Category Archives: Truth

Sinner or Saint

What a bunch of hypocrites.  That’s a sentence I started out with once when preaching to the teens at my church.  I got some odd looks for sure.  I admit, it was for some shock value, but it also helped to gain their attention.  At the very least, it was unexpected.

Many people throw that word around without any idea of what it really means.  They think they know what it means, but in reality, they don’t have a genuine grasp of it.  The origin of the word refers to “a stage actor”.  One who pretends to be someone they are not.  So basically, all our famed Hollywood actors are hypocrites.  They pretend to be people they are not on a daily basis and get paid millions of dollars to do so.  We pay to see them do it each time we go to a movie.  We pay people to be actual hypocrites.

The world doesn’t see it that way.  They are highly praised for their ability to transform into the character they are supposed to be portraying on screen, not mocked and scolded for acting like something or someone they are not.  They are given awards by their peers and groups that deem them worthy.  Millions of people basically worship these charlatans.

Look, I am not anti-movies.  I enjoy a good super hero flick like the next guy.  I get into action movies and the like.  I find myself yelling at the characters on screen (when I’m at home) because they are walking into a trap.  I’ve cried, rather I had something in my eye,  near the end of The Return of the King when Aragorn tells the Hobbits, “My friends, you bow to no one.”  Just thinking about it gives me the chills.  If that scene doesn’t choke you up, then you are cold-hearted and we can’t be friends.  Yet it’s all a sham.  Fake.  Every bit of it.

Even movies that are based on true events still embellish things to make them more emotional or entertaining.  I think every movie my wife and I have watched that was based on true events, I always say to her after its over, “I wonder how much of that actually happened.”  We want to believe it all happened because it was a good movie.

Emotions are so volatile, aren’t they?  Think about it…these people are rich beyond our comprehension because they can manipulate our emotions.  Honestly though, that’s the mark of a good actor/actress.  They can, temporarily, make us believe that they are someone else…and we love them for it.

It’s not that way for Christians is it.  The world sees us at church on Sunday and/or Wednesday, and then if we act or do something slightly less than Jesus-like, we are the ones deemed as hypocrites.  We are the ones deemed as fakes.  If we don’t live up to what their expectations are, then we are nothing less than frauds using religion as a crutch.  Is it true?  Are we hypocrites?  We sure can be and there are millions out there I’m sure who are.  However, as the old adage goes, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

The real problem with the way Christians are viewed by others and themselves, is that there is no comprehension as to who we really are.  Are we sinners or saints?

The standard answer by far too many Christians would be, “I’m just an old sinner saved by grace.”  There in lies the problem: the self-identification of still being sinner.  For a real Christian, you were an old sinner.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  This is a very simple concept with very deep contextual meaning.  Without digging too deep, when you believe on Jesus (as stated in Romans 10:9) you are now in Christ.  When you are in Christ, your old self – it’s ways, desires, etc. are passed away.  They have perished, they are no more.  You are now something new – unprecedented, fresh, recently made.  That means you are no longer a “sinner”.  You are now a saint.

For far too many Christians, the concept of being a saint is completely asinine and incomprehensible.  Yet who did Paul refer to as saints in scriptures?  Average Christians.  Almost every time he begins one of his writings to a church, he refers to those people as saints.  In general, Christians are referred to as saints many other times as well.  Sainthood is not something waiting for a select group of people as some religions would have you to believe.  It is something a Christian is here and now, despite what they act like.

The image that God sees you as, is who you really are.  It doesn’t matter how you “self-identify”.  A Christian is a saint, not a sinner.  Do we still sin?  Sure.  Everyone does and we’ll continue doing so until we die or Jesus comes again.  However, sinning does not make a Christian a sinner.  Our actions do not dictate who we are.  Our beliefs do.  How? Glad you asked.  The key lies in John 16.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on meOf righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

These are prophetic words that Jesus spoke referring to the time period post-ascension.  (Notice I didn’t say post-Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit was originally given as the “born-again” experience to the disciples right before Jesus ascended up into Heaven.  It was the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was given at Pentecost.)  Although reprove is normally seen as a negative thing, here it also has positive connotations.  Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit will reprove (also meaning convict) the world, referring to the inhabitants, of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment.

The only sin people are truly guilty of now is not believing on Jesus.  The scriptures tell us that Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world.  He was literally punished for every single person who has and will ever sin.  Your actions are no longer the problem, your beliefs are.  However, what I really want to focus on is that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would also reprove the world of righteousness.  He would find people guilty of being righteous.  How?  Because He (Jesus) ascended up to Heaven.  He even told His disciples that if He didn’t go away, the Comforter would not come.  Who are the recipients of the Comforter – the Holy Spirit?  Those who believe on Jesus, a.k.a. Christians.

