The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 2

In my last post we discussed what happens to those who die outside of Christ.; the are confined to hell. Hell is a word used for both the temporary holding place of the wicked dead, as well as the place of eternal punishment, which is the lake of fire.

In the Old Testament, the temporary place of the dead is labeled Sheol. When considering the New Testament equivalent, we discover the word Hades, which in some older translations is translated as “Hell”.

It is important to note Sheol/Hades/Hell is a real geography in the “lower parts of the earth”, where those who die outside of Christ are conscious and experience pain, fear, anxiety, regret and loss, as they wait their final judgment. If you have not read Part 1 of this series, click here for the scriptural background on Sheol/Hades/Hell.

Today we will examine the final judgment, which is most often translated “hell” in the New Testament, which is related to Hades, but a separate eternal location in God’s final judgment of humanity’s sin.

Let’s begin with an often missed passage of scripture in the gospel of John.

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Interestingly, this passage reveals that all people will be resurrected, with bodies that will never die; those who received the grace of God in Christ Jesus to live forever with Christ and those who did not (receive God’s grace in Christ) will suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). Lest we forget Jesus words mirror the Old Testament revelation of eternal life with the Messiah for those who follow Him and eternal punishment or condemnation, for those rejecting Him. 

Daniel 12:1-2 (NKJV) “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

It is now important to form our understanding of word of God basis for the second death, and why it is translated “hell: (Revelation 20:11-14).

GE-HENNA

When referring to God’s eternal punishment on those who reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider the Greek word ge-henna, which is translated as “hell” in most New Testament passages dealing with the fire of eternal punishment.

Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:29 (NKJV) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Matthew 25:41-43 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

Mark 9:47-48 (NKJV) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

In dealing with our last passage, we get a full view of the real time illustration Jesus was using, when choosing the word ge-henna, which in the Jewish mind was seen in the “Valley of Hinnom” outside of Jerusalem. During the times of the wicked kings of Judah, they burned their children to death, in sacrifice to pagan deities and in rebellion against YHWH.

Because the Jews considered this valley “curse” (because of the prior abominable activities), the only thing they would use it for, was to burn the tons of trash produced by the city and surrounding area. This was practiced from after their return from Babylonian captivity, through the time of Christ.

The fire, in “the valley of Hinnom” was never quenched, because of the volume of trash, which needed to be incinerated. There were also always ample worms because of the garbage, so despite the heat, “die not”.

This was the illustrated message Jesus most often use in teaching the disciples about the eternal nature of the second death and it’s torments, which never end for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below are a few more passages describing eternal punishment.

OUTER DARKNESS SPACIAL REALTION RELATIONAL DISTANCE FROM CHRIST

Matthew 8:12-13 (NKJV) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

The above passage is one of three referring to eternal punishment as outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. II Thessalonians will enable us to reconcile an assumed contradiction to “hell fire”, which is not normally thought- of as dark.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NKJV) since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

In these two passages reveal eternal punishment as being in lake of fire (the second death). We also discover that outer darkness reveals the spiritual/soul punishment of being relationally separated from Christ, who is the Light of the world, because of their sin. This hopelessness is outer darkness, which causes weeping and gnashing of teeth. This understanding carries with it a spatial distance “away from the presence of the Lord, for those who suffer eternal punishment. 

As we consider the nature of the second death, in the lake which burns with fire, we must confess its absolute awesome and overwhelming terribleness. Not only will those who wind up there, suffer pain in a body that will never die, but they will live forever in the knowledge that they can never get free, because they used their free will choice to reject Christ’s call to repentance and faith in His cross and resurrection.

let’s meditate for a moment on what Revelations says about the finality of eternal condemnation.

Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

In the above passage we see the temporary nature of Hades, as it will end in the lake of fire. We are also left with the sobering reality of those who are cast into the lake of fire.

Is there a danger to those who are truly in Christ. No, as our sin was judged at the cross; unless we begin to walk in unbelief (See John 15:1-8; Romans :17-23; Hebrews 6:4-6).

Let the reality of the second death, cause us to be sober in our faith for we live in the last days and apostasy is abounding. This apostacy was prophesied and it is not a pagan religion but a counterfeit Christianity, where there is a form of godliness, which denies the power of godliness (II Timothy 3:5).

As we consider our times, let us look to share the gospel and call the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. May we never be those who do not live fully for Christ, who is the Truth.

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.

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The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 1

Lazarus and the rich man: parable or not? | Theo-sophical Ruminations

Over the years I have had many conversations and taught often of what occurs when a follower of Jesus Christ dies. Simply put, they find themselves immediately in the presence of Christ for, “absent from the body is present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

Scripture is clear that when the rapture takes place, those who have died in Christ will receive a glorified body first, then those who remain will be caught up, that for all eternity we will be in perfect form with Christ forever (I Thessalonians 3:13-18).

This truth ought to be a comfort to all who follow Christ, as it is central to our blessed hope, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

On the contrary, it has been my experience that most Christians and sadly many ministers, know or rarely consider, the next stop for those who die outside of Christ (before the final judgment). Not only is grasping this truth essential to our walking out the Great Commission, but also in understanding some controversial passages of the New Testament.

Recently, while thinking on the loss of a family member that my wife and I were very close too (a family member who was not a follower of Jesus Christ), I began to ponder again what the Bible says about hell.

Relatively speaking, the family member that passed away suddenly, was a good person in comparison to many others, but had rejected the gift of God’s grace in Christ. Being a fairly religious person, liked by many, and having raised a family, she was good enough, in her own eyes and the eyes of most people, many have said, I am sure, “She’s in a better place”.

The only problem is that there are none “good enough” to be righteous before God, sufficient to pay for their own sin. When a person trusts their good works are good enough to appease God’s holy justice, all their righteous works are as used menstrual rags; utterly useless (Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 64:6).

We understand, from the bible that, “by the deeds of the law will no flesh be justified in His sight”, “for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God”; “that the wage of sin is death” or eternal separation from God. This end is ultimately in the lake which burns with fire, that is referred to as the second death (Romans 3:20-23; 6:23; Revelation 20:14-15).

My wife and I attempted to share the gospel with this family member several times, over the years, to no avail. She was always fine in her own eyes and a little ticked that our sharing the truth suggested she would wind up in hell. This is often the case with those who are lost in religiosity and self justification. I submit it is further rooted in the human sin nature we are born with, as Jesus revealed in John 3:18-21.

