Category Archives: Faith

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015

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“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)

I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.

First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like.  It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.

Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this.  Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between.  Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days!  In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.

Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace.  (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.)  And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years.  There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.

Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by.  Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.

Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.


 

“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)

It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America.  The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States.  To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now.  Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late.  If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.

Be prepared.  Be Alert.  Be vigilant.  Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”.  There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more.  I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual.  There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:

  • in Scripture,
  • in prayer,
  • in true worship, and
  • in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.

We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort.  If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come.  For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!

Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to?  And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!

If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!

May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!

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Conscience vs Love, And Assurance vs Deception – Pt 1

Well, if nothing else – that title should have gotten your attention…

This blog may be a bit personal for us all – if we are honest – as most of us, I suspect, deal with the difficulty of reconciling when brothers & sisters in Christ hold tightly to views that are different that our own.  I am not talking about preferences in worship style or dress or the color of the carpet – but things that range from doctrinal matters to matters of conscience.

Part 1: Matters of Conscience vs. Preferential Loving

I suspect for some, the struggle with matters of conscience is not really an issue – but for me it is, and I suspect for many of my readers it is as well.  Fenelon says this: “You must never look down at someone who is not called to walk the way you are. God does what He wants with each one.”  Now I see a couple of truths herein: 1) watch my attitude! And 2) embrace the truth that, as Paul said: “accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-2, 4b)

Paul later, however, tells us:

Vs 13b: “…determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

Vs 15: “if because of food [smoke, drink, language, or any permitted indulgence] your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.” (My amplification in brackets)

Vs. 16: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Vs 20-22: “Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have [j]as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
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And in 1 Thess 5:22, this same Paul writes: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Lastly, on the matter of conscience – Paul writes, not once, but twice:

1 Cor 6:12: “All things are lawful unto me,” but all things are not expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Cor 10:23: “All things to me are lawful, but all things are not profitable; all things to me are lawful, but all things do not build up;”

So here, I see our Lord clearly teaching us that we MUST be sensitive, prudent, careful and loving, with regards to our “matters of conscience”, putting the well-being of the brethren, and the sake of the reputation of the Kingdom on God within us, ahead of our own personal pleasures.

So I guess I am not baffled by our indulging in our permitted pleasures, as much as I am by our seeming lack of concern for the “whomever” that might be hurt by our “practicing, indulging or even flaunting” those pleasures – for though it might be permissible to indulge pleasures according to our own faith – it is NEVER permissible to hurt, offend or cause a brother to stumble. (Remember, faith is not just “what you confidently choose to believe” – it is, in fact, “acting in obedience to the Rhema word that you have heard from the Lord. Romans 10:17)

Let’s chew on this together… please – if not only for your sake, but the sake of The Body of Christ.

~ Gary

Part 2 Coming Soon: Assurance vs Deception

No Buts…

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“She considers herself a Christian, but…”  This line from a recent Atlanta news station article brings to light the antithesis of one of the greatest problems with modern-day, western, CHRISTianity.  Whenever you find it necessary to follow-up your statement declaring your Christian “affiliation” with the word “but”, I can assure you that you are NOT of the CHRISTian “faith”, rather you are only loosely associating yourself with the christian “religion”.  And, a loose association is guaranteed to result in one of 2 responses from the Lord of CHRISTianity:

1) His words: “I never knew you” (Matt 7:23); or

2) You will be vomit from His mouth (Rev 3:16)

It is unfortunate indeed that we humans, particularly in the west, have both misused and abused the term: CHRISTian.  And what we are to do about that varies in speculation – but all who are concerned and aware, agree, something must be done.

There is little that can be done about those who insist & persist in associating themselves with a the watered-down, man-made, powerless religion of “christian” as nothing more than an answer to a question on a survey “What is your religious affiliation?”  They will always have “buts” to include in their religious claims, as they associate themselves only with the kindness and love for mankind that CHRISTianity teaches, but refuse to get to know any more about the other substantial aspects of the foundational Truths of CHRISTianity.  These folk are not a real threat to true CHRISTianity, as they are simply misusing the term – and most folks will see that for what it is: “an answer on a survey”.

