A Ticket to Heaven?

Image result for Salvation is not a ticket to heavenWhat have we become? What have we made the message of Christ in this nation? We have taken the Gospel and mutated it into a message about us. We have taken the power of Christ’s atonement and made it a point to be punched on our ticket to heaven. We have minimized the resurrection to be power for your “Best Life Now”.

Salvation is not a ticket to heaven, but this is essentially what we teach. Jesus died so you can be forgiven and henceforth, upon death or rapture, you receive a mansion on the hilltop, or more contemporaneous to the Jefferson’s “A DE-LUX apartment in the SKY-Y-Y”.

Salvation is not about primarily our entrance into heaven, or seeing your dearly departed loved ones (as great as that will be). The message of the cross is the power of God unto salvation, because you are saved to enjoy the presence of the One who is SALVATION: Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Messiah). This is to take place in the NOW! Salvation is not about “Move’in on Up”, but about being in His presence forever, after He lives in us until we see Him face to face.

Why have we done this? Because it is more readily accepted by people, who want a free ride to heaven with minimal discomfort here and now; like the discomfort of repentance, or the discomfort of being set apart from the world, the flesh and the devil. Or the discomfort of denying ourselves for the will of God, taking up our cross and living for Him, rather than ourselves.

To be saved is not a past tense accomplishment, but a present reality. Through faith in Christ’s atonement, we are forgiven that we may be reconciled to God.  To be be saved is  to literally be born again with a new nature, in order to grow in righteousness (II Corinthians 5:17-21), love and boldness; for proclaiming the praises of the One who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9-10). Salvation means the chains and addictions of our past are severed forever (Isaiah 61:1-3), allowing us to freely obey the word of God, as lead by the Holy Spirit.

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To be a saved person means I willingly grow in living the truth, “my life is not my own, I was bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:19-20). To be saved means I am joined to others, who have followed Jesus Christ, and for whom I willingly lay aside my needs to meet theirs (I Corinthians 12:12-20Romans 15:1-2; Philippians 2:1-4).

Ultimately, to be saved means I have the potential, to not only meet with God, in all His manifest presence, but to be filled with the fullness of who He is (Ephesians 3:14-19). In this truth, I understand that I am part of the body of Christ as a living stone and with all the other living stones we present a living representation of Christ to the lost world around us (I Peter 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:19-22).

Therefore, let us consider with great grief, what is passing for “being saved” in our day. In our geography is the Savior being proclaimed and seen as He truly is or as a cheapened and unholy caricature, because of false conversions and a lukewarm and compromising church?

Let us awake and trust Christ to give us light (Ephesians 5:13-21)! Let us recapture the joy of being saved and fixate on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3)! Let us take the counsel of Christ and buy gold (faith) refined in the fire, the garment of Christ’s holiness and seek to have our vision healed (Revelation 3:18). And before His return, let us once again discover and commit to obeying His last great command “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Let us remember Jesus is returning for His Bride, the church, who is supposed to be ready for Him in a very particular way…

Ephesians 5:26-27 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Let the question be asked, from the Old Hymn…

“When the Bride Groom cometh, will your robes be white? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Remember dear friends salvation is not about what we profess, but rather what Christ declares concerning us…

Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

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Posted in Cheapening the Grace of God, Christian Salvation, Ticket to Heaven, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“They Can’t Take What is Hidden in Your Heart”

Matthew 10:16-25“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

Psalms 119:10-11 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Many Christians would agree, the times surrounding our Lord Jesus Christ’s imminent return, occur in environment of world-wide persecution against followers of Jesus Christ. Yet often we Christians in America believe our destiny will is to have an environment politically and culturally, which lines up with our morals. We cry out for revival, not realizing true revival in the church did not bring political or peace to the clout to the church in the long term. It usually ended in the body of Christ being marginalized and ultimately persecuted in some form. We cry for revival and the fire of the Holy Spirit, yet why do we expect a different cultural and political environment, that the one it brought throughout the book of Acts? It would seem we believe we are promised something Jesus promised no follower of Christ this side of heaven.

The church in other periods ad nations believed this, to its detriment. Make no mistake this error in theology and worldview (that God destined us to change culture through political position and power) led to the rise of Roman Catholicism. This form of satanic apostate Christianity, wielded almost absolute political power for over 100 years and led the world into the dark ages.. God in turn raised up men like William Tyndale, Jean Wycliffe, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwinlgi and others, who knew their only government was the theocracy of the Kingdom God, with Jesus as KING. All of these men, were persecuted to a greater or lesser degree.

