Search This Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Compromising the Gospel Pt. 2

The message of Jesus Christ which was in short “the gospel of the kingdom of God”, has been compromised and been used to create the institutionalize religion we call Christianity that is seen in the USA today.

Another way the gospel message has been compromised is when you hear institutionalized religious leaders in Jesus name telling follower of Jesus that God wants them to tithe under the New Covenant.

If you survey the New testament you will not find a request or command for the body of Christ to tithe. You will find requests for the body of Christ to give however this giving was for limited and specific purposes. It was to meet the needs of fellow believers and support those who were given the task of using their gift of shepherding a local body of believers. Specially to defray the cost of their living needs. That was it. Today however because of the institutionalization of Christianity churches have become business. Religious leaders receive salaries and benefits greater then their parishioners. There is this pastor that waits in line for the next model of the iPhone while parishioners in the body he's shepherding are waiting in line for food stamps. Then on Sunday morning this pastor tells these same parishioners that they need to tithe because it is God's will for them. This so that he can maintain his upper middle class to six figure income and benefits. This pattern is seen in most churches across America. It inevitably leads to the selling of Jesus for profit through books, sermons, music, products and the like. The institutionalization of Christianity into a religion now ignores Jesus' words "Freely you have received, freely give....for the worker is worth his keep."

I'm aware of all the scriptures that are used to justify tithing. I use to use them. The most used one is this:

Malachi 3:10 (NIV)
[10] Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

This scripture is for a specific people under the Old Covenant. Isn't is strange that in all the writing of the NT when the apostles asked the body of Christ to giving they never once told them that tithing was necessary? Why? Because tithing was to maintain the Temple system of the Old Covenant. This was no longer necessary because we are not under the Old Covenant anymore and we aren't suppose to have a temple system anymore. However, that's what has been done with Christianity today. It start way back during the time of Constantine and hasn't stopped. The Catholic Church refined it, abused it and the Reformation continued it.

The money collected today in churches everywhere barely goes to meet the needs of the local body of believers. Instead the money goes toward building buildings, all the utilities that go to maintain these buildings, the renovations for these buildings, sound systems, lighting systems, elaborates holiday displays, and the list can go on. The point is the money we see being collected in the NT was to meet the needs of individuals in the body of Christ but now has become a prop to make a select few wealthy, keep the institutionalization religion of Christianity alive and give the devil a foothold in the gospel of the kingdom of God.

The life of a church today must serve money to exist, therefore the false justification of tithing.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
[24] “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Love Not Known By The World - Pt. 4 Defense

The Defense

Why did Paul single out love as the greatest thing to have? Because it lasts. It will never go away. It is permanent. "Love never fails."

Humanity values certain things. And these things they believe will last forever however Paul tells us they are temporary. Juxtaposed to eternity they will pass away.

"Where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." People were elevating the gifts of the Holy Spirit at the expense of love. As a result of this elevating of gifts the people that had these gifts became elevated. It was in this elevating of people that love took a backseat. Love begins to be diminished when one person is lifted up over another. When Jesus came it was told long ago that he would create a level playing field for all of humanity so that everyone would be able to see God and no one would be above another.

"Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'” If we consider the Scripture when the Valley is filled and the mountain is brought down low you have a plain. When the crooked roads are made straight and the obstacles removed you have a smooth level plain. It is on this plain that all humanity stands and sees God. No one is standing on a mountain above someone in the Valley. No one is elevated above another in the eyes of God. When love is diminished or removed one person begins to stand above another or one person is below another. If someone wants to see God and they are in a lower position, when they look up they have to see God through the person above them. Therefore God is now filtered through fallen man. God's love becomes diminished. If the gifts are elevated with the person who has the gift then the love which Jesus wants us to have for one another will not be able to fulfill what Jesus said, "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,"

Paul didn't mention many other things. He did not mention money, fame or power. He just picked out things that he needed to address with a group of believers at a certain time in a certain place. Paul was not diminishing these gifts in and of themselves. He was just pointing out that they were temporary and they were not the greatest thing to have. He wanted them to comprehend that these gifts were a means to an end, love. Specifically God's love revealed. What we are as citizens of God's kingdom is much more than what we do. It goes beyond what gifts we might have. We have a tendency to create sin where there is no sin and these so-called sins are temporary. John said, "the world and its desires pass away." There are many things in the world that are desirable and beautiful. There are many things in the world that consume us. However, none of it will last. "For everything in the world-the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the father but from the world." All of these things are temporary therefore we should not love the world. There is nothing in the world that is worth your immortal soul. What the immortal soul gives itself  today will be with it for all eternity. The only thing that is immoral other than the soul apart from God is love: "now these things remain faith, hope, love and the greatest of these is love."

