Sunday, July 10, 2016

Does God Still Get Angry?

Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV)
[26]  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. [28] Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. [29] How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? [30] For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” [31] It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

In these verses we notice the writer includes himself ("we") as needing this warning. The word for that is translated “we” by definition includes the person writing that word and the people he’s addressing and identifying with. The writer and those he is addressing are believers. This is evidenced by the syntax and specifically the word he uses in regards to the depth of their knowledge of Jesus.  It is those who have received a full knowledge (epignosis) of the truth. It is directed to those who deliberately keep on sinning after they fully understand the way of escape in Jesus. It’s not about sins of weakness that come and go in a believers life but a sinful lifestyle that is not yielded to the Holy Spirit. It adds seriousness to the exhortation of verse 25 not to abandon meeting together with other Christians (as the initial Greek gar, "for," indicates).

This recalls John's warning in 1Jn 2:19 concerning those who "went out from us." "Their going," he says, "showed that none of them belonged to us." They had known the way of life, but had not chosen to avail themselves of it, and one early sign of heart apostasy is an unwillingness to continue association with true believers. We see this again with Peter when he writes, “2 Peter 2:20 (NIV)[20]  If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

Yet despite the advantage of full enlightenment, if there is no change in behavior and sin continues to dominate the life of professed believers, they will find no other hiding place from God's wrath, for there is no other sacrifice than Christ's which will avail for sin. Since by unchanged behavior such individuals give evidence that Christ's sacrifice is rejected, the one way of escape is rejected also. Only judgment and "blazing fire" after death awaits, as one of the enemies of God (2Th 1:7). This behavior parallels those "having fallen away" of 6:6, where apostasy also led to irremediable judgment.

There is a movement in evangelical Christianity in the USA that doesn’t want to acknowledge that God still judges with sternness and finality. They paint a picture that this is an angry God, which they deny exists. All that they are doing is creating a God of their own imagination. This is not the God we see in scripture. If they refuse to paint a correct picture of God, they create a idol and then worship this idol. This results in presenting a lie which is not the truth.

The NIV has properly translated the opening phrase of verse 26 as, if we deliberately keep on sinning. It is not a sin one can stumble into suddenly. It is not the normal falterings of a Christian still learning how to walk in the Spirit. It has been well termed "the cancer of non- commitment." It is choosing to live for self behind a Christian veneer and refusing to be delivered from sin's reign by the past sacrifice and present high priestly ministry of Jesus. It is not continual sinning from ignorance as many church members manifest, but occurs after full enlightenment. Such people know of the power of Christ to deliver, but have not chosen to avail themselves of it. Their life may appear to be fairly respectable when judged by the world's standards, but what it is like in God's eyes is described in verses 28-30.

The argument proceeds from the less to the greater, very much as the writer had done in 2:2-3. If immediate death was the penalty for violating the law of Moses (which was but a shadow or picture), how much more should one expect severe judgment for continually rejecting, knowingly and deliberately, the reality which is Jesus and his sacrifice! What they have done is threefold:

 1. They have trampled the Son of God under foot! The writer chooses a title for Jesus which emphasizes his right to be Lord over all. To trample him under foot is to spurn his right to govern life. Lip service is paid to Christian truth but life is lived as one pleases, even adopting the world's values and standards. As one poet has described it:

He lived for himself, and himself alone;
For himself, and none beside.
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
And as if he had never died!

2. They have treated as something common or trivial the blood of the covenant which has power to make one holy. They have regarded the blood of Jesus as having no more value than the blood of any other man, and therefore, in practice, insisted that religious activities ought to be enough to satisfy God. And they are saying this even though they have previously acknowledged that the death of Christ has ruled out such means. Once they regarded themselves as holy (sanctified) by the blood of Jesus, but now they deny this and reject the cross as unnecessary for acceptance before God.

