Friday, September 28, 2007

Obedience (part 2)

Why is obedience so hard?

There are several reasons why obedience seems hard. I will comment on some of them and then speak positively on how obedience is easy.

1) Obedience is an infringement on freedom. Since we are free in Christ, and obedience is somehow contrary to that freedom, we conclude that obedience is not good. Yet we know it is good. Thus, we become confused about obedience and are not single minded.

2) Obedience is works. We who have been justified by grace through faith are opposed to works; therefore, we are opposed to obedience.

3) We have tried to obey and have failed--frequently. Therefore, the only solution is to disobey and later confess to receive forgiveness. It is easier to be forgiven by grace than to obey by effort.

4) We confuse obedience to men with obedience to God. Although these are sometimes one and the same (as in Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 and 3, Ephesians 5 and 6, Colossians 3, and Titus 2), sometimes they are not the same (as in Colossians 2:20-23, Mark 7, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, and Peter’s great statement in Acts 4:19-20). Confusion occurs when we reverse the texts and equate the obedience to men described in the second set of Scriptures with obedience to God.

If the above statements were accurate, obedience would be hard. However, each statement is a misconception; each hides a subtle lie. Here are the corrections.

1) Obedience is freedom. It is a voluntary act of the will, which can only take place if the will is free.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32 NIV)

Obedience is not involuntary servitude.

2) Obedience is not related to works. Obedience is related to faith.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:7-8 NIV)

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5 NIV)

...but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him. (Romans 16:26 NIV)

When we obey, we are acting by faith, not works.

3) Trying to obey is the opposite of trusting to obey. When we try, we are self-centered, not God-centered. When we trust God to do His will, God provides the strength to obey, a much better alternative than depending on ourselves for obedience.

4) Confusion is avoidable when we know the Scripture well enough to differentiate between the commands of men and the commands of God.

The following are positive reasons that obedience is easy:

1) The Scriptures were given to us in order to prevent sin in the believer, 1 John 2:1.

2) God provides a way in every situation so that we need not sin, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

3) We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22, 23 defines an obedient Christian life. Obedience is the natural quality for the life controlled by God’s Spirit.

4) Jesus died that we might be dead to sin.
By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?...Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Romans 6:2, 8, 10 NIV)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NIV)

God commands us to obey. But He also provides for our obedience via His death and resurrection and His gifts of faith, grace, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and a new and glorious nature.

Sin is based on two things: 1) a lie and 2) rebellion. Many Christians, like Eve, believe a lie to be the truth. Once we buy the lie, rebellion is the consequence.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV)

There is the difference:

1) The subtlety that is in Satan.

2) The simplicity that is in Christ.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Feedback on "How to Be Free From Bitterness"

Anonymous’ letter on How to Be Free From Bitterness:

Interesting article on the riddance of bitterness. Let me ask you this, what does the bible say about parenting? What are the obligations of parents? Yes, they should provide a loving and Christian home, but what after that?

Maybe the bitterness so many kids feel is unwarranted, biblically speaking. From what I can find, I see nothing where the bible commands fathers/mothers to send their children to college, be constantly active and involved in their children’s’ lives (schoolwork, soccer practice, building their self esteem, say “I love you”, hug you, compliment you, teach you non-biblical things, worldly guidance, etc, etc)

I ask this because I’ve been pretty bitter myself. But then I thought, “what does the bible require of my parents? It seems that the ONLY requirements of parents is to love their children and bring them up in the ways of the lord. That also means to provide a home, love and food for them. Beyond that, they’re not required to do any of the above I mentioned. That is what society has pressured them to feel they have to do.

Maybe if we only look at what the bible requires of parents, we won’t be so disappointed.

Am I wrong in thinking parents only owe their kids a Christian home and that’s it? If you can show me examples where God requires them to do anything more, please, let me know!


Jim Wilson’s response:

I am the author of the book on Bitterness. Thank you for your letter. I am not sure whether your question was from you as a parent or from you as a son.

