Nothing New Under the Sun

I’ve heard people say, “What is wrong with this world?”, or “What is the matter with people these days?”  Well, let me tell ya…..this world is no different than it was centuries ago.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, it says in chapter 1 verse 9, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”  In other words, nothing we see going on in this world is anything new.  It has been going to hell in a hand basket since Adam and Eve took that first bite of the forbidden fruit.  It’s just that those of us who are living in this day and age are seeing things happen that we’ve never personally seen before, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened previously.  There have been cultures and kingdoms that have flourished and fallen because they have allowed all forms of perversion to become the norm whether it’s homosexuality, or pedophilia, or beastiality.

People haven’t changed over the millennia.  People want to do what they want to do with no consequences and no retribution.  I don’t care what it is, they think they can do anything without having to accept responsibility for it and that others should just let them go about their merry way without so much as suffering consequences.  But, it doesn’t work like that.  You steal money, you go to prison.  You rape a child, you go to prison.  You pull a gun on a cop, you get shot.  If you live, you go to prison.  If you die, you get put six feet underground.  People don’t like to live under rules/laws and they believe they should be able to live however they want and everyone else can just get over it.

The world is like it is because people have always been pushing God out of the way.  They don’t like the idea of there being a God because they know that He has a standard and they don’t want to live up to it.  But, none of this is a surprise to Him because He knew it was going to be like this.  He knows that people are full of pride, hatred, malice, and just pure evil.  But, as I said earlier, this is nothing new.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Just as we have read in the Old Testament how the Israelites forgot God and turned to idol worship and all kinds of perverse living, so we’re seeing people in this day and age do the same thing.  The sad thing is, many churches/denominations are ACCEPTING of these perversions.  God cannot and will not bless a nation that has turned its back on Him and allowed all this to become the norm.  I think we, as Christians, have been silent way too long.  And we have shown our hypocrisy.  We can criticize actors/politicians and other well known people for their sexual perversion, yet have no problem tuning in to a TV show that allows it to be shown.  If we’re going to laugh at what’s happening on our favorite TV shows but get condescending towards what people are doing in real life, that is being hypocritical.  Yes, I’m speaking to the choir.  Guilty as charged.

I hate to know how far down the toilet we’re going to have to go before we finally see people turn to Him.  God hasn’t left us.  He’s still here.  It’s just that we’ve turned away from Him.  God hasn’t abandoned us, but there are times when people are so stubborn in their ways that God throws up His hands and says, “You want it your way, you can have it your way, but you have to suffer the consequences of your actions.”  And I truly believe what we’re seeing in our country and world today is the result of God pulling His hands away and saying, “You’re on your own.”  The phrase “you reap what you sow” is true.  We are reaping the effects of abandoning the faith and doing things our way instead of God’s way.  I hear of people getting angry and saying how could God allow bad things to happen, but it’s not God.  It’s us.  God doesn’t just sit back and say, “Oh, that’s okay.  You do what you want.”  Actions have consequences and we are seeing that taking place in our society.

A society that turns it back on God will see the adverse affects and its eventual demise, unless it repents and turns back to Him.  At the rate it’s going now, it won’t be too much longer before that happens in our country.

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IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

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“GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Many people say they don’t like change.  Well, let me tell you, life is all about change.  I’m used to change.  I grew up moving from place to place due to my father being a pastor.  So, every few years, we’d pack up our stuff and move to another town/community where my dad was called to pastor at a particular church.  I learned to adapt to change.  Some change is good and some not good, but one thing is for certain, there will always be change.

Those who don’t like change are comfortable with the familiar.  But, those who don’t mind change, see it as a growing experience.  Some change happens over an extended period of time.  In cases like that, it makes it easier to handle.  In other cases, change comes suddenly; without warning.  It’s those types of changes that bothers people.  They’re hit between the eyes with the unexpected detour.  They were going down the path of life with certain goals in mind and never giving thought to “what if”, and then suddenly, it all changes.  We all do it.  It’s easy to get in a set routine and live our life as if we’re promised our next breath.  But, that is never a promise we’re given.

