Let us press on then, beloved, to see how the Lord gave Paul clear instruction for young Titus facing a difficult culture and society on the island of Crete. The Apostle Paul answers the Evangelical Co-Belligerent dilemma completely in Titus 3:1-8. Four key things he instructs Christians learning to live in a pagan society: 1. recognize your duty; 2. remember your depravity; 3. rejoice in your deliverance; and 4. render good deeds.
1. Recognize Your Duty
Paul says in Titus 3:1-2, Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
Notice here that the Apostle is calling for believers on this very troubled and immoral island of Crete to honor those in authority over them. Listen to how he describes their culture: “who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:11-16).
Their culture was full of false teachers propagating philosophies for money—destroying families; they were liars, evil beasts (in other words, slaves of depraved instincts) and lazy gluttons. They turned aside from the truth of God’s Word to myths and the commandments of men; their minds and conscience were defiled (tested, tried and found useless); they deny the Lord by their evil deeds; are detestable and disobedient—worthless of any good work. Even a form of “terrorism” was present; pagan gods abounded; evil was rampant in the streets; and sexual immorality was unbridled. This was a very corrupt and morally destitute place.
What does Paul offer as a solution to Crete’s unrestrained lasciviousness? Picket them? Boycott them? Try to bring a surface cultural spiritual morality through the political powers that be? No. He encourages Titus to do the unthinkable: evangelize! Bring them the transforming power of the gospel (Titus 2:11-13); call them back to sound doctrine refuting those who contradict (Titus 1:9); and live the transformed life in the marketplace of paganism (Titus 3:1-8). No political legislation could turn back the tide of moral decay; no governmental body would change the human heart and make it pure; no co-belligerent rally around even the most noble of social causes could add one drop of righteousness to please God and regenerate sinful mankind to new life—to moral rightness. Paul would never stoop to such trivial means as these in the struggle for the soul. He only took the spiritual weapons of prayer, the Word, the gospel, and the testimony of righteousness lived out by genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. In short, only through life conversion through Christ Jesus the Lord can there be any real morality whether you reside on Crete, in Corinth, under Nero, in Washington D.C., in Wheaton, in Nashville or even in Colorado Springs. The new life in Christ evidenced by a new way of living is the “salt and light” that impacts our communities and brings glory to God (Matthew 5:13-20).
the Biblical imperative
Paul desires Titus, “[his] true child in the common faith”, to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1); “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8); to be dedicated to “the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness” (Titus 1:1b); and that he “would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).
And how does this transformed life manifest itself? Paul begins precisely at the crossroads of where church and culture find themselves today—in the arena of government—living under God’s appointed authority (Romans 13:1-2).
The Apostle Paul begins by saying, be subject to rulers, to authorities. He is speaking here of magistrates; governments and its leadership. He is encouraging submission to the governing authorities as a sign of their salvation (Titus 2:11-13). They were in danger of forgetting their duty, though knowing it. They were prone to disregard what is a basic principle in Christianity—submission. And here the Apostle says to be submissive to the powers that be—and even if those authorities are ungodly (cp, 1 Peter 2:11-17). Cretans were marked by what Diodorus Siculus calls a “riotous insubordination”—not a comfortable or easy place to live for the Lord. The Christian was not to be identified as being insubordinate to those whom God had sovereignly placed in society to restrain evil and keep societal order—but to be known for being submissive.
The fruit of that submissive will manifested itself by being obedient, ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to peaceable, gentle and showing consideration to all men. He is describing the fruit of real regeneration in how they are to live their lives in a culture that is adverse to the gospel and to Christ. All of these qualities are in direct response to the political authorities over them. Be obedient to them—that is, in all that is not contrary to the Word of God; ready for every good deed, willingly, in response to the magistrates, the governing laws and all that is good—beneficial in society; to malign no one – not speaking evil of others, especially of those in authority over you is prohibited. Peaceable, not a brawler, quarrelsome, not attacking others or being contentious; but in stark contrast be peaceable (not being a political agitator, (cp, 1 Peter 4:15). Showing consideration to all men, in acts, if at all possible, the opposite of passionate severity—demonstrating meekness (having a small opinion of self and a high esteem of God); and this to all people as a witness of the gospel of grace. There is no “selective consideration” in Christianity; it applies to all people equally (cp, Matthew 5:40-48).
One of the ways that submissiveness manifested itself was through being gentle. The word gentle here is very powerful. At face value, people may construe this to mean a soft, introverted, quiet, shy demeanor that is sheepishly easy going. However, that is not the case. Instead, it has a profound meaning, that by God’s grace, should characterize every believer in the Lord. It means: to submit to maltreatment, hardship, persecution; knowing that God is sovereignly in control of your situation; doing acts of kindness to your accusers; free from revenge, malice and retribution. It carries with it the idea of the complete personality of the individual brought into submission to Christ so that you are not demanding your own rights out of desire to get even through retaliation, but to stay in the provocation until the breach is mended. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I surely haven’t even begun to arrive at that quality in my life. No wonder the Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 10:1, “…I am mindful of the meekness and gentleness of Christ…” This is my daily prayer for my life—Lord make me a “gentle” man. And this can only be accomplished by God’s grace (cp, Titus 2:12). Living this way in society will make impact for the gospel and the cause of the Lord. Not co-belligerence—but Christlikeness!
2. Remember Your Depravity
What is the motivating factor to surrender your rights, trust in God’s sovereignty purposes and plans, living free from revenge and being able to submit to ungodly governmental authority? Because we were once foolish ourselves.
When unsaved people mistreat or take advantage of us; or are engaged in all kinds of acts of lasciviousness, that should not drive us to disdain or criticize them, but to show empathy for them. Why? Because “we were once foolish ourselves.” Listen to how Paul describes any believer in the Lord before coming to salvation in Christ: we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
We cannot minimize this beloved. This was you and I before we met the Lord. This is our testimony. We were foolish (thoughtless, wicked, living without God), disobedient (to law, to parents, to civil authority, to God), deceived (by the enemy Satan, by false teachers, by our own hearts, by the flattery of others), lustful (indulging corrupt passions and propensities—slaves to…), malicious (in evil intent), envious (displeasure of the prosperity or happiness of others), hateful and hating (our conduct was worthy of the hatred of others; with no real brotherly love or true affection of others).
This is a hopeless condition that all have; worthy only of inheriting hell itself for all eternity (Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-3). The Apostle Paul also described the sinfulness of sinful mankind in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 as made up of fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and swindlers. In Galatians chapter 5 he describes human fallenness as engaging itself in immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like that. And to the Ephesians he gives this description, they are futile in their minds, darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, ignorant, hard of heart, callous, sensual, practicing every kind of impurity with greediness.