Let us acknowledge this truth: living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit leads to favor wonderful influence in His church, but persecution from the world (Philippians 1:29, 3:8-10). The Church in America needs to be solely focused on Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, being led by the Spirit of God, and hiding the word of God in our heart, which is the only place man can not burn, steal or speak over it. Please click the link next to the picture below and read the article published on the Christian Post, which deals with details how our Chinese Christian brothers survive and thrive as they are tortured in prison. And let’s not be fooled, what they experience may be our experience in the future. Will we thrive in Christ as they?

 

Chinese Christians memorize entire Bible in prison: Gov’t ‘can’t take what’s hidden in your heart’

Posted in Chinese Christians, persecution, Philippians 3:10, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We Go out… Not Knowing…

(Hebrews 11:8-10) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The above passage refers God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12…

(Genesis 12:1-31 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

For Abraham, God’s call to him could not have come at a more earth shattering time. We read at the end of Genesis 11 that Abraham’s father had just passed away, after taking his entire family from their homeland and traveling towards Canaan. With his new responsibility to lead the family, no one would have faulted the “father of the faithful” if he had turned tail and ran back to Ur of the Chaldean’s. Yet out of nowhere the One True God calls to Abraham for the first time in his life and the shaken man responds (See Genesis 12:1-3 above).

God’s call to Abraham is an awesome world changing blessing, with a promised son for the childless father; a son who would make Abraham’s descendants too numerous to count. Yet the cost of the calling was extreme: leave your country, your immediate and extended family, and its culture and customs (Abraham’s world view, life practice, and religion). Although the promise of God’s inheritance to him was too magnificent to grasp, Abraham had to leave everything behind and trust God for promises that he would never fully see or fulfilled this side of heaven.

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I was reminded of Hebrews 11:8-10 when the Lord called my family and I to leave the church I was privileged to pastor for 6 1/2 years. This fellowship had become our family in the faith–a place of ministry where the Holy Spirit had deepened the faith and practice of almost everyone in the church–  a home which filled our lives with many God blessed memories–a calling, where we were entrusted with the growth of some of the most transformed Christians we have been blessed to see grow.

He called us to leave behind a neighborhood and community we loved and had sought to reach with the gospel for years. We left this all behind to begin the process of discipleship in another fellowship of saints, with all its promise and potential. This move at times was one of joyful anticipation, but also cautious optimism and at times sadness.

Remember that for Abraham inheriting the promised land, meant a lot of headaches, heart aches, failures, trials and looking to the future with hope, when little appeared to be happening. For me, the move spoke loudly that the promise of investing in His kingdom would reap a chorus of praise for Christ in heaven now and in the eternity to come. Yet we set out, endeavoring to be obedient to the call of God, not knowing what the ultimate end of this new season of ministry will be

We departed for Fostoria Ohio, knowing Jesus will never leave us or forsake us–that He will be faithful to His promise and power toward us, so long as we remain faithful to Him. We understand that being faithful to Him does not mean we are guaranteed to see all our desire for His people and His promises in this life. We must live by faith, trusting that in the difficult days to come, and they will come, if we hold fast our faith, He will reap a harvest in due time.

(Galatians 6:9) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

This “due season” is at times near and often off in the distance, because the call of God is not about moving up to better material situations for the called in Christ, but about greater faithfulness in the face of grater challenges against the kingdom of God.  The call is about greater perseverance in the face of more difficulty and potential suffering on behalf of the Savior (Philippians 1:29). The call of God is also about more of the presence of Christ, as we trust Him in the midst of greater difficulties, sufferings and spiritual warfare. In light of these truths, what can we learn from Abraham’s “going out not knowing'”, which we can apply to our life for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord?

LIVING BY FAITH

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There are many lessons we can learn from Abraham’s going out not knowing where He was going, but the most prominent one resonating with me, is living by faith. From the beginning of God’s call to him, all Abraham had to go on was the word of a God He did not fully know or understand. Although his nation, family land and culture were filled with pagans gods and abominable practices, none of them spoke or resonated like the word of Almighty God spoken to him. Like Saul meeting Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), where the Savior’s glory blinded the Pharisee, Saul also obeyed without knowing the way. In His new life the LORD expected him to follow. It is the same for us. Remember, He does not expect perfection, but a growing obedience based on trust.