John 3:18-21 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

This condemnation is what came to mind, when I was reading the word of God over a month ago and I thought of my deceased family member. Out of nowhere, I imagined her in torment, totally conscience, fearful, suffering and awaiting the most dreadful day for all mankind… the Day of the final judgment of the wicked at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20).

My mind and heart were overwhelmed with grief at the finality of the terrible thought, but I could not excuse it, for Hell, scripturally, is seen in the Christian vernacular, as both the temporary place of holding for those awaiting the final judgment (who are apart from Christ), and as the final forever judgment itself. Though related, there is a difference.

HELL (SHEOL or HADES)

In the O.T. there are 23 occurrences of the word Sheol, and in each case it is referring to the temporary place of the dead. Perhaps the most important use of it is in Psalm 16:10, where we are told 700 to 900 years before Christ’s death and resurrection…

Psalms 16:10-11 (NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The reason for this passage’s importance is that it is quoted in Acts 2:27, 31 as a proof to the Jews on the day of Pentecost that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (LORD’s anointed), being He rose from the grave. In another passage, Ephesians 4:9, we see not only the place where Hades is located, but that Jesus visited it, in the three days He was in the grave.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Before we talk of why Jesus descended it is important to first understand the character and make up of Hell (Hades), as a temporary holding place of the dead, in the lower parts of the earth. For this we must look at the true account of Lazarus and the rich man.

In Luke16:19-31, Jesus speaks to us of two men. The first man is a rich man, for whom we are given no name. We understand that he lived very well off and did not regard the poor, very much if at all. This is not an assumption, for sickly beggar Lazarus, was daily lain outside the rich man’s gate and desired just the scraps and thrown out left overs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus’ plight was so dire, that the dogs were the the only one to take pity on him, as they licked his sores.

When Lazarus dies, angels carry him to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man dies and was carried to Hades, where he has consciousness, and feels hunger, thirst and pain as he is awaiting his final judgment. Lazarus was conscious and felt satisfied, as He awaited not judgment, but the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

Luke 16:22-26 (NKJV) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

Here we see the character and nature of Hell/Hades; the temporary place of the dead. Yes it is in the lower parts of the earth. Hades has two parts, one is still filling up, while the other is empty. Abraham’s bosom, the portion that is empty, is where all who died placing their faith in God’s word, were kept until Christ’s death and resurrection. This area was called Abraham’s bosom because He is the father of the faithful; as “he believed the LORD and He accounted it as righteousness to Him” (Genesis 15:6).

It was faith in the coming Redeemer that was the cornerstone of the faith in the O.T. saint. Let us consider Job

Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on 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!

So we see that until Christ’s resurrection, Abraham’s bosom was filled with the O.T. faithful, waiting the resurrection of Messiah. Yes, King David, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, even John the Baptist. They were awaiting the resurrection of Messiah. After He died, He descended, then picked up those held captive to death, and led them captive by his grace and love on high.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Some dispute the above passage confusing the language, because of the second use of the word captive, but the word has a similar connotation to Paul’s use of the word “lay hold of… that which has laid hold of me” and “apprehended” in Philippians 3:11-13.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The above bolded terms give the idea that Paul was apprehended by Christ, arrested and captive to God’s love through the life of God’s Son. On the other hand, Paul was attempting to apprehend the one who apprehended Him. This is important in understanding that Jesus entered (first descended) into Sheol/Hades/Hell to free those in the faith, who were captive to death, until the Redeemer defeated death once and for all. Oh death where is your sting, Oh Hell (Hades) where is your victory!

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Sadly, the place in Hades reserved for those who reject God’s grace in the cross and resurrection of Christ, who refuse to repent and walk in faith in the name of the only begotten son of God, is filled more and more daily. Those who die outside of Christ today and tomorrow, await their final judgement next to the rich man, and every other unrepentant human who has ever lived. What are they awaiting?

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In our next blog, we will take a further look into the finality of the sentence for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Silent SLAUGHTER… 42,000,000!

Dear New York, - Lisa M Griffith

2020 world-wide death toll for Covid-19… 1.8 million dead. Very sad indeed.

2020 world -wide death toll for ABORTION42,000,000 (that’s right 42 million) barbarically slaughtered in the womb! ABSOLUTELY ABOMINABLE!

In America we average around 1,700 abortions per day! around the world the world (which include the U.S. number of 1,700) 115,000 babies are slaughtered per day!

2020 has been sown with fear that Covid-19 could eradicate the human race, so much so, that world economies and governments shut down, and billions of people abandoned rationality and reason giving up personal liberty All because of the fear of a disease that killed 1.8 million. Name the politician or celebrity Christian or well-known pastor, that has panicked for ten seconds over the slaughter of FORTY-TWO MILLION MURDERED CHILDREN!

The reason for the ridiculous disparity…

Although social distancing could aid in reducing unwanted pregnancies, our world culture declares sex with whomever and whenever (even in a pandemic; we’ve made sex about the pleasure we derive from it, rather than it being about marital love, as seen in the conception of a blessed child, conceived in the similitude of God.

There is no mask to protect us from our sinful heart, bent on selfish pleasure and ignoring the precious God-given nature of each human life.

There is no vaccine to defeat the viral nature of sin deep in the heart of all humanity. This inborn sin virus is a 100% killer. All under its influence will suffer FOREVER, because they rejected the love of God in Christ Jesus.

But there is a complete Cure, in the cross and resurrection of Christ. There is cleansing from the stain and influence of sin upon the human frame, that transforms the character and mind of a person, to understand Truth, follow and live in God’s love. There is a Savior, the one and only Lord Jesus Christ, who died for all men, that they may be forgiven and walk in the light of His truth.

Repent America! Turn from your wickedness, your apathy, your indifference and receive Christ by faith.

WAKE UP CHURCH! 42,000,000 slaughtered children and a world using Covid-19, in an attempt to silence the church, ought to tell you Jesus words are coming to pass; we are living in the very last of days.

Matthew 24:9-13 “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.

Who will speak up for the little ones? Who will stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and live out God’s love, regardless of consequence?

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Christian’s Wake Up… The Wolves are Among Us! #2

PictureMeDead's Profile at Vampire Rave.

In an article entitled “Chris Pratt tells far left and far right to quit the divisiveness: ‘Under God we’re indivisible'”, the actor lectures both sides of the political spectrum, concerning the divided nation of the United States of America. In so doing he propagates falsehoods, that I have heard repeated in the churches I have pastored in. 