My family had to deal with the death of two loved ones in the same week last month.  But, there was a difference in the two.  One was my mom.  She spent a little over a month going from hospital, to rehab, back to the hospital, until she was eventually sent home under hospice care.  We knew once she went home that there was going to be a future change.  A change in family gatherings.  A change in how things would be at home when we went to visit after she passed.  We, in our minds, began to prepare for that change.  We were given time to grieve even though she was still with us.

The second was my brother-in-law.  He was killed in a car accident four days before my mom passed.  We had his funeral on a Friday and mom passed the next day.  Life for my sister and their five kids changed in the blink of an eye.  Life for his parents and his sisters changed in the blink of an eye, too.  It’s times like this that remind us that we need to appreciate our family and loved ones.

And change isn’t just about the passing of someone we love.  It could be the sudden loss of a job.  One day you do life as normal and the next day you’re wondering “How am I going to pay the bills?”  Or, it could be the loss of your house due to fire or natural disaster.  One day you have a nice warm bed with a roof over your head.  The next day you’re living in a hotel or with family because you’re house is gone.  Or, it could be the dreaded cancer diagnosis or a sudden heart attack.  You’re going through life as usual, now you’re faced with the reality that you are now fighting for your life and wondering if/how you’re going to make it through.  Or, you come home to have your spouse say, “I don’t love you anymore.  I want a divorce.”  What do you do now?

It’s in these “blink of an eye” moments that we need to have a refuge to run to.  We may think we can handle whatever comes our way, but when the rubber meets the road, when that moment finally hits, we find out that we’re not as strong as we think we are.  Those who have their hope and trust in God and have experienced those “blink of an eye” moments have found unexplained peace and comfort that only He can give.  I’m not saying we don’t express emotions.  I’ve lost jobs before and went home crying wondering how I was going to pay my bills with no income.  And we all have grieved the loss of friends and family because we feel the pain of their absence.  Yes, we still feel and express emotions of pain and loss, that’s just human nature.  But, in the midst of those times of crying and feelings of grief, God, like a mother bird sheltering her babies from the storm with her wings, will cover us with His peace and comfort.  It’s His strength that carried us through those times that our life had changed “in the blink of an eye”.  So, when we find that life has suddenly changed, we mustn’t think “How am I going to fix this?” or “How can I get through this?”, it’s not for us to fix or to handle on our own.  God never intended for us to handle life on our own.  He wants us to depend upon Him to guide us through the storms of life.  And He will.  He won’t abandon His children when we most need Him.  We just have to stop looking inside of ourselves for the strength because we don’t have it.  It is only by His strength we are able to endure the storms of life.

 

 

Defending God’s Word

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Just some thoughts that came to mind today as I was scrolling through that bastion of culture, Facebook.  I guess you could say I’m just as patriotic as the next person, but sometimes I wonder….when are Christians going to defend the Word of God just as much or more than they do the American Flag?

Please, don’t think I’m trying to be unpatriotic.  I consider myself blessed to live in this country, even though it is becoming more and more entrenched in racial disunity and our society is becoming more tolerant of the most vile and deplorable behavior that we have ever seen in our lifetime.  Sure, this stuff has been around since Adam and Eve ate of that fruit that God told them to stay away from, but the debauchery we’re seeing now is the same stuff that caused many cultures and civilizations to fall.  We were once a great country, but now we’re becoming the laughing stock of the world.

But all this is not due to people being unpatriotic.  It’s because people have turned away from God’s Word.  Even mainstream Christian churches are going away from God’s Word.  Oh, they still open their Bibles and read passages from it, but they are twisting and distorting the Word to fit what THEY want it to say instead of what God meant for it to say.  And many times the twisting and distorting comes from popular “Bible” preachers/teachers that have gained the trust of so many people that, when others begin pointing out the flaws and heresies that are being taught by them, their followers tend to get mad.  Not sure why that is.  Is it because they don’t like their favorite teacher knocked off his/her pedestal?  Or, maybe, it’s that they don’t like finding out that they’ve been duped.  Jude 1:4 says, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” 

In that first part, these false teachers who twist scripture crept in unnoticed.  They came in feeding the sheep a little morsel at a time and as time went on, they began mixing some sugar coated poison in with the good stuff until those who kept feeding on it didn’t know the good from the bad.  There’s been pagan practices introduced into the church and many are blind to it.

