(August 11th) T.N.T.

TNTWhen you study the English language, you find that it – because it is a fairly new language compared to some in the world–it sometimes cheats with words. there are words in our language that are actually just words in other languages stolen by English speakers.

For example “baptism”: The word means “to immerse” but we took the greek word “baptizo” and just made an English word out of it. Same thing with “fiancé” or “caveat;” those are foreign words we just took and claimed as English.

There’s a word in the Greek “dunamis;” it’s translated as “power” in Romans 1:16:

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the POWER of God unto salvation

The gospel is God’s POWER (“Dunamis” is the word).

Well we get our English word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis.” Now dunamis doesn’t mean dynamite (just because you get a word from a word, doesn’t mean that’s what the word means…necessarily. Got it?).

I always chuckle when I hear someone say the Gospel is God’s dynamite, like he’s going to BLOW UP your sin.

But you can say that God does have a power, and He uses that power to save a man from sin. What is that power?

It’s TNT…but its not dynamite.

It’s…The New Testament.

 

T – THE

First of all don’t overlook the word “the.”  “the” is a powerful word. THE implies singularity, THE implies exclusivity, THE implies not just “there only is one” but that “you only need one.” Notice that the Gospel is THE POWER (Romans 1:16). How can I–the unrighteous, sinful me–be able to approach a holy and pure God? The answer is through the Gospel; not through the works of men, not through the law of Moses, but through one power only…

So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:15-17

I am justified (made righteous and saved) by the power of God, and it is the Gospel–contained in The New Testament–that is God’s only power. It is THE power to save.

 

N – NEW

When Moses gave the Law to the people at Sinai’s foot, he sprinkled the blood of a calf on the tablets of stone and on the people…

And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

Exodus 24:7-8

The old covenant was a very bloody law: There were dozens of different sacrifices for dozens of different occasions (lambs, bulls, goats, doves — blood blood blood). The stench of it, the smell of so much rotting flesh was naturally repulsive to the people. It was a stank a stench that stunk to high heaven (as the saying goes)…and it was designed that way.

It smelled so foul that the people, when they smelled the stench of blood and sacrificed flesh, would be reminded of the vulgarity of sin. Their sin was represented in the death of the animal. It was animal blood that Moses sprinkled on the people and said “this is the blood of the covenant…” Those animals shed their blood to seal an agreement (covenant) between men and God.

1500 years later, Jesus took a cup of grape juice and said, with symbolism in mind, “This is MY blood…Of the NEW covenant, which is shed…For the REMISSION sins (Matthew 26:28).”

Anyone who wants to argue that we live under the same law that those in Moses day lived, not only misunderstand history, they also disrespect the Christ who shed His blood to bring about a NEW agreement between God and man. An agreement which we call THE…NEW…

 

T – TESTAMENT

The word “testament” literally means “a contract.” It refers to an agreement between two parties. The New Testament is, among other things, an agreement between you and God. And just to show that God is serious about that agreement, He sent His son to sign the contract in blood.

It is a testament that is IN FORCE.

It is in force today because Christ died to establish it (Hebrews 9:15-17). Just as animals were killed to maintain the enforcement of the Old Testament with Israel, Christ died to enforce the New Testament with humanity. Unlike with the Old, Christ needed only to die once, after which He rose never to die again (which means, His Testament will never expire).

It is a testament that is  INFLEXABLE

If I don’t become a Christian I’m not going to Heaven, it’s as simple as that. People have it totally wrong when they say “what kind of God would send me to hell!”

No no no no no no: You’re sending yourself to Hell. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, in that sense; God offers you a way out of Hell. But that way out is not open to negotiation. And once I accept that agreement and am saved, that way out He has given me is not so flexable that I can go back to living the way I want. If I do go back, it will be even worse than if I had never obeyed Christ in the first place. it’s like a dog that goes back to eat its own vomit (2 Peter 2:20-22).

He gave me The New Testament, the power save me. If I turn away from that Testament, I have only myself to blame. His testament is in force, is inflexible…

It is a testament that is  INFINITE.

How you obey this testament will decide your eternity. If we do not obey the words of His testament, He will judge us and find us guilty (John 12:47-48).

Unfortunately there is nothing I can say or do, and there is nothing I can show, and there is no way to fully get through to a person what eternity means. If there were a thousand thousand mellinia with no growing old or getting bored, it still would not compare to eternity. It is an idea that is totally counter to the way our minds work, since our minds and bodies and everything we see around us are totally finite. They all have an expiration date. The only thing we have that doesn’t have an expiration date is our soul.

So if I choose to neglect the care of my soul and ignore the powerful Gospel that God gave me to save it, then I will have all of forever to regret it. Because His testament is in force, inflexible, and infinite.

 

T-N-T: THE. NEW. TESTAMENT.

It is God’s power to save.

Has it saved you? Have you obeyed it?

Mark 16:16…read it for yourself and see for yourself – the power of God to save you.

Think about it,
have a great day!

(August 4th) IF JESUS CAME TO VISIT…

 tobey-knock-at-the-door

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Let’s suppose, hypothetically, for a moment that the Lord returned. But instead of taking the saints to glory and the world burning up with flaming fire (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8), let’s instead suppose that He just decided to pay a visit to a random Christian.

Now we know that God sees, and knows all. I wonder, though, if His bodily presence would motivate some to alter their lifestyles.

Consider then, three possible destinations for our Lord as he ‘stops by’ to check on us: our home, our work, and our congregations.

 

IF JESUS CAME…TO MY HOME

I wonder if we would watch the same things on television that we watch when Jesus “isn’t there.” Yes there’s a lot of quality material to be found on television, but there’s a lot of bile as well. The question is: When Jesus is sitting on my coach, am I watching my regularly scheduled program, or do I make a last minute change?

I wonder how our relationship with our young children would be altered. Would Jesus see the attention we give them to be genuine, or would it seem unnatural? Would the children wonder why daddy is suddenly “so nice” and mommy “so happy,” or would everything seem totally normal?