Why the Christian Post continues to hold up Christ Pratt and what surrounds his life as worthy of Christian reporting in beyond me. The pledge of allegiance, no matter how much I like it (and I do), is not a divine doctrine, dogma, or creed.

When the pledge was first penned, by socialist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892, “one nation under god” was not include in the pledge. In fact, the phrase was not even in its second incarnation in 1923. It was not until President Eisenhower forced its insertion in 1954, that it began to be recited. In lieu of these facts, it’s not difficult to understand, why we are a divided nation. Not everyone in America believe or follows one true God.

Therefore, Pratt’s use of the Pledge coupled with the lie “we’re all children of God”, reiterates a false doctrine that cannot bring any real unity in or out the church. 

Do we understand that we are not all children of God?

Romans 8:7 reveals all humanity, apart from Christ to be “at enmity against God” in our practice and thought. Ephesians 2:3-5 delineates that “all men are born children of wrath”Colossians 3:6 that we are born “children of disobedience”.

The point is that we are not born children of God, by natural birth. Even our being created in His image is marred by sin, as Adam, brought forth children in “his own likeness (image)” as we discover in Genesis 5:3, after the fall in the Garden.

America, as with other nations, will never be united under the one true God, this side of Christ’s return, because all nations oppose Christ in the last days; and the United States will never be filled with only followers of Christ.

Pratt’s emotionalism, sounds nice, and is given in sincerity (I am assuming), but is a half-baked attempt to get democrats and republicans to get along, through religious appeal (not through truth). He would have done well to say to both sides, were not different, but all under sin, REPENT or PERISH.

That is definitely true, but would have fell on deaf ears, from a man who readily professes Christ, yet continues to lie for a living (as an actor), participating in and making films pushing life and behavior contrary to the word of God; all the while making millions of dollars.

The Christian Post, needs to stop propping this man up as a Christian, they are only hurting him and their readership. Let’s pray for Chris Pratt, who appears very sincere, that he might repent and escape the lies and false doctrine surrounding Him; that he would truly find satisfaction in Christ alone.

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Christian’s Wake Up… The Wolves are Among Us!

Why the Christians Post believes Chris Pratt’s social media is relevant to their readers lives is beyond my comprehension. In an article entitled “Chris Pratt grateful for online Christmas service, says Jesus died for everyone“, the news organization propped up the actor’s comments in a very positive light. 

The church needs to be wary of Christians in Hollywood and news organizations, which feel the need to write about them, when their words and actions are not reflective of the faith once delivered to the saints. There is zero compatibility between true biblical faith and anything attached to entertainment media in America.

Chris Pratt may have genuine belief, in Christ, but that does not mean he is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing or tare among the wheat; we know the real from the authentic by their fruit, not what they profess (Matthew 7:17-27). We know the real from the authentic by whether their doctrine and life practices fall into boundaries of God’s word.

Remember the demons believe Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:19-20). Profession and sincerity concerning the cross of Christ are meaningless without repentance and works revealing repentance and faith.

Pratt is right, in that Christ died for all sinners, but He rose that we would walk in a newness of life (Romans 6). That truth means we no longer walk in the behavior we once did. Our sinning is not to be into the old patterns or paths, but missing the mark, as we are attempting to walk in Christ’s righteous call (I John 1:7-9; 3:4-9).

Chris Pratt’s sincerity may be real, but without a life which is aligned with the scripture, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consider that he has appeared in movies where he has had and still has simulated sex with woman he is not married too. He plays a character in Guardians of the Galaxy, which has used the middle finger, killed without conscience, used banal conversation, had sex with many female alien and human. The character he plays in continuing Marvel Comics story lines is explicitly bi-sexual.

That resume is problematic for a lost person, let alone one who garners the attention of the Christian world, as a model of the faith.

Someone may say, well that is his job, what is he to do? Walk away and live for Christ, plain and simple.

Why do we Christian’s need a “Christian Hero” in Hollywood? We are seeking to fill our time by please ourselves and entertaining ourselves into spiritual insensitivity; all the while funding smut and worthless endeavors.

We have lost two generations of Christina’s in this county, by teaching that if we profess belief with our mouth and “invite Jesus into my heart” (with no repentance or Christ ruling our lives as Lord), we have a ticket to ride to heaven. This error is what Christ Pratt, sadly has never herd, or refuses to surrender too. This falsehood is without any repentance or transformation commensurate to the N.T. call.

We ought to also be extremely uncomfortable with Pratt’s use of the Catholic mass as a viable form of Christian practice, as the article states.

Catholicism is not the faith once delivered to the saints, but a syncretism of Judaism, paganism, and Christianity. Its mass is blasphemy against Christ’s once for all sacrifice on our behalf (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 10:10). Yet the Christian Post refuses to delineate or discern between truth and error; and many Christians do not discern or delineate either.

We need to awake from our slumber, arise from the dead and let Christ give us light. Seen them that we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil. Therefore, do not unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:14-17). 

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Is His Word, a Contemptuous Insult? God Forbid! PART II

Pin on christian spiritual quotes

(2 Timothy 3:4-7) …lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(Jeremiah 6:10) To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

(If you have not read Part I click here to read

How does the church arrive at a place, where when sin and its serious consequences are spoken of, and the message is heard, yet not heeded; where it irritates those hearing it, rather than drawing them to the Lord? Where that individual or church, rather than revealing Christ, operates in a “form of godliness, but denying its power” and is “loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”?

Make no mistake this was occurring in Timothy’s day, and in the times of Jeremiah; few were hearing the message as God intended, most took it as a reproach. Remember from our last time together, God’s word, His call and His loving correction, were a derogatory insult; a cruel sucker punch from the Lord and His minister. Why?

THAT WHICH LEADS TO GOD’S WORD BECOMING A VILE REPROACH

Verse 6 begins to peel back the layers to find the slowing rotting center. “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hear”.

When dealing with circumcision, it deals with God’s conventional relationship to Israel and His church. Recall with me, that circumcision deals with the covenant of faith. To enter there needs to be a transaction, like when Abraham entered covenant with God.

 “And he believed the LORD and He accounted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). To enter covenant with God all that was needed was faith in God’s word and promise. In Genesis 17, we see that physical circumcision was a sign of that covenant of faith. After that initial transaction there is no need for further transaction, as the just shall live by faith. Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was essentially faith in Christ, who is the Pinnacle of the descendants of Abraham.

