Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The duty of all Christians

What causes understanding? What causes salvation? Is it not the Lord and Him only?

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."

"He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."

The driving goal of the western 'church' for the last two-hundred years has been to enlighten the masses. We have heard unending sermons and discourses on scripture and theology. We have traveled to every corner of the world passing our seed to the masses. We write books, tracts, and blogs (couldn't leave myself out) about everything God said and everything we think He said. It has turned into a circus. Flashing lights, silver tongued preachers, moving music, and a healthy helping of guilt, or pardon me... conviction. And we are proud! "Look what my words did! What change! There used to be only 25 people in here. Now, 250!" But we don't claim that do we? It's not our words! It's God's words! (In a humble voice)"I am merely a vessel." (right hand over heart, chin lifted high) Mmm hmm... how noble. But the change never comes. Our 'church' is full of thieves, liars, and the sexually immoral. And we give them grace and mercy where the Lord does not. We make them believe that God accepts them just as they are. That the blood of Christ was spilled for this very purpose. That we could all be accepted as we are. And they believe it because they want to believe it. They don't really want to abandon the world and it's ways, they like, no love, the world and it's ways.

To those of you who have seen this truth and are left standing around wondering, "What should we be doing?" I have some good news. A Gospel to be sure. God doesn't need you to save anyone. God doesn't need you to convince anyone. God doesn't need you to lead anyone. That is all His job. And He does it well. One of the first things you have to understand is this: God doesn't want anyone that doesn't want Him. I know, this is a hard thing considering the lies the 'church' has been telling for a couple of hundred years now. "God doesn't wish that any should perish", but that doesn't mean He is some poor angst-filled teenage boy sitting outside His crushes house singing and professing His undying love to a closed window.

"The LORD's eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them."

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

The second part of the good news is that all God wants from you is your undivided, passionate, rapt attention. Your only job is to love the lord with everything you are and have, to be true to the revelation that you have at the moment, to have an open heart and mind, to testify to the truth and be a living example of the righteousness that is God's kingdom.

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

We can not even effect our own spiritual growth. It is all in the Lord's hands and His only. God gives the growth. The only thing we can do is trust in faith. Trust that He will provide for our needs(water, food, shelter); provide the wisdom we need, and provide soft hearts and open minds, and provide the growth. We struggle and claw our way forward through the darkness thinking we are making progress. We are like small babies wiggling and squirming trying to get our way when all we have to do is be still and trust so that our Father can carry us, feed us, protect and comfort us. Does this mean that we should not worry about purity, obedience, and sanctification? Not at all!

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

But the mercy that Christ bartered for us was to cover the ignorance and immaturity that we display as we passionately and radically pursue Him, not willful disobedience and self-worship or self-centeredness. I will leave you with the words of Paul,

"I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Pursue the Truth, love the Truth, testify to the Truth and leave the rest up to the Lord. It's His kingdom and His Bride. He will be the one to redeem her and gather her to himself. We live in blind, happy faith and sit in amazement as Christ opens our minds, eyes, and ears and reveals the real world to us, His awesome power, and the works He has done and will do.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goodness redefined

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Persecution is all around us. The Body that resides in the middle east and the far east is facing open, obvious persecution. But the Body in the west is suffering equally, but in a much more deceptive and tricky way. We are led away and enticed by the bribes of the Evil One and are assaulted with doubt about our circumstances and the nature of God. It is the same tactic that Satan used against Jesus when He was fasting in the desert and Adam and Eve in the garden.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Though evil will reside in people if they give way to it, it is not the only way it operates. One of Satan's greatest tactics is not to out-rightly oppose us. An enemy in the open is easy to take a stand against. An faceless enemy is a far harder adversary, as the American military has found through the last fifty years all the way from Vietnam to Iraq. He darts in and out and draws fire on innocent civilians. This tactic causes the advancing force to either become heartless and cruel and slaughter the innocent with the enemy or to become disheartened and surrender the fight altogether. Satan has lodged such an attack on the free church of the west.

We know that the scriptures says,
"I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread." and yet Christians are starving all over the world.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" and "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." and yet, we pray and we pray for healing, provision, and direction and are not given it.