Sadly, nowadays, people are more apt to defend their favorite “Bible” teacher, rather than defend the Word of God.  No matter how much of their heresies are revealed and how they are shown to twist scripture and how they have introduced pagan practices into the Christian religion, it’s not God’s Word that gets upheld, it’s the one who is mangling scripture that gets defended.

There’s also some so-called Christian artists who have become very popular these days that many would be angry or upset if it were revealed just how badly they twist and distort scripture/doctrine.  And they wouldn’t be angry with the artist.  They would be angry with the one who revealed it to them.  How DARE you talk bad about MY favorite singer!!

Discernment isn’t easy.  It takes study, reading, more study, and more reading…..and maybe a podcast here and there (Fighting 4 The Faith by Chris Rosebrough is a good one) to be able to learn to know when something doesn’t sound right.  I thank God that He introduced me to other Christians who helped me to gain a better understanding of Scripture and to direct me to resources that help me to know who’s the real deal and who the imposters are.

Please, Christian…..I realize you love your country and want people to respect it and the nation’s flag, but there’s something WAAAAAAAYYYYY more important than our patriotism.  It’s our defense of the Gospel and God’s Word.  It’s being picked apart, twisted, and mangled and we turn a blind eye to it because either we don’t want to give up our favorite “Bible” preacher/teacher, or we just don’t think God’s Word is that important.

CONTENDING WITH THE ALMIGHTY

As with any catastrophe, many people question why God allows calamity and suffering to occur.  Well, let me cut to the chase and go ahead and give my main point right here and now so you don’t have to muddle through a whole bunch of words to get to it, okay?  Here goes:  God allows calamity and suffering because He chooses to, plain and simple.

People begin questioning, “If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He stop these storms from happening?”  Probably for the same reason that able bodied people stay and ride out these storms instead of fleeing for safety…..because He chooses NOT to.  God is more than willing and able to stop a storm.  Remember when Jesus was asleep in the boat while the disciples struggled to keep it afloat during the storm?  When they woke him up in fear asking him does he not care that they were about to perish, Jesus stood up and commanded, “Peace!  Be still!”  So, we know that God can calm any storm.  When Job lost his children, all his wealth, and was left sitting in ashes scraping his sores, he began justifying how righteous he was and how God was wrong in bringing this calamity upon him (Job 33:9-11; Job 35:1-3).  In Chapter 38, the LORD spoke up and says, ““Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”  Then God proceeds to ask WHO was responsible for creation and everything that goes on within it.  Was it Job who causes the sun to rise, or the rains to fall, or causes lightning to fall to the earth, or the snow to cover the ground?  Of course not.  Job was not responsible for any of that.

God created EVERYTHING and He is in sovereign control of it all.  In Job 40:2, the LORD says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?”  How dare we question God as to WHY He doesn’t stop these storms from causing destruction.  It’s His creation and He can do as He pleases with it.  We could stand and shake our fists at Him all day long demanding to know why He allows these catastrophes to occur, but He doesn’t owe us any explanation.  Compared to Him, we are like a tiny ant walking across a table and at any point He could take His finger and flick us off of it.

It’s not our place to demand answers from Him.  He’s the Creator and we are His creation.  He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Just as a potter has control over how his vessel turns out, God is Creator and He has control over what He does with His creation.  Read Job 38-41.  Those chapters will tell just how in control God is and how puny we are.  God owes us no explanations as to why He does what He does.  He can shelter His people under His protective wing like a mother bird, or utterly consume someone with His hot, fiery breath.  Just know that God is still Sovereign and in control of all things.

WITHHOLDING CHARITY

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This is written for all, but I want to specifically speak to Christians.

When you woke up this morning, did you have a roof over your head?  Were you able to sit down at your dinner table last night and leisurely eat a nice meal with your family?  Did you enjoy a nice hot shower this morning?  Have you taken a look at all you’ve been blessed with and say a prayer of thanks to God for blessing you with everything you have?  If not, you should, because one day, in the blink of an eye, it could all be swept away or blown away and you are left with nothing but the clothes on your back and sleeping on a cot wondering how you’re ever going to get back on your feet.  That is what the folks affected by Hurricane Harvey is experiencing right now.

