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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.

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 -  Philippians 3:8 (NIV)

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.

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.  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. 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.” - 2 Peter 2:20-22 (NIV)

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

[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. - Luke 12:40-48 (NIV)

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.

In 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 so that they won't be caught by surprise if they want to live a self willed life. Peter then asks Jesus if he and the disciples needed to heed this warning. This is what Jesus said to Peter directly, “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. Then there is the cultural context of the time of the writing. 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 the gospel of the Kingdom of God and to care for the church. The church is made up of 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 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 not about being good enough through obeying the Law. (Gal 2:16...because by observing the law no one will be justified).
It's about 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.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Should We Hold One Another Accountable?

James 5:16 (NIV)
[16]  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

I was listen to someone preach the word today. He made an interesting statement. It struck me as interesting because it didn't sound biblical. I believe the Bible informs us as to how we should live and believe as citizens of the kingdom of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. (1 Tim 4:16) So that when I hear something from a preacher I measure what he says against what I read, specifically in the New Testament .

He stated that he doesn't agree with the concept of accountability partners. The reason that he used was that he thought that most men when they get together aren't honest with their sins. And that when someone confesses their sin the men tend to gang up on that person for the sin they committed. This may be true for him however just because something is true experientially, this doesn't mean that the idea of accountability partners is not biblical. If that is his experience with accountability partners then that experience is unbiblical but that doesn't make the teaching of accountability partners unbiblical and we shouldn't practice it.

In the book of James the author is writing to the body of Christ which is made up of believers. And he says to them to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other so that we may be healed. Now whether this prayer is for spiritual healing or physical healing the idea that we gather together and confessed to each other our sins and pray for each other is the accountability partner concept. So for this preacher to dismiss the idea of accountability partners and what it's meant to be is not a biblical idea. This preachers idea is born out of personal experience not biblical truth.

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
[25] Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

He also made another interesting point that I thought was on unbiblical. He wanted to make a point about using the word "obey". He said that as a father when his child goes out into the community without parental supervision, he doesn't tell her to obey but he does tell her not to disobey. And he wants to also tell her to live (in accordance with the Holy Spirit). He really emphasized that he doesn't tell his kids to obey. From my perspective, as I was listening to him, it was as if he was trying to say that it is not good for Christians to use the word obey when talking about living for Jesus. I get that he's trying to deal with the sinful human nature. Because our sinful human nature is inclined to resist the idea of obedience.

There are two things here. First, Jesus in the book of revelations tells his people to stop sinning, repent and obey. Now since the Bible is what informs us as to how we should live our lives as citizens of the kingdom of God and since Jesus is our Lord and Master and he is the one that demonstrates the best pattern for us to live by, if He uses the word obey in regards to living as citizens of the kingdom of God here on this earth as strangers within the kingdoms of man, we should, therefore, what this guy was teaching would be considered unbiblical. It's like saying, "Jesus you got it wrong and I know better when it comes to communicating to your people." So the question I ask myself is, should I listen do this teaching or should I listen to what the Bible teaches me about how Jesus speaks to the believers?

The second point is that if we are living by the Holy Spirit the word "obey" should be no problem for us. If we are living by the Spirit, who moves us in the direction we are live our life, we are being obedient. We are obeying therefore we should have no problem with the word "obey" or using the word obey in our conversation with brothers and sisters in Christ. The only time that we have a problem with the word obey is when we are living according to our sinful human nature. You might even go as far as saying that his teaching on the word obey comes from a place of the sinful human nature and not the Holy Spirit. Because who doesn't want to hear the word obey? Our sinful human nature doesn't want to hear it or use it unless we get some kind of personal advantage from it. If he is resistant to using the word obey then the real question is, who is he really following? Because the scripture doesn't resist using it when it is speaking to the followers of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:3 (NIV)
[3] Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

What is the ultimate goal of this practice we call accountability partners we see in scripture or calling people to obey? So that Jesus will be glorified and not be diminished. After all we are His ambassadors. We read throughout Paul's and the other apostles letters reminders to the believers to stop sinning, to watch over one another, not only for those that are suffering because of life circumstances or because of their testimony of Jesus but also if they are living in sin. These reminders are first and foremost to protect the image of Christ as it is reflected through the church and individuals who claim to be followers and the gospel of the kingdom of God.

When the people who don't know Jesus and see the brokenness in the kingdoms of man. When they know their own individual brokenness and they see the brokenness around themselves, their neighbors, their culture, the world itself. When they see this now on a global scale. There is a time when they stop and look around and attempt to see if their is something else, something different, something that offers a better hope or a solution to the brokenness of mankind or maybe for their own shattered soul. The question then is do they see it when they look to what is being held out today as Christianity in the USA? Do they see the kingdom that is not of this world. Do they see that kingdom that's from another place?  Do they see a kingdom of people that love God the creator? Do the see a nation of people without borders worshiping Jesus? Do they see a tribe of people loving, encouraging, exhorting, serving, teaching each other? Do they see a people trying to be the best citizens they can be for God's kingdom so that Jesus would be praised and His message followed so that those on the outside looking in say to themselves "yes I want that!"? Or do they just see a bunch of institutionalized religions, unequally yoked with the kingdoms of man, living by the standards of this world in the name of Jesus?

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