Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Grace and the Old Covenant

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

This week, a well-known minister in America made an extremely controversial statement concerning the Old Testament. He declared as Christians we should unhitch our faith from the Old Testament. Now apparently this sentiment was part of an entire sermon series. I have not personally heard these messages but looking at the reactions of many I sensed the need to address this issue.

 What really happened when this minister spoke is it simply located where many people's understanding was concerning the Old Covenant. The anger and vitriol unleashed upon this pastor were relentless. Many were branding him a dangerous false teacher. In the midst of this outpouring of wrath, I thought it best to bring some clarity to this issue of the Old Covenant and its place today.

 There are two extremes I have encountered when it comes to the place of the Old Testament today. The first is some have accepted a foolish concept that says the Old Testament isn't God's Word. That many of the Prophets of Old spoke things out of their own imagination instead of hearing God. They that pronounced judgment and wrath were clearly missing God, right? 

 That is foolish. Again, don't take the amazing out of Grace. At the time of the Old, there was no mediator between God and man. There was no once for all, final sacrifice yet. Jesus hadn't shed His perfect blood. Judgment for sin was swift. It wasn't that God wasn't merciful. 

 God cried out in Ezekial, He didn't want to pour out wrath but mercy but there was no one to stand in the gap. Thank God Jesus stood in the gap and no longer is there judgment. God isn't sending tsunamis or earthquakes to punish sinful nations or cities today. 

 This was the fault of the Old Covenant. This Covenant was cut between God and Israel. That is God and man. Men couldn't keep God's standard. This is why God sought a better Covenant. 

 Don't fall into the trap that the Old, though it at times speaks of wrath, isn't God's Word. The second most predominant extreme is the idea that because the Old Testament is God's Word, the Old Covenant and the Law must still be active today. That the Church is under portions of Law, and the Old Covenant is partially active today.

In effect or obsolete?

13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 NKJV

 I am not sure if it can get any clearer than this. God established the New. If the New has been established, then clearly the Old has been made obsolete. As clear as this is apparently many have failed to grasp this simple truth. When this minister spoke of unhitching from the Old, many began to shout this is heresy and demanded we follow the Old and the New.

 "We must teach the Old Covenant hand in hand with the New!"
"It's dangerous to ignore parts of the Bible!"
"It's very dangerous to unhitch from the Old Testament!"
"This is apostasy!"

 The critics cried out. What has really occurred in the midst of this debate is to once again reveal that many simply see Christianity as "Judaism 2.0". This is because so many don't rightly divide God's Word and also lack a basic understanding of what the Gospel is.

The place of the Old today

 I earnestly desire to keep this as simple as possible. I suppose we could write a whole book on this topic. So just what is the place of the Old today? 

 Paul tells us all Scripture is profitable. That is our starting point. All Scripture is beneficial. Leviticus and Job, Isaiah and Amos all have benefit to us as believers today. Just how is it beneficial today?

 We can see the faithfulness of God in the Old. We can see His goodness to the Nation of Israel. We can see He is a keeper of His Promises. We can see the prophecies that reveal Jesus is the Messiah. We can see the ultimate plan of redemption from Genesis to Revelation. We can see God's best for mankind when we see the garden of Eden. 

 All the promises of provision, protection, preservation and peace we see in the Old has been filtered through the Cross and is been made available to the Church in the Finished Work. Some traditional-minded say we can't claim passages like Jeremiah 29:11. Listen, we are in a better Covenant with better promises. If He has good plans and a hopeful future for his servants (Israel) how much more good are his plans for us, His children? 

 While it is beneficial to us to see the wisdom in Proverbs and enjoy the passion of the Psalms we must remember that as a whole the Old Testament concerns Israel and not the Church. Though there is profit in studying the Old, we must not make the mistake of mixing the Covenants or mixing Law and Grace. This is where we must rightly divide the Word.

 Too many have mixed the Covenants and present a perverted gospel that is no Gospel. Many taken the stipulations God gave Israel to receiving blessings and favor from God and place those same demands on the Church. Some declare the Church is still under the Law.