The problem with Israel, who were children of Abraham, is they wanted to live in a transactional relationship to God, rather than in covenant with God.

In covenant God makes promises because of His love and is faithful, out of His love for us, to keep His promises. God’s people out of love and gratitude, for His love and faithfulness, promise to obey Him out of a heart of love. Note there is no transaction needed anymore, only faithfulness from both parties.

Most of Israel mistook the sacrifices and commands of God, as gaining credit for good deeds done, rather than holy reminders of their sinful state and God’s mercy to them. His command to sacrifice was not only to temporarily cover their sin, but one day removed it completely through the Lamb of God.

In their error they believed they were righteous by profession and wanted prosperity and for God to bail them out of their troubles. To save them from their temporary troubles. Their good deeds, to them was credit, a transaction with God, by which He was to give them blessing in return.

Most cared little if at all for being with or led by God daily; for that demanded obedience to His word. He continued to call them in covenantal relationship, where they obeyed Him because of their gratitude and love; they only wanted to say their prayers, make their religious sacrifice, give their tithe, get His blessing, and live as kings and queens of their own lives.

Having uncircumcised ears, THEY COULD NOT HEAR. Let’s not believe in error, we are exempt.

Church, we have the same problem. Romans 2:29 declares that true believers have a circumcised heart. Praise God the sign of that covenant is not circumcision, but baptism. Not only is baptism and identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, but it is also a prophecy of our living a changed life, in righteousness, as we obey His word, because of love (Romans 6:1-14).

Note, our obedience is not transactional, but covenantal, because the transaction occurred prior to our faith.

As with the first covenant, it began with a transaction: Christ bled and died to pay the penalty of our sin, which makes the removal of sin and its penalty from our account—brings peace between us and God and overcomes the sting of death. Christ’s death and resurrection is the transaction needed.

We receive this blessed transaction of redemption by repentance and faith, in Christ’s finished work. The purpose of Christs propitiation, and redemptive work (transactional word), was that we may live in covenant with God.

Romans 6:12-14 (NKJV) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Why yield to Christ with and in us, to righteousness? In the first place, we can. Secondly, we understand the value of the cross and resurrection is that we can and want to love God through obeying His word (John 14:15-23). No transaction but covenant.

How ought this relationship be seen?

When we hear messages on a need to drop sinful or carnal behavior, we grieve and run to commit all to Christ, as an expression of loving surrender. When called to a holy life, we do not belly ache, but rejoice He has paid for it in full, and determine that for His glory and fame we will walk it out. When we find we have a hindrance to being able to glorify Him, with His love for us as our fuel, we let patience have its perfect work, in making us more like Him.

But why is this not the normal disposition of our churches? Because we have made salvation all about the transaction. Our faith is no longer about loving God with all our heart, but how much more He should love us, because we do this or that.

This has arisen over the last 70 years in the church in America and is called cheap grace. ABC (acknowledge, believe, and confess Him as Savior) and you are in; God loves you and nothing else matters. Rather than tell the truth, that there is no saving faith without repentance (or turning away and leaving your former life); we have made salvation about a transaction called,   “accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”.

Therefore, people get baptized, assume their ticket to heaven will get them blessed and happy in this life, only to be disappointed when trouble comes; and it will come. As trouble continues, they are often frustrated believing God does not love them. This mentality arises for the person never moved into covenantal relationship with God. I read my bible, pray, go to church, got baptized; you give me what I want, get me out of the trouble. More frustration arises as we begin to believe we deserve better from God, as we figure we have kept our end of the bargain.

What is it that we deserve from God, for goody good moralistic behavior, apart from Christ? Revelation 20:1-10 declares we deserve eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

That is the only transactional information we need, besides the benefit of Christ’s transaction in His own blood: we do not get what we deserve, but God’s love in covenantal relationship, as the children of God (Romans 8:14-17). Israel was destroyed for this wrong attitude and disposition to the LORD, so too shall we if we do not repent and understand His love, the transaction, and our call to love Him back unreservedly (Romans 5:8).

As individuals we are called to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith—to work our salvation with fear and trembling. I make no personal judgment on you, as I need this instruction as well, but the body of Christ in America, almost exclusively is ignoring God’s call to deeper conventional relationship to Him.

There are excuses and justifications, but it really comes down to the fact that we are not hearing God call us to Himself, because we do not delight in His word or His will.

(Jeremiah 6:10)…Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

We ought not need a voice from heaven, His word is sufficient. In both Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 we are called to delight in his word for the purpose of being filled with His Spirit, fruitful, and at peace in troubled times. In these same passages we are called to meditate on His word day and night. Palm 119:9-12 reveals delight in His word is what keeps us from sin. This takes more than reading.

Psalm 40:8-11 was written by David, capturing the heart of Messiah 750 years before His birth. This is also describing the heart of those delighting in the word of God. Like Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, they “delight to do His will”, because that is the heart of covenant relationship with God.

In lieu of this, some may still stubbornly refuse to heed His call to your own detriment, believing, “I accepted Jesus, I am fine.” When you hear the challenge, it borders on reproach.

 How do we turn the tide? First acknowledge it today. Secondly, turn to His word with your whole heart. Receive the full benefit of Christ’s transaction on your part. IT IS FINISHED.

Now live in obedience, because you love Him with all your heart.

 

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Is His Word, a Contemptuous Insult? God Forbid!

(2 Timothy 3:1-7) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Have you ever been suckered punched in the face? If not, good for you, but imagine someone walking up to you calling a derogatory name and… BAM. To who ever s being referred to in II Timothy 3:1-7, the words may hit like and insult then a sucker punch.

II Timothy 3:1-7, came from Paul to his protégé Timothy: a young pastor of the Ephesians Church. In two letters to Timothy, we learn that many of those in the Ephesian Church, were so beholden to their idea of Christian seniority and self-righteousness, that they blasted godly young pastor, with intimidation and insult. The there was also a prevalence of false doctrine. Paul did not instruct Timothy to ignore these issues but handle them as led by the Holy Spirit.

When we read the words of II Timothy 3:1-7, we understand, Paul was not speaking about the general condition of man, but the state of the Church in the very last days; where the true church would need to contend with and avoid being overcome in the apostacy described in the verses. Therefore, the perilous times would not only include the rage of Satan’s world kingdom, but a church overrun with those “having a form of godliness but denying the power” of godliness.

