Stiff Necked Children

Submit to God   

As I was preparing a short devotion for a men’s breakfast about submitting to the will of God I became more interested in the subject and found more information than I needed.  That led me to expand my thoughts and to write this post.  There is much difficulty in Christians submitting to God. Starting with myself I might add.

I have always been a guy that wants to be in control.  Control and submission are like oil and water I regret to say.  I know the control issue is an issue of the flesh and the submission issue is something done through the spirit.  And so the battle rages on.  Why do I have such a problem doing this?  I believe most people in the Christian community continue to be hard headed and fail to submit as well, why ?

It’s not a new phenomena as we see in the Old Testament writings.  Submission to God has always been avoided by the human race.  And this occurs even when we know that the wrath of God will come.

In a discussion with my pastor this morning we agreed that less than one percent of God’s Church today is in submission to God.  What a rebellious society we are living in.  God’s word says to submit to His will, however most of us are not doing it while claiming to be Christians.  What is the answer to this and how can we please the Lord?  It’s clear that without submission there is eventually a price to pay.  At the very least something negative will occur in our lives that we could have been protected from if we had submitted to God’s will.  We know this yet we continue.

The definition of submit from Merriam Webster is to yield oneself to the authority or will of another or to surrender. Definition of surrender is to give oneself up into the power of another or to yield. The definition for yield is to give way to pressure or influence: submit to urging, persuasion, or entreaty.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

God’s word, the Holy Bible, clearly indicates we are to be in submission to God.

 

 

 

“Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.” (2 Chonicles 30:8)  This was written by Hezekiah after the Assyrians came and took the northern kingdom. They took the people captive and there was not much of the people left.  He is telling them to turn back to God. He is saying if they would turn back to God then God will provide and their families that were taken away will returned. He is practically begging them to turn their hearts to God and worship Him. He told them if they were to turn back to God then surely God would bless them because God is gracious and merciful.

For the people that will not submit to God and reject His grace and mercy, their lives do not go very well and then destruction occurs. God is merciful and compassionate, but He won’t protect us forever if we choose to remain out of His will and fall under the control of Satan.  Eventually you will reap what you sow and everything that goes around comes around. When that happens to people they blame God for the judgement that comes on them. But the only thing that can keep you from the judgement is God’s protection.

“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” (Job 22:21)  In other words, submit to God and you will have peace and some good will come of you. 

And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, “Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.” (Exodus 10:3) In other words – how long will you refuse to submit to me???

“Serve the LORD with fear, rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:12) The bottom line: Blessed are those who put their trust, or, happy are those who put their trust in Him. Submit to God’s royal son.  

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)  Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about daily needs and to seek first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness, then all these things will be added to them.  So let us have a good look at this, we know that the Kingdom of God is where the Lord reigns. That is where God is. If we have God reigning over our lives then we have the Kingdom of God within us.

So then, if we keep our priorities in order and do what is right we would, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

Moses said to the children of Israel, “Set your hearts unto all the words which I have testified to you this day, and you shall command your children to observe and do all the words of this law. It is not an option for, it is your life.” (Deuteronomy 32:46)

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

In other words- submit to the father…He (Jesus) is declaring that He is in perfect harmony with the Father with all the work He is doing. Then He told Philip, “The works that I do I do not of Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” And this is the same kind of testimony he gives here, “What I’m doing, I’m only doing because I’ve seen the Father do it. I’m doing the works of the Father in your midst.”

Jesus modeled submission to the Father. We would be wise to take the example. 

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)  No transformation without submission. Do the will of God. 

“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; and 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” (Ephesians 6:6)

Do what you do as unto the Lord, not to please men but to please the Lord, as a good witness for Him.  Submit to the Lord. 

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7)  You will need the help of the Holy Spirit to be able to submit to God. You won’t be successful on your own fighting the battle of the flesh.

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8)

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17)

This passage is from a commentary by Check Smith:

You see, our problem is that we so often lose sight of eternity. As we are in this world we get so involved in the worldly things, that our vision becomes clouded and we lose the sense and the consciousness of the eternal. And when you lose the consciousness of the eternal, then Satan can just really do a trip on your mind.  The seventy-third Psalm, Asaph speaks about that trip that Satan did on his mind, when he got his eyes upon the world and the people in the world. He said, “Now I know that God is good, but when I sought to understand a few things I was almost wiped out. Because I began to look at the prosperity of the wicked, I began to see how they got along and they didn’t seem to have any problems,” and this that and the other. And Satan just really started to put a real trip on him. And he said, “When I sought to know these things, I almost slipped.” He said, “It doesn’t pay to try and serve God. It doesn’t pay to try and be good. And when I sought to know these things I almost slipped. Until I went unto the sanctuary of God and then I saw their end.” In the sanctuary of God his vision was corrected and he got sight now of the eternal.  “God, what are You doing? God, how can You say You love me? God, if You love me, why is this happening to me?” It’s because I have my eyes on the temporal, material advantage and God is looking at the eternal plan and the eternal advantage. It’s important that we step back and we get the long view and realize that the world is gonna pass away and the lust thereof. He who does the will of God abides forever.[1]

So why are we – men and women alike so hard headed?  We must learn to listen and we must obey and submit.  We are stiff-necked children.  We want it our way and we keep doing it our way. We want to be in control instead of letting God take the wheel.