In Acts 15, we see this conflict debated and resolved. The problem; Judaizers wanted the Church to mix Law and Grace, to adhere to the Old Covenant still. I want to share a couple of passages that settle the issue for us today.
10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:10-11 NKJV 

 Peter, declared living under the precepts of Law and the Old Covenant is burdensome and is the antithesis of Grace. He recognized that God had done a new thing in Christ. 

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? Galatians 2:14 NKJV

Paul in this passage called Peter out for not being true to the Grace Gospel. What is key is Paul declared Peter obviously no longer lived as a Jew. This is major. What this reveals is the place of the Old in our lives.

 Gentiles and Jew alike when they receive Jesus become one new man. The redeemed man. The New Creation in Christ man. The righteousness of God in Christ man. Righteous apart from works of the Law man. There is no Gentile Christian or Jewish Christian, the born-again man is simply a Christian, again Christianity isn't Judaism 2.0. 

 This means we don't look to the Old to see the "rules." We don't look to the Old for customs and practices to continue in. We don't observe Sabbaths and special days. Here is a big one, we don't look to the Ten Commandments to see what is a sin. 

 Think of it this way. Texas has laws that are written for that state. Someone in Pennsylvania isn't under Texas law. However, because murder and theft are against the law in Texas doesn't mean those in Pennsylvania are free to steal or murder. Their state has its own statutes against murder or theft. Many laws are universal in application.

 The truth is the same with God. the Old Covenant Law contained some universal moral laws. Even before the Ten Commandments, we can see theft and murder and adultery are wrong. Just look at Genesis. Adultery is sinful, not because it was written in the Ten Commandments. It is sinful because it is contrary to the character of a holy and just God. It is a universal law, that applies to all. 

 In summation, what is the place of the Old today? It has rich advantages for us to study and has some universal truths that are beneficial. We can see God as faithful and true in our lives, as He hasn't abandoned or forgotten the promises He made to the Nation of Israel. In this sense, the Old has a great place for the Church.

 Where we see the Old as obsolete is when believers try to mix the Old and New. It's obsolete whenever some wish to add portions of Law with the Gospel of Grace. It's obsolete when believers place a spiritual value on the practices and observations of Old Covenant customs and rituals. 
16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:16 NKJV 
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Good news vs Fake news: You can lose your salvation

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study as of late. We've been highlighting the differences between the Good News of Jesus and His Grace and the fake news of religious tradition. As we contrast the Good News with the fake news we must remember that people are never our enemy. The same Grace and unconditional love of the Father are outstretched to the religious as well as those who've received His Grace in all its fullness.

 Today, I sense the leading to reveal one of the greatest, if not the greatest fake news view religion and tradition promulgate throughout the Body of Christ. This idea that believers can lose their salvation. This concept has become a stronghold in the minds of so many. 

 Much fear, uncertainty, and resulting insecurity have plagued many a believer throughout the ages because of this teaching. Often a believer hears a message about the eternal insecurity of the believer and they look at their own walk with Christ. They readily see their own shortcomings, faults, failures, and struggles with sinful habits that they haven't shared with others. They feel condemned and are quick to run to a church altar begging God to forgive them and ask to be saved all over again. 

 I remember once before Grace captured my heart, that I had a questioning thought about the possible lack of integrity of a well-known minister. Mind you this was just a passing thought. Almost instantly this sudden fear and concern clouded my mind. 

 This impression filled my thoughts that I had blasphemed the Spirit. It seemed to impress on me that I questioned if God was really using this minister. Therefore, I had attributed God's work with those of the devil. For a brief moment, I thought I really had blasphemed the Spirit and I was a goner. I was toast. I had committed the unpardonable sin. 

 Over a short time, I relinquished that fear. Clearly, that was the work of satan attempting to disrupt my peace and shake my security in Christ. Sadly, similar situations arise often in individual believer's lives. On the many question and answer web pages I've seen many asking "have I committed the unpardonable sin?"

