Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is it possible you are in a false teaching church...and don't know it?

I have a friend that has jokingly said to me a few times, (paraphrase) "If you hadn't told me the Truth I would have been better off." The point he was basically making (tongue in cheek) was that he is, now, not free to go about sinning because he has received the knowledge of the Truth. Whereas he is not quoting 2 Peter chapter 2 in its right context, he is still correct; we cannot continue in sin and think that we belong to Jesus Christ. That being said, 2 Peter chapter 2 is referring to false teachers when it talks about their condition being worse than the first:
2Peter 2:20-21 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Whether you end up in hell because you have rejected the Gospel, ignored the Gospel, or are hostile to the Gospel; in either case, hell is horrific beyond our imagination. However, Peter makes it clear that there are different levels of severity in hell and the worst of these is reserved for false teachers:

2Peter 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
We should not be surprised to see false teaching running rampant in the world; we are warned over and over again that this will happen, and will get worse:

2Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Not only should we not be surprised by false teachers, we should not be surprised by those that follow their teaching:

2Peter 2:2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

God gave us His Word so we may know the Truth, yet there are religions, philosophies and doctrine that contradict God's Word and people continue to drink it up like water; only this water is laced with poison and IS NOT Living Water. As I write this I can't help but think of Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, the Emergent Church, the ELCA Lutheran Churches, and Catholicism; just to name a few. The preachers at these churches are preaching another gospel and lest they repent, they will be accursed:

Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. :8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

One of the more troubling things about the few false teaching churches mentioned above is the fact that all of them will use the name of Jesus. All of them will call themselves Christian, which allows the deception to run deeper than someone that simply rejects the Gospel.

For example: Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. The Emergent church loves to present “fine sounding arguments” and make suggestions that seem reasonable, yet are not based in Scripture. In addition, there are many Emergents that (although it be subtle) allude to the idea of Universalism, which is the doctrine that says, “all end up in Heaven, there are just different routes to get there”; even though Jesus clearly said He is the only Way. The ELCA wing of the Lutheran church has determined that there are parts of Scripture they have the latitude to leave out, even though God's Word says ALL SCRIPTURE is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” In addition, the ELCA Lutheran church will not call sinners to repentance, they instead use silly terms like “carnal Christian” suggesting that we can continue in sin, after all, we are covered by Grace. Lastly, Catholicism (like many other religions) add to the work of The Cross by teaching that we are saved through Christ PLUS works. Clearly offending God by suggesting that there is something we can do to earn (at least in part) our salvation.

I have only touched on the false teaching of the ones listed above. And I only scratched the surface of the false religions in the world. The ultimate point is, we need to be aware of these false teaching churches. A logical question you may be asking is, “what makes you right?” or “what makes you think you know the Truth and all these other religions are wrong?” Answer: God's Word. Do not believe a thing I say without checking it out for yourself. God's Word is Truth, God's Word has been protected, God's Word is reliable, and God's Word provides us with the Way of Eternal Life.

I would further add, you need to be in constant study of God's Word so you can recognize false teaching. For example, when someone says, “people may have another opportunity to receive Christ after they die”; you can know that the Word says:

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

When someone says that hell is just a state of mind and is not a real place you can know that the Word says:

2Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

Luke 12:5 (Words of Jesus) But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Mark 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—

Matthew 23:15 (Words of Jesus) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:33 (Words of Jesus) Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

Interestingly enough, in Matthew 23 Jesus is talking to the most religious people of the day.

I understand that much of what I have just wrote may seem hard-core to many people. Some may even say, “who are you to judge”. I would just say that I am not judging anyone, but as the Word says, “you will know them by their fruit”....I am only sharing with you some of the fruit that has been produced by false teachers. As Paul told some of his readers, “have I now become your enemy by telling you the Truth.”

I would encourage you, in the most loving way possible, if you are in a false teaching church, get out. If you are staying in a church because “that's where I grew up” and it is a false teaching church, you still need to get out. God calls His people to come out of the false teaching churches:

Revelation 18:3-5 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." 4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peter was regenerated, are you?