3. They insult the Spirit of grace. Grace becomes cheap to them. The full understanding of redemptive truth, the awareness that the blood of Jesus can make one holy, the pleasures of meeting together with other Christians; all have been a gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit to the individuals considered here. Now these are being rejected and treated with contempt. It is an egregious insult to the One who was sent to draw men and women to salvation. It actually means to become guilty of the sin which Jesus called "an eternal sin," unpardonable in any age. Mark 3:29 (NASB)
[29] but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Do Believers No Longer have a Sinful Human Nature?

Context is one of the most important parts of biblical exegesis. This is essential when it comes to specific words. In common first century Greek one word was use in multiple ways with different meanings, so context needs to be determined when trying to define what a word means. The NIV does an excellent job doing this. It's not perfect but the scholars that were involved in translating did great work in this area. Let's look at the word "sarx" in the New Testament.

Paul uses the Greek word "sarx" or "flesh" in several senses in Romans:
(1) the humanity of Jesus Christ (1:3)
(2) the physical body (2:28)
(3) mankind—"all flesh" (3:20)
(4) moral, or possibly intellectual, weakness (6:19)
(5) the so-called "ethical" meaning of flesh, which is the most common use of the word in his writings and denotes the old sinful human nature.

It is this 5th sense of the word that pervades chapters 7 and Ro 8, together with a final use in 13:14. Paul did not employ the word "flesh" in this sense when exposing in his earlier chapters the universality of sin. In noting that the sinful passions are aroused by the law, Paul is anticipating his fuller statement in Rom. 7:7-13 about the manner in which the law energizes sin.

Now, is the term "sinful nature" a good translation for this 5th way of using "sarx" when it comes to describing the fallen human condition? Scholars of the language would say yes. When God create humans we were created with a human nature as opposed to a divine nature. This human nature reflects God's nature but in a limited sense. Where God is omniscient humans are limited in what they can know. Where God is omnipresent humans are limited in where they can be. Where God is omnipotent humans are limited in their power. God has a will and so do humans. God feels and so do humans. Where God creates so do humans. When God created humans he created us perfect. Our human nature was without sin. Our inclinations from within our nature was to do what God wanted. Then there came an outside influence that was evil. This evil influence gave humans the chance to exercise their free will. Before the Fall humans had a free will however, after the Fall this free will was forfeited and humans became a slave to the sin that permeated the human nature. This was the result of humans exercising their free will to not do what God wanted thereby shattering their human nature which is the consequence of breaking God's laws for the human condition. This perfect human nature became an imperfect human nature. It became an human nature that was incline to commit sin, to reject God's will. It became a human nature full of sin. Every part of the human nature has been invaded by sin. Our will, our emotions, our mind, our spirit, our body has been infected by sin. It became a sinful human nature.

This sinful human nature came to all humans through Adam. However, God was not going to leave us in this condition. He had a plan to redeem us from this problem. He wanted to restore our free will. We see this plan of redemption unfold before us in the bible. From the Old Testament to the New Testament. This plan culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He came to us with a perfect human nature. He was inclined to do God's will as oppose to the rest of humanity which is inclined to resist God's will because of their imperfect human nature, their sinful human nature. Now when Jesus' work was done and he was resurrected from the dead and ascended to his place of position with God he gave all of humanity an opportunity to be set free from the tyranny of their sinful human nature, which is always inclined to resist God's will, and have their free will restored back to them. So that they would not be a slave to the resisting inclination of the sinful human nature and to be able to chose to do God's will from a place of love and joy. This restoration and repair of the human condition made us a new creation by introducing the Holy Spirit. However, did the newness extinguish the sinful human nature or just add something to our human nature?

Since the sins we commits are a product of the sinful human nature and since people continue to sin after becoming a new creation then no the "Sin" part of the human nature is not extinguished. If our human nature was made perfect like Jesus' human nature or the first Adam before the fall and we then sinned as Adam did then that perfect human nature would become a sinful human nature again. But that is not what we read in scripture. Paul the apostle struggled with his sinful human nature as a follower of Jesus Christ. So much so that God gave him a thorn in his flesh to help him keep his sinful nature in check, specifically the sin of pride which is a product of Sin. The sin of pride is not a product of the new creation side of born again believers. It is a product of a sinful human nature.