 What the response should always be is, if you've placed your trust in Christ alone then you are saved. Your circumstances, your feelings, your fears, even your sins or present unbelief cannot alter the eternal saving work of Christ Jesus our Lord! Sadly, that isn't always the answer. Some will go on a tangent showing all the alleged Scriptures proving loss of salvation. Still, others answer questions like this, "I don't fear the loss of salvation because I am in Christ and I am not going anywhere." Or they say "I fear not because I am living for the Lord", in other words, if you did too you wouldn't fear the loss of salvation either.

 I trust you can see the error here. The basis of their security in Christ is what they are doing. It isn't based on Christ's Finished Work and God's Word which cannot lie. That is a serious error.

 Our salvation is rooted in Jesus Finished Work and God's everlasting promise that if we trust and believe in Christ, receiving this free gift we are eternally saved and secure. Our security rests in His promise and the Finished Work of redemption and not our steadfastness. It isn't rooted or upheld by our goodness or faithfulness. It started by Christ and He is the author and finisher of our faith. The work He began in us will be completed in Christ.

 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39 NASB

 And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:5 TLB 

God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5 NLT

 These are just a few of the guaranteed promises of our eternally secure salvation in Christ. Still, some will immediately object to this post. Some tradition-minded would say,
"brother, we aren't spreading fake news you are!"
"Come on hyper-Grace preacher, the Word is clear, Demas obviously lost his salvation. Paul even said so."

 He did? Well did he now? Let's look at Demas' life and see. We can readily see Demas was clearly a Christian.  Paul speaks of him here and here in a ministry capacity. Where the controversy begins is with this passage;
10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 2 Timothy 4:10-11 NKJV
Tradition will say, see? It's clear from the words of Paul. Demas who was once saved is now lost. He left his salvation. He left God. He forsook his salvation. Is that what we see recorded here? What did Demas actually do?

 We must rightly divide the Word and be sure not to read our own viewpoint, concepts or traditions into the Scripture in order to make it support what we want it to. There is nothing that states Demas left or forsook his salvation. I am amazed that such an eternally consequential event as leaving salvation wouldn't be clearly delineated in the Scripture.

 Note what this passage doesn't say, "for Demas has forsaken the Lord." No, it clearly states that Demas forsook Paul, not the Lord. The reason for this concept of Demas forsaking salvation is because John's Epistle states if the love of the World is in us then the Love of the Father isn't

 Paul states Demas, forsook him because he loved this present World. Because of this they reference John's words and assume that Demas loved the World more than God, and forsook his salvation and the ministry to go live it up in this sinful World. Is this really the accurate depiction of what happened?

 I'm glad we referenced John. Because this passage is where the key to understand what happened in Demas life is found. It's seen in two separate Greek words. When John referenced loving the World, he was referencing the World system in context. The word "World" he used was the Greek word Kosmos. It means the physical Earth but it also means the ungodly multitude hostile to the cause of Christ. Hostile, not in favor of. 

 When Paul spoke of Demas, he used another word for World. He used the word Aion. Which denotes time. Paul was simply saying Demas loved this present time in his life. Paul's journeys were met with hostilities and danger. Demas left Paul's ministry trip, not his salvation. He may have had a family and didn't want to go on a risky missionary trip. This passage doesn't support the concept that Demas lost his salvation or forsook God leaving his salvation.

 In summation, rejoice that our salvation in Christ is fully secure and this security isn't contingent upon our goodness or steadfastness or faithfulness. Our salvation is eternally secure because of the Finished Work of redemption. Because Christ paid the price. No amount of good deeds or personal holiness merited the free gift of salvation before we were saved. What makes us think our personal failures, sins and unholy actions after we are saved will undo what Christ has done? Our salvation is in God's unwavering hands, it isn't left up to us to stay saved. If it were we would surely already mess it up, thank God for His unfaltering faithfulness and keeping power.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Good News vs fake news: All humanity is already saved?

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study distinguishing between the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Grace with the fake news of the traditions of men. As we continually stress each week, people are not our enemy. Don't allow bitterness to dominate your thoughts. His Grace is welcoming to all. 