There will be a time when faith turns into sight and hope turns into fruition. Then love will reign supreme in the hearts of all who have entered into God's kingdom. Since God is love desire this everlasting gift because it is not temporary it is permanent. We will give ourselves to many things in this life however the first thing we should give ourselves to is love. Keep all things in perspective to this love. We must remember that this love is built into our character and our character should be that of Jesus.

In the Gospel of John we see John talking about faith and love with eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."If we trust in God we will have peace with him, we will have rest for our souls, we will have true joy and we will find security in him. However, there is more. When we trust in him we begin to love him because trust is the avenue to love therefore to eternal life. The gospel of the kingdom of God offers people a new nation to be a part of. A new life. Jesus came to give people an abundant life. A life that the kingdoms of man cannot offer. A life full of love. A life of salvation from our broken condition. A life that is restored. It is in the gospel of the kingdom of God that the whole person is taken hold of body, soul, and spirit. Far too many have slipped away because they've only been given a diminished message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. They come to the Master's table for all the delights that are on the table instead of coming to the Master's table for the Master. Because if they came for the Master then they would come for love. The world may offer love but it is a synthetic love. The world may offer a life but it is a synthetic life. Jesus came to give us true love and true life. You may search the world over, look into every philosophy and religion that the world has to offer but you will never find the love of God except in the person of Jesus Christ.

If we love abundantly we will live abundantly. If we love forever we will live forever. The gift of eternal life is bonded with love. We want to live forever for the same reason that we want to live for tomorrow. We want to live to see another day if we know that someone loves us. We want to see that person tomorrow. We want to be with them and love them back. If a person has no one to love or if they believe no one loves them they lose hope. And when hope is gone they give up on life even commit suicide. As long as we have friends that love us and we love them we will live because to live is to love. Even if it is the love of a dog it will keep a person alive. However if these things are gone and there is no contact with life there becomes no reason to live.

We received the gift of eternal life to know God and God is love. Jesus said, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." True love must be eternal. It comes from God and since God is eternal true love is eternal. "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself." God is the author of life. Love is life. Love never fails and life never fails as long as there is love. This is what the Scriptures teach us. The reason why love should be the supreme thing is because it is essential to life and it will last forever. We are to live it now not in some distant future. There is nothing worse for a person in this world than to live and grow old alone, unloving and unloved. The lost live in an un-regenerated condition therefore they are truly loveless and unloved. To be rescued is to loved. Consider the woman of Luke  7:36-50. Jesus rescued her and she loved much. If we live in love we live in God because God is love.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus paints a picture of Judgment Day. God is sitting on the throne and before him are two groups of people. They are divided like sheep and goats. The test before them is not how they believe but how they loved. You see even the devil believes however he's part of the goats that go off into eternal punishment. Not because they didn't believe that because they didn't love. It's not about what you have done or what you have believed but who you have loved. "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 perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" The who is Jesus because if you love Jesus you will love God and if you love God you will love others and if you love others you will fulfill God's will. When we withhold the love of God we are quenching the spirit of Jesus. This is evidence that we never knew him. If we never knew him he never knew us.

All of humanity will stand before the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. And in the presence of all we will be judged. We will see those who have come across our path that we have helped or we neglected or despised. Let's be honest with ourselves when we stand before Jesus it will be about our theology and how we lived  our life. It won't be about how much we gave to the church or if we went to church every week but what did we do with the love that God gave us towards the disenfranchised, the lost. It will be about how we love our brothers and sisters who were in need. It will be about did we use the things that we possessed in this world to open doors to share the good news of the kingdom of God.

We must remember that it's just not about meeting people's needs, which is an important part of love in action, we must also share the good news of the kingdom of God. When Jesus walked this earth he loved people by meeting their needs and sharing the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. He did not do one without the other. If you want to feed the hungry share the gospel also. If you want to cloth the naked share the gospel also. If you want to give a cold cup of water to the thirsty share the gospel also. If you want to shelter the homeless share the gospel also. "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Jesus spoke the truth as he dispensed God's grace.