If then, we continue to follow logic, if Christians are now found to be righteous (not due to their physical actions), how then can they still be “sinners”?  Answer: they can’t.  Again, will we still sin?  Yep.  It would be impossible for us not to.  Yet that doesn’t change who we really are.  If your belief in Jesus had never changed, then your position with God hasn’t changed either.

Many years ago, I had an experience with God that transformed my life.  When it happened, it was like a veil had been lifted from my eyes, and I saw for the first time, how I was really living.  At the time, I didn’t understand what had happened, but when I was questioned by my then best friend, the only words I could muster for him was, “Something has to change.”  I knew something was different inside, but I couldn’t figure out what.  So I started reading my Bible.  No one told me to, I just figured that what I should do.  Eventually, the thought came to me that I should probably go to church.  So I did.  Again, no one told me to.  It just “seemed” like the right thing to do.

I would imagine that people would say that’s when I was born again.  It wasn’t.  However, I got to the point that I was convinced that if I would’ve died previous to that, I would’ve ended up in hell.  And that’s exactly what I was telling people.  Then one night I was lying in my room thinking about the goodness of God and I had a revelation.  God showed me that I had been born again at a very young age.  I actually do remember the moment it happened.  Nothing really spectacular happened, but I just remember believing – really believing – that Jesus was raised from the dead.  It was something that I never stopped believing.  Even the worst moments of my life, I always knew He was there.  Anyway, at that moment, God showed me that I was wrong.  I wouldn’t have ended up in hell because I never stopped believing.

I can imagine what some people would think about that.  You’d accuse me of heresy.  You’d say I’m giving people a license to sin.  People don’t need a license to sin.  They’re sinning just the same without it.  You could take that and say that it doesn’t matter how you live.  Well, it does actually.  Even though my actions didn’t dictate my eternal destination, my life would’ve been considerably less miserable had I lived differently.  Besides, if you really want to take that concept and say that you can live like the devil and still go to heaven, I question your salvation.  If you really have an understanding of what that means, you won’t want to go out and sin.  I didn’t live like I did because I knew I was going to heaven and I wanted to get away with as much as I could.  I’ll say it again – if that’s your mentality, then question your salvation.

Is Jesus supposed to be our example?  Yes.  We are supposed to strive to be as our Master.  Even Paul told the church at Corinth that they should follow him, as he follows Christ.  One of the definitions of “as” is described “to the same degree”.  Paul did not expect the Corinthians to follow him unless he was modeling Jesus.  Were there times that Paul didn’t live up to Christ-like perfection?  I guarantee it, and that’s not taking into account his past life before his encounter with Jesus.  Paul was a human like us.  He struggled with the same temptations as we do, as Jesus did.  We may have no recorded history as to his failures post-conversion, but to think that he lived perfect after Damascus is delusional.

That being said, as I mentioned at the beginning, a hypocrite is someone who acts like someone they are not.  A real Christian who acts like a sinner is being a hypocrite.  Yet it’s when we attempt to act holy, that’s when people accuse us of being hypocrites.  I was acting like a hypocrite for well over a decade before I got the revelation of who I really was.  Since then, I’ve attempted to act as the person I know God has created me to be.  Have I done that perfectly?  Nope.  Will I ever?  Nope, and neither will anyone else.  But that doesn’t change who we are and Who we need to be like.

I guess it’s not too far off when people accuse Christians of being hypocrites.  We certainly do fill the role well sometimes.  They just tend to call us that at the wrong times.  It’s a good thing that God sees us like He does and loves us despite ourselves.

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Over the Legal Limit

585479204I’m not real proud of my past.  I sure didn’t do some of the most honorable things.  Getting drunk on regular occasions were one of those things…sometimes to the point of black outs.  The usual Friday and/or Saturday night consisted of some type of alcohol.  Surprisingly, I never had to take a breathalyzer or sobriety test…probably because I refrained from driving while under the influence, except for once which I paid a dear price.  I look back and wonder how I survived sometimes.  Obviously by the grace of God.  Believe it or not, I was saved back in those days.  I truly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, that He died for my sins, and that God raised Him up on the third day.  I had no idea what that really meant, but I believed it nonetheless.

One thing I can attest to, a drunk will never admit when they are drunk, but it’s not hard to tell when someone is.  It’s not rocket science.  The dictionary defines being drunk as affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of one’s faculties or behavior.  I’d say that’s pretty accurate.  They no longer have anything that inhibits them from acting in ways or saying things that they would normally refrain from.  That usually results in regret the next day, if they even remember what happened the night before.