And in Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul sums up the depraved life we are all conceived into (Psalm 51:5) by saying, “they walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. They are driven by the lusts of their flesh, the desires of the flesh and of the mind and are by nature the children of wrath.” That is a description of man before he is rescued, before he is saved. I was born in a wonderful Christian family and raised in a very religious town—Wheaton, Il. But even with that evangelical pedigree, I had known a more hellish iniquity than any prostitute that ever walked the evening boulevards; I had a worse sin issue than any heroine addict ever dreamed of having; and I was more trapped in sin than any alcoholic could imagine. What was my transgression against the Lord? I was full of self-righteous religious pride! It’s the worse of all sins, isn’t it? It’s the cocaine of the church; we sell, snort it, and call it “normal” Christianity. It took a profound work of God’s grace to save this wretched man; religion numbed my sin sick soul to the wrathful condition I was truly in. Don’t minimize this. There are millions of people in churches all over America in the same state I was—they are what Matthew Mead calls, “the almost Christian.” They come to church, but have never come to Christ. They love religious things, but have not taken up their cross, denied themselves and followed the Lord. They give Sunday to God, but Monday through Saturday is “their” time. Almost Christians…
Paul completely shatters the notion that good works are sufficient enough to produce salvation for anyone. In order for us to be saved we had to be regenerated, invaded by the grace of our Lord, granted saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No Pope could redeem us; no prayer to Mary could help us; no purgatory could cleanse us; no Treasury of Merit could make us righteous; no mass could propitiate our sin; no saint could pray for us or us to them; no priest could absolve us of our sins (mortal or venial). We were hardened in the clay of our rebellion against a holy God. We were enslaved with various lusts, terribly lost. This is how the Lord found you; this is how He found me.
Therefore, shouldn’t this produce empathy in our lives for those that don’t know Christ? We shouldn’t display attitudes towards unsaved people which are full of self-righteous religious pride; spiritual arrogance; or a Pharisaic condescending manner of “I am glad I am not like that sinner…” This is sadly, though maybe unwitting, the attitude that pervades much of ECBers and especially the tone of FOTF’s attitude toward those they challenge in the marketplace—homosexuals, politicians, abortionists, etc. We should rightly ask the sobering question of FOTF, “How would you all be living if you didn’t know the Lord?” The Apostle Paul gives us sobering words about the unregenerate: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Romans 6:20). Did you hear that? Unsaved people are free in regards to righteousness before coming to Christ. We should not be accusing an unbelieving world for acting like an unbelieving world; but we should be concerned when Christians are living like an unbelieving world when claiming to know Christ (1 Corinthians 5). That is why church discipline is invaluable for dealing with unrepentant sin and guarding the purity of the church (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-3).
If we have tasted and drank deeply of His grace (1 Peter 2:3) isn’t the natural inclination of our hearts to share that good news with another so that they can be free from their sins and know the sure forgiveness of a living God for eternity rather then condemn them for being faithful to their depravity?
3. Rejoice in Your Deliverance
This is praise and worship to the Lord for the great salvation He has wrought for us. Paul says here, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is one of the richest passages of our great salvation we have in Christ Jesus our Lord found anywhere in all of Scripture. Notice the banner of our salvation surmised in three key words: He saved us… This again is cause for great humility. We couldn’t save ourselves not [even] on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. Our best works, our best religious works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) sufficient only to damn us to hell, but save us? Never! This is the nail in the coffin of Romanism—of any good works/human achievement system of obtaining favor with God. All our good works, even religious ones, are nothing but rubbish, human excrement compared to knowing Christ Jesus as Lord of our lives by grace through faith alone (cp, Phil. 3:1-8). We were only saved according to His mercy (not our works); by the washing and renewing of the Holy Spirit (not by our merits plus grace or our works plus faith); through Jesus Christ our Savior (not through a surrogate Christ in the Roman Church; or Mary; or Papal infallibility); justified by His grace (not through infused righteousness of works, but through the imputed righteousness of Christ alone) made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (not through the suffering in purgatory to be purged of our sins and then maybe one day will be made good enough to enter glory). We have hope beloved, eternal hope, in the Lord alone!
4. Render Good Deeds
What is the Christian’s responsibility in a pagan society? How are we to live? What does the Lord require of His people? Paul doesn’t say, “Organize, boycott, picket and petition against sinful, immoral, cultural moorings. Make sure you politically align yourselves with the right conservative constituency so that you can create a good and pure social goodness for your fellow man to ward off the wayward indulgences of a liberal society.” Nonsense! Here is what the Apostle calls, a “trustworthy statement”: This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. The trustworthy statement is what has been stated in verses 4-7—the great doctrine concerning our salvation. Paul is saying that it is the highest of importance; entirely worthy of belief; and is God’s gratuitous gift to us. This is what the Holy Spirit places as a priority to what should occupy our speech; our emphasis in message is the gospel of Christ. Concerning these things I want you to speak confidently… This is what the gospel produces and what we are to declare with confidence—that it leads people to holy living. No wonder he commands us all to be careful to engage in good deeds. Good deeds is all that is holy, true, honest, upright and good—the fruit of regeneration in our sanctification. We are to render works concomitant with our salvation. This is good and profitable for men. Is there anything sweeter, more joyous or hopeful to the ears of sinful man than forgiveness and peace before a holy righteous God is possible through our Lord Jesus Christ?
Jesus Is the Answer
This is how we are to live in a pagan society. Not in prideful arrogance, battling the powers that be to insure our religious rights or produce the veneer of morality absent of Christ; but in submissiveness to all authorities for they are ministers of God. We are not to live in prideful self-righteousness forgetting the depth of depravity we have been saved from. The world does not need to hear our scorn over their immorality or wayward living. They need to hear the good news of the gospel of grace; they need to hear of Christ and Him crucified; they need to hear of repentance from sin and eternal life through faith in Christ alone. And lastly, as we rejoice in our deliverance from sin, we should always remember that it was He who saved us and not we ourselves. Again, this should give us a burden to call others to salvation—not to a political civil cultural form of Pharisaic righteous morality.
Political reform, Evangelical Co-Belligerence, moral rightness, culture of life is nothing but the crumbs off the “rich man’s c0-belligerent” table to the hurting Lazarus’s of this world. They can offer no hope, no peace, no promise of life, no genuine morality, no impact on society. It is the message of pubescent believers who are either ashamed of the gospel; who’ve lost their confidence in the gospel; or have an integrated view of “culture plus Christ” that is unbiblical at its core values.
The secret longing of all God’s creatures is how to have peace with God; and the great work of the church is to bring that “good news” of the gospel to all, urging all men everywhere to repent from their sin and turn to Christ to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is sovereign over all earthly governments beloved. May we each dedicate ourselves afresh to do the work of the gospel and in doing so you will love our neighbor as our Lord Jesus Christ has intended.
As the Day draws near,
2 Cor. 4:5-7
Friday, January 23, 2015
Let us press on then, beloved, to see how the Lord gave Paul clear instruction for young Titus facing a difficult culture and society on the island of Crete. The Apostle Paul answers the Evangelical Co-Belligerent dilemma completely in Titus 3:1-8. Four key things he instructs Christians learning to live in a pagan society: 1. recognize your duty; 2. remember your depravity; 3. rejoice in your deliverance; and 4. render good deeds.
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH NONBELIEVERS
...what it means and how its truth impacts and shapes our ministry partnerships and alliances
For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
What accord has Christ with Belial?
Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
-Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
The Apostle Paul above gives us one of the key principles in all of the NT concerning our role in the society in which we live: “do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers.” It is echoing the imperative of the Apostle John we he says, “be in the world and not of the world.” Rightly understanding its truth has a profound impact in how we live, engage culture, and most importantly with whom we partner with in ministry.