Henry Drummond

A Love Not Known By The World - Pt. 3 Analysis

The Analysis

After Paul contrasts love with these things, in three very short verses he gives us an amazing analysis of this supreme thing.

Let us look at it. He tells us it is a combination things. It is like light. If you take a beam of light and pass it through a crystal prism it comes out on the other side of the prism broken up into its component colors — red, blue, yellow, violet, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow. Similarly Paul passes love through the prism of God inspired intelligence. It comes out on the other side broken up into its elements.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we have what one might call the spectrum of love, the analysis of love. What are these elements? They have common names. They are virtues which we hear about in our culture today. They are things which can be practiced by every person in every sphere of life. How is love, the supreme good, made up of these many small things and virtues?

The spectrum of love has nine ingredients:

Patience - Love endures.
Kind - Love is willing to help
Generosity - Love does not envy.
Humble - Love does not boast, it is not proud.
Polite - Love is not rude, .
Selfless - Love is not self-seeking.
Peaceful - Love is not easily angered.
Friendly - Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Just -  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth..

Patients, kind, generous, humble, polite, selfless, peaceful, friendly and just - these describe the supreme gift, Love, the stature of the perfect person. All of these our in relation to people, life,  today and tomorrow, and eternity.

There is much talk of love to God; Christ spoke much of love to people. We make a great deal of peace with God; Christ made much of peace on earth. Jesus is not a strange person or someone you add to your life like a new social group or hobby. He meets us right where we are at in our secular life and inspires us to go beyond it. The life of the eternal spirit through this temporal world. Love is not a thing at all, but bringing to life the many words and acts which make up the sum of every common day.

Patients: This is the normal attitude of love; love passive, love waiting to begin; not in a hurry; calm; ready to do its work when the summons comes, but meantime wearing the robe of a meek and quiet spirit. Love endures; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things. For love understands, and therefore waits.

Kind: Love is active. Have you ever noticed how much of Christ's life was spent in doing kind things as he shared the good news of the kingdom of God. If we think about it, you will find that he spent a great portion of his time simply blessing people, in doing deeds to people as he told them the good news. There is only one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and this we can't do in our own strength; but what God has put in our power is the ability to bless those around us, and that is largely to be done by our being kind to them.

Someone said, "The greatest thing a person can do for his heavenly father is to be kind to some of his other children." I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? We always make excuse like, "I'm only human." Yes we are but we are new humans. How much the world needs new humans that have the love of God! How easily it is done if we but surrender! How instantaneously it acts if we put on the mind of Christ! How infallibly it is remembered by those who have been touched by the hands of those that love as Jesus did! How super abundantly it pays itself back - for there is no debtor in the world more honorable as love. "Love never fails." Love is success, love is blessings, love his life. "Love is energy of life."

For life, with all its yields of joy or woe
and hope and fear,
Is just our chance of the prize of learning love,-
How love might be, has been indeed, and is.

Where love is, God is. He that dwells in love dwells in God. God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Be generous with it on the poor and rich alike. Most of all towards our equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Do lose an opportunity to give pleasure. Here we find the ceaseless and anonymous victory of a truly loving spirit.

"I will pass through this world only once. Any good thing that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I will not pass this way again."

Generosity: "Love does not envy." Love is not in competition with others. Whenever you attempt a good work you will find other people doing the same kind of work, and probably doing it better. Do not envy those others. Envy is a feeling of ill will towards those who are in the same line as ourselves, a spirit of coveting and detraction. It is sad that Christian work is not a protection against unchristian feelings! That most despicable of moods that cloud the Christian's soul waits for us on the threshold of every good work, unless we are fortified with the grace of forgiveness. Only one a christian should truly envy: the large, rich, generous soul which "envy's not."

Humble: Being humble is to put a seal on your lips and forgetting what you have done. After you have been kind, after love has released into the world and a beautiful work has been done, go back into the shadows again and say nothing about it. Love hides even from itself. Even self-satisfaction has no part of this love. "Love does not boast, is not puffed up." Humility - love hiding.

Polite: The fifth ingredient is a somewhat strange one to find in this supreme good. This is love in society, and love in relation to good manners. "Love is not rude."

Politeness has been defined as love in unimportant things. Courtesy is said to be love in little things. And the one secret of politeness is to love.