 We've been contrasting the Good News with fake news of tradition. However, the religious traditionalist isn't the only one proclaiming fake news. This week, I sense the leading to expose the fake news of false leaders, teachers, and preachers perverting the Gospel. 
Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9 AMPC

 John warns here of those leaving Christ behind to embrace their own philosophy, teaching, or concept. One translation words it as don't become so progressive in your thinking, you leave Christ behind. In other words, don't get so "out there" you leave everything behind, constantly chasing some new idea or concept. 

 When contrasting truth and error, it's best to get back to basics. The Word of God was written to three people groups. Now we know we can receive truth, insight, wisdom from all Scripture. We must understand that it isn't all addressed to us specifically. The Word was written to the Jews, the Nation of Israel. The Gentile, the lost. The believer, the Church of Jesus Christ. 

 What we must keep in mind is what may be true for Israel, isn't for the Church. As an example God gave the Law to the nation of Israel, not to Gentiles, or the Church. Again, what is true for one group isn't necessarily true for the other group.

 This is where the perversion of the Gospel and Grace occur. Many want to attribute to the lost what is only benefited to the Saved, the Church, those born again by Grace through Faith. The truth that God loves all the World, doesn't mean, however, that all the World is now the recipient of eternal life. Eternal life is only received by Grace through Faith.

 Here are three major areas where the fake news of false teaching continually miss it and try to pervert the truth;
Inclusion: One famous minister coined this phrase to proclaim the false concept of ultimate reconciliation. That ultimately, at the end all humanity will be saved. Hell is a temporal place. This is the proclamation of salvation extended to the lost after death.

Trinitarian Theology Inclusion: This erroneous concept of man taught that all humanity is already, in Christ, born again, made righteous, possess the Spirit of God within, are adopted in the family, apart from personal faith and trust in Christ. It is a historical inclusionism. In a nutshell, this concept says, God in Christ, in His work on the Cross, saved everyone, people are just mentally unaware of their salvation. 

  One issue, of many, that arose with this teaching was that salvation is merely a mental awakening, not a heart transformation. It was often asked what if the individual never awakens to their righteousness? Then they said they would be lost. This would then equal that all our in until they are out. 
 This didn't sit well. So many who proclaimed this viewpoint, have now erased Hell from their view. Since Hell is out of the equation it apparently doesn't matter if one awakens to this "truth". As the previous view, salvation also becomes an invasion of the will. All are in whether they want to be or not.

 Universalism: This error manifests in various forms. One concept is that all roads or paths lead to God. It doesn't matter what you believe just be sincere. A more "Christian" universalist view, all are saved because of Jesus' death on the cross. The existence of Hell is denied.

 Those are the major errors. However, some in Grace circles, are subtly being seduced away by these false teachers through crafty, alluring words spoken in their midsts. They are proclaiming the seed forms of these three errors with enticing words. They adopt "Grace language" but add their own definitions to those words.

 When I am talking to say a Hindu or Buddhist and they say the word "god", and I say the word God, We must understand how we are defining the term, so as to properly understand each other. When I say "God", I am referring to the Lord God Almighty, Jehovah. The Only God. If they say, god, they may be talking about the many deities they follow in their religion. 

 So when someone is speaking of Grace, His mercy and love and kindness seek to understand the context in which they speak. Ask them for clarity so you can know whether or not to add your agreement. As I have said their error is often easily spotted because they attribute to the unsaved the same benefits of the saved.

 For example, Paul lets the Church know that there is nothing that can separate the believer from God and His love. This is the Good News of Grace. This is true because a believer has been redeemed. He has been made new. He has been cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus. All his sins are eternally forgiven, once for all time. Can this be said of the lost? No, they haven't yet received Him and the forgiveness Jesus appropriated at Calvary. 

 This then is where error sows its seeds in the unrenewed mind. The mind susceptible to receiving error. That is the believer who has chosen not to develop discernment. 

 The perversion is to exalt God's love to disregard man's free will. To disregard the other true aspects of who God is, such as the faithful and just Judge of all. This perversion also eliminates the concept of spiritual separation. 

