The Danger of “THE LIE” (#1)

Why We Should All Be Skeptics | HuffPost

We are warned in the word of God that Satan is a liar and truth is not in Him. In rebuking religious Jews in Jerusalem, our Lord declared…

John 8:44 (NKJV) You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Sadly, the truth of Satan’s character as a “liar” and the “father of lies”, has been understated over the last many decades, at least in the church in America. It is true that it is an error to find the Devil (or a demon) as the cause behind every Christian trouble; but it is equally an error to understand and miss the pervasiveness of his role and that of his demonic administration of the world system, in the last days.

As we know, Satan is the “father of lies”, let us consider two passages of scripture, which give label to his greatest deception.

Romans 1:18-25 (NKJV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

You will notice the contrasting phrase “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie”. It is most interesting that the word “the” makes what follows sort of an unofficial title, or the battle between God and His word and Satan and his lies. Now we must understand that “the lie” is not referring to all the lies of the enemy as individual and separate from one another, but as a singular entity made of up purposeful, pragmatic chosen lies. These lies form a singular lie, which Satan has been using with great effect against humanity and often the church.

When considering “THE LIE”, we understand it was used from the Garden until now and through the return of Jesus, to keep the world at odds with “the truth of God” we find in the word of God. Another New Testament passage reveals the reach of “THE LIE” beyond the Garden of Eden, until Christ’s return.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (NKJV) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

II Thessalonians 2:1-12 reveal the conditions present at the time of the rise of antichrist and as such reveals a “the falling away” in verse 3. This falling away does not refer to those outside the kingdom as the Greek word apostasia is what “the falling away” is translated from. The word means to fall way from the Christian faith (see Hebrews 6:4-6).

In the quoted passage above “the falling away” comes to those who did not receive a love of “the truth” (note the “the” making it an unofficial label for the full council of God’s word). God sends a delusion that they would believe “The LIE”, because they were already walking in unbelief.

Do we not even now see this “falling away” where denominations and individuals who once professed the faith once delivered to the saints, choosing to believe gnostic garbage concerning Jesus and adding to or subtracting from the word of God; what is not palatable to them. In the last days “THE LIE” is super fueled by the supernatural and satanic deceptions, with the rise of antichrists paving the way before the last antichrist is revealed (Matthew 24:23-26)

The same “LIE” the Devil whispered to Eve in the Garden is the core of “THE LIE” even today. Let us take a look.

Genesis 3:1-5 (NKJV) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Interestingly “THE LIE” begins with the error that God is not loving or benevolent, but holding out on us, because He wants to keep us subject to Him. “THE LIE” continues with Satan injecting himself as humanity’s liberator from God, through obedience to Lucifer, man can be fully realized apart from Almighty God. Note the Devil did not attempt to erase the knowledge of God, but to make them unthankful for who God is as creator, Sustainer and Savior.

“THE LIE” the Devil created uses sets humanity on a search to attain what Satan Himself can has lay hold of… Divinity. Read the accounts of the fall of Satan in Isaiah 14:12-15, especially verse 14 where Lucifer declares “I will be like the Most High”. For an angel, being like God is an impossibility, as well as for a human, but “THE LIE” besmirches this one truth”: Man was made in the image of God.

Though we will never attain divinity or eternality, which God alone possesses, more than any other creation, we bare the moral, spiritual and physical image of the one true God.

“The Lie” tempts us to choose to be unthankful of God and believe He is holding us back and subjecting us to unnecessary rules. This lines up with what we previously read in Romans 1:18-25.

Even in the early stages of humanity, after the flood we see Satan’s “LIE” taking firm root. In Genesis 9:1-10, the LORD declared He would never flood the earth again and gave a sign of His faithfulness to that promise—He commanded they were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. As we will see, “THE LIE” was used to twist humanity from believing in God’s goodness again, and therefore reject His rulership.

Genesis 11:1-4 (NKJV) ​ Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

In this verse we can clearly see that humanity had at least obeyed be fruitful and multiply, but they rejected “and fill the earth”. In fact, they were trying to stick together and not fill the earth. Why? Because they did not believe in God’s mercy or trust His word, that He would never again flood the earth. We know this because they were building a tower to heaven. Yes, it was to worship fallen angels, but it was a giant middle finger, that if God flooded the earth, they would stand against Him.

We see “THE LIE” challenging God’s goodness, love, mercy and character of Truth and Faithfulness, with cynicism, unbelief (Which is to know God exists, but live contrary to that truth), thankfulness. After we see humanity’s one language confused and the people scattered, we see the “THE LIE” coalescing over millennia and called out by God in Psalm 2, where He reveals who will destroy “THE LIE”.

Psalms 2 (NKJV)Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed
(Messiah), saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”

“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”


Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Psalm 2 truly transcends all time, as it reveals Christ’s pre-incarnation relationship to the Father, His will to make Himself of no reputation and His return to bring God’s wrath and Kingdom forever. He will destroy the “LIE”, but until then we must be aware of how “THE LIE” works for the purpose of guarding ourselves and revealing its flaws in the light of “THE TRUTH OF GOD”.

Next time we will examine more closely why “THE LIE” has influence in all humanity, discussing our born in iniquity and how the best lies stay close enough to the truth to be believable and are repeated so much that they are unquestioned.

 

 

 

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Losing Sight of Jesus; How to Avoid Sinking (Matthew 14:22-33)

New Song: I'll Be Found – Lindsey Minaker

Matthew 14:22-33 (NKJV) Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me! “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

 In America we sing the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Often the song is song, like being with an old familiar friend. One they have not seen in a while. There are smiles and some tears, but the fact that we sing it at all, reveals how we often forget, that Christ is with us amid the trials of life. The song is a reminder to Christians who are struggling through difficulties which cloud their faith in Christ.

O soul are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and freer!

Perhaps if this hymn had been written, at the time of Matthew 14, Peter would not have sunk, although I believe he most likely would have still.

God’s word reveals repeatedly the human potential of even the most faithful, turning away from Jesus Christ our Lord, when trials come; even those who walked with Him for three and half years.

