Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Humanity Gone Wild

I remember in my younger days when I was trying to win the favor of a certain girl she said, “you’re just too wild.”  I wore that as a badge of honor, almost a, “I’m glad you noticed” kind of cockiness. Now that I am born-again I understand that all of the characteristics I held dear and wore proudly…were all a lie. They were all a lie from the pit of hell. God desires meekness, not pride. God desires humility not arrogance. God desires obedience, not disobedience. God desires gentleness, not harshness. I could go on and on, but the ultimate point is; I had no Godly characteristics; I was wild in more ways than one…hell bound, deceived, and confused about eternity. In short, I was just as the people God describes in Isaiah 5:

In Isaiah 5 we see two major things happening that is both a foreshadowing of the same message brought to us by the writers of the New Testament (inspired by the Holy Spirit), and reality of the message of God never changing…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Before we go in to that, let’s first look at the first 2 verses. I found them very interesting, they seem to be making a clear parallel of humanity’s rebellion against God; that being said, I am far from an Old Testament scholar…what is the Lord showing you in these Words?

Isaiah 5:1-2 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes.

Then God asks a rhetorical question in verse 4:

Isaiah 5:4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?

Look at any generation in history. God makes Himself known, yet men continue to rebel and be disobedient…they continue to be wild.

Isaiah 5:20-23 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, 23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!

If the Lord had left me in that condition I would not have got the last laugh. He would have been Just in sending me to hell forever. His anger and wrath would have rightly been poured out on me, just as He speaks of in verse 25:

Isaiah 5:25a Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them and stricken them, and the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away,

But, as I have said….His Message has never changed. Yes He is angry with sinners every day. Yes He will pour out His Wrath on the sons of disobedience….but look at the rest of verse 25…look at the rest of the story:

Isaiah 5:25b But His hand is stretched out still.

Isn’t that AMAZING! That’s Amazing Grace. Utter rebellion and disobedience and His hand is stretched out still, not too far for sinners to reach. All who thirst may come and drink from the Water of Life without charge. As He says in His Word, today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart as in the rebellion, repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. After all, the goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls, right?


Revelation 21:6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

1Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 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.

1Peter 1:14-19  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." 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, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Everyone needs to know this Truth (Hell is real)

After the fun (but chaotic) few days of celebrating Christmas with family I was taking it easy last night enjoying a cup of coffee, checking emails, and browsing around Facebook and YouTube. It was one of those things where you get on a “thread” and two hours later you are still rolling on the same “thread”.  Well, last nights “thread” was more of a “broad road”. It was the “broad road” that led many to hell, but in God’s Grace and Mercy…and His desire to continue to warn His Creation of this horrific place He allowed them to not only get out of there, but He blessed them with the responsibility of warning people that hell is real.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Yes, I understand that in all likelihood Jesus wasn’t born in December. I also understand that maybe the origins of the Christmas celebration are not glorifying to God. However, for me, I was celebrating the birth of my Savior and Lord. Many of us have spent the last couple days singing old Christmas hymns, many of them we are so used to hearing and singing that we don’t really consider the words. Such as, “Christ and sinners reconciled”….or…”unto us a Savior is born”. 

Why do we need to be reconciled?

What did He save us from?

Is everyone saved?

Do I need to be saved?

What if I don’t believe in all of this stuff?

Last night I watch several videos of people that have died and went to hell, had a vision of hell, or experienced hell in some way. These people now share their testimony with urgency and passion. I have included some of them below; you be the judge of their sincerity and reliability. There is no doubt that someone can be sincerely wrong; however, below the videos I have included verses from God’s Word describing the reality of hell and the urgency of “the rich man” to warn his brothers of this place. The point is, we can listen to these people and come to a conclusion, but at the end of the day, God has made it clear in His Word that not only is hell real, but many people that think they are Heaven bound will end up in hell. Whether you believe in hell or not does not change the truth that those that have not repented and put their faith in Jesus Christ will end up in this place of eternal torment. I am not trying to scare anyone out of hell, because the Truth is, no one comes to the Son lest the Father draws him; I am only warning people of this place that they would consider their eternal destination and call out to God to open their eyes to the Truth.

When we read the Bible we see words and phrases like, “God’s Wrath”, “perish”, “death”, “hell”, “demons”, “the devil”, and “sin”. Here’s how it all ties together:

Hell is a real place created for the devil and all his demons; however, because we have sinned against God He considers us “sons of disobedience” and we deserve to perish, we deserve to die eternally. However, this doesn’t mean we cease to exist, this means that we will be cast in to the lake of fire, where the fire is not quenched and the worm never dies. When we understand this Truth it makes the most recognized verse in the Bible that much more powerful:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Check out this paraphrase of John 3:16: Because of your sin, you deserve eternal torment in hell, but God loves you so much that He provided a Way for you to be redeemed from your sin. That Way is the shed Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ; if you will believe in Him (a belief so strong that it leads to surrender and obedience to Him) He will give eternal life in Heaven, instead of what you deserve, eternal hell.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Revelation 20:14-15 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Luke 16:19 "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' 27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' 29 Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.

Psalm 55:15 Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.

Proverbs 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 15:24 The way of life winds upward for the wise, That he may turn away from hell below.

Proverbs 27:20 Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Matthew 5:21-30 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Matthew 7:2023 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 23:15 "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 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

2Peter 2:1-22 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. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 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; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A DOG RETURNS TO HIS OWN VOMIT," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heart and Fear

In the last couple blogs we were talking about staying out of the ditches of false teaching and religion. We hit a little bit on the “fear of the Lord” and how crucial that is to “walking in the Spirit”, and not in the flesh. There is no doubt that someone that fears God cannot continue to fulfill the lusts