There is what I call Big "S" sin and small "s" sin or sins. Now when Paul speaks about Big "S" sin he's making a distinction but not a separation. It's not some separate entity that exists apart from the human nature. It's apart of our human nature. It permeates every aspect of our human nature. Our human nature is full of Sin. It's a sinful human nature. For example a car factory produces cars. The Sin factory (sinful human nature) produces sin. Since we still sin as believers this sin comes from somewhere, this somewhere is our sinful human nature. So when Paul use the figurative language that it is dead he means it has been rendered powerless and as believers we need to considered it this way. That it no longer has power over us in order to make decision for God instead of against God. Even though this is our condition as humans we are not a slave to this condition. In Jesus we are free to chose God.

Some say that as believers Sin no longer exists in a believer and all that remains is the "Power of Sin". This is nonsense. First because nowhere in scripture is the "Power of Sin" presented this way. It is a descriptive phrase that describes what happens to Sin when it comes in contact with the Law. Second the "power of Sin" cannot exist without the presence of Sin. We can make a distinction without a separation. This separation does not exist in scripture.

Even with all this said the most important testimony to this truth is that the bible teaches this. In the New Testament the letters from the apostle were written to believers and they were constantly telling them to stop sinning, stop obeying their sinful human nature (flesh) and obey the Holy Spirit. This is made abundantly clear in Revelation were Jesus himself speaks to the believers of certain churches.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

True or False Believers

If God truly lived in the hearts of Christians there should be a huge change in their lives.

Two friends got together after being away from each other for about five years.  One of the guys was the best man at his friend's wedding.  He went to church regularly.  He was a youth pastor at his church.  He even went to seminary.  As they begin to speak to one another.  This guy wanted to tell his friend about two things have happened to them in his life recently, One that he was about ready to be married and two he was no longer a Christian.  His friend was completely shocked at what he just heard.

The Inevitable question was what happened? Why?

He said if God truly lived in the hearts of Christians there'd be a huge change in their lives.  It would be obvious they wouldn't struggle with the same things that the world struggles with.  They wouldn't fall prey so easily to the same things that those in the world do.  His friend said, “I looked across the landscape of Christianity in America and I see there is no difference.  There was no difference between those inside the church and those outside the Church.”

So the question is: Is he right?

A few years ago statistic showed that 62% at professing Christians said that they had a relationship with Jesus Christ that was meaningful to them. Same statistics showed also that 91% of Americans admitted lying regularly. Something is radically wrong!

There's an atheist websites out there that's quoting from the Barna research group a respectable Christian organization. Under the heading:  Christianity does not work as advertised.  It said one out of every four American adults have experienced at least one divorce. Also born again Christians are more likely to go through a marital split then non-Christians. Are we beginning to see the problem that's forming? Christians say that they had the answer to the world's problems. The answer is Jesus.  You invite him into your heart.  He'll improve your life.  He'll take away your problems and struggles. If these same Christians are still struggling and their problems are not going away does that mean Christianity doesn't have any real power to change?  Is it all a big hoax?  Or is there another explanation why there is no difference between those sitting inside the church and those outside.

A.W. Tozer said, “It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, had been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ, and they have not been saved.”

Many seem to come to church and have experience some form of religious formality, some experience of excepting Jesus but never really have been being saved.  They never truly humbled themselves and desperately repented of their sin and surrendered completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ without reservation.  They've never had a true conversion of the heart.
Kind of like that person in the book of acts, Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:21).  This individual responded to the gospel but his responds wasn’t legitimate.