When I was reading 2Peter this morning the first couple verses started me thinking of how 1Peter ended; pride versus humility. I have a close friend of mine that used to be the Light-Heavyweight Champion of the World as a kickboxer. He is so personable and kind hearted that everyone felt like they were his good friend. Sometimes when people would talk to me about him, I would proudly say, "yes, we are good friends, as a matter of fact, he was a groomsmen in my wedding." In looking back, that was just pride talking, kind of a "I know him better than you" silliness people engage in. In 2Peter, Peter has every opportunity to suggest that he has a "super status" when it comes to Jesus; after all, he walked with Him, lived with Him, learned from Him, ate with Him, watch Him get beat, watched Him get crucified, seen and talked to Him when He was Resurrected, and watched Him ascend back to Heaven. If anyone could say, "I know Him best", it would be Peter. But, Peter doesn't do that because Peter is humble. You might say, Peter got humbled after he denied Jesus three times; either way, nobody is truly humble without the regeneration of the Spirit. Because of his humility, Peter does not even put the thought in our head that he has any status with God beyond what we have if we are surrendered to Jesus Christ:

2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Paul, as well as Peter, makes the same point several times in his letters as well, we see one of those times in Romans 3:

Romans 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

Peter immediately points out that everything that is needed for life and godliness is provided by God. If you belong to Christ, you can not say that you do not have the ability to defeat sin. In the flesh, none of us can defeat sin, but when we belong to Jesus, His divine power has been granted to us for all things that pertain to life and godliness:

2Peter1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

There is corruption in the world, but the true responsibility for our sinfulness is because of our sinful desire. Through His promise, we have (or can) escape the bondage of sin:

2Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The Word talks about us being afar off, separated and hostile to God; but we have been redeemed and reconciled to God through The Blood of Jesus. If this is true, and we have truly surrendered to Christ and have humbled ourself under the mighty hand of God, the following characteristics will continue to manifest themselves and increase in our life:

2Peter 1: 5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter says that those who lack these qualities are blind and can not be sure of their salvation:

2Peter 1: For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Peter commands us to be sure of our "election"....our salvation. This happens when we see regeneration in our life, the manifestation of godliness; evidence of being born of the Spirit. When we are sure that we are born-again, we can also be sure that we will be richly provide an entrance in to the Kingdom of God, not just a "the doors open, come on in" kind of entrance, but a richly provided entrance. I don't know what that looks like, but it is going to be awesome!

2Peter 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are you a worrier?

In our country (and many parts of the world) pride is considered a virtue. Whereas there are times where the word pride seems appropriate (such as, being proud of your children, etc); many times pride is a massive liability. We are too proud to admit we are wrong about something, we are too proud concede that we don't know something, we are too proud to apologize, we are too proud to ask for help. In so many things we stiffen up with pride to our detriment. As I am writing this, it hit me how there is freedom in humility. When we are humble enough to admit we are wrong and seek forgiveness from another it is very liberating. When we are humble enough to say, “I'm not sure, but I think it is this way or that way”; instead of insisting we “know it is this way”; pride is removed and we have the liberty to be wrong.

Beyond the everyday pride barriers, there is a much more massive problem with our pride. We stiffen up our neck toward God and insist on our own way. Whether it is through false religion, intellect, philosophy, or just flat out selfishness; many people are too welled up with pride to consider the Truth of God.

The fact is, to be truly humble before men, and more importantly, to be truly humble before God, all self-seeking, self-glory, self-interest, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-importance, self-promotion, self-satisfaction-and whatsoever else there be of self-must die.

As you consider whether you have truly humbled yourself before your Creator, also consider how important it is by reading what He says about it:

1Peter 5:5-7 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

In addition, consider this: When we worry and are anxious we are also showing pride. We tend to think of pride only as a stiff necked, chest out, “my way or the highway kind of pride”; however, a meek person can demonstrate pride by continued worry and unrest. That is not my opinion, Peter just said it....did you catch it? Right on the heels of warning about pride, Peter says to cast all your anxieties on The Lord. In other words, if you do not, you are not trusting in God, you are, instead trusting in yourself to “worry it through”, and “figure it out” on your own.