Let’s try it Gods way.

Pray that we will kindle a deeper relationship with God. Pray that all Christians would be convicted toward turning to God and another great awakening takes place. Praise the Lord, King of Kings.  Pray for healing in our land and that our nation would turn back to God.  Lord have mercy on us. Please save us from ourselves Lord for we have lost sight of eternity!

 

God bless you,

The Tubthumper

[1] Smith, C. “C2000 Series on 1 John 2:12 – 3:24 by Chuck Smith.” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 1 Jun, 2005. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_1Jo/1Jo_002.cfm

 

Here Comes the Judge Part 4

The Sentencing:   

DEATH!  YOU ARE SENTENCED TO DEATH

The Sentence: “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23, Gen 2:17)

Death – in Bible means (separation) Gen: 2:17 Man experienced the first death. (When Eve took of the tree of life it introduced death to mankind.)

Physical Death- separation of the person from the body.

Spiritual death- separation of the person from God.

Eternal separation of the un-repentant sinner to Hell.

And now there is an announcement in the court.

YOUR SENTENCE HAS BEEN PAID – YOU ARE FREE.     You can go free.  Your sentence has been paid by the judge.  The judge has taken your place.  Your offenses have been forgiven. The indictment is sealed.  

OH MY!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME????   The Judge took my sentence.  How do I deserve that?  Could that be possible? 

Oh yes, it is so. Jesus was put to death on the cross for you.  He paid the price for your sins and the sins of all mankind.  

The Judge paid the sentence. Amazing!!! 

The Miracle “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) This is Justification, The Gift of God is Eternal Life.

The nature of this miracle, it is free… “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24)– “Justified Freely”- without a cause. Because of his Holy grace.

The persons in the miracle, He for you. – God sent forth… “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:25) This word PROPITIATION is very important. It’s a Biblical word that we don’t often use in our vocabulary.  It means that an atonement has been made through a sacrifice of blood.  A sacrifice of Christs blood and His death on the cross has saved us.

  1. Satan- fought it
  2. Father – wrought it (shaped, fashioned, hammered out)
  3. Holy Spirit- taught it                   1 – 3 is the Justification miracle.
  4. Son- bought it

See the trinity at work?

5. Rich Man (Nicodemus) – sought it

6. Thief on the cross- caught it

7. I’ve Got it!

Saved! Saved! Saved!

The source of the miracle (3:24,28)      Freely by His grace (v. 24)   By faith (v.28)   Without the deeds of the law (v. 28)

The scope of the miracle- “Unto All”- unlimited (Rom. 3:22,29- John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him shall not parish but have everlasting life.”

The Bestowal of this miracle – limited (Rom. 3:22,26) Only to those that believe.

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (v24) God does this freely because of His grace and love for me, I am an undeserving sinner and I have been made an heir of His glorious kingdom to spend eternity in His glorious presence in the fullness of joy and pleasure for evermore. Amen! 

If you have never, as of yet understood “Justification.”  Please understand it now.  Justification is a one-time act of God and an extremely important doctrine.  Sanctification is a continual process until you are taken to be with the Lord. We will talk Sanctification another time.  Understand this Justification by Faith Alone doctrine first.

Because man’s condition was totally ruined by sin, salvation is based on a truly remarkable principle.  We are justified freely by His grace.  Pay close attention to the words “justified,” “freely” and “grace,” those three words summarize how God meets ruined man’s needs.

“Justification is the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as the Judge, and the pronouncement of the believing sinner as righteous in His sight. This verb is in the present and continuous sense and shows a constant process of justification in the succession of all who believe and are justified.” Can you see the difference between being forgiven and being justified? When you are saved you can plead not guilty and your case is dismissed. The Lord Jesus has fully discharged all our obligations so there is no legal ground for charges to be pressed on us anymore. We have a perfect standing before God and are fully acceptable in His sight. And we are justified freely, he does not charge us anything. “By His grace.” Just to be clear… Grace is unmerited favor. It is getting something we do not deserve. How remarkable!!! 

I think it’s important to clarify this as well.

Salvation is free, but it is not cheap.  It cost God his only begotten son and it cost Jesus the agony of dying on the cross. The blood Christ shed for us is very precious.

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1: 18-19) The cost of Calvary is far beyond any human comprehension. It is!   

The witnesses of this miracle. “Witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom. 3:21) It is totally scriptural. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Heb. 11:39) “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” (1 Pet. 1:10) – Prophesied of the grace.