But, beyond that, what about those who are abusing the term – living a much closer association – likely deceived into believing that there is indeed substance to this self-affixed “Christian” label they wear?  A brief word study will reveal that nowhere in Scripture (something that “misusers” know little about; and something abusers have only intellectual knowledge of) will you find a “CHRISTian” calling or labeling themselves, a “CHRISTian!  No, in fact the very term is only in Scripture 3 times:

Acts 11:26 – “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”  In this passage the simple point that must be noted, is that the disciples DID NOT call themselves “CHRISTian”, but rather THOSE WATCHING THEIR LIFE called them CHRISTian.  Critical distinction for those who have ears to hear.

Acts 26:28 – “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Here, Agrippa, not a disciple, nor follower of Christ, MAKES REFERENCE to others as CHRISTian.

Lastly, 1 Peter 4:16 – “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, instead, glorify God on this behalf..”  Here the Apostle Peter lays out for us the deep Truth that the misusers and abusers don’t want to talk about – if, by your CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE, you SUFFER – then Praise God that others are mistreating you because THEY have LABELED you as a CHRISTian!

Had a survey been offered to the early Church regarding their religious affiliation, they would have likely been given the choices to answer: “Disciple of Christ” – “Follower of The Way” – “Believer in Messiah” – or possibly – in the Jewish arena that they were in: “Heretic”.  If these were our choices today – I am afraid most would check “other” or “none of the above.”  Or… write in “Christian” (as if it is somehow different from the choices provided) – How sad is that?

So, what do we do?  I propose that there are 4 approaches to our response to the misuse and abuse of the term “CHRISTian”:

1) Disregard it all together.  Maybe it’s not a problem.  Maybe I am overreacting.  Maybe we need to just leave it alone.  In the end we know that Matthew 13 teaches us in several different ways that the untrue among us will be separated from the true believers in the end.

2) Attempt to redeem it from our society.  Maybe we should actively speak out about the misuse and abuse of the term CHRISTian (as I am doing in some ways herein), in an attempt to raise awareness to this problem.  Or maybe, our redemption of the term should simply look like #4 below.

3) Call ourselves something else.  In some ways this is a pretty radical approach – but John 6 teaches us (as does much else in Scripture) that those who the Father seeks – those that are His own – are Disciples who are True Believers.  Not just fans.  Not just followers.  Not even merely disciples – nor just believers (there is another abused term) – but Disciples of Jesus, who Believe with a belief that has changed everything!  Are you…. Am I… A “Believing Disciple of Jesus”?

4) Leave it as it was in the Bible.  True Believers will not need to “call” or “label” themselves anything.  If we are surrendering to the Life Of CHRIST in us – they will see it – they will know it – and THEY will “call us CHRISTian”!

Personally, I lean towards a whole lot of #4, with an emphasis on the principle truths of #3.  May I live my life so surrendered to the Life of Christ – that I will be a Believing Disciple, active in both my belief and my discipleship – that those who watch my life, might say of me: “Now that, is a true CHRISTian” (Matt 5:16)

Watching, Perceiving, Abstaining & Frank Sinatra

The same passage of Scripture (1 Tim 4) that begins with these words: “in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”, ends, 16 verses later with these: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  In between is talk of things which are permitted, encouraged, taught, preached, lived, and forbidden.

But what are we to make of these words “Watch your life … closely”?  Given the dramatic start of this passage, I have a suspicion that these closing words are of utmost importance.  With that in mind, I ask myself, “what do they mean to me?”

Recently – as many times before – I was browsing the Facebook pages of my friends, and I saw some photos of folks whom I know to be followers – even disciples – of Christ, photographing and displaying actions and behaviors, that for some among us, would be considered – at best, questionable – and at worst, sin (or at least “self-serving”).

I am NOT the perfect human – but I am humbled that perfection, in the person of Jesus Christ, does indeed live in me!  I am not perfect, but am called to be holy, as He is holy.  I am not perfect, but I am called to be certain that any liberties that I might perceive myself to have, are not a stumbling block to my brother or sister, or a reproach, to the watching world.

