Laying low until things blow over

There are challenges everywhere in the world.  There are political challenges, financial challenges, challenges within families, challenges with keeping or finding employment and religious challenges.  Governments face challenges, the environment is challenged the minds of men are be challenged.

Many people everywhere are finding themselves squeezed by many challenges.  At times these challenges go in direct opposition to our convictions.  Many times we try to work around these types of challenges because the cost may be more than what we want to pay, if we stick to our convictions.

I know of a man who has paid dearly for such conviction.  He saw a young women in their fellowship that had a lifestyle prone to repeated acts of fornication.  After being confronted the fellowship restored her several time and she made commitments to Christ, only to return to her sinful life.

This man read in scripture how we are to set such people out of the fellowship of believers and was convinced they were to do so.

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.[1]

Even against his own family did he find himself with this position.  He was convinced that they must follow scripture but his family and the rest of the fellowship disagreed.  The disagreement was so strong this man found himself no longer welcomed in the fellowship.  They considered him to legalistic.

Not only did it cost him this, he was also disowned by his family.  He has a family that was very successful and their business was worth millions.  Instead of laying low until the thing blew over, he stuck to his convictions as a believer and was disowned by his family.  He was thrown out of the business and they do not associate with him at all, even after all of these years.

There is another man I know who had to only wait for thirty days for the trouble to blow over and he would be in the clear.  If he just laid low and made himself scarce, he could avoid trouble.  But this man on the first day didn’t not for an instant hide himself or show fear to publically do as he always did.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.[2]

We all know this story and how Daniel went to the lions den.  We all know how he was saved by God.  But this story is not a story of how God will save all who stand up for him.  This story is about a man who stood firm in his convictions even to the point of accepting death.

We in these pressing last days are being squeezed and will be squeezed until we either try to acquiesce to those pressuring us or we do as Daniel did.  We live in days when killing babies is right and disciplining children is wrong.  We are told that homosexuality is good and those who speak about it from the scriptural perspective are hate mongers.  We all know and feel our own pressures, but be assured more is to come that will go directly against everything we believe about who we are to be as believers.

Will we stand up like Daniel and say I choose death, imprisonment or financial consequences.  Or will we bend our convections to not cause trouble, only to bend so slowly for so long we are no longer reflect the image of the people of God.  Maybe our denial of Christ won,t come in one question but in a thousand pressures, like the thousand cuts of a slow death.

[1] 1 Corinthians 5:11

[2] Daniel 6:10

Hear the word of the Lord

Voices, voices, voices, there are many voices out there in the world of Christendom calling for a following of devotion.  People, people, people, there are many people in the world of Christendom who are willing to be the following devoted.

People are so desperate for the supernatural they have forgotten that our scripture is complete and needs no other word of the Lord.  They have strayed from the belief that we need no other new word from the Lord.  We have what we need in scripture and we lack nothing for our spiritual lives.

In books and on the internet there are claims of the supernatural and visitation of angels.  There are so called Christians who claim to have messages from angelic visitors that are clearly extra biblical.  Such encounters include visitations from the Angel of Finance on how to prosper in your life and ministry.  And many, if you want to call them that, Christians buy this stuff hook line and sinker.

Many such extra biblical stuff can be found by so called prophets of God proclaiming this and that.  Things that are clearly outside of the teaching of the bible.  One such website is called “The Elijah List”.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.[1]

I know of a man who had a visitation of God.  It wasn’t just an angel sent from the Lord, it was the Lord Himself.  Now this guy could brag about being taught something that was not in scripture, after all it was the Lord who taught him of Himself.  And this happened repeatedly.  Meaning over and over again.  I wonder what little extra bits of information this person got from God?  What little extra stuff did he learn since it was God who was revealing Himself to this man, that was not known of God at this time?

Nothing!  Absolutely nothing was revealed that had not been made known already.  Nothing was given as an extra revelation to this man Samuel.  Instead this repeated visitation of God to Samuel and His revealing of Himself to Samuel was all done through His word.

The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.[2]

Why should this surprise us?  I have been advocating that our gospel started at Mt. Sinai as scripture teaches.  So why would it be impossible for Samuel to understand and know God from His word?  Why would it be impossible for Samuel to know and understand the hope we have in our gospel?  Samuel was taught our gospel that was preached at Mt. Sinai from God, but God taught him nothing outside of His word.

We have those going around claiming to have extra biblical spiritual information resulting from the visitation of angels.  Yet God Himself stuck to His word.  What these angels from God have liberties that God Himself did not take?  No, these Angels are not from God.  They go outside of the word of God.  Or is it that our so called prophets of today are greater than Samuel, whom God Himself visited.  I hardly doubt it!