 “Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Cor. 14:40 KJV

Contextually, Paul was correcting the Corinthian church in regards to how they were operating chaotically in the gifts of the Spirit in their services.  Things were out of control.  I almost wonder if their church services were more of a competition than anything.  If one person had a word of prophecy, then someone else had a better one.  If one person started speaking in tongues, then four more people joined in.  When someone tried to interpret, someone else would correct them.  Bottom line, things were not happening as they should’ve been, otherwise there would’ve been no need for correction.

I have seen footage of church services – or “meetings” – gone awry and I wonder if they mirror what the Corinthians were doing.  I’m not talking about little things where maybe the speaker got off on a rabbit trail, or they extended the music portion an extra 15 minutes.  No, I’m talking about how people are acting like they are not in control of themselves – writhing around on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, those kinds of things.  I have been a first hand witness to some of those things and something never set quite right with me.

People claim it’s the Spirit of God moving and however the Spirit moves, you move.  You hear things like, “I just couldn’t stop ______.”  Fill in the blank with whatever action you “felt” the Spirit was moving you to do.  People will say they were just “drunk in the Spirit”.  This is where Christians will use Ephesians 5:18 and these verses from Acts 2 to justify their “uncontrollable” behavior.  That is a blatant misrepresentation of those verses.

The verse in Ephesians is supposed to be a contrast, not a similarity as many preach.  He’s telling them, and us, we shouldn’t be getting drunk.  Remember the dictionary definition earlier?  You’re telling me that the Spirit of God, the one that set the universe in perfect motion, caused you to lose control of yourself?  Sorry, I’m not buying it.  God does not possess people and make them do things, nor does He the opposite.

If you do some homework, you’ll find that being drunk was a shameful act in the Old Testament.  It was NOT something to be proud of.  So why on earth would we act that way and claim it’s the Spirit of God?  Peter tells us to be sober and vigilant.  Read what Paul told the Church in Thessalonica:

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Be what?  Sober – calm, collected in spirit – temperate.  Strong’s concordance says it means to abstain from wine.  So tell me again that you’re “drunk in the spirit”?

In regards to the verses in Acts 2, I don’t believe they were caught up in uncontrollable, hysterical laughter or any such thing.  It’s clear that Scripture tells us people heard them speaking in multiple languages that were not their native ones.  (You can read about that here in Part 3 of my series on tongues.)  They were NOT acting drunk.  That was just people trying to explain away what was happening.  I also believe they were also trying to discredit the disciples, by spreading rumors that they were drunk at 9 in the morning.  Think about it: If people thought that followers of Jesus were ok with drinking wine – getting drunk –  that early in the morning, then that was further proof to the Jews that Jesus was not the Messiah and it would be easier to convince others of the same.  Read the first thing Peter told them in Acts 2:14-15

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

The first thing he told the people was that they were not drunk! I believe it angered Peter, and rightfully so, that people were equating a move of God with being drunk.  He specifically wanted them to know that they had not been drinking.  I believe Peter had a “how dare you” moment.  Know what I mean?  When someone says or does something so disrespectful, that you just can’t believe what you heard or what just happened.  I believe a little righteous indignation rose up within him and he was going to make sure they knew what was what.  Yet Christians today brag about being drunk in the spirit.  I think that if Peter was in some of the services or meeting which these things have happened, he’d have something to say about it and it wouldn’t be encouraging the behavior.

What I find odd, is hat the same Christians that get “drunk in the spirit” will also preach 4 verses down from Ephesians 18, that states “Abstain from all appearance of evil” as their basis for telling others that Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol.  Do you see the obvious conflict here?  Don’t actually drink alcohol, but it’s ok to act drunk.  Excuse me while I bang my head against a brick wall.  That make no sense.  First, and I’m not getting into it here, but it’s not a sin to consume alcohol.  It’s a sin to do so when you cross the line into intoxication.  Regardless, if you’re going to say that drinking alcohol is an appearance of evil (which it’s not), then you had better say the same about acting drunk, which really would be an appearance of evil.  I know how that sounds and I’m not apologizing for it.  It’s the truth.

Don’t mistake my judgment of these incidents as unbelief.  I believe in the gifts of the Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12.  I totally believe speaking in tongues is for us today.  I also believe we should be experiencing good heath and prosperity.  I believe God is good and that every perfect gift comes from Him.  I just don’t believe we should be acting in these types of ways and calling it God.