The Legal accomplishments of the miracle – To reconcile God’s justice and God’s mercy by a mediator or bridge. We said it before, God set forth Christ to be a propitiation. (Romans 3:25) The sinner must be condemned, God wants to save the sinner.

The harmony between law and grace can be seen in the miracle. Do we need to keep the law? Yes, The Law cannot justify us but by following it but the Law can bring us to despair and cause us to take Gods alternative of committing ourselves to faith in Christ. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)

The Bible is not the record of man searching after God, but it’s the record of God searching after man.

The judge died for the defendants.

It’s a miracle- The just dying for the unjust.

The three major Imputations of the Bible.  Impute= add to     1. Adams sin was Imputed to the human race. 2.  My sin and yours was Imputed to Jesus Christ.  3. God’s Righteousness was Imputed to all Believers.

The miracle of Justification is that we are sinners and Christ died for us. We are justified with His blood.

Because of Justification we have Hope.  Our hope concerns the future. Something good in the future, something possible in the future- the coming again of Jesus Christ. That is our hope.

(Romans 5:6-11) “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

Back in the days of Moses the High Priest went to the Holy of Holies once a year.  Because of Justification we have access to the Throne of God immediately.  We don’t need to wait. I don’t need to provide a sacrifice.  My sacrifice was already offered by the savior Jesus Christ.

Let me be clear however,

Justification is only for “him which believeth in Jesus.”  I cannot say that strong enough.  Please hear me…

God justifies only those who believe in Jesus.  Everyone believes in something and everyone serves someone.  THE ONLY BELIEF THAT COUNTS WITH GOD IS BELIEF IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

I have the invitation. You have the invitation.  If you haven’t accepted it do it now.

Don’t ever forget the Judge paid your fine.  The Judge took your punishment.  It is the only Judge that will ever do that for you.  Enter the Kingdom. Tell Jesus you believe, you understand you are sinner and want to be saved by his grace.  Ask Him into your heart to save you from the chains of Hell.

God bless you all in the pursuit of Him,

The Tubthumper

Why? Evil and Sin, Why?

GirdloinsThe bombers at the Boston Marathon got me thinking about something I read recently about evil and the universality of sin. It is indisputable that all are sinners and it has been estimated that some 40 billion human beings have lived (or are living) on this earth since God created Adam, the first human. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that perhaps one third of these 40 billion people lost their lives at the hand of another human being. So then, hundreds of millions of living flesh and blood creatures (people) have been stabbed, shot, stoned, strangled, gassed, bombed, burned, buried alive, hung, drowned and yes, blown up by other living flesh and blood creatures. (people) Each person has been given a sin-gauge at birth which is called a conscience. Unfortunately some gauges only have faulty operation and the voice of conscience is defiled. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The exceeding wickedness of sin is unfathomable. We can expect more to continue because the world has rejected the preventive actions of the Word of God, the Son of God and the Spirit of God. Gird your loin’s people for the battle is raging on.

So why has God allowed sin and evil? Couldn’t he have stopped it?

Simply put it is because God created man with a free will.  When he created Adam and then Eve he created them with a high reasoning capacity and the ability to make choices.  It was obviously the choice of God not to create humans as robotic and controlled.  He wanted to give the humans he created in his own image some real freedom.  He offered Adam and Eve a multitude of choices among lots of perfect and good things but he also offered them the choice of an evil thing.

God did not create sin or evil, however he did create the potential for sin by creating the tree of good and evil.  He declared that tree off limits and it was the choice of Adam to go against his creator that has allowed sin to permeate the world.  The day that Adam made that choice he made it for all of mankind. Sin was immediately imputed to the human race, you and I and all the rest of humanity.  God had the ability to create a world where there was no sin and no human suffering.  He chose not to restrict our freedom.  God created both angels and men as intelligent creatures possessing moral natures that could determine and choose between right and wrong.  What if God had stopped Lucifer (Satan), and Adam one second before they sinned.  If that happened He would have, in effect, have violated their moral natures and reduce them to mere walking robots.  That is how I see it.  There is another suggestion some scholars present. 

Actually he did create everything perfect and without evil.  It says in the beginning of Genesis that all of His creation was good. In verse 6 it says that “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”  Then something terrible happened.  An extremely damaging thing happened to all of creation at that first sin.  The Bible says in Romans 8:22 that “… all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Adam and eve wanted space and control and they got it.  Along with it came the sin, death and evil that permeated the world.

The question many ask is, “why did God let anything like that happen?”  After all, He is God!

God could have prevented sin but he chose not to.  He did it for the same reason that we all move ahead to have children.  He did it out of love. It was likely a desire to have a relationship with a being created in His image, much like we want to have a relationship with our children in our own image. (But now, who can know the mind of God?  No one can.) God made the choice to bring Adam and Eve into the world with the risk of choice and we choose to bring children in the world when they have choice.  And our children often make choices that pain our hearts in unimaginable ways.  Love is always the most costly of any actions that anyone can take. 