How does that trust grow? Considering Abraham’s life, trusting and obedient faith grows through a series of promises and commands, which enabled his knowledge of God to grow, as he learns to trust the faithfulness of the LORD. We see this culminate in the LORD calling Him to sacrifice his son Issac.

Hebrews 11:17-19 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

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Let’s remove some of the shock to start. People usually consider Abraham a super saint with a statement like “I could never consider such a thing”. But let us follow the pattern of how God built Abraham’s faith, through promises, commands and the revelation of His Almighty character. In the first place, let us remember this was not a temptation to murder, but a test of Abraham’s fear and devotion to God (Genesis 22:1). God never intended the boy’s death, but his servant did not know that. In Abraham’s native culture, child sacrifice was normal and expected. Abraham would not have thought anything out of the ordinary, except that the boy would come back to life, being the promised seed.

This is why he answered Isaac “The LORD will Himself provide”, when asked where the sacrifice was. Yet as God’s pattern of promise, command, faithfulness and revelation, the LORD revealed His holy character as above all other pretended god’s; He was not a death dealing pretended god, but the God whom gives and sustains  all the life He created. What is the point?

In our walk with Christ, upon completion of a task, season of life, or ministry calling, He will call us once again to go out not knowing where we are going. The purpose is to deepen our faith in His word–to engender greater operational trust to obey His commands and to reveal more of Himself to us; which will draw us into a deeper intimacy of relationship. At times the call is overwhelming, but don’t lose heart. Draw upon His faithfulness from the past. Hold to His last instruction in your present calling and His word for affirmation of direction.

I have learned the place I am safest and most in line with His will, is when I have gone out…TRUSTING HIM… even though I may not know where I am going, or what is around the next corner.

Philippians 3:7-11 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

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Posted in Genesis 12:1-3, He went out not knowing where he was going, Hebrews 11:8-10, Uncategorized, walk by faith | Leave a comment

Asia Bibi is Free!!! Hallelujah!!!

Image result for asia bibiDear Friends, Rejoice with us. Asia Bibi is free!!! After 8 years in the solitary confinement of death row (more than 10 years in prison in Pakistan ), for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, she has arrived in Canada; which is giving her asylum. She and her husband have been reunited with their daughters. Asia spent her years in deteriorating health and deplorable living conditions surviving by prayer and the presence of God, for refusing to deny Christ and convert to Islam. Several years ago, the governor of her province spoke out in support her and the injustice of her case and was then assassinated.

Millions of Pakistani Muslims wanted her hanged; our Father wanted her to live and testify of His love and faithfulness. He has humbled the mighty by His resurrection life and love in the weak and helpless.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, hat no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

To all our brothers and sisters who prayed with us for Asia, thank you for your faithfulness and prayers. To God be the Glory, He alone is worthy

2 Timothy 2:8-13 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
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Thanks to Asia who refused to quit on Jesus Christ our Lord. Your example inspires us to live abandoned to the cause of Christ. Praise God for His enduring faithfulness!!!

Posted in persecution, suffering saints, the persecuted church, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We Need “Them BONES”… (II Timothy 4:3)

Related imageBones are not the most attractive thing to look at. Whether viewed as a single bone or in the entire collective of a skeleton, bones just are not pleasing to most eyes. They are rigid, plain in color-like parchment and generally not very appealing to look at. Let’s be honest, who would not rather look at well formed muscles or  talk about the artistic or athletic movements, attributed to a well developed physique. What usually gets lost is that an appealing physical form and ability is impossible without good, solid and functioning bones. Despite this being true, bones are so often over to make any ordinary skeleton sad.

Yet have a problem with “them bones”, even though they are hidden for the most part, and see the physical life and its actions effected adversely. Consider the strong coal minor, whose arms were thick and well muscled through working years lifting and working with coal. During a mine collapse his upper arm was injured requiring multiple surgeries. After many unsuccessful attempts to repair the humerus (large upper arm bone), they had to remove the bone. Being this occurred decades ago, there were not any available means of synthetic bone implants. As he tried to go back to work, he could pick nothing up, for movement needs strong muscle, but also a rigid lever to pull upon, in order to move. The rigid lever is BONE! It was not until the man was given a rigid iron sleeve (exo-skeleton), placed over the upper and lower arm, that he could use his arm at all.