At the outset, when dealing with controversial and potentially divisive passages like this one, there can be ungodly attitudes expressed by name calling, cheap shot invectives, and attacking the person without ever having to wrestle with the actual text of Scripture pertaining to the matter at hand. I have sadly witnessed this as of late when a nugatory blogger took it on himself to point his sharp, unbridled tongue towards a pastor and a woman commenting on his blog about this issue for simply voicing a different view. Let me assure you, that will not be happening here in this article and will not be tolerated in the meta either. As you know, I am not shy when it comes to taking on issues and engaging in profitable, vigorous, even sometimes heated discussion. But careless venting and ranting designed to attack the person rather than biblically deal with the issue will not be allowed here (please read my blog rules if you are unclear of those guidelines).
Therefore, due to the recent confusion that some have made concerning this text, let me begin by stating what this passage is not teaching with the hopes of producing clarity on this important subject.
1. It is not a call to isolationism. This is not Paul’s call for all Christians to create an alternative society whereby we only by gas from Christian gas companies; pay taxes to Christian governments; drive cars made by Ichthus Motors; or purchase groceries from Galilean Grocers. Christians working for nonbelievers in an employee/employer relationship is not prohibited by Scripture. Doing business and trade with nonbelievers is not prohibited by Scripture. Being involved in community projects and events with nonbelievers is not prohibited by Scripture. But what is prohibited, is any kind of partnership in a spiritual enterprise or ministry involving making Christ known, preaching of the Word, evangelism, worship, the furtherance of the local church, etc. I will unfold that in just a minute.So those are three things that the Apostle is not meaning by the command: “do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers.”
2. It is not a call to divorce your unsaved spouse. This passage isn’t specifically addressing the marriage issue (though it would apply) for the Apostle Paul has already given the command in 1 Corinthians 7:39 to “marry only in the Lord.” Considering marriage is the most intimate and binding of all human relationships, it would go without saying that it should be reserved for only believers to marry other believers. BUT, if you are married to a nonbeliever, the Apostle is not giving you an automatic out here. You are not to divorce your unbelieving spouse, but remain in that union praying for their regeneration.
3. And, it is not a call to avoid contact with nor having fellowship with nonbelievers. Paul again tells us for that to happen we would have to go “out of this world” (1 Cor. 5:9-10). How are we to love our neighbor if we don’t have contact with them? How can we serve them and do good works to them if we are not involved with their lives?
Paul using the Greek word: heterozugounten (bound together or unequally yoked) draws this analogy, however, not from the usage of the Greek term but from a concept back in Deuteronomy 22:10. When God was laying out prescriptions for the conduct of His people, He gave them a lot of prescriptions that on the surface are not particularly spiritual, they had to do with the uniqueness of Israel's life. But some of them were very practical and wise and one of the things that He instructed them, recorded in Deuteronomy 22:10 is that they were not to plow with an ox and an ass yoked together. And the reasons for that are obvious. Those two animals have two different natures. They don't have the same gait, they don't have the same disposition, they don't have the same strength. They don't have the same kind of instincts, completely different natures. You can't yoke them up and expect to plow a straight furrow.
To then “yoke” with a nonbeliever in a spiritual enterprise or ministry of any kind would be counterproductive wouldn’t it? Christians are new creations; walk in a newness of life; have different goals and purposes in living as born again followers of Jesus Christ. We live to please Him in all things and not ourselves. We see this world as not our home, but the land of our sojourning. Our lives have been separated from this world and unto Christ to now do His will, according to His Word, by His Spirit, in living out His gospel. It is undeniable - we are a new people. Therefore, Paul is giving a basic tenant for Christian living in whatever we do for the Lord; it cannot be in partnership with nonbelievers.
Now just in saying that, I am certain it opens up all kinds of questions and pragmatic considerations. Let’s begin to deal with them.
In the 107 THESES that I penned ten years ago inspired by the wholesale buyout of Christian record companies in CCM (and publishers, bookstore chains, and greeting card companies have joined their ranks) I specifically addressed this issue in section six of that document. Here are some of those theses for your consideration:
75. We cannot partner with the unbelieving world in a common spiritual enterprise or ministry. To harness unbelievers and believers in a Christ-centered endeavor is to be unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)This is what Paul is essentially saying in this passage: there can be absolutely no partnership with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry - none. That would include trying to meld other faiths with the Christian faith for the sake of an ecumenical unity (syncretism). This would also include secular businesses who want to purchase Christian ministries or entities.
76. We must be separate from non-Christians in positions of ownership, authority or influence in the advancement of the gospel. (Ibid.)
77. The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness are two mutually exclusive worlds; two opposing societies; two converse communities that are incompatible and incongruous with each other in regards to the faith. (Ibid.)
78. One is characterized by righteousness, light, Christ, believers and the temple of God. Lawlessness, darkness, Belial, unbelievers and the temple of idols distinguish the other. One is based on God's truth-the other on Lucifer's lies. In matters of Christian faith and belief no partnership does or really can exist between these two realms. (Ibid.)
79. "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." (Titus 1:15-16)
80. God is our Father and we, as His children, must disavow all praetorian religious and spiritual alliances with nonbelievers or we will forfeit the joy and blessing that flow from obedient fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
81. Satan's number one assault on the church is to infiltrate with error. He doesn't want to fight the church - he wants to join it. (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15; 1 Timothy 4:1)
82. Undiscerning believers think it a profound ministry strategy to join forces with unregenerate people in forwarding the gospel. Unwittingly, they harness Jesus Christ, the Worthy One, with Belial or Satan, the worthless one, in an unholy alliance - the very essence of being unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:15)
83. "Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." (Hosea 4:17)
84. We are not, however, called to isolationism. We are called to be salt and light in the world. We are to be faithful witnesses of God's mercy, love and grace to the lost and dying. We are to cultivate personal relationships with unbelievers, love our neighbor and our enemy, serve them and share our faith with them. (Matthew 5:13-16; 40-44)
85. We are to be in the world…but not of it - and this is our greatest challenge. Separation is not being divorced from contact with the world, but from complicity with and conformity to it. (1 John 2:15-17)
86. For instance, it is not unbiblical to consult non-Christian experts in matters of business, craft or trade (though whenever possible, Christian experts respected in these fields are preferable because of a shared integrity), but we can never engage in intimate binding, indissoluble relationships, alliances or partnerships that result in shared responsibility or authority for ministry purposes. (Deuteronomy 22:9-11; Philippians 2:14-15)
87. The promise of increased financial resources, wider distribution and a larger audience is not a justification for the surrender of our spiritual autonomy. (Luke 4:4-12; Ephesians 5:8-12)
When it is fashionable for unsaved people representing multi-national conglomerates, to buy up Christian based companies founded as ministries for the furtherance of the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that have functioned in music, book publishing ministry, etc. - then we as a church today need to take a step back and evaluate this trend carefully through the lens of Scripture.
We must remember Paul's words in 2 Cor. 2:17,"we are not like many who peddle the Word of God for profit."