 Many are now proclaiming that no one was ever separated from God. That mankind since Adam has never been spiritually separated from a loving God. That God, who is love, would've never allowed such a thing to happen. They say any sense of separation is simply in our minds. Placed there by the lies of the enemy or religion. They pervert the King James translation of Colossians 1 to promote this error. Honest and sincere translation of Colossians easily disproves this.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Colossian 1:21 NLT

 Be sincere and honest. Before Christ, did you really have a concentrated concern whether or not your action was pleasing to God or not? Whether or not it was sinful or not? Of course not. We were rebellious and serving our own interest, whatever that may be. Even our good deeds often had a self-serving purpose.

 Why does it matter? Why should we guard against falsehoods? Paul the Apostle of Grace, repeated the warning a little leaven, leavens the whole lump. We don't want to build upon a faulty foundation. We desire the sincere truth of the Word, the truth that revealed the Pure Gospel of Grace.

 What you will find if you grow in Grace, and in your discernment (not suspicion), is that many who are proclaiming such falsehoods are merely seeking a following. Often they won't openly speak about what they believe. They will blend some Grace truths with elements of the errors I mentioned. 

 The proof is clear if you are aware. A popular author penned a novel that showed the Trinity and proclaimed a God of mercy and love and that's all. No judgment, not justice. They even made a movie. I will admit there are good elements of the story. However, with discernment you see a person sowing just enough seeds to garner a following.

 After the success of the feature film, the author penned another book. This time he didn't conceal his message. He proclaimed a universalist/ultimate reconciliation message. No one is separated from God. He had successfully garnered a massive audience and because of the success of his earlier work, many would read this work. They opened themselves up to feeding on error.

 Again, people aren't our enemy. However, they may be submitted to the enemy or unwittingly be being used by the enemy. So we must use wisdom, discernment and rely on His guidance to preserve the Gospel from error and to not be susceptible to receiving error.

 The Gospel is Good News. It is the glad tidings of God's great love for all. That because of Christ, anyone can freely receive new life, peace, perfect acceptance and right standing with the Holy, righteous God, the Creator of the Universe, apart from works, efforts, and achievements. 

 Those who've received this Good News and received Him, by Grace through Faith, are now called to proclaim this same Good News to all. What we aren't called to do is become preachers of reinterpretation. Or ambassadors of reimagining. The Good News is good enough. We don't need additives or mixture to the Good News to make God more appealing or erase portions of His character.

 Grace proclaimed, is truth proclaimed. Grace and Truth go hand in hand. Universalism, inclusion (or ultimate reconciliation), or Trinitarian Theology inclusion, denying the existence of eternal separation in Hell or denying Hell even exists, or the concept that no one has ever been separated from God is not the Gospel. These are lies, perversions, total error drummed up from the enemy designed to derail the Gospel message.

 In summation, don't fall for the enticing words of men. Concepts like, "can't God's love meet people beyond the grave?" "Saying anyone is separated from God is to say sin is greater than grace.""Proclaiming salvation is by Faith believing is preaching an exclusionary message."These are enticing, alluring seeds sown to get you to accept error. 

 Make no mistake, many churches and ministries and ministers who had made a powerful impact in this World have been "shipwrecked", shut down and their doors shut, when they embraced error in an attempt to be "inclusive." We should be inclusive, that being the salvation invitation is made for all, this doesn't mean though we invite error into our midst. Stay strong in His strength and walk in His love for you and flee from the error sent to distract, derail and deter your growth and influence in Grace. 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Good News vs fake news: He alone is Worthy?

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 Greetings in Jesus name. We've been in an extended study contrasting the Good News of Jesus with the fake news of religious tradition. As we've already established, people are not our enemy. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Sadly people are misled by error and tradition and philosophies of men, and they perpetuate those errors, but just as Grace is for us who've readily received it, it's also for those who oppose themselves.

 Often in times of praise and worship in our meetings, gatherings, and local churches, we may hear the phrase ring out by some well-meaning but misinformed worship leader or choir director, "Oh, Lord we're so unworthy!" Have you ever been in a gathering and heard this? Have you ever heard a Christian song lyric where they cry out "You alone are worthy?"

