite the flesh to imagine oneself in the manner of this strong, mighty righteous and powerful HUMAN warrior image against the forces of evil, an image that we have seen reinforced time and time again in secular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Incautious and out of contexts readings and applications of this passage may cause us to think that in the Name of Jesus Christ WE have the power, WE have the authority, WE have the dominion, WE can challenge and take over strongholds and defeat the enemy, and that in doing so God’s will shall be done and He shall be glorified. This is indeed the doctrines of many popular spiritual warfare and deliverance teachers. However, such self-seeking presumption is not coming in the Name of Jesus Christ at all, but instead coming in our own name. It is so tempting to reject the counsel of those who actually do come in the Name of Jesus Christ and instead come in their own names (see John 5:43), but reject it we must. For Jesus Christ said that all who call on His Name, even all who cast out devils and do great works using His Name are not truly His. People who use the Name of Jesus Christ in accordance with self-seeking are not Jesus Christ’s sheep, because though they call on the Name of God, like Adam they are following after their own hearts. Instead, Jesus Christ’s sheep will be people who are after God’s heart, so they will seek direction from God and patiently wait on God before they act. The identifying fruit of the spiritual warfare and deliverance minister who is God’s sheep is one who exhibits patience, humility and submission in seeking the will of God lest he sin and lead others into sin, and not one who rushes in according to his own human desires and limited knowledge and misuses and misappropriates the Name of Jesus Christ carelessly, recklessly, proudly and selfishly. Instead of seeking to take authority and power after the manner of human rulers, we should be seeking to submit ourselves to, rely upon and glorify God after the manner of God’s humble servants, including the one Jesus Christ who emptied Himself, came to earth as a man, suffered humiliation and rejection, and was slain for our sins in our place on the cross, and was raised for our justification. It is the manner of the humble Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead and is blessed forever that we should emulate and identify with, and not the manner of proud, presumptive, arrogant and self-willed humanity, or for that manner of the tempter and deceiver of humanity Satan, who in his presumption decided that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:14). Make no mistake, but in doing anything, including spiritual warfare, without first making certain that we are doing God’s will and not man’s, we are emulating not Jesus Christ in His submission and sacrifice to the glory of God, but Satan in his mad and failed attempt at being a usurper of God’s glory. From such, spiritual warfare and deliverance minister, turn away!
Instead, turn your attention to the oft-neglected end of the “put on the whole armor of God” passage, which is verse 18, which reads “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” It clearly shows that the primary and main ingredient to spiritual warfare, to putting on the whole armor of God for confrontations against the enemy, is “praying always in asking to the Holy Spirit.” We are to always pray so that we can ask of the Holy Spirit that indwells all Christians concerning the Will of God. Without receiving and submitting to the will of God in spiritual warfare (or anything else) we aren’t performing spiritual warfare at all, but instead proud, self-seeking and harmful bombast that resists the Holy Spirit, misuses the Name of Jesus Christ, dishonors His sacrifice on the cross and refuses to glorify God the Father. Thus, so-called spiritual warfare that rejects prayer in supplication to the Holy Spirit before, during and after is nothing more than an abomination against the Holy Trinity in clear, explicit ways.
One should note that the primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is given at the end of both Matthew 17:14-21 and of Ephesians 6:10-18. One also notes that no explicit references to prayer seem to be made in many of the New Testament exorcism narrative accounts and references. That is indeed curious, as one would think that in Matthew 17:14-21 and Ephesians 6:10-18 that the most important thing would come first as a lead instead of coming last, and also that there would be a stronger correlation depicted between prayer and spiritual warfare. This is still more evidence of how spiritual things often do not conform to our human expectations. It is a test of our faith, of our faithfulness, of our humility and submission to see if we will study the whole counsel of God as revealed in scripture. To see if we will seek God in spirit and in truth as He commanded us to so. To answer the door of our hearts when He stands and knocks so that He will come in, sup with us, and teach us the truth. Those of us truly interested in knowing and serving God will search, notice and find these things so that we can go about performing spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry – and please recall that ministry means service, and that it is service to God first and then to man – God’s way. Those who are not will cut corners, interpret passages out of context and selectively, and do whatever we can in order to claim to be serving God in God’s way when they will really be serving themselves in their own way.
So I ask and challenge you spiritual deliverance and warfare minister. In what way have you been serving in your ministry before now? And in what way will you serve in your ministry in the future?