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The point, without the rigidity of them bones, we would be useless blobs of skin and tissue, unable to speak, blink, move, react or respond. Bones are absolutely essential, even though we often forget about them entirely, until there is a problem. So why the foray into orthopedic territory? Because we Christians have had a spiritual bone issue from the beginning of the church that we often ignore. It is one of the reasons for our ineffective ministry in America. Let us read the word of God.

(II Timothy 4:1-5) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The time described above, is upon us. In America Churches which stick to preaching, teaching and living the implications of sound doctrine are few and far between. This is not to say that there are not ministers who teach good solid doctrine in church meetings and pod casts and on the internet; there are. The problem is that teaching sound doctrine, without convincing, rebuking, and exhorting in suffering (or patient and continual modeling), is pretty much useless. Sound doctrine takes scriptural leaders, which know the flock up close and personal.

This is impossible with the megachurch modalities most desire, because true discipleship, including repeated building of the faith through the presentation of sound doctrine, is too time consuming and labor intensive for most ministers. Therefore, the body of Christ is not built properly and is unable to move in submission, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Replacing sound doctrine are messages and teaching about being better people, building relationships with God and others and serving our communities.

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So what could be wrong about that? How about the fact that none of those particulars are clearly taught as sound doctrine, but are American Christian colloquialisms, which are more appealing to the lost around us. Again what can be wrong with that? How about we are not to starve the children of God of sound doctrine, so that the world around us thinks we are cool and just like them. We are not. When reading the New Testament we find that much of it is spent teaching…

  1. How we are not of this world, once born again, but new creations, in whom Christ lives and moves. Therefore the world around us hates us and our faith in sound doctrine, which begins with Christ and His execution of the plan of redemption.
  2. Sound doctrine is to teach on Christ repeatedly, that every Christian has the word of God, to be their solid foundation, when the enemy rages against them.
  3. This doctrine of Christ is to teach His eternity as God, His perfect humanity, His sinless life, miracles, substitutionary death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, His baptizing and filling believers with the Holy Spirit, His soon return and His delivering of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness forever.
  4. This doctrine of Christ is not properly taught, if we neglect to define sin, its consequences and the price of forgiveness in Christ’s shed blood. Nor can we claim a convert who has repented from their life apart from Christ and their turning towards God and His commands, as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
  5. Along with these “bones” of sound doctrine, we also teach and model their implications, which are commanded by the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament. These can be summarized in “Love the Lord your God with all your… and love your neighbor as yourself”–“Come out from among them and be separate”–perfecting holiness in the fear of God”–“love not the world…”–be holy, for I Am holy–“this is the will of God your sanctification…”
  6. Finally the “bones” of sound doctrine of the command and privilege of sharing the gospel, in Jesus Great Commission command to make disciples, must be taught and modeled; as well as the risks and necessity of self denial, following Jesus and cross bearing.

This sound doctrine is the spiritual bones necessary to move, as the body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. The absence of majoring in teaching of sound doctrine is epic and especially seen in what passes for teaching today.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

“according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”, simply refers to congregations desiring teaching that aligns with their preferences, rather than Holy Spirit anointed teaching and training, which grows them in the Christ life. Teaching in this state can be things like end-times or spiritual gifts or even love and forgiveness, but made a focus so much, it diminishes the most essential teaching and actions of the faith. Teaching in this state, can be overblown polled topics which are meant to prove Christians are fun or like everyone else.

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The point being, ministers need to stick to sound doctrine no matter the cost. We have heard far too often that “doctrine divided” in a negative connotation. It is true doctrine divides, just as the gospel does (Matthew 10:34-37), but it is necessary division: the wheat from the chaff.  Truth be told, sound doctrine will never divide the true church, but draw it together in unity. Without “them bones” of doctrine, with their rigidity, boundaries, strength and steadying, the church is unable to move by the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. With “them bones” we just might find Christ seated in the midst of our fellowship.

 

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The Look and Result of Noah’s Faith II (Not that Different than that of Noah)

Related imageAs we considered Noah’s faith in our last post, we learned he lived his faith out in setting himself apart from the world he lived in, as well as setting himself wholly apart to God and for his purpose (basic definition of sanctification.) The result of his obedience was to increase the disdain the world had against Noah and all that he loved and lived for. Today we will discover that the expression of our faith is seen in the same Noah’s was apparent: in our being be set apart from the world and set apart unto God. The Christian’s lived out experience of faith creates an environment and experience with the world, that is not that different than the experience of Noah.