This concept that we are just unworthy little worms in the eyes of God is one major stronghold in so many minds. I especially see this in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. My heart goes out to those in Pentecostal/Charismatic ministries because so often their theology is founded on works and performance. As a result, many see themselves as unworthy, never fully measuring up.
 This is not an insult directed at Spirit-filled churches. I was raised in Pentecostal churches. I have good memories growing up in church. In fact, Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are the fastest growing churches in many parts of the World. This is why it's essential that the Good News Gospel of Jesus and not religion, is being preached by all churches and ministries Pentecostal or not.

 Sadly, many ministries and churches have no idea what the Gospel even is. To them, the gospel is the proclamation of how displeasing you are to God. How often God is disappointed in you. How you are constantly letting God down. Their gospel is one of proclaiming God's judgment and wrath. How He is sending destruction throughout this Earth because of sin. How even Christians when they get to Heaven will still answer for all their sins in this life.

 Is it any wonder that believers create concepts like we are so unworthy in God's sight? I want to give you the Good News that you have infinite value and worth. Remember God made you and He doesn't make junk! I want to uproot those negative thoughts in your mind and replace them with the truth of the Gospel.

He alone is Worthy?

 In our songs, in our prayers, and in our praises I've heard this phrase repeatedly. He alone is worthy. Many years ago, before I even understood Grace, or fully grasped the revelation of redemption and our perfect righteousness in Christ, the Lord spoke to my heart. 

 I remember where I was, standing in a church meeting during praise and worship. This phrase was being sung, "You alone are worthy." The Lord captured my attention and opened my eyes and spoke inwardly, don't you ever say again "You alone are worthy". I made you worthy by the blood. So God isn't the only one worthy.  Now I understood that if we are saying, God, you alone are worthy of our adoration, our praise, our thanksgiving, our devotion and our worship, well then, of course, that's true. But just saying generically   He alone is worthy is an insult to the Blood.

Worthy because of the price paid

 We are not worthy because of our goodness. We aren't worthy because of how well we perform. We aren't made worthy because we get it right. We don't always get it right but thank God Jesus did, and our trust is in Him and not in ourselves. 

 You know how you can tell the value of something? By its rarity? By its demand? Any free market economist will tell you what someone is willing to pay for an item shows its value. Think of it. Almighty God, the Most High, the Creator of Heaven and Earth gave His only Son for you. That is the highest price ever. The sinless, perfect Son, was given to redeem, rescue, even ransom us back from sin, death and the power of darkness. 

 Never see yourself as lowly, or unworthy. Father paid a high price for you. He sees your value. He sees your worth. He gave His very best for you. He doesn't invest in or sponsor a flop. 

Worthy because of His love

 Think of it, we are the object of God's highest affection. As much as He loves Jesus He loves you. Wow, to be the object of His unconditional love. Being loved by the King reveals just how valuable we are. We are not mere worms, we are the apple of His eye. 

Worthy because of our adoption in the Family

 God our Father, welcomed us into the Family of God when we simply received a free gift, we trusted in Him alone to redeem us. We are not mere paupers groveling before the King. We aren't subjects and servants. We are sons. We are the children of the Most High. We aren't sitting under the King's table awaiting scraps. We now freely pull up a chair next to our Father and freely feast at His table. 

 Hear the words of Jesus:
But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. Revelation 3:4 NASB 

 With the words of Jesus, with the knowledge of the Finished Work, His cleansing Blood, His great love and our sonship how will you see yourself? In spite of all this, religious tradition still perpetuates the lie that we are groveling worms in the dust in the sight of our God. That we are one failure away from being banished from the Kingdom. What do you say? 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Good News vs fake news: God takes back His gifts?

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study contrasting the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Good News of God's Amazing Grace, with the fake news of religious tradition. As we've established, people are not our enemy. This is absolutely essential to keep in mind as we examine the traditions of men. 

Sharp Divides

 As we begin to uncover yet other areas of traditional religion, I thought it best to begin by making an honest, sincere assessment of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be uncomfortable to hear, but it's true nonetheless. The Church is sharply divided concerning certain theological points. 

