Tuesday, January 27, 2015

God's blessing, our giving and man's gimmicks

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. 2 Corinthians 9:8

 What a wonderful promise from God this passage is. We just concluded a stirring series on our eternal security in Christ. We saw how secure His hands are for our eternal destination. How much more secure are they when it comes to caring for the financial needs of His family?

 One major controversy that exist in the Body of Christ today is the issue of financial prosperity. Does God in fact promise to care for our financial need? The answer to this question is somewhat complex. Am I going to waver and say no God wants you broke because look at all the starving people groups all over the globe? We have already seen based upon the finished work of healing we can't look at the experience of others and determine God's will from that image alone.

  That being said one must not also conclude that God guarantees everyone will live in a mansion and drive a fancy sports car. The promise of provision the Word of God declares is one that needs much balance. Why is this? Is it because God is a stingy Father? Is it because He is like some cosmic "sugar daddy"?  The answer is no to both of these concepts. So why the need for balance? Because all through the Earthly ministry of Jesus and throughout the New Covenant Epistles we see much warnings about material possessions. 

 Money has the uncanny knack of trying to gain control and become the singular pursuit of our life. We all have potential to abandon love and mercy and forsake all others in the pursuit of wealth. Jesus knew this and gave much warning about wealth. So is wealth evil and wrong? Of course not. It is only an object. It is the value we place upon it that makes it dangerous.

 Lets answer the basic question. Is it God's will or plan that we prosper financially? I believe the Word is clear.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers. 3 John 2

 The Word is pretty clear. God's design is to care for the natural and material needs of His people. How then do we define this care? Is it everyone is going to live in a mansion and be a millionaire if they just have enough faith? I believe many have taught this. What is the results of this type of extreme emphasis? Many have shipwrecked their faith trying to attain a level of wealth promised to them by men and not the Lord.

 Our introductory text and foundation passage is the true definition of prosperity. God wants your needs met so you can be a generous blessing to others. If you make $30,000 a year and can live on $28,000 comfortably you have more than enough to bless a local shelter or an overseas missionary. You can help support a local church preaching the goodness of God. You have fulfilled the promise of God in 2 Corinthians. 

 Now, I am not suggesting God can't get more into your hands through favor and generosity of others. He can and will bless you. If we stop looking at what we don't have and focus on what we do we will rejoice seeing how blessed we really are. Some people on Earth can't even shower in clean water. How thankful are you when you got out of the shower today? Puts prosperity on a different perspective doesn't it?

 With the established truth that God's design is our blessing I want to dispel some of the destructive gimmicks men have come up with to depart you from your money. I will not hold back on my concern for error in the Charismatic and Faith circles. I love all my Word of Faith brethren, I still believe much of the faith teaching I received from Brother Kenneth E. Hagin. I am just rejoicing many in the Faith camp are embracing the gospel of His grace and rejecting the error of works based salvation and trying to earn God's goodness. 

 What about, naming your seed teachings? What about the hundredfold return? What about debt free offerings? What about throwing money on an altar? What about giving money personally to a preacher in order to activate what he/she just preached? I will discuss all of these issues in the next few blog posts. 

 I trust you will be blessed by these teachings on His goodness and balanced truth of His blessing on our life. Let me conclude by stating emphatically just because we question much of the prosperity teaching that has infiltrated the Body of Christ doesn't mean that we are rejecting the truth that God want's to care for the needs of His people. 

 May God's best be yours, rest in His goodness this week.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can we lose our salvation if we deliberately sin?

 Our sins are washed away and we are made clean because Christ gave His own body as a gift to God. He did this once for all time.    Hebrews 10:10

  In these last few articles we have been in a series entitled "Loving it, leaving it, losing it". We are concluding it today. Allow me again to explain the title. Loving it, because we love our eternally secure salvation Jesus purchased for us. Leaving it because many religiously concerned folk believe we can forfeit a free gift or freely walk away from our new identity. Losing it, because some religious tradition bound folk believe that we can sin away God's grace.

  Today I want to elaborate on one of the main passages that religion cites that we can just sin away His grace. I want to answer the concerning questions some have. What about Hebrews 10:26?