Posted in Bible, Christianity, discernment, Jesus Christ, prayer, spiritual deliverance, spiritual deliverance techniques, spiritual warfare | Tagged: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, casting out devils, christian living, Christian walk, demon, doctrine, dominionism, Ephesians 4:26-27, Ephesians 6:10-17, Ephesians 6:18, evil spirit, faith, faithfulness, fasting, Isaiah 14:14, John 5:43, Luke 11:2-4, Luke 11:20, Matthew 12:24-30, Matthew 12:28, Matthew 17:14-21, Matthew 6:9-13, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, practice, Romans 5-7, spiritual maturity, the Lord's Prayer | 18 Comments »
Posted by Job on January 27, 2010
Sometimes, we try to put conditions on God. Or sometimes, we try to get God to prove Himself to us. We try to establish parameters or ground rules concerning our relationship with God. Or, we simply try to bargain with Him. We say to ourselves (or others) things like “God, give me a sign.” “God, if this happens then I know that it means that you want me to do that.” “God, if you do this for me, I will follow you.” Attempts to bribe God, manipulate God, make God our debtor or servant, even attempts to figure God out are common for many Christians. This behavior is very understandable. Often it is the result of confusion, frustration, fear or uncertainty, for instance. But in many cases, it is simply an attempt to deal with God in the same less than ideal way – i.e. manipulative, controlling, fearful – way that we deal with people, including ourselves. We are accustomed to using people. We are accustomed to being used by people. We do things this way to get what we want and to protect ourselves, and we may even tell ourselves that having interactions of this sort is a check on our own behavior, a way to keep US from exploiting others! Conducting relationships as business transactions is common to human behavior, and it is to the detriment of many husband-wife, child-parent, employer-employee, friendship and even church relationships.
Now not only are we generally not supposed to treat people that way, but we absolutely should not attempt this behavior with God. God is not human like us. Instead, God is sovereign. Attempting to either lower God or elevate ourselves to the point where we can deal with Him as if we and He are equals is sin. It ignores the fact that God is all-powerful, unique and Creator. It denies the fact that, as the Psalms say, we are the mere sheep of His pasture. It rejects the truth that God owns us, has complete and unchallenged control over our destinies, and pretends as if we are God’s business partners.
By treating God as a business partner, we give ourselves the delusion that we have a fallback option, or a safe way out. This way, we do not have to come to complete trusting faith and total reliance on God to meet our every need, or for God to be the One to determine what our needs are, the One who defines the difference between a need and a want for instance. We think that so long as we can ask for signs or set conditions, that if the sign does not come or the condition is not met, then we have the ability to walk away from the whole deal. In this way, instead of completely surrendering to God through faith and submission, we retain some control. We retain some influence. We retain some PRIDE. Or at least wo we think.
This is not to say that if we don’t like the conditions or if we think that the conditions change, we turn aside from Christianity. Oh no! Instead, if we don’t receive the sign or if the condition is not met, then we tell ourselves “it wasn’t God’s will.” If God does not respond in the way that we want Him to, we then take it upon ourselves to decide for ourselves what God’s will is. By this, we stop practicing Christianity, which is a faith of revelation (God’s gracious self disclosure of His existence, will and nature to us) and start practicing divination. Now with revelation, we get a picture of God that is accurate, the one that He wants us to have. But with divination, a false religious practice, we get a picture that is false, the picture that WE want to have or see, and not surrisingly it looks a lot like us! By setting a bunch of conditions and believing in and serving God, the result is serving ourselves.
Now a lot of us may use some Bible examples to justify the practices of setting conditions or asking for signs, such as Gideon and the fleece, Jepthath’s vow to make a sacrifice if he received victory in battle, or Jacob’s promise to serve God after he had his “Jacob’s ladder” dream. Well, just because a Bible character, even a Godly one, does something doesn’t make it OK. Witness Peter denying Jesus Christ or David’s incident with Uriah and Bathsheba. First, note that Gideon, Jacob and Jepthath acted before the giving of the law of Moses. More on that later. Next, note that all three had a tenuous, uncertain knowledge of or relationship with God at that point in their lives. Gideon and Jepthath were acting in the dark period of Israel during the time of the Judges, and Jacob was still a wheeling dealing conniver who was out only for himself. So, their actions reflected a lack of a knowledge of God’s requirements and character on their part, not the appropriate way for dealing with God, and God in His mercy and grace forgave them. However, the negative consequences of this type of behavior and of not knowing God’s nature or having a relationship with Him were still in view in the lives of these men, with the primary example being Jepthath’s offering his daughter as a human sacrifice.
