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?

pharisees

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.

ELECTION vs. FREE WILL, PT. 2

election

As I had said in my previous article, I grew up being taught about the free will of man; how it’s our decision whether we choose salvation or not.  But even though I accepted that teaching, there were always questions that bugged me, especially when I ran across verses in the Bible that spoke about election and the Elect.  Anyone who knows anything about going to the polls to vote in an election knows that to “elect” a person means that you CHOOSE one whom you believe to be the right candidate for the office in which they’re running for.  The definition of elect is “to select or to choose”.  If the Bible says that we are the Elect, then that means that we were selected or chosen.  And, if we are selected or chosen, then that means that someone had to do the choosing.  And that someone is God himself.  The Bible says that He chose us before the foundation of the world.  Think about it, before God even spoke the first words of Creation, He already had in mind who would be the Elect.  So, if it is God who selects or chooses the Elect, how is it that it’s our decision to choose salvation?
I was baptized at the age of 8 and I thought that I was set.  That was it, I did my “Christian” duty and I was safe.  But 10 years later I began to sense in my heart that my conversion wasn’t a true conversion.  People would say, “you’re just having doubts”.  Well, yeah!!!  I believe that 10 years after I had walked the aisle and was baptized, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of my sins.  I kept thinking “but I walked the aisle.  I was baptized.  I AM saved”.  But still that conviction would never go away.  I began to think back to that night during revival and why I had walked the aisle and I realized that it wasn’t because I was being convicted of sin, it was because my friends did it so I went up there, too.  Then I realized that I had no sense of peace about my salvation.  But now that I faced the reality that I wasn’t saved, I began to make excuses.  What would people say about me?  I had been living a lie all this time, what would they think?  I finally couldn’t take the conviction and unsettledness in my heart any longer and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.
People may say “well what’s the difference between the two experiences?”  The difference is that the first time there was no conviction of the Holy Spirit.  A person is not saved just because they walk the aisle, say a prayer, sign a card, and get dunked in water.  There has to be that drawing of the Holy Spirit.  There has to be the convicting of our sins by the Holy Spirit.  I realized in the first case that I wasn’t being drawn by the Holy Spirit; I did it because I chose to.  People may say “But you said the sinner’s prayer!”  There is no magic prayer that a person can pray that will make them saved.  A person is saved when the Holy Spirit draws them, convicts them of their sin, and they surrender their heart and life to Christ.  This is where election comes in.  In John 6:65 it says, “And He was saying ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  Notice the last part of the verse….”no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  So this tells me that it doesn’t matter what prayer a person prays, or how many times they pray it, if they are not the Elect of God, then they can’t be saved.  Look at what John 12:39-40 says, “For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.”  Let me remind you of Romans 9:18 that I mentioned in Part 1, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”  How much clearer can it get?
And here’s a hard reality to face.  We can go witness to people and get them to say “The Sinner’s Prayer” (who came up with that anyway????) but if there hasn’t been that drawing of the Holy Spirit and that conviction of their sins, then all they’re doing is repeating words.  We walk away thinking we’ve added another soul to the Kingdom of God, but in reality, we’ve just added another name to the long list of false converts.
People then ask the question, “Since God has already chosen those whom He wants to save, then we don’t have to evangelize?”  If there is to be no evangelism, why does God still call pastors today?  If we are not to evangelize, why did Jesus give us The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20?  There are those who hold to the Doctrine of Election that believe there’s no sense in sending out missionaries to spread the Gospel, but that’s in disobedience to God’s Word.  God knows who the Elect are, we don’t.

ELECTION vs. FREE WILL, PT. 1

hands-in-shackles

For centuries there has been a debate between the Doctrine of Election and man’s free will.  I grew up being taught about the free will of man in regards to salvation.  And although something about the teaching of free will just didn’t make sense to me, I still accepted it because it was all I was taught.  So which is it?  Are we saved through our own free will or were we chosen for salvation?  You can go into any number of American churches today and you’ll hear the preacher say something like, “You have a decision to make:  heaven or hell.  It’s your choice.”  Yet in John 15:16 Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give to you.”  Notice the first few words in that verse:  “You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you…” so now which is it?  Did Jesus choose us or did we choose him?  See the contradiction?  What about this verse, Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” What is being taught in churches today doesn’t line up with Scripture.  There are several other verses which use the words election, choose, chosen, or any word synonymous with that:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Mark 13:20 “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”

1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you.

These are just a few examples found throughout the Word of God how we are chosen by God.

Need more convincing?  Ephesians 2:1 says “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”.  Here’s something to contemplate.  When Lazarus died (Mary and Martha’s brother) he lay in the tomb four days.  He was dead…..until Jesus called him to come forth from the grave.  He didn’t just decide four days later through his own will to get up off that slab of rock and walk out of the tomb.  Jesus called him by name and it was through that calling that Lazarus was made alive.  This story not only shows how through Jesus can the dead in body be made alive, but also only through Jesus is the dead in spirit made alive.