The biggest problem you will run in to when your pride gets in the way is the fact that you are easy pray for the devil. Pride will tell you, “I don't believe in the devil”. Pride will tell you, “I'm not afraid of the devil.” Pride will tell you, “I don't need anybody, I can take care of myself.” But the fact is, our battle is not of flesh and blood, it is of the spiritual nature; and if you don't know that to be true, Satan has already won his battle with you, you are easy prey. If you do know it to be true, but you think you can battle Satan without Jesus and abiding in Him, you will also lose the battle. Clearly the warning is right here in this short chapter that pride kills. Pride lost Satan's Heavenly home and position as a mighty angel; and pride can overtake you if you do not humble yourself under the might hand of God:

1Peter 5:8-11 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did you catch that promise? Instead of worrying, we are instead to cast our anxieties upon The Lord in prayer and supplication....what does supplication mean?:

Supplication
SUPPLICA'TION, n. [L. supplicatio.]
Entreaty; humble and earnest prayer in worship.

When we do that, He gives us His Peace which surpasses ALL UNDERSTANDING!! People will look at you with confusion because nothing gets to you. You trust completely in The Lord and they will probably think you are irrational, and maybe even crazy. You won't even be able to explain it adequately to them because it is a peace that is beyond understanding. The icing on the cake is, He gets the glory! Isn't that amazing, He gives us the peace we desire and He is glorified, allowing us to fulfill our purpose, which is to glorify God.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does the Bible really talk about drinking parties and orgies?

In 1Peter chapter 4 Peter continues giving us instruction and warning. We read in chapter 3 that The Lord's face is "against those who do evil" and Peter is going to go even further in detail as to what the person that the Lord turns His face against looks like. But first, he commands us to "arm ourselves".

"Arm ourselves" with what?...'"the same way of thinking". Then the question becomes, what thinking?

1Peter 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

As I am writing this it occurred to me that we discussed in the last post that many times trials are according to God's Will. Trials and suffering that draws us closer to God also brings us further away from sin. We will no longer live in the flesh, desiring to feed the lusts of the flesh, but we will instead have a desire to pursue God's will in our life:

1Peter 4:2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Then Peter gives us a short list of some ways that men feed their flesh, that is clearly outside of God's will:

1Peter 4:3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

When a person commits most of their life perusing the things listed in verse 3, they will have no problem finding people to "join in the fun". However, when that same person gets saved and is born-again, those same "friends" will no longer want anything to do with them when they leave their life of sin, and they will even regard them with envy and malice.

1Peter 4:4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

Peter quickly follows up with a clear warning to those that do not repent of their wickedness:

1Peter 4:5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

The next verse can easily be misinterpreted; however, Scripture always supports Scripture. So if something "seems" to be being said, yet contradicts the rest of God's Word, what it "seems" to be saying, isn't actually what it is saying. By that, I mean, verse 6 at a glance seems to suggest that the Gospel is preached to those that have died condemned, seemingly offering a second chance to be redeemed. Since this clearly contradicts the rest of God's Word, verse 6 must be referring to the Gospel being preached to those that heard and received the Gospel when they were alive, but have since died:

1Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Before we continue with the next few verses, stop to consider that the theme throughout the Word of God is to trust God and glorify Him in all you do. This "theme" does not change in the entire Bible, yet it is written by several different authors, on different continents, by men with different backgrounds. When you always consider this truth the Bible will continue to amaze you, rather than have you thinking, "yea, I've heard that over and over again." The fact that you hear it "over and over" again demonstrates the divine nature of His Word, and further demonstrates God's desire to emphasize its importance. This emphasis is:

