Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2008

Satan is Limited

Before and since that battle, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the enemy of our souls has been severely handicapped in war.

1. His power is limited.

“But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” Revelation 12:8, 9 (NIV)

2.His intelligence is limited.

“No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7, 8 (NIV)

3.He knows his time is limited.

“Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Revelation 12:12 (NIV)

4.Like most beings who have these limitat…

God's Objective & Means

God had an objective. It is the salvation of the world. He, in the past, assigned tasks to prophets Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David and many others. Each task had a subordinate objective that was part of the whole.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Hebrews 1:1 (NIV)


Then He sent John.

“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.” John 1:6 (NIV)

John’s assigned objective was to prepare the way for Jesus. John was like a highway engineer with a fleet of powerful, fast, earthmoving machines.

“A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5 …

Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 1: Real War

There is no question we are at war. It is a spiritual war. There is a limited thinking among evangelicals about spiritual war. It seems to be defined in terms of fighting demons, devils, evil spirits, in possessed people or in the heavenlies. This is partly true, but this is not what the war is about.

The war is about and over the souls of men. That is what the Bible, the Gospel, the Incarnation and the Cross are all about.

Part of the war took place in Heaven.

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV)

…and the rest of the war takes place on earth.

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom…

Salvation: Means of Knowing

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

This sentence tells why John wrote this short letter. He wanted the readers to know, and how they could know, that they had eternal life. If you are doubtful about your eternal life please read the letter of 1 John through five times, marking the phrases that describe you, both positive and negative. Since I am not confident you will read 1 John I am going to quote a few of these phrases. There are more. There is not much wiggle room so don’t try to wiggle. You might find out you have not been “born again” even though you thought you had been.


Obedience as a means of knowing


“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” 1 John 2:3

“But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5, 6

“No one who lives in him keeps o…

All about Sin without calling it Sin

You know, or have guessed I have read a lot of books, all kinds. I am a slow reader.

Missions, Holiness, the gospel, military, fiction, thinking, literature and history are some of my reading. Recently, I finished reading a unique short novel (168 pages). It was not a “cliff hanger”, a romance, sci-fi, western, murder mystery, or humorous. There was no action, no sex, no profanity, no mention of God or anything related to Him, like grace, faith, Heaven, prayer, obedience, commandments, etc. It is made of conversations only, and it is all about “sin” (except that, that word is not used), how to recognize this “sin.” This sin is not against God. It is against the hero by the hero and all of his relatives and associates.

I recommend the book highly. Why, when the basic premise is false and the solution is also false? It is so good at recognizing and describing the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the collateral damage to everyone involved.

Although the book is humanistic, I recommend it to …

Just as You Received, Continue

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV)

Years ago a friend of mine told me he was not into evangelism because the more converts he had, the more backsliders he had. Of course that is not a reason to hold back on evangelism, but it makes us wonder why it sometimes seems to be so.

Here is a major reason. The new Christian often is not taught to live the Christian life the same as he was taught to receive Christ. He is taught a different way of living than he was taught of receiving. That is why he falls. The new Christian received Christ by grace through faith. He did not receive Christ by “try” or by “effort.” He is not to live by “try” or by “effort.” He is to live by grace through faith. In other words, the Christian life should be like being born again every day.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.68)

Dissension

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours our lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

Let’s look at these things the Lord hates again.

• Arrogance is number one on the list. God is concerned about high self-esteem: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…” (Romans 12:3 NIV).

• Lying is numbers two and six. “A lying tongue” is speaking of a habitual liar.

• “A false witness” is perjury; it’s lying under oath.

• Murder of innocent people is number three. This murder is a special kind of murder. It includes abortion (innocent blood).

• Premeditated evil is number four.

• Immediate, unpremeditated evil is number five.

• Sowing discord among brothers is number seven.

Although these are all very common today, it is to the last I would like to draw your attenti…

God's Justice and Faithfulness (1 John)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

There are two parts in this promise. They are 1) “He will forgive us our sins” and 2) He will “purify us from all unrighteousness.” The forgiven sins are the ones just confessed. This “all unrighteousness” is different from the sins we confessed. It is everything else that is unrighteous in us. He will purify us from all of this.

Let’s look back at verse seven.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 NIV)

Notice the last phrase and its parallel in verse 9. Let’s put them together. Verse 7: “purifies us from all sin,” verse 9: “purifies us from all unrighteousness.” “Purifies” is a verb that has a continuous meaning: “keeps on purifying.”

There are conditions that are given for this complete and continual purifying. Verse 7: “If we walk in t…

The Cultured and the Ignorant

I have a duty to both the Greek and the Barbarian, to both the cultured and the ignorant. And so, for my part, I am ready to tell the Good News to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the Good News; it is the power of God which brings Salvation to everyone who believes in Christ, to the Jew first, but also to the Greek. For in it there is a revelation of the Divine Righteousness resulting from faith and leading on to faith; as Scripture says—“Through faith the righteous man shall find Life.” (Romans 1:14-17 20th Century NT)

We may not think in terms of Greeks and Barbarians, but you can think in terms of the cultured and the ignorant, the wise and the foolish. Although our six mission stations are in university towns where the culture is relatively high, our emphasis is to both the cultured and the ignorant. Our stores are places of love and understanding. As such, they draw people who need to be loved. This includes people who are slow in learning, people who can’t read o…

Break up Fallow Ground

There is something that is wise, if not necessary, before sowing the seed of the Word of God.