We are allowing Satan to interpret the scriptures for us. If God promises and does not fulfill, He is a liar. How can the scripture speak one thing and reality show us something altogether different? It is because we have forgotten what a good father is. Jesus calls us to come out from among them. He means this in many ways; spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. As Americans we desperately need to separate ourselves from the spiritual powers that manipulate our country in social and intellectual ways. We have been indoctrinated with the evil concepts of self-righteousness and worldly goodness. The courts tell us that we are not allowed to physically discipline our children or teach them intolerance of what the world calls good but the Lord calls evil. We have applied these principals to God and have negated what we know to be true of His character and the lengthy history of His interaction with His people, the Old Testament.

Something must be understood. The Law was given to restrict man, not God. The law is the definition of what God is. Satan's sin in Heaven was that he wanted to be God's equal, which is impossible as, "A servant is not greater than his master." When Adam and Eve broke God's command in the garden they were falling for the same delusion that possessed Satan. The Law was given to show that man could never equal God and that wasn't what He wanted for us to begin with. And so once the truth of our inequality had been firmly established through thousands of years of history of man under the Law, Christ came and fulfilled that covenant so that He could join with His people in the way He meant to originally; through submission and trust, aka faith.

God was not and never will be restricted by the Law as He is the Law. And He, "is the same yesterday and today and forever." Do you not know that, " the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." God never stopped loving Israel. Not through their rebellion, Jesus' crucifixion, or even today. The Old Testament is just that, a testament to how God loves His people despite their faults and how He disciplines those He calls His children so that they can be brought out of evil and into purity and righteousness. Jesus death on the cross atoned for the penalty of sin and relieved  us of the legal requirement of perfection and completeness. But it did not change Jesus' desire for us to live in purity, consecration, and sanctification.

God did not discipline Israel in the Old Testament to save them from their sin, He already had a plan for that. He constantly and consistently disciplined  them because like all good fathers He wanted them to have goodness and to know truth. Only, He is the perfect Father and knows the ends and consequences of all decisions and actions. What may seem inconsequential to us is of the utmost importance to Him because he knows what results from it. What father would not give his child bread if he was hungry? What if the young child was having surgery later that day and was not allowed to eat for 24 hours so that he wouldn't vomit on the operating table and so asphyxiate himself and die. The father cannot possible explain what the doctors are about to do. It would only scare him and put undue stress on him. But the surgery is necessary to his life. And so even though his son is begging at his feet for bread the father says, "No son. I know you are truly hungry, but you don't know what is coming. You have to suffer for a little while so that I can save you life."

God still disciplines His children today. As Paul said, "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.". This is also demonstrated in God's judgement on Ananias and Sapphira for their lying to the Holy Spirit.

There are many reasons "bad" things happen in this life. Jesus told His disciples, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." Or consider the story of Job. God said this about Job, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Then Satan says that Job only loves God because God gives him good things and a nice life. And to prove Satan wrong he unleashes Satan on him, but tells him not to harm him personally. And then later unleashes Satan on Job himself, but tells Satan to not take his life. And what was Job's response to all of this? "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" and "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Sometimes it is the natural consequences of physical life that  happen to us, i.e. car accidents, natural disasters, disease.

Yes, God could save us from all these things. I whole-heartedly believe that I will not live past the day that I am meant to, nor will die before it. But what happens in between will all be goodness from the Lord's hand. The point of life isn't living. Why is everyone trying to beat disease and danger? The Lord can save us from these things. He has done it many times through out history. But if He doesn't what do we get? The reward! Death is the prize not the punishment. But during this life there will be discipline and punishment. Goodness is defined by spiritual health and spiritual reward. If you find yourself in trying circumstances don't be so quick to beg God for relief. It may be discipline from the Lord. We should continually examine ourselves to see if we are allowing any impurity to live in us. God may be trying to save us from the consequences of our actions. Or God may mean for us to live a life time of suffering as the man that was born blind had so that at the proper time God's glory may be shown. Or God may be giving us opportunity to build up spiritual treasure in Heaven as I believe Job was for his faith and patient endurance. Or we may be given the greatest gift and a disease may lead to our death, Halleluiah! But if we tell people that God only means good for us in the way that carnal people interpret goodness we will set up new, weak believers to fail and make God out to be a liar in the eyes of the world. "May God be true and every man a liar!"

Feel free to comment or ask questions!