God created the potential for sin because it was the only way he could create humans with the potential to love and the potential to produce goodness.  He had to offer the bad with the good.  Or the good with the bad, if you will.  But it was not God that made sin a reality. It was man. Satan introduced sin into the universe but it was man that introduced it to our world. 

There is one other suggestion that some scholars give for the allowance of sin. That God allowed man to sin so that he might display His awesome grace.  Before Adam was created God was already exhibiting his omnipresence (in being everywhere at once), his omnipotence (in setting the galaxies into motion), and his omniscience (in creating angels).  However, there was one attribute that was closer to his heart than any other.  It was his grace.  Where there is no sin there is no need of grace.  So that is why some think it was allowed.  As Paul wrote, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20b).  

I don’t think I can accept that one because of the price.  My goodness… take a look what God had to do to correct the situation.  He had to give His only begotten son to pay the price and to free us from eternal punishment due to what was started by Adam.  Love is always the most costly of any actions that anyone can take. 

Have a Godly day,

“The Tubthumper”

YOUR WORST ENEMY

satan-3-by-jack-chickThe judge slammed his gavel on the podium and immediately pronounced the verdict and the sentence.  Guilty was the verdict and the sentence was divine and engaged all of mankind who should ever live upon the earth. The defendant and alleged offender was one named Satan, alias Beelzebub, Lucifer, Devil and Prince of this world.  The sentence which was pronounced quickly was, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)  The judge, jury and executioner was, none other than the Great “I AM”, the creator of all and our LORD and savior.

Could this also be classified as prophecy?

This word, enmity means to create a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity or antagonism which is mutual to all parties. This enmity thing is not something that occurs naturally.  When Adam committed the transgression against the law that God had laid out he imposed upon all mankind an evil nature.  His actions placed us all in harmony with Satan when God’s intent was for us to be in opposition or difference.  Man, along with Satan became evil through an act of apostasy.   If God had not taken some severe action we would have been continuously united with Satan against God.

Satan worked over Eve with deception and then Eve became an accomplice to help move Adam into sin in a grand scheme to get full cooperation in warfare against God and His Kingdom.  When Satan heard the sentence of a declaration of enmity between himself and the woman, and between his seed and her seed, he understood that he had been had and that man would somehow he able to resist his powers.  Drat! Sassa-frassa-rassa he probably was muttering.  How could this happen?

This does not stop the evil one and only serves to slow him down.  Actually, the evil one thinks he will some-day win and steps up his efforts to try and win the next battle.  His fury is kindled like a camper throwing birch twigs on the hot coals of the smoldering fire.

God’s grace that he lovingly placed in the soul of man has given us enmity against Satan. Without the grace of God and His love and redemption mankind would be totally captive to Satan and we would all be servants to do his evil. The result is that in our souls there rages this conflict where before the fall of man once was a soul at complete peace.  For all that choose to access it we have the power of Jesus Christ that enables us to resist the efforts of the evil tyrant that lurks at every corner and is seeking us out. Through the love of Christ we can conquer the evil passions that draw us and we can abhor sin and flee from it.

When we look at how the world treated Jesus Christ we can see it as an example or picture of the type of antagonism or enmity existing between the Spirit of Christ and Satan. The Jews totally rejected Jesus.  His purity and His holiness drew out the hatred of all the ungodly around Him.  For a community of sensual and proud people the sinless life of self-denial that Jesus exhibited was too much for them to take.  Once again we saw this enmity. This time it was the Jews eliciting enmity with the Christ.  They would deny that Jesus was the messiah.  Satan found some companions with these evil men and they all joined together in apostasy to conspire against Jesus the Christ the Champion of Truth.

Please understand this very important point otherwise you will leave yourself open to destruction.  The very same enmity that was manifested toward Jesus Christ is and always will be manifested toward His followers.  Whoever is able to recognize sin for what it is and call upon the LORD for strength to resist the temptations will surely attract the attention of the evil one.  This battle between truth and evil will exist as long as sinners and sin remain part of the earth.  There will never be any harmony between Christ and anyone or anything that serves Satan.  The attack and persecution leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Cross has not stopped. “Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Satan continues to fight and is constantly working to build up his kingdom in the battle against the Kingdom of God. There is and will be a constant attempt to deceive any of Christ’s followers and Satan would love nothing more than to lure you in and pull you away from your allegiance to Jesus Christ. He is always working to misconstrue and pervert the Scriptures to accomplish his objective. Satan is having a hay-day right now with all the false teachers and the preachers that are watering down and adding to scripture and not preaching the truth. These weak ones are falling into his hands.  There is a constant effort to malign God’s people just as there always has been since it was all foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15.  This enmity will continue until the rapture and the end of the battle in Revelation when Satan is cast into the lake of fire.

