Friday, May 30, 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 limitations, his arrogance is unlimited.

“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)

We, as Christians, should know of Satan’s limitations and should not be intimidated as if they were not there. We, as Christians, should know we have the characteristics that Satan does not have:

1.We have the power, Satan does not.

“And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19, 20 (NIV)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

2.We have the mind of Christ, Satan does not.

“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:15, 16 (NIV)

3.We have everlasting life, Satan does not.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

4.We have the command and the ability to be humble, Satan does not.

“Your attitude SHOULD BE THAT OF CHRIST JESUS: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he HUMBLED himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)


“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 (NIV)

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 (NIV)

“To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:2 (NIV)


(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 3)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

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 (NIV)


John the Baptist was the voice.

“John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'” John 1:23 (NIV)

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:1, 2 (NIV)


One specific part of his preaching repentance was:

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:6 (NIV)

Then He sent His son:

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,” Galatians 4:4 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—“ Hebrews 2:14 (NIV)


The war had been going on for thousands of years. Now had come the decisive person, place, action and time. The person was TRANSCENDENT, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

The action was TRANSCENDENT, April, 30 A.D. AND “slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 (NIV)

The place was TRANSCENDENT, outside the city, in the temple on earth and in the temple in Heaven

“They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).” Matthew 27:33 (NIV)

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” Matthew 27:50, 51 (NIV)

“For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” Hebrews 9:24-27 (NIV)

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV)


This event took place IN time and BEFORE time, ON earth and IN Heaven. This battle was the decisive battle of the war. It was the only means of accomplishing God’s objective, the salvation of the world.


(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 2)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

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 of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 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 12:10-12


(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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 on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:6

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” 1 John 5:18


Loving our brothers as a means of knowing

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 John 3:14, 15

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

“If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20


The Holy Spirit is a means of knowing

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13


Acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God is a means of knowing

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” 1 John 4:15

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” 1 John 5:1

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:5

Friday, May 23, 2008

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 both Christians and those who are not yet Christians because the sin is so easily recognized.

The book is titled Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute for $14.95.

The book is a good preparation for a book on the good news or How to be Free from Bitterness.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

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)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

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 attention. Stirring up dissension may be unintentional or it may be the result of gossip. It is the cause of church splits, family fights and unhappy communities. It is communication made up of lies, half-truths, and innuendoes and is communicated about people instead of to the people.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.184)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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 the light as He is in the light…” Verse 9: “If we confess our sins.”

Meeting these conditions results in putting into effect in our lives the character and work of God. Verse 7: “and the blood of Jesus, his Son.” Verse 9: “He is faithful and just.” The real cause of this wonderful forgiveness is God, who He is and what He did. The conditions for us to meet are secondary to the real cause: the justice and faithfulness of God and the blood of Jesus.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.210)

Monday, May 19, 2008

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 or don’t read, and people who are very well read.

It may surprise you that many university students do not read. They have had (all of their lives) televisions, stereo systems, and computers. Recently I was talking with a married woman with grown children. She, herself, is a first-year law student with a very high grade point average. She had never heard of Pilgrim’s Progress or of its author, John Bunyan. I gave her a copy.

We need to love people, all kinds, and teach them to read, motivate them to read, read to them, and provide books for them to read.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.84, 85)

Friday, May 16, 2008

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 given to Israel through Jeremiah not to sow on unbroken ground or among thorns was because of the futility of it. It would be a fruitless effort. Jesus also explained to His disciples that the Word of God was the seed, and the soil represented the hearts of the people.

We are to sow in prepared ground, and we are to prepare the ground. How do we prepare people to receive the Word of God? It is not done by sowing the Word on hardened hearts. First, we prepare the ground by loving people. We are surrounded by people most of the time. All of these people make up the ground to be planted. It may be easier to scatter the seed on this ground indiscriminately than it is to soften the ground first. But if we are hoping for fruit, it is necessary to soften the ground.

Our expression of love cannot depend on the loveliness of the people we are supposed to love. It must depend upon the source of love—God the Father—and our relationship to Him. Are we prepared to love the unlovely? If so, we will find ourselves sowing the wonderful Word of Live into prepared hearts. This does not mean that there will be an automatic, quick response. A long period of loving and understanding may be necessary. On the other hand, it may be only a matter of minutes between the time you express love in warmth and understanding to a person and the time you have a prepared heart in which to sow the Word. It doesn’t matter whether it is long or short, but it is a prerequisite to any harvest. It is not an option.