Love cannot behave itself inappropriately. You can put the most uneducated person into high society, and if they have a reservoir of God's love in their hearts they will not behave inappropriately. They simply cannot do it. Carlisle said of Robert Burns that there was no truer gentlemen in Europe than the plow men-poet. It was because he loved everything that God had made - the mouse, the daisy, and all things great and small. With this simple passport he could mingle with any society and enter courts and palaces from his little cottage on the banks of the river.

You know the meaning of the word "gentlemen." It means a gentle man - a man who does things gently, with love. That is the whole art and mystery of it. The gentle man cannot in the nature of things do ungentlemanly things. The ungentle soul, the inconsiderate, unsympathetic nature, cannot do anything else. "Love is not rude."

Selfless: "Love is not self-seeking." Observed: it does not even seek after that which is her own. In America people are devoted to their rights. But there comes a time when a person may exercise even the higher right of giving up their rights.

Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights. Love strikes much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, ignore them, eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations.

It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often external. The difficult thing is to give up ourselves. The more difficult thing still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have sought them, bought them, won them, deserve them, we have taken the cream off them for ourselves already. Little sacrifice then to give them up. However, not to seek them, nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others - that is the difficulty. Even self-denial in itself is nothing. It's almost a mistake. Only a great purpose or mightier love can justify the waste.

It is more difficult, not to seek our own at all than having sought it and then having to give it up. This is really true of a partly selfish heart. If nothing is a hardship to love then nothing is hard. I believe that Christ's "yoke" is easy. Jesus yoke is easier then any other way. I believe it is a more blessed way than any other. The most obvious lesson in Jesus' teaching is that there is no blessing in having and getting anything, but only in giving. There is no blessing in having or in getting, but only in giving. Half the world is on the wrong path in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists of having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving, and and serving others. Jesus said, "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." If you truly want to be happy, remember that there is but one way - "it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive."

Peaceful: "Love it is not easily angered." Here is a real test. We are inclined to look at a bad temper as a harmless weakness. We acted as if it is a mere weakness of our human nature, a family trait, a matter of temperament, not something to take too seriously when estimating a persons character. However, we see right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place. The Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature.

What is odd, in our culture, ill tempered is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one stain on an otherwise noble character. You know people who are all but perfect, and women who would be entirely perfect, but for an easily ruffled, quick-tempered, or "touchy" disposition. This compatibility of ill temper with high moral character is the one of the strangest and saddest problems of ethics. The truth is, there are two great classes of sins - sins of the body and sins of the disposition. The prodigal son may be taken as a type of the first, the older brother of the second. Now, society has no doubt whatsoever as to which of these is the worst. It's brand falls, without a challenge, on the prodigal. But are we right? We have no balanced to way one another's sins, and coarser and finer are but human words; but faults in the higher nature may be less corrupt than those in the lower, and to the eye of him who is love, a sin against love may seem 100 times more base. No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness of itself, does more to diminish Christ's name in a society then evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, destroying the most sacred relationship, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power this influence stands alone.

Look at the older brother. He's moral, hard-working, patient, and dutiful. Let him get all the credit for his virtues. But look at this man, this baby, sulking outside his own father's door. "He was angry," we read "and would not go in." Look at the effect on the father, on the servants, on the happiness of the guests. Judge the effect on the prodigal. How many prodigal's are kept out of the kingdom of God by the unloving character of those who profess to be inside? Analyze, as a study in temper, the thundercloud itself as it gathers on the older brothers brow. What is it made of? Jealousy, anger, pride, unshared, cruelty, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness - these are the ingredients of this dark and loveless soul. In varying proportions, these are the ingredients of all ill tempered. Judge if such sins of the disposition are not worse to live in and live with then the sins of the body. Jesus answer the question himself when he said, "“I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." There is really no place in heaven for a disposition like this. A person of this kind of mood could only make heaven miserable for all the people in it. Except, therefore, such a person be born again, they cannot, simply cannot, enter the kingdom of heaven.

We will see then why temper is significant. It is not in what it is alone, but in what it reveals. This is why it must be spoken of without a sugarcoat. It is a test for love. The bottom line is that it is a symptom, a revelation of an unloving nature. It is the unpredictable fever which suggests predictable disease inside. The occasional bubble escaping to the surface which betrays some rottenness underneath. It reveals a sample of the most hidden products of the soul, dropping involuntarily when one's guard is let down. It is like the lightning form of 100 hideous and unchristian sins exploding onto the scene. A need of patients, a need of kindness, a need of generosity, a need of politeness, a need of selflessness, or all instantaneously symbolized in one flash of temper.