1Peter 4:8-17 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

When I first started my business (long before I was saved) I listened to motivational tapes and one of my favorite speakers instructed his listeners to do morning and evening proclamations in the mirror. In hind site, those proclamations were done for the wrong reason. As I am finishing todays post I couldn't help but think what a daily proclamation for a Christian should look like in light of this chapter. Here's what I came up with:

"Today I will love earnestly. I will not feed the lust of the flesh, I will instead serve others humbly, that Jesus Christ may be glorified in all I say, think and do. I know that trials are part of God's plan to test my faith and I am committed to glorifying Him and rejoicing in the trials and sufferings. I will obey The Gospel, and I will be obedient to God's Word knowing that when I am insulted for the name of Christ I am blessed."

When I did my "success" proclamations way back when, it was entirely a work of the flesh. Where as we would do well to make the above proclamation daily, for all of these things to manifest themselves in our life would take a work of the Spirit. So lift them up to The Lord and plead with Him to regenerate you and make you a new creation, just as He promises to those that earnestly seek Him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does God want you to suffer?

Paul makes it clear in his second letter to Timothy that ALL followers of Jesus Christ WILL be persecuted. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ we will DESIRE to live a godly life; and if you desire to live a life focused on glorifying God you WILL be persecuted:

2Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Peter gives us an amazing reassurance and promise when he writes that WE ARE BLESSED FOR IT! How awesome is that? When we suffer for righteousness sake, we will be blessed for it:

1Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,

This is not any suffering, or suffering because of disobedience....the suffering we are BLESSED FOR is suffering for righteousness sake. It is very interesting that in the VERY NEXT VERSE, Peter commands us to ALWAYS be ready to give a defense of the reason for the hope that is within us:

1Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Why would a Christian suffer for sharing and defending the hope given them by Jesus Christ? Because the Gospel is offensive to a lost and hell bent world. Even those pretending to be Christians are offended and moved to anger when the true Gospel is preached. Do we have to be rude, harsh and self-righteous for The Gospel to be offensive? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The Gospel is offensive on it's own, we do not need to make an effort to make it more offensive by acting harsh and disrespectful. As a matter of fact, we are called to be gentle and respectful. If this is the way we are to behave, why do we see so many people claiming to be Christians behaving exactly like the world? The answer is easy, they are not Spirit led. Someone may say, “well, with a statement like that you are being disrespectful and harsh!” Gentleness and respect does not mean we are to avoid telling the truth. When Jesus told the most religious people of the day that they are “of their father the devil”, was He being harsh and disrespectful?....or was He being truthful, that they might repent? I got saved when someone preached the true Gospel in a group of people that was suppose to be Christian, including myself. I was deceived and confused of my salvation and I am forever thankful that this person was bold enough to preach the Truth.

In verse 17, Peter gives us another paradigm shift. We see many verses that call us to change our thinking from the world view, that we have been bombarded with our entire life, to a Biblical, Godly view. When we suffer, many times it is by the will of God that we suffer. So many people have been deceived by what is commonly known as the “health wealth and prosperity gospel” which says, “God wants me to be happy, live a perfect life, have lots of money, and not have a worry in the world.” If that were true, why did the apostles suffer unto death for their faith. If that were true, why does the Bible make much of Stephen, the first Christian martyr? Many times in our suffering He is drawing us closer to Himself; but, whatever the reason may be, He allows what brings Him the most Glory. Our “job description” is to glorify Our King, and if suffering is how He is most glorified then our attitude needs to be, let it be so:

1Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who said it was about you?