Here goes. Parents are to be all of the things you said, but those things are not limited like a dozen eggs nor are they to be counted by how many soccer games they went to. Some parents may go to all of the events and the kids don’t think their parents love them. Some parents may not go to any of the events and the kids are very secure in their parent’s love.

There is a more complete reading on another site. Look up ccmbooks.org, click “readings” and then click How to Be Free From Bitterness. Read all of the articles but dwell on Relationships with Parents and Saturation Love. It is very likely that your parents love you very much but did not express it to you adequately. You must confess your bitterness until it is gone, regardless how wrong or inadequate they were as parents. You do not need to defend them but you must not accuse them. Your bitterness is your sin. They are not the cause.

Unless you get rid of your bitterness you will repeat the cycle with your children.

If you would like a hard copy of How to Be Free From Bitterness, please send me your mailing address.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Obedience (part 1)

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22, 23 NIV)

I really wish you would open your Bible right now and read the fifteenth chapter of 1 Samuel. Have you read it? Notice why Saul spared the animals (vv. 21, 24). Notice also that God was grieved because of Saul’s disobedience. God did not call it partial obedience. Saul was saying how he had obeyed the Lord while all around was evidence of his disobedience; bleating sheep and lowing cattle. Saul called his “partial obedience” obedience. God called his “partial obedience” disobedience.

God continued in that direction and called disobedience rebellion, and rebellion He likened to witchcraft. He also said stubbornness was like iniquity and idolatry. If there is anything more anti-God in the Bible than witchcraft and idolatry, I’m not sure what it is. Witchcraft and idolatry are two things that God hates, and He likens Saul’s disobedience to them.

God has another name for that which some Christians call “obedience.” Unless we get a high view of obedience, God’s view, we will stumble along with compromises. Compromises sound like this: “But we love each other,” and “The Government wastes money anyway,” and “But I found it,” and “Everyone does it.” To the Samuels in this world it sounds like bleating sheep, and to God it looks like idolatry and witchcraft.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Matthew 5:17-20

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…” (RSV)

Jesus taught that there are three eternal destinies:

1. Least in the Kingdom
2. Great in the Kingdom
3. Never in the Kingdom.

In the rest of chapter five Jesus teaches how He fulfills the Law. He fulfilled the Law by going back to motives--hate, lust, and love. The Spirit of the Law is never less than the letter of the Law; it is always more. The Pharisees were living the letter only and would not make the Kingdom at all. Others who objected to the letter of the law relaxed the letter of the law and made it less would be least in the Kingdom.

Christians today think that these are the two choices: keeping the letter and relaxing the letter. This country abounds with legalist doers and teachers. It also abounds with those who react to legalism, who become relaxed doers and teachers. That seems to be a poor choice: “not in the Kingdom” and “least in the Kingdom.”

“Whoever keeps them and teaches others to do so” means following Jesus’ fulfilled law. Here is one of His examples:

You have heard that it was said: “You shall not commit adultery.” I, however, say to you that anyone who looks at a woman with an impure intention, has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28 RSV)

Being great in the Kingdom means following seriously, from the heart, the fulfilled law as taught by Jesus in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and the rest of the Gospels.

Probably the majority of Christians are relaxers of the law. It is very easy to become a “relaxer of the law.” First we look at the letter of the law, “You shall not commit adultery,” and say, “to observe that would be Old Testament Legalism.” Then we look at the fulfilled law:

“anyone who looks at a woman with an impure intention, has already committed adultery with her in his heart”

and say, “that is nice idealism, but it is not realism. If I tried to observe that I would be riddled with guilt.” By relaxing both the literal and the higher motive, we leave a wide open door for violating the moral law in thoughts and action. An increasing number of Christians find themselves in serious sexual sin because of this. The person who has been redeemed by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus should have no difficulty believing His teaching and getting the power from Him to obey that same teaching.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Refraining from Disobedience

There are several aspects of the Christian life that are generally considered under the heading obedience. The first is refraining from disobedience; the second is the state of walking in the light; and the third is an active, positive obedience to New Testament commands. These are not necessarily in the order of importance. They are in the order they will be covered here.