We need look no further than Revelation 2:2-5, to the Ephesian Church, only 50 years after Christ died and rose from the dead, to observe a good fellowship of saints, who had turned away from Jesus, without knowing it. The word of God declares.

Why do even the most passionate Christians, tend to look away from Jesus Christ, in critical moments of temptation and trial, to their own detriment?

In Matthew 14:22-33, we will discover why trials come and who is in control in the middle of them—we will discover the reason Peter sunk and why we do as well, when walking in faith is difficult—we will also discover what in us pulls our vision from Jesus Christ.

WHO IS BEHIND ALL OUR STORMS

History and geography reveal that Israel is a diverse geographical land, especially the region of Galilee, where our Lord Jesus grew up and lived until, He began His ministry. The sea of Galilee is especially unique. Because of how it is positioned, winds rush over a plain towards the sea of Galilee, until falling violently over high cliffs on one side of this body of water. The result is like the violent thrashing if you would punch your fist into a medium sized oval basin filled with water.

Peter, James, Andrew, and John would have understood this since they fished Galilee their entire lives. Even violent storms would not have brought them to fear, as they could read the sky and would have never ventured out in such conditions, that could produce death on the water. Yet there they were in peril beyond their sufficiency and expertise.

Only a short time after Jesus commanded them to get into the boat and go to the other side, we read in verse 24But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.”

The Holy Spirit uses two very descriptive words “tossed” and “contrary” to reveal the very present danger they were in. in the first place the boat was “tossed” by the waves or was being tortured and punished, by wave after wave pounding the vessel. This vexed the disciples, even the fearless fishermen among them, which means they despaired even for their lives.

When you add to this condition, which produced waves as large as 15 to 20 feet in height, that the wind was “contrary” amplifies an already dangerous situation. The word “contrary” means the wind blowing into their faces, opposing their commanded direction. Imagine being in a first century fishing boat no more than 15 to 18 feet in length, where waves were overwhelming their vessel in the front of the boat and it seemed the wind was taunting them.

These were dire circumstances indeed, so who was ultimately behind these conditions? God Himself.

Let us remember that Jesus Christ the Lord, is God. In his incarnation He obeyed the Father perfectly. He did only what the Holy Spirit commanded Him to say or do.

OUR LORD IS BEHIND THE STORMS

When reading verse 22 we understand that “immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side”. Interestingly the word “immediately” means he wanted them in the middle of Galilee for a purpose, which was time sensitive. So great was this purpose Jesus “made” them get into the boat. This means that He forcefully and authoritatively commanded them.

This excursion across Galilee was either allowed or ordered specifically by God to reveal something about His Christ. The purpose of this set up is revealed in verse 33.

Matthew 14:33 (NKJV) Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

As in almost every miracle of Christ, God was revealing Him as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, to the disciples, so that they would believe Him to be the Son of God.

In addition, our passage, reveals Christ’s deity, and power over His creation and sovereignty over those who follow Him.

This was a lesson, the disciples forgot all to easily. In Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:35-41, we find an earlier account of a “freak” Galilee storm, where the disciples were terrified, and our Lord was asleep in the boat. When they awoke Him, and “Don’t you care we are perishing” and “Lord, save us, we are perishing, Jesus calmly rebukes the wind and the waves with “Peace be still” and admonishes them for their lack of faith and abundance of unbelief.

The point is He still had control over the storms, whether caused by natural phenomenon, demonic personage or ordered by God himself. The disciples forgot this by the time Matthew 14:22-33 rolls around. And we forget easily, in our storms as well, if not careful.

Most Christians understand and agree, at least intellectually, that God is sovereign over His entire creation. Most would agree biblically that Christ is with us as our shepherd in our walk through the valley of the shadow of death, which is not only the time before our death, but from the moment we are born again and begin our walk on the narrow road.

The problem for us is that amid trials, where we wrestle not against flesh and blood, where what we are up against is far beyond our scope of control and ability to navigate or overcome; we tend to fall back into panic patterns, rather than walk in faith.

In the life of the believer, it does not matter if our trials are from the curse upon creation—or our Father allowing the free will choice of another opposed to our faith to come against us—or if God specifically ordains our uncomfortable circumstances for His purpose. What matters is that we remember His truth from Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

When we are in the middle of storms against us, we must remember that Christ Jesus is with us in the middle of it, and the outcome will be for His glory and our benefit. Remember storms and trials are continual and consistent for those who follow Jesus Christ, because from the moment of salvation, we are in a world totally against the LORD and His Messiah; and our Father uses them for His glory and our sanctification.

Let us remember we walk daily in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). Be sober brethren more violent storms are coming upon His saints worldwide, we must learn from Peter’s faith to walk on the storm sea and his fall. This we will do in the next teaching. Until then Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus!

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Another Step in the Direction of Abomination… May God Strengthen His Church!

This an abomination. We knew it would eventually come.

No nation with the reach of the United States, worldwide, has broached so many historically accepted moral boundaries held by most nations, as the United States has.

We are reminded of this again in an article in the Christian Post detailing President Joe Biden’s constitutional overreach, pushing the an unprecedented sanctioning of sexual immorality (you can read the article by clicking the link https://www.christianpost.com/voices/biden-forces-doctors-to-perform-sex-change-operations.html).  This new executive order forces medical providers to perform transgender reassignment surgeries if they received federal Health and Human Services dollars. The order as written means, those who object because of conscience or religions position, have no right to refuse; ad will be penalized for violations of this law.

This furthers reveals how the United States of American is the low bar leader of nations states in history, perhaps surpassing even Sodom.

Ezekiel 16:48-50 (NKJV) “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Consider that in June of 2012, under the Obama administration, Defense Secretary Leon Pantentta sanctioned homosexuality as normative for all America armed forces, by declaring June the military’s month of LGBT pride. In know of no nation in history to have even perpetrated such a moral low of moral destroying lunacy. As is often the case, this celebration within the U.S. military, was the testing ground of the nation-wide legal sanction of gay marriage by 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644).