The thing to remember is that when we try to set our own little rules or conditions for how we deal with God, we violate a direct commandment of scripture, which is Deuteronomy 6:16′s “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” Massah was a reference to how the children of Israel made continual demands of God in the wilderness to prove His power, faithfulness and goodness to them. By continually demanding through Moses that God provide them with food, meat, water and other things when they wanted them, it was not so much that they were challenging God’s power, God’s ability to lead and deliver them, even though they certainly were doing so. Instead, they were challenging God’s sovereignty. They were putting their own collective self-will up against the will of God, and insisting that God had no right to behave towards them as they pleased. Instead of submitting to the reality that they were God’s people and that they were to serve Him, Israel insisted that God serve them instead. This is a classic mindset of the false pagan and animistic religions of the time and place that Israel was living in. God was calling Israel out of that false religious mindset, out of the world (the term “ekklesia” which implies a group that is called out or set apart from the rest and was in the New Testament translated to be “church” was also applied to Israel), and commanding them to respond to the true and living God, but Israel’s uncircumcised, unredeemed and faithless hearts refused to do so. It got to the point where the Israelites actually complained about the lack of variety in their diet, as if the wilderness was some all you can eat buffet and God was their busboy and short order cook! As a result of their refusal to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and their status before God, that entire generation save Joshua and Caleb perished, sometimes in the most horrible of manners, without ever setting foot in the Promised Land.
We probably know Deuteronomy 6:16 better from the lips of Jesus Christ, as He quoted it to rebuke Satan in response to Satan’s temptations of Christ in the wilderness. Another way of rendering this passage can be (and I am borrowing this from the movie “The Miracle Maker”) is “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Yet that is precisely what was done to Jesus Christ over and over again by the Pharisees, Saduccees, scribes, those who saw Jesus Christ, saw or heard of His mighty deeds but refused to acknowledge who He was. They kept trying to trick Him with questions, such as when the Sadducees’ questions about the resurrection. They tried to entrap Him with devices, such as the woman caught in adultery and whether to pay taxes to Caesar (attempts to place Him in no-win situations). And they asked Him to perform signs and miracles. It was not because they doubted His righteousness, because no one had observed or heard of His sinning. It was not because they doubted His wisdom and knowledge, for they had heard His teachings. And it was not because they doubted His ability to perform signs and miracles, because they had seen Him do so.
But the issue was that Jesus Christ did all those things on his own volition. He did it in His own Name for the Will of God the Father. In doing so, Jesus Christ was giving a revelation of Himself and of God the Father. However, these people were not interested in a revelation of Jesus Christ. They were not interested in a revelation of Jesus Christ. Instead, they wanted Jesus Christ to do THEIR bidding, NOT God’s Will. They wanted Jesus Christ to perform FOR THEM, and if He met THEIR CONDITIONS, then they would believe. If Jesus Christ met THEIR expectations, satisfied THEIR demands, fulfilled THEIR curiosities, catered to THEIR PRIDE AND EGO, THEN they would believe. Why? Because they were interested in serving themselves and their own ideas and lusts and not God. They did not want a revelation of God. They wanted Jesus Christ to reveal THEMSELVES, or a false god that believed like themselves and had their same desires, aspirations, prides, unclean thoughts and sins. In other words, they wanted an idol, an image of themselves to worship in the place of God. Why? Because the true God gives you want God wants you to have according to His sovereign will. A false god, an idol, gives you what you want.
So the people tempting Jesus Christ in this fashion were literally an example of Paul was describing in Romans 1:21-25. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
These people literally knew God. They saw Jesus Christ, the Word of God in the Trinity, face to face. Further, to see Jesus Christ was to see God the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ (and of the Father)! So those who heard, saw and touched Jesus Christ KNEW GOD! But they did not believe. They did not trust. They did not obey. They KNEW GOD but like the children of Israel in the desert, they did not have saving faith in Him. So they rejected Him because He would not bow to them, worship them, and give them the desires of their idolatrous hearts. Please recall that Satan asked Jesus Christ to bow and worship Him in the wilderness. Realize that the tempters of Jesus Christ were asking the very same thing. Give US a sign. Show US a miracle. Get down off the cross. Do what WE want you to do, THEN we will believe you and follow you. In doing so, they reject the truth, which is that we are but the sheep of God’s pasture (Psalm 100:3), and concoct this insane delusion that to serve God is to do God a FAVOR! These people felt that they would be doing Jesus Christ A FAVOR by believing in Him and following them! The One holy sovereign God, creator, ruler, master and sustainer of the universe! They believed that it would have been a privilege FOR JESUS CHRIST for them to believe and follow HIM!
Why? Well, because they were so special. They were the sons of Abraham, the people of the kings and prophets to whom the oracles of God were given. Well, when we act the same way as they did by believing that merely because we are Christians, God is obligated to lead us, guide us, or treat us in a certain way and if He doesn’t, well then we will just take our toys and go home, or go wherever we think that some “sign” is telling us to go! But do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever we sow, we will reap (Galatians 6:7). If we keep playing with God as if He is a toy or some other thing of amusement to be trifled with, we will get more than what we bargained for.