Christians…..WE are to be some of THE MOST giving people on this planet.  The stuff we have in our possession…..this wasn’t something we obtained due to luck or due to our smarts/intellect.  These possessions we have are given to us by God.  That job we have that pays us on a regular basis?  It is a blessing from God.  It is that job that God gives us the opportunity to own what we have.  But, yet, I’ve found that many Christians tend to be some of the stingiest people out there.  Just ask a waiter/waitress on Sunday afternoons who gives the worst tips.  My sister worked a few years as a waitress and, as a Christian, she found it very disappointing that the “church” people were the worst tippers despite the great service she gave them.

Some people may say, “Well, I don’t get paid that much and I have a lot of bills to pay.”  The early church spoken of in the Book of Acts took some of their possessions and sold them so that they could provide assistance for those in need.  Look around your home.  Do you have things lying around just collecting dust?  Might be a dandy time to have a yard sale and use that money towards helping people in need.  You’re killing two birds with one stone.  You’re giving assistance to people who have lost all they have while de-cluttering your house.  I mean, why are you holding on to that stuff anyway?  You can’t take it with you when you die.

Maybe you do have some extra cash at the end of your pay week that is used on frivolous items or pursuits.  Why not decide to put that cash to good use and buy supplies to help the people displaced by Harvey get back on their feet?  I’m not asking you to buy them a house or a new car.  I’m asking you to do something that will help them take one step at a time towards getting back into a new home and having a new car.  OR it could help them fix up the home they were living in.  I have never experienced something like this, but I can only imagine how it must feel to be faced with the knowledge that I have no house left to go home to.  It must be stressful and nerve wracking knowing that I would have to wake up every morning with hundreds of other people crammed into a school gym who are in the SAME PREDICATMENT as I am.

I know there are Christian organizations out there lending a hand to these folks.  But, why isn’t EVERY Christian willing to sacrifice just a little to help someone who’s lost everything?

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:21-23……”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

The term Christian these days doesn’t mean what it meant in the days when the Apostles first began preaching the gospel.  Some people think that just because they believe God exists, that means they’re Christian.  But the Bible clearly says that even the “demons believe and tremble.”  But their belief in His existence won’t change their eternal destiny.  Some think because their name is on a church roll somewhere, then that means they’re a Christian.  Wrong!  The first verse says that only those who do “the will of my Father who is in heaven” will enter into the kingdom of heaven.  So, just what is the will of the Father?  John 6:40 says:

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Now, this verse is not saying that EVERYONE will look on the Son and believe.  It says that everyone WHO looks on the Son and believes.  That latter statement is pointing to a distinct group of people; those who look to Christ and believes that HE is the only way to salvation.

In the last part of verse 23, Jesus says that he will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  The word “knew” in this verse isn’t referring to having a knowledge of someone.  God knows who we are.  God obviously knows every person that has lived and will ever live on this earth because He created us all.  The word “knew” in this verse comes from the Greek word “ginosko” which refers to knowing someone intimately.  Mary used this term when she said, “How will this be when I do not know a man?”  In this sense, she is referring to sexual intimacy, but the word doesn’t always refer to that type of intimacy.  We can know a little about person we work with, but we don’t know any of the more intimate details of their life such as, how do they like their steak cooked, or what is their favorite movie or song, or what was their childhood like growing up.  In his commentary, John Gill writes this:

“for as the omniscient God he knew their persons and their works, and that they were workers of iniquity; he knew what they had been doing all their days under the guise of religion; he knew the principles of all their actions, and the views they had in all they did; nothing is hid from him. But, as words of knowledge often carry in them the ideas of affection, and approbation, see ( Psalms 1:6 ) ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ) the meaning of Christ here is, I never had any love, or affection for you; I never esteemed you; I never made any account of you, as mine, as belonging to me; I never approved of you, nor your conduct; I never had any converse, communication, nor society with you, nor you with me. The Persic version reads it, “I have not known you of old”, from ancient times, or from everlasting; I never knew you in my Father’s choice, and my own, nor in my Father’s gift to me, nor in the everlasting covenant of grace; I never knew you as my sheep, for whom, in time, I died, and called by name; I never knew you believe in me, nor love me, or mine; I have seen you in my house, preaching in my name, and at my table administering mine ordinance; but I never knew you exalt my person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; you talk of the works you have done, I never knew you do one good work in all your lives, with a single eye to my glory; wherefore, I will neither hear, nor see you; I have nothing to do with you.”