IOW, we are not like those who want to wholesale
the truth of God's Word as bargain bin merchandise
for the purpose and motive of financial gain.
There has never been a time where the gospel has been a popular thing in the world in which we live. There is an inherent offense to the cross beloved. It is not an acceptable nor enticing message to say to a lost world:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. -Luke 14:26-27
I think it is not unlikely conclusion to assert that when the world around us finds the gospel we proclaim as an invitation for building up their bottom line, then the gospel that they are hearing is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all. Just a watered-down substitute; a diluted glass of cheap grace masquerading as the genuine article.
My dear friend, Dr. John MacArthur, offers the following wisdom on this issue when saying:
”It's very much like modern Christianity today, by the way, that seeks to blend Christianity with popular culture, wants to make Christianity more popular, less different, more palatable, less offensive, less narrow, less exclusive. And the result of it is that true Christianity in the purity of God's Word gets corrupted by compromise and the church can become useless and shameful and blasphemous in mocking the truth. For believers there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That's the issue. "Do not be bound together with unbelievers," that is what he commands that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that's what it's saying. The question is, what does it mean?This is the issue before us. When secular companies see Christian companies, designed for ministry in making Christ known, grow to a place where they are generating a lot of money, it is understandable why they would want to buy them up; expand that marketplace; and profit financially from that acquisition. I do not fault the world for that; I do fault, however, the believers for selling it to them - they should know better.
And as I said last time, it is essential to understand what it means but first of all what it does not mean. Paul is not saying, cut off all contact with non-Christians. He's not saying that because we have to reach them with the gospel. That is not the issue. He's not saying don't evangelize the unconverted, don't confront people in false religions. He's not saying that. We must do that.
The issue then is religious cooperation...
He is also not saying that you can't work or play or do business or be engaged in common earthly enterprise with unbelievers. He's not saying that, of course you can. What he is saying is you cannot link up with unbelievers in religious causes...or religious enterprises... You can't engage them in anything that involves ministry, teaching, or worship. Where there is ministry, teaching and worship there has to be absolute separation.
So he's referring in actuality to harnessing up believers and unbelievers in any common religious, spiritual enterprise. The two cannot be yoked together anymore than an ox and an ass can pull a straight furrow when under the same yoke, as Deuteronomy 22:10 forbids. But that is precisely what the Corinthians were doing.”
There will always be a “Simon the Sorcerer” who sees the crowds and the effects of the gospel and wants to “purchase with money the gift of the Holy Spirit.” But genuine ministry cannot surrender its spiritual autonomy and authority to nonbelievers - never.
This is what I told several CCM executives ten years ago when the Christian music industry was being bought out in accelerated rates. It is why I left the industry. I would be unequally yoked with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry if I would have stayed. Now I realize that the standard pragmatic, Arminian argument is: "but think of how many more CD’s or books or greeting cards we could sell? I mean, if EMI or Sony or Rupert Murdoch hadn’t bought us out, our Christ-centered products wouldn’t have made it into mainstream stores and think of how many wouldn’t have been reached if we didn’t do this?” Blah, blah, blah.
The world cannot own, operate, control, or manage Christian ministry designed to further the gospel; preach the Word; encourage worship; evangelism; discipleship, etc. It is forbidden. Those would seek to justify their alliances with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry are violating the clear command of God’s Word.
Be in the world; be doctors, and lawyers, and factory workers; bankers; and politicians; and salesmen; and educators; and stock brokers; and models; and actors, musicians, and entertainers; and auto-workers; etc. that are honoring the Lord as faithful witnesses of the gospel to your employers and co-workers. BUT, if IBM, AT&T, General Motors, etc. wanted to own a Christian ministry it would be prohibited by God’s Word.
But don't be of the world: why would any Christian involved in ministry go to nonbelievers to solicit their financial support to further their spiritual enterprise or ministry anyway? Can you imagine Paul appealing to Nero to bank roll through corporate acquisition the ministry? Unfathomable. That is for individual believers and the local church to fund (1 Cor. 9:1-18; 3 John 5-9). What the world needs to hear is not a business plan by Christian publishers, music companies, greeting card companies and the like to expand their bottom line, shelf space, and market Q; what they need to hear is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - to repent of their sins, forsaking all to follow Him.
Be in the world; be involved in your communities; love your neighbors; do good work at your place of employ; honor the Lord with excellence in those things.
The combox is yours.
Saturday, July 05, 2014
We at CampOnThis celebrate our nations independence and are grateful for the sacrifice of the many men and women who have given their lives to protect the freedoms we so richly enjoy in our great land—especially those fighting the war in Iraq currently. We should never take them or our freedom for granted. To all the families who have sons and daughters in the military today, our prayers are with you and your children; we appreciate you greatly!
Freedom is a precious thing. It is not the desire to do what we want, but the power to do what we ought.
Burning the American flag is not an expression of freedom, but of disdain for our nation, its constitution, and its citizens. Taking the life of an unborn child is not an expression of freedom, but a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. Gay marriage is not an expression of freedom, but of disrepute for God's divine design of marriage.
This is key for the church to think about—doing what we ought to do, not just what is expedient to do. As the church is gallingly trying to reinvent itself today to adapt to the tensions, struggles, moorings and beliefs of our postmodern world, we must never forget beloved: the cross waves higher than the flag. I am proud to be an American and thank the Lord for our great nation; but first and foremost, I am a citizen of heaven and my principal allegiance in this life is to the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we have a stewardship to use the freedom we enjoy in this great country as a voice for the faith.
The Lord has given every Christian the duty of being a faithful witness and testimony to His gospel of grace. We are to be salt and light in the sphere of influence that the Lord has sovereignly placed us. Right where we live, whether we are 11 or 88, we can be a witness for the Lord and His truth. The most tool for evangelizing this world is the transformed life lived out, right where we live.
But some believers today (and thankfully they are decreasing in number) see the way to transform our nation is through the political realm, not by proclaiming the gospel.
In response to their cobelligerence, I submit the following:
If every member of Congress were Christians; if every member of the Supreme Court were saved; if every judicial appointee by the President confessed Christ as Lord; and if the President and every member of his cabinet were born again, it would have little impact upon the spiritual condition of our nation.God has not sanctioned the government to set the spiritual tone of our land. That influence and power comes through the ministry of the local church by the proclamation of the gospel (Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus).
You cannot call boldly to repentance those to whom you are beholding to pay political capital. Evangelical political activism is a playground for Christians who really don’t believe in the transforming power of the gospel and think that legislation is the key to societal moral restitution rather than regeneration.
In trying to legislate a cultural morality, they unwittingly remove the offense of the cross. Their tongues can't help then but stutter instead of speaking clearly when given opportunity to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because faith to them must be cloaked in politics; and relationships within those circles guarded, courted and smoothed over, rather than confronted and called to repentance.
They do this for the purpose of garnering acceptance in the governmental arena, to insure continued access to mainstream media, and shore up alliances with nonbelievers for the purpose of moral recovery through the veneer of family-values living. Politics is the art of compromise and makes poor bedfellows for anyone in genuine biblical ministry.
