Thursday, August 14, 2014
I invite you to check it out, to join us if possible, or to even start your own public Bible study.
There is nothing quite like starting the day in the study of the Word of God with other believers, openly discussing our faith and praying together in a public forum.
In a day and age when Christians around the world are increasingly being persecuted for their faith, it is all the more important to make use of the incredible freedom that we have in this nation to gather together anywhere at any time to live out our faith.
Love in Christ,
Sunday, August 3, 2014
by Charles Swindoll
(from "The Grace Awakening: Believing in Grace is One Thing. Living it is Another.")
Saturday, July 26, 2014
When was the last time you prayed with believers?
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” ~Jesus (Matthew 18:19-20)Pray for one another. Pray with one another. It is more than merely a religious practice. It is intimate conversation with the Creator of the universe, and in corporate prayer, the Bride of Christ is communing with the Bridegroom.
Love in Christ,
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Below is a brief comment on a comment that I made earlier this evening on Facebook. I’d momentarily thought about writing a lengthier blog post around the word “fulfilled,” but I realize that this is already well covered elsewhere.
I think that the interaction speaks for itself. It is in response to one of the most common arguments made by people who believe that the Christians are still under the Law of Moses.
More importantly, this arguing over the meaning of words is typical of fringe and cult belief systems. As Joyfully Growing in Grace articulates so well in the article, “Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word”:
“One of the things that is really important to be aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms. Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated. And it’s the perfect set up for the same thing cults do: Convince you that what you know isn’t true, or is “incomplete”, then come in with fresh revelation based on previously “hidden” information.”
Do you believe fulfill means "destroy"? If so, here is the scripture you're talking about: Jesus did NOT say, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to destroy." ~Matt 5:17 AT (Apostate Translation)
Nobody said "destroy".
Fulfill = as in "I owe a debt, and on the day said debt is paid in full (either by me or someone else), the obligation of the debt is FULFILLED. Meaning I no longer owe it, and I am no longer under the terms of the debt. Nothing about the former debt can ever be used against me."
It doesn't mean the historical fact that I previously owed a debt goes away, but the debt loses any power or authority over me the moment it is FULFILLED.
Another example - I place an order with a vendor on Amazon, and I've paid for it, but I haven't received it yet. When the vendor ships it to me, he has FULFILLED the order.
So it is with Christ -- when He declared "It is finished!," the power and legal authority of the Law was FULFILLED.
I share this partly because it is an example of why we need to preach, defend, and confirm the Good News about Jesus Christ.
“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.” (Jude 1:3)
For more Scriptural precedent for addressing false teaching, check out: http://www.openbible.info/topics/exposing_false_teachers
Love in Christ,
Monday, July 21, 2014
A quote I’ve seen shared more than once on Facebook reads, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”
I’m sure I’ve clicked “like” to that sentiment at some point. Heck, I’m positive I’ve even shared it at least once.
In recent years, though, that saying has bothered me more and more, though I couldn’t quite explain why. It sounded reasonable enough, but still, it ate at me every time I saw someone else share it or ‘like’ it.
It recently dawned on me that the saying uses a very poor analogy. A person, no matter how many times they may walk into a garage, will *never* become a car. A person who goes to church, on the other hand, may well become a Christian.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not nitpicking. I understand that the general idea is that there may be those out there who assume (out of misinformed ignorance) that any involvement with a church, even just annual attendance on Christmas or Easter, will somehow get them into heaven. The truth is, though, that I’ve never met even one such person. Not one.
Instead, I think that this quote belies an underlying judgmentalism about those who actually DO attend church. It has become all too easy for us as a society to loosely toss around the term ‘hypocrite,’ especially in regard to regular church-goers. This quote seems to imply that some of these very people who show up to church are really just self-deceived at best, if not out and out false Christians. Perhaps that’s not at all the context in which the original quote comes from, but that’s how it seems to be used these days.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered in the last 25 years of ministry who stay away from church “because of the hypocrites.”