Let those of us who are Christian and conservative not pretend this is abominable movement is of Democratic origin only. Remember the advance of LGBTQ during both the Reagan and Bush 1 presidencies: both Republican. In Washington and Hollywood through advocacy during the AIDS epidemic, sympathy was created for those who were infected with AIDS (in the US), where the vast majority infected through were infected through homosexual contact. A historical search will reveal that President Reagan’s wife Nancy and Princess Diana, were used to change the narrative on the nature of homosexuality and distorting the nature of compassion and even love.

Consider that under President Bush 2, more LGBTQ people were employed in high-ranking positions in his administration than under even under President Obama.

Consider that even president Trump, who did attempt to cut taxpayer funding of transgender surgeries, did not attempt rescind June as LGBT pride month, and still received campaign funds and political support from donors who chose to LGBTQ and support the LGBTQ push.

Christians in America must realize, if we are living in the beginning of the sorrows, the nation we live in is strikingly like Babylon from Revelation 17-18, in its political, economic, and synergistic religious culture, where politics of all parties declare “God Bless America”, in addition to most of the nation giving the LORD GOD Almighty the middle finger.

If the US is not Babylon, hardship, destruction, and judgement are coming from the LORD regardless. The only Living LORD and God will not neglect the cries of 60,000,000 barbarically murder children (abortion). He will not allow greed, neglect of the righteous civility and outright abomination to go unpunished. We Christians need to understand calamity and tribulation are coming to Christians in America.

2 Timothy 3:12-14 (NKJV) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them…

 We will not be raptured away before we suffer like our brethren worldwide, from the birth of the Church in Acts 2. Jesus told us in Matthew 24, we would be persecuted and hated in every nation, before He comes for His Church.

Matthew 24:9-13 (NKJV) “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Prepare brethren, to endure in the faith in America. For those in other nations under persecution, pray for the church in America, which is unprepared for the persecution rushing towards us now. The hatred against the church is unmasked, and almost unrestrained.

May we all be founded on the truth that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever—that He will never leave nor forsake His redeemed—that it is an honor to suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and that to live is to live for Christ and His glory; to dies in Him inestimable gain.

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The Modern Christian Crucible: Covid-19

Empire shareholders seek board spill | Business News

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…

Christians are called to rejoice in the trials we face in life, regardless of severity or consistency, because they serve as a crucible of sorts, to purify and strengthen our faith. A crucible is the container by which gold is heated for the purpose of refining out the impurities and strengthening the metal.

Trials are a crucible for our faith. Perhaps more than one trial, the circumstances surrounding Covid-19, are a world-wide crucible for Christians; perhaps being used by our God and Father to purify and strengthen His church for the very last days.

  1. Having contact with several Christian ministers and laity from India, Pakistan, parts all over Africa and Southeastern Asia, I am acutely aware of how this weaponized disease has brought on a world-wide crucible for followers of Jesus Christ.
  2. In India, our brethren are being locked down once again as cases skyrocket in Delhi and other cities. Fear is rampant as well as confusion as to how to minister to the flock.
  3. In Canada, our brethren are being fined 5 times more for gathering to worship Christ, than those who violate bar policies. Pastor James Coates was arrested in February for holding services and others across Canada are being harassed by police during Gathering times.
  4. In Israel vaccines are mandatory, to refuse is to lose access to Israeli society. Christians who do not want to take the vaccine, will become second class citizens, with restricted access to shopping and other life essential elements.

In America, the pressure to get a vaccine is constant. Last night President Joe Biden, commanded all Americans get vaccinated during his congressional speech, although vaccines are not mandated.

In one of the most biased pieces of reporting I have seen, CNN’s Brianna Keilar discussed how white evangelicals (yes “white”), are driving a false narrative about vaccines, and are easily duped by their pastoral leaders to believe lies. It should be noted that almost every one of the “pastors” interviewed were of the unbiblical charismatic variety (Jessie Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland and Guillermo Maldonado).

In the United States, Christian’s have been in the cross hairs of those using Covid-19 to cease power and limit civil liberties of all Americans. Let us consider mask wearing for a moment. Let us disregard for moment that masks are ineffective at stopping the spread of any disease, let us move into the foolish.

Anthony Fauci recently declared that if a person is fully vaccinated, they can go outside with other fully vaccinated people, without a mask; but you need to wear one inside still. If vaccines are so effective, why can’t a vaccinated person cease mask wearing all together? The answer is simple, mask wearing represents a new human identity, based on slavery to the elite, informed. Consider it the New World Order of “Simon Says”.

Let us consider some facts, before we get to what our God and Father is working in us through these extraordinary times.

  1. Covid-19 is a genetically enhanced virus turned into a bioweapon by the governments of the world to continue population controls set up in United Nations Agenda 2020, 2021, 2030, and 2050.
  2. As far back as 2018 Bill Gates had been warning of a global pandemic. In 2019 Anthony Fauci warned about a corona virus pandemic, 8 months before the first recorded case in America and before the Wuhan outbreak by three months. How did he know?
  3. In October 2019, John Hopkins University, in conjunction with the Gates Foundation (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), ran a pandemic response disaster scenario, called Event/201, where 65,000,000 people die from a… you guessed it… a corona virus.
  4. In March 2019 Covid-19 was found in wastewater in Spain and in December 2019 it was found in Italy, long before Italy had its first cases.

Forgive me for sounding conspiratorial, but Covid-19 is being used to control the populations of the world. Covid-19 is a crucible for the church of Jesus Christ, because we are now being commanded to violate our faith for the “greater good”. This is not an American Christian issue, but one for the church world-wide.

This is also not a call to arms or revolt, for our God is using this to purify our faith.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

In light of this wonderful truth, let us honestly deal with the potential future of what has developed in the world with Covid-19.

Is it possible, that like Israel, other nations will mandate vaccines? Is it possible that those receiving the vaccine get a passport to “normal life” and those who do not are restricted in their access to the needs of life and economy? Does this sound like a precursor to the global economy of the Antichrist?