It will be sad day when some will come before Christ and boast of their works only to hear, “Depart from me for I NEVER knew you.”  Jesus knows who belong to Him.  Those whom the Father gives to Him are the ones He died for.  Those who are His sheep, will hear His voice and respond to the gospel.  No amount of good deeds or extraordinary works will give anyone free access to heaven.  There’s not enough good works we can do to satisfy the debt that we owed.  Only Christ, in His perfection, was able to satisfy that debt when He died on the cross.

 

 

GIVING IN SECRET

Okay…..I’ll probably get hate comments for this because (A) someone does it all the time and doesn’t see anything wrong with it, or (B) someone will misinterpret what I’m saying and think I’m speaking out against being merciful and showing kindness to those in need.  But, I will, to the best of my ability, try to communicate the best way I can so that there is no misunderstanding.

I see posts on Facebook frequently where people will post their “good deed” of the day for everyone to see.  Whether it’s helping out someone who’s broken down on the side of the road, or someone paying the electricity bill for their elderly neighbor, or buying someone’s dinner because there wasn’t enough money to pay for it.  First….let me say this right now so there is no misunderstanding….there is NOTHING WRONG with showing mercy and kindness to someone in need.  The Bible talks about “doing unto the least of these” and as Christians, we should be the MOST GIVING and MOST HELPFUL people out there.  But here is the thing that bothers me. Matthew 6:1-4 says:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do no let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were famous for showing how “giving” and “merciful” they were, not because that was part of their character, but because they wanted to be praised by the people.  They liked it when people patted them on the back for their generosity and so to get their egos stoked, they would publicize their “good deeds” just to have people say “what a good person they were”.

Now in this day and age, we have Facebook where people can post the pictures of the evidence of their “good deeds” and then their friends start posting “Oh, what a good person you are!” or “Thank you for your generosity!” or “God bless you for your kindness!” or “We need more people like you in this world!”  Jesus wants our generosity to be done in secret.  Why?  Because He knows we are prideful people and we like being patted on the back when we do something good.

I get it.  I understand.  We’re living in a time when people are self-centered and egotistical and selfish, and it’s so nice to hear about how someone did something nice for another human being and we LOVE to hear those stories.  I enjoy reading about how someone was helped by another person in their time of need and desperation.  But, Christ said that as far as we’re concerned, our giving should be kept secret.  And, there are times when that is not possible, especially if it’s in a public setting.  It’s one thing when there are 4 or 5 people there at that precise moment to witness it, but it’s a whole other matter when you go home and post it on Facebook and say, “See what I did today?”

We need to learn to practice humility and not be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who proclaimed “Look at what I did!”  The only ones who should know are us as individuals, the people who were helped, and God Himself.  God blesses us and we should bless others with what He’s given to us.  But, our generosity should never be publicized, at least not by us.  If the people we help choose to make it known, that’s their decision, but if that were to happen, we should deflect the attention off of us and just give credit where credit is due, and that’s to God.

CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUALISM

One of the problems these days in Christianity is that it has been reduced to just an “emotional” experience.  Emotions change from one day, one hour, or one minute to the next.  That’s why you see so many people making professions of faith during emotional worship services and why many of those people don’t come back to church.  They made a decision based on emotion, not because the Holy Spirit opened up their mind and heart to the truth of God’s Word and they repented.  But churches these days are all about using emotionally stirring music and drama and other gimmicks to coerce people into making a “decision” for Christ instead of just teaching the Word as it should be taught and letting the Holy Spirit do His work through sound preaching/teaching.  They put more confidence in the emotional gimmicks than they do the actual Word of God.