What a shame.
Let me draw you back to the analogy of the car for a moment. While standing in a garage will decidedly not make you a car, I want you to think about what you DO with a car to keep it running smoothly. Yes, you may be able to drive a car for many miles without ever taking it to a garage, and you may be able to get some extra miles out of it by doing some of the work yourself, but you’ll never have the same mileage you’ll have if you take it to the garage.
Just like we take our cars into the garage for maintenance and repair, so we need to take our selves to church. No, the pastors and elders are not the mechanics. But neither are you. God is the master mechanic, and He uses His body, the church, to minister to His people. The church, as a collective body of people with unique giftings and skills, is able to fulfill the “one another” commands of the Bible in a way that we simply cannot as individuals.
Finally, a word about that poor, ignorant, misguided, self-deluded person standing in the church….
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14)
Where better for them to be, but to be where they can clearly hear the Good News that “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. … ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’’ (Romans 10:9-10,13)?
No, standing in a garage will NOT make you a car, but getting yourself to where Jesus Christ is preached very well may be part of the process of how God transforms you into a Christian.
And, as for you, Christian, you are part of that heavenly pit crew.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”
Love in Christ,
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
"Scientists Discover that Atheists Might Not Exist and That's Not A Joke"
"Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.
"While this idea may seem outlandish—after all, it seems easy to decide not to believe in God—evidence from several disciplines indicates that what you actually believe is not a decision you make for yourself. Your fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of consciousness, and some may well be more or less set in stone."
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:19-20)
Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." (Psalm 14:1)Science and faith are NOT mutually exclusive. Rather, the former is simply the study of the mechanics of the latter.
Believe like a child, but don't check your brain at the door.
Love in Christ,
Sunday, July 13, 2014
I'd like to challenge you to do an in-depth personal Bible study on this "Good News" that we believe, preach, confirm, and defend.
According to Bible.org, the term 'gospel' (or 'good news'):
The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo„ (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.” Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.It is this GOOD NEWS that everything rises or falls on, and it is of the utmost importance that we understand exactly what it is (and what it is not), and what it means to us. If you are a Christian, this is the shining centerpiece of everything else that comes before or after in the Bible. The Good News concerning Christ fulfills the Old Testament, and is the pinnacle by which the rest of the New Testament stands.
Why is it so important to deepen our understanding of this Good News? Besides the obvious benefits, consider what Paul wrote to the church at Galatia concerning those who were trying to preach a false Gospel among them:
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. - (Galatians 1:6-10)Elsewhere, Paul writes to the church at Phillipi,
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. - (Philippians 1:7-8)In these dark days, it is ever more important that we endeavor to preach, confirm, and defend this Good News. Below are just a few verses concerning the Good News of Christ, but I encourage you to take the time to study through ALL the instances of the phrase "Good News" as it appears in the Bible.
Most importantly, let the liberating, joyful truth of what it means to be made right in God's sight through faith in Jesus Christ minister to you as you do so!
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" - (Luke 2:9-11)
We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace." - (Colossians 1:3-6)
This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. - (Acts 10:36)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” - (Romans 1:16-17)
Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! - (1 Corinthians 9:16)Preach, confirm, and defend the Good News!
Love in Christ,
Thursday, July 3, 2014
~ Psalm 100
Thursday, June 26, 2014
It’s long overdue, but I’ve finally added a few new links to the Resources page. These are sites that have been of particular help to me through this journey into recognizing the peace and security of standing in God’s grace.
I hope that they prove as useful and informative to you as they have been to me.
Love in Christ,
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Below are some excerpts from an e-mail exchange I had a couple of years ago with someone who teaches that the Law of Moses is still applicable to believers today. I had originally written to this person in order to seek understanding and clarification about their beliefs and teachings that they had posted on their web site.