Satan continues to throw all the weight he can at us.  He puts his entire power into combat and the battle continues to rage.  The battle rages on because we do not connect with Christ the way He wants us to.  We cannot see sin as repulsive and as abhorrent as Christ did.  We cannot see it because we are not putting forth the effort to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  We are so removed from Christ we are destitute of the Holy Spirit. Most of us do not connect with the malignity and the expansion of sin and we are blind to the power and character of the prince of the world.  Mankind does not elicit enmity against Satan and his works because mankind is ignorant regarding his power and his malice.  We don’t grasp the vastness of his warfare against the Church of Christ and against Christ Himself.  The masses of our land are deluded and unaware.  Most are caught up in all the enjoyment of life and ignorant to the destruction around them.  Most don’t realize there is a mighty general of an evil army that has a massive attack plan with calculated maneuvers to war against Christ and to stop Him from saving souls.

How many times do you hear reference to Satan from professed Christians?  Not often.  Certainly not often enough!  What about the clergy in the pulpits these days? There is an occasional mention of the battle here and there but the evidence of his activity and success is not addressed in near comparison to the gravity of the situation. Most people are neglecting the warnings about the subtlety of Satan and most seem to ignore his very existence.  Most preachers of today wouldn’t touch the subject for fear of making some people feel uncomfortable.  Well guess what?  You should all be real uncomfortable!  The enemy is after your soul people.  He is out to kill you and your family.  Wake up!

Continued… in the next post.  Click here to go to part 2.

 

Have a Godly day,

‘The Tubthumper’

Are we a Bunch of Losers, Part 5

church29So what is a healthy New Testament Church anyway?

A New Testament church is a church in which God is present through His Spirit, and in which He is powerfully at work to glorify Himself by manifestations of His power and grace. A New Testament church is a church where the fruits of the Spirit are as evident as the manifestations of His power. That is the kind of church we desire to be. We as individuals are “THE CHURCH”.  Remember that it is ‘THE BODY’ of believers.  The saints!  Therefore, we as individuals are to strive to be full of the Spirit, exhibiting the fruit of the spirit and glorifying God by manifestation of His power and grace in our lives.  We are to be different!

A healthy church is one that is founded upon the person and work of Jesus Christ and His infallible Word, the Bible. The first three chapters of the Book of Ephesians deal with essential Bible doctrines. Paul’s appeal to these saints to live godly lives in the last three chapters is rooted in the sound doctrine of chapters 1-3. I don’t have room to address that here but please go and read it for yourselves.

You will also notice that the subject matter of the last half of Ephesians has to do with relationships, primarily relationships in the church. In the first half of chapter four, Paul makes his appeal for unity and growth. Then, in the last half of this fourth chapter, Paul shows how faith in Christ requires a radical change in the way the believer relates to others. Relationships were an important part of Paul’s teaching, and they should be important in our teaching and church life as well. I will point out again that relationships involve intimacy and closeness.  Those are two scary words in our society today.  We rather isolate ourselves and communicate by means of internet like I am now. We communicate through Facebook and email.  Personal contact is the last thing we want to do.  We have become a non- relational world.  Intimate and face to face communication is becoming extinct.  Love and the manifestation of love require action and it requires time.  If we are unwilling to invest the time to show others we love by indicating they exist by showing personal action to speak directly to them and acknowledge them we will always be perceived as unloving.  And the perception by others is everything.  We need to be clear that we have God’s love and we share it.

Let’s get back to the subject before I go off in another direction…

Looking back to the Bible in Acts we see the start of ‘The Church’.  The church that is described in Acts 2:41-47 is a Jewish church, worshipping as we would expect of a group of new Jewish converts. It is a church of very new believers, who exhibit the vital signs of new life in Christ. This is not a church that has “arrived;” it is a church that has a good start and is moving in the right direction.  It is a church that loves God and others. It is a Spirit-filled church that is moving toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But it is not a perfect church in any case.  It still has some growing to do and it will.

What does this church have to teach us, to teach our church?  We should always be troubled by the words of our Lord to the church at Ephesus as recorded in Revelation 2:1-7. The Church at Ephesus has “departed from their first love”.

I believe our text in Acts 2 greatly helps us discern the answer to these questions. To lose one’s ‘first love’ is to cease to love as you once did, at the beginning. Acts 2:41-47 describes the church’s first love, and thus it describes the deeds that one who has lost his first love must once again do. The early church in Jerusalem may not be the perfect pattern for all that we do as a church today, but it is an excellent example of a church that is marked by love.  It was an example of a church that has a love for God and love for others.

We should evaluate ourselves and we should evaluate our church of today.  Now when I say our church of today I am talking about the body of believers and the organized church as well.

We see in the book of revelation what Jesus does when he evaluates the church and what He expects.

Take an evaluative look at your local church and then do the same for your life because you are the church and then also think about God’s church in the bigger sense of things.  I mean globally.  Let’s take a look at what Jesus thought about the seven churches he evaluated. Let us evaluate where we are headed.

In the next two posts I will go over what Jesus saw regarding each of these churches and how he addresses them.  It would serve us well to see where we have fallen and how history can repeat itself.  We may want to take note as well to what happened to these churches as a result.