Among the fruits of repentance is ‘self-denial’ for the sake of others, rather than ‘self-serving’ actions for my own pleasure.  I might foolishly say: “I can’t help what others think of me – that’s their problem.”  That may be true, however, I can control the image they are given, from which they formulate their thoughts towards me.  Their perceptions will be, what they will be – yet, I can bear the fruits of repentance, by showing concern and forethought in my actions and behaviors that might aid them in making wrong perceptions. 1 Thess 5:22 comes to mind here: “Abstain from all appearances of evil.”

Sure, we can we debate alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, immodesty, cussing, and the like, until Jesus Himself returns.  But the questions we must ask ourselves – in light of the Life that lives in us – is this: “Am I exercising my perceived rights to self-serving pleasures, or am I going to elevate myself to self-denial, in the name of ‘bearing fruits of repentance’ for the sake of my weaker brothers and sisters, and the Lord’s testimony to a watching world?  Simply put… am I going to obey the admonishment of 1 Tim 4:16 and “Watch [my] life … closely. [that I might] save both [my]self and my hearers” and watchers?  Or will I enter eternity rejecting the fruits of repentance, while singing that old nightclub *hymn*: “I did it my way”?

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Kingdom Notes & Quotes

(Originally written/posted on September 19, 2012)
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” ~ D.A. Carson

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Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden; it is forbidden because it is harmful!” Thank God that Grace doesn’t just “cover my sin”, but by His Spirit indwelling & inhabitation my life – and by a *grace-driven* surrender & yielding to His Life – Grace empowers me to be RID of sin, to His Glory!!!

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4 things that we need to have/be to experience “Deeper” in Christ: 1) Humility, 2) Childlike Faith, 3) Determination, & 4) Unashamed. Consider both the woman with the issue of blood, crawling to Christ & Blind Bartimaeus, crying out without regard. (Inspired by Blake & Perri at Everburn 8/10/12)

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“Heaven is not a place for people who do not want hell; heaven is a place for people who love God.” ~ Matt Chandler

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“The characteristic of a man who has come to God is that you cannot get him to take anyone seriously, but God.” ~ Oswald Chambers

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The Gospel of The Kingdom is likened unto this: The front walkway, the front steps & the front door are of first-most importance to entering the domain of another. In fact, it could be said that they are the ONLY WAY to lawfully gain entrance. However, the purpose of them, is not themselves alone, but to ALLOW entry to the domain of another, where the Owner of that domain resides. If we only admire, accept, or otherwise embrace the “entry” alone – never utilizing them as a means of entrance – we render them of no effect! So is it with the Death, Burial & Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. ~ Grrr

3 things are necessary, 4 things are vital, if we are to ever move beyond nominal Christianity

1) A proper understanding of Grace – Grace is multi-faceted. It didn’t start and stop at Calvary. It predates Eden, and it will last beyond the New Jerusalem.  Grace’s premier moment was Calvary, but it was the very Grace of Calvary that made a way for the Grace of Pentecost, which demonstrates a Grace never seen or know in this age: Christ IN US.  Grace can be God doing FOR US, or God doing IN US, or God doing THROUGH US.  Yes, it is all “GOD DOING” – but it is multi-faceted for certain, and He desires, even commands that we experience and participate in all facets of His Grace!

2) A proper understanding of Faith – Faith is far bigger than belief as we understand it, and it requires more than we realize.  Faith starts with “Hearing the Living, Breathing & Active Word of God.”  Without this (Rhema), we CANNOT have faith. Faith “consummates” with “our doing” – yes, there is both the “hearing of faith” and the “doing of faith”.  In your heart, believer, God speaks His Word to you.  Always in line with His Written Word, faith is our acting upon what we have “heard” our Lord speak to us.  Without action, our faith is dead.  Without the “hearing” our faith is legalism.  Neither will lead to Life.