Would He notice the young ones being disrespectful or undisciplined? A young child is probably not going to understand that a Guest has arrived and therefore he must be on his “best behavior.” A child is going to act the way he always acts; if he is undisciplined before the Lord arrives, he’s not going to spontaneously whip into shape when He knocks on the door.

Maybe He’d d hear a teenage girl trotting down the stairs, telling her parents (as she bolts out the door) she’s going out with friends. He might notice the blushed reaction on her parents as their barely-dressed teenager leaves without so much as a “Goodbye,” or an “I love you.”

And just when it couldn’t get any worse…the doorbell rings again, and wouldn’tcha know it: it’s a couple of dad’s buddies with beers in their hands. They’re here for poker night, and they don’t understand why they are being rushed out before they get two feet in the door. After all, this happens every Tuesday night.

Some people live their lives as if Jesus can’t see them. That’s a dangerous, as well as ignorant, way to live. God sees all. And whether He is in your living room bodily or not, you can rest assured He will be there spiritually. Let’s make sure that the lives we live at home are conducted just as if Jesus were right there in front of us…because He is.

 

IF JESUS CAME…TO MY WORK

 Perhaps it’s not my house, but my work where He makes his unscheduled visit. What actions would be different if He were physically looking over our shoulder while we worked from 9-to-5?

I wonder if we would arrive at work on time. How embarrassing would it be to arrive at work later than you are supposed to, only to find Jesus there waiting for you! How embarrassing to have to be chewed out by your boss, and given a “last warning” all the while Jesus is standing next to you. You can bet that if we knew Jesus was going to be at our workplace at 8:45, we’d get there at 8:30.

I wonder if we would hang around the same people on our lunch breaks, if Jesus were at work with us. Would we want Jesus to know that we enjoy the company of people who use profanity, or talk about the assorted things they did during their weekend?  Would Jesus want to listen to that?

How embarrassing would it be, with Jesus right beside you, to have a coworker tell you the latest dirty joke? To your coworker, its nothing out of the ordinary, but you don’t want Jesus to know that. You might be able to run off your coworker before he finishes the joke, but it might be more difficult to hide your blushing face after that “close call.”

It might seem like a person can get away with things at work, when mother, father, husband or wife are not around. And again, Jesus is not going to bodily pay you a visit at your workplace. He is, however, omnipresent (meaning ever-present), and ever-aware of what goes on when you punch-in. If we keep that in mind, we will find our work day to be closer to what God expects it to be, and less what Satan revels in it being.

 

IF JESUS CAME…TO MY CHURCH

What hypothetical “stop by” of the Lord would be complete without a visit to our local congregation? Imagine Jesus sitting in on one of our Sunday morning worship services; I wonder what His reaction would be when the final “Amen” was spoken.

I wonder if Jesus would have the same critiques that so many people have related to their church family. Do you think you would overhear Jesus commenting on certain people who were not “dressed the best?” Would He be upset that a person came to the assembly and was not wearing a tie? He would probably look at an individual dressed “to the nines” and take note of the striking contrast between His attire and that man’s. After all, how can a simple robe compare to a three piece suit!?

Maybe He would notice a young lady walking by and hear the faint sounds of “flip” and “flop” as she passed Him.

Do you think the Lord would be upset that she would wear such “casual” shoes at the assembly? He’d probably look down at his own pair of sandals and think that He and that young lady have more in common than the one wearing shining black leather shoes.

He might chuckle at a brother throwing a fit because the song leader led “two” songs before the Lord’s Supper, and not the standard “one.” And what would Jesus think upon hearing some good sister chewing out a new-young-Christian who might have said a prayer “wrong?”

Very likely He would shake his head sadly when a brief argument ensued because one brother sat in another brother’s “assigned” seat. As the people poured out of the assembly, He might frown at the sight of someone yelling at a small child for doing what small children do: playing.

People sometimes get so upset over the littlest things. Often that attitude spills over into the worship. Just remember, even though Jesus isn’t bodily there, He is there, and He knows our attitudes (Revelation ch2-3).

Whether at home, work, or worship we sometimes forget that the all-seeing Eye is watching us. For those doing good, that’s a confident reminder that the Shepherd of our Souls is looking after us.

For those who might do wrong, it should be a warning: God sees all, and we will give an account in the final day (Romans 14:12).

 

 

 

(July 28th) So you wanna go to Heaven…

stairs-to-heaven-1I think it’s safe to say that, of all the people in this world that believe in some form of the after-life, and that believe there is both a place for the good and a place for the bad, 99% want to go to the place where the good people go.

Sure you will find some devil worshiping nuts out there, but for the most part, everyone wants to go to their form of Heaven.

Now we know the Bible to be true and we know what it says about the after-life and the two eternal resting places of the soul. And based on what Christ and the Bible writers tell us about these two places, it’s a pretty easy choice as to where we should want to end up.

Consider the choices before us:

Choice “A”

dark
fiery
filled with wicked people
forever and ever and ever with the devil and his angels

OR choice “B”

Light
Peace
No sin
Angels
Forever and ever and ever with God Christ and the Holy Spirit

I think it’s a safe bet: “B” would be the favorite.

But, despite the obvious lopsided contest between Heaven and Hell, there are still going to be more people lost than there are saved…

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat
Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it

Matthew 7:13-14

How can it be that a lot of people want to go to heaven, but few people actually make it?

The reason: They chose not to have what it takes. The reason I say it like that is because everyone has what it takes; anybody can obey the  Gospel…but not everybody will. Why? They chose not to.

So then what does it take?

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells us.

Do you wanna go to heaven? Are willing to have what it takes?

It takes humility
It takes responsibility
It takes self sacrifice
It takes compassion
It takes discipline
And it takes a forgiving spirit

 

IT TAKES HUMILITY

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:1-4

Notice the question that is brought to Jesus: “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Now the disciples may have been looking for a name, but Jesus gave them a characteristic. He brought a child and set him before them.