Just as we have seen from Paul and James; Peter gives us (the believers) some "marching orders". Or better put, some fruit we will see in our life if we are truly born of the Spirit. It doesn't always happen overnight, but the life of Christians should be continually moving toward holiness, which is in part, the list given by Peter in chapter 3:

  1. Be of one mind. The focus of all Christians should be to glorify God. We shouldn't break fellowship over non-eternal debates with other believers that are bearing the fruit of regeneration. We can be of one mind in the very simple Truth of the Gospel.
  1. Show sympathy for the brethren.
  2. Genuine love for your brothers and sisters in Christ should manifest itself in your life. I have noticed this in ways that is impossible to explain. I will just meet another follower of Christ and although I just met them, there is a genuine love for them. To be honest, this is very strange for me because I am not very loving by nature (except toward my kids)
  3. Be tender hearted. Many times we get very callous in our approach to others; I know I am guilty of this. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we need to see others as God sees them. We need to let the goodness of Christ show in our life so people will be pointed to the One that made the transformation in our life happen.
  4. We need to be of humble mind. The King James and the New King James version translate this as being courteous. When we have a humble heart and a humble mind we can't help but be more courteous. When we think of others more highly than ourselves we develop an attitude of courtesy and service to others.
  5. Do not repay evil for evil. That is simple to say; extremely hard to put in to practice....right? It is easier to be rude to the rude, and respond to others in the same nasty way they treat us. Who ever said following Christ was easy? Who ever said it was about us? If God is most glorified when we repay evil with good, then that is our directive; don't make exceptions.
  6. Keep your tongue from evil. Evil being defined as slander, gossip, profanity, crude joking, etc.
  7. Keep your lips from speaking deceit. This isn't just flat out lies, but speaking with the intention of deceiving another. Half truth about a product you sell, partial disclosure about a used vehicle, etc.

Right on the heels of this list from Paul he says, "the Lord's face is AGAINST those who do evil. In chapter 4 Paul will expand a little further on the contrast between someone who is regenerated versus an evildoer. The lengthy list of the characteristics of those that practice sin is very clear, likewise, God could not make the fact that He will oppose those who practice sin any more clear:

1Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Precious Stone or Rock of offense?

In chapter 2 of 1Peter, Peter uses the imagery of building something up; a building from stones, a building of living stones. We see in Scripture that Jesus is the Rock, the Foundation of our Faith:

Romans 9:33 as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

1Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

With Jesus as the Foundation, the Cornerstone from which a building is focused on, and built around, those that are born-again are being built up for a specific purpose. What is that purpose? The believers are being built up to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Don't confuse these spiritual sacrifices as earning your way to Heaven, these spiritual sacrifices are to glorify God and are also evidence that a person has been regenerated (born again):

1Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Some people may read that and wonder, "what does that mean, what does the life of a born-again Christian look like?" A part of that answer was in the first verse of todays chapter:

1Peter 2:1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

ESV translates it this way:
1Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

As we can see, God expects His children to conduct themselves a certain way. Our conduct is suppose to be a certain way ALL THE TIME. The Word doesn't say, "don't deceive, except around tax time, then do ahead and use every trick in the book." The Word doesn't say, "don't slander, except when you get together with your girlfriends for 'girls night'." The Word doesn't say, "Don't be a hypocrite, except for when there is a really good dirty joke you want to share." The Word doesn't say, "don't envy, except when your co-worker gets a promotion you should have received."

Everyday, all day, we have opportunity to be obedient to The Word. Our response to those opportunities is an indicator of just how serious we are about "being holy and He is Holy". I remember about 10 years ago when the marketeers pounced on an opportunity to make money with the WWJD bracelets; as such, it became kind of a watered down question: "What would Jesus do?" The better question would be, "What would Jesus want me to do in this situation?" "Would He want me to divert my eyes from the girl walking across the street, or would He want to to fantasize about her?" "Would He want me to claim this $3000 cash job on my taxes, or would He want me to deceive the government about my income?" "Would He want me to dress in such away that would draw attention to myself and get stares from the guys, or would He want me to dress modestly?" You get the idea. We are letting the world know where our allegiance lies by our obedience (or lack there of) to The Word of God.

Over and over again in The Word, we see these two words coupled together: Belief and Obedience. In every case I have seen, there are those that "believe" and there are those that are "disobedient". So, we can make the logical conclusion that, those that truly believe are obedient, and those that are disobedient don't really believe, even if they say they do:

1Peter 2:7-8 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE," 8 and "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

Titus 1:15-16 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. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

2Corinthians 2:8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.