Refraining from Disobedience

The first broken command was worded negatively: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Almost all of the ten commandments were also worded negatively. Starting with Deuteronomy 5:8, “You shall not” occurs eleven times in the next thirteen verses.

Disobedience is doing, thinking, or saying that which we have been commanded not to do or think or say. It is also the opposite: not doing, not thinking or not saying that which we are commanded to do or think or say. For example,

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37, 38 NIV)

Neglecting to love the Lord in this way is a violation of the first and greatest commandment. It is easier to measure disobedience by what we do rather than by what we do not do. This, however, does not keep the latter from being sin.

The first means of refraining from disobedience is to know the commandments. Ignorance does not keep an act from being sin. Contrary to the view of many Christians, not knowing does not constitute a justification for sin. Not knowing you were not suppose to marry an unbeliever does not make it right. Leviticus chapters 4 and 5 are given to the subject of unintentional sin.

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. (Leviticus 4:27 NIV)

If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. (Leviticus 5:17 NIV)

It is important to know the commands and obey them.

The second means of refraining from disobedience is to know God’s character so well that anything that comes across your path that does not have God’s characteristics will be recognized as from the enemy. The devil is a liar.

...He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44b NIV)

A liar does not say, “Do not listen to me because I am lying to you.” He says, “Listen to me; I am telling the truth.” Both the liar and the truth teller say, “I am telling the truth.” Therefore, you must know the truth teller so well that you will recognize a lie by the character of the teller.

An example of this occurs in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Both Lucy and Edmond had been to Narnia. When Lucy told Peter and Susan about the wonders in Narnia, she expected Edmond to back her up. Instead, Edmond said that Lucy was playing make believe. One was lying and one was telling the truth, and both said they were telling the truth. Peter and Susan went to see Professor Kirk for advice. After hearing the story the Professor replied, “Does your experience lead you to regard your brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean, which is more truthful?” Peter said, “Up till now, I’d have said Lucy every time.” He then asked Susan the same question. “Well, in general, I’d say the same as Peter.” The Professor then replied, “You know she doesn’t tell lies, and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then, and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.” Do you know God’s character as Peter and Susan knew Lucy’s? You will find God’s character revealed in the Scriptures.

The third means of refraining from sin is to avoid temptation. Temptation is not the act of the enemy only. You also have a part. Your part is mentioned in James 1:14:

…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (NIV)

The first way of avoiding temptation is your own will; you choose not to feed your evil desires. The second way is with God’s help; God will keep the evil one from tempting you. When temptation is cut down, sin is cut down. God’s part is in answering the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13 NIV)

The fourth means of refraining from sin is to not be overly confident.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)

Sin is like falling off a cliff. Christians do not want to fall but they do want to admire the view. So they get as close to the edge as they can with overconfidence and carelessness, knowing that they will not fall. Do not be confident or careless, and do not wish to admire the view. Stay away from the edge!

Sometimes it becomes necessary to get close to the edge when you are helping someone who has fallen or is about to fall. There are two strong texts referring to this action.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 NIV)

Notice, only spiritual people should do the restoring and they should watch out, not to keep from sinning, but to keep from being tempted.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear¾hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 22, 23 NIV)

There must be an abhorrence for sin if you are in the rescuing business.

A good, stout fence is a requirement at the edge of any cliff. It is much more valuable than keeping an ambulance parked in the valley. Both may be necessary, but the rescuer at the bottom is not in as much danger as the rescuer at the top. A fence is made of the Word, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians. In addition, a support group of Christians in prayer for you is like having a safety line around your waist and having it anchored to the Christians away from the edge. Do not be overconfident!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

We know of the faithfulness of God before temptation occurs and after sin occurs (1 John 1:9), but this verse is speaking of God’s faithfulness in the middle or during the temptation. God’s faithfulness does not mean He will physically or spiritually pull us out of the temptation. He limits the temptations by their nature (“common to man”), by their strength (“not beyond what you can bear”), and by providing a way out. All of these require a decision on the part of the Christian.