Notice what He says: “except you be converted and become like a child you cannot enter into the kingdom…” While Jesus is certainly talking about being converted in the sense that you become a new creature (a “child”), it goes deeper than that.

Notice his next statement: “Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”

Remember the question that Jesus was asked at the beginning of the chapter (“who will be the greatest”)  had the disciples practically saying “will it be me” and “will it be me” and “what about me, will I be the greatest?”

Jesus is correcting their self-centered attitude; the one who humbles himself, Jesus says, he will be the greatest.

Do you want to go to Heaven? Humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up.

 

 IT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Matthew 18:5-7

Jesus continues His statement from the previous verses. Remember He is talking not about actual children, but converted people: “Woe to those that would cause a converted person to stumble!” Keeping it in its context, remember the disciples were wanting to know which would be the greatest in the kingdom. Well that kind of question would easily pit the disciples against each other.

If Jesus had answered their question the way they wanted He would have no doubt caused strife to arise between them. Thus the Lord says ot would be better to be drowned than to cause someone else to stumble.

You know what that means? It means getting to Heaven takes responsibility.

Notice Jesus words in verse 7. What does He mean, “it must needs be that offenses come”?

In other words Jesus is saying “Don’t be waiting for the day when no one will have a stumbling block placed before them, because that day will not happen while we are on the earth.” No man should look for the day when there will be no offenses, but each should see to it that he is not the cause of them.

You wanna go to heaven? Yes it takes humility, but it also takes responsibility.

A lot of people look at Christianity and they say: “no thanks.” Why? Because they see Christians acting one way twice a week and another way the rest of the time.

You know what that does? That causes people to think poorly about the church, so you can forget about converting that person. On our way to Heaven we need to see to it that we are living like people who are going to Heaven. That’s a big (but doable) responsibility.

 

IT TAKES SELF-SACRIFICE

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 18:8-10

Notice this word “offend” in verse 8 – it means “to stumble” or “to cause to stumble.”

In other words Jesus is saying if your right hand is getting you into trouble cut it off. Now, remember to keep what Jesus is saying in its context. He just finished talking about responsibility (responsibility to ourselves not to stumble or cause others to stumble).

So it makes sense that this would be the next thing He says. Here He is telling us how to be responsible; because if we find ourselves stumbling or causing others to stumble, then we have to change our lives to help avoid stumbling again.

When Jesus talks about cutting off hands or plucking out eyes, the application of his metaphor is: Be willing to sacrifice the things you care about. As he says in v9-10, it’s better to have sacrificed something and make it to Heaven, than to have everything, and be lost in Hell.

How many young Christians attend services every Sunday, and attend every party on Saturday?
That is not sacrifice

How many Christians sing their hearts out on Wednesday night, and curse like a sailor on Thursday morning at work?
That is not sacrifice.

How many Christians will stand up stand up for Jesus when the song is led, but will deny him, deny him, when push comes to shove?
That is not sacrifice

You wanna go to Heaven?

It takes humility.
It takes responsibility.
It takes self-sacrifice.

 

 

IT TAKES COMPASSION

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:11-14

Now you may ask, what does compassion have to do with the parable of the lost sheep?

A man has a hundred sheep, one goes astray, he leaves the 99 to find that one lost sheep, and when he finds it he rejoices.  What does this have to do with compassion?

The compassion is found in the shepherd. He had compassion and care for each individual sheep, so much so, that when just one went missing, he dropped everything to find it. And when he did he rejoiced, greater than he rejoiced over the 99 he had not lost.

Does that mean he loved that one sheep more than the others? No, it means that having a sheep restored to the flock gives Him a reason to have extra joy.

Who is to have the compassion? We are!

There are those who will be saved, but will not stick with it; they become like lost sheep. Should we just forget about them, or should we go after them? We need to go after them; we need to find those lost sheep.

God is not going to hold us responsible if a Christian decides to leave the church. But what if we have a chance to bring him back and we don’t even try?

Are we responsible? I think so.

You’ve got to have compassion. That doesn’t mean you tolerate sin; Christ was intolerant of sin, but He was compassionate toward the sinner. He sought out the sinner to repent. He did not tell the sinner he was ok, on the contrary: Jesus had compassion but He also had discipline…

 

 IT TAKES DISCIPLINE

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:15-20

Yes we are to have compassion, but we are also to have disciple. We have got to be willing to discipline ourselves, and if need be, allow others to disciple us.

Notice v15: “Go and tell him his fault…”

Do not say “well as long as he loves Jesus, he is ok.” No! Go and tell him what he is doing wrong! Why? Because Christ is not going to tolerate his sin.

You see, we are told to do this, not so we can have some superiority complex. Our job is not to set somebody straight on a sin in which they are engaged. The Book has already set them straight. Our job is to tell them what the Book said.

Have you ever heard someone say: “God is forgiving, the church is unforgiving.” Or “they kicked me outta their church because I sinned, but God forgave me!”

Do you know why many look at “church disciple” that way? Because they see the congregation as placing themselves on a pedestal and pronouncing judgment upon a person. It’s not our place to pronounce judgment; it’s our place to tell someone where the Book (where God) has pronounced judgment.

We cannot condemn someone for an action they committed (that’s what Judges do). God, however, can and will.

So if a Christian sees his brother sinning, he needs to tell him, because he wants to save him before its too late. Go and tell him, just the two of you, and if you get through to him – its over and done. But (v16), if he does not repent, then Jesus says to take a couple more people. Have a mini-intervention. Maybe a group can talk some sense into the person. If they can, great; it’s over and done.

But (v17), if he will not listen to a group…Tell it to the church. And if he still refuses to repent, though his entire church family is pleading with him, then as the very last resort Jesus says you need to separate from him. Because he clearly doesn’t want to be faithful (and you do).