Acts 8:5-24 (NIV)
[5] Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. [6] When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. [7] With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. [8] So there was great joy in that city.
 Simon the Sorcerer
 [9] Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, [10] and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” [11] They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. [12] But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. [13] Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
 [14] When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. [15] When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, [16] because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. [17] Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [18] When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money [19] and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
 [20] Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! [21] You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. [22] Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. [23] For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
 [24] Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

Here is a perfect example of a person who accepted the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  He had a religious experience.  He was part of the church. In Hebrews 6:4-6 [4] It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, [5] who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age [6] and who have fallen* away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. But he was never truly saved.  He didn't experience a true conversion of the heart.  Why?

Dr. D. James Kennedy said, “The vast majority of people who are members of churches in America today are not Christians.  I say that without the slightest fear of contradiction.  I base it on empirical evidence of 24 years of examining thousands of people.

He is saying countless within our churches are not Christians.  Could that be true?  He bases his conclusions on examining people's lives.  He saw the choices they made and the way that they lived, these where an indicator of what has or has not occurred in their heart.
Does the Bible address the issue of true and false conversions? It does.  Many times.

Let's look at Mark 4. This deals also the subject of true and false conversions.

A familiar parable, it's the parable of the sewer.  Versus 3 -- 8 [3] “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. [4] As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. [5] Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.[6] But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. [8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

After Jesus told this parable, his disciples didn't understand what he was talking about. There is something pretty interesting Jesus said about this parable.  In verse [13] Then Jesus said to them, “Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?

If they were to understand the parable of the sewer they would have the key to unlock the mystery of all the parables. When we look at the parable of the sewer we see that when this seed is sown or scattered, when the Word of God is preached, many will respond and in all those responses there will be true and false converts.

Many teach that the meaning of the parable is that when we preach the gospel there will be a 25% success rate.  This is somehow biblically acceptable.  I don't think Jesus was teaching us that when we preach the gospel as a consolation we should expect a 25% disappointing evangelistic results.

Here is the key to good soil hearers hearing and understanding.  He is able to understand:
1. He has sinned against God.
2. That he desperately needs a savior.
3. The gospel begins to make sense to him that Jesus died for his sins.
Does that mean in the vast sea of un-regenerated humanity that there are ones with the gift of understanding when the gospel is preached?  They have somehow the ability to comprehend it? No not at all. In Romans 3:11 it says: [11] there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God. Therefore the understanding in the un-regenerated person must come from without not from within. So what is it that brings about this understanding?

It is the law. In Galatians 3:24 (KJV) it says: [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ…. It is the job of the schoolmaster to bring us the knowledge and understanding. The law is such a schoolmaster. Romans 7:7 says: [7] What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For it is the law that reveals to us whether we are guilty or innocent before a holy and a just God.

Have you ever told a lie?
Have you ever stolen anything?
Jesus said if you look at a person with lust than you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Have you ever done this?
Have you ever hated anyone?  Jesus said that if you hated someone it's the same as murder.
Have you ever used the Lord's name in vain?

If you have done just one of these things you stand guilty before God.  So the question you must ask yourself is this: Will I go to heaven because I’m innocent and have never broken one of God’s laws or hell the place that guilty people go because they have broken God’s law?

Someone might say.  John I'm a good person and God is good and won't send me to hell, he'll forgive me. I would say you are right, God is good.  You probably are a good person compared to someone else.  But when you stand before God you won’t be compared to others, you will be compared to God's perfect standard. When we are measured against that standard we all fall short.  The Bible tells us for all have sinned (broken God’s law) and fallen short of the glory of God.

Let's look at civil law.  Suppose you're standing before the judge and you have been found guilty of murder and the judge says to you, do you have anything to say for yourself.  And you say, “Judge I believe you're a good judge. All the rest of my life I’ve been a good citizen and you will show me mercy and forgive me of this one crime.”  The judge will probably look at you and say, You are right. I am a good judge.  And because I'm a good judge you will be punished for your crime. If I let you get away with murder I wouldn’t be a good judge. I’d be a bad judge therefore an unjust judge.”