Here’s something else.  The Bible says in Romans 6:6, 6:16, 6:17, and 6:20 that we were “slaves to sin”.  If the Bible says we are “slaves to sin”, how is it that we have free will?  As a “slave to sin”, apart from Christ, our master is sin.  We are bound by our fleshly nature and we obey the desires of the flesh.  Through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the elect are redeemed.  We are set free from the bondage of sin.  Now instead of being held captive to sin and dead in our trespasses, we are made alive in Christ and we become His bond-servants living to please Him and to do His will.

In Romans 9:17-18 it says, “(17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”
(18) So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”
People will say that this is not fair.  Why would God have mercy on some and harden the hearts of others?  I heard a message a few weeks back and the pastor preaching addressed this same issue.  He stressed that if we want “fair”, then God will give us all what we deserve and we all deserve death and punishment for our sins.  None of us are worthy of the mercy and grace He gives to us.  But God demonstrates His love to us by giving us what we do not deserve.  God is Sovereign and He has a divine plan and whether we like it or not, there are those people like Pharaoh and Judas Iscariot who each played a role in His divine plan.  Judas was chosen as a disciple, not for salvation, but to hand Jesus over to the authorities to be crucified.  But some may say “what if a person doesn’t believe in God’s existence, how can they reject what they don’t believe in?  In Romans 1:18-20 Paul writes, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. “
All humankind are born with a knowledge of God because as verse 19 says, “that which is known about God is evident within them” They are without excuse.

INTELLECT vs. EMOTIONALISM

maryatchristsfeet

As a Christian woman I am offended by the so-called women’s Bible studies and teachers that are available to us.  The landscape is littered with many women’s teachers whose studies and conferences are geared toward our emotions and not our intellect.  I realize that we are the more emotional gender, but to ignore our intellect is just downright offensive.  It’s as if they’re saying we’re not smart enough to understand theology.

In the past I went through a few Beth Moore studies and conferences, and each time, I came away thinking something was wrong with me because I got nothing out of them.  Her worship services were emotionally charged and her studies didn’t explain biblical text at all.  She found a way to make the stories and scriptures about us.  I don’t do emotional fluff.  I’m not saying I’m not an emotional person.  I can get pretty emotional at times.  But when it comes to studying the Bible, I don’t want emotional fluff.  I don’t want someone to tell me what THEY think the scripture means about us.  I want to know what GOD meant when He gave us His Word.  That is why I got nothing out of Beth Moore.  I went in wanting to learn the truth of God’s Word but instead got emotional goo.  Once we know and understand what scripture teaches, once we understand why God did what He did, and why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins, then we can respond with the proper emotion.

The number of true women’s Bible teachers are very small.  Two that come to mind are Nancy Guthrie (http://www.nancyguthrie.com/) and Susan Heck (http://www.withthemaster.com/).  These two women go through the Bible and explain what the verses mean (God’s interpretation), not what they think they mean.  If you’re interested in their studies, they both have podcasts you can listen to.  Nancy’s is “Help Me Teach The Bible” and Susan’s is “With The Master”.  No emotional goo, just straight up Bible study.

So, I’ll pass on the ladies conferences.  If I want emotional, I’ll find some chick flick to watch.  When it comes to Bible studies, I prefer those that challenge me to increase my knowledge of the Bible.  Give me the Greek and Hebrew words and what they mean so that I can understand it better.  You can keep the Kleenex.

TRUSTING GOD

anxiety

Change is inevitable.  Some change is good.  Some change is not so good.  Some change is painful in that we may go through periods of doubt, uncertainty, and fear before real change is brought about and in the end we see that the change was good, but it sure hurt getting there.

We see changes in circumstances or changes in people.  Which ever the case may be, we know that for us who are believers in Christ, any and all change we experience is for our benefit.  But it is never promised that it would all be easy.

This is where our trust in God needs to be revealed.  We may go through times of doubt in our job situation, or we may experience a health crisis, or we experience a devastating loss through natural disasters or some other means.  In and through all of this, we must keep our trust in God knowing that He will get us through whatever changes come our way.  He will never abandon us.

A dear friend of mine posted this sermon series on Trusting God.  I’ve only heard the first sermon, but I hope the next ones are just as good as the first.

Trusting God Series, Pastor Don Green, Truth Community Church, Cinncinnati, OH

 

CHRISTIANITY LOSING ITS MEANING?

set apart

 

We all read or heard the news of the man who went on Facebook Live and shot an elderly man in cold blood just because he was upset over circumstances in his life.  The man he murdered wasn’t anyone he knew.  He picked him out at random and decided to end his life just because.  Then we heard the news a couple days later of how he turned the gun on himself when the cops finally caught up with him.  His mother was quoted as saying that her son was “a good Christian person……he just snapped….”.  Now, I’m not here to judge this man’s salvation.  The Bible plainly states that it’s not for us to say if someone is a Christian or not.  Only God knows a person’s heart.  But, when I read his mother’s comments, I just had to ask myself, “Really?  Was he TRULY a Christian?  Because it seems to me that his actions and the motivations for his actions don’t reveal someone who would profess to be a Christian.”