Now it might seem that v18-20 is separate subject, but Jesus is still talking about discipline. Whatever God has loosed or binded is recorded in the Bible. If you do more or less than what the Book says, you need to be disciplined. And when we go to confront an erring brother, Christ says He will be there alongside us (v19-20).

We go because we have a responsibility. We go because we have compassion. And when someone goes to us, its up to us to have the humility and the willingness to sacrifice needed to remove the sin from our lives and get back to following God. And when the erring brother repents…

 

IT TAKES A FORGIVING SPIRIT

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants….

Matthew 18:21-23

 

Having just finished talking about discipline toward a brother who sins against another, Peter’s question makes sense: “How many times can I forgive him?” Now Peter knows what the doctors of the law teach (they say you can forgive up to 3 times and after that you don’t have to forgive anymore). Peter also knows Jesus tendency to say what the doctors teach, and correct their mistakes. So he asks Him: Can I forgive my brother seven times. Peter probably thought he had a good answer (more than double what the doctors taught).

But Jesus says “Seven times…no!” Jesus had probably forgiven Peter than many times since breakfast! Instead, Jesus says “70 x 7” which is a roundabout way of saying “put no limit on the amount of times you can forgive.”

Then He proceeds to teach a parable (v23-35):  A servant owes his master 10000 dollars (to modernize it). He cannot pay, so he begs for mercy. Mercy is granted unto him (notice that the debt is forgiven, not merely reduced or extended, etc). That same forgiven servant goes out immediately and finds one of his fellow servants who owes him a small amount money and demands money.

That’s the first wrong committed here. If this person legally justified in demanding money? Yes. But is he morally justified, considering he was just forgiven? Absolutely not!

When that servant cannot pay, and asks for mercy, he is given no mercy.

That’s the second wrong committed by this forgiven person.

When his lord (the one who bestowed mercy on him) finds out what he has done, he calls him a “wicked servant” (v32) and he delivers him to the tormentors till he can pay every penny back to his lord. In other words, the forgiven debt was re-applied to his account!

Now here’s the application (v35): God will do the same to us, if we don’t forgive those that sin against us.

In the parable, we are the servant on whom mercy was extended. God in his mercy, sent His Son to die for us, and pardoned us when we could not pay the debt we owed because of our sin toward Him.

But what’s the catch? We had to repent to receive His mercy. So how should we be when someone sins against us, and repents? We should have mercy as well.

If we don’t, God calls us a wicked servant. And that debt He forgave will once more be the weight which drags us to Hell for eternity.

We need to be forgiving!

 

Everybody in their right mind wants to go to Heaven, but it takes something to get there. Jesus teaches us that is takes

humility
responsibility
self-sacrifice
compassion
discipline
And a forgiving spirit.

 

Do you want to go to Heaven? You have what it takes..will you do it?

Think about it,
have a great day!

(July 21st) WHAT IS MY FAITH?

how-do-you-keep-the-faithThe word “faith” can have a variety of meanings, and by that I don’t mean that you can just make the word mean whatever you want. Some people, when they go to the Bible they tend to read it the way they WANT it to be, and not what it actually is.

There are some words that just are what they are (a rose is a rose), but the word “faith” is used in different ways in your Bible. So with an article like this, entitled “What is my faith?” it is important for us to be on the same page when we use the word.

Faith can mean “the New Testament – the system of faith that we believe and obey.” That’s how Paul uses the word in Romans 6:17 when he says we “obey a pattern of teaching.” We have instructions for how to live and not live; we call that “the Christian faith.” That kind of faith is not personal, it’s universal.

On the other hand, there is the word “faith” that means “a person’s understanding that Jesus is the Son of God.” Implied in that usage of the word “faith” is the idea that we are to “trust and obey” Jesus because we recognize His Divine authority.

A third usage of the word refers not your belief in Jesus, nor to your obedience to the New Testament, but something that’s kind of a combination of both.

There’s a text in Philippians that is known to give people problems:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13

The tough part in this verse is the expression “work out your own salvation.” What does that mean?

It doesn’t mean “work your way to heaven” because you can’t do that – you can never earn it or deserve it. It also doesn’t mean that you can have your way to be saved and I can have my way. That’s also balderdash; one God wrote one Bible and has one plan of salvation.

Basically what Paul is saying is, you need to take the bull by the horns. Don’t rely on someone else to drag you to Heaven. Work out your own salvation. In other words: Make sure your faith is YOUR faith.

To that we ask the question: What is my faith?

There are four possibilities…

 

IS MY FAITH

INHERITED?

My faith is my mamas faith. Having said that, it’s almost unavoidable that we are who are because of our upbringing. Actually that’s one of the great debates among sociologists: Are the habits and things we do in life inherited or are they the product of our growing up around parents (or whomever) who did them first and in front of us?

I tend to think it’s the latter; I sometimes hear my dad in my voice, particularly when I get upset. I don’t think if I had been kept away from my family growing up that I would talk like that. Instead I think I talk like that sometimes for the same reason my kids talk with a southern accent and someone from Chicago talks like someone from Chicago. Why? Because their mama and daddy talked like that and they picked up.

Half the things a child learns, he learns without you intending him to.

Now when it comes to faith, when I say “is it inherited?” I don’t mean “are you who you are religiously because it was genetically passed on to you?” Mo, what I mean is “Was your faith passed down to you?” Was it given to you the way your southern accent is given to you. Was it given to you solely because someone said “this is the way our family does it” and that’s that.

Do you worship where you worship, why you worship and how you worship simply because that’s how you’ve “always worshiped”?

Do you worship wherever you do, because, well you’ve always worshiped there; your dad worshiped there, your grandma worshiped there so you worship there? That’s an inherited faith and it’s a dangerous idea.

Now there’s nothing wrong (in fact it’s encouraged) for us to teach our children about Christianity.

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

2 Timothy 1:5

Paul praises Timothy for his FAITH in Christ. Timothy had a personal faith but Paul recognizes that it came through the teaching of a faithful mother and grandmother. Still, Timothy’s faith wasn’t inherited. Timothy knew what he believed, he knew how to defend it and when the going got tough, he fought for it.