See you next time as we conclude with a walk through the first six books of The revelation of Jesus Christ. (Click Here for continuation)

Please have a Godly day today,

“The Tubthumper”

 

 

 

Day 22 of praying for our nation, 18 to go.

jesus-prayingLet us forever stand firm in the foundation of our faith.

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock [that] is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, [and] a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. (Psalm 61:1-4)

Dear Lord, god of all.  Almighty God!  We adore you Lord.  Father we praise You.  You are the Lord of Lords.  You are the great “I AM”.

Father we have forgotten You. We have been distracted with worldly idols.  We have been puffed with pride and going on without You, Lord.  Father, please forgive us.  Forgive us for our sin, O’God.  Restore our nation and heal or land.

Dear God, we thank You for blessing us even at times when we deserved punishment.  Thank You for blessing our people and our nation.  Your grace is amazing, O’God.  Father, restore us to our roots and protect our constitution.

O’God, help us to remember why we are a nation.  Help us to relate to why our forefathers risked everything to come to this land. They called it, “The land of the free”.  Lord, help us to remember the blood that was shed.  Your blood was shed to free us from sin and so much blood was shed on our land to make us free from tyranny.  Protect us, O’God from the evil that would take our freedom away.

Dear Lord, please protect our people and our nation during this election. Guide us as we elect a President in 18 days.  Protect and direct the many local elections throughout the United States.  We need You O’God. We call upon Your power, Your strength and Your glory.

Father, we recognize there are those who would speak evil against You when hardship comes knocking at their door. Strengthen us, O’God!  Lord, help us to stand firm in the foundation of our faith. Help our people and our nation to live in the center of Your will.  We come to You for our strength and endurance.  Help us, O God, to be the people You wish us to be, for we trust in You.  In God we trust.

We thank you Lord for the shelter of Your wings and ask these things through Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Day 17 of prayer for our nation, 23 to go.

praiseWe sing praises to You Lord!

“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live:Praise, grace, honor, nation, election, candidate, vote, worship, song I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord”, Psalm 104:33-34.

Dear Lord we praise You on this Sunday.  Thank You for granting us another day to breathe and to enjoy all you give us through your grace.  May we honor You in all we do today.  We adore your Holy name Father.  We lift your name high dear Lord.  We worship you Almighty King.  We lift our voices and praise Your holy name!

We confess our sins Father and ask for your forgiveness.  Forgive us Lord for leaving you out of our lives and our decisions.  Heal our Land, Lord.  Watch over our election as we draw near to the vote.  You know O’God the clear differences in each candidate and the opposing directions for our land.  Help us Lord to have the direction of Your desires.  Help us to choose the one leader that will move us toward our intended path.

We sing praises to You Lord.  May You forever be the center of our thoughts, which are that with all things we may lift You up in worship and song.  Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be a sweet aroma to You, for You are our King.  O’God our joy comes from You!  Righteousness, love and justice are the foundations of Your throne.  We praise Your holy name forever.  We pray these things through your son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

The Pews are too Hard!

The Pews are too Hard!   Church-Pew

My mother dragged me down the sidewalk each Sunday to church when I was young.  She really did drag me and sometimes it was by the ear.  I remember each line and crack in that sidewalk on Washington Avenue.  I remember the church too.  It was a huge old stone Baptist church with massive stained glass windows and a gigantic pipe organ.  The pews I had to sit in were just plain punishment.  Those pews were solid oak with no pads on them and so hard.  No way did I want to be there.  I always made that known to all around me.  When you see kids fidgeting in church none are as bad as I was.  I even got the pastor to stop preaching one Sunday morning.  He came down and moved me to the front row.  The reverend told me if I moved before he finished I would be in trouble.  That got my attention!

My mother made sure her kids got to church.  She took us even when we didn’t want to be there.   People used to do that you know.  I am thankful she did that.  I’m sad times have changed.  All kids should have the pew experience.

I was exposed to the word of God early and I came to Christ early.  I was only a young 10 year old boy but I came to Christ. I was born again!   To be born again means that I exchanged my old life for a new life.  I was born of the flesh in 1955 and then 10 years after being born of the flesh I was born of the spirit (The Holy Spirit) on August 8, 1965.

I was just a kid and I wasn’t interested in much other than having fun back then. I was probably no different than other kids.  I could not sit still very well.  I didn’t even have a Bible.  Wow, those pews were so hard!  There was evidence all around me that God existed.  I knew in my heart that it was true and had no doubt.  I knew right from wrong.  I was just old enough to learn bout Hell and to understand I was a sinner.  I understood I was lost and couldn’t save myself no matter how good I could try to be.  “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). 

My mother saw to it that Christian values were taught to us and we had the opportunity to meet God.  Of course, those Christian values never saved anyone.  It is Jesus Christ that saves us.  It is the Gospel. To be born again a person needs to make a choice.  I made that choice.  I chose Jesus Christ as my savior.  It didn’t make those pews any softer but it assured me I would be with Jesus and not in the lake of fire.