The fifth and sixth means of keeping from sin go together. The fifth is to make a stand against the devil and the sixth is to run away from him.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 NIV)

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11 NIV)

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)

Either the devil flees or you flee. One of the two should run. You should not sit around and chit-chat with the devil. Resisting is by far the best way. Then the devil does the running. It is the way Jesus handled temptation in the wilderness (and other places where He was attacked). He turned the defense into an offense. The devil attacked first. Jesus counter-attacked with the Word of God.

There is a condition that is necessary before you can resist and counter-attack. James 4:6-7 gives that prerequisite:

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7 NIV)

In order to resist effectively, you must submit to God in humility, whereby you receive grace.

In Ephesians there are two conditions to our resistance of sin. We are told these two conditions in Ephesians 6:10, 11:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (NIV)

This enables us to take our stand against the devil’s schemes. The stand will be effective only when we have God’s armor and God’s power. It was the same with Jesus.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1 NIV)

Prior to the stand, the resistance, the counter-attack, you must submit to God in humility. You must have God’s power and God’s armor.

If you cannot meet these conditions then you must run. Even if you are able to resist, there are certain temptations you must flee from, such as the desire to get rich, love of money and eagerness for money.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11 NIV)

You must flee the one and pursue the other.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Grace and Faith III

There is another Faith that is a gift of grace given to certain people who already have saving faith. You see this gift described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (NIV)

There are two key verses in this paragraph, the first and the last. This gift of faith is not saving faith; it is faith for the common good. This faith is not caused by the preaching of Christ; it is given as the Holy Spirit determines. All Christians, by definition, have saving faith. This gift of grace of faith is given to certain Christians for the good of the whole body.

Question:

“If this ‘Edifying Faith’ is applicable for our day and age, does it mean the other gifts are also applicable for our day? What about Dallas Seminary’s view that it died out with the last apostle?”

Answer:

In listening to Bible teaching be very alert for the following:

1. Does the teacher have to do much explaining as to the meaning of the text?
2. Does the explanation fit the text as it is in the Bible?
3. Is the explanation simple or is it involved?
4. Is the explanation a reaction to false teaching and/or practices?

First Corinthians 13:10-12 tells us when these gifts will pass away.

But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:10-12 NIV)

1. “when perfection comes.”
2. “then we shall see face to face”
3. “then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”

These are future “times” statements. They will happen to us individually when we go to be with Him or all at once when Jesus Christ returns. If these gifts are practiced, remember the Holy Spirit gives them as He wills, not as we will, and that they are for the common good, not for our own good. Do these gifts edify others?

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grace and Faith II

Saving faith is a gift of God. It is a trust that God gives to man that always has God as the object of the preposition “in.” What am I talking about? Trust in God, faith in God.

The faith that man has in spirits, idols, demons, and false gods is not a gift of God. Faith that is a gift of God is recognized 1) by the object, 2) by its unwavering quality, 3) by its saving results. This faith is given, caused by God in a certain way clearly described in the Bible.

Look at Romans 10:17:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)


Preaching of the word causes faith. When someone says “Do not use the Bible,” or “Don’t preach to me, I don’t believe that stuff.” Of course he doesn’t believe; he has not heard it.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (NIV)

Preaching is the cause of faith. Let’s preach to the people who do not have faith.

The miracle in Acts 2:1-13 did not get saving results. It did get an audience. The preaching in Acts 2:22-41 got 3,000 converts.

The miracle in Acts 3:1-10 did not get saving results. It did get an audience. The preaching in Acts 3:11-26 got 2,000 more converts.

The miracle in Acts 14:8-13 did not get any converts. It got the wrong kind of faith in the wrong object, Zeus. The preaching did get converts.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quality and Quantity

I suppose everything has a quality to it. The measurement may have differences in character. These differences may be, for example, in sweetness or hardness. The quantity, in most cases does not change the quality. If I have a hard rock and increase my rocks to 100 rocks. The rocks do not become harder. If I decrease the number to 50 rocks that does not mean the rocks are half as hard as the 100 rocks. I still have hard rocks. If I take the square root of 100 rocks I now have ten hard rocks.