Why? Because it was HIS faith. He didn’t think and do what the did just because his mama did. He did what he did because he knew it was the right thing to do, and he was thankful for his mama for teaching it to him.

We need to be sure, as parents, that we are teaching our children how to develop their own faith, and not let them just piggyback on ours. If we’re not careful we’ll find ourselves forcing them to worship on Sunday, which only lasts until they move out. And when mom isn’t there to wake them up at 8am, they have no personal reason to, because they have no personal faith that is developed within them.

We need to avoid having an inherited faith; we need to work on having our own.

 

IS MY FAITH

INDOCTRINATED?

Is my faith just whatever the preacher says? These are the ones who say “I don’t need to understand; my preacher said it, and that sounds about right.”

Ask a Bible question and you will hear “well I don’t know…I better ask my preacher.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with that, per say. Your preacher wants you to trust him, and he wants you to ask him. He studies the Bible, as a result of his profession, a lot. But no self-respecting preacher wants you to follow him; he wants you to follow Christ.

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1

Never JUST trust your preacher. We can be wrong on occasion.

Paul, when he was Saul of Tarsus, was wrong:

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts 23:1

The day he’s talking about is what he spoke of in Acts 22, when he was describing the details of his conversion. Saul was a man educated by Gamaliel. He was educated to the 10th degree. He was a Pharisee with perhaps a genius level understanding of the Law. He was absolutely sure he was doing right by bringing the Christians to justice. He was, in his own words, living in all good conscious. Imagine the number of people who looked to him, trusted him, and never questioned him…and he was flat wrong!

Apollos was wrong:

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Acts 18:24-26

Here’s a man described as eloquent and wise in the Scriptures. This guy knew his Bible. He could quote Scripture and write sermons. People trusted him (Paul met some of them in the next chapter)…but he was wrong. It took two Christians – Aquila and Priscilla — to pull him aside and teach him in what way he was wrong.

The Pharisees were wrong:

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Matthew 15:12-14

These were the religious leaders of the people. These were the so-called scholars who constantly butted heads with Jesus. They would misapply the Law and twist the Scripture to suit their own ends. Meanwhile the entire nation looked to them to explain the Will of God, and they were, as Jesus said “blind leading the blind.” They didn’t know half of what they thought they did. Pity the poor people who follow them blindly, Jesus says. Pity the ones who have an indoctrinated faith.

Don’t let that be your faith: not inherited, not indoctrinated.

 

IS MY FAITH

QUESTIONING?

This is the person who says “My faith is uncertain; I’m seeking it…”

Now this is the right attitude to have. This is a person who is looking. And those people need to be told that if you keep your eyes open you will find what you’re looking for. God wants you to find the truth. Having said that, if you’re faith is a questioning one, let me give three words of advice:

Be careful not to settle for the easy answer.

Too many people settle for what is convenient. They succumb to spiritual laziness. “Well lets just do this” they say. “I’m tired of arguing about it” is another common refrain. “this is as good as any other” they sigh. The Devil is more than happy to provide the easy (wrong) answers. Jesus, however, says there is a way and the way is hard…but the way leads to life (Matthew 7:14). So question, yes, but don’t give up and just settle for the easy answer.

 

If you have a questioning faith…be careful not to settle for the rebelling answer.

This goes back to our first point, about the person who has been piggy backing on his parent’s faith. Sometimes people just run in the other direction just for the sake of doing so (we call that being a teenager). In such cases they settle for whatever is most unlike their parents. And this isn’t a problem exclusive to religion. It happens in all aspects of culture and life. Is it petty and childish? Yes. That’s part of the maturation process. Teenagers who do so will try to excuse their behavior as simply “questioning what I’ve always been taught.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with questioning and seeking, but be carful that your motive isn’t just to rebel. That’s how you find the wrong answers.

 

if you have a questioning faith…be careful not to settle for conforming answer.

When you decide to take the bull by the horns you are making, by nature, a solitary decision. This is YOU doing this. When you do it, you almost isolate yourself by default. The temptation becomes, after a while, to just do what everyone else is doing. You get tired of going alone, and you just want to blend in. A lot of people rebel against the faith they grew up with and associate themselves with other religions under the guise of “going on my own.” But that’s not really true; you’re not going alone, you’re just choosing a different crowd to go with. Your seeking a different faith just to be different.

I think some have the idea that the words “MY faith” means “I can do whatever I want with it.” No: “my faith” means “the relationship between God and me is not tethered to anyone or anything else.” My faith is not tied to my parents or friends, or where I live, etc. Instead it is between me and God.

Nevertheless, God still calls the shots. So question and make sure your faith is right, but don’t conform, don’t rebel, don’t take the easy way out.

 

IS MY FAITH

OWNED?

This is the kind of faith we should end up with.

This is the kind of faith, about which we can say “It’s mine because I ‘worked it out’ (Philippians 2:12-13).”

It is OWNED…so it can stand up to troubled times.

When I’m on my own and not able to rely on a parent or guardian to lead me around and help me, I have my faith. When I’m on my own and things get rough I have my faith in the Lord. My faith is not inherited; it belongs to me.

It is OWNED…so it can stand up to false teachers.

When I hear something that I don’t know if its right in line with the Bible, I have my faith and I can learn for myself what is right and wrong. That way I don’t have to stand on the judgment day and see the person I trusted more than my Bible being condemned (and me being condemned right after). My faith is not indoctrinated; it belongs to me.

It is OWNED…so it can stand up to my own occasional doubts.

When I wonder if I’m doing things right, in the right way, or for the right reasons; whenever I start to question…I have my faith and my relationship with God. I have His Word that pulls me through and helps me fight off doubts that creep in. My faith answers the questions that crop up and puts me at ease once more.

 

So what is your faith?