These perilous times (furious, fierce, and dangerous days), are designed by the enemy to pound the church and its leaders into falling away from the true faith (apostacy), into a tainted and perverse form of Christianity, which is not godly or holy, yet appears to be to the undiscerning. Timothy was living in the advent of last days, as we are living awfully close of the very end of the last days.

Can anyone argue the advance of wickedness over the last 50 years, which in addition to the weight of fulfilled prophecy, reveals we are indeed in the height of the fullness of this passage? This is true not only in the lost world, but in a majority of what passes for Christianity.

Suggesting this passage speaks primarily about the church, brings the ire of many a professing Christian, as does preaching on overcoming sin, living a Holy life, or suggesting we need to humble ourselves and seek the Lord together or pray. Timothy was fighting against these things invading the church then, we are being overcome by them now more and more. Speaking about them, even in love, is being taken more as an insult to the hearer than God’s loving correction (Proverbs 3:11-12).

If we want to avoid the most severe and apparent language of II Timothy 3:1-7, “having a form of godliness, but denying its power” (religion without Holy Spirit empowerment or presence)—being “loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts” (religious apostacy)—”always learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (a profession of salvation, with a corresponding life); we need to know why, and how to recover, or risk falling away from the faith once delivered to the saints.

(Jeremiah 6:10-12) To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; a they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD. I am weary of holding it in. “I will pour it out on the children outside, and on the assembly of young men together; for even the husband shall be taken with the wife, the aged with him who is full of days. And their houses shall be turned over to others, fields and wives together; for I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land,” says the LORD.

We will pay specific attention to verse 10. Before we dive in, it is important to understand that from verse one of Jeremiah 6, the Lord desires to warn His people to repent and stage off coming judgment. It is this reason which reveals the grief of the Lord in verse 10 “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?”

What was the reason they could not hear the call of the Lord to repentance and return to Him with their full heart? Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them. The reason for them not hearing the word of the Lord is the same reason we can fall into fulfilling the three statements in bold from II Timothy 3:1-7, above. But what does it mean that the word of the Lord can be a reproach to them or us? 

HIS WORD BECOMES AND CONTEMPTUOUS INSULT TO HIS PEOPLE

Back in September when I first really studied this passage, I was stunned to learn what the word reproach means in this passage. “reproach” is defined in the Hebrew language in this passage as “a rude disgraceful insult… the pudenda; which causing contempt”.

The first three I get, but the pudenda had me guessing. Upon looking it up I found the word contemptuous force of a rude, disgraceful insult. The “pudenda” is the word in Hebrew used to describe the female genitalia.

The Lord was saying to Israel that when Jeremiah speaks My word, it was akin to insulting a man by labeling him as female genitalia. Wow! In other words, when the prophet spoke the word for their good, they took it as an insult against them, which engendered contempt against the prophet and God Himself.  

Was this because Jeremiah lacked tack? No. was it because they had low self-esteem? No. Was it because God was a kill joy, and expected too much from them? No, no at all.

It is this attitude of heart, which is either never repented of, or springs up  over time, which leads to a form of godliness, which denies the power—being loaded with sins and carried away in various lusts—and always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the One who is the Truth.

Let us face facts, concerning the church in America: We have more sin practice in our midst than growing in the practice of righteousness and true holiness. We have more in bondage than free in Christ. We have more selfishness than the mind of Christ and more justifiers of failure than overcomers.

Why is this the case when we have access to His written word? Because we are not being taught by the One who is the power of godliness: The Holy Spirit!

We have too many devotionals and bible readers and list prayers, but little absolute surrender to seek the Lord in the secret place, be led by Him in the moment and obey His word no matter what; for the sake of love.

Because this is the case for so many Christians in the U.S. (that profess Christ but do what is right in their own sight), when called to “come out from among the world and be separate”— or to “Lay down our carnal worldly lusts and amusements”— Or we are told there is more to salvation than being forgiven and holding on till the rapture; we behave like the actor in the movie “Taxi Driver” as if to say “Are you talking to me?”.

As a pastor for almost 18 years, I have gotten the above attitude or “Who does he think he is?” or “I will not heed his call!” consistently, in almost a majority of those ministered to. We must remember the “he” speaking is not Jeremiah or Mike or some other preacher; it is the LORD. We must be careful not to allow His word to become an insult to us, a contemptuous label stoking pride and bitterness.

In my next blog we will discover why His word was a reproach, a vile insult, rather than the grace and love of God His word was and is, as He called them and us to His kingdom. 

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Not only my HAND, But My LIFE for My Jesus Christ!

(Philippians 1:19-23) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

In the midst of the hyper focus of Christians in America (and throughout the world), on the presidential election this past week, I was blessed to be missing most of it, being occupied in other things. On Monday, the Lord Jesus kindly, opened a door for me to fellowship with pastors from India, who are men of God. These men asked me to share God’s word with them. Truth told, they live God’s word in ways my teaching could never effectively communicate. Over the course of a couple of hours with them on a zoom call, I was the one blessed, as they live in circumstances most American Christians would crumble under.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, as part of the Courtside Ministries team in Seneca County, I was immersed in the size of our mission. So many people who need redemption in Christ, deliverance in Christ, Healing in Christ and discipleship in Christ. Our team rejoiced in the power of God, evident in sharing the gospel, praying for God’s power to come to bear in difficult trials and the joy we all shared in simply focusing on our 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year mission: To testify of the risen Savior.

The one political reality we admitted, was regardless of who wins the elections, we would joyfully and with all the strength we can muster, meet again in ministry next Tuesday and Wednesday, God willing. We all were aware that regardless of what was shaking a large amount of the Christian population, under the blue skies and in the cold morning air, we were part of God’s will, work and kingdom; a kingdom that will never be overcome, shaken or diminished, because our King Jesus is and always will be undefeated.

(Acts 2:23-24) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Which brings me to today and a testimony concerning a brother in Christ who lives in Ethiopia. What he declared a truth perhaps we will lay hold of, which is alluded to in Philippians 1:19-23 above.

Kofi is willing to sacrifice his life for Christ.