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Hebrews 10:26-31

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. Hebrews 10:26 NLT 
  This one passage has troubled so many. What if I have willingly or deliberately sinned? Then am I lost forever? Am I the one who has "trodden under foot" the sacrifice of Christ with my performance? Have I sinned just once to much? Is this sin I just committed gotten me removed from God's family? Doesn't seem to convey any good news to the hearer of this passage. 
  Now, Law minded legalistic believers will revel in passages such as this. They make statements like, "God wants you holy not happy." "Strong warnings are really preaching the gospel." "We need more preachers telling it like it is!" "Minister so and so is letting those sinners have it!"
  Is this the message Jesus came to bring? Is this the message of the New Covenant? The sad part is the delusion religion is trapped in. Their eyes are oblivious to the damage this type of preaching does to folk. The Word declares the strength of sin is the Law not grace preaching. When some folk believe their sin has insulted the spirit of grace and there is no more sacrifice for their sin they give themselves over to living a more sinful life. Why? Because they are already lost (in their minds) so what is the point of going further? 
 This is the danger of legalism. We have perpetuated traditions of men not rooted in the Word and caused so many to stumble and go further into bondage of addictions and bad habits. Religion just surmises that the person quit Jesus and wanted sin and darkness more. So we let people go instead of rescuing them with the truth of His grace.
 Now lets explore this passage further. Is the writer stating that if we "deliberately" sin we are lost forever? Absolutely not! The truth is each and every sin one commits is a willful or deliberate sin. If not what are you saying? Are you under the control of something else? Does satan so dominate Christians that he can literally make them do something they have no desire to do? 
 We know that's not possible because James details what happens in the process of sin. We are tempted or enticed by our own desire. If we give in then we have sinned. So the enticement comes from our own desire. These desires would be those in our thinking we have not yet renewed with the Word. This then removes the idea we can unwillingly sin. 
 What then is the portion of Scripture teaching? First, context is key. If we would just interpret the Word in context we would have more truth instead of so much tradition in the Body of Christ. As Pastor Prince says so often, when we take a text from it context we are only left with a con. 
 What is the context of Hebrews 10? First, the context is the entire Epistle. It is an Epistle written to the Hebrews, not to the Church. It is addressing two types of Jews. Ones who have received Jesus and are being persecuted for it by their brethren. It is also written to Jews who have heard the truth of Jesus and the New Covenant and have not yet made that full commitment to trust in Christ from their heart. 
 Secondly, it is in context of the entire tenth chapter. In the beginning of this chapter the writer is line upon line teaching about the New Covenant and Jesus once for all sacrifice for all sin. The writer goes into great detail to reveal that the Old was fulfilled in Christ and with the sacrifice of Christ the New has come. 
 Then the chapter goes into encouraging others into fellowship and acceptance of the New Covenant, ( The writer uses the word we throughout the chapter because the writer was obviously a Jewish believer and is identifying with his fellow Jewish brethren.) Now we get to Hebrews 10:26. What it's admonishing is Jewish brethren to fully receive this New Covenant and one time sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and not to reject it. If you reject this New Covenant and rather put your trust in temple sacrifices and afterwards decide to sin there is no more sacrifice for your sins. Therefore, you would be lost.
 If Jesus was the once for all time sacrifice, what possible sheep or dove or any other animal would cover anyone's sin today? Obviously, no animal sacrifice would be acceptable. If you trusted in temple sacrifices you would be rejecting Jesus offering and insulting the spirit of grace saying Jesus blood wasn't enough. That the Old Covenant sacrificial system is better. This is what the writer is warning against. Trust in Jesus one time offering for sin don't reject it for if you do, no other sacrifice can save you or cover your sins.
  To further illustrate the writer isn't referring to Christians, look at the last statement of the chapter ten.

39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Hebrews 10:39
Drawing back conveys the one who has heard the truth of the New Covenant and Jesus once for all time sacrifice and has rejected it. Believing unto the saving of the soul means to fully commit to Christ and put all our trust in Him from our hearts.
  This understanding sets men free from fear of losing their salvation. Is this passage then teaching if you sin you've lost your salvation? Unequivocally, without hesitation no!  In the New Covenant He said He would remember your sins and iniquities no more. So if He is not remembering our sins why then would our sin, no matter how willing cause us to lose our salvation now? The Word of God doesn't contradict itself. We can however take away a great truth to live by from this passage.
 Our salvation is through Christ alone. His blood and one time sacrifice for sins was enough. No amount of performance or good deeds on our part will count us worthy to receive anything. It is truly, Jesus plus nothing!
  In conclusion, can we ever leave or lose our salvation? Lets, quickly review what we've learned to answer this. We have seen from the Word that Jesus guaranteed our eternal security because we are forever in His hands and nothing can ever take us out. We can't leave or walk away from our salvation because by virtue of the new birth Jesus abides in us and His life is flowing through us. The new heart cannot choose to abandon God because God Himself abides in it. Also, Jesus is faithful even when we are faithless. We can't sin away His grace because where sin abounds grace much more abounds. We cannot exhaust His supply of grace and forgiveness. So can we leave it or lose it? Absolutely no, not ever! We are eternally secure in Christ. Rejoice in this glad news.
 I trust this study has blessed and strengthened you in your walk with God. Abandon yourself in Him. It is a finished work. We are forever forgiven, righteous, cleansed and accepted in Him. Let's further this grace awakening. It is all about Him! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Can we exhaust His supply of grace and forgiveness by our sins?