 The very thing you’re counting on (God is Good) will condemn you.  We would have it no other way in our society. God is a just God and a just God is a Good God. Why would you want to serve an unjust God who overlooked crimes, overlooks evil? God is a forgiving God but only on His terms. It is towards those that have repented, who have in their hearts humbled themselves and chose to turn away from their sins.  Forgiveness hinges on repentance. You see God is a just God and we will not escape his justice. We will all have to give an account of ourselves on Judgment Day. However, God is also a loving God and he doesn't want anybody to suffer his wrath (punishment) He doesn’t want to put people in hell for all eternity. That's why he provided away out for our sins by sending Jesus Christ to suffer and die and experience the death (punishment), that we all should experience, on our behalf. He experienced it for us so that we would not have to. Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live and paid the price we couldn’t pay. Now, if you don't accept God's payment you will have to pay yourself and that will be eternity in hell.

False converts have a measure of spirituality. Take Judas for example.  He seemed to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said to his 12 disciples that one of you will betray me.  But no one knew at that time it was Judas.  They all questioned themselves.  Jesus said the one who will put his hand in this dish will betray me.  No one knew that it was Judas.  When Judas left to go betray Jesus the other disciples thought he was going to run an errand for Jesus and give money to the poor.

That is why we don’t suspected people in the body of Christ to be in the category of Judas, pseudo-Christians.

The tragedy is that we have countless within the church, calling themselves Christians, living in sin, who we call backsliders, when in reality many are just false converts, pseudo-Christian. It's impossible to backslide if you've never slid forward in the first place.

Jesus said you'll know a tree by its fruit.  People demonstrate the legitimacy or the illegitimacy of their conversion by the fruit that they produce. What is this fruit?

Jesus said In Matthew 7 : [16] By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17] Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…. [22] Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ [23] Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Notice as we read these verses that there is something being produced.  But that something doesn't mean it's always the right something. Titus 3:5 (NIV) [5] he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,.

Once we begin to understand the principle that when the gospel is preached, although many respond, there will be within those respondents both true and false converts, true Christians and those who say they are but have never been truly born-again in their hearts, hypocrites and pretenders. The true and false will remain together alongside each other inside the church. They will all be revealed at the end of the age when Jesus returns.

God is to be held in tremendous reverence and awe.  He created the universe. Those who have broken His law must face him on the Day of Judgment. Hebrews 10:[31] It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

If you are one who claims the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life are you sharing the good news?
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
Paul is saying when we know the fear of the Lord we will do our best to persuade others.  It is this fear that drives us to share our faith.  This is the same kind of fear that would overtake us if we saw someone floating down a river on a raft and they are unaware of the 100ft waterfall they are headed for. We would probably do everything in our power to try to warn the unsuspecting person. Do you know this fear?

If we aren't looking for opportunities to share our faith we need to ask ourselves.  Do I really know the fear of the Lord in my life?  Do I need to get on my knees and say Lord God Almighty give me a revelation of your greatness,  your power so that I may fear you enough to obey you and seek and save that which is lost?

This should cause each and every one of us to examine ourselves.  The Bible says 2 Corinthians 13: 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
In Luke 13:23 the disciples asked the question.  “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
And if you're not sure you are saved, if you doubt your salvation, if you don't have the things that are common to the truly converted. The good fruit!
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election.

Do this today, confess and for sake your sins, humble yourself and put your trust in Jesus Christ, then bring forth fruit that is worthy of salvation.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Do We Reflect God's Character to the World Around Us?

Romans 5:6-10 (NIV)
[6] You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [7]  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. [8] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! [10] For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

These set of verses reveal to us the character of God. A character that is opposite of what humanity would consider virtuous and noble. As a matter of fact what God reveals to us is these verse about His character would be considered by the world to be foolish, wasteful and even despicable.

In the worlds eyes to sacrifice yourself for good people, "innocent" people, people who would be considered philanthropist or contributors to the social good of society would be the things heros are made of. These people would have monuments and statues erected in their honor for century's. These would be the people we would tells stories about in order to inspire others to be the same way.