Therefore, it is not enough to deal with the temper. We must go to the source and change the innermost being, and the angry inclinations will die away by themselves. Souls are made sweet not by taking the bitter fluid out but by putting something in - a great love, a new spirit, the spirit of Jesus. The Holy Spirit penetrating our spirit, sweetening, purifying and transforming everything in us. Only this can eradicate what is wrong, work a physical change, renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner person. Will power does not change people. Time does not change people. Jesus does. Therefore, "your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

This should be a pressing matter in our lives. Remember, this is a matter of life or death. I cannot help speak urgently for myself and all those who call on Jesus as Lord. "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." This is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to live then not to love. It is better not to live than not to love.

Friendly and Just: We can almost not even analyze these. Friendly is the grace for suspicious people. It is the moniker of those who believe God. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God's friend. The possession of it is the secret of personal influence. You will find that the people who have influence you are the people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of suspicion people shrivel up; but in a friendly atmosphere people expand and find encouragement and learning fellowship.

It is a wonderful thing to find in this hard uncharitable world a few rare souls who keep no record of wrongs. This is the grace on worldliness. Love "keeps no record of wrong," projects no motive, sees the bright side, puts a positive spin on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What a blessing even to meet with it for a day! To be trusted is to be rescued. If we tried to influence or elevate others, we will soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of your belief in them. The respecting another is the first step towards restoring the self-respect a person has lost. Our ideal of what they may become, becomes in them the hope and pattern of what they may become.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." This is being Just.  If you truly have gods love you will love the truth more then people. A person will rejoice in the truth. They will rejoice, not in what they have been taught to believe; not in this church's doctrine or and that; not in this person or in that person; but "in the truth." They will accept only what is real. They will strive to get at facts. They will search for truth with a humble and unbiased mind, and cherish whatever they find at any sacrifice. When Paul says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth" the quality perhaps more strictly conveys the self restraint which refuses to profit from others faults. This is a love that does not delight in exposing the weaknesses of other, but "always protects". This is justice with purpose. It endeavors to see things as they are, and rejoices to find them better than fearful suspicions or denounced slander.

Now to the business of our lives and fitting these into our character. Learning to love God's way is the most important thing we need to work on in ourselves in this world. Life is full of opportunities for learning love. Every person every day has a1000 of them. The world is not a playground, it is a classroom. Life is not a vacation, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how we can love better.

What makes a man a good baseball player? Practice. What makes a man a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician? Practice. What makes a person a good person? Practice. Nothing else. There is nothing fickle about following Jesus. We do not get our soul in a different way, under different laws, from those that we get our body. If a person does not exercise their arms they will develop no bicep muscles. If a person does not exercise their soul, they acquire no muscle in their soul, no strength of character, no moral fiber, no true spiritual growth. Love is not a special way of feeling. It is a rich, strong, healthy expression of the whole rounded Christian character. It is the Christlike nature in its fullest development. The elements of this character are  built up by ceaseless practice.

What was Jesus doing in the carpenter shop? Practicing. We read that he learned obedience, and grew in wisdom and in favor with God. Do not complain about your lot in life. Do not complain of its never ending trials, it's petty environments, the floor you have to stand on, the small and sorted people you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be confused because it seems to get bigger around you more and more, and is relentless no matter how much effort or pain or prayer. This is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you. It is in these places were our character is developing patience, humility, generosity, selflessness, kindness and politeness. Do not resent the hand that is molding the shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful, even though you don't see it and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore stay in the middle of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be around people and around things, troubles, difficulties and obstacles. Geothe said, "talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life." Talent develops itself in solitude: the talent of prayer, faith, meditation, seeing the unseen; character grows in the streams of life in this world. That is where people are to learn love.

How? Love itself can never be defined. Gravity is something more than the sum of its parts: pushing, pulling, and moving. Love is something more than all its parts. We see the effects of gravity but we don't see gravity. We can combine all the virtues and make virtue but we cannot make love. How can we have this supernatural love transmitted into our souls? We exercise our will to secure it. We try to imitate those who have it. We take measure of it. We watch. We pray. However these things alone will not bring love into our nature. Love is an effect. When we fulfill the right conditions we can have the effect produced. What is the cause?