 Here are the major areas of disagreement. Methods of water baptism. Do we sprinkle? Do we immerse? Do we baptize in Jesus name only? Whole church denominations are created on this division. The biggest theological divide is the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate. Whole denominations and seminaries are founded on one or the other. 

 I'm sure some would wonder where I stand on that debate. My view is easy, I disagree with both schools of thought because they are performance-based and not Grace based.  One of the other great divides is the issue of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Are they active today or have they ceased? 

Let's frame this debate another way. Does God give gifts then rescind them? I believe we should let the Word of God be the final authority. There is no passage in Scripture that states these Gifts have ceased. There also is certainly no passage that suggests any of the Gifts of the Spirit operated in modern times are the work of satan or demonic influence. 

Now, why am I so confident about this? Because of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 NKJV
 God is a giver. He isn't taking away what He gave to equip the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ to walk in power. 
and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 1 Corinthians 2:4 NASB
 God's Spirit has continued in power and in demonstration throughout the Church age. 

 As a word of wise counsel, we must be mindful that flowing in the Gifts of the Spirit is not necessarily a sign of maturity, and definitely doesn't make one a superior Christian. In other words, we should never be looking down at others. Instead, we should always be looking upward at Jesus, the source, and supply of all good things.

 As a believer, do you desire to flow in these gifts? Simply ask God to fill you with His Spirit. Receive it and then begin to flow with God, asking for His wisdom in exercising these Gifts. As you flow with God, you soon discover love and compassion are the true motives for flowing in the Gifts. You also seek to make Jesus name renowned and never your own. 

 Allow me to share a testimony as it will open it up to an area I sense the Lord really desires to minister. Some friends of mine, A husband, and wife had a wonderful ministry of sharing this beautiful Gospel of Grace. Through challenges and surely the opposition of the enemy (he hates Grace), it seemed this door of ministry was closed for them. 

 As I was communicating with them the Spirit of the Lord began flowing through me in the gift of prophecy and word of knowledge. Words of edification, and exhortation were given to them. I began sharing specific words that were for them personally. God wasn't done with them and His gift and calling hadn't changed no matter the opposition. needless to say, this blessed and strengthened them. In fact, they had been discussing the work of the ministry among themselves. 

 See how beneficial these Gifts are? Now, this leads me to this point. No matter what, the gifts, the calling, the purpose God has for you has not changed or ceased. 
29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Romans 11:29 NLT

 Tradition for too long has told believers that because of their sins, their disobedience or unfaithfulness, His calling or giftings will be taken away. Some have been told if you don't use the gift, God will take it away. That is a lie. God's gifts are irrevocable.

 Even if years have passed and it looks like nothing has changed, know He never takes back what He gave. No matter how long it's been, no matter if it looks like there are no opportunities, rest knowing His plans and purposes, and giftings and call are never withdrawn. God thought enough of you to invest in you and He knows you're worth it. 

 Don't allow tradition to keep robbing you. Even if you've failed, God isn't finished with you yet. His plans and purposes are unchangeable. Look again at what He called you to. Don't quit. Your gift is an asset to the Body of Christ. There is someone who needs what you have to give. There is a smile, a hug, a kind uplifting word that only you can share. Don't listen to the enemy saying you're unworthy. You're the righteousness of God in Christ. 

 Yes, we as the Church are sharply divided concerning some theological points. As true as this is, we as the Body of Christ are so much more than that. We have Jesus as our Savior and His Spirit living and abiding in us. We are the recipients of His great Grace. We are a Family, the Family of God.

 In summation, know that His Spirit is still moving in power today. Know His goodness hasn't ceased. He wants to show Himself strong to His Church, not just a selective few. His power and Gifts are available to as many as will simply ask in faith believing.

 Know also that God has not forgotten you. His plans for you have not ceased. He who started the work in you will be faithful to complete it. His plans and purposes for you are unchanging. His Grace is greater than any sin. He is the restorer of broken dreams, shattered hopes and, desires dashed. You're engraved in the palm of His hands and what He promised will surely come to pass. He is faithful.
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