None of these words are mine, but are from the individual I was conversing with. I would honestly love to hear some feedback on the below doctrines:
"It began to change with the Roman Catholic Church about 115 AD. That's a long time ago and what Christianity thinks is Gospel is a doctrine of men that nullifies God's Word, as hopefully, you're beginning to see. The traditions of the Church have caused many well meaning Christians to sin against the One that they love. Pharisaism is very much alive in the Church today."
"the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God are one and the same Spirit, but it is a separate entity from the Father and the Son. Look, Joe, if we have a family and we have a father and a son, shouldn't the mother be part of it, too? Man was created in God's Image…Adam/Eve/children…if you remove the Spirit from being a Person you only have a Father and a Son…"
"The promise is that we are to be exactly like Yeshua is now, except that He was always God the Son, while we will be like Him through the New Creation."
"In Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is always feminine in grammar; both Old and New Testaments (for Israelis today the Greek New Testament is translated into modern Hebrew and all the passages relating to the Holy Spirit are feminine and use feminine pronouns; she/her). In Greek, the pronoun for he and she is the same word, so, context determines what is written in English. I'm saying that the English translators didn't know what they were doing when they wrote "He" for the Holy Spirit. "Wisdom" in Hebrew is feminine, Joe."
"Joe, in creation everything mated 'after its own kind.' Gorillas with gorillas, cats with cats, and humans with humans…in the New Jerusalem the Body of Christ will become the Bride of Christ. How can this Bride marry the Lord unless it has the same nature (deity) that the Lord has?"
Believers are... "to be like God and to be one with Them…the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
"You may take 'God' to mean the Father, but 'God' is more than Father, as the Apostle John and others plainly reveal. Yeshua is also God (the Son), so, "God" speaks to more than one Person and using the name of the God of Israel as a 'last name' (Yahveh) gives us Father Yahveh, Spirit Yahveh, and Son Yahveh…all God, yet as distinct from one another as you are from your wife and children, yet all sharing the same last name/nature…human, or in Their case, divine."
Begotten - "The offspring of two species (male and female), usually related to human offspring, but obviously, in Christ's case, relating to His being begotten by the Father and the Spirit in eternity past."
"And what does it mean that Man is made in God's Image and Likeness? Man becomes the model or pattern that pictures the Godhead…again, if there is a Father and a Son, and the Holy Spirit is mentioned, the Spirit must be feminine, which is exactly the pronouns that are used for it in Hebrew in both the Old and the New, no matter what your English translation of the Greek says. Greek has the exact same pronoun for he/she, so it's left to context, and the translators got it wrong…the Spirit is always in the feminine in the Old and the New…so, Father, Mother and Son, just like Adam, Eve and Abel…"
"Messiah is saying that ALL the other commandments have their reason for being in either the first or the second commandment. In other words, if I love God I will keep His Sabbath day holy and I will celebrate Passover, and I will not eat pig or shrimp, etc. The commandments are actually concrete expressions of God's Love for us…telling us how to love Him and how to love one another. Isn't that beautiful?"
""Just love" brings in problems that speak of much sin in a Christian's life because the Word of God has been severely compromised for 1,900 years."
Additionally, in response to pointing out that this person's teaching that "believers will be like God" was very similar to the serpent's words to Eve in Genesis 3:4, they responded:
"You're right, it is a variation of the sin of Satan, but isn't it possible that Satan was preempting what God was going to do? Satan is a counterfeiter. The pagan religions of old and today present issues to their adherents that are reflections of God's salvation, Son, and Spirit, etc.
"On the other hand, God is freely offering deity to us through the Sacrifice of His Son because He wants us to spend eternity with Him. This is the free gift and shows us His heart for us, both in its cost to Him and Yeshua, and in it's greatness (extending deity to those who walk with Him)."
"The deity issue, is something that I believe that many Christians before me have seen, and again, if we are both the Body of Christ, and His Bride, it would be a necessity for us to be like Him, not 'just' like Him, but like Him in every respect, except that Yeshua was always God the Son, and we will be God the sons by creation. That's what the new creation is truly about and why the gift of God to us is so great."