Used to be, Christians were some of the most intellectual folks on the planet.  Preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Harvard (for whom Harvard University is named), Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, to name a few, were VERY intelligent and well studied in theology.  Jonathan Edwards began attending Yale at age 13 and became president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).  John Harvard was a huge proponent of education and not only gave half of his inheritance to help start Harvard University, but he also donated his entire collection of writings to the school.  C.H. Spurgeon started his own seminary that is still going to this day in London, England, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor before he entered into the ministry.  I have no doubt that these men made sure that their congregants were just as well versed in theology as they were.

Sadly, over the last century or two, emotionalism has taken over intellectualism.  Have a pastor bring up the word “theology” and you’d think he was demon possessed because people will run away in fear.  Some even just down right despise the notion that they should learn theology.  They say, “Oh, heart knowledge of God is more important than head knowledge.”  I disagree.  First of all, you have to know what “theology” is.  “Theos” means God and “logos” means “the study of”.  So, theology is “the study of God”.  I propose to you that gaining the intellectual knowledge of God FIRST is more important because how can you have the proper emotional response to Him if you don’t know ABOUT Him?  The Bible says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  If studying theology wasn’t important, I don’t think Jesus would have included the word “mind” in that verse.

I’m thankful that there are still some INTELLECTUAL pastors out there who put their confidence in the sound preaching of the Word instead of using ridiculous emotional gimmicks to “seduce” people into making a false profession of faith.  Unfortunately, there are false converts out there walking around basing their faith on an emotional experience instead of being drawn to Christ through sound biblical preaching.

 

ARE YOU A PHARISEE?

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It’s getting tiresome looking on social media and seeing Christians bashing one another.  No wonder the world points their fingers and laughs at us.  The sad thing is, Christians are fighting each other over trivial matters.  They’ll argue over the most minute things but when it comes to defending God’s Word and how to properly interpret Scripture, they’re silent.  Jesus accused the Pharisees of “straining a gnat but swallowing a camel”.  This comment was made because they concentrated too much on one aspect of the law but ignored a more important part (https://www.studylight.org/language-studies/difficult-sayings/index.cgi?a=419)

I just finished reading the comments to a post where a member of the Christian band, Third Day, went to see a friend of his who is in the band Tesla and they were in concert with Poison and Def Leppard.  This friend he went to see is also a professing Christian.  The majority of the people commenting were saying how they were glad he got to hang out with his friend, some were saying how they would love to see those three bands in concert together, and one woman jumps in and criticizes the guy for being at “secular, heavy metal concert” because if he’s a Christian, he shouldn’t be there.  He needs to be in the world not OF the world.  Mind you, if she understood the context of that verse, being “of the world” means he would have been partaking in the stuff that went on at the concert such as drinking, doing drugs, and all the other things some band members and concert goers partake in.  But, I’m guessing he was not.  He was just there to see his friend and hear the music.  Now, in her case, she may have an issue going to concerts like that and that’s FINE!!  It may be that her conscience doesn’t allow her to go to concerts like that.  But, the Bible speaks against us imposing OUR conscience on someone else on matters that the Bible doesn’t not address specifically.

Most good ol’ southern Christians will tell you that you can’t drink alcohol.  “It’s a SIN!!!”, they say.  No, the Bible doesn’t forbid alcohol.  It forbids getting drunk with alcohol because it comes with serious consequences.  Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach because apparently he had health issues.  Now, there are people who cannot drink alcohol in moderation.  To them, they can’t stop at one or two.  “Go big or go home!” is their motto.  In cases like that, it IS a sin because it shows lack of self-control.  Some people abstain from alcohol just because they believe it will harm their witness.  And that’s FINE!  But, I know some Christians who drink a glass of wine or two or have some sort of alcoholic drink IN MODERATION because they like it and that’s fine, too!  It’s called self-control.  Just because Jim Bob Billy Frank can’t exercise self-control, doesn’t mean that we have to tell everyone that they can’t drink.  And, in reality, there’s nothing more hypocritical than an overweight preacher who can’t limit his trips to the buffet bar trying to tell people to abstain from alcohol when he can’t control how much food he puts in his mouth.  Again, it’s called lack of self-control.