In 1st John we see these words: "we love because he first loved us." "We love," not "we love him." Look at the word "because." Here we see the cause. "Because He first loved us," the effect follows that we love, we love him, we love all people. We cannot help it. Because He loved us, we love Him, we love everybody. The heart is instantly changed and slowly transformed. Think about the love of Jesus, and you will love. Stand in front of the mirror, reflect Jesus' character, and you will be changed into the same image from tenderness to tenderness. There is no other way. You cannot order love like an entree from a menu. You can only look at the lovely object, and fall in love with it. Then grow into its likeness. When we look at Jesus we see perfect character, perfect life. Consider His great sacrifice as he lay down his life, all through life, and on the cross of Calvary, we are compelled to love him. If you say you love him, you must become like him. Love produces love. It is a process of induction. Put a piece of iron in the presence of an electrified body, and that piece of iron for a time becomes electrified. It is changed into a temporary magnet in the presence of a permanent magnet, and as long is you leave the to side-by-side they are both magnets. Remain side-by-side with Jesus, who loved us, and gave himself for us, and you, too, will become a permanent magnet, a permanently attractive force and at times a repelling force; and like him you will draw all people to you, like him you will be drawn to all people. That is the inevitable effect of love. People who fulfill that cause must have that effect produced in them.

Try to give up the idea that Christianity comes to us by chance, or by mystery, or by accident. It comes to us supernaturally because our God is supernatural. God breaks into humanity in the person of Jesus Christ and melts our unloving hearts. He makes us a new creation. A creation that is patient, humble, gentle and unselfish. There is no other way to get it. There is no mystery about it. We love others, we love everybody, we love our enemies, because he first loved us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Love Not Known By The World - Pt. 2 Contrast

The Contrast

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul contrasts love with other things that people in those days valued. This has not changed two millennium later. We don't need to go over these things in detail. Their emptiness is obvious.

Paul says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” This should seem obvious. We have all felt the harshness of words without emotion, the emptiness, the unaccountable persuasion, or the lack of love behind persuasive words.

He contrasts it with prophecy. He contrasts it with mysteries. He contrasts with faith. He contrasts it with charity. Why is love greater than faith? Because the end is greater than the means. And why is it greater than charity? Because the whole is greater than the part.

Love is greater than faith, because the end is greater than the means. What is the use of having faith? It is to connect the soul with God. And what is the object of connecting man with God? That he may become like God. Since God is love, faith, the means, is to love, the end. Love, therefore, obviously is greater than faith. “If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

It is greater than charity. Remember the whole is greater than a part. Charity is only a part of love, one of the many avenues of love. There is a great deal of charity in our world without love. It is easy to roll down our car window and give a couple of bucks to a beggar on the street; it is generally an easier thing than not to do it. Yet this is done without love but more out of pity or even worse self satisfaction. We purchase relief from the sympathetic feelings roused by the spectacle of misery, for the price of a couple of dollars. It is cheap for us, and often too dear for the beggar. If we really loved them we would either do more for them, or less. Therefore, “If I give all I have to feed the poor, but have not love it profits me nothing.” Then Paul contrasts it with sacrifice and martyrdom : “If I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

Missionaries can take nothing greater to the lost of this world than the impression and reflection of the love of God in the person of Jesus in their own character. This is the purest language. It will take them years to speak in Chinese, or in the dialects of India or what unfamiliar language they run into. From the day they arrive, the language of love, as Jesus showed us, will be pouring out in unconscious beauty.

The person who is the missionary, it is not only words but actions also. Their character manifests the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. At one time in the heart of Africa, among the great Lakes, the people of that land only saw one white man —David Livingstone; and as you cross his footsteps in that dark continent, men’s faces light up as they speak of the kind doctor who passed there years ago. They could not understand him; but they felt the love that beat in his heart. They knew that it was love, although he couldn't speak their language. This love open them up to the good news which they eventually received.

Take into your sphere of work, school or social circles, where you can lay down your life, that simple attraction, and your life will be a success. You can take nothing greater, you need take nothing less. Your every accomplishment; your every sacrifice; but if you give your body to be burned, and have not love, it will profit you and the cause of Christ nothing .