If its not YOUR faith and if it is not right in line with the Bible, make it right. Study with people and learn from them, but trust the Bible–not a man–to tell you what is right.

 

Think about it,
have a great day!

 

(July 14th) LOVE THE CHURCH

church-cartoon

Do you love Christ?

Now I want to ask that again; the exact same question, with a different wording:

Do you love the church?

Now understand, when I say “church” I don’t mean the building in which we congregate.

Lets define our terms:

The word “church” in the Greek is “ekklēsia” which is a compound of the words “ek” meaning “out” and “kal’eho” meaning “to call” or “to invite.”

The “church” therefore, refers to those who have been “called out” or “invited out” of the world and into Christ.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

1 Peter 2:9

The word “church” is used to describe the collection of every saved person. It is an institution; an organization you might say. Not one with a physical address that you can journey to as an outsider, however. It’s kind of like how (and this is an imperfect illustration) you’re an American. It doesn’t matter if you’re all the way over in Antarctica, no matter where you are physically you’re still an American. You’re still a part of that body of citizens.

So when I say “do you love the church” I mean the same thing as to say “do you love the saved in Christ.” The saved is the church but that’s not what we tend to think of when we say “the church” is it? We tend to think of something the Christian goes into, but that is not right.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47

Why does it say the Lord adds to the church? Why don’t I JOIN the church? Because the church isn’t a THING you CAN join. In a lot of ways the church is a state of mind (in the mind of God that is). God sees everybody in the world, but He only sees you as either saved or lost. And if you are lost, its because you are not saved. Those who are saved, are saved because they have been called out of darkness (by obeying God). Upon obeying God, He adds you to the rest of the number of those who have also obeyed Him; He adds you to the called out.

If there are 10 people who are saved, and then He saves you, He adds you to the 10; the LORD adds to the church.

Simple? Simple.

But since a lot of people don’t think of the church like that, and since a lot of people view the church as a THING, when we ask the question “do you love the church” a lot of people might hesitate to answer. Ask them, however if they love Christ, and they answer instantly.

What I want us to see is the question is same. I can’t love Christ and NOT love the church OF Christ. Let’s consider four reasons why we ought to love the church…

 

LOVE THE CHURCH…

…BECAUSE CHRIST CAME TO BUILD IT

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:13-18

Notice Jesus’ question. After close to three years teaching, He asks His disciples “what do people think of Me? Whom do men say that I am?”

And they answer: “they think You’re one of the prophets come back from the dead…” This is ironic, since He is a prophet, and He will come back from the dead, but when He does most will refuse to believe it. While He’s still alive, however, they’re willing to accept the possibility that Jesus is a prophet of old who has risen from the dead. Ironic, no?

Jesus then asks a second question: “Whom do YOU say that I am?”

Peter puts three years of experience, listening, learning, and seeing to a head and he says “you are the Christ, the son of the living God. And from Peter’s acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus says upon that foundation (the rock)–the fact of His Divinity–He would build His church.

He didn’t build His church upon Peter. Jesus said TO Peter, upon this “rock” He would build His church. What rock? In the Greek, the word Peter is “petros” meaning a little stone (a brick). The word used here, rock, is “petra” meaning a slab or a foundation stone. Jesus says He’s building His church upon a foundation, not a brick. He’s building on the foundation of His Godhood.

We should love the church because Jesus built it. It is of His creation, not man’s. He oversees it, not men.

 

LOVE THE CHURCH

…BECAUSE CHRIST DIED TO ESTABLISH IT

As Jesus said in the previous text (Matthew 16:18), He died to establish it. Didn’t He say “the gates of hades (meaning “the grave”) will not prevail against the building of it!”? They will kill Him, Jesus says, but He will rise from the dead, conquering death itself, and will build His church.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:22-23

Christ is the head of the church, which is HIS body. What controls the body? The head. If the body is the church, what is it’s head? Jesus!

He established the church. He owns it, runs it, organizes it, adds to it. It is not for man to determine how, where, when, or to what extent we worship the Father. Yet there are hundreds of religious organizations out there that claim Christianity that are owned by men, run by men, organized by men, and added to by men.

They ought not be. Christ established ONE church (Ephesians 4:4), with Him and Him alone as its head. He did not establish a denomination. Denominations are man made organizations. They have headquarters in Atlanta, in Rome, in Salt Lake City, in London, etc. Jesus established one spiritual body. And He did so at the cost of His own life…

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 5:23-25

Love the church because Christ gave His life for it. We’ve got to stop thinking about the church as something separate from Christianity: it’s not. Your Bible says Jesus died for the church. What is the church? You are, if you’re saved. Without His death you have no hope, no chance at heaven, no salvation. Because without His death He can’t establish a spiritual home for the saved. He can’t separate the saved from the lost world without His death.

The price He had to pay to establish that spiritual home was His own precious blood.

We need to love the church. How could we not when Jesus came to build it? How could we not when Jesus died to establish it?

 

LOVE THE CHURCH

…BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES TO DEFEND IT

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:1-5

Listen to Jesus: “Saul Saul why are you persecuting…ME!” Now, to my knowledge, Paul had not laid a finger on Christ. As far as Paul knew, before that very moment, Jesus was dead and buried somewhere. As far as Paul knew, Jesus’ body had been stolen by the men he was hunting. Yet here Jesus knocks him off his high horse and says “you’ve been persecuting ME.”

As a dad I can tell you, if you mess with my child you mess with me. As a husband, if you attack my wife you attack me. As a family man, if you hurt my family you hurt me.

Why? Because a family is one, inseparable.

When you attack my Lord’s family, you attack my Lord.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Romans 12:19

God will repay those who have attacked His people. Jesus takes it personally when His church is attacked. He lives not only to preserve His saints but also to punish His enemies. He will not only secure His saved with righteous pardon, but He will cast away the lost from Him with righteous justice.  For that reason alone, as members of His church, we ought to love the fact that we belong to it. Because we know the ever-living Savior, ever lives to defend us!