Was there a move of God that people experienced, but didn’t know how to describe or handle? Sure.  Did people get so caught up in the emotional side of things that they allowed their feelings to dictate their behavior?  Probably.  Can laughter be contagious?  Absolutely.  Is it possible many others joined in even though they really weren’t experiencing anything because they didn’t want to be “left out”?  Definitely.

Should our entire fellowship as a church be scheduled down to the minute?  No.   Should we never laugh in church?  That’s not what I’m saying either.  I totally believe that God can, and has, changed the course of many services and meetings.  If God is truly moving you, as a leader, a different direction, then you better go that way.  However, when things begin to seem disorganized and disorderly, that’s when we’ve moved over from the Spirit, into the flesh.

The flesh enjoys indulgence, no matter what it is.  Anger feels good to vent.  It feels good to gorge out on your favorite food.  When you’re in a certain mood, you want to enhance the felling, so you listen to songs that reinforce your emotions at the time.  If someone is experiencing the death of a loved one, we weep with them.  Compassion moves through us and it’s a natural reaction.  The opposite is also true.  When we are around others who are joyful and they begin laughing, it’s easy to begin laughing with them.  If  more join in, it’s probably going to spread throughout the entire group of people.  Emotions, good or bad, are both highly contagious and powerful.

It’s no different when we get into services that begin to manipulate our emotions.  We want to continue in it because it feels good.  I’ve been in many services where I would’ve loved the music to continue all morning  because I “felt” the spirit moving strong.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to experience emotion, but we just can’t let emotions dictate our behavior, no matter the atmosphere.

Thankfully, we have been given a fruit of the Spirit called temperance.  I like the dictionary definition of this word: moderation or self restraint in action, statement, etc.  Many translations use the word self-control.  In control of one’s self.  A Christians should NEVER use the phrase, “I just couldn’t help myself,” or any other like it..  It’s just not true.

The lost the only ones the have the potential to get away with statements like that.  They don’t have the Spirit of God inside them.  They don’t have access to the attributes listed in Galatians 5:22-23 like we do.  Can they control themselves?  If they really want to, but we have an advantage.  We have the same spirit inside of us that raised up Christ from the dead.

It doesn’t matter what you felt the Spirit moving you to do, you – as a Christian – always have a choice and you are always in control of yourself.


When Truth Hurts

I remember years ago when Facebook was the big thing.  Not that it still isn’t, but for many younger people, Facebook isn’t their first go-to, it’s Snapchat.  For quite some time though, Facebook was the major player when people wanted to share something with the general public.  In particular, it was “LMS for truth is” or something to that effect.  For you older folks, LMS stands for “like my status”.  The whole point to that was anyone who in fact, liked that particular update, the poster would write on the liker’s wall a piece of truthful information that the original poster thought of the liker.

bee-sting

You may be utterly confused by now.  I’m almost confused now.  Let’s try it again with a realistic scenario.  I post on FB, LMS for truth is.  You like my status.  I now post to your wall with something like, “Truth is…you’re a lot of fun to be around and we should hang out more often.”  Pretty simple.  Pretty shallow if you ask me.  From my limited knowledge, and yet even many would agree, most “truth is” comments were vague and fake.  They were generally some eye rolling puff piece, not the real truth.  Why?  Because sometimes the real truth hurts.

I’m not saying that the poster of LMS should have ripped the liker apart, but every time I saw the scenario, it was always weak.  To be honest, I saw a lot of them because I had a lot of the teenagers from my youth group as friends, so they would do it and their friends would do it and they would like their friends’ statuses.  I actually preached a sermon called “Truth Is” talking about that very thing.

Most of us were taught at a very young age, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Sorry (not sorry) that was a terrible piece of advice.  Now, if you say anything remotely “un-nice” people go ballistic.  They simply cannot handle anything less than stellar spectacular positive feedback no matter how wacko they are acting.  They want you to confirm that anything they do is ok because it makes them happy.  That’s sad, because often times what needs to be said may not seem nice, and that’s ok.

If the truth never hurts, then I can guarantee you that you are constantly getting lied to.  We all need to hear things that don’t give us warm fuzzies.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between being downright mean, and what the Bible calls “speaking the truth in love”.  That latter phrase was taken from Ephesians chapter 15.  In context, Paul was speaking to the Church at Ephesus, but in large, it was a message to all Christians.  It was instructions on how to grow into the Body of Christ as God intended.

Every type of growth is accompanied by pains.  Physical growth spurts that children go through causes pain.  Emotional growth can cause pains.  Why should it be any different when it comes to spiritual growth?  But how do we grow spiritually?  Through correction.