Now if there was someone that would sacrifice their life to save Hilter from an assassin during WWII, that person would be vilified, demonized and looked at as a traitors to the world. Why because Hilter is synonymous with evil, ungodly and an enemy of the world and all that is good. So to sacrifice yourself to save him would be like sacrificing yourself to save evil. It would be expected if you had to opportunity to kill him that you would take advantage of that opportunity and kill him.

But God did things different. Jesus sacrificed himself for the ungodly, sinners and his enemies. Who are these people? All of us. Every person that has ever existed. When is comes to God's standard of good, godly, virtues person, that person can only be found in Jesus Christ because he was and is perfect in all he's done both inside and his outward actions. He is pure and flawless. Even though God would be justified in condemning all people and caring out the punishment that the condemned deserve He did the opposite. Instead of killing us all He gave Himself for us all. Instead of wrath he holds out grace. Instead of winning the war that humanity wages against Him he extents peace to all. This is true love on full display in the person and work of Jesus the savior of humanity.

Now as followers of Jesus, as ambassadors of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom of God we are told to be imitators of God, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. What does that look like from this passage of scripture? We are to love our enemies not kill them. We are to lay down our lives for our enemies if this is what God wants for us in this life. But if you are an evangelical Christian in the USA today you are suppose to support the killing of others from other nations even if the killing involves brothers and sisters in Christ in that nation. This is a part of patriotism. However, when we enter into the new covenant with God through Jesus we become citizens of God's kingdom. This means we have been called out of the kingdoms of man and have become strangers in a strange land. We are aliens to the nations of earth. Our undivided allegiance is with Jesus and His kingdom only. It is Jesus' will that is to be done here on earth as it would be done in heaven. So if the nation of earth we are living in asks us to do that which is opposite God's character as He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ and the New Testament we are not to comply even if it means the lose of life.

The kingdoms of man say kill your enemies. The kingdom of God says love your enemies.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Knowing Jesus is No Guarantee of "Once Saved Always Saved"

Paul uses the word "gnosis" to describe how he enters into a knowledgeable relationship with Jesus and that in this "knowing" everything else is worth losing. It is in this gnosis he found salvation in Jesus. At one time he thought a relationship with God was based in the Law, ethnicity, status and his past traditions but not anymore. Knowing these things didn't bring him to being redeemed. It was is knowing Jesus and Him alone that he found redemption.

 Philippians 3:8 (NIV)
[8] What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Now Peter uses an even fuller word then Paul does for knowing Jesus. He use the word "epignosis" which even goes deeper then "gnosis" about Jesus. So Peter is not referring to "head knowledge only believer" in 2 Peter 2:20 but those who have entered into the body of Christ as citizens of God kingdom and know Jesus as Lord and Savior but now have rejected their citizenship and are lost again.

2 Peter 2:20-22 (NIV)
20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

Peter was most likely remembering the conversation he had with Jesus we find in Luke.

Luke 12:40-48 (NIV)
[40] You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
 [41] Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
 [42] The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? [43] It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. [44] I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. [45] But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. [46] The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.* He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
 [47] “That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. [48] But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.* From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Once Saved NOT Always Saved?

We all have our moments of weakness. However, moments of weakness is not the same as a life style of unrepentant sin.

In our every day lives as followers of Jesus Christ we have good days, ok days and bad days. Good days are when we get through a day and don't blow it. We don't lie, steal, curse, lust or flip someone off, either physically or mentally. Ok days are when we maybe have low blood sugar, haven't gotten enough sleep, physically sick or emotionally drained because of the circumstances of life and we blow it. We get unnecessarily angry at someone. We tell a lie because it's easier then telling the truth at the time. We aren't kind when we should be. We just don't want to be bothered by others even it mean helping them out. Bad days are when we willful just sin and we know it. We are on the Internet and we start visiting site we know are inappropriate. We engage in a conversation that's nothing more then gossip because it's about a person you just don't like at the time. Or you take something that you know is not yours and it looks like it really doesn't belong to anyone else but you take it anyways. Maybe you just flip out on someone while you're driving.