It was all very simple for me.  In faith I trusted in Christ to save me. I believed!

I am much older now and 48 years have passed since then.  I still like to keep things simple though.  And for me, salvation is as simple as these two things:

1. We must believe God is there and Jesus was His son and was born the ‘Savior’, died on the cross for our sins and rose again.  We must repent and call on Him for salvation and ask for a changed life in Him.  Believe and live!

— When I was 10 years old I had no Bible but I knew in my heart God and Jesus existed.  I wanted to be with Him and was sorry I was a sinner.  I called on His name and was saved!

Don’t let anyone confuse you. Keep the first step of salvation simple.

2. Believe the Bible is the written word of God inspired by Him and delivered through man.

Which comes first? I don’t think it matters.  I came to the Lord before I had a Bible and my wife came to the Lord after and through reading the Bible.  He will make that choice.  You just need to respond.

A tiny little booklet, the Gospel of John, was my Bible for a long time. I love John 3:16 and it is my saving verse. It was the verse I learned while on my knees calling to Jesus for salvation.  It is forever burned in my heart, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

So 48 years later I can tell you that life has not been a bowl of cherries and being saved by the grace of Christ probably hasn’t made my life any easier, but I can’t imagine going through life without Jesus Christ.

God has done wonderful things in and for my life.  He placed me in the presence of the people that I needed to mold me to the person I am today.  He made me who I am.  My life has been blessed and I am so very thankful. And He is still working on me.

I can still feel those oak pews on my buttocks. 

Jesus Christ came to this earth over two thousand years ago for one purpose: “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). His life was an absolutely perfect life. “In him is no sin” (I John 3:5).  Yet He went to the cross to pay the penalty of sin and die for me, a guilty sinner. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  He died for the whole world, but He died for me.  And He died for you.

It didn’t end at the cross.  After Jesus died He rose again from the grave.  “He is risen from the dead” (Matthew 28:7).  “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). This proved Jesus Christ is God, and through Him alone we are saved.

These days, each Sunday I sit in nice padded seats to receive the message from our pastor.  I sometimes drift back to the day…

When those pews were so hard…

 

God bless your day,

Pew

 

 

 

“The Tubthumper”

 

 

 

It’s a miracle, a free gift!

It is Justification.  In my opinion justification is a miracle.  It is a miraculous gift given to all of us who believe upon Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  It is provided by Christ’s death on the cross and given to us at no cost through His grace.

The doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is extremely important and central to the Christian faith.Justification

In spite of the importance attributed to it in the Bible and the critical role it played in the Protestant Reformation, most professing believers today do not understand it. We live in a time when most people are woefully ignorant of basic Bible doctrines. An obsession with entertainment and emotionalism has replaced a concern for theology. How many sermons or classes have you seen dealing with the doctrine of God, or the atonement, or justification? Little to none I’ll bet.  Why isn’t doctrine taught today?  Did you know that Paul made it completely clear that a mistake regarding justification can send you to the lake of fire? We need preachers and teachers committed to expound on the doctrine of justification.

The doctrine of Justification by faith and the death of Christ at Calvary go together and Justification is based on the blood of the Lamb.

A study of Scripture proves that justification is not subjective or a process, but is a legal declaration by God the Father in the heavenly court.

Some points of clarity between justification and sanctification: Justification is objective. It takes place outside of the sinner in the heavenly court. Justification does not directly change the believer’s inner life. On the other hand, sanctification is subjective. It takes place in the sinner and renders the sinner more holy over time.

Justification is an act of God the Father. God renders a verdict regarding the one who believes in Christ. “It is God who justifies” (Rom. 8:33). Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Justification is instantaneous. God declares the believing sinner righteous in a moment of time. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (Jn. 5:24; Lk. 18:14; Rom. 5:1). Justification is not a process, nor is it piecemeal. It takes place only once, and then it is complete. “There is no such thing as being more and more justified. There are no degrees of acceptance with God. To be justified is to be wholly justified.”  A “man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all.”  Sanctification is a continuous process. The Christian grows in holiness and more and more conforms to the character of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit applies God’s word to his heart. “The old sin nature is progressively subdued, but never entirely abolished in this life.” Sanctification is progressive, imperfect, and not completed until death.

Justification removes the guilt of sin and clothes the believer with Christ’s perfect righteousness, thus entitling him to eternal life in God’s own family. Sanctification progressively removes the pollution of sin; subdues the power of sin, and increasingly enables the believer to live in conformity with the word of God.

Justification is an act of God obtained by or through faith. “There is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Rom. 3:30). Faith is not the ground or cause of justification but the instrument by which the believer receives justification. Faith is the gift of God which lays hold of and receives what Christ has accomplished. The believer’s salvation and justification are totally a work of God.