 

LOVE THE CHURCH

…BECAUSE CHRIST’S FAMILY IS IN IT

With this last point, there are Six scriptures to go through, asking questions as we go…

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23

If you want to be a part of Christ’s family you have to take up your cross and be crucified.

How…

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

You are Crucified (killed) WITH Christ

When…

 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:26-27

We put on Christ in baptism

Why….

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Colossians 2:12-13

We are baptized, and are BURIED with him, so that we may be risen with him. We have faith that God has spiritually operated on us – cutting out the sin from our soul like a surgeon removes tumor from a organ.

Where…

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:1-7

In baptism, we are baptized into His death,  buried by baptism into our death, and raised into Jesus Christ with a new spiritual life. Thus our old man is CRUCIFIED with Him and we are freed from our sin.

To what extent…

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

When you become a Christian you crucify the old man of sin, having it spiritually surgically removed by the great physician. You are added by Christ into His family, wherein you glorify God (in the church) by Christ Jesus.

 

Love the church:

BECAUSE CHRIST CAME TO BUILD IT
BECAUSE CHRIST DIED TO ESTABLISH IT
BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES TO DEFEND IT
BECAUSE CHRIST FAMILY IS IN IT

Are you a Christian?
Are you in His church?

 

Think about it,
have a great day!

(July 7th) THE BIBLE’S MOST OFFENSIVE VERSE

john-3-16By way of introduction, consider some verses that just missed the cut as the Bible’s most offensive.

 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

(Mark 16:16)

These are, of course, the words of the Master. And yet, they are words that are often challenged, ignored, debated, and hated by men who would claim to be followers of Christ. To those people – those who would rather obey their own whims, and not the words of Jesus – this is an offensive verse. But it’s not the MOST offensive verse.

  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18)

Here is another statement made by the Lord, and for those who would teach that there are many acceptable churches – that there are many different ways to Heaven, through many different man-made institutions – this is an offensive verse. It is contrary to everything those men teach. But it’s not number one on the list.

 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:22)

The feminist movement hates this verse (and probably the one who wrote it). The idea that a wife must submit (literally: to be subordinate) to her husband is nonsense, backwards, and…offensive. Still, though, it’s not the worst offender found in Scripture.

*****

The culprit in question — the verse that is most offensive in the Bible was spoken by Jesus, to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who approached Him one night wondering what a man must do to be saved. In the midst of that conversation, Jesus made this famous statement:

  For God so loved the world,that he gave his only begotten Son,that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,but have everlasting life.

(John 3:16)

But how, you must be wondering, can a verse as famous as this, be the Bible’s most offensive? It’s called by many the “golden verse of the Bible.” It’s memorized by children as early as the age of 3.

The reasoning is this: Nestled inside this verse of hope and divine grace, is a series of thoughts by the Lord, that – if closely considered – offends more false doctrine than any other single verse in God’s Bible.

How so? Let’s break the verse down into five sections…

 

 

“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD”

 Now what could possibly be offensive about that? Well if you’re an atheist, you can’t get past the first two words without wincing. The idea that there is a more powerful being; a higher being, and a greater being than they – it’s offensive. But when you get right down to it, in reality there is no such thing as a true atheist. Those today who call themselves “atheists” are really just “humanists;” those who believe that they are the tip-top of the food chain. They may not admit it, but to the humanist – their god is themselves.

Why is it that these “atheists” are so rabidly anti-religious? Why can’t they – if they don’t want to believe in God – just leave those of us who do, alone? Why do they insist on going to court to try and silence our American right to free expression? Why do they – as Congressmen and Senators – push (unsuccessfully, thankfully) legislation that would remove the tax-exempt status of churches?

There is a concerted effort to remove the words “In God We Trust” from American currency. Why? Prayer has been all but outlawed anywhere near a “public” locale. Why? Philosophy and history teachers in public universities will tell their students – without batting an eye – that our Founding Fathers were all atheists, despite history itself stating otherwise. What’s the motivation? Why do some so deeply loathe the very idea of religion that they will resort to cheap lies in an attempt to destroy it?

Because they want to win the future. That’s a phrase common among “post modernists” (those who believe they have evolved past the old “myths” of their ancestors).

Take the debate over “In God We Trust.” It’s a motto that was established during the Eisenhower administration; just 60 or so years ago. In one generation we’ve gone from embracing Divine guidance to trying to outlaw such expressions in public. If we can fall so far, so fast, what’s in store for the next generation?

The atheist is offended at ANY reference to the God who so-loved the world, because their agenda is to win the next generation of thinkers into thinking that believers in God are small, fanatical, and dangerous. Noted television “personality” (for lack of a better word – and believe me, I tried to find a better word) Rosie O’Donnell recently said “Fanatical Christians are just as fanatical Muslims.” Statements like this are not isolated, and they are not rashly made. They come from the hearts of people who wish to remove the idea of God from the minds of people – and they are offended by the “God” Who “so loved the world.”

But sadly, this verse doesn’t stop at offending only non-believers. The words of Jesus here also anger those who believe in God – whether they realize it or not.

 

 

“THE HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON

 Like the previous section, at first glance one might wonder what could be offensive about these words, especially to one who claims to believe in Christ. There are those who believe that there is no Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (three Divine aspects of God), but rather that there is just one – and that Christ was not God in the flesh.

This doctrine is not new, in fact it’s as old as the late first century. The Gnostics of that day claimed to have some advanced knowledge of spiritual matters, and proceeded to pervert the Gospel and the minds of the early Christians with the idea that Jesus was not Who He claimed to be. The writings of John are essential readings for understanding how to combat this heresy, and still today the offspring of that doctrine remains.

Some of these believers claim that Jesus was in fact God, but that he was not human – merely “appearing” to be human. If this were true that how could he have bled on the cross (John 19). How could he have shed tears over Lazarus (Luke 11)? How could he have been born for crying out loud (Luke 2)? Obviously He was a man. Not just a man, of course, but still a man.