When the young Ethiopian man came to faith his community turned against him, but he remains committed to following Christ. Kofi grew up as a Muslim, but when an evangelist introduced him to Christ, he was instantly drawn to the saving grace of God and became a Christian. As Kofi grew in his faith, he began sharing it with others, which angered local mosque leaders. They brought him before the local Islamic court, where Kofi told them he could never give up his new faith. The leaders decided to set a trap for him, sending a mob out to the farmland of Kofi’s brother, claiming a property line dispute. When Kofi appeared, the crowd shouted, “This is the enemy of Allah!” and began to beat him. His left hand was so badly injured that doctors had to amputate it. Pray for Kofi, who told Christians who visited him, “I am happy not only to give my hand for Jesus, but I am ready to give my life for faith in Jesus Christ.” Pray for continued recovery, provision and witness in the area.

A little information is in order, concerning the country brother Kofi lives in. Ethiopia is  a growing and militant Islamic population. On the other hand, the nation touts religious freedom, but does not protect Christians. It has been this way for decades. In this environment, Kofi and the majority of the Christian population do not seek for politicians to give them the life they desire, because they do not desire a material peace or kingdom. They seek to be faithful to Jesus, even when losing their hand.

We Christians in America ought to mark well what Kofi declared ““I am happy not only to give my hand for Jesus, but I am ready to give my life for faith in Jesus Christ.” He apparently is living in Paul’s wheelhouse, rather than  an erroneous one built by misuse of scripture we have built. What is Paul’s wheelhouse, or that of those in the early church or those who truly love God’s word?

“as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”

Kofi is willing to live in a nation where Christian’s have no rights, to glorify God. He is willing to love his enemies and seek not his own preference, for the glory of God. He rejoices to bear the marks of Christ’s suffering, as an honor and privilage and even die, if it is for the glory of Christ. Are we?

Amazon.com: Beyond the Gates of Splendor: Steve Saint, Carmela, Dawa,  Dayumae, Frank Drown, Kathy Saint Drown, Elisabeth Elliot Gren, Dave  Howard, Kimo, Olive Fleming Liefeld, Christopher Maleki, Marilou McCully,  Jim Hanon, Bill

Beyond the Gates of Splendor” is a documentary film, which tells the story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Peter Fleming; how they were martyred by a violent and isolated tribe in the Amazon Basin of South America. A 1957 book by Jim Elliott’s widow entitled “Through the Gates of Splendor” recounts what became of the five men of God, as well.

In the documentary, and years after the murder of the men, a friend who worked for the Exon company, recounted a conversation he had with the men a short time before he left to make first contact with this tribe. Knowing the murderous leanings of this particular tribe, this friend of the men pleaded for them to take weapons for their safety. Though they had weapons the five men declared, they would never use them on the tribesmen, because although the missionaries knew where they were going, should they die, the Acau Indians did not..

A year after their death, after Jim Elliott’s wife Elizabeth and her two children and Rachel Saint (sister of martyred Nate Saint), went into the jungle to locate this murderous tribe and continue what the 5 men began. To everyone’s surprise they were received. After receiving the gospel, they laid down their spears and most of the tribe became followers of Jesus.

The point is, that these American missionaries and their families, have the same Spirit which gives resurrection power to Kofi, enabling him to pledge not just his hand to heaven, but his head, his life and for all of them whatever is theirs.

Whether Jesus operates in us in the fashion and fullness He did in the Christians we discussed, is up to us. Fear, invoking personal sovereignty, or placing things or people above God in our life, hinders us from living out the absolute commitment we are called to in Christ.

The largest portion of the problem is that being “saved”, has been made a prayer about our forgiveness, rather than entering into relationship with Almighty God, The Most High and Holy One. Misunderstanding forgiveness, we make our salvation about what we gain, rather than living a relationship to God, whereas loving bond slaves, we are willing to pledge our life to Christ.

Revelation 12:11-12 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Christians in America must admit that the political difficulties we face are not as existentially threatening as they are made to be. We must also admit, our problems are not the tribulations and persecutions our brethren face around the world. Do we have the same heart and commitment to live for our Lord and Savior as they do? As you consider this fair question, I have included a song to aid in your effort from Keith Green “I Pledge My Head”. The lyrics are below the video.

Well, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel,
And I ask no man on earth to fill my needs.
Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in his love,
And I trust him like those little ones, he feeds.

Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, Id surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorn.
I will teach him to rejoice, and life a thankful praising voice,
And to be like him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I’ve had the chance to gain the world, and to live just like a king,
But without your love, it doesn’t mean a thing.
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost,
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven,
I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven, for the gospel.

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To be FRUITFUL or a TUMBLE WEED, that is in QUESTION?

Everything You Need to Know About Tumbleweeds - Lawnstarter

As election day 2020 is bearing down on Christians in America, it is imperative we take some time to consider our ways (Haggai 1:7). I am not referring to the way we vote, but how we behave in the run up to election day and how we are called to live regardless of the results. In the case of a win, we must remember that gloating is not a Christian virtue. In the event of a loss we must not give in to the impulse to rant incessantly or continually complain, concerning the end of the world as we know it or desire it to be politically.

Let us face a biblical fact: Jesus’ return appears to be close at hand, therefore, regardless of if our choice wins the office of the presidency, the world is rolling towards its culmination, at Christ’s return. For this reason, the Lord offers us a contrast in Jeremiah 17, between the way we are called to be in Christ and the way of those “Christians” who place their trust in men, for the purpose of rescuing their desired and ideal version of life.

This comparison and contrast is so very important, considering what our Lord Jesus declares in Luke 9:23-25 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Sadly, over the past three months, Christians have not only complained incessantly, concerning the possibility of our candidate getting a raw deal, but exhibited anxiety, fear, and at times a lack of discernment considering the ways of politicians; who make inflammatory statements, as a rule, for the purpose of stoking fear in their constituents. This behavior can and does short circuit the life of Christ in us, for we can say we trust Jesus Christ our King, but behave in ways that declare we want a president to do our bidding and to protect our rights; civil rights the word of God never decrees God protects.

America Christians in danger of the same error as the Israelites, when they demanded a king, even after being told what that king would do. In this error, we are not denying ourselves, and are seeking someone to save our way of life. We must wake up, that we don’t lose our own souls.

Even should the candidate with policy more closely reflecting our morality win, he is still a man vey prone to sin, and as such he or any man should not be trusted to provide, protect, or give present comfort. For the Christian, those and all our needs are met in God alone (Psalm 91; Philippians 4:19).