Here is my point.

If I am bitter and cut it in half or take the square root of my bitterness I am still bitter. Making the quantity less does not make the smaller quantity not bitter.

Download How to Be Free From Bitterness from our website at http://www.ccmbooks.org/.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bitterness is Bad

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

Defile: to make unclean or impure befoul, besmirch, to corrupt the purity or perfection of, to make filthy. A bitter root that grows up and bears fruit makes many people filthy.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:14-16

Bitter envy does not come from Heaven; it is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.”

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

“Bitterness” has close associates, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice.

Before we can understand that bitterness has to be gotten rid of we must understand that it is very bad.

It is of the devil; it makes many people filthy, causes every form of malice,

Bitterness is not only bad in itself it is a commucable sin. Many sins stand alone, for instance, murder and stealing do not cause murder and stealing. Bitterness spreads like an epidemic through families, schools, churches, cities, countries, ships, and armies.

To let bitterness be fruitful is a failure of the grace of God. It must be dug up and gotten rid of.

Some people who are bitter think that their bitterness is a virtue. Some know better but enjoy being bitter. Some do not think they are bitter. Some do not know how to get rid of bitterness.

Download How to Be Free From Bitterness from our website at http://www.ccmbooks.org/.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Praise (part 2)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100:1, 2 NIV)

In this world there are sad songs, love songs and battle songs, but when it comes to singing of salvation the songs are songs of joy and gladness. David knew this when he wrote the lyrics and probably the music for Psalm 51. In it he sings,

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

Salvation means joy, and joy means singing. Psalm 126 is speaking of release from physical captivity, but it is also a great picture of spiritual salvation.

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126 NIV)

This is a song overflowing with joy. All of this joy comes from someplace, and that someplace is Heaven. The center of Heaven is God. He is the focus of everything in Heaven. If God were not joyful, Heaven would not be joyful. That is a reasoning statement; however, there are clear expressions of joy in Heaven for the same reasons we have joy on this earth—our repentance and salvation. This is described in Luke 15:7 and 10:

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent... In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (NIV)

A great expression of joy in Heaven is Zephaniah 3:17:

The Lord you God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)

We see here that God is with us, saves us, loves us and rejoices over us with singing. For God to rejoice over me with singing is almost beyond my comprehension. It is easy for me to sing with joy because of my salvation, but difficult for me to think that God is far happier than I am because of my salvation. My salvation is from God, and so is my joy. He is the source of both. I should not find it difficult if I realize that my joy comes from Him.

When St. Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, he is telling us that the Holy Spirit is the source of joy.

God sings over us with joy, the Holy Spirit gives us joy, and the Lord Jesus Christ looked forward to the joy beyond the cross.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

When we arrived in Moscow, Idaho, in the fall of 1971, we met a group of people who met every Wednesday evening to sing. They had been converted through a lay witness mission the preceding February. They had been singing ever since.

In this world there are two reasons for music. The first is the pleasure of listening to music or playing music or singing. The music causes pleasure. The second is that music is sung, played and listened to because joy was there before the music. In other words, joy caused the music. That is the way it is in Heaven, and that is the way it should be in the church on earth. Because we associate music with good feelings, we sometimes reverse the order. We have music in the church in order to cause pleasure, and then we think it is joy. That is not the same as singing that is caused by joy. Joy comes first from our salvation from the Holy Spirit and continues as we keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit by singing.

There are two major results of revival in the church. One is restitution and the other is joyful singing. Let us not forget the reason for joy and singing. This is what is sung about in Heaven:

And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped. (Revelation 5:9-14 NIV)

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Praise (part 1)

My mouth is filled with praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (Psalm 71:8 NIV)

It is the custom of all churches to sing hymns of praise at worship services. It is not the habit of Christians to sing praise all day long.