This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3 NIV)

The Lord was not speaking about farming. He was speaking to the spiritual need in Israel. His illustration was apt. Farmers do not sow in unplowed ground. They do not sow in thorns and weeds. The land is plowed and harrowed. It is broken up so that the seed gets underground in soft, prepared soil.

Jesus gave an illustration of a farmer who sowed his seed at random (Mark 4:1-20). Some of it fell on the path, some in rocky soil, some among thorns. And some of the seed fell on good, broken ground, with no rocks and no weeds. When the seed was planted on good ground, it brought a harvest of 30, 60, and 100 times the investment. None of the others brought forth fruit at all. Jesus’ teaching is on the receptivity of the heart to the Word of God.

The command gi…

Ignorance

There is a wonderful sentence in The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. “He was giving forth his views upon the political situation of Europe generally with the self-satisfied assurance born of complete ignorance and true British insular prejudice.”

This describes a fictional character, but the sentence ties three things together that are true outside of fiction. They are “ignorance,” “prejudice” and “self-satisfied assurance.”

“Prejudice” is a negative pre-judgment based on no information, false information or misinformation. In other words “prejudice” describes a poor practice.

The following is a corollary to the above.

“Tolerance” is a positive pre-judgment also based on no information, false information, or misinformation. In other words, tolerance is not a good practice. Yet we think “tolerance” is good and “intolerance” or “prejudice” is bad.

If we are informed, then our judgment is based on true information. It is not a judgment of tolerance or prejudice. It is a ju…

Unbelief

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18 NIV)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36 NIV)

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12 NIV)

Unbelief is a great sin. It applies to

1. Those who have heard the gospel and not believed,
2. Those who have not heard the gospel, and
3. Those who heard, believed and in a believing state do not believe God.

The latter applies to many real Christians. It is possible to understand unbelief in those who have not heard (even though is it still inexcusable—see Romans 1:20) because it is the gospel that causes belief. It is very difficult to understand unbelief in believers. For example:

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and…

The Full Armor

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. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)

The first three chapters of Ephesians tell us of the riches we have in Christ. It would be difficult to meditate too much on these riches. Then we come to two-and-a-half “obedience” chapters. Now we have teaching on war, real war, and deadly war. Notice that verses 10 and 13 both say “Put on the full…” The emphasis is on the wholeness, the completeness of the armor, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” He, the devil, is not stronger th…

Two Kinds of Wisdom

“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. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:15-17 NIV)

Wisdom!—two kinds from two places with two very different characteristics.

One kind of wisdom: of men, wisdom of the world, wisdom of this age.

Origin: earthly, of the devil.

The character: bitter envy, jealousy, unspiritual, selfish ambition, boastful, denies the truth, disorder, every evil practice, eloquence, “wise” and persuasive words.

The second kind of wisdom: God’s secret wisdom, wisdom of God.

Origin: heaven.

The character: pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, good fruit, impartial, sincere, simple, powerful, not sophisticated, expressed in preaching the cross, humility, spiritual, hidden in tha…

Reconciliation

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24 NIV)

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Matthew 18:15 NIV)

There is something in common in these two paragraphs. There is estrangement between “you” and “your brother.” In the first instance it sounds as if it is your fault or at least your brother thinks so, because “your brother has something against you.” When you attempt to draw near to God, your memory of this becomes very sharp, and you find that you cannot draw near to God until you are reconciled to your brother. The initiative of being reconciled rests upon you.

In the second instance there is estrangement and it is your brother’s fault. He has sinned against you. T…

Holy Lives

“Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Acts 24:24, 25

Remember, Felix was the governor and Paul was the prisoner; yet it was Felix who was afraid. Perhaps it was the subject of the discourse that frightened Felix: “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.”

Over in the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” John 16:8 (NIV)

It is easy to come to three conclusions: 1) Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit; 2) Fear is one of the evidences of conviction and guilt; and 3) The Holy Spirit will convict the world through the speaking and living of His own pe…

Giving, part 3

“Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:15-19

This is missionary giving. Paul is no longer teaching the Philippians in their presence.

They gave to him when he was in Thessalonica and now thirteen years later they are giving to him in Prison in Rome.

This was a long term commitment in giving.

Giving, part 2

In addition to orphans and widows, we are to give to the starving and naked.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14-17

This includes people in other nations. Paul spent part of five chapters (1 Corinthians 16, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Galatians 2:10, and Romans 15:25-28, raising money from Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia for the poor people in Judea.

We are to give to the poor near by and far away.

Giving

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18, 19

Here we find out what true and pure religion is.

It takes care of orphans and widows. We, as Christian, over the centuries have done a moderate job of taking care of orphans. We have not done as well with widows.

And we have done not at all well in keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world.

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

No Sin is too Great

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10

These are bad actions in a continuous sense. They are not isolated events. These are life styles, addictions, habits of life. These people will not inherit the kingdom of God. Bad people—No Heaven.

That is the bad news.

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11


Of these awful living people, some of them:

1. have been washed
2. have been sanctified, set apart, made holy
3. have been justified, made righteous.

How?

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is very good news.

“The law was added so that the trespass …

Commands: Lies or Truth

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:20

“A heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Proverbs 6:18, 19

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:14, 15

Notice the other sins in company with lying. In the early books we have the command in the Ten Commandments.

In Proverbs we have this poetic sentence, “six the LORD hates”, “seven are detestable t…