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.  Hebrews 7:25 Amplified

  We are in a series entitled "Loving it, Leaving it, losing it". We are studying our eternally secure relationship with God our Father. We have already proven with Scripture that our salvation is eternally secure. In the last few post, I revealed how we can't "leave" our salvation as many teach today. Now with this article and the next, I want to answer the objection that we can lose our salvation by our sinfulness. 

  Now let me begin with stating adamantly, I am talking about His grace. Not an excuse to enjoy and indulge in sin. If you truly know and understand grace you know sin is not part of our new identity in Him.
14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:14
  Grace is the only way out of habitual sins and poor choices. The Law and moral codes and rules never produce the desired results of upright living. Only His grace does that. 

The Big Guy upstairs with the spiritual eraser

  Many times I have heard from religious traditional ruled believers that we can sin so much He will erase our names out of the Book of Life. To prove this, they site the book of Revelation.
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5
You see? It's right there. You can have your name removed for not overcoming. Is this really what this is teaching here? 
   Allow me to ask this. Who are the overcomers? Saved folk who just have it all together perfectly? Those who worked so hard they overcame the temptations and pitfalls of this life without sinning? Our perfection didn't save us. If we can take credit for any part of our salvation then we will have a place to boast. This cannot be the proper interpretation. Look at 1 John 5.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5
  Who are the overcomers? Those who have received Jesus in their hearts. Revelation 3 is not a warning but rather a promise of assurance. Religion with the judgment and quick to condemn view of God turned a wonderful promise into a terror-filled warning passage. 
   Yea but what about Revelation 22:19? This is referring to unsaved false teachers trying to subvert the Scriptures. You can read here for more. New Covenant believers in Christ aren't removing or changing Scripture. Rejoice He isn't erasing any believer out of the Lamb's Book of life. It doesn't matter how many sins you've committed since you became a believer in Christ. He will never erase your name. This is the good news. We are sealed unto the day of redemption, not until the day we sin too much.

Hogs and dogs returning to mud and vomit

One of the most go to verses to challenge our eternally secure salvation is 2 Peter 2:20. In fact, this is one of those verses in the past I would use to justify a belief in a conditional salvation. It sounds very scary and tends to promote the idea we can sin away God's grace.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.         2 Peter 2:20
 Doesn't this passage make it seem like if we get caught up in a sin from our past again and repeat it then we are lost and can never be saved again? The idea promoted by tradition is that some have a knowledge of God, and are overtaken by pollutions of the World system from their past. Because they can't overcome the sin and temptations they've returned to the former life and are now unsaved. 
  I've even heard it said to new converts, if you leave the church and start drinking or cursing then you like a pig have returned to mud, you have gone backward on God and you need to come and get saved again. Is this the right way to understand this passage? I believe the Word of God in context will provide the truth to understand this passage.
  First, context is key. In context 2 Peter chapter 2 is detailing the depraved deception of false teachers and false teaching. So if the context is false teachers, why then would Peter change suddenly and refer to believers sinning so much they lose their salvation? 
  Secondly, having a knowledge of God doesn't equate one having received salvation. Many religious organizations have a limited knowledge of God. Some are always knocking on doors on Saturday mornings passing out literature. 
  Thirdly, where in the Word of God are God's people ever referred to as dogs and hogs? Never, we are the sheep of His pasture. We are His sheep. His sheep hear His voice. So what does this imply? A pig in mud is in its natural state. It is also natural for a dog to return to its vomit. Peter is illustrating a false conversion. No nature change has occurred. 
  It is only natural that an unregenerate man would return back to what is "normal" to him. Hearing just a portion of the gospel and rejecting its complete work in your life and, not following through with a trusting heart of faith will produce a hardening of the heart. It makes a lost one pursue the sin nature even more. This is the picture Peter is painting. This is not teaching believers are overcome and lost because they are struggling with the same sin.

Forever forgiven

We must not forget this vital New Covenant truth. We are forever forgiven. We can never exhaust His grace and goodness. We can't sin away His love and forgiveness. 
  I used to struggle to believe that a certain sin that had me in bondage would one day exhaust His forgiveness. What a weight of burden to try and carry around. I thank God for a revelation of grace. I now know and rest in the truth that we can never out sin His love.
  When you realize how much we are forgiven and that we are a righteous new creation in Him we will overcome any sin or temptation.  Let these words of the Lord comfort you.
20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. Romans 5:20
  The more we miss it the more grace is given us to overcome that junk. His love never fails even when we fail or are unfaithful. 

  I trust this post has encouraged you and comforted you. Rest in His great love for you. I pray His love and mercy overtake you this week.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Is continuing in faith a conditions based salvation?