When Daniel Webster was asked why he attended a little country church and didn’t attend the politically acceptable church in the heart of town, he replied, “at that church downtown they preach to Daniel Webster the statesman; in that little country church, they preach to Daniel Webster the sinner.”
If a pastor of a church were to run for political office and was elected President of the United States, he'd be stepping down. For though the President has weighty duties and responsibilities, the care for the souls of men through the gospel is far greater— for it is an eternal work that the servant of Christ does.
God is "He who sits in the heavens [and] laughs..." the Psalmist says. At what; at who? "...the rulers that take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed."
Better is the ministry of the Lord's design, than the playground of politics. Better to preach the Word; better to herald His gospel; better to love your neighbor; and better to call lost people to repentance by grace through faith in Christ alone.
Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July with your family and friends.
His Truth is Marching On...
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” –1 Peter 2:11-12
Someone sent me this list below on state constitutions that I found very interesting and thought that you would as well. But first, a few preparatory remarks would be in order.
The foundation for the very fabric of our society lies not solely in the rule of law, but in the rule of faith as well. The rule of law, by its very nature, protects and insures the values born out of faith; and faith, due to its very nature abhorres chaos, lawlessness, and injurious living; seeks to honor and protect the rule of law.
Though the times we live in are increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity, what a great opportunity we have to proclaim the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to let our light shine before others who are desperately in need of a Savior.
Therefore, as you pray, may I encourage to pray not for the protection of our religious rights; but to pray for those that God Himself has established, appointed and instituted as "His ministers" for the order and good of society. Pray for all your local, state, and federal authorities that govern our land. Pray that our elected officials would rule with justice, mercy, and sobriety. Pray for fellow-believers in government who have to walk between the tension of political expediency, compromise and biblical authority, that they would fulfill their duty to their constituents, calling, the constitution, and at the same time bring honor and glory to the Lord. Pray that they would have the strength of divine courage to live out convictions of conscience guided by "the word of truth" regardless of outcome or personal erosion to their legislative vocation. To be sure, our hope lies in the reality that God is in control of all things; that the one true Sovereign Judge of all raises men up to positions of authority and power; and brings men down to the valley of their own moorings and lusts; for His own purposes, after the counsel of His own will, for His glory alone, and for His eternal pleasure—-not ours (Cf, 1 Timothy 2:1-5; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13:17).
In light of this being an election season with religious "talk" playing nemesis to party line mantra, surely faith, freedom, family, and fortune will be at the center of the rhetoric. And no issue fuels the pragmatics of legislative design more than that of "the separation of church and state." There is this unexplained mass confusion on what the Founders of our Constitution truly intended in the First Amendment--which says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Any pedestrian interpretation of that simple and profound statement is obvious and clear. But somewhere along the way our federal courts, including our Supreme Court, have reinterpreted the First Ammendment of the U. S. Constitution to mean that free speech about God, Jesus Christ and the Bible is prohibited on the property of or within the hallowed walls of government. This on the one hand is easily refuted by the simple fact that ALL fifty states acknowledge God in the very first sentences of their state constitutions as well as our own Supreme Court and both House and Senate of Congress; all of which begin their respective sessions with a prayer. Prayer, religious discussion, posting and reading of Scripture, witness of the gospel, etc. is not prohibited by our Constitution. In fact, its very freedom is protected.
Though all of The Founding Fathers were not genuine believers in Jesus Christ, it is obvious that they clearly did NOT intend for America to be founded on the sandy foundations of paganism.
Though I am not in favor of Christians using the legislative process to procure spiritual change, protect religious rights, or promote faith initiatives; I would encourage you to read the following extractions from every states consitution with an informed eye and I think you'll come to the same conclusion that I did, that the cross waves higher than the flag!
Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...
Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ...
Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...
California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom ..
Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.
Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy. . .
Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...
Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty establish this Constitution...
Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...
Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance ... establish this Constitution.
Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...
Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.
Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.
Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings establish this Constitution
Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.
Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...
Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.
Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.
Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...
Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, and opportunity .and devoutly imploring His direction ...
Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom establish this Constitution...
Minnesota, 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings
Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.
Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ... establish this Constitution ..
Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution . .
Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution .
Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution....
New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors ..
New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty ..
New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.
North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, a acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ..
North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...
Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ...
Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..
Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..
Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance
Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing
South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina. grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this
Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...
Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.
Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ..
Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to.. enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man ...
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ...
Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution ...
West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia . reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...
Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...
Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties... establish this Constitution...
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Thursday, January 02, 2014
1. When men of God abandon the preaching of the gospel to become "social engineers and would be politicians" consumed with the temporary affairs of society
2. When the preaching of God's Word is substituted with relational anecdotal experience, personal happiness programs, health and wealth gospel, and human potentiality makeovers
3. When pastors no longer shepherd God's people and the pulpits become playgrounds
4. When psychology replaces biblical discipleship
5. When men of God are flattered to become "late night talk show guests" on cultural and spiritual issues, but never once open up the Bible to develop their answers; or call the nation, other guests, or the talk show host to repentance by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation; they've simply become culturally acceptable biblical motivational speakers thinking that access to mainstream media means they are making an impact
6. When the vicar of Rome is acknowledged as the vicar of Christ
7. When sin is called sickness; when disobedience is called disease; and when adultery is called addiction
8. When money becomes a prerequisite for ministry by charging people for the gospel, worship, discipleship, counseling, evangelism, etc.
9. When we are liked by all people; when the world is not offended by the message we represent and flatters us for being "relevant and nice"
10. When church becomes something we only do one hour a week on one day a week
11. When prayer becomes the seldom thing we do
12. When brothers and sisters hold ought against each other in bitterness and unforgiveness
13. When church discipline of sin ceases
14. When irreconcilable differences becomes an acceptable reason to break the covenant of marriage
15. When the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but happiness
16. When the object of faith is no longer Christ, but self
17. When the foundation of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but my personal experience
18. When error is tolerated and accepted as truth
19. When Christians partner with nonbelievers in the work of the ministry
20. When ministries are enticed to give up their autonomy and become owned by the world for just a little more money and a little more personal promotion
21. When the worship and glory of God is treated as entertainment
22. When the church bows the knee to the seminaries and surrenders her God-given duty of primary authority to train men for pastoral ministry (2 Tim. 2:1-2). Academic schools of religious learning make students - but not men of God.
23. When men personally profit from the sale of God's Word
24. When repentance from sin, justification by faith, the law, the active and passive obedience of Christ, penal substitutionary atonement, are no longer considered part of the gospel
25. When salvation is no longer proclaimed as being by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, on the Word alone, to the glory of God alone
26. When partnering with Romanism, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Church of Christ (Bostonian), Seventh Day Adventists, Islamic moralists, Atheists, Agnostics, etc., by divorcing the centrality of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ from their burden for social change, and therefore, indirectly legitimize them as being "morally sound and culturally chaste" by naive evangelical leaders who have forgotten their heritage, sold their spiritual birthright, and have abandoned sound doctrine for the sole purpose of establishing politically-correct alliances in order to try and turn back the tide of moral decay through cultural co-belligerence.