3) A proper understanding of Repentance – Repentance is foundational.  And a proper understanding of repentance is vital.  Repentance always bears fruit – visible fruit – in our lives.  Repentance is coming to a place in your heart where we surrender to the truth that our way in a matter, is not God’s way; our thoughts on a matter, are not His thoughts. When we yield to His ways & thoughts on each and every matter, this is repentance!  If you deal with the fruit (outward manifestations/sins), without dealing with the root (wicked, selfish, evil heart), then you have not repented, you have just practiced behavior management.  God is calling us to repentance.  To surrender our rule and reign over the ways and thoughts of our lives, step by step, to His rule and reign.  Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

4) A proper understanding of Salvation – Like Grace, Salvation is multi-faceted.  We sell ourselves short when we limit salvation to a prayer at an altar experience.  Scripture teaches that we “are saved”, we are “being saved”, and we “will be saved”.  What we typically call “salvation” (getting saved), is just the “Staring Line” of a journey “in Christ”.  True “salvation” begins with a supernatural conversion or regeneration of our life, in our spirit and heart.  We call this being born again – this is the “justification” facet of salvation.  But then we move to “being saved” – a partnership between our “new man” and the Spirit of God within us – a lifelong process of growing to be like Jesus in Holiness, Purity, Selflessness, Love & Humility.  This, we call the “sanctification” facet of salvation, and takes place primarily in our soul.  Lastly, in an age yet to come – oh glorious day – we “will be saved”, when this old “earth suit” (physical body) is “made new” as God the Father has planned, to bring Him the fullness of His Glory in mankind.  This we call the “Glorification” facet of salvation.

So, just some thoughts on Grace, and Faith, and Repentance, and Salvation.

Is Your Faith Dead?

True Biblical Faith begins in the heart – however, faith of the heart alone is dead faith; while faith of the feet alone, is legalism; neither, by itself, is saving faith.  It takes God’s Grace to have ‘The Faith of Son of God’ in the heart; and Grace alone can make that faith manifest in your feet.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Gal 2:20“For by grace are you saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” – Eph 2:8“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:14, 17

May our prayer be: “Father, grant by Your Grace, that the faith of my heart, might be the faith of Christ, and allow the Grace of your Holy Spirit to strengthen, empower, compel and cause me to have faith of the feet!”“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” – Ez 36:27“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” – Matt 5:16″So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the [living & active]word of Christ.” – Rom 10:17Lastly, in this story that Jesus told, consider that both heard, it could even be said both had faith of the heart; but only one had faith of the feet:“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” – Matt 7:24-27

Faith’s Role In Sin

(This will likely be my shortest blog ever.)

Ponder these scriptures, and ponder my conclusion…

  • Scriptures says in Romans 10:17 that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word (Rhema) of God.”
  • Scripture teaches in Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God”
  • Scripture says “Anything that is not of faith (ie: produced by, a product of), is sin.” (Romans 14:23b)
  • The Scripture tells us that “Jesus was perfect, without sin”. (Hebrews 4:15)
  • And… “We are to be like Jesus” (1 John 2:6)
  • Lastly, Jesus said of Himself: “I only say what I hear the Father say”, and “I only do what I see the Father do.” (John 5:19; 12:50)

So, anytime we “say” something that the Father hasn’t said, or “do” something we don’t see the Father doing – what we are saying or what we are doing, is, therefore, not a product of faith, and is must be sin.

So next time I am tempted to ask “Is this sin?” or “Is this evil?” or “Is this wrong?” – the simple answer becomes “did I hear the Father say to say it, or did I see the Father do it?”

It “no”, then it is not “of faith”, it is therefore “sin”, and the Father is not pleased.

This is why sin should grieve the Christian.  Not because we have broken a rule on a list – but because we have failed to please the Father. 

The primary difference in the “sin(s) of a sinner”, and the “sin(s) of a Saint”, is that the Saint is grieved, ashamed, convicted and disgusted by their sin(s), which though likely frequent, should be, by-and-large, accidental, not premeditated.  The sinner loves their sin, and find themselves typically, deliberately and naturally, comfortably at home with their sins, proud of them, and not at all convicted by them.

Christian (Saint): When you sin, are you proud or ashamed?  Are you convicted or comfortable? Are you in love with it, or disgusted by it?

Again, the question is not, “did I break a rule on some list?”  The question, for the Christian, is “Did I act displeasing to my Father?”

The Gospel of The Kingdom is like a road

(Or, subtitled: The concern I have with the “Gospel” that is being preached now a-days, can be likened unto road work.)

