Will bad things happen to God’s people?

Our World has undergone many changes in the last couple of years.  Not only is the United States struggling to keep its economy from crashing, the whole word is in jeopardy.  If you watch the unemployment numbers it is not uncommon for nearly one half million of new unemployment fillings a week.  I don’t know how much people actually get the real news now days, but we are not out of the woods yet.  In fact people in government and in finance are saying we are past the point of no return for our country.  I am sure if you simply ask people you know if they know any unemployed people they would say yes.  The Wall Street Journal had an article several months ago citing that one in five males in America are unemployed between the ages of 22 to 54.  They ended the article by saying the jobs are not coming back.

So what response do we see from the church concerning the hardships, bankruptcies, insolvencies and just plain old hard times.  They say we as God’s people will be blessed.  We can give into our new prosperity.  That we are not part of the world’s economy but on God’s economy.  They way they preach it, not one believer should be part of the one in five unemployed the Wall Street Journal spoke of. 

I constantly hear from ministries how God is going to restore to His people what the devil has stolen.  Nobody wants to say, hold on to the seat of your pants.  They want their churches to remain packed and their coffers to remain full.  This is how they judge the success of their ministries.  And nobody can do these two things if they preach the truth.

Christians constantly talk of how God needs to judge the nations and America.  We are shocked that He has let us go on as long as He has, since we have made Him unwelcome in our public places and debates.  At every opportunity our public officials offend Him and discredit His word.

We Christians are the ones who think we defend His word by preaching what we do.  But it is us who discredit His word, because we will not preach the truth.  We cry out to God to punish the wicked yet say bless me, bless me, bless me.

In context of our country’s current condition, I have actually heard from the mouths of men of God, that God will separate out the righteous from the wicked.  Really, this is not what I see in scripture.

“Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the LORD says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.  Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.  Then all people will know that I the LORD have drawn my sword from its scabbard; it will not return again.’  “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.[1]

God in His judging of His chosen people punished the righteous with the wicked by the sword.  The righteous died right along with the wicked.  They were encamped around by an army that surrounded the city and let them drink their own urine and far worse as scripture tells us.  They will even eat each other.

I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds.  I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.’[2]

We today reject this, we instead preach a positive message.  We want people to be uplifted and encouraged when they leave, not warned.  Not told to repent and seek God.  Somehow we have forgotten that judgment begins with the house of God.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?[3]

Why does judgment begin with the house of God?  We are the ones who have filled our hearts with lust for goods and money.  We pursue pleasure and leisure with our full heart and Godliness is far from us.  We have substituted the gospel with an imposter gospel and replaced the evangelist and apostles with ministers of finance, church CEOs.  The so called prophets will not call the people to repentance, instead they speak only lies to the people that God will not judge but bless them.  The pastors have seen to it that the real full five fold ministry in the church will never be, so they will not have to share what they think is their power and authority.  This is why judgment will begin with the house of God.

Therefore in your midst fathers will eat their children, and children will eat their fathers. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds.  Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favor; I will not look on you with pity or spare you.[4]

Are you righteous?  You will be judged with the rest of the house of God.  You will not keep your place.  You will not be left alone.  You may be carried off to exile, but you will not keep your state.

[1] Ezekiel 21:2-6

[2] Jeremiah 19:8-9

[3] 1 Peter 4:17

[4] Ezekiel 5:10-11

Disarming Calvinism (part four)

I have promised that I will disarm the teaching of Calvin which is once a man is saved there is no going back.  Once He has been freely justified by the grace of imputed righteousness, he is forever a child of the promise.  He has ceased from being the child of the natural birth and has become the child of the chosen of God.

I will demonstrate from our New Testament that a man can be chosen as a people of God and of the promise and fall away into damnation.  I will demonstrate how this disarms Calvinism’s doctrine of once saved (imputed righteousness though Christ) always saved.

If you have been following my post on Disarming Calvinism you would have learned that our New Testament teaches that Abraham has received a seal of the righteousness that God gave him, a mark in his flesh.  Circumcision is this seal of imputed righteousness that was given to Abraham and all his descendants.  Our New Testament teaches that we gentiles, now through Christ, get to share in the imputed righteousness that was given to Abraham by becoming his spiritual offspring,

We see demonstrated through the people of covenant of imputed righteousness that they exercised their free will not to receive God’s unmerited favor of this credited righteousness.  The people of Israel with the seal of the righteousness that comes from God exercised their free will not before this imputed righteousness but after.  They as individual have chosen to walk in the faith of their father Abraham or forsake God or possible error in the opposite direction and seek righteousness through the Law.

The history of Israel is a testimony of a people who have been imputed righteousness by God, which is no different than what we have in Christ today as gentiles.  Like them we have to decide if we will be a people of faith in the grace God has given or will we fall away into faithlessness and sin. 

The Calvinist do have one thing correct and this is when they say God is the one who elects.  Our election does not depend upon our choosing God, but on Him choosing us.  But in saying this they do not understand.  Our election doesn’t mean we have been elected to become eternally secure.  Our election is God’s choice to let us participate in His grace of imputed righteousness, which we have the free will to either do or not to do.  Exactly like we see in the people of Israel. 