*If you have not read part 1 of this series click this link The Look and result of Noah’s Faith I

CALLED TO BE SET APART FROM THE WORLD

When we first discussed Noah, in the last blog, we discovered that before the call to build the ark, for the purpose of being saved from the coming judgment, Noah was already separated from the world. From His great grandfather to his grandfather, and father (Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech), Noah’s family avoided worldly entanglements. Enoch’s vision of the coming judgment, as well as his vision of the judgment at Christ’s return, was the word of God they all held onto in faith. Therefore they obeyed God’s call to seek Him, and make atonement for their sins. They lived a life seeking to be obedient to the Creator and were justified by faith.

We, in Christ, are called to the same. When we believe that our sin was laid upon the Lamb of God Jesus Christ (when He was tortured and crucified), as our final all sufficient Atonement, we are called to repent. This repentance is seen in the continual action of our setting ourselves apart from the world. Once more this is not saving ourselves, but being saved by grace, through faith in who Jesus is and what He accomplished in His cross and resurrection. Yet, if our is faith is real, it is not passive but actively obeying Christ, as He leads us; first in setting ourselves apart from the world.

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For Noah, his decision caused him to stick out like a sore thumb. As the only man considered righteous by faith, in his generation, he must have looked as out of place as an Amish horse and buggy trotting down the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City. Noah’s standing out as different is not any different than what we are called too in Christ. Consider some scriptural truth.

1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:2 For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”   17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ​1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

What does perfecting holiness in the fear of God look? It looks like a person whose desire and choices lead growing more separated from the world system and its influence daily–and not being led by your flesh (old man) or being knocked over in temptation, being fooled by the devil. Remember that last one is not necessarily a temptation to be overtly perverse, commit a murder or inject heroine. Big falls come because of a series of little compromises with what may be lawful, but is not expedient to grow in holiness or in faith (I Corinthians 6:12).

Let’s massage this a bit further with another often overlooked passage of scripture.

1 Peter 4:1-51 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

In light of this let us consider the general status of affairs for a person who will not waffle on the issue of life, when it comes to abortion or euthanasia–or the person who refuses to make adjustments to God’s view of human sexuality–or speaking that Jesus is their Savior, even if they don’t know fully what that means. Consider these dear folks won’t be party to lewd conduct, or drunkenness, or the working to live their life to their own design of pleasure and comfort. Even though all these things can be done in relative silence, without open testimony, the world still sees those choosing God’s moral path as weirdo’s and irritants. That being said don’t be a silent witness to Christ. Even if you say nothing, if we don’t partake in the world, even our silence infuriates them. Yet, the meaning of our being set apart from the world goes deeper.

Consider the person, who does not get riled up or involved in any political anxiety or arguing–a person who is not waiting to run to the theater for the next blockbuster that is not rated R–a person who does not care nor orders his life around sports or entertainment–a believer in Christ who cares nothing for Facebook or media platforms–a person who does not have a smart phone because of the risk of time wasting, distractions or falling into sin (Ephesians 5:15-17)–a person who’s only connection to the world is to see it through the word of God, treating it as an infectious disease, he does not want to contract, but desires others to be healed from.

You show me a person like that and I’ll show you one, who like Noah, is set apart from the world. I’ll also show you one who is even ostracized in the church in these United States, as being one to avoid as legalistic, when nothing could be further from the truth. When we, like Noah, make the choice to live for Christ setting ourselves apart from the world, we do not get to decide what we want to commune, fellowship or link with. Because in addition to being set apart from the world, we are called to be set apart unto God and His purpose alone.

CALLED TO BE SET APART TO GOD AND HIS PURPOSE COMPLETELY

Hebrews 11:7 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

For well over one hundred years, Noah not only preached of judgment to come, but built an ark, as a visible sign that those who chose to live apart from God would meet His wrath, in the flood. For many of us, being totally set apart to God for 10 minutes is a major impossibility, but can you imagine the self-discipline Noah exercised, for over 100 years, doing God’s without one convert to your cause? This means that every day, he did what God commanded, as a 24/7 over a loud speaker message of condemnation.