Imagine if you will, a terribly rough, worn, pothole-filled road, with shoulders eroding away, and the lines faded to disappearance – too narrow, like one of those one-lane bridges. One day, after much complaining, many accidents and repeated troubles, the transportation department comes in and completely tears up the road, grinding, shoveling, and destroying it, completely removing all signs of the asphalt, curbs and surface, till there is nothing left but bare dirt. This is the Gospel that most preach! Hallelujah, the awful road which caused me so much pain, worry, hurt and trouble has been removed and dealt with. We run onto the dirt surface with zeal and happiness, emotional stirred by the removal of the old road, and the new dirt path left behind. Dancing with excitement, we tell everyone “the nasty old road is gone”!  And herein, with the old road gone, we spend our lives, rejoicing that the old road is gone, and we are so pleased with the dirt road, though somehow insufficient, hoping and believing that one day, in that great by-and-by, when we die, we will then have a new road, all to ourselves!  Meanwhile, our excitement wanes over time, as the dirt road becomes muddy at times, proves very unsafe with no lines or proper shoulders, and there we remain, reconciled to be content (though miserable) with this new, inadequate road – most days wishing we had our old road back (at least it made sense to us) – and hoping that one day, things will again, get better.

But alas, one day a stranger comes to visit, he asks about the strange dirt road that you are firmly, but miserably sitting upon.  He tells you that his road was once a dusty, muddy mess as well.  They he explains a deep truth to you, a “Gospel” that you have not been told before.  He explains that this destruction and removal of the old rough, worn & pothole-filled road, was indeed absolutely necessary, and of first most importance to the project to be performed, but that the project was not just the remove of the old, but an immediate installation of a new road.  He asks, “Didn’t you sense that there was more?”  You respond that you thought maybe there was more, but no one told you, and you were so very excited to have the old road gone!  You suddenly recall an old, but vague memory of other heavy equipment, different from the rest, that arrived immediately after the old road was removed, but in your hast to dance with excitement and emotion in the middle of the dirt road, the equipment remained in the distance, and eventually, it went away.

Then the stranger explains that the destruction of the old road was not done so that a new dirt road – sure to get muddy in the rain, dusty in the wind, still without lines for safety, and strange indeed compared to other roads – could be its result. No, no! This was done that a newer, greater, more effective road could be out in its place.  A new “superhighway”, with the greatest of all safety features for your travel – a road with a new destination.  It is wider, safer, sturdier, and better in every way.  It is not a revision of the old, but a brand new road, better than ever, made perfectly for you.  And on this road you are to begin a new journey, to a new destination.  To your amazement, it also comes with a brand new vehicle designed for your travel; and as a bonus, this road comes with your own personal travel guide for the journey.  And best of all, you don’t even have to drive – your new guide, will also be your chauffeur!  This is good news indeed – this is a “Gospel” worth getting excited over – this makes sense!

All you have to do is “yield” to the equipment that is creating the new road, and “surrender” to the absolute wisdom of your guide and chauffeur, and then become an “active participant” in the journey of a lifetime, wherein God’s power and strength, becomes, in a mystery, your enablement to journey to places once unknown, for His Name Sake, and His Glory, in all the earth.

Jesus’ work in His passion, with the 3-day work of death, burial & resurrection, is the destruction of the old road.  Therein He has removed the penalty of your sin, and freed you from its power – however, for 3 years prior, Jesus taught and demonstrated the “new road”. That is, His Father’s Kingdom.  A kingdom in which all things become new, and though our “yielding” to His Lordship, our “surrender” to the absolute leadership of the Holy Spirit, and our necessary, thought “paradoxical participation” in God’s work of Grace in our lives, we experience the fulfillment of the “Gospel of the Kingdom” from which the “Gospel of Salvation” purposed us to go.  Our Savior, become our King!

So, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a road.  Destroyed, and rebuilt anew – providing all that is needed for life and godliness – in Christ Jesus.  The unfortunate Truth is, the dirt road will never get you to where the new road is designed to take you.  So move aside, and ask the Father to send the equipment to put in the new road (your new heart), and to provide your new vehicle (your new spirit), and to give you the guide and chauffeur (His Holy Spirit), and pour our His Grace on you and in you, for the journey!

Let him who has ears to hear, hear!