27. When the offense of the cross is removed for cultural acceptance, media accessibility and endorsement
28. When the gospel is contextualized rather than being contended for, proclaimed and heralded
29. When the sacred desk is no longer used for biblical exposition, but for comedic stand up by ribald raconteurs who delight in smutty humor, foul language, graphic sensuality, and using the Lord's name as a punchline for their jokes
30. When the Word of God is not clearly taught, explained, exegeted, exposited, or preached from the pulpits of every true gospel church around the world
Saturday, November 30, 2013
This Sunday is World AIDS Day...
The frightening reality is that almost half of all people infected with HIV in the U.S. have died since first detection of the AIDS virus. And the epidemic in African countries and some Caribbean countries as well shockingly leave us speechless as to the untold millions of those HIV infected and the subsequent deaths.
AIDS is not the new leprosy; it is not God's judgment specifically against homosexuality as we think of O.T. cataclysmic judgment against entire cities or nations for sinful behavior (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah). We could rightly say that there is personal judgment or responsibility to everyone who has contracted this disease due to homosexuality, sexual promiscuity among heterosexuals, or by illegal IV drug use (see Romans 1:26-27). However, AIDS is not solely a "gay disease" or an issue that the homosexual community is responsible for or faces alone. AIDS affects us all. In Africa, AIDS is primarily a heterosexual disease and many children are now orphans having lost both mother and father due to this pandemic.
Love Your Neighbor...Even if They Have AIDS
Why should Christians get involved in such a controversial and life-threatening disease? The answer is simple. It is the second of the two great commandments: "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Dying people do not need bigotry, hatred, disdain, self-righteous loathing, or societal isolation. They need a Savior and need to know the hope that is found in Jesus Christ our Lord. I was asked at an AIDS gathering under the Bush Administration in Washington D.C. a few years ago June a thought-provoking question by one of the doctors seated at my dinner table. He said, "Steve, isn't the most loving thing a Christian like yourself should do for someone who is HIV positive is give them dignity in their dying?" I thought for a moment and responded. "The most unloving thing that I as a Christian could do for someone facing certian death due to HIV infection is give them only dignity in their dying." Shocked as our table was, I followed up with these certain words, "for you see, giving someone all the dignity in dying in this life doesn't mean a thing if they upon giving their last breath wake up in perdition to be tormented by God's wrath for all eternity." I was not trying to be harsh, but truthful. Sometimes the "tyranny of the urgent" can out weigh the "need of the important." When dealing with AIDS we must keep eternity in view.
The Dignity of the Gospel
The most dignifying thing we can do as Christians, (while helping their physical plight) is to share the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. There is no cure currently for H-I-V, but there is for S-I-N in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. In the midst of the devastating plight for those who have AIDS. there is also a wonderful opportunity for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to bring hope into very hopeless situations by loving their neighbor and being Christlike right in the center of their situation. And we can do this by proclaiming the gospel; for as we know in Christ Jesus there is the hope of eternal life beyond any sickness or disease that any of us might contract.
"His holiness not compromised..."
God does not condone sexual promiscuity whether gay or straight--both are an offense to His holy character. And we must also include illegal IV drug use for even governments are called "ministers of God" (Romans 13:1-5) to restrain evil and keep peace for the general societal good. Its laws are to be honored. That is why there are important laws prohibiting the use of harmful narcotics because of the danger they inherently possess and how they ruin so many young lives, but also because through needle sharing the HIV virus is so easily transmitted as well.
Nothing that exalts itself against the character of God should be condoned as right and good. The prophet Isaiah warned against this when saying, "Woe unto them that call good evil and evil good; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20). God has a standard for holiness and all His creatures are held accountable to it--even evangelicals. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
His Inflexible Law and Undeserving Grace
The law of God unmasks each one of us doesn't it? For no one can keep perfectly God's law. The Apostle James is right, "if break one commandment we are guilty of breaking all." Isaiah says so convictingly to each of us, "all of [our] righteousness is like dirty filthy rags." Literally, he is comparing our own goodness (works of righteousness) worthy of being compared to a woman's menstral rags or human refuse. God is holy and His holiness cannot be compromised no matter what the social agenda might be or cause one is emotionally drawn to. But holiness without love can be cold-hearted orthodoxy; and love without holiness can lead to empty-headed sentimentality. We need both; holiness and love.
God is a God of love. "God demonstrated His own love toward us; in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). That is the motive and power of the cross--God's justice, righteousness, holiness and love was manifested through the once for all propitiatory sacrifice in Jesus Christ the Lord. We are told by the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts chapter seventeen verse thirty to "command all people everywhere to repent." As stated before, God doesn't condone homosexuality, promiscuity among heterosexuals, illegal IV drug use, etc. (And He doesn't condone the self-righteousness attitudes of Christians either.) But, the good news is He doesn't leave us to our sin; He provides a way of escape--forever! And in response to His forgiveness He calls us to "go into all the world and make disciples." And that includes the world of AIDS.
This should be our first impulse in response to the holiness of God in helping those that are HIV infected--to see them repent and come to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. Why is this? Because if we have been given the undeserved grace of the Lord for the forgiveness of our sins, how much more should we be patient and gracious to all who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior? Do you remember the day that God by His grace arrested your life and granted you saving faith? How tremendous it was to be translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love? All our sins forgiven--past, present and future sins--no matter what we had done or who we had done it with--the Lord by His grace saved us.
Fire Can Never Make Ice
If you have tasted the kindness of the Lord then you will share His life-giving truth with another. It is unavoidable. I have had so many opportunities to share the gospel with AIDS patients and to be a spectator of God's grace in those situations. Not one of them have ever been offended by sharing the truth of their sin and the good news of the gospel. They may have been offended because of the cross, but never because of the sharing. Many, in fact, have responded to the gospel of grace and what a joy to see another sinner repent for salvation in Christ alone. People with AIDS are much nearer the grave, eternity stares them in the eye and they need to know how to have life everlasting. As one AIDS patient told me after he had received the Lord, "Steve, I only have a few weeks left to live, but I want to spend my last days telling others about Christ and how they too can have eternal life in Jesus. For now I know that to be 'absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!'" He died one month later.
May I encourage you today to lovingly share that call of repentance to follow Christ even if they only have a few days or weeks to live.
"yet His mercy not restrained."
It is sad that many believers won't help those that are HIV positive because they think they are better than those with this disease; and this for one main reason--most people who contract the AIDS virus in this country come from the homosexual community (Contrarily in Africa, it is primarily contracted through heterosexual transmission). The church in America for the most part has been isolated from the gay community that we have lost opportunity, and in some cases abrogated our duty, in sharing the gospel with them.
The Apostle Paul gives the antidote again for this problem too. In Titus 3:3 he writes, "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another." Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin ladies and gentlemen... Though I have never been tempted or caught up in that particular sin--my sin issues were far worse. I had a worse problem than any prostitute or drug addict ever dreamed of. I had a worse problem than homosexuality in my life. You see, I suffered from the most severe of all sins: I was consumed with self-righteous religious pride. Biblically, it is the most grievous kind of iniquity. Paul is saying here that all of us are to have empathy for all who do not know the Lord because we all were consumed with the sinfulness of sin before we met the Lord. We are not to sit back in our smug evangelical chairs and condescendingly, with theological scorn, treat with religious disdain and arrogance those who do not know the Lord. Those who may have AIDS. Listen "His mercy should not be restrained." How dare we pass judgement on another who has not Christ rather than share the powerful message of hope in the gospel of grace? Are we willing to risk our carefully cultivated reputations for another? Are we willing to risk our very lives in sharing the gospel with another? To paraphrase Amy Carmichael, "if we are not, then we know nothing of Calvary love." In other words, "don't tell them Jesus loves them, until you're ready to love them too."