The same goes for movies, television, and music.  At this point in my life, I’m getting very picky about what I watch just because there’s things being portrayed on the screen that make me uncomfortable as a Christian.  But, I’m not going to force my conscience on someone else just because they have no problem with watching it.  I still listen to the music I grew up with and the sad thing is, I’d rather listen to that than most of the Christian music that’s put out today because it’s man-centered and void of any good, sound theology.  It’s too sugary and bubble gum for me.  Thankfully, there’s a few Christian artists out there that put out some good music but it’s very few.  But, if I choose to listen to a particular group/musician or watch a certain movie/TV show, it’s not someone’s place to impose their conscience on me just because they feel convicted by it.

The purpose of this rant, if you will, is to point out that the Holy Spirit deals with each person’s conscience differently when it comes to matters such as these.  A Christian who can exercise self-control in areas such as alcohol sees no problem with having one or two drinks, but to one who cannot exercise that same self-control, it IS a sin because they are NOT exercising self-control, one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The same goes for all the other subjects I covered.  If you, as a Christian, refrain from watching a certain movie or TV show, or listening to or going to a concert of a secular band because your conscience tells you to, it is not your place to tell someone else they can’t because now you’re imposing your conscience on them when the Holy Spirit has not put any conviction upon them about it.  You are now exercising legalism and acting like a Pharisee.

ELECTION vs. FREE WILL, PT. 3

salvation

In these blogs I have been discussing the Doctrine of Election.  People have many objections to the Doctrine of Election–“man was born with free will and salvation is their choice” or “if God already knows who will be saved, then there’s no reason to evangelize.”  Another question people may ask is, “Well if God has already chosen those who will be saved, then doesn’t that mean that they are saved against their will?”  No!!!  God is not going to drag people into His Kingdom kicking and screaming.  But I do believe that when the Holy Spirit begins to draw and convict people of their sin, I believe that He also conforms their will to God’s.  Their desires change.  Instead of being satisfied with living in the state of their sin, they realize how unsatisfying and empty that life is, and they desire to give their life to Christ because only He can satisfy and give them eternal life.  That’s not to say that life will be problem-free and everything goes their way, but it means that no matter what life throws at them, they have immeasurable peace through Christ and that they can depend on Him in all things.  What about those who reject Christ?  Why do they reject Him?  They reject Christ because their minds have not been opened to the truth of the Gospel.  There has been no drawing or conviction of the Holy Spirit.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate their minds and to conform their will to God’s.  Because when you think about it, whose will is stronger, ours or God’s?  God, in His Sovereignty, has chosen whom He will save.  Look back at Acts 13:48 where it says “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed”.  What God has predestined from before the foundation of the world, will come to pass.
There is a term used in the Bible, “born-again”.  This means that a person is re-born spiritually.  When we are born into this world physically, we are spiritually dead.  We come into this world sinners.  But God made a way for us to be “born again” spiritually and that is through the death of Christ on the cross and His gift of salvation.  How many of us were given a choice as to what family we’re born into?  None.  We didn’t pick who our parents would be.  Ephesians 1:5 says, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”   In cases of adoption, the child isn’t the one who chooses the parents, the parents choose the child, just as in the case of natural birth, we didn’t choose who our parents would be.  This is the same with spiritual birth and adoption.  There are countless people who are walking around  professing to be Christians, but I believe they are not.  They’ve been sold a bill of goods.  They’ve been told “just walk the aisle, say this prayer, sign this card, get baptized and you are saved.”  I don’t think this is done intentionally, but I believe many have bought into the teaching that all it takes is to say a little prayer, get baptized, and they’re safe.  Matthew 7:21 says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” There will be a lot of sad people who will stand before God and realize that they were never saved.
I guess after reading these three blogs, people would label me a Calvinist.  But my intention isn’t to gain a label.  The only label I want is that of Christian.  My intention is to study and dig and learn what the Scriptures say.  And I believe that it is the duty of every Christian to interpret and understand the Scriptures correctly!!!  I don’t want to be labeled a Calvinist but I guess that will happen whether I want it to or not.  All I want is to know and understand the Scriptures the way they were intended.  People will disagree with what was said here, but they aren’t disagreeing with me, they’re disagreeing with Scripture.  And I hope that this will begin to stir up questions in their minds and cause them to look closer and deeper at what the Bible says.  I heard a saying once, “Question everything”.  In this particular instance, don’t question Scripture, but question what you’ve been taught and see if it lines up with Scripture.