Ezekiel 36:26-27

2 Corinthian 5:17

Psalm 51:10

John 14:16-17, 16:7

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Titus 2:11-14

“WAKE UP!” ~ Part 1: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved

(“WAKE UP!” will likely be a 4-5 part blog…)

“Saving Belief”

What do you call yourself? A Christian? A lover of God? A follower of Jesus? A Child of God? The Bride of Christ? The Church? The People of God? All of these “titles” should mean the same thing. Yet, there is an astronomical variance between these titles, and the reality of what they mean to the person that “claims” or “bears” them or declares this to be “who they are.”

No one would disagree that many, maybe even the majority of people who “wear” these titles, are not actually truly living a life that is in keeping with the title they claim. Now, yes, for some, it is immaturity – for others it is ignorance. But, there are those among these who are not immature, nor ignorant, but rather are either “playing games” or are “in rebellion” to the whole truth that comes with such a title. To keep it simple moving forward, I will use the term “Believer”.  After all, when it all comes down to it, we are talking about “being saved” aren’t we? All the key scriptures we have learned from the beginning of our “Christian Journey” tell us that to be saved, we must believe. Right?

    Romans 10:9 – “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
    Acts 16:31a – “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved”
    Mark 16:16a – “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”

Let’s establish up front that I am not talking about intellectual “belief”, nor am I talking about “acknowledging the existence of”. To better define the “believing” that I am talking about, let me use two examples. The first, from scripture: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) The demons believe, but their belief is not “saving belief”. Secondly, a historical example. I believe in Hitler. But I don’t “embrace”, “adhere to” or am otherwise “impacted” & “convicted” to “change” in my life by his teachings. Likewise, belief in Jesus without being impacted and convicted to “change”, is not “saving belief”.

So, how then do we know what type of belief Jesus was speaking of, is the belief that results in being “saved”? After all, there are many “followers” who are not believers – yes, it’s true:

      Read this passage. John 6:60-64:

“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.”

Did you catch that? Read it again… speaking to “many of His disciples” Jesus said: “there are some of you who do not believe.” And then in verse 66 it says: “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” This is sobering to me! There are/were disciples who do not believe with the belief that is necessary to be saved!!

Jesus here, and in throughout scriptures, is talking about “belief of the heart” – apparently a belief that many who claim to be “Christian” or “Followers” seem to have in short supply. How do we know this belief? Does it have evidences? Is the “Fruit” to this belief? 2 Corinthians 5:17 reds: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” In Acts Peter is recorded as saying in chapter 2, verse 38 “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And even our verse above in Romans chapter 10, which begins in verse 9 saying: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” continues on in verse 10 to read: “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

So in our first passage (Corinthians) we see that the “Born Again” (Conversion/Regeneration) experience is inseparably linked to the saving belief. And with being born again, comes a “New Creature” and this new creature is accompanied by new things, with old things having passed away.

Then, in Acts, we see this saving belief being mandatorily linked to the attributes of “Repentance” and “Baptism” yielding the promises of forgiveness of sins & the “gift of the Holy Spirit”. These are no small things to be lightly accepted or dismissed. If we have “saving belief” we will become “people of repentance” and “people immersed and saturated” in our new life, and be granted the “power” to let Christ’s Life reign in our new man as the power of God unto salvation by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

Lastly, we see “saving belief” unmistakably resulting in “righteousness”! Not some impersonal righteousness, but the Righteousness of Christ physically manifested in and through our lives! This passage which promises salvation by believing, unmistakably teaches that the belief that saves will be visibly seen in our lives by others, and it will look like a life of righteousness!

So then, with these passages all in mind, it can be said: Saving Belief is a belief of the heart that comes from being born again to new life in Christ, with new things having come and old things having passed away, manifested in a life of repentance, immersion & saturation with the life of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, and an unmistakable visual lifestyle that displays righteousness. If these things are not taking place in your life in increasing measure, I encourage you to get on your face before God, and check your spiritual pulse to see if you have indeed come to a place of “saving belief” in the Lordship of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Coming next on “NoSpectators”? What is this repentance that is linked to “Saving Belief” and what does the resulting Righteousness look like, in layman’s terms?