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Love Not Known By The World - Pt 1 Intro

In the world today not many people ask themselves: What is the supreme good? We have life before us. We can live it only once. What is the highest moral object or principle of desire, the supreme gift to want? Why don't we hear this question asked? Because we live in a self obsessed world. Where the supreme good is "whats best for me above all else". This stands to reason because of the media saturated world, in which we live in, feeds and appeals to this end the most. Thereby creating an undercurrent of thought that dictates this pursuit whether consciously or unconsciously. This has taken a foothold in the christian community.

We have been told that the greatest thing in the christian world is faith. That great word has been the keynote for centuries of the popular Christianity; and we have easily learned to look at it as the greatest thing in the world. We are wrong. If we have been told that, we may miss the mark. In the 1 Corinthians 13, Paul takes us to the goal of a christian life; and there we see, “The greatest of these is love.”

Remember Paul was speaking of faith just a moment before. He says, “If I have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.” Without forgetting, he deliberately contrasts them, “Now remains faith, hope, love,” and without a moment’s hesitation he declares, “The greatest of these is love.”

We as people are ready to recommend to others our own opinion. Love however moved Paul to write the way he did. Love for Jesus first and foremost and then love for people, but not diminished. The hand that wrote, “The greatest of these is love,” was before stained with blood.

Corinthians is not unique in singling out love as the supreme good. The masterpieces of Christianity are in agreement. Peter says, “Above all things have fervent love among yourselves.” Above all things. And John goes further, “God is love.”

Paul tells us elsewhere, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Did you ever think what he meant by that? In those days people were working their way to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments, and the hundreds of other commandments that have been manufactured out of them. Jesus came and said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We can see why it must be this way. The Old Covenant was to be entered into through love. Love in action looks like this, “You will have no other gods before me.” If a person loves God, they will not have to be told not to enter into a covenant with other gods. Love is the fulfilling of the covenant one enters into with God through Jesus. “Don't take his name in vain.” Would a person who truly loves God ever dream of praising His name outwardly while secretly living for another?” Love would fulfill all the requirements of the covenant one makes with God.

Also, if we loved other people, we wouldn't have to be told to honor our father and mother. We could not do anything else. It would be ridiculous to tell us not to kill. It should be an insult to suggest that we should not steal. How could we steal from those we loved? It would be unnecessary to tell us not to lie against our neighbor. If we loved others it would be the last thing we would do. And we would never dream of urging others not to covet what his neighbors had. We would rather they possessed it than our self. In this way “love is the fulfilling of  the covenant.” It is what compels us to live up too whatever the new covenant tells us, Christ’s one secret of the Christian life.

Paul learned this; and in this amazing description he has given us the most wonderful and original account of the greatest good. We may divide it into three parts.

1 We have love contrasted;
2 We have love analyzed;
3 We have love defended as the supreme gift.

Compromising the Gospel Pt.1

The message of Jesus Christ which was in short "the gospel of the kingdom of God", has been compromised and been used to create the institutionalize religion we call Christianity that is seen in the USA today.

Jesus said not too take titles and positions of authority when it comes to how we are to live our lives in relation to other believers in Him, however today we see in nearly every church across the land people with the titles of pastor, reverend, cardinal, father, bishop, archbishop, His excellency, abbot, vicar, chaplain, priest, deacon, pope, patriarch, monk, assistant pastor. Some of these names were descriptions of gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as, pastor which have now become titles and positions. Some where descriptions of those who are older in the faith and age to show who was trusted to bring those younger in age and the faith along in the truth of doctrine and life. The rest are nothing more then manufactured titles that props up an institutionalize religion in Jesus name. However, every name listed is nothing more then titles today. The people with these titles became officials and everyone else are not. We have these dividing terms like clergy and laity. Inevitably this leads to separating people so that one is above another or one below another. This results in people ruling others first and serving becomes secondary. Not to mention the feeding of pride and ego. You can tell by those who resent this position or those seeking these titles and positions how they will fight against these thoughts.

Jesus said, “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Jesus said “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When Jesus comes again He will set up His kingdom here on earth and it will be those who served their brothers and sisters in Christ who will reign with Him. Those who followed His teaching here and now. Those who refuse titles. Those who desire serving instead of wanting to rule. Those who refuse to follow the ways of the world but instead follow Jesus example. Those that let their love for Jesus control their actions more then their love for position.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Is the Gospel about God's kingdom or an individual plan of salvation?