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
And here are our marching orders for today: Paul continues on in Titus 3:4-5 by saying, "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 5 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." At every turn, the Apostle Paul by the divine superintending of the Holy Spirit says we are robbed of all our boasting; we are robbed of all our pride; we are robbed of our very selves. "He saved us"--not because we are better than others; or wiser than others; or more righteous than others--"not according to works done by us in righteousness." NO! He saved us simply according to His own purpose, mercy and grace. And needless to say, if He can save us--He can save them too! Praise be to the Lord that we are saved not by the goodness of our works, but according to the riches of His grace. Amen? I wrote a song about people with AIDS several years ago that I sang at the Word AIDS Medical conference in San Francisco in 1990. The chorus says, "Do you feel their pain? Has it touched your life; can you taste the salt in the tears they cry? Will you love them more than the hate has been? Will you love them back to LIFE again?" (You can listen to this song above on the AIM Radio Player.)
Give yourself away this year for Christmas beloved. Get out of your comfort zone and share with someone the greatest gift of all--the gospel of Jesus Christ--God's "unspeakable gift to us." And as you do remember: His holiness not compromised; yet His mercy not restrained.
Rescue the Perishing,
1 John 3:16-17
Sunday, October 27, 2013
REFORMATION: DELIVER US FROM PRIESTCRAFT AND POPISH OWLS
...liars by trade, and deceivers by profession
It is won on the spiritual battlefield with spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:1-6; Eph. 6:10-18). It is not for those who want to promote retreats and weekend revivals; who desire men of God to go along to get along. It takes men of courage; men of conviction; men of the Scriptures; men of prayer; men of the gospel; and men of the Spirit. They are not men defined by their times; but men defined by the truth!
Why, there are those who pretend to save souls by curious tricks, intricate manoeuvres, and dexterous posture-making! A basin of water, half-a-dozen drops, certain syllables—heigh, presto—the infant is made a child of God, a member of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven! This aqueous regeneration surpasses my belief; it is a trick which I do not understand: the initiated only can perform the beautiful piece of magic, which excels anything ever attempted by the Wizard of the North. There is a way, too, of winning souls by laying hands upon heads, only the elbows of the aforesaid hands must be encased in lawn, and then the machinery acts, and there is grace conferred by blessed fingers! I must confess I do not understand the occult science, but at this I need not wonder, for the profession of saving souls by such juggling can only be carried out by certain favoured persons who have received apostolical succession direct from Judas Iscariot. This episcopal confirmation, when men pretend that it confers grace, is an infamous piece of juggling. The whole thing is an abomination. Only to think that, in this nineteenth century, there should be men who preach lip salvation by sacraments, and salvation by themselves, forsooth!From Spurgeon's Sermon, "The Soul Winner"
Why, sirs, it is surely too late in the day to come to us with this drivel! Priestcraft, let us hope, is an anachronism, and the sacramental theory out of date. These things might have done for those who could not read, and in the days when books were scarce; but ever since the day when the glorious Luther was helped by God to proclaim with thunder-claps the emancipating truth, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," there has been too much light for these Popish owls. Let them go back to their ivy-mantled towers, and complain to the moon of those who spoiled of old their kingdom of darkness. Let shaven crowns go to Bedlam, and scarlet hats to the scarlet harlot, but let not Englishmen yield them respect. Modern Tractarianism is a bastard Popery, too mean, too shifty, too double-dealing to delude men of honest minds.
If we win souls, it shall be by other arts than Jesuits and shavelings can teach us. Trust not in any man who pretends to priesthood. Priests are liars by trade, and deceivers by profession. We cannot save souls in their theatrical way, and do not want to do so, for we know that with such jugglery as that, Satan will hold the best hand, and laugh at priests as he turns the cards against them at the last.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
by steve camp
written - 1/3/01
Glory in the cross, our faithful High Priest
Went beyond the veil as our Prince of Peace
Clothed with our sin, its guilt and shame
Our sinless Substitute, Jesus His name
Glory in the cross, the law now fulfilled
Righteousness displayed on Calvary’s Hill
He, Son of Man and God the Son
The Lord and the Lamb, our victory won
Glory in the cross, where grace doth abound
Where the Man of Sorrows wore transgressions crown
Wounded and chastened for our iniquities
Our faithful Redeemer, God the Father pleased
Glory in the cross, marked by sin’s crimson stain
Grace and forgiveness flows from His precious veins
Perfect redemption once for all sacrifice
Salvation made secure by the Lord Jesus Christ
Glory in the cross, Satan’s power of death destroyed
Rendered impotent by The Incarnate Word
He crushed the Serpents head upon Golgotha’s tree
Our great and dreadful Sovereign, Champion is He
Glory in the cross, the elect have been redeemed
O covenant of grace from eternity decreed
Worthy is the Lamb slain from all ages past
Sinners reconciled, true worshippers at last
Glory in the cross, “It is finished”, the Victor, cried
God propitiated, forever satisfied
Once enemies now brethren, estranged but brought near
His judgment assuaged no bondage nor fear
Glory in the cross, God forsaken of God
Smitten and afflicted, bruised with Heaven’s rod
Resurrected triumphant, our Lord, God and King
Grave where is thy vict’ry, O death where is thy sting?
The real suffering that Christ endured was not at the hand of Pilate's cat-of-nine-tails with the scorpion hook he brutally inflicted upon our Lord's body. No. But the greatest affliction occurred when on the cross our Lord became our divine substitute for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and took our sin, the penalty and guilt of our sin, and all of the Father's wrath that burns against us and our sin that we deserved. He took it for us! As Isaiah 53 says, "It pleased God to crush Him for our iniquities."
O what majesty in the midst of such suffering; what glory in the midst of such agony; and what grace,love and mercy in the midst of such sinful man's rebellion. Hallelujah to the King of Righteousness this blessed day of our salvation.
And wherever you are today, remember this beloved: that at precisely 3:00pm our Lord cried out from Calvary's tree these eternal words: "IT IS FINISHED!" Never forgot what a wonderful, merciful Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is worthy of our reverence, respect, worship and adoration.
One of the key words the N.T. writers use to speak of vicarious penal substitutionary atonement is propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10, Heb. 2:17).
This word carries with it two ideas:
1. to satisfy;Taken in context, Jesus Christ on the cross took not only the guilt and penalty of our sin, but the full wrath of God for His elect. That is what the Apostles Creed means when it says, "…He [Jesus] descended into hell." Jesus literally didn’t go to hell after He died (the false teachings of the Word/Faith movement), but He endured the full weight of God’s eternal wrath for us as our Federal Head on the cross. And in that manner He “descended into hell…” for all those He came to save.
2. to quench, to assuage.