There was a time many, many, MANY years ago when you could tell the difference between those who were truly Christians and those who weren’t.  I know as Christians we still sin.  We still battle our sinful flesh on a daily basis.  We will still do things that go against what we claim to be.  But, it seems in recent decades that people have lowered the standard of what it means to be a Christian.  I live in what is known as the Bible Belt, but in all honesty, I don’t think many churches these days in this region truly know and understand what being a Christian is all about.  1 Peter 2:9 says that Christians are a “chosen generation”, a “royal priesthood”, a “holy nation”, and “a people for His own possession.”  The KJV uses the phrase “a peculiar people” for the last one.  When the Bible uses the word “holy”, it means that we are SET APART.  It’s important to note that if YOU say you’re a Christian, then YOUR actions and how YOU live your life will be drastically different from those who aren’t.

These days, people like to THINK they’re Christian because they (a) joined a church and got their names on a church roll, (b) went to church as a child with grandma and grandpa, and, by golly, if mawmaw and pawpaw are Christians, then they are, too, (c) attend the local church on Christmas and Easter, or (d) they think, “I’m a red blooded American patriot and because America is a Christian nation, then that makes me a Christian, too!!”  And come political season….oh my goodness…..everyone running for a Republican office is suddenly a “Christian”!!  And church people eat that stuff UP!!!  “Oh, he/she says they’re a Christian so let’s vote for them.”  I know of a politician who was told to never step foot in church again if the only time he’s going to show up is during election time.  As far as I know, he had NO use for the church until it was time to try to get re-elected to his office.  To me, he was only making a showing for the Christians, but never identified as one until he needed to be one.

People……America may have started out as a Christian nation, but being an American doesn’t make you a Christian!!  Christianity started centuries before America was even a nation!  Christianity isn’t about which political party you vote for.  It’s not about making sure your name appears on the membership roll of the church two blocks down from your house.  It’s not showing up for the Christmas and Easter services like it’s some sort of thing you check off your list.  Being a Christian means that God, through His Holy Spirit, has regenerated you.  Regeneration means to be “born again”.  It means that God has taken your stone cold, hard heart and replaced it with a heart that now desires the things of God.  It’s living and acting in such a way that sets you apart from the world.  And the ONLY way that can happen is when God saves you.

The bar has been set low as far as Christianity is concerned.  Now days, the church proclaims a person a Christian just because they walked an aisle, signed a card, and got dunked in the baptistery.  Sadly, many of those who did that never darken the door of the church again because the church has told them that was all they needed to do.  Now we have “Christians” running around our country who were never really converted because they’re basing their salvation on something THEY did, and not on whether God has regenerated them.  Trust me on this.  I used to be one of them until God truly regenerated me.  I based my salvation on the fact I walked the aisle and got baptized when in actuality God had not changed my heart.

America really doesn’t understand what being a Christian means.  It’s sad to say, but it’s gotten to the point where other countries know and understand what Christianity is and are sending missionaries to us because we have gone so far off the path.  We have truly lost the meaning of what Christianity really is.

PASSOVER

Passover

 

In the book of Exodus, the Bible tells us the story of how God delivered the Hebrew children out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt.  God, through his servant Moses, showed Pharaoh His power by sending many plagues–frogs, locusts, turning water into blood, darkness–just to name a few.  Each time, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to release the Hebrews so that they could go out and serve God in the wilderness.  The tenth and last plague was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.  God told Moses that He would send the Angel of Death and kill the first born of every living being, human and animal.  This was God pouring out His wrath upon Pharaoh and the people of Egypt.
God also told Moses what to do to prevent the Angel of Death from killing any of the Hebrews.  They were to take a male lamb that was a year old and without any imperfections, and bring it into their home.  The lamb was to live with the family for four days.  After four days, they were to kill the lamb, take it’s blood and cover the 2 door posts and the lintel of the house in which the Passover meal would be eaten.  Then they would cook the meat and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  This meal would be observed every year after that.
In the middle of the night, the Angel of Death swept through the land of Egypt killing the first born of every household that was not covered by the blood of the lamb.  When the Angel saw the blood covering the lintel and door posts, he passed over that house, thus giving this meal the name Passover.  Those who were covered by the blood were spared.
This event was a shadow of what Christ would do for those who are born again.  Jesus, the only Begotten Son, came to earth to be the Sacrificial Lamb because He was without imperfection (sinless).  He voluntarily went to the cross to die for our sins.  His shed blood covered over our sins so that we would not taste spiritual death.  Just as when the Angel saw the blood on the lintel and door posts and passed over, God looks upon us and sees the blood of Jesus and we are saved from His wrath.
The beauty of the Old Testament is that we can see the foreshadowing of Christ and what He did on the cross.  Because He was the ultimate sacrifice, He paid the debt for sin ONCE and FOR ALL which means we no longer needed to sacrifice every year.  His sacrifice saves us from God’s wrath.