In Christianity in America we go out of our way to convince people of God’s love, with out the bloody cross, without speaking about sin and without speaking of the coming judgment. Some would declare, “we preach God’s love” and I would say Amen, but that must be seen through the blood stained cross of Christ. One of the chief means to understand that love, is to know what we are being saved from: an eternal flood of God’s wrath rightly executed against those who reject God’s totally sufficient and true ark; the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves usbaptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Simply put, Noah’s ark, points to God’s true ark: the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is an anti-type or an action that sufficiently illustrates the redeemed person has come through God’s wrath (signified by water of baptism); by repentance and placing their life and eternity in Christ, by faith. We could spend hours discussing the significance of this truth, but for our purpose it is enough to say, that every truly redeemed person is also to be set apart to God and for His purposes completely. Simply being in Christ, like Noah’s actions to build and get into the ark, pronounces the world around us as condemned.

Therefore, being in Christ is not a mere profession that I have been saved, but a life in which its actions reveal the full message of the gospel. This begins for most with baptism. Consider that in Iran, if one begins to look for information of Christ Jesus or even attend a bible study, they are generally left alone. The moment one gets baptized, they literally have potential for imprisonment, torture or death. Why? Their lives, now seen by the world as being in Christ, brings condemnation on Islam’s satanic message of death. With hatred they respond, as Jesus told us the world responds to any who follow Him in truth.

We are the message of condemnation against them, because they love darkness rather than light (John 3:17-20). As we consider this, during Resurrection Sunday weekend, let us grasp the weight of the life and words of the One, who more than Noah, was set apart; our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15:18-22 18If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

We are not of the world. Let all who would claim to be children of God in Christ Jesus, commit to live like Jesus, submitting the outcome our master prophesied and in joy rejoicing that we are counted to stand out and suffer if need be for His sake (Acts 5:41). Jesus alone is worthy and the world still needs the good news our message brings: That God’s wrath is near and upon all who live apart from Christ, but His mercy is found in Christ Jesus, the TRUE and LIVING ARK.

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Posted in Hebrews 11:7, Noah's Ark, sanctification, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Look and Result of Noah’s Faith (Last Look at the Best Pattern of our Best Life)

Related image(Hebrews 11:7) 7By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Although Hebrews 11 is a record of the faith and actions of well known saints from the Old Testament, the chapter is much more than a faith hall of fame. This chapter, perhaps, shows better than any in the New Testament, how these O.T. saints possessed their “own vessel in sanctification and honor” (I Thessalonians 4:2-4). In Noah we find a familiar story, which as we dig deeper, will exhibit not only faith, but the result of all true faith, which is to be set apart.

In this we must be careful, for in America the church would rather prove out the dimensions of the ark itself, or the viability of a world-wide flood account, than learn of the radical faith and action of a servant of God. This we have done, at times to the detriment of the Gospel itself. One need not look far to find that even secular scientists are beginning to accept that the flood is a fact. One need not be an anthropologist to discover that most cultures world over, aside from science, have accounts of the flood that appear similar to the biblical account.

Despite these facts, it should not matter to us what the world believes or uses in error to attempt to overturn the truth. Even if no one else believes the truth, we ought to because God’s Word declares it! Faith like that is very much like the faith of Noah, for no one believed him either, as all were against God’s word, will and servant.

The Great Flood is more important for what it reveals to us concerning faith and how one is to respond in any age, by setting themselves apart from the world and unto God and His will alone. This is also not forgetting what the ark and Noah and his family reveal to us, concerning Christ and those who follow Him (more on that later).

NOAH’S FAITH

Our passage begins with the phrase “By faith Noah”.  Everything we will discuss arises from  Noah’s real justifying and saving faith. From this same chapter we know that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”. The substance of hope, was the word God spoke concerning the flood and His instruction to Noah to build the ark. This was his hope being that it was 120 years away (Romans 8:24) and that like His God his own heart was grieved over the wickedness of the world.

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Now faith is not only the substance of things hoped for (and yes Noah hoped for the promise of the flood to come to pass) but also the evidence of things not yet seen. This evidence is not only the witness of God’s Holy Spirit, but a legacy of God fulfilling His promises among Noah’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather Enoch. Great-grandfather Enoch not only received revelation concerning the flood judgment soon coming, but also of the second coming of the One who would destroy ungodliness for ever (Jude 14-15). This man walked so carefully and closely with God, in a wicked generation, that God translated him to heaven, without dying (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).