Revelation 13:16-17 (NKJV) He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Difficult as these times are and potentials are, they serve as the heat for the crucible of purifying our faith. The simple answer to what will we do? Is trust God!

Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV) Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When more calls for lockdowns arise and we are told we cannot gather in buildings together, we have more heat to purify our faith. There is never a reason to disobey our God and Father, especially when dealing with gathering together; in fact, to do so is willful sin.

Hebrews 10:25-31 (NKJV) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The times we live are squarely in the latter part of the “beginnings of the sorrows”. Because of Covid-19, His children will be hated in every nation. There is much to fear from a human perspective, but alas, we are not those who fear or draw back. To live is Christ and do die is gain. We must continue the fellowship of the saints, even if it means abandoning our buildings and western ideas of the Church.

The time has come to really study the vibrancy of the early church in Acts 1-4 to see how they thrived and grew during existential threats all around them, while they met in secret and house to house.

To those who lead, the time is upon us, where we may have to travel daily to meet with ten or three or five, here and there, for the purpose of maintaining fellowship. May God use this Covid-19 crucible to purify our faith to that of the faith once delivered to the saints, as revealed in the word of God.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

It is important to remember that the early church faced threats to its practice of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When pressed with following the faith, or giving into the demands of men, they did not fight with human weapons, but obeyed God and took the consequences.

Acts 4:18-20 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Acts 5:28-29 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

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Without REPENTANCE

In this teaching we examine the necessity of repentance in a person receiving salvation through Christ’s finished work. We also examine how neglecting to preach and lead others to true repentance, hampers a person walking in faith in Christ.

PART #1

PART #2

Click the link below for the PDF of the notes.

Without REPENTANCE notes

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FALL-O-SHIP (Walking in Darkness)

1 John 1:5-7 (NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 The above passage reveals magnificent truth concerning the character and make up of God and how we can be intimately connected to Him in “fellowship”. The Greek word translated “fellowship” is the word koinōnia, which reveals the potential of relational intercourse with God, whereby we are knit together in a union even deeper than the one flesh union of a husband and wife.

The apostle Paul writes of his desire to achieve this unity of relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ In Philippians 3:7-10

Philippians 3:7-11 (NKJV) 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.

We must not miss that this desire was the most pressing and central desire of Paul’s life. Philippians 3:7-9 details that which Paul was willing to toss away, to attain his desire. The point being, that true fellowship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ is not only attainable, but essential if we are to remain in fellowship with each other and avoid falling away, into apostacy.

To walk in the light as He, God is in the light, it is essential we do not miss an often overlooked part of I John 1:5-9.

1 John 1:5-6 (NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

 The danger of hypocrisy is a clear and present danger to those who follow Christ. The reason for this is not overly complex. We live in a fallen world, where most of what we encounter is contrary to the will of God and will be in increasing intensely until Christ’s bodily return to this earth. In addition, we who are redeemed in Christ, still carry a sinful nature in our humanity. Although, this old man is dead, and sin’s dominion is broken and no longer the ruling factor of our lives; we still feel the weight of carrying our old nature around (Romans 6-7).

If these two factors were not more than enough to deal with, we must learn to stand against Satan, his demons, and their supernaturally charged machinations designed to lead us to sin and hypocrisy. Therefore, remaining in or falling to a pattern that leads to walking in darkness is virtually around every corner ahead. Contributing to this potential is a lack of understanding of what and how prevalent walking in darkness is. This is why I have decided to term “walking in darknessFALL-O-SHIP as opposed to the FELLOWSHIP we enjoy when “walking in the light“.

WALKING IN DARKNESS

The word “skotia” is the Greek word which translates “darkness” in our passage. The word does not mean blackness to the degree that one is totally blind, but a quality of shadiness or obscurity. Simply put, this is not being able to see clearly because of a lack of light or dimness that obscures or distorts what can be seen. In understanding this we begin in verse 5 with “God is light and in Him is no darkness (shadiness, obscurity, grey or shadow) at all.”

James 1:17 gives us a bit more clarity concerning God is light and in Him is no darkness (shadiness, obscurity, grey or shadow).

James 1:17 (NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

With both passages we see that God is perfect revealed Truth, which lightens up everything that we may see clearly. Yet the Greek word “skotia” gives more “light” (pun intended) concerning “darkness”. In addition to what we have already discussed, the word “skotia” means ignorance respecting divine things and the corresponding human duties, which leads to ungodliness and immorality to the degree that “darkness” consistently holds sway.

Simply put, walking in darkness means that the person lives in a state of ignorance or confusion concerning God’s will and have little conviction as to how they ought to respond to it. In this practice their thoughts and action become less and less like those of Jesus Christ. As this state progresses, they become more susceptible to falling to temptation by increasing degrees.

When looking into scripture we can determine just how potentially dangerous “walking in darkness” is.

Colossians 1:13-14 (NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

In this passage we discover that in Christ, we are delivered from walking in darkness, which is the sate of the lost, for the purpose of walking in the light. In this, we are conveyed by God’s power, into walking in the light in the Kingdom of His Son. The word “convey” gives the idea that God Himself moves us along so long as we remain in His will.

It would appear to be easy, but He conveys us on the narrow road that runs right through the valley of the shadow of death; where Satan prowls to lead us off God’s conveyor, to wander around in the shadowlands of little light—where Jesus the object of our faith is obscured—where the word of God, which is our guidepost, is not easily seen.

We have been warned in Ephesians 5, because of the potential to “walk in darkness”, being so great.

Ephesians 5:8-11 (NKJV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

And again…

Ephesians 5:14-18 (NKJV) “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit

We see the truth that walking in the light means walking with understanding concerning what the will of the Lord is, knowing how to respond to it, and refusing to partake in behavior that is even remotely dark. So that there is no confusion, let us label “dark” behavior that is any behavior or action we partake in that is not approved by the Lord. This behavior often falls into the supposed grey of there not being a “Thou shalt not” command against it. In that understanding we can see just how easy we can say we have fellowship with Him and potentially be “walking in the darkness”.