I remember clearly the text that was preached the Saturday night in October 1947 when I received Christ. It was Psalm 40:2:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (NIV)

The result of my cry to God that night is expressed by verse three of Psalm 40:

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (NIV)

Truly he put a new song into my mouth. Because of his new song, many have put their trust in the Lord.

Please make a habit of singing hymns daily if you have a new song in your mouth. Here are two hymns of praise:

All Hail the Power

All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall,
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all,
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all,
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all.


I Will Praise Him

When I saw the cleansing fountain,
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing
When He said, “Wilt thou be clean?”

Tho the way seems straight and narrow,
All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes
At my feet in ashes lay.

Then God’s fire upon the altar
Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise Him,
Glory, glory to His name!

Blessed be the name of Jesus!
I’m so glad he took me in;
He’s forgiven my transgressions,
He has cleansed my heart from sin.

Glory, glory to the Father!
Glory, glory to the Son!
Glory, glory to the Spirit!
Glory to the Three in One!

(Chorus)
I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:10 NIV)


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fear--Boldness

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

Pray for boldness when threatened.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fear--Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Run to the one who loves.

Fear--Lie

There are opposites to, solutions to, and preventions from fear.

I mentioned that fear is based on a lie or lies. The devil is the father of all lies. A liar always says that he is telling the truth. We believe him, not realizing that this lie is a temptation from the evil one. We take the temptation as true and end up in fear. Because we thought it was true does not keep our fear from being sin. We must confess it and forsake it. It is a sinful response to a temptation just like every other sin.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hope

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

“Hope” like “fear” is an anticipation of something in the future. There is a difference. Hope is not negative and it is not based upon a lie. It is a glad anticipation of something that is sure to happen. It is a dead certainty. Hope is not iffy.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” Hebrews 6:19

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Terror

Terror is a fear that is bigger than fear. In quality there may not be a whole lot of difference between fear and terror. It is a present feeling about something future that is awful. Terror by definition can be communicators in all directions to whole populations. We see the idiom in scripture.

“Terror on every side”

Terrorists are people who wish to cause terror. They have no desire to kill people other than to immobilize the people who did not get killed. Terror immobilizes people.

Mourning

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Revelation 1:7

All nations and all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the son of man coming in the clouds of the sky.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

We have a responsibility to all nations before that great day.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Panic

Panic is terror that becomes mobilized with no intelligent direction. People are trampled to death in panic. This fear is also based on the future, but the future is the immediate future like a fire in a theater.

“He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.” Deuteronomy 20:3

Speak the Truth in Love

It is wonderful to live in a nation that is increasingly tolerant of differences. However, this increasing tolerance is becoming syncretistic. We are saying there is no difference, they are all in agreement. We can no longer express differences of opinion.

I will quote from the Mikado.

“I am right and you are right and all is right as right can be and I am right and you are right and everything is quite correct.”

That which is satire in the song is now a major creed in this country.

In the major public relations effort to keep Islamic people, Arab or other Middle Eastern peoples, American citizens or not, from being mistreated we have implemented the above creed.

All Christian denominations, Eastern Roman, Conservative, Liberal, and Fundamentalist have in their creeds or doctrinal statements the deity of Jesus, his death on the cross for the sins of the world, his burial and bodily resurrection from the dead and that repentance and belief in this truth is the means of salvation and the assurance of that salvation.

All forms of Islam, Sunni, Shi’i and others deny the deity of Jesus, deny His death on the cross, the very fact of it, much less its significance, and deny the resurrection of Jesus, as well as the assurance of salvation except for martyrdom.

In truth, many members of Christian churches also deny these truths, but the Bible teaches them and the Quran denies them.

We, as Christians, are to love the aliens in our land and love those of differing faiths, but we are not to pretend they teach the same thing.

We are to speak the truth in love.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

All fear is an anticipation of something negative we think will take place in the future. It is not only future, it is also based on a lie. In other words, this negative thing will not take place in the future.