Second, we are to pray for the people. Paul wrote,

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1, 3, 4 NIV)

Pray for the person whom God desires to be saved.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.48-50)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

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 just judgment. The judgment may be against murderers, rapists, demon activity, idolatry, animism and other false religion.

We may choose to remain ignorant and tolerant or ignorant and prejudiced.

There is not much difference between the two. They are both based on ignorance.

Get informed before making a judgment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

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 blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Peter 1:9 NIV)

They do not remember how they were saved.

Another explanation (but that is all it is) may be that they are not reading their Bible; consequently, the world is their major source for beliefs. It is a bad source.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.208-209)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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 than the armor of God, but he is wily enough to hit us where there is no armor.

When I get defeated, it is not because the devil is stronger but because I am uncovered, or it is because I think the enemy is flesh and blood (some person) instead of the real enemy.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.215)

Monday, May 12, 2008

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 that it is not known by the world, communicated by the Spirit of God expressing spiritual truth using spiritual words, foolishness to those who are perishing, used to admonish and teach in order to present every man perfect in Christ, represents Jesus Christ himself.

The natural man just does not understand God’s wisdom because spiritual truth requires spiritual discernment.

For two years during the Korean War I was Communication Officer on a destroyer. There were thousands of messages transmitted and received. We always knew what frequency to be tuned to in order to receive messages, and also we knew which frequencies to transmit on. The enemy did not know this. If he found out which frequency, it still did not do him any good because all messages were encoded, each one differently, with the code changing every day.

The enemy of our souls and all those enslaved by him do not know the frequency or the code. The wisdom of God is hidden from them. I had been reading from the New Testament every day for 20 months before I became a Christian. It did not make any sense to me. Then in October 1947 I was born again by the Spirit of God. At that time the Bible became English. I could understand it.

“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)

Just think, if the enemy could have understood that the crucifixion of Christ meant salvation for the world, he would not have done it.

You, as a Christian, know the frequency and the code. Use them! And for those who lack any needed wisdom, we know this:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:5-8 NIV)

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.207)

Friday, May 09, 2008

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. The initiative of restoring your brother and being reconciled again rests upon you. In each case the responsibility is yours. However, in this instance there is specific direction on how to do this: “…go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”

In the course of a year, I see many people who come to me because their brother has sinned against them. The gist of my counsel is “go to the brother and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” The problem is that the teaching of Jesus has been violated already because the people had come to me instead of to the brother. Just yesterday I had a call at 1:00 p.m. from a graduated student. He needed to see me. We made an appointment for 5:30 p.m. When we got together at 5:30 he had been reconciled to his brother, and he did not need to see me.

If Christians would take this teaching seriously, they would be close to the Lord, would be very happy, and would not need most of the counsel they seek from others. Much of this “going to others” instead of speaking “alone with the brother” is an attempt to justify their own reason for not being reconciled. It seeks sympathy and endorsement. It causes people to choose up sides when, in reality, they should not know about the problem at all.


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.186)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

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 people.

Here are a few questions: 1) Are the people that we know, who are in the world, afraid? 2) If the answer is “no,” is it because we are not speaking of righteousness, self-control and judgment to come? Or 3) Is it because we are not living righteously?


(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson, p.17)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

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.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

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.

Monday, May 05, 2008

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

Friday, May 02, 2008

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 might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20, 21

It is impossible to out sin the grace of God.


(Taken from Good News/Bad News, 2008)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

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 to Him.”

Which is it, six or seven? Both! Count them; there are seven lines. Yes, but there are only six sins. Lying is in there twice. It is in the second line, “a lying tongue” and the sixth line, “a false witness who pours out lies.”

Then in the book of Revelation the last two chapters we find that all liars are bound for the lake of burning sulphur and are outside the city with murderers and the sexually immoral.

We find that God has a strict judgment for liars.

Liars are followers of Satan.

Jesus described the devil in John 8:44.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. 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 8:44

Jesus also said in John 14:6

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Are you a follower of Satan or Jesus?


(Taken from Good News/Bad News)