Justification is the manner in which God considers righteous those sinners who, by faith in Jesus Christ, receive Devine forgiveness and reconciliation.  Justification is a legal or forensic term and is used in Scripture to denote the acceptance of any one as righteous in the sight of God.

“Salvation includes that which is given, freely and finally, by God (JUSTIFICATION); that which is continually imparted (sanctification); and that still to be attained (glorification).”

Justification is by faith alone and not works.  We were given a free gift of grace and justification did not occur by anything we did or anything within us, but occurred because of what Christ did for us. Hence it is called a gift, a free gift, a gift by grace, and believers are described as those who receive this gift of righteousness (Rom. 5.17). We are never said to be justified by anything done by us or wrought in us, but by what Christ has done for us. We are justified through the redemption that is in him (Rom. 3.24). We are justified by his blood (Rom. 5.9) We are justified by his obedience (Rom. 5.19). We are justified by him from all things (Acts 13.39). He is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1.30). We are made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5.21). We are justified in his name (1 Cor. 6.11). There is no condemnation to those who are in him (Rom. 8.1). Justification is, therefore, by faith in Christ, because faith is receiving and trusting to him as our Savior, as having done all that is required to secure our acceptance before God.

Justification is God’s response to the problem of estrangement from the only true God. In his letter to the Romans, Paul conveyed the message that God did not consider sin lightly. Sin created a massive gulf between God and people. This gulf required a bridge to bring all of humanity into a right relationship with God. Theologians call God’s bridge building “reconciliation.” Reconciliation functions to bring humans “justification.” The main character who effected this divine plan was Jesus Christ. Uniquely, His death on the cross made it possible for God and people to be reconciled (Romans 5:10) and thus for humans to be justified.

Through the Gospel, God unleashes a power to change people, and at the crucial point: in their relationship with him. When people respond in faith to the message of the good news, God “justifies” them; that is, he declares them innocent before him, removing the barrier that exists between all human beings in their natural state and God.  Everything else in the Christian life flows from this marvelous experience.

Yet many people do not hear this good news, and many Christians do not understand what has happened to them. 

I see a good example of justification from the Old Testament. We can take a look at David.  In Psalms 51 we find the prayer of repentance from David, “restore unto me the joy of thy salvation”.  David had no chance under the Law.  There could be no sacrifice offered because an adulterer was to be stoned to death under the Law.  He had a broken and contrite heart and was asking for forgiveness.  He threw himself to the mercy of the Lord and the Lord provided by grace to have David justified apart from the Law. He bypassed the Law of Moses and by grace he was forgiven.  The judge died for the defendant!

When God justifies a man, he declares him to be righteous.  Just as Adam’s transgressions resulted in condemnation and death, Christ’s ‘free gift’ brought justification and life (Rom. 5:16).  In this affirmation, Paul presupposes the resurrection of Christ and its distribution: those who receive the ‘gift of righteousness’ will rule in life through the one, Jesus Christ (verse 17).  His single act of righteousness has brought ‘the justification which issues in life (dikaiosis zoes) for all humanity (verse 18).  The ‘gift of righteousness’ (verse 17) is nothing other than Christ’s ‘act of righteousness’ (verse 18) in its saving significance for all who believe.  Our justification has been accomplished outside of us, in Christ incarnate, crucified and risen.”

There are three major imputations in the Bible.  They are Adam’s sin imputed to the human race, Man’s sin (mine and yours) imputed upon Christ, and last but most certainly not least is God’s righteousness imputed to all believers.  And justification is an act of God.  It is a legal declaration whereby God declares a vile sinner to be righteous.”

The cross of Calvary makes it possible for God to be both just and the Justifier. (II Cor. 5:21)

Justification, however, is only for “him which believeth in Jesus.”  This cannot be overemphasized.  God justifies only those who believe in Jesus.  The only belief that counts with God is belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a comfort to know that through Christ’s redeeming work our Justification is connected indissolubly with the glory of God.

We now can look at the word “Grace”.  Grace is unmerited favor.  It is getting something we do not deserve.  All we deserve from God is His eternal punishment for our continued rebellion; but instead He offers us salvation through His Son at the infinite cost of Calvary.  So we are “justified freely by His grace”.

It is based on a redemptive price, for Paul goes on to speak of “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood”. (Romans 3: 24, 25)  Remember those words, “redemption, propitiation, faith and blood”.  The four steps leading to Justification: 1) You are lost, 2) You cannot save yourself, 3) You realize only Christ can save you, and 4) You must ask Christ to save you.

Justification by faith is the doctrine we need expounded on more today.  Justification is free. God does not charge us anything.  He does not charge for saving us either.

I will end with these words, “In the brief, but clear and comprehensive words of the Westminster Divines: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, –Wherein He pardoneth all our sins,– and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, — only for the righteousness of Christ, –imputed to us,– and received by faith alone.” 

The peace of God can be enjoyed by all and because of justification we have hope.

By His grace I am saved,

“The Tubthumper”

 

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