Today the Gospel has been reduced to the individual plan of salvation when it was originally about the kingdom of God.

Galatians 1:6 (NIV)
[6] I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel

The word gospel means "good news". Then the question that should be asked is, what good news?

According to the first recorded message of Jesus it was the good news of the kingdom of God. Mark 1:15 (NIV) [15]  “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” 

Matthew 4:23 (NIV) [23] Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 

When Jesus sent out the twelve during His earthly ministry he told them to tell whoever would listen the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. Matthew 10:7 (NIV) [7] As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.' 

Then there are the parables of Jesus. Most of the were about the kingdom of God. After his resurrection but before his ascension when he appeared to the apostles he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (NIV) [3] After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 

Then as we travel through the book of Acts we see the gospel of the Kingdom of God being preached. (Acts 8:12, 14:22, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 28:31) We see this same message being repeated throughout the epistles. However, what is the gospel message we hear today is modern day Christianity in the USA today?

Today the gospel that we here on evangelical TV, radio and pulpits is nothing more then the individual plan of salvation. Its the gospel of an individual plan of salvation. The gospel is more then that. It is true people need to be saved however an individuals salvation is not the end of God's plan of redemption. The individual today, throughout evangelical Christianity, has become the main focus of the gospel when it should be the kingdom of God. This was Jesus focus. This was the apostles focus. This should be the churches focus. We are saved into something and that something is the kingdom of God which leads to a restored relationship with God.

The result of this new gospel, that has as its main thrust the individual as opposed to the Kingdom of God, we see people using Jesus as a get out of jail free card and then continue to live self centered lives or a life that still pledges allegiance to the kingdom of man that they live in thereby compromising the teaching of Jesus the King.

What I see is an amalgamation of the individualization of American values and Christian values. We want to love our neighbors like Jesus tells us as long as they don't cut me off in traffic. We want to do to others as we want to be done to as long as they don't tread on me. We have yoked the kingdom of God together with the kingdom of man.

From the very beginning God establish his means of relationship with humanity through covenant within the framework of a kingdom. Where God is our king and we are citizens within His kingdom. This was how it was meant to be from the beginning. A kingdom of complete and total love, happiness and peace. Where there was no suffering or death. As citizens of this kingdom God said he would be a certain way and do certain things and we as his citizens were to be a certain way and do certain things. This is a covenant. All this would also be done in a loving family context. This has not changed. This kingdom was lost because we broken the original covenant, The New Covenant is still framed the same way however, Jesus entered into this covenant on behalf of humanity so that the covenant cannot be broken as all the other were that came before this last one.

As people agree to this new covenant we become citizens of God kingdom. This is good news. We are saved from our guilty standing before God because of what Jesus did on our behave. If we accept Gods provision to be restored to citizenship into God's kingdom, we therefore raise our hands and promise to live as citizens of this Kingdom with Jesus as our King. We are to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to live our lives until his second coming. Then the original plan for humanity will be restored. Citizens of any nation would be expected to live according to the values and laws of that nation.  Jesus told us to say, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

If we call on Jesus as Lord and savior, if we claim to be Christians then we are strangers in a strange land, aliens to the kingdoms of man. 1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)
[11] Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world,....

Hebrews 11:13 (NIV)
[13] All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 

Instead we are - Ephesians 2:19 (ESV)
[19] longer strangers and aliens (too God), but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 

However, in American churches across the land we are taught the USA is a christian nation. This nation is under the New Covenant that Jesus established with God on our behave. When this is nowhere found in scripture. The only christian nation mention in scripture is the people of God under the New Covenant. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) [9]  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

If we then declare that the USA is a Christian nation are we then diminishing the gospel message of the kingdom of God? Yes.

Remember what Jesus said, "John 18:36 (NIV) “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 

Mans kingdom says kill to save your life.
Jesus says live to give your life.
Mans kingdom says kill your neighbor if they want to kill you.
Jesus says love your neighbor even unto death.

The gospel is more then the individual plan of salvation. That's just the beginning. The gospel is also about living our lives as citizens of God's kingdom here and now. There are citizens of God's kingdom in every nation on earth. And living for Jesus exclusively to the exclusion of your earthly citizenship if necessary.

The Futility Of Thinking There Are Only Atoms

  Authentic Christian apologetics is not about defending a generic theism but instead defending Christian theism which is solely grounded in...