[1] 2 Timothy 4:3-4

[2] 1Samuel 3:21

The serious side of the heart

What should be done with the men who are of the covenant of Abraham but serve other Gods.  It isn’t that they had actual idols in their possession.  It was that they had set up idols in their hearts.  It reminds me of Jesus when He speaks of the sin of the heart and not just the actual commitment of the sin.

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.[1]

Ironically we think Jesus had raised the bar on sin, but in reality He was only restating the sin of the heart found in the Old Testament.

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?[2]

God speaking of men in Ezekiel’s day says men have set their hearts to serve other things above God.  They have let things pass in front of their faces that became a stumbling block to them.

How many things do we allow to pass before our eyes that become stumbling blocks to us?  How many messages of sensuality do we receive from TV programming, let alone the commercials?  How many things do we have pass before our eyes even on the back of vehicles now days?  It is a shame the soft porn that has crept onto the windows of trucks now days.  It is almost impossible now days to keep things from passing before our faces, even for the most conscientious person, and not to be bombarded with garbage in every avenue of life now days.

From Library books, magazine racks at the grocery store, to movies, TV and the internet there is so much garbage that passes before our faces to give opportunity to become stumbling stones to us.  How does one keep their hearts pure before the Lord when the world is doing just the opposite of what we are commanded to do?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.[3]

But what happens to the individual who after doing all to stand does not stand?  What happens of the individual, who has the covenant of God, now giving place in their heart to the idol of sins of the heart?  Should they now be allowed to call upon the name of the Lord?  In the above verses God ask Ezekiel this very question.  Well what do you think God should do to such a people, who have given themselves over to sins of the heart that have become stumbling stones and idols to the believer?  Should God let them inquire of Him?

God says He will answer those who have stumbling blocks of iniquity and establishes idols in his heart, according to their sins.

Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;[4]

God sums it up by saying those who have inequity in their hearts will be punished.

And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;[5]

If we find ourselves with stumbling stones passing before our faces and idols of sins of the heart in place of our God, don’t let the Lord answer you according to your sins and cut you off from His people.  Don’t let God use us to show to His people that He is the Lord.

For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.[6]

Don’t take comfort in the false teaching of eternal security.  Jesus has said over and over again He says nothing on His own and that He only says what He has heard His Father say.  So if Jesus is not setting a higher standard and only reinforcing what He has heard His Father say, let us hear the world of the Lord.  Let us know that we as a people who have a hope salvation, we can be cut off from His people.  We can be cut off from our hope of salvation.

Let us repent as the people of God.  Let us remove what passes before our eyes that can become a stumbling block and a snare to us.  Let us turn our faces away from all those things that cause sin in our hearts.

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.[7]

God will judge the sins of the heart.  He will cut off and destroy those of us who do not repent of the private sins of the heart.  He will not comfort His people who have set up idols in their hearts.  He will not comfort those who sin in their hearts with the idolatry of eternal security.  He will cut them off as an example, so His people will know He is the Lord.  He will do this so His people will stray no more nor be polluted by society.  They will be His people and He will be their God.

That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.[8]

May we as His people have not only the belief in the gospel but also have the power of the gospel at work in our lives that we may be born again and set free from the power of sin and death, as discussed in yesterday’s post “Can we believe in God in vain?”

God we confess our sins of the heart to you, sins we do not seek out but sins we allow into our hearts.  Please God forgive us our secret sins that we have set up as idols in our hearts.  By your Holy Spirit set us free from the power of sin and death in our lives so that we may live to righteousness, as your word proclaims for those who have a hope of salvation.

[1] Matthew 5:28

[2] Ezekiel 14:2-3

[3] Philippians 4:8

[4] Ezekiel 14:4

[5] Ezekiel 14:10

-[6] Ezekiel 14:7-8

[7] Ezekiel 14:6

[8] Ezekiel 14:11

Can we believe in God in vain?

There is a wonderful comfort in scripture that we are justified before God based on absolutely nothing that results from our effort, but all on the effort of God.  We are justified based on our believing the promises of God to us, through the work of Jesus Christ.

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.[1]

But does this simply mean we can confess a belief in God or is there more?  Is this justification by faith to all men who confess a belief in God or is it more than just a mental recognition of Christ and His sacrifice for us?  In many circles of Christianity it is preached at the end of sermons, that a person can know for certain right now they will go to heaven if they confess Jesus is Lord.  Then with a simple confession they are pronounced saved and on their way to heaven.  But does scripture support this type of conversion practiced by many in the church?

There are examples of faith that do not lead to salvation.  There are even examples of true praise and worship to the one living God that comes from those who do not walk in the hope of salvation held out in the gospel.  For instance we can believe all we want in the one true God, but what more do we do with this information the demons do?