Having seen Noah’s faith in what he believed concerning God and His word, we must consider that his faith was not a passive declaration, but an active obedience. True biblical and saving faith is not just believing a set of truths promised, but living that faith out in actions reflective of what is believed. Vines Expository Dictionary of N.T. words defines the Greek word for faith in our passage as “conviction producing full acknowledgement of God’s revelation, leading to personal surrender to Him, with conduct inspired by such surrender”. In layman’s terms this means biblical faith produces biblical obedience and actions. Without the corresponding actions, the faith is either dead or not real faith at all.

Noah’s life shines with this faith…

(Genesis 6:5-9) 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

Genesis 7:11 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

Three words must be considered in dealing with Noah’s faith: just (justified or not guilty), perfect (blameless) and righteous (just or vindicated by God). Remembering that all men, including Noah, have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we understand that Noah’s being described as “perfect” was not moral perfection. When read in the context of the other two words (just and righteous), just Noah’s descendant Abraham would later believe God and God would credit him with being righteous and just (not guilty based on his faith); so Noah was also blameless in the same way as his ancestor. Noah did not practice sin as his disposition, but when he did sin, he would make atonement, which pointed to the One who is the final and all sufficient Atonement, Jesus Christ.

Despite this truth, we are once more reminded that Noah’s faith was not a passive belief, where he waited for the promise to come to pass; he had to move according to his faith. In fact this is why he was chosen by God. Noah would have to live as the only godly man, steering his family in the God’s direction, when the entire world and all the fallen were against him and his God.

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Imagine being the only Christian in your city. The ONLY ONE, which means: you have no church to attend, no bible store to get materials for your growth or encouragement, no other Christians to pray for you or with you. Imagine all your neighbors, not only being cynical about your activities, but looking to catch you reading your Bible, sharing your faith or simply teaching your children about Jesus Christ. Imagine, that your neighbors investigations are not for the purpose of mockery, but to be able to rat you out to the government. Imagine going to the local market and being told your money is not good there, because you’re a Christian. You say impossible, but this is the lot for tens of millions of Christians worldwide in our day, as well as the life for all who would follow Almighty God and His Christ.

(Hebrews 11:35-38) 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

This was also the lot of Noah. Remember that in his day every intent of the thought of man’s collective heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). The world of Noah, was contrary to every fiber of His God given faith. In order for him to live that faith, he needed total separation from depending on provision, security, and comfort from the world, its system and culture, while, living in the midst of it. In addition to this, Noah’s faith demanded he be set apart to God and His purposes.  He needed to deny even his own desires. This he did, before God spoke to him personally. After God’s word came, concerning the flood, his being set apart took on a new dimension.

(Hebrews 11:7) 7By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household

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If we thought Noah was ostracized for his faith in God before he commenced construction on the ark, imagine the onslaught afterward. Consider that Noah was told to build a floating fortress to save his family from a flood, in the middle of a landlocked region. Consider that this flood was to come about largely because of rain (yes and the breaking of the fountains of the great deep), when it had either never rained or rained very little, before they got into the ark (Genesis 2:5; Genesis 7:4).

To Noah’s generation the ark must have seemed completely laughable as well as an unnecessary judgment on their lifestyle from a raving madman, who thought he heard from God. Their ridicule and persecution must have been amplified beyond our comprehension, but Noah was dedicated to God no matter what. Therefore his righteous actions, not only made him the heir of righteousness according to faith, but also a herald of the lost world’s condemnation.

Hebrews 11:7 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Here we can now see why the world of Noah’s time hated him. His actions of faith, which included a life seeking to please God, where he disconnected from the wickedness of the world culture, system, and people and built an ark–where only those who get in are saved from judgment; was a message of condemnation to them all. Every hammer of a nail, cutting of a tree, hoist of a pulley, or pitching of a section of the structure was a loud speaker declaring, “You’ve rejected the Creator. Now He will judge you!”

Noah’s faith and actions are no less relevant for us today. We are called to set ourselves apart from the world completely–set ourselves apart for God and His purposes in Christ alone– and the very obedience we walk in, will condemn the lost world around us, who reject Christ’s call to repentance. In the next article, we will explore how our life for Christ parallels that of Noah. You’ll not want to miss it.

(John 15:18-21) 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

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Posted in Genesis 6:5-8, 9; 7:1, Hebrews 11:7, Noah's Ark, Uncategorized | Leave a comment