As a brief side note: the cross was not the triumph of darkness over light; Satan over Jesus - thinking that they had victory over the Son of Man in incarnation by His dying on the cross. As one theologian wrongly asserts:
"On Golgotha the day gave way to night as Christ sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of damnation. At Bethlehem there were countless angels praising God; on Golgotha legions of darkness filled the impenetrable gloom, hoping that darkness would finally triumph over light."
Hell is not simply the absence of God beloved as some would suggest; hell is His wrathful presence being poured out upon all the ungodly, Satan and his demons forever. Listen, hell would be “Club Med” if it were not for the presence of God’s wrath.
This wrath of God that you and I deserve to be poured out upon us in unmitigated gall and ferocity without reprieve was fully poured out upon Jesus on the cross. This is truly miraculous. The sinless Son of Man; the perfect Son of God; the spotless Lamb; and the holy High Priest drank the cup of wrath on our behalf so that we may have peace with God forever. That was the punishment that Christ endured for us; that is penal substitution. This is not “cosmic child abuse” as one (who shall remain unnamed) author refers to it. This is a profound truth and mystery. Whatever eternal wrath comprises, the miracle was that it was compressed into time and poured out on the Son for us as the Father faced the Son and the Son faced the Father and the fullness of His anger was consumed, quenched, and satisfied by the Lord Jesus Christ.
wrath assuaged and God satisfied.
The sins of the elect (every sin, that would ever be committed, by everyone, who would ever believe) was thrust on Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah in his fourth song of the Suffering Servant, gives us the most graphic picture of this once for all propitiatory sacrifice for our sins:
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6).The fullness of the guilt and penalty of ours sins were thrust on Him. And the greatness of my wretched sin and yours would have beeen enough to bear... But it was the burden of the cross, the eternal wrath of a holy God that was poured out upon Jesus Christ. THAT was the cup that only Jesus could drink; that was the cup that He wrestled with in the garden. It was not the cup of death or dying. He wasn’t fearful to walk the way of the cross. Wicked men had gone Golgotha’s way before and were rightly punished for their crimes. Many went laughing, mocking, unafraid, scornful of their insurrections and offenses. They were the worst of criminals deserving to die and punished justly for their crimes.
But not so with the Lord Jesus Christ. He was sinless, holy God incarnate; guilty of no crime that humanly deserved this kind of death sentence. As the Apostle Paul has said, “He who knew no sin, became the sin offering for us; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Only God incarnate, Jesus Christ the Lord, could drink the cup of God's wrath. And He drained it beloved; He drained it to the very dregs and fully redeemed us at Calvary. Christ suffered in our place so that we may have peace with God forever (Rom. 5:1-2). He became, what Paul says in Galatians 3, “a curse for us.”
Christ Died for God
What were we saved from? Our sins? Yes. Hell? Yes. The sting of death? Yes. But those pale in comparison with this profound reality: on the cross, God through Christ saved us from Himself. That’s right – God through Christ saved us from Himself. From His wrath, His holiness, His justice. And Because Jesus Christ fully satisfied God (propitiation) on the cross as our Divine Substitute, we need to never fear of eternal judgment, condemnation, wrath or punishment for our sins. The penalty of our sins have been fully quenched in the once for all vicarious penal substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Good News of the gospel beloved.
God treated Christ on the cross as if He lived our life, so that we by grace through faith in Him, can be treated as if we lived His life (2 Cor. 5:21). He was clothed with our sin (thought sinless and holy); so that we might be clothed with His righteousness (though are sinners and sinful). That is the great doctrine of imputation.
When the fullness of that wrath was embraced by Jesus on the cross He cried out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?" Some commentators think that at this point on the cross that God simply turned His back on His Son in shame for He could not look on sin. That that was the forsaking. That represents a very shallow, sentimental view of what our Lord endured on the cross - but I submit to you, is thoroughly unbiblical.
Where does this view come from? This belief stems from inaccurate rendering of a verse in Habakkuk 1:13 where the prophet says,
“Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor. Why dost Thou look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why art Thou silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (NASB) (Emphasis mine).Notice, it isn’t that God cannot look on sin; but He cannot look on sin with favor. Consider these verses:
Jer. 16:17 "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes."The Lord “sees” all things continually – including our sin. Nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:12-16). So the forsaking of Jesus on the cross by the Father couldn’t have been a simple turning away of the eyes of God from His Son because He cannot look on sin.
Prov. 15:3 "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good."
His holiness demanded a sacrifice; His justice demanded satisfaction; His righteousness required perfection. God had to be satisfied before we as sinners could be justified!
Therefore, Jesus was, as Hebrews 2:17 says,
"that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (emphasis mine).That phrase "in things pertaining to God" in the Greek is: pros ton theon. It means "face to face with God"; and this occured on the cross. Don't miss this amazing picture of redemption: the Son faced the Father from the cross; and the Father faced His Son on the cross; and He poured out upon Him the eternal wrath that we deserve in hell forever. "Amazing love how can it be..." Amen?
Christ was absolutely forsaken; He bore our sin, its guilt, penalty, and shame. And He bore the wrath of God that burns against us. He drank the cup of wrath; He became the curse for us; he endured the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him; He was bruised, crushed, chastined for our iniquities. Once again beloved... hear this today: the Father faced the Son on the cross; and the Son faced the Father from the cross; and He “bore God’s wrath—all of it” as our divine Substitute in His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross for His own.
When Jesus finally cried, "IT IS FINISHED" what had happened?
• fulfilled the Law;Now THAT is a cross we can glory in!
• went beyond the veil;
• satisfied God's justice;
• propitiated the Father's wrath;
• satisfied His holiness;
• fulfilled all righteousness;
• exalted grace;
• confirmed the gospel;
• redeemed the elect;
• justified His own from the penalty of sin;
• quenched the guilt of our sin;
• crushed the head of Satan and destroyed his hold of death;
• abolished death and its sting;
• fulfilled all redemptive Messianic prophecies;
• secured for us eternal life;
• brought us into intimacy with God;
• imputed to us His perfect righteousness;
• instituted a new covenant;
• and brought us into peace with God forever!
The death of Christ was both a propitiation AND an expiation of sin. Propitiation refers to the turning away of wrath by an offering. God's wrath was satisfied and His justice meted out by Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross. Expiation refers to covering sins and in specific, the guilt of sin. By the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Christ Jesus on the cross, our sins and their penalty are removed from us. The atonement satisfies both the demands of the Father and the needs of Christ's people (1 Pet. 1:2).
As brother Spurgeon can only say:
"When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered." Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24.Can we now say with confidence this day with Paul himself: "If God be for us... who can be against us?"
Aren't we grateful to the Lord this day that He has not "rewarded us according to our sin, nor dealt with us according to our iniquity?" (Psalm 103:10). In Christ all our "sins are forgiven for His name's sake" (1 John 2:12); He has "forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col. 2:13, emphasis added). And if all our sins are forgiven by Him, can we not forgive the purposed wrongs that others do against us?
Beloved, God for Christ's sake forgave us; we for Christ's sake must forgive each other. Remember, the measure of our love is the extent of our ability to forgive! (1 Jn. 2:12; Col. 2:12ff)