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?[2]

Do we believe it is possible for a “believer” to have a belief in God but it still only leads them to death?  Or is all belief in God valid before God?  I would venture to say there is only one belief in God that is valid and any other belief in God is not valid.  We are taught we need to remain in what we have been taught in the whole of scripture concerning our gospel, or our faith in what we do believe concerning God is in vain.

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.[3]

So what is it that happens to men when they do not remain in what they are taught in the whole of scripture concerning our gospel?  Well we still praise and worship the Lord don’t we.  We feel free to do this because we think our belief in Him has saved us.  We also honor the Lord God and say all kinds of honoring things about Him and what He has done for us and will do for other people, don’t we?  But in doing these things, if we do not remain in what we have presented to us in scripture but have somehow turned to the teachings of men, do we have a faith that saves?  Here is a verse that adequately describes a people of God who have not remained in what was taught concerning our gospel as we find in scripture.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.[4]

So what is left when a people of God who confess a belief in the Lord and His work on the cross yet, do not stay in what was preached?  What more do they have over the demonic realm?  What is left for these people to become?  Scripture teaches they will have what looks like godliness in their lives which would be assumed by many as a testimony of the faith they have.  Yet they will not have the power of God in their lives.  They will have become an empty shell of a form of godliness like the religious leaders of Jesus day, but it will powerless to save them.  They will have had a faith and the activities of a lifetime that lead only to despair and all of this they do in the name of faith in God.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.[5]

How does one keep from ever learning about God, yet never come to the saving knowledge of the truth?  Is it more study?  Is it more learning?  It is found in letting the power of God go from head knowledge to a knowledge that transforms us a people and makes us new creations in Christ Jesus.  Now that is the trick isn’t it?  Letting the power of God remake us in His image and rid us of all sins that so easily entangles us.  At least at this point we would be doing more with our faith than simply believing as do the demons.  Or we could go on living in our sins and look like we are godly in our belief and service to God yet deny in our lives the power of God to change us.

Simply put, to have saving faith, we need to live in belief of the gospel given to us in the whole of scripture and the power of this gospel to transform our lives or we will have believed in vain.

[1] Romans 3:28

[2] James 2:19-20

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:2

[4] Matthew 15:8-9

[5] 2 Timothy 3:5-7

Double Darwinian Tragedy

Being a home school family I strongly advocate studying Darwinism and Evolution.  To some Christian families this comes as a shock.  Why would I want to have my children exposed to the theory of Evolution?  As someone who has studied both physical and cultural evolution in both my younger years and in more recent history, I want my children to have confidence in why they do not believe in Darwinism.

On one occasion, traveling back from a missions trip from Mexico with my youth group, one poor gentleman found himself sitting in the part of the plane by the emergency exit.  I had youth sitting all around me in those seats and in neighboring rows.  When this man found out what we were about, he said he didn’t believe in God but in evolution. 

Being fascinated by his comment I had to know what made him convinced that God was the liar and man was true.  I asked him what piece of evidence it was that was the straw that broke the camels back for him.  I wanted to know what evidence was the clincher for him to conclude evolution and not God was the truth.

He offered no evidence.  So I gave out some that I knew were proven to be hoaxes.  He stared at me blankly and looked uncomfortable.  Then I offered out some other evidences of evolution trying to find out what he was familiar with. 

In the end, he was familiar with no so called facts of evolution.  He simply believed by faith in what he was told was true.  The irony was he criticized us for taking God by faith when our conversation started.

Many in the church believe in a Darwinian creation.  Many in the church assume that science has proven the case for evolution.  So they try to blend an anti-God theory with the word of God.  Changing the word of God to fit men’s wisdom.  Ironically if they can’t have confidence in God’s word about creation, how can they have confidence in what some preacher tells them about eternal security?  This is the first tragedy.

There are also those in the church who say they do not believe in evolution, at least macroevolution.  Meaning species change into other species.  But they have sold into Darwinism again in the form of microevolution.  That is species adapt to their environment.  We get the text book moth and finch as examples of microevolution.  I have met many a believer who believes in this form of Darwinism, as if Darwin has any leg to stand on.

If we give allowance for microevolution we have to give allowance for macroevolution as well.  To say something has evolved means, it has characteristics it did not have a capacity to posses before.  Meaning that somehow its DNA has changed.  If DNA is changing in nature and we believe this to be true for microevolution then we would have made allowance for macroevolution to occur as well.

Is it that I am against science and do not what to admit that there is microevolution?  No, this is not the case.  I am for proven science.  I believe what science has already proven, and that is that species carry recess genes.  Mendel’s experiments showed that species carry traits that are not evident up front but can be brought out by selective breading.  He showed this with peas, but we can see this with our cats and dogs.

So when we as believers embrace microevolution in the name of unproven science we throw out proven science.  There is no microevolution observed in nature with the moth and the finch.  There is however recess genes coming into dominance through selected breading of those that are able to survive and bread.