Peter, like Paul, pleads with the readers of this letter (including the readers in this generation) to turn away from fleshly desires. We know that if Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed. The burden of sin has been lifted. Peter goes on to say that we are NOT to use this freedom as permission to sin:

1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

Romans 6:20-23 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My dad is confused

So far as we've worked through 1Peter chapter 1 we've seen to working of the Trinity(v.2); we have seen how we are redeemed and born-again(v. 3); we have seen what is waiting for those that are born-again(v.4-5, 9); we have seen why believers go through trials(v.6-7); we have seen that the manifestation of the Son of God in human form was predicted long before(v.10-12); we have seen that when we are born-again (born of the Spirit) we will continue to move in the direction of obedience and holiness(v.13-16).

Peter follows all this up with a HUGE point and directive. God does NOT show partiality to ANYONE. He is not like our society that affords people exception or extra attention if they look a certain way or have a certain amount of money. When we are in front of the Creator of all the Universe in that Last Day it will not matter how you look, how much money you have, what kind of car you drive, how many volunteer hours you completed, or any other striving you have done. The question is really simple, are you born-again or not. Peter makes it clear the fact that God does not show partiality and we ought conduct ourselves in fear, but the fear in a believer is defined as an awe and reverence for God. An overwhelming awe that, “He saved me. I could have died in my sin and went to hell, but He saved me!”

1Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

This should create awe, reverence and fear in us; not to be confused with the fear that will consume those that are not born-again. No matter how good or bad a person may be relative to the world, if they are not born-again, they will be judged for wickedness of their sin, and God is angry with the wicked every day:

Psalms 7:11 God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If you are reading this and thinking, “I don't want God angry with me, I want to be born-again.” The next few verses show us exactly how that happens:

First, we need to be redeemed of our sin and that only happens through The Blood of Christ. Do not be deceived by religion, like the Jews Peter was addressing were. For example, I tried to share the Gospel with my dad one time (actually many times), but in this one occasion he said, “I believe that the catholic church is the only true church and nothing will change my mind of that.” The interesting thing is, he doesn't even follow the catholic religion. But, in any case, my dad is like many people that have allowed religion, tradition, and/or “the way they grew up” to cloud their vision and harden their heart from the Truth. This is nothing new, the Jews of been doing this for centuries:

1Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

We are redeemed through The Blood. Now look at how we purify our souls:

1Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

The Spirit of God IN US gives us the ability to obey Him. A transformation happens that cannot be explained any other way, other than God did it. I remember when I was a fake Christian I had a lot of trouble reading verses about love, because I knew I wasn't loving. I was angry, bitter, and flat out mean. It is interesting to me to reflect on the last few days. It seems like God was preparing me to write this post, because the last few days I have had an indescribable joy. I can honestly say that I am loving now. I still have a little bit of edge, and there are still remnants of the old Steve, but God has clearly changed me in this way.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

1Peter 1:23-25 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because "ALL FLESH IS AS GRASS, AND ALL THE GLORY OF MAN AS THE FLOWER OF THE GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND ITS FLOWER FALLS AWAY, 25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't let anyone tell you that it is OK to sin

The last couple posts we've dove in to some very crucial stuff. The first one is the single most important question you will ever answer, “are you born-again”. We also looked at what it means to be born-again. We've looked at what eternity looks like (or at least as close as we are able to understand) for those that are born-again and those that are not. We also touched on the same thing we did in James, what trials are for and how we are suppose to respond to them.

Today we are going to quickly go through 3 things:

1- What is the outcome of our faith? When you put your faith in Jesus Christ and are completely surrendered to Him, what is the result of it?

1Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The Word instructs us to test ourselves in the faith:

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

If Jesus Christ is IN US, we belong to Him...if He is NOT IN US, we DO NOT belong to him. According to 2Corinthians 13:5 if we fail to meet the test He IS NOT in us. So, the test becomes VERY IMPORTANT! We get a little glimpse of that test in 1 Peter 1:8-9; did you catch it?