Proverbs 3:12 gives us that guideline and it’s reiterated in Hebrews 12.  Now, I want to be clear that the LORD no longer chastens us by physical means.  If we mess up, He does not cause tragedy or physical harm to us in order to teach us something.  His correction now comes through His word as written in the Bible, it can come through the preaching of the  Word, or through someone close to us who is willing to risk the relationship in order to tell you something you may not want to hear.  Let me give you an example:

When I was living in Branson, MO, I attended Faith Life Church.  Infrequently, Brother Moore’s wife, Phyllis, would preach a message.  For whatever reason, it would seem like I always got a “spiritual spanking” when she did.  Her sermons would quite often correct me to the point I’d almost hunch down in my seat because I knew I was about to hear something I didn’t want to.

There was one night in particular that opened my eyes.  I was sitting near the front of the church, with probably 800-1000 people behind me.  I honestly don’t remember what she said exactly, but it was something like this, “Who in here is dealing/having a problem with _______?”  I put the blank because I really don’t remember what it was, all I know is I raised my hand because I figured half the people in the room would too.  Her next words jolted me into another level.  She said, “Well, I guess only three people here are going to get help.”  You simply cannot appreciate the tone she uses when she preaches unless you’ve heard her.  Anyway, my eyes bugged out of my head.

“Three people, that’s it????  Great, now everyone knows I have been struggling.”  That was my initial thought until it sunk in.  First, I guarantee more than three people needed help that night, but the other 797 weren’t going to get it because they were to proud to admit they needed the help.  Second, it was a turning point for me.  I knew at that moment, I was growing.  I was growing because I had been willing to accept the correction I had been needing.  The LORD was using Sister Phyllis to help me grow spiritually.

I think back to that night quite often and I’ve told that story during many sermons to the youth, because it’s such a powerful moment in my life and it’s a perfect illustration of the Scriptures I mentioned above.  Look at this in Hebrews 12:11 NLT:

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

It stung, almost quite literally, during those sermons I sat through.  Up until that last one, I felt quite beat up sometimes.  It was painful.  It wasn’t enjoyable.  However, it was necessary and it was in love.  I needed to grow, and because He love me, He corrected me.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”  Now before I get accused of taking Scripture out of context, I realize that Paul was speaking to the Corinthians about their repentance because of his letter.  However, there’s a principle here that is applicable to our live when it comes to correction.

When someone genuinely speaks the truth in love, I believe it brings a Godly sorrow.  Because when the truth hurts, and it will, it can be upsetting.  I was not the happiest camper in the world during that time.  In fact, to be completely transparent, I could have sat down and cried at any given time for no apparent reason…in fact, there were times that I did just that.  Yet every time I did, I picked myself back up and pressed on.

The sorrow of the word that Paul says works death, is just the opposite of what I experienced.  It’s my belief that the sorrow of the world is condemnation.  Is a killer and it’s not from God.  Read Romans 8 if you don’t believe me.  It is the opposite of what God wants us to experience when we are corrected.

I’d like to give you a little secret when it comes to correction.  You probably didn’t pick up on it in my story, but here it is: Humility.  You must receive correction with a dose of humility.  A proud person cannot and will not accept that they need to change anything.  If I had been too proud to put up my hand at that moment, I believe I would have set back my growth even longer.  I know that I would have had another opportunity, but as the saying goes, why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

That moment is as fresh in my mind as the day it happened.  I’m glad that I don’t remember what is was that I raised my hand for.  It gives the enemy nothing to condemn me with and I know that I’ve gotten the correction I needed.  I realize that it took a period of time for God to work me to that point, and I’m so thankful He did.

Ever since then, I’ve looked at correction a little differently than maybe most people.  I don’t want to say that I encourage it, but when I feel that little twinge inside, I know precisely what it is and I am thankful for it.  It still stings, but it’s a good sting.  Kind of like when you put peroxide on a cut.  It stings, but you know it’s for your own good.

So, when the truth hurts, let it.

 

 


Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

No, I’m not the anti-Christ, but I can already hear the backlash simply from the post title alone.  However, I’m serious.  Don’t do it.  Don’t ask Jesus into your heart.  Maybe I should explain…wrong-way-go-back

I’ve heard it said many times, by many different preachers, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart…”  That’s what Christians refer to as an “alter call”.  It’s the time at the end of the service that is usually reserved to see if someone needs to be saved – to “ask Jesus into your heart and be the Lord of your life.”  You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  Aren’t we supposed to see people saved?”  Absolutely.  Salvation is number one, yet the way that the vast majority of preachers go about it is all wrong un-Biblical.  That’s right: asking Jesus into your heart is un-Biblical.