Notice John’s refutation of such a notion:

 

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

(1 John 4:2-3)

also…

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

(1 John 2:21-22)

 

Who is an antichrist? Someone who “denies the Father and the Son.” Notice the distinction John makes to Christ and the Father. Furthermore, to Whom was Jesus praying on the eve of His arrest (John 17)? He asked the Father to glorify Him. He wasn’t praying to Himself.

Of course, those aren’t the only ones who are offended by this statement by Jesus. What about the modern day Jew? They, who believe – at best – that Jesus was merely a prophet of God, and – at worst – was a charlatan who got what he deserved upon that Roman cross. The idea that He would be the offspring of God is…offensive.

 

“THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM”

 Who might find this clause offensive? What about those who teach that salvation is not for “whosoever” but rather is for “the pre-destinated ones.” The Calvinist (those who follow the teachings of the heretic, John Calvin) believe that there are two kinds of people in this world: The elect and the reprobate.

The elect are those lucky few that God has pre-determined to be saved. No matter what the elect might do, no matter how they might live, they will leave this world and find Paradise awaiting them.

The poor reprobate (Calvin’s word, not mine) was likewise pre-determined by God, only in his case, he was pre-determined to be lost – having no say in the matter at all. He may live the most pious, honorable life that a man may live, but too bad: He just wasn’t elected to be saved.

How sad a doctrine and how evil a concept. Worse still, is the taking of the beautiful flower tulip and contorting it into an acrostic for that wicked doctrine:

 

TTotal Hereditary Depravity

The idea that every little baby is born completely in sin

UUnconditional Election

The idea that there’s nothing you have to do to be saved

LLimited Atonement

Salvation for but a few – arbitrarily chosen by God.

IIrresistible Grace

If God arbitrarily chooses you to be saved, then you have no say in the matter.

PPerseverance of the Saints

If chosen to be saved, there’s nothing you can do to lose that salvation.

 

Every aspect of Calvin’s doctrine is false. Baby’s are not born in sin, since they can’t sin without any concept of what a law is (Romans 7:7), nor can they inherit sin (Ezekiel 18:19-20).

Equally false is the idea that I have no part in my own salvation, which Jesus speaks repeatedly about the things man must do (John 6:28-29).

Paul states very clearly that salvation is for ALL (Titus 2:11), which refutes this TULIP’s ‘L’.

Likewise the ‘I’ is utter balderdash, since it removes the idea of free will – the idea that I can’t make my own decisions, and I can’t choose to either serve God or deny Him. If TULIP is true then what is stopping me from just putting a bullet in my head? Why go on with this life and its heartaches, when I have no say in where I’ll spend eternity.

As for the ‘P’…

 

 

“SHOULD NOT PERISH”

 Read the words of Christ very carefully. Jesus said those who obey him “Should not” perish. He did not say “Shall not” perish. Those are not just two different words in the English, they are two different words in the Greek.

To say someone “shall not” is in the greek “οὐ,” which means “no, not ever!” It’s a very exact word and has a definitive force behind it. Jesus uses this word in the same context of John 3:16…

 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
(John 3:36)

Notice, if I don’t believe I SHALL NOT (no, not ever) be saved. But what if I do believe (“believe” = literally “faith+obedience”)? Then I SHOULD NOT perish. The word “should not” in the Greek is “μή,” which means “may not – conditionally speaking). In fact the Greek word is “may” (that’s how you pronounce it).

If Jesus wanted to say that once a person is saved he is always saved he would have said “no, not ever!” He didn’t. He chose the word “may – -conditionally speaking” be saved.

So what’s the condition? My faithfulness.

The very idea that I don’t have to be faithful after salvation – that I can just live it up however I want and God will still just send me on Home when life is over – is just absurd. If that were the case then why do we have the books from Romans-Jude (the majority of our New Testament) telling us HOW to be faithful? Is it just optional?! Why would Jesus TELL (not recommend – command) the church at Smyrna to be faithful unto death?

What Jesus is clearly saying is that it is not God’s will that anyone perishes. But each person is in control of his life – he has to make the decision to be saved, and to remain faithful. He should not perish…but that’s up to him.

Calvin must have read John 3:16 and thought it was pretty offensive. Likely that was the Father’s reaction to his twisted tulip, as well.

 

 

“BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE”

Now who could find the idea of eternal life offensive? Well no one of sound mind, obviously. But there are those who say that HELL is not eternal; and if Hell isn’t eternal, then neither is Heaven. What reason these false teachers have for this doctrine is beyond me. Even if Hell were temporary, I still wouldn’t want to go there – not even for a millisecond. Of course this doctrine (like all others mentioned) didn’t originate with man. It came from the mind of the devil. Who else would want to pass off the idea that Hell isn’t eternal, but the prince of that dark domain – the one who would do anything, and say anything to deceive you into spending ALL ETERNITY there.

Both Heaven and Hell are non-corporeal resting places for the soul. The soul – which is eternal – has to end up somewhere for all eternity. It’s not going to whither and fade away like a leaf in the wind. Both resting places are equally as timeless – a necessity if they’re going to house the souls of men. If Heaven is forever, so too is Hell.

Furthermore, Jesus said:

 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
(Mark 9:43)

The fire will never be quenched. Not after a thousand thousand years. As encouraging it is to sing that stanza of Amazing Grace:

 /When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun/

It is equally as terrifying to consider it with regards to Hell – the place where eternity will be spent weeping and wishing for a second chance that will never come; for mercy from the God who cannot hear because he has removed his ears from that place. If you find that offensive, you should. Let that be your motivation for staying as far away from the life that would lead you toward that wicked place.

*****

It is the Bible’s Golden Verse; beloved by people the world-over. And yet, if you hold to a false doctrine, odds are that even this simple statement by Christ can defeat it. Whether it’s Atheism, Gnosticism or Calvinism, John 3:16 has the answer.