Those that are in the faith LOVE JESUS!

Those that are in the faith BELIEVE IN HIM!

Those that are in the faith rejoice and glory in Him that is beyond words or understanding.

2- The prophets foretold us about The Messiah, The Savior, The Son of God, Jesus Christ. Not only did they foretell of Him, they wanted to know, what generation would see the manifestation of The King!?! Angels wanted to know also; when will The Son of God fulfill these things?:

1Peter 1:10-12 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

WOW! The Spirit of Christ IN THE PROPHETS revealed to them that He Himself would suffer on The Cross to redeem His children. Jesus Christ ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS WILL BE....He only manifest Himself as a man 2000 years ago!

3- As we reflect on the amazing amount of information packed in to the first 12 verses of 1Peter, how should we respond? Remember a few posts ago when we talked about proving the Bible with the Bible? We are about to see Peter instruct us in the same way Jesus did, John The Baptist did, Paul did, James did, and The Apostle John will later. God made sure that His Word left the main stuff so simple and plain that even an average idiot like me can understand it. The problem is, people don't want to hear it...what is it that is so simple, yet is so offensive and easy to ignore? God wants all men to repent and be obedient to Him:

1Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

Don't be foolish, like I used to be, and think that once you are a Christian you are on auto-pilot and not accountable for your actions! Does this sound like auto-pilot to you? : “PREPARE YOUR MINDS FOR ACTION”, “DO NOT BE CONFORMED”, “BE HOLY”

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Don't let anyone tell you that it is OK to sin because “after all, we are covered by Grace”. They are selling you a cheap Grace; and they are selling you a lie! The Gospel without obedience and repentance is no Gospel at all, but is, instead, a doctrine of demons, a lie from the father of lies, Satan himself! You have seen it in the above 5 verses from 3 different men, all who walk with and were instructed by Jesus Himself. Who will you believe? I plead with you, if you are only pretending to be a Christian, like so many are, please search the Scriptures and call out to God. Tell Him you have been faking, but you want to know Him, serve Him and love Him. Ask Him to forgive you and make you the person He wants you to be.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What an INHERITANCE!

Have you ever had a grandparent, parent, uncle, aunt or friend ever say to you, “when I go, this will be yours”, as they hold up a particular item. Maybe you have had a parent say, “your grandpa gave me this when he passed on, his dad gave it to him and I am going to pass it on to you.” Whether that certain something be a keepsake that would only have value to those in the family, or a nice lake cabin handed down from generation to generation, it will fade over time. It will wear out over time. Time has a way of corrupting our inheritance....except this:

For those that are born-again God has an inheritance waiting for us that not only is undefiled, but He is guarding it!

1Peter 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

By God's power, through our faith, Our Lord as an inheritance beyond what any eye has seen or any mind can conceive waiting for those that love Him:

1Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"--

Consider that for just a minute. Some people travel quite a bit and have seen some AMAZING sites. I have not traveled much, but I have been to Palm Springs a few times and I think of it as the most beautiful place I have ever been. Some of you reading this might say, “no way, Hawaii is the most beautiful place there is”, still others might so “no way, here or there”. Wherever the debate may go is of no consequence when it comes to the Kingdom of God. Wherever you think is the most beautiful place on earth will not even come close to what God has prepared for those that love Him. The Creator of all things is telling us in His Word that He has prepared yet another place beyond our wildest imaginations! Do not even try to imagine it because you can't....IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!

If you belong to Christ, how should these make you respond? REJOICING! No...No....GREATLY REJOUCING:

1Peter 1:6a In this you greatly rejoice,

But that is not the rest of the story is it. We have things so soft and cuddly in this country that we tend to have the mind set, “yea, life is all good and Heaven will be better...I'll see you there”. Just last night I was having a conversation with some friends and one told the other in response to whether his dog is in Heaven, “you need to worry less about that and more about where you will spend eternity”.

My friends response was, “oh yea, I got a spot at the buffet table waiting for me.”