Case in point: Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is how someone is saved.  I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says to ask Jesus into your heart or any other concoction of words to give us warm fuzzies.  Paul out of his own mouth to the Corinthians in 1:2 that he was determined to deal with one subject only: Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In fact, Acts 3:5; 4:10; 13:30; 13:34; 17:31, Romans 4:24; 6:4;6:9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:21 – just to name a few, all deal with Jesus being raised from the dead!  I’d say that the resurrection was a pretty big deal.  It has to be.

That’s the true Gospel.  The true good news is that Jesus was crucified – in that he took on all of our sins while on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is NOT residing in your heart.  If, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, Jesus was never raised from the dead, then we are all still in our sins.  If we are still in our sins then we are in an “un-saved” state, still separated from God.

If, in fact, the way to salvation is through believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with your mouth that he is Lord, then what about the millions who have only “asked him into their heart?”  I don’t know.

That’s right.  I don’t know.  And I’m not afraid to say that.  I don’t know their hearts and I don’t know what was revealed to them at that moment.  Maybe they did get the revelation of what Jesus did at that moment regardless of how the preacher called it.  I don’t know, nevertheless, that doesn’t make the scriptures any less true.  We were told the way of salvation and we shouldn’t make up our own way.  An inconvenient truth doesn’t make it any less the truth.

So why do people do it the other way?  Why is it presented as asking Jesus into your heart?  Because it’s more warm and fuzzy that way.  It sounds so cuddly, who wouldn’t want to respond to that?  Slap some butter or frosting on it and who could resist?  <–Sarcasm.

Well, I know my answer is going to cause a ruckus, but we can thank the devil for that.

Think about it.  The devil has crept into the “church” and convinced people to do things a certain way because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ahhh…tradition.  It’s a killer.  Jesus told the most religious people of his day that tradition nullifies the word of God.  The devil doesn’t want us to change what we are doing, and if he can’t get us to be stagnate, then he’ll convince us of small changes in the way we do things so they no longer line with the Word of God.  If you think the devil doesn’t know scripture, you’re wrong.  He was around when it was being written.  If he could convince us to do something that would render the power of God of none effect, don’t you think he’d try it?

Am I splitting hairs?  Being too picky?  Or whatever else?  Yes.   Yes, I am.  This involves THE most important thing a person will ever choose.

Look, even if it’s not the devil that’s caused this different way of salvation, it’s still a different way no matter what. It’s not the way it’s presented in the Bible.  Shouldn’t that be enough …shouldn’t that be enough for us as Christians to re-examine how we do things?


Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 2

Although I diverted a few times since I introduced this topic, I decided it was time to revisit it.  I introduced a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about is who Jesus really was.  Not who we “think” he was or who people make Him out to be, but who the Jesus of the Bible was and what He actually did and said.  I personally use this approach for everything I believe and teach.  If there’s something I believe and it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then I must be wrong.  You shouldn’t lower the Bible to match what you believe or have experienced, nor base what you believe on what someone else has experience..  We must believe God to raise our experiences to match the Bible.

Maybe this should be a separate topic, but I think there’s something that needs to be established before we really hit this hard.  The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels, were all written after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.  However, those books were recording accounts BEFORE Jesus died, rose and ascended.  What I mean is that we often read the words and works of Jesus as if they were New Testament things.  They weren’t!  Jesus lived under the Old Testament law, spoke in regards to Old Testament promises, yet at the same time revealed things that were going to change as a result of his pending death and resurrection.  With those thoughts in mind, we really need to be careful of how we interpret what Jesus spoke.  Not all of what Jesus said is applicable to Christians today.  Yes, I just said not everything Jesus said should be applied to us today.

Now, before you call me the anit-Christ, you really need to re-read what I just got done explaining.  Jesus spoke as one under the “law”, the old covenant, that was based on performance.  We are under a different covenant that is based upon grace – the finished work of Jesus.  Once Jesus had died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the new covenant was then in effect, negating the old covenant or the “law” as many call it.  That being stated, if we are no longer under that covenant, then things spoke up under that convent are not necessarily applicable to us who are under a DIFFERENT covenant.  Can we glean truth, instruction, correction and guidance from things spoke under the Old Convenant?  Of course, and we should.  We just have to be careful not to apply certain things to our lives since we are not living under the same laws.  Clear as mud?  I’ll probably elaborate on that in the near future, but I really need to get back to the topic at hand.

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to a world view of Jesus, is that people will try to say that Jesus preached “love and acceptance”.  OK, let me rant here for just a minute.  We really need to watch out for and correct those who claim to know what Jesus taught, yet they never step foot in a church or have read a Bible consistently.  How could you possible know who Jesus was or what he talked about if you’ve never met him?  Simple…you can’t.  So suffice it to say, Jesus never preached love and acceptance.