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.  Hebrews 7:25 Amplified

Conditions. We encounter them in our daily lives on a frequent basis. For instance, you are free to drive on the roadways. You must not though go above a certain speed limit. This condition is so strict it has become law and is enforced as such. Some conditions are beneficial. Such as speed limits, and laws we have in place for business and consumer transactions. 

Conditions can be productive in a proper setting. In relationships however, they can stagnate growth. It feeds the what can I get out of this mindset too many have in our dealings with one another. We see it in marriages today. I will love you if you never gain this much weight. Or, I will care for you if you do this for me. If you don't meet the conditions then its goodbye, you're no longer welcome. 

Is this how God our Father relates to us? Is His love and salvation a conditional based relationship? We should know the word for love in the Greek language describing God's love is agape. It's His divine love. It is a love without conditions. His love is without conditions, yet so many attribute conditions to the salvation He purchased for us. If His love is unconditional what makes us believe His salvation is now conditional?

We have been in a series of articles studying our eternal security in Christ. Titled, "Loving it, Leaving it, Losing it". We've seen 7 proofs of a completely secure salvation. Now we are finalizing the "can we leave this salvation by our free will?" portion. There is one passage in Scripture that religion and tradition ruled minds have attributed with a conditions based salvation. Colossians 1:23:
if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Is this indeed a conditional salvation statement? I submit to you that this interpretation is faulty. Hailing from a Word of Faith background this passage brings out a truth that many in the Body of Christ fail to grasp. That truth is feeding your faith, growing up spiritually. 

Paul is not instructing the Colossians about a conditional salvation. He is referencing a conditional growth principle. Look, if you never eat right, exercise to your ability, and get proper rest what will the end result be? You will not be in the best healthy condition that you could be. In the same manner Paul is teaching about growing up spiritually speaking.  

Let me say it this way. Paul was already informing the Colossians of their position in Christ. You're already righteous, forgiven and made holy. Now you must continue growing in faith to walk out the benefits of this position we have in Him. We have to walk out and mature into the benefits and blessings Christ already purchased for us. In other words become established in these truth of who you are. 

We must advance in faith in order to be settled and grounded in these truths. We must become established in the truth that we are righteous in Christ. We must become rooted and unmovable that we forgiven of all our sins. We feed our faith by feeding on the Word of God on an ongoing basis. It isn't works or performance based to feed your natural body. So it is the same with your spirit man. Feed your faith the Word of God on our righteousness in Christ. Feed on the Word that reminds us we are in a New Covenant and that the dictates of Law are no longer ruling over us. I believe a better translation to this passage is in the Passion translation.
23 Continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon. Never be shaken from the hope of the gospel you have believed in. I preach this glorious news all over the world.
Colossians 1:23 Passion translation

We advance in faith and growth because religion and tradition and the enemy wish to remove this hope of our everlasting salvation and relationship with God. We stand our ground and aren't moved by the accusations of the enemy and religion.
"This once saved always saved theology is creating a false hope!"
"This eternal security doctrine is allowing for just anyone to be saved!"
"This once saved always saved message produces license to sin!"
"Teaching once saved always saved means we have no free will and grace is now bondage!"

All lies and distortions from the enemy. Can we walk away and forfeit our salvation? Absolutely not! It is an impossibility. I've just dealt with all these passages that seem to indicate we can return the gift of salvation. We've seen beyond doubt with rightly dividing the Word the true understanding and meaning comes forth.

I would like to address all those who have been wounded by the "unfaithfulness" of some believers. Our eyes aren't on someone else but on Jesus and His faithfulness. Some have chosen a certain person as a role model and when they don't fulfill our expectations of perfection we adopt this view in our hearts that folk can walk away. The truth is not what we can always see but what He has promised. He who began the good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

6 I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious expression of grace in your lives will faithfully continue the process of maturing you through your union with Him and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Philippians 1:6 Passion translation

This is why we can't leave it or even lose it! He will continue that process of maturing us. It may not come on our timetable but it will happen because the Word cannot lie! 

This passage alone silences these grace critics. This grace is not bondage because you can't walk away. This grace is who you are now. It is like saying the skin on my body not being able to separate from my skeletal structure is bondage. It is who you are. You are born with muscle and bone and skin. It makes us who we are. When we are born again, this grace and salvation is now a part of who we actually are. We can't remove it. To remove it would make you not be you anymore. Remember the New Creation is a species that never before existed. A human possessing the righteous nature of God, no longer separated from God. A partaker of His divine nature abiding within. A person where God almighty dwells within. How can we "walk away" from our very existence? 

I will conclude this series in the next post or two dealing with 2 Peter 2:20 and Hebrews 10. I will be addressing the sin issue. Can we sin away this grace? Some believe we can. We will in detail address this.

I pray this article blessed you and strengthened your walk with the Lord. May His richest peace and blessing overtake you.