Just as God chose Abraham and his descendants to impute His grace as a light and testimony to the world, now He has chosen all mankind and imputed to us all unmerited favor.  For who else could it be said of, they have become the savior of the world?  Who else has taken away the sins of the world? 

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world![1]

Jesus Himself says that He is the one who gives His life for the sins of the world, not for only that portion that fits the doctrine of Calvin.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”[2]

Speaking of Israel, Paul says their rejection of God is not reconciliation for only those who fit the Calvinistic view of election, but the reconciliation of the world.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?[3]

Let us be happy to quote:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:[4]

But let us quote also the rest of what was taught by Paul.  That we as believers have been reconciled but not unlike the rest of the world, but like the rest of the world.  Only we get the ministry of reconciliation that gets to preach this good news of reconciliation.  For God has reconciled the world to Himself.  Why else does Christ need to die once for the sin of all mankind?  Because the sins of the world have been paid for and mankind is reconciled to Himself.

that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.[5]

Christ paid for all of our sins and we have all been imputed grace.  All of us believer and those who will not receive of live by the grace of God have been imputed this righteousness.  The question is who will live by faith and obedience. 

Theology says we participate in election and receive imputed righteousness when we do.  As true believers who have imputed righteousness we can never loose this.  We can never become a person who is elected and shares in imputed grace and then slip away into damnation.

But scripture teaches and shows we as a people are elected by God’s choosing and are imputed righteousness before we choose to obey or disobey.  We as the world have been elected and chosen to have our sins removed from us and to be reconciled to God.  Now we chose to have faith or be faithless.  We like the people of Israel, that we are grafted into when we by faith accept this reconcilation, have free will to be a people of faith and of righteousness or not.  If this is not so then God is unjust in punishing His people whom He imputed righteousness through His covenant.  He is an unjust God because many of Israel were “once saved and always saved” according to the doctrine of imputed righteousness.

But as it is God is not unjust.  He is proven right when He judges.  So today as believers we need to be a people who understand we have nothing over the people of Israel or the imputed righteousness that they shared in.  We have nothing over the “lost” for they too have been imputed righteousness by the sacrifice of Christ who is the savior of the world.  We only get the benefit of it because we like Abraham believe God who has made the promise.  And the lost can share in this same good news when they too come to faith in the promise of God.

We only share in it through Christ.  Knowing there is not more than one flavor of imputed righteousness from God, let us not follow the way of those who were disobedient and faithless, only to become as if they were not circumcised.  As the New Testament teaches, let us freely choose by our own will in God’s election to be circumcised of heart.  Or we will be a people who have been elected by God, share in the imputed righteousness given to Abraham and still die in our sins because we did live in the faith and obedience of our father Abraham.

[1] John 1:29

[2] John 6:51

[3] Romans 11:5

[4] 2 Corinthians 5:18

[5] 2 Corinthians 5:19

The Holy Spirit and the hope of salvation

Many feel that the deposit of the Holy Spirit is the shoe in that they have received their salvation.  Ignoring the scriptural teaching discussed in yesterdays post “Salvation the hope”.  We so stubbornly want to posses what scripture teaches we have to live our lives out till the end in order to make our hope sure.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.[1]

Speaking of the hope, scripture teaches us we have this hope through the washing rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. 

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.[2]

Is God suffering from duplicity in His word when He mixes saved with the hope of eternal life in the same group of verses?  Certainly not, for our God is a God that calls things that are not as if they were, not things that are as if they were not.  So we can be confident we have hope of salvation but God can see the finished work long before it is done.

After being included in Christ through our faith in the word of truth, we as believers are set apart by the Holy Spirit which serves as a seal.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,[3]

The purpose of this seal is to mark us for the day of redemption.  The day Christ comes back to bring us our salvation.  This is why it is so important to not grieve the Holy Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.[4]

On the contrary we are to guard this good deposit with the help of the Holy Spirit.  For there is a difference between those who guard the deposit of the Holy Spirit and those who grieve the Holy Spirit.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.[5]

The one who after believing the message of our gospel and received the deposit of the Holy Spirit and yes even the power of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, will die in their sins if they fall away.  There is no guarantee that the deposit will bring us to the day of our redemption if we break the seal by falling away from the faith our hope.  It is not the Holy Spirit who breaks faith with us, but us with Him when we fall away into disobedience.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.[6]

So it is not impossible for someone who has been given the washing or renewal and rebirth by the Holy Spirit to grieve Him so as to offend Him and loose all hope of salvation.  This is why we are instructed not to believe in vain.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.[7]

We have to hold firmly to what we have in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and this to the end, in order to make our hope sure, or we will have believed and fellowshipped with the Holy Spirit in vain.

[1] Hebrews 6:11

[2] Titus 3:5-7

[3] Ephesians 1:3

[4] Ephesians 4:30

[5] 2 Timothy 1:14

[6] Hebrews 6:4-6

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:2

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