Matthew 4:17          •Matthew 4:23          •Matthew 9:35          •Mark 1:14-15          •Luke 5:31-32          •Luke 24:46-47

So after reading those scriptures, would you say Jesus preached love and acceptance?  No, and those were just a few examples.  In fact, out of 154 times the word Kingdom is used in the New Testament, 121 of those times it appears in the Gospels.  The vast majority of those times Jesus is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven typically in a parable.  Why were these issues so prevalent in his teachings?  Glad you asked…

The first time that Jesus is recorded using the word “repent” is in Matthew 4:17.  In the Greek, it simply means to “change one’s mind”.  In other words, Jesus said, “Change your way of thinking because the Kingdom of Heaven has come to join you.”  For thousands of years, Israel had thought a certain way.  They had been trained to think about the Kingdom in a particular manner, in a literal sense.  That the Messiah was going come and establish the Kingdom literally and overthrow the Roman government.  Jesus came to tell them they were wrong.  How they had interpreted things were wrong.  That wasn’t very popular at the time.  In fact, it’s not popular now…to tell people how they have been thinking is wrong will not win you any friends in this day and age; especially if we talked to them how Jesus talked to some of the most “religious” leader of his day.  He branded those leaders as “hypocrites” and he said the were like white-washed graves that appeared nice on the outside, but inside were full of decay and deceit.  He said they were the blind leading blind and they both would fall into a pit.  Needless to say, Jesus was not pleased how the “leaders” of his day were representing the Kingdom.  All the more important for Jesus to introduce a new way to think about Kingdom.  (I cannot do it justice here or can I do as it as thorough as necessary, so I would encourage you to look into the book series that Miles Munroe has written that called Kingdom Principles and others titled similar to it.)

People will also use the incident with the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example of Jesus accepting people and probably to justify themselves in what they are doing wrong.  I wouldn’t say that he accepted her for who she was, but rather didn’t condemn her for who she was or what she had done.  Even when Jesus sent her away, he specifically said to her, “Go and sin no more.”  He in no way shape or form approved or accepted her lifestyle.  In fact the opposite was true: he told here to stop doing it.  Those who are living a sinful lifestyle today will do so under the guise that Jesus is OK with how they choose to live and who they choose to love.  He is most certainly not.  In fact, he would do today as he did back then…tell them to stop.  Would he condemn them?  No.  Should we?  No.  However at the same time, we don’t have to accept what they do as right and if we are branded as bigots or anything else they choose to brand us, then we are in good company because if they call us a bigot then they are calling Jesus a bigot.

How about the this incident in John 5:1-14?  Did he seriously just say what I think he said?  Oh, no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  He basically told that man, his infirmity was a result of his sinning and if he continued to do so, he would suffer something worse.  Can you imagine the backlash if we told someone with some type of debilitating disease that it was their sin that caused it?  I really think they might legalize stoning for that!  Yet, I’m supposed to believe Jesus preached love and acceptance?  I NEVER read Jesus telling anyone to “do what makes them happy” or any type coddling response to peoples sin.

Jesus did not accept sinful lifestyles.  Did he love those who sinned?  Absolutely.  Was he OK with their lifestyles?  No.  Should we love those who sin?  Absolutely.  Should we be OK with those lifestyles?  No, nor do we have to accept other people’s or “society’s” standard of what is right and wrong.  We have an absolute standard from the Word of God and that’s the one I’ll accept even if it’s inconvenient.  At the same time, it does not absolve us of our duties to love others as Jesus did.  Jesus never shoved his finger in someone’s face and spewed “SINNER!” all over them.  He did, however, correct those that were in need of correction and said what needed to be said regardless of who it would offend.

Don’t accept anyone version of Jesus if it does not line up with only true one.

 

 

 


This Is The End

Beautiful, friend.  This it the end.  My only friend, the end.  Of our elaborate plans, the end.

Ok.  So I ripped that off from The Doors song.  And yes, maybe I thought it would get some attention.  It was either that or “REPENT!  THE END IS NEAR!  TURN OR BURN!”  And, yes.  I used to listen to The Doors.  That’s probably why that song popped into my head when I was wanting to post about this topic.  Getting back on track now…

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” – Revelation 1:7

It very easy to get caught up in making fun of “dooms-dayers”.  It’s probably easier to get caught up poking fun at Christians that put up billboards announcing the end of the world on a certain date.  I even made the comment on my Facebook page, after an extended absence, stating that, “I thought the Mayans had it right so I was held up in my Zombie-proof bunker and lost track of time.”  Yet as much flack as people get for proclaiming an end to the world, there is an end coming.