Why is this important? Because the church is so hyper focused on getting their candidate elected, that we have become more tumble weed than fruitful tree.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NKJV) Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.

TUMBLE WEED CHRISTIANS PUT THEIR TRUST IN MEN

The person who trusts in men, meaning they look to men or the ways of men to provide, to protect, and to give comfort concerning their way of life, are defined as “Cursed” by the Lord. To be defined as “Cursed” means to be loathed by God, as a person who does not live out what God’s says it means to trust Him. Simply put, the “Cursed” person is guilty of unbelief, declaring their trust of God for all things (Matthew 6:25-33), yet behaving in ways which deny their profession.

The model for this sinful behavior is laid out in Hebrews 3:6 through Hebrews 4:4. In that section, Israel is given as an example of unbelief, as those who professed to know God, but denied that profession by how they lived opposite of His commands. How did Israel do this? When the going got tough, they complained and wanted another leader, rather than Moses. When that did not work, they wanted a king to be like other nations. This was because they did not like the way God provided, protected, or expected they live for Him with all their heart. 

Yes, they professed to trust him but wanted men to do their bidding. When that desire did not go their way, often by God intervening and giving them hardship that men could not get them out of, they wined, complained, and behaved like pagans; running after the promises of men and other gods. All the while, they still professed to follow YHWH. This, in turn, led to deeper trouble and their being farther away from the one true God.

Why was it a sin for King David to number the people of Israel and Judah  (and what is God's reasoning in killing 70,000 people in reponse to this  sin)? | The

Even Israel’s best, David the second king, fell to trusting in men and “making the arm of the flesh his strength“. II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21 describes how David, in sinful error, numbers the people of Israel. This no doubt arose from pride in man’s might, based on military population. He was not trusting in God who produced victory for Israel, when all odds were against them, but in the “arm of the flesh”. In a catastrophic and deadly way, his desire to trust in men and the flesh, led to the death of 70,000 souls.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the trust given to our current president as the greatest help to Christians and unborn children, is bordering on the absurd; and before I am labeled a liberal, I would never vote for a pro-choice abortion pusher.

The point is, that many Christians in the U.S. see the signs of the times and declare Jesus is coming back soon, but those same Christians will then parrot conservative talking points as preserving the future for our children and grand children.

How does that work, knowing that before Christ’s return, believers are hated and persecuted world wide? Therefore, it does not matter how Republican America is, or what policies are decreed. We are not called in Christ to secure democracy for future generations, but raise our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord, regardless of the government we live under. 

I  believe and look for “the Blessed Hope”, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-14), but that does not mean that American Christians escape political or civil hardship or overt suffering; as have followers of Christ have suffered for their faith in every age.

Truly, the trust we have placed in conservative politicians, is misplaced. Let us vote responsibly, understanding our King Jesus is our only hope and escape. To do other wise is to set ourselves up for disappointment and possibly deception. To do so robs us of the vitality of being fruitful, as we trust in the promises and strength of men, their charisma and often times their belligerent pride. May we all remember, that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:1-6). 

Proverbs 28:25 (NKJV) He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered.

As much as our current president’s policies are inclined to my biblical beliefs, his character can not simply be excused. The word “proud” above can be translated “greed” as well, both of which have been hallmarks of his life. The candidate on the other side is not of better character and is equally ensconced as an example of this verse.

Therefore, to trust they will deliver for our children and grand children is a false hope, which can lead to our being unfruitful.

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert

NO LIFE NO ABILITY TO GIVE LIFE

When considering the product of a person who trusts in men and makes the flesh his strength, we must first understand that it is the first step towards apostasy from a foundation of unbelief, as Jeremiah 17:5 declares “whose heart departs from the LORD“.  Hebrews 3  calls Christians to beware of departing the Living god, throguh unbelief.

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Hebrews 3:12-15 (NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

We see how unbelief and departing are inexorably tied together. What is unbelief, but to profess you trust the LORD, but rather than abide in His promises, the person explores men and the arm of the flesh for their need. This practice leads to barrenness, akin to a tumble weed.  

What a descriptive picture. A tumble week is a specific kind of Russian milk thistle plant, brought to the U.S. in seed, from Russian immigrants. While green, it gives animals some sustenance, but having a shallow root system it dies easily and is unable to reproduce, having little seed production. By analogy, the one who trusts in men and the strength of the flesh…

  1. Have not hid the word of God in their heart sufficiently to trust in it (Psalm 119:11), when trouble comes. Therefore their roots in the Holy Spirit (The river of Living water) are non existence. The become empty of the Christ-life quickly and having insufficient seed in the word of God, turn to other options.
  2. Being dry, devoid of the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19), they produce little or no spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22). Therefore, the lost are not drawn to Christ through their profession of Christian faith. The fruit of the Spirit is necessary for others to see our faith as authentic, without which they cannot taste and see that the Lord is good.
  3. Having no root, we tumble as blown around by every potential political or existential threat. We spin out of control in anxiety and the fear of man, which produces undue anger (Matthew 6:25-33; Proverbs 29:25). In that state, we ca be blown around by every wind of doctrine as well (Ephesians 4:14).

As I look at Facebook over the last three months, the above characteristics are playing out through Christians, who treat this election as if it is the most important ever. If I recall during Obama’s two elections cycles, pundits and Christian leadership said the very same things. We were called to trust in men like john McCain who always played both sides politically and Mormon Mitt Romney, a shameless flip/flopping politician.

When will we wake up. Come November 5th, we’ll still be saved and awaiting the blessed hope; the only hope which does not disappoint. We will still be called to live our and execute the Great Commission. Trust in God you people, not in men. What is produced by that choice is wonderful and will be covered in our next post.

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“All Fall Short”, but be careful not to “Fall Short”?

(Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Un)Comfortably Falling Short - Sean Heritage

I assume the above verse is fairly familiar with most Christians, as it is used by Christians sharing the gospel with the lost and in conversation concerning the difficulty of living the Christian life. In the first instance, appropriate use is more than reasonable as it causes the lost person to focus on Christ as the only means of salvation.

In the second instance, that of understanding and walking throguh the difficulties of the Christian life, using Romans 3:23 is not appropriate; in fact, if not careful, we can justify a fall away from God. Consider Hebrews  12:15.

(Hebrews 12:15) looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

From one verse we are told “all fall short” and from the other we are instructed to be careful not to “fall short“. Without prayer and further digging it would seem the verses are in contradiction. I assure you they are not.