"You haven't addressed the main issue in this and that is our marriage to Jesus Christ forever. why not? Please realize that Jesus can only marry someone who is like Him…and that means deity for all believers. You do believe that Jesus is the Bridegroom, no? What's a Bridegroom without a Bride?"
Sometimes we scan through posts like these, never really testing what the author is saying, but giving them a free pass because the language sounds spiritual enough, or the writer sounds authoritative enough.
Be discerning. NEVER put a minister or teacher on a pedestal, or assume that they are somehow more Godly, more spiritual, closer to God than you. Instead, God wants YOU to be discerning, to test everything that you hear and read against the perfect standard of His word.
How do we develop discernment? By spending regular time in the Bible, and by listening to the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 10 that His sheep know His voice and will follow Him, and will RUN from the voice of a stranger.
Reread the excerpts above, and ask yourself.... "Whose voice?" Whose voice do you hear in the above teachings that the Holy Spirit is essentially God the Mother, who along with God the Father, begot God the Son? Whose voice do you hear in the teaching that believers become part of this God family when they die, gaining deity? Whose voice to you hear in the implication that the 'truth' had been corrupted 1900 years ago, and only now, through a few select people, is God finally restoring 'truth'?
This is just the tip of the iceberg as to what this person (and so many others like them) teach. It tickles the ears, and it intrigues our sense of spiritual pride to become part of a select few who are have been 'enlightened to the real truth.'
I close with Paul's words to believers who were being drawn into false teachings concerning Christ:
"I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. ... But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve." (2 Corinthians 11:1-4,12-15)
"I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed." (Galatians 1:6-9)
Hold fast to the truth. Exercise discernment. Test the spirits. Let no one deceive you.
Love in Christ,
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Saturday, May 24, 2014
There are times when we approach the Word of God with prideful hearts, only to find our hearts pricked with conviction as we realize how far short of the mark we still fall, despite all of our best efforts to live righteously. Instead of feeling condemned, however, we should take heart, for it is a sure sign that we are not calloused to sin, but that we are all the more conscious of our relationship to the Father.
Previously, we viewed sin as a set of laws we must adhere to, or risk the severest of punishments. It was this fear that kept us striving toward the straight and narrow, but such fear was only concerned with our well-being. 1 John 4, however, tells us a different story. "God is love" John writes, and "such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not experienced His perfect love."
Godly sorrow, instead, is the remorse we experience over grieving our Father's heart. There is no fear in that kind of sorrow, only an acute awareness of the momentary loss of intimate fellowship with God by own own actions. It is not that He has withdrawn from us; we have withdrawn from Him.
The Good News is that this perfect love "keeps no record of wrongs," and is faithful to forgive us every single time we come to Him.
You know you have experienced the perfect love of God when sin no longer invoked a sense of pending wrath upon you, but a deep sense of sorrow for what you've done. Such sorrow will steer you much farther away from sin than any fear-based legalism ever will.
Love in Christ,
Thursday, January 9, 2014
"To despise the riches of God's grace is the blackest of all sins. It far outweighs the sins that are a violation of righteousness. Fallen man has a fallen nature. That is why the Lord seemed to overlook the outbreaks of the flesh, knowing man's frame and remembering that he is but dust (Psalm 103:14). You who boast, perhaps, that you are not guilty of the great fleshly sins should realize that the despising of God's goodness is a sin that far transcends an act that might be called a crime under human law.
"Why is God so good toward the lost? He declares that the purpose of the riches of his goodness, forbearance and longsuffering is to lead man to repentance; and he further declares that man does not know the object of God's goodness. Is this not a further picture of the state of man by nature? Can it not be seen that the dark ignorance of unbelief has brought a further fruit of ignorance of the grace of God? You are in good health? Why does God permit it? The answer is that he wants you to turn to him and acknowledge his goodness and accept the riches that he has for you. You have other blessings that come from the common grace of God. The purpose of such riches is to cause you to turn about-face and come to Him for further blessing."
~ Donald Grey Barnhouse