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Showing posts from April, 2018

The Christian Life 3: I Am a Christian

As a Christian you may read your Bible, you may memorize verses, you may study them in context, or you may read commentaries. These can all help you understand the Scripture, but they will only help you obey it if the truth gets beyond your mind and into your heart. Your mind is the road to your heart. For many Christians, this road is a dead-end street. It is not a through-way to the heart.
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Cor. 8:1)

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)You need your heart to be filled with good things, not just your head.

If you would like to do this, here is the way to start filling your heart.

The Christian Life 2: Am I Saved?

Some of you do not know that you are saved. I will be glad to send you many assurances from God (or you can read them here), but in the meantime here are a few:

Read the five chapters of 1 John several times and see if you fit the description.

Now look at Galatians 5: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).

Does this describe you, or does the following describe you?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:22-24).

If you think that you are …

The Christian Life 1: Not a Christian

Some of you know that you are not a Christian but you would like to be if you only knew how. I will be glad to write to you personally to help you in any special problems you have. You can reach me at jimwilson27@frontier.com.

In the meantime, here are a few beginning thoughts: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' 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 preachi…

Intro to the Christ Life

My next few posts will be on the Christian life. It will be teaching, but I will not be doing the teaching. The text will do the teaching. You will be taught to live the life because you have open eyes, open ears, and an open heart.

In order for this to be, you must be a Christian, because a person who is not yet a Christian is not able to understand or live. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4).

You may know that you are not Christian, but you would like to be one if you only knew how. I will be glad to write to you personally to help you in any special problems you have.

In the meantime, here are a few thoughts to get you starte…

Agape Leadership & Praying for the Government

"If Christians only knew how their prayers for kings and governor are heard in Heaven, they would not be meddlers with this world's politics." - RC Chapman

R.C. Chapman lived for the entire hundred years of the nineteenth century. I highly recommend the abridged version of his biography, titled Agape Leadership. When I first read the book, I immediately ordered 100 copies of it for the bookstore I was running. If you are in Moscow, come see me, and I will give you a free copy.

The Bible tells us how these prayers are heard in heaven. "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom fo…

I Tell You the Truth

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

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

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! (John 8:45)In the four Gospels, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth," over 60 times. What comes after that expression is always amazing. If anyone else said these things, we would think that they were not telling the truth.

When the Holy Spirit is promised, He is called the Spirit of Truth.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he w…

Deceived & Being Deceived

Deception does not require an intent to deceive, to tell something that you know is false as if it were true. It only requires that something be not true. Passing on false information is deception, even if the teller thinks it is true. The truthful person says, "I am telling the truth." The liar says, "I am telling the truth." It is up to the listener to know the difference. We need to be experts on truth. It helps for us also to be an expert on the Liar. "And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Cor. 2:10-11).

Deceiving and being deceived is the normal order of business in the non-Christian world. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:12-13).

Lies from…

How to Hide the Word of God in Your Heart

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)There is a kind of Bible study that goes beyond reading, Bible memorization, group Bible studies, subject studies, and looking at Old Testament references in their context. Meditation is more mystical and practical. That may sound like a contradiction.

Let me tell you what meditation is not. It is not looking for a deeper, hidden meaning in a te. It is not looking for a codified arrangement of the text; it is not numerology. And it is not saying that the plain meaning of the text that we got from our previous reading and studying is not the right meaning. We probably got the right meaning, and we can repeat it back. We know the text!

What, then, is this kind of Bible study? Well, it is not our understanding; it is where we understand it. Do we understand it in our heads or do we understand it in our hearts? Most study ends up in head knowledge. In other words, if we were given a lab exam on what we …

"Judge Not" & Caring for Casualties

In the early part of the Vietnam War, I visited an officer at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had been badly burned when his jeep hit a land mine. The Vietnamese soldier who was with him was also critically injured. These two men were fellow soldiers.

When they became casualties, however, the great difference between them became evident. The American went to a U.S. hospital and on to full recovery. The Vietnamese went to a Vietnamese hospital, where he was almost certain to die. My friend told me how thankful he was to be in the U.S. Army instead of the Vietnamese Army. He had been a casualty in the Korean Conflict also, so he knew what he was talking about.

The difference lay in the quality of care given to casualties. In other wars, in other armies, at other times, there was an even greater difference than in the quality of care. There was no care at all! Casualties were left to die. Their deaths had a significant impact on the men who remained uninjured. They were not willing to risk…

Christian Fellowship

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. (Mal. 3:16)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:3-4)God listens to us talk about Him and has a special book of remembrance for us. Our fellowship with each other is also with the Father and the Son.

It seems to me that much Christian "fellowship" today is fun, food, and not much about the Father and the Son.

Detestable to God

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 out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Prov. 6:16-19)

All of these things the Lord hates. Lying is in the list twice. However, I want to draw your attention to the last phrase. “A man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” God hates disunity.