Revisiting what “walking in darkness” is defined by.

  1. A quality of shadiness or obscurity, where we are not able to see clearly because of a lack of light or dimness that obscures or distorts what can be seen of the Truth.
  2. Therefore, we are ignorantly respecting God’s will (divine things) and how or why we ought to respond in obedience (corresponding human duties to divine things).
  3. Which leads to worldly choices (ungodliness) and greater potential to sin (immorality).

It appears, in general, that the church is confused about the will of God or largely ignorant of it, is that not “walking in darkness”?

GOD’S WILL

What is God’s will?

  1. To seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10; I Peter 3:10-11)
  2. To grow those lost and found through discipleship, as their minds are renewed by the word of God (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 12:1-2)
  3. That this would lead to our abstaining from sin and being a wholly sanctified vessel for God’s glory (I Thessalonians 4:3).
  4. That we would endure persecution and tribulation, not running away or hiding who were are in Christ or using man’s devices for protection or warfare; but by standing in the truth, loving our enemies, while looking for the blesses hope (II Timothy 3:12; Revelation 12:11; Titus 2:11-14).
  5. Our fellowship with each other would fuel and safeguard our transformation as vessels of His will (Hebrews 10:19-31).

With these scriptural truths lighting the practice of the church in America, we can see, we are either walking in darkness or close to it. We would claim to have fellowship with God, yet fellowship among the saints has declined at a breakneck pace over the last 50 years—belief in Christ’s literal return is at an all time low—Christians are falling away because of fear of family or society turning on them or simply desiring to live attached to the world—sanctification is an alien word to most “Christians” in America, while acceptance of sin at low to moderate levels exists in most churches and a growing number of pulpits—American Christians are ignorant of basic biblical truth and think little different than the lost around them—discipleship simply another ineffective or forgotten program—and those experiencing true supernatural regenerative (with conviction of sin and commensurate repentance), leading to a new creation salvation life scarce among thousands of supposed converts.

It appears the church in America is more about FALL-O-SHIP, rather than fellowship with God, while walking in the light. What can we do?

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (NKJV) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

 Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Let us renounce the world and its shady light obscuring darkness and let us return to the Lord our God in repentance and faith. The days are coming where those who say they have fellowship with God, but walk in darkness, will be animated by antichrist, to persecute those who have truly received the faith once delivered to the saints. Let us be prepared to stand against the wiles of the devil in God’s full armor.

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Utter Abuse of the Power of a Ministry Platform

In recent days, many of the same celebrity Christian voices, have begun to suggest to their followers that taking a vaccine for Covid-19 is not only good, but biblical. One of these Christian superstars is Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and head of Samaritans Purse. In a recent Facebook Post Franklin Graham cited the parable of the Good Samaritan to posit that our Lord Jesus Christ would advocate for the covid vaccine; a vaccine that is still unproven to protect a person from a second infection and is not able to protect from the new variants of the virus (At the conclusion of this post, I have left a link to the original article I have cited).

Before fact checking Mr. Graham’s belief, let me proclaim that I am not advocating for or against taking a vaccine. What any discerning person ought to do, when considering taking anything into their body is be properly informed first. Secondly, even if it appears to be trending in a more positive direction, that person, if they are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, MUST follow the command of those who are the children of God, who are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), which is clearly laid out for us in Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil”.

When the word of God gives no clear direction on something specific, like a vaccine, we do not assume we have justification to dive in, but we wait on the Lord for clear direction; when the word says “in all your ways” it means “in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct.” We certainly do not search the scripture for a twistable passage to use for our own agenda. The point being, Franklin Graham should have left the vaccine as a matter of prayer between the individual and God, but he did not, and his conclusion is unbiblical.

Here is what he said…

“I have even been asked, if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines?

“My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say – yes. I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives,” Graham said.

Graham said. “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.”

In the first place, let us look to see if his use of the parable of the Good Samaritan is an appropriate basis  to advocate for vaccines and the use of medicine. Simply put, it is not.

We find the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. In this parable we find a Jewish man, who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, is robbed and beaten so badly, he is left for dead on the side of the road. We can clearly see this man is not afflicted with a virus but has been harmed because of violent and wicked behavior from men. Secondly, we see that two of this man’s own countrymen and fellow Jews do nothing but leave him to die. It is the third passerby, a Samaritan, who displays compassion and love, by giving him some first aid, taking him to shelter and paying for his lodging expenses, until the good Samaritan would return. The important question, is why did Jesus tell the parable in the first place?

Jesus gives us this wonderful parable to silence a self-righteous Jewish man…

Luke 10:25-29 (NKJV) And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

We see Jesus’ motive in the parable towards the end of His encounter with the self-righteous lawyer, after Jesus tells the story.

Luke 10:36-37 (NKJV) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus’ point was not to justify the use of first aid, or medicine. Let us consider that physicians were plentiful in Israel, through the cult of Asclepius; the pool of Bethesda was in fact an Asklepion, which was a Greek place of healing. Let us remember the plight of the woman with the issue of blood, who had spent all she had on physicians and was not any better but worse.

Let us also acknowledge that Jesus never advocated for the medical profession or even sent anybody to a doctor. Even when sent out the 12 and then the 70, He did not instruct them to take people to doctors or give them medicine, but lay hands on the sick that thy would recover in His marvelous name. Graham said “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.”. So Jesus would have used vaccines rather than healing a person in God’s power, when healing was a biblical fulfillment of prophecy, which defined Him as Messiah (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:18)? 

Let us not forget that there is not one passage of the O.T. where the word of God advocates for vaccines or medicines, being a consistent means of healing, but we are told “I Am the LORD that heals you” so long as He is obeyed (Exodus 15:16), we are also promised that we ought to bless the LORD “Who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases” (Psalm 103:1-5). We are reminded that in Christ’s atonement for our sin, His wounds provide for the healing of our bodies (Isaiah 53:3); which is repeated in  I Peter 2:21-24.