These are moments of weakness that a true follower of Jesus will usually ask forgiveness for when the Holy Spirit convicts them. We don't at those moments lose our salvation. Nothing in scripture would suggest this. However, we do see that when these moments become patterns in the life of someone that confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior. Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (also Luke 12:40-46) This is where there is no seeking of forgiveness, where there is a mental attitude of justification, where there maybe false humility with no repentance, and this becomes a pattern of their lives, if they were to meet Jesus in this state Jesus would assign them a place with the unbelievers.

The difference between those with weak moments and those with an unrepentant lifestyle is one has enough oil to meet the bridegroom and the other doesn't because one lives for Jesus and the other lives for self.

Luke 12:46 (NIV)
[46]  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

Matthew 24:50-51 (NIV)
[50] The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. [51] He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Being ready as a believer is not about not sinning. It's about not given up living for Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:10-13 (ESV)
[10] Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. [11] The saying is trustworthy, for:
 If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
[12]  if we endure, we will also reign with him;
 if we deny him, he also will deny us;
[13]  if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
 for he cannot deny himself.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Did Jesus Guarantee " Once Saved Always Saved "?

After years of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Being ordained within a evangelical denomination and getting a Masters in Theological Studies I've come to the opinion that most approach and read scriptures through the lens of theology which then informs them as to what a particular scripture would say. I've decided to look at the scripture for what it says and then to let it inform my theology.

Luke 12:39-46

Jesus was teaching a group of people that were following him to make sure they were ready for His second coming. He used the illustration of a home owner being ready for the thief that wanted to break into his home. If the home owner is ready then the thief will not be able to break in. Therefore, Jesus followers need to be ready for Jesus second coming. Peter then asks Jesus if he and the disciples needed to heed this warning. This is what Jesus said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers."

When reading scripture one of the most important parts of understanding what is being said is "context". There is first the immediate context. What I mean by that is the passage itself and the surrounding verses. Then there is the intermediate context. What I mean by this is the letter that the passage is found in. Then there is the complete context. What I mean by this is the other letters surrounding the letter the passage is in. More often then not, the immediate context is usually enough to glean what is being said.

Now with what Jesus is saying in this particular passage the immediate context is enough to understand what he is teaching. The first thing we see is that Jesus is referring to His second coming. Then, because of the context of the passage, we see the "manager" in this passage is referring to Peter. Why? Because Jesus is answering Peter's question "Are you telling that previous parable about your second coming to us, meaning those that claim to be His followers or specifically the twelve disciples?" The answer would be to Peter also. It was first to the twelve that Jesus left with the responsibility to teach and care for the church, which are the manservant and maidservants in this passage, that He left behind until He comes again. The master in this passage is Jesus, since He is the only one that can put others in charge of His servants. We know that the twelve were put in charge when the church first started. We know that Jesus didn't give this responsibility of teaching others about himself to unbelievers but to believers, specifically the twelve disciples. This is evidenced by the events at Pentecost and the book of Acts.

Jesus goes on to tell Peter (manager) it would be good when Jesus (master) comes again for the second time that Peter would be doing what He asked him to do, taking care of His servants, both male and female. These servants would be considered those that are followers of Jesus Christ. However, if Jesus comes back and Peter disregards, maybe even stops believing that Jesus is going to return, and lives according to the dictates of his sinful human nature. If Peter starts to getting drunk and stops loving the Master servants by his actions. If he doesn't care about Jesus' followers and just lives for himself. Upon His second coming, Jesus will take Peter and assign him a place with the unbelievers. What is this place? It is the place of eternal separation from God, hell. Now if this can happen to Peter and God doesn't show favoritism, then it can happen to anyone that claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. So we can see that Jesus didn't tell Peter that once he was saved he'd be always saved.

This isn't about earning eternal life through good works because this cannot happen. (Eph 2:8-9) It's about not living for the flesh, the sinful human nature. (Gal 5:19-21) Which is what Jesus is describing here in regards to the manager. And Paul reinforces in Galatians.