Think back to your years in junior high. Were there kids who were expert in stirring up dissension? They seemed to delight in it. How about since then? Have you ever been involved in or observed a church fight in a local congregation?

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Heb. 12:15). If bitterness springs up, it defiles many people, and dissension happens. We are instructed to see that no one misses the grace of God…

The Patience of God

"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.... Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.... God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways" (Gen. 6:5, 11-12). This was the state of man before the flood.

"Then he said, 'May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?' He answered, 'For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it’” (Gen. 18:32). Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared for ten righteous people.

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. Although they say, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' still they are swearing falsely” (Jer. 5:1-2). If there had been one righteo…

Hear & Obey, For There's No Other Way

A command is just words unless it is obeyed. When obeyed, it has great results.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matt. 7:24)

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)

Whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:19)

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 13:15)

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

...teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)A Christian…

Counterfeiting Christianity

Be careful not to do your "acts of righteousness" before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.... And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.... When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Matt. 6:1, 5, 16)

Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long. (Matt. 23:5)How does the Bible define hypocrites? A hypocrite wants to appear good without becoming good. Underneath this appearance, there is also false teaching: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you…

No Neutrality

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus kept repeating basic truths. Here is one of them. It is not a contradiction; it is a repetition.

“Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. (Luke 11:23)

For or against. We are tempted to think there is a third choice called “neutrality.” We should know better. There are only two sides in the spiritual war. There is not a no-man’s land in between. There are many Christians who try to stay neutral or keep a foot in both camps. Jesus will have none of it.

Although you are a Christian, if you are not gathering, you are scattering. And if you are casting out devils in Jesus' name, you are part of His team.

Discussing Theological Differences

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Cor. 1:10)My son and I were in a discussion over an apparent difference when he said something like this: “When talking across a theological divide, it is difficult to communicate when we hear what is said with our own definitions while the person who is speaking is using his definitions.”

We both realized the truth of this. What is the solution?

In normal serious communication, the burden is on the communicator. If he wants to be understood, he will try to speak with the definitions of his hearers. That is true for all nations except America. Americans expect everyone to speak and hear in English. If we really want others to understand our message, we must either learn their language or get an interpreter. If I were an interpreter, I would seek for words that are identical, or v…

How to Wear the Right Clothes

This is not a fashion blog. But these clothes are even more important than the ones in your closet.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one anther. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col. 3:12-14)Paul is speaking clearly to Christians here. How do we know? He calls them God’s chosen people, holy, and dearly loved.

He then tells these Christians to put on undergarments of:

• compassion
• kindness
• humility
• gentleness
• patience

Although these characteristics are part of us, they all relate to other people. I don't have compassion for myself. Rather, I have it for others. When I have kindness or patience for or with someone, it is not condescending, nor does it take willpower or effort on my part.

In verse 14, Paul tells t…

The Unity of the Saints

I have recently published a book on Christian unity called I Have Given Them the Glory. It is available on Amazon and CCM's website. The chapters were originally written as e-mail messages called Day & Night over a period of several years.

The primary assumption in the book is the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. The promises, prayers, commands, and narratives are not up for consideration. They are to be believed and obeyed.

The church is made up of individual members, separate parts of the Body of Christ. The book is written to the parts, not to the whole. The whole cannot obey. Only the parts can.

God tells us to be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). The NIV says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

Through this book, I hope to draw attention to the commands of Scripture regarding Christian unity. If we realize that we, as individuals, are not obeying them, I…

Should You Avoid People Who Offend You?

I received this question from a reader of How to be Free From Bitterness. It may apply to some of you also: “I do have one question I hope you can answer that I don’t believe is addressed [in the booklet]. Generally speaking, should we continuously place ourselves in the company of those who repeatedly offend us?”

First, what kind of person are you? Do you take offense easily, even when the person has no intention to offend? Do you not take offense easily, even when the person wants to offend? (There are other combinations, too.)

If you are the first, then the solution lies with you, not the offender. The best way to keep from being hurt or offended is to stay vulnerable, like a pillow. Do not try to make yourself invulnerable by building a fence around yourself. That is the way to get hurt more. That way you become hard and later cynical. A fence is a passive means of resistance, which means there will be a collision, which means hurt.

If you are avoiding temptation by staying away f…

It Is Possible to Not Sin

This is a truth many Christians do not see in the Scriptures. Why?

• They have already sinned as a Christian, and they then interpret the Word of God in the light of their experiences. That is backwards. We are to conform our experience to the Word of God, not the other way around.

• They derive doctrine from stories of disobedient believers in the Bible . This is self-justification.

God gave us commands, and God gave us the provision we need to carry out those commands. God does not give impossible commands to Christians. He does not tell us to do things He knows we can't do.

• “My dear children, I write this to you SO that you will not sin” (1 John 2:1). The key word in this verse is so. That word connects the provision “I write this to you” with the requirement “that you will not sin.” The Word of God is the provision.

• “And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful n…