Paul wrote in the Bible about a time coming when Jesus will return to the earth one last time.  Peter wrote about and end time as well.  Jesus himself proclaimed that there was an end to this world, yet even said he wasn’t even aware of the time.  We may not no the time, but rest assured, there is an end coming.

The problem is that too many Christians are wrapped up in the whole “end time” things.  Will there be a rapture, then the tribulation?  Tribulation first?  Bowls and vials being poured out, plagues, waters turning to blood…  Who is the anti-Christ?  What about the mark of the beast?  Will nuclear war be Armageddon?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fascinating stuff.  I enjoy listening to preachers talk about it.  Many of them I’m sure have some good revelation concerning the end times.  The problem is we focus on when the end is coming rather than what we should be doing when it comes.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” – Mark 13:32-37

Watch.  That’s a pretty simple instruction.  Be aware of what’s going on.  Jesus didn’t say to run around and proclaim the end of the world is coming by strapping signs to ourselves and standing on the street corners.  In fact, one of the last orders of the head of the Church before he ascended into Heaven was in Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  He told the disciples in Acts that they would be witnesses unto Him.  Our orders are simple.  Proclaim the good news.  Water turning to blood is not good news.

The good news Jesus told us to preach was not about something to come.  It was about something that had already happened.  I can’t put it any better than Paul did in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus walked this earth as a sinless man, yet suffered the punishment for sin for the entire world so that we wouldn’t have to.  Jesus became everything we were so that we could be come everything He is.  If Jesus suffered for it, then we don’t have to.  There is no more sacrifice for sin.  The perfect sacrifice for sin has been made and it’s good for all eternity for everyone that believes.  You can be made right with God through what Jesus did.  You don’t have to work for it and you certainly can’t earn it.  Now THAT’S good news!  That’s the good news we were meant to proclaim to the uttermost parts of the earth.

So you know what?  Go preach an end.  An end to condemnation.  An end to sickness.  An end to poverty.  An end to shame.  An end to weakness and an end to chains.  An end to darkness.  An end to fears.  An end to bondage and an end to tears.

Surely I come quickly.” – Jesus, Revelation 22:20


Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 1

Yes, once again, it’s time for a series.  I think it’s nearly impossible to coverany particular topic in one post, yet at the same time too much can be a bad thing as well.  What I mean is overload.  Take general college classes for example, of which I am taking a few.  I can only read in one text-book on one subject for so long before I have to change my focus.  I think the same thing is true when it comes to blog posts.  Yes, I did six posts on speaking in tongues, but that didn’t nearly cover everything there is to say on that topic, nor am I completely finished.  It was enough to chew on for now and now it’s time to chew on something different.

There is a big misconception amongst Christians and non-Christians alike as to who Jesus was, along with what he actually did and taught.   There is a very skewed perception on Jesus that needs to be straightened out.  Let’s not look at my opinion or anyone else’s.  I think it’s time to actually look at the definitive source for all things Jesus…THE BIBLE!

There are a lot of things that people claim Jesus did that’s not in the Bible.  There’s a lot of misquotation surrounding what He said.  Much of what people get right when they quote Him is taken out of context.  Call me picky, but if I’m going to affirm or rebuke someone or myself, I want to make sure I have the correct scriptures taken in the right context to back me up.  Although there is a TON of scriptures that are misused and abused, I’m going to focus specifically on Jesus for now.

You see, the world (and many Christians) want to make Jesus out to be someone He wasn’t.  They want to make Him out to be someone who fits their lifestyles and choices.  They tailor Him to meet whatever they need Him to be so they can tell Christians that we need to be more like Him.  They are right about one thing.  We need to be more like Jesus.  We just need to be more like the REAL Jesus.

Christians are doing the same.  They are changing who He was to fit their agendas.  We so easily neglect that many of the people Jesus rebuked were the most religious people of His time.  We can’t pick and choose who we make Jesus out to be.  He is who He was and the Bible is very clear on that.  We can’t make Jesus to be someone He wasn’t.  Well, I guess we can if we so choose, but to do so would be an affront to the LORD.

Just so I’m clear, I will be pointing the finger at “sinner” and “saint” alike.  In fact for that reason, I’ll be pointing the finger at us first.  After all, He did say to take the beam out of our own eye before trying to remove the spec from our brother’s eye.  Yes, that was taken in context.

Well, this turned out to be more of an introduction than anything.  At least for those of you who read, you’ll know what’s coming up.  I do invite comments if there’s anything in particular that you feel has been an area where Jesus has been misrepresented.  It’s time for the real Jesus to be known.


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