In the Acts of the Apostles and the New Testament letters we see healing in Christ’s name advocated for, but not medicine or vaccines. As a matter of fact, someone usually brings up Luke, as being a doctor, therefore the bible advocates for vaccines and medicine. That idea is patently false, for there is no scriptural record of Luke continuing his physician-ship in the Gospel of Luke or Acts of the Apostles. Despite that fact, Luke’s medical knowledge enables us to see the supernatural power and present ministry of Christ our Healer.

Let us consider, finally, that in James 5:13-18, that if any are sick they can call the elders of the church to anoint with oil in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, pray the prayer of faith and expect that the Lord will raise them up (heal them). Note not one word is said about medicine and remember physicians were plentiful in the Roman Empire.

For those who would scream, “no, no medicine is different today”, I encourage you to do some independent historical search. Medicine calls us to trust man’s concoctions, accept the undesirable side-effects and the fact that the means do not heal you of the condition. Medicine is largely the same. Please understand, I am not saying all medicine is bad, but speaking the truth about its limitations. When God heals there is no limitation or side effect. And we must reconsider our claim that God has given all these wonderful researchers and medical advancements. 

The Bible does say that in the last days knowledge will be greatly increased, but that is not seen as a good thing (Daniel 12:4). in fact, have all these wonderful advancements cured anything fully? The answer is no. Have we worked towards medicine making a better world? No! There are more diseases to worry about now, more than ever and with all the “wonderful” medicines America has become a junkie state of pharmakia.

Therefore, Franklin Graham’s use of the parable of the Good Samaritan and his philosophy concerning God and medicine are at best a dangerous and error prone understanding of the scriptures. At worst his direction is an utter abuse of the power of his ministry platform for personal gain.

As I have contemplated why such a man as Franklin Graham would so publicly advocate for something most followers of Jesus are at least a little uncomfortable with, I have come up with one potential answer. For Samaritan’s Purse to be able to minister in certain places, their workers may be required to be vaccinated; especially if flying to those locations. To hold to any governmental stipends as a tax-exempt ministry, they may be required at some point to mandate vaccines.

Franklin Graham is also the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For BGEA to hold crusades, without the controversy of being a “super-spreader” event, or getting bad press for being anti vaccine, they must appear to support the culturally accepted narrative.

My point, once again, is not to advocate against vaccines or medicine, but to point out that the Lord Jesus Christ would not advocate for anything that is not specifically His will. Graham’s use of Jesus Christ, unintentionally or intentionally, adds to the word of God; and ought to be rightly corrected. We do not make doctrine concerning anything based on a passage taken out of context, nor based on what “I think Jesus Christ” would advocate. To do so is to put words in the mouth of our Savior and add to the word of God. May our brother Franklin Graham repent of this error and very soon.

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NKJV) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Proverbs 30:5-6 (NKJV) Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV) For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Franklin Graham’s Claim about Jesus and Vaccines

Franklin Graham’s Claim about Jesus and Vaccines 2

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Getting Caught Looking Around the Corner of “What Ifs” Street #3

As we have been looking into the poor state of faith and practice in those who first received James 5:1-11, we have discovered that recovering from a fall into carnal and un-Christlike behavior takes obedience to God’s commands. To combat their carnal behavior, arising from a growing anxiety over coming persecution) and the difficulties associated with persecution); we are commanded “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. Relief will come from the Lord eventually but wait on Him to bring it rather than take short cuts to alleviate a perceived lack.

 Secondly, we are commanded with greater intensity concerning Christ’s return and our need to heed the first command… “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold the Judge is standing at the door”. Should we not heed the first command, we must not miss the second, or we will have controversy with our soon returning King. This is not a small matter, and why the Holy Spirit reminds us of the struggles of the prophets. This is a noteworthy reminder that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12.

(If you Haven’t read part I or part II, click the following links… part I, part II)

To further magnify this point, we receive another admonition form the Old Testament, concerning a man who suffered greatly, not for his being sinful, but for his being right before God by faith.

Verse 11 begins with “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the intended end by the Lord”. Let us lay a little groundwork, before seeing God’s purpose in including this O.T. reference.

In the first place, Job was suffering for His faith in Christ. Consider with me…

Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

 Wow! The manuscripts we have of the Book of Job, happen to be the oldest in the Old Testament and in them the faithful patriarch speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ prophetically: “For I know my Redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”. Job was  suffering because of his example of faith in God and the one who would come to take away sin once for all.

When God refers to Job as blameless and upright, He was not referring to the man’s sacrifices and works, but the faith that led him to perform sacrifices, which foreshadowed the coming of his Redeemer, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Satan hates a man willing to live dying to himself, to show forth the Savior, because this man will live dying to self and die with Christ’s name on his lips. This is a person, who despite trouble and deprivations, inherently manifests “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This is a man, whom you cannot break by taking things from him, because the only thing he truly possesses is Christ, who has purchased the man with His own blood.

This leads us to God’s intended end. In our American Christian mindset, we often think, in error, that God’s intended end was to give Job back double of all he lost; but that would be inconsistent with what the Lord is communicating to James’ audience. So, what is God’s end intended? We find it in Job 42.

Job 42:1-6 (NKJV) ​ Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

 Job’s words come on the heels of his beginning to question God, as to why he was suffering. His words border on self-righteousness. In an instant, the LORD breaks in and questions Job for almost 4 chapters, in a manner summarized best with the question repeated often, “Where were you when I…”. Here we can see God’s compassion and mercy to break in before Job would violate God’s trust of him by sinning. But this mercy and compassion extends further into a new revelation, understanding and relationship for Job to God.

To God’s question, in devastating humility, Job states ““I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”.

Simply put, Job served God in faith, based on what was passed on to him, based on what he had heard of God. In faith, his service was pleasing to God, but Job did not really know God, therefore his words were partial, imperfect and  ignorantly in error. When he sees and hears God personally, he now sees his sin for what it is and repents and desires a new nature.