As we do some digging, we will find that the surrounding context of these verses explains their use and focus in our walk of faith. One speaks of our entry into the kingdom and the other our need to grow in Christian maturity for the sake of our relationship to God, after already entering in.

ROMANS 3:23: NO ONE HITS THE HEIGHTS OF HIS GLORY BUT CHRIST

Romans 3:23 comes from a section of scripture where the inspired writer, Paul, is dealing with Christians of Jewish background in the church of Rome. Paul’s audience for his Holy Spirit inspired letter to the Romans was a majority of Jewish Christians and a minority of Gentile Christians. Both groups seemed to not like the other.

Through the first ten chapters of Romans, Paul leans heavily on the Jewish contingent, who believed themselves more spiritual; because of their Jewish ethnicity and former religion. By the time we get to chapter 11 Paul warns even the Gentile Christians in the fellowship, not to become prideful or risk being cut off for unbelief.

In the third chapter of Romans, Paul gives the doctrinal bomb that blows apart the Jewish Christians mix of faith in Christ plus their own righteousness, as a means of their salvation. The Holy Spirit lays this to waste in verses 20-26.

(Romans 3:20-26) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

From this powerful passage of scripture we understand why no person can be justified by the deeds of the law… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. in this context, how do we define “the glory of God”.

In simple terms we understand that because all have sinned, none measure up to God’s standard of righteousness needed to be in His presence, except the Lord Jesus Himself. Let’s dig a bit further.

COP 24: Paris Agreement plans to reduce greenhouse gases miss the mark |  CFACT

Our Lord Jesus, in Hebrews 1:1-3, is referred to as the “brightness of His glory“. We understand that when we see Christ we see all that can be understood, grasped, or experienced by men of God’s glory and greatness. In this we also understand that Christ Himself is the Judge, concerning who is in or out of the kingdom II Timothy 4:1.

In addition to this we understand from Matthew 5:17 that Jesus came to fulfill the law, and that the law itself was given to reveal man’s sin (Romans 7:7) and our need for the One who would perfectly fulfill the law and come to be our atonement… JESUS CHRIST our LORD!

(2 Corinthians 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus Himself is the standard, the only atonement. Therefore He is the mark we fall short of because He is the only perfectly righteous fulfiller of the law. Therefore using Romans 3:23 in witness to Christ’s atonement and our inability to save ourselves is appropriate.

That being said, when Christians use it inappropriately in witness, we can stifle the ultimate purpose of salvation, which is not our entrance into heaven (which makes it about us rather), but about our total new creation transformation from glory to glory (When we all get to heaven!). Please read II Corinthians 3:18; I Thessalonians 5:23; I Peter 1:13-16.

Most often, Romans 3:23 is used inappropriately when a well meaning Christian is talking about sin and wants to reassure the lost person that they are just like them. In those cases, “I’m not saying I’m perfect. Ya know, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in that same vein, “I still sin all the time“.

In both cases the person is misusing a passage of scripture for whatever reason. Romans 3:23 deals with the inability of a person to save themselves and directs them to the only Person who can save them, which is Christ. Yes, this salvation brings us justification (not guilty before God), but Romans 6 declares that it brings us new life in Christ, where we are able, by the Holy Spirit, to choose to yield to righteousness and refuse unrighteousness or sin (Please read Romans 6:23).

So yes, we do fall short of God’s standard, but Jesus Christ does not! That said, Romans 3:23 is not a passage for us to find solidarity in justifying the practice of sin. I John 3:4-9, which I have previously written on, declares that those who continue to practice sin are not born of God. Although we do miss the mark, we are being sanctified by the Spirit and we practice righteousness as the principal of the life of children of God.

This is where we receive the admonition of Hebrews 12:15 and where we will see a distinction in “fall short of the glory of God”  and not “to fall short of the grace of God

HEBREWS 12:15: BE CAREFUL NOT TO UNDERMINE THE PURPOSE OF GRACE

(Hebrews 12:15) looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

You’ll notice that the falling short in Hebrews 12:15 is not falling short of “the glory of God” but falling short of “the grace of God“. In order to understand the distinction we must dive into some context.

The book of Hebrews is written to Christians who are ethnically Jewish. These followers of Christ are beginning to experience the sting of persecution at varying levels. Judaizers are threatening them and promising to take them back if they leave Jesus Christ and His followers, going back to Old Testament Judaism.

The balance of the book of Hebrews is to warn them not to forsake assembling of themselves together for any reason; to do so is willful sin of the highest degree: which will trample the Son of God under foot, count the blood of the covenant, by which they were sanctified, a common thing, and insult the Spirit of grace. To do so was to place oneself out of Christ and under the judgment of God (Hebrews 10:25-31).

In chapter 12, we see the inspired writer warning the hearers, that their suffering is not as bad as they are making it out to be (Hebrews 12:3-4). In this warning they are admonished to see the persecutions as God the Father’s loving discipline, allowed to make them more like Christ (Hebrews 12:5-10). This is declared, even though it is acknowledged, that although God’s love through discipline is good, necessary and transformative (in holiness), it is still painful.

Into this context we then read…

(Hebrews 12:12-17) Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

In the context of the Book of Hebrews and specifically chapter 12 we understand falling short of the glory of God, as falling short of the promises and implications of His grace throguh Christ Jesus. What are the promises and implications of His grace?

  1. Living as a child of God in His love through discipline.
  2. Enduring in His love and with His Church regardless of risk
  3. Living as a holy and separated servant of God.
  4. Living as a life giving peacemaker, rather than a bitter person who sows discord.

In short, falling short of His grace, is to fall short of God’s expectation for those whom receive the gift of grace He gives in His Son’s cross and resurrection. This is where we see an intersection from Romans 6:1-14, I Thessalonians 5:23 and I Peter 1:13-16.

We must remember that we do not keep our salvation by perfect execution of any of the above four characteristics or scriptures’ quoted, but we do grow in grace and execution by His Spirit, when we pursue those very things, and refuse to get bitter when times are tough, taking them as God’s loving discipline.

Although none of us can hit the mark of God’s glory, for all have sinned, once we receive the grace of God, we must pursue Him and His purposes or fall short of the purpose of His grace. To do that is to fall away and be at risk (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-31, Romans 11:19-23; Join 15:1-6).

So, although we all fall short, we must be careful not to fall short!

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