Consider Matthew 22:41-45. “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, [The Son] of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” They were asking Jesus Christ to tell them, to prove to them who He was. Well Jesus Christ did it. “If David called the Christ Lord, then how is Christ David’s son!” That was all the information that they needed to be saved right there. But because they received this information by way of mocking, tempting and testing Jesus Christ, they weren’t ready for it! Instead of falling down and worshiping Jesus Christ and becoming His disciples, what was their response? “And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any [man] from that day forth ask him any more [questions].” Silence. God is not mocked. By provoking Jesus Christ, they received more than what they bargained for, and because they were faithless and not ready to receive the response, they only wound up reaping still more condemnation on their heads.
So please, do not build your Christian life on tests, conditions, vows, oaths, pledges, “earning points”, works or signs with God. That is treating God as if He is a merchant, a business partner that you can conduct mutually beneficial transactions with. If the transaction is mutually beneficial, then what is the role of unearned loving grace? More to the point, when Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay the debt for sins that He never committed, was that a transaction that conferrred mutual benefits on Jesus Christ and the sinner? God forbid! Instead the cross was entirely of grace done entirely and only for the sinner’s benefit. If the relationship with Jesus Christ began with grace on the cross, it cannot go to being a religious or business transaction, whether of works or of conditions. Instead, it begins with grace and remains of grace forevermore!
For we are not God’s equals. God is not lucky or fortunate to have our belief and service. Further, basing things on conditions is not faith. Instead of following God by faith, it is taking one step, testing it out AND IF YOU FIND IT AGREEABLE TO YOU taking another. That is like Peter when he attempted to walk on water. He took a few steps, got a little scared, got a little wet, and began to sink. Peter’s ability to walk on water was not based on his total belief, trust and obedience to Jesus Christ, but instead based on doing so under conditions where he felt safe and secure, that he wouldn’t be hurt. Jesus Christ said walk to me, and were Peter walking by actual faith, which is belief and trust that leads to obedience, he would have just kept walking no matter what happened. But since he was only willing to walk so long as he felt good about it, what happened? Simple: HE SANK. He was in the presence of God Himself and still sank!
Our relationship with God is to be one of trust, submission and obedience. Anything less is not truly a relationship with God, but rather an idolatrous affair with our own wicked hearts.
Posted in Bible, Christianity, devotional, Jesus Christ | Tagged: christian living, Deuteronomy 6:16, faith, Galatians 6:7, Luke 4:12, Massah, Mat 22:46, Matthew 22:41-46, Matthew 4:7, obedience, Psalm 100:3, Romans 1:21-25, sovereignty, sovereignty of God, submission | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on September 19, 2009
Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: Adventures in Christianity, Blessings, Christian Life, christian living, Devotion, Encouragement, evangelism, faith, God, grateful, gratitude, Jesus, joy, Life, love, Mercy, ministry, missions, Praise, sanctification, scripture, testimony, Thankful Thursday, Things to Think About, truth | 2 Comments »
Posted by Job on September 7, 2009
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement. Leviticus 17:11
For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. Revelation 1:5
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19
Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Romans 5:9
Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28
Posted by Job on March 23, 2009
This one is courtesy of – and will be entirely lifted from – brother Laz.
Posted on January 31, 2008 by Laz
Caught this editorial on the January 10, 2008 issue of the journal Nature,
Here are some tidbits,
But die-hard creationists aren’t a sensible target for raising awareness. What matters are those citizens who aren’t sure about evolution–as much as 55% of the US population according to some surveys.
And because the general theory of evolution (and thus its implications) is only scientific in nature and allegedly does not have religious and/or philosophical underpinnings and thus, assertions in those veins,
Evolution is of profound importance to modern biology and medicine. Accordingly, anyone who has the ability to explain the evidence behind this fact to their students, their friends and relatives should be given ammunition to do so.
Seriously folks, how can evolutionists be taken seriously when they rail against certain meddling religious people when what this editorial shows is that they’re not “above” evangelistic efforts when it benefits their religion?
Since it’s been chic to use the word “Bible-thumper” are we going to see the word “Evo-thumper” enter public discourse?
Incidentally, people capable of explaining the science behind evolution do not exist, and that is why it is actually forbidden by law to challenge evolution in public school classrooms, and there is also a movement afoot at elite universities to keep born again Christians from enrolling in their biology Ph.D. programs. So, the battle for the hearts and minds of the lost is on between those of Jesus Christ and those who are given over to Satan. Make no mistake, this is 100% spiritual warfare. Satan is out there working hard to win hearts and minds. Are you, Christian, doing the same, and on a regular, tireless basis? If not, then are you truly in the faith?
Posted in Christianity, evangelism, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching | Tagged: atheism, Evo-thumper, evolution, faith, hypocrisy, Proselytizing, religion, science, spiritual warfare | 8 Comments »