In order for micro-evolution to take place some new characteristic has to be added to the creature.  We know this has to come from the DNA.  In creation God has made all of the genes both dominant and recessive.  There is nothing added to a creature when we think we observe microevolution.  It is only the God given, from creation, recessive gene gaining dominance we observe.  Ironic isn’t it.  We observe what God has given to the creature, since creation, and we say it is done by nature, in a smaller natural selection process.  So to all of us Christians who deny macroevolution only to embrace microevolution, we are the second tragedy.

Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”[1]

[1] Romans 3:4

Oh Magoo you’ve done it again

Before we get to Mr. Magoo it is important to set the stage.  Because of course Mr. Magoo has to do it again.

In the post “Be good, be good Johnny” we discussed how the doctrine of total depravity of man is not scriptural.  We discovered that scripture teaches evil men are capable of doing good, even in their fallen state. 

In the post “Free will or Free nil” we discussed how the doctrine that teaches man has no free will is not scriptural.  We learned that scripture teaches over and over again that man has rejected God, rejected God’s plan for their lives and man refuses to obey God.  We discussed how no one can reject what is not offered.  This also shows how the doctrine of predestination as taught by many groups is not scriptural either.  Since man has to be offered something to reject or refuse it.  The doctrine of predestination says man can not resist God’s grace.  Well scripture teaches there is a whole lot of rejecting going on.

In the post “Illegitimate children of the first and second Adam” we discussed how the teachers who say man has no free will actually teach Adam had free will.  What hypocrisy!  We also know scripture teaches Christ has free will.  So the question was, where is the third Adam we are related to, since the first two Adams have free will and we are taught in some circles we do not.

Now Mr. Magoo is a character who needs coke bottle glasses and never sees reality, but somehow seams to make it through life.  So it is with those men who teach man is totally depraved and can not choose or reject God.  They teach that a man is either predestine for grace or predestined for wrath.  They like Mr. Magoo can not see the reality of what scripture teaches.

So let us look at what God has instituted for His people in the Old Testament.

Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you.[1]

What, a freewill offering.  You mean an offering not required.  An offering based on the free will of the person to give.  Well who would have known?  This offering that was instituted is mentioned no less than twenty two times in scripture.  It seams to be based on livestock and precious metals.

I said to them, “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the LORD. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.[2]

I find it ironic that those who teach men have no free will are supported by the same giving for the ministry (temple) that scripture teaches is a freewill offering.  I guess they are so legalistic they must call their compulsorily offerings.  Maybe we should all show our free will and quit giving. 

The point being, like Mr. Magoo they have done it again.  They have missed more scriptural evidence that man has a free will.  The real tragedy is they miss the consequences of their false teachings.

They strip away from man his responsibility, by teaching man is forced into two camps, wrath or grace.

They give a false sense of security to those who presume they are the elect.  No matter how hard they kick and scream going into heaven, they are saved.

They by their doctrines nullify the necessity of living the Christian life while calling members to live such a life.

They misrepresent the gospel of Christ and replace it with a teaching that comes from Man.  Their teaching is contrary to all the examples we see in the Bible, which is full of men choosing and rejecting God.

So in their blindness all I have to say is, oh Magoo you have done it again.

[1]Deuteronomy 16:10

[2]Ezra 8:28

Illegitimate Children of the first and second Adam

There is a line of thinking in many churches that man does not have a free will.  We the elect are subject to irresistible grace.  But we never had the chance to reject God, since it is impossible for the elect to reject Him. 

Funny thing though, some of those who teach we have no free will state that Adam by his own free will sinned.  Speaking of Adam and the fall of man they state,

But when he was in honor he did not understand it^21 and did not recognize his excellence. But he subjected himself willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending his ear to the word of the devil. [1]

So is it that only Adam had free will or does this include Eve as well, since she took the first bite?  How is it that these teachers who advocate we have no free will state that Adam had free will?  What gives?

I know that as a sinner, being lost in my sins, I was related to the first Adam.

And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.[2]

So once again I find teaching proceeding out of the mouth of man that contradicts what I read in my Bible.  Not only this, these men contradict themselves by stating the first Adam had free will and we his offspring don’t.

The scripture goes on to say that now as believers we bear the likeness of Christ.  So is it that only the lost have no free will or is it the saved as well?  If we the saved have no free will either, than what likeness do we share with Christ?

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”[3]

We see that Jesus exercised His free will when He laid His life down. 

So now we have the confession from teaches of the “no free will’ doctrine, that the first Adam had free will.  I suppose they would agree that Jesus the second Adam has free will.  So now what, are we as past relations to the first Adam and now relations to Christ the second Adam illegitimate children, since we have no free will?  If we have no free will is there a third Adam we should get to know and call our spiritual kindred?

[1] Beltic Confession Article 14

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:49

[3] John 10:17-18