Without the sufferings of Job, he would have stagnated in his faith; his self-righteousness would have weakened his faith and led him to a prideful disposition. Suffering was a vehicle for necessary sanctification.

After losing everything, he understands that faith in God is not about good temporary circumstances, but knowing the true God as personal, present, powerful, and loving. Without Job’s new perspective, his double portion would have been his undoing.

This was God’s intended end and why he reminded those who receive James’ epistle, to seek Him in difficulty, rather than attempt to alleviate the pain in shortcuts or looking for someone to blame. The reason for this call is to show us that trials of waiting are to draw us closer to Christ and strengthen individual faith, as well as that of the body of Christ, with the richness of His love, presence, and power.

Sufferings, temptations, and trials are not to lead us into devolving into cynicism, selfishness, partiality, or unbelief. Here is the challenge for us, as we finish this three-part series.

  1. Hope in Christ’s return is out in front of us, as light to guide us in the darkness of our times, until He comes (Titus 2:11-14). This blessed hope will never disappoint (Romans 5:3-5) and is built up by patiently enduring trials arising from our faith. Amid trials, hope in Christ’s return is like the pillar of fire Israel walked by in the wilderness at night.
  2. We must continue to look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, especially when anxiety is injected into our mind and heart. In this, remember that anxiety only produces an assumption on “what if” thinking. Therefore, anxiety is around the corner, and we cannot see around the corner, unless given prophetic insight to do so by the Holy Spirit (which would not produce anxiety).
  3. We cannot maintain focus on Christ, who lights the path in front of us, and be looking even a little at the “what ifs” around the corner. We must apply Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33-34. Where we are called to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting all we need will be given; and remain focused on Christ in the day we are in.

Let us ask the question “Am I being pulled around the corner, away from looking to Jesus in the day, because I am worrying about the “what ifs” to come?

If so… KNOCK IT OFF! You may never reach tomorrow, so worrying about it means we are wasting the time we have today.

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Getting Caught Looking Around the Corner of “What Ifs” Street #2

In part #1 of this blog series (click to read part I), we began to examine James 5:1-11. In the first 6 verses we discovered a church falling into extreme carnality; they were walking in partiality with respect to how much money and power a person had—they were deep into division and character assassination—they we are seeking their own pleasure and protection—they were withholding compassion from the poor.

In verse 7 the word of God gives them a seemingly strange command, rather than simply proclaiming “Stop”, they are commanded “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. God was calling them to live in faith of the blessed hope, in simplicity of faith, rather than seeking to avoid the troubles to come (seeking pleasure and more provision). In this command they are told to “Establish their hearts” in the reality of Christ’s soon coming. This was a warning that their behavior was placing their standing in Christ at risk.

 As we discovered, the commands and admonitions are just as relevant for us, as we are tempted to consider the troubles around the next corner, rather than keep our eyes of Christ Jesus. Today we begin with a second command, which amplifies the serious nature of the first one.

 COMMAND #2

In verse 9-11, we begin to see that their desire for more, by ingratiating themselves to the rich, arose from a fear of suffering for their faith. There in verse 10 and 11, the Holy Spirit calls them to consider the prophets and Job; as those who patiently endured suffering for the sake of their faith in Christ. This is the reason the second command begins with “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold the Judge is standing at the door”.

Anxiety over what we assume is around the corner, often leads us to seek solutions through short cut temptations, rather than endure (be patient) in God’s promises. In our efforts to quell our anxiety or seek our wants, we can begin to see even our closest brethren, as obstacles and hindrances. Not only do we begin to destroy with our tongues, we continue to cripple our spiritual life, as we haphazardly walk through the minefield of our unresolved and worn-out emotions. Once their only chaos reigns.

James 3:13-16 (NKJV) Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

 We must heed the admonition given, for those Christians who fall into this destructive path and having taken their eyes of Christ’s return (as their only hope) are warned… vs. 9bBehold, the Judge is standing at the door”.

PERSECUTION AMPLIES A SINFUL FEAR OF LACK OF MATERIAL NEED

When we reach verses 10 and 11, we begin to see why such a wrong focus on material need arises and why we look to the “haves” to make sure we are not “haven nots”: They (we can be) were fearful of being without and block from having what was needed, as persecution grew.

Because they lost their foundation and hope in Christ, they were looking to worldly people wealth and supposed influence to shield them, from the suffering associated with persecution for our faith in Christ.

To Christians in America, this ought to sound awfully familiar. This past election season, in fact the pastor four years, revealed how much like James readers, the church has become in the United States.

Many voted for a man who lacks self-control, candor, and compassion, because a few “Christian Celebrity” pastors and entertainment, supported him. I admit, form a political side, I agreed with much of the former president’s agenda, but when he lost the election, Christians lost their mind. Why? Afraid of suffering under those antithetical to our faith.

Is this a real possibility? Yes!

Is it something that should be driving us into cynical attacks and compounded fears? NO!

Jesus told us we would be persecuted, repeatedly. He let us know the times would come when even the pagan world would believe they are doing God a favor by killing us. The Lord Jesus never guaranteed we would have safety, security, full bellies, multiple changes of clothing or even a personal roof over our head. He promised we would have what we need.

Into these growing realities the Holy Spirit inserts the suffering experienced by the prophets and Job.

 James 5:10-11 (NKJV) My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

We think of Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and those like them, who suffered assassination attempts, wicked queens hunting them, fierce character assassination, lion’s dens and so much more…

Hebrews 11:35-40 (NKJV) Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking’s and scourging’s, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 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— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

 In James 5:10 we understand the Holy Spirit calling us to understand faith in Christ, in this life, is not about maintaining or accumulating enough supply to feel like God loves us. We are called to understand that deprivations and sufferings prove our faithfulness to Christ, which in turn prove His presence with us and faithfulness towards us, as we endure, that which is contrary to us.

Our main concern need not be how we are going to survive the times of coming persecution, but how we will remain faithful to Him, in joy and cheerfulness, when we suffer for His name.

Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV) Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 When we lose this perspective, we begin to look for ways and means of protection. We then take ourselves outside of His covering (Psalm 91) and His provision (Psalm 23). In this mode of thinking we then take offense at anyone who appears as a threat. Perhaps, it is for this reason James brings up Job; a man who lost everything and therefore had little to fight over. It is to Job we look to for our next admonition. Until then Stay close to Jesus.

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Getting Caught Looking Around the Corner of “What Ifs” Street

The epistle of James is at times one of the more scathing letters written to the Church of Jesus Christ. There are several rebukes and admonitions, which are germane to Christians living in the United States and other westernized nations. Let us consider a passage with both rebuke and admonition, which illustrates this point.

REBUKE

James 5:1-6 (NKJV) ​ Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

We must remember that these scathing words were first written to Christians, who were living with a perversion of the gospel. This perversion is remarkably like the elements and produced moral and material circumstances of today’s prosperity gospel. This false gospel was so pervasive that the readers of the epistle of James were showing partiality towards those who would come to fellowship, who were rich (James 2). The poorer brethren were shuffled to the periphery.

It has always been the call of God’s kingdom for those who “have” to give selflessly to those who do not “have” (Acts 4:32-37). The presence or lack of this compassion truly reveals the quality of our life for Christ (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 5:1-11). From what we read in verses 1-5, we understand that the hearers of this letter, were shutting up the bowels of compassion, mercy, and brotherly love; hence they had backslidden into the dangerous position of having dead faith (James 2:26) or worse.

James then calls them out for murder (vs. 6). This of course does not mean they were knifing or stabbing each other with swords, but that they were assassinating one another with words. This diagnosis calls us back to our Savior’s words in Matthew 5:21-22, where He equates  the assassination of a person’s character with words, as akin to physically taking their life “for the power of death and life are in the tongue” [Proverbs 18:21]). The entirety of James 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 deal with this egregious practice and its pervasiveness in the church the epistle was written to.

Let’s be honest, these very same things represent a large swath of the church in America, where portions of the prosperity gospel have been sown throughout most evangelical denominations (a discussion of another time); whether Pentecostal, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Liturgical or Main-line Protestant.

Additionally, the urge to respect persons who have and can improve our situation is also sown throughout our humanity, therefore we must be on guard. Although this tendency is innate in all humanity (born in sin), it rises in a Christian’s heart from a lack of trust in God; from being antsy or anxious about the future. In this state, when what we seek does not quell the anxiety about what is around the corner, we are tinder boxes soaked in gasoline; ready to explode into character assassination. 

This is often the case (as was with those who first heard this message) in the Church in America, from an individual perspective, as well as a corporate one. This is part of American cultural DNA, where we are socialized to think we need more than we have (This must be denied for Christ). Once stimulated these thoughts lead to us seeking to have just a little more, for the sake of feeling more solid for what may come.

In this we forget, He has promised to provide what we need (Matthew 6:24-33; Philippians 4:19). Subsequently, we grow more anxious, as we are pulled to anticipate the “what if’s” around the corner. We believe these “what ifs” to be adversarial and inevitable. Therefore, we become fixated on them, rather than on Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith. In this condition James offers a stiff admonition (mild rebuke or firm warning) in love.

 ADMONITION

James 5:7-11 (NKJV) Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Through James, the Holy Spirit is calling them (and us) to refocus on what is fundamental concerning our faith. The word of God gives us 2 commands with three examples, to reveal how we avoid having our fixation pulled from hope into hopelessness, which leads to the sinful behavior in the first six verses.

COMMAND #1

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. Here we see they had ceased from gaining hope, confidence, and patient endurance, from looking for the blessed hope, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

Where had their attention fallen to? In focusing on the “what ifs” to come, they looked like cheap substitutes. They were driven by their anxiety over having what was material. They had tried to look around the corner to avoid “what ifs” so much, that they were not paying workers, were looking to fellowship with the rich, (whether saved or not, to advance their purpose and quell their fears) and had shut off compassion to the brethren most in need.

This is a problem for Christians in America. Gone are the days, where filled with the Spirit, we minister the gospel and refuse to worry about the material, as we trust where He calls He will provide. We constantly court donors (church people) to give more and more. Rather than pray, we seek to finance buildings and programs which will bring in more people (potential donors) to pay our pastoral salaries and buildings and properties cost. This is a far cry from Holy Spirit produced faith and love of the early church in Acts 4:32-37, where those who owned property sold it (giving all the money) for those in the body of Christ who were most in need.

What James’ readers were falling into, is a problem for us as well. In our anxiety we justify working ourselves to death, voiding ourselves of fellowship to make a buck, and missing intimacy with Christ in the word and prayer. Remember that Matthew 6:24-33 is an admonition from Jesus to all disciples, not to get programed to live beyond the day at hand, and what is needed. When we do, worry and anxiety pull our minds around the corner, to see the “what ifs”, rather than trusting Him and looking for His return. This is when we run the risk of producing “dead faith”.

In addition to the command to be “patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”, we are given the admonition to consider the example of a farmer, who plants his field, then in trust waits for the former and latter rain, to do what only God can; make the crops grow. Happily, the farmer, fertilizes, weeds, and works the field, but he must wait on the rain, which is the purview of God. In the first admonition, James’ readers are commanded to “be patient” wait on God for what you need rather than stockpiling, worrying, and looking for ways to produce what may not be needed at all.

How are we to exercise patience, waiting faithfully no matter what circumstances arise? “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand”. This means to anchor your heart to your Holy Spirit born desire for Christ’s return. Faith and hope, fixated on Jesus’ soon return, is the very element which produces godliness (Titus 2:11-14; II Peter 3:1-13) and relieves the pain from the trials of our life (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). If our gaze shifts from the Author and Finisher of our faith, the subsequent anxiety will lead to impiety and ungodly behavior, like is described in the first 6 verses of James 5.

In our next post we see why this ungodly behavior was so pervasive in the fellowship James epistle is written to and is often far too pervasive in our fellowship.

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