As a society we tend to be flippant about eternity without really consider what the life of a Christian is suppose to look like:

1Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Did you catch that? Just as James warned us of trials (and even told us to rejoice in them), Peter is telling us to expect trials, which will happen “if need be”. IF NEED BE? Why would I NEED trials? To test the genuineness of your faith! How awesome is that? When trials come, where do you look first? Do you look for the answers in the wisdom and philosophies of men, or do you look to your Heavenly Father, your daddy? God allows trials in your life to test your faith so you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt the you have an eternal, incorruptible inheritance waiting for you that is beyond words or imagination.

I would love to have ended my post there, but I can't leave this unsaid: Just as those that have surrendered their life to Jesus Christ and are not ashamed to call Him their Lord and Savior have this inheritance waiting for them in eternity; those that have not surrendered to Jesus Christ will have an eternity that is brutal beyond words or imagination. A place where all the blessings and the presence of God have been removed, where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched:

Mark 9:41-48 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'

The above 7 verses are directly from the mouth of Jesus. These are “red letters”. If you have ever doubted how seriously God takes deliberate continuance in sin, please re-read the above 7 verses again. Jesus could not have emphasized any more clear how crucial it is that we make every possible effort to leave a life of sin.

If you have not yet, please call out to Him today in repentance and faith, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you unsure of your salvation?

Today we are going to take a look at one verse. This verse is so powerful that there is NO WAY, in my limited understanding of the Scripture, I could cover everything Peter pacts in to these 37 words....but I will give it a shot:

1Peter 1:3a Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy,

Whatever Peter is about to follow this first phrase up with is “ACCORDING TO HIS GREAT MERCY!”

By the mercy of Almighty God whatever follows is made possible.

Mercy
MER'CY, n. [L. misericordia.]

It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders.

Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

Pardon.

The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

A friend of mine asked one time, what is the difference between Grace and Mercy. I made a very inadequate attempt at explaining it, so another friend stepped in with what I thought was a fantastic explanation:

Grace is getting something you do not deserve, Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.

In this one verse we see this played out. As we see throughout Scripture, our sin (one sin) is enough to condemn us for eternity. But, God's Love, Grace and Mercy has provided us a Way to be redeemed, pardoned, spared. If we die in our sin we WILL NOT be confused as to why we ended up in hell....but ACCORDING TO HIS GREAT MERCY:

1 Peter 1: 3b he has caused us to be born again

HE CAUSED US!!! He foreknew and He caused. Don't scratch your head and wonder about those that He “doesn't cause” to be born-again. Who are we that we can know the mind God. Who are we that we think we can give council to God:

Romans 9:20-23 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--

The better question is, are you going to plead with your Creator that you be one of His vessels of honor, or will your pride overtake you to the point where you will choose to be a vessel of wrath. Know this; either way, HE IS GLORIFIED! PLEAD WITH HIM THAT YOU MIGHT BE A VESSEL OF MERCY!

Are you unsure of your salvation? It is not the fault of God if you slap away His extended hand and reject the LOVE OF GOD only to receive instead the JUDGMENT OF GOD. Ask yourself this: “Did He cause you to be born again?”

1 Peter 1: 3b he has caused us to be born again

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

You might ask, “What does that mean (to be born again)?”

We are all born naturally; or what the Bible calls “being born of water.” However, although we are alive in the natural, we are spiritually dead, until we are born of the Spirit. Being born of the Spirit means the same things as being born again. So how do we know if we are born of the Spirit? We can answer that question with a question: Are you led by the Spirit? Do you hate the things God hates, and love the things God loves....or do you still feed the lusts of your flesh without guilt or sensitivity to the prompting and conviction of the Holy Spirit? Do you seek to bring Glory and Rejoicing to the Holy Spirit, or do you continue to resist the Holy Spirit?

Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.

Romans 8:5-9 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

So, since your eternal destination lies in this very question, let's ask it again: “ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

If so.....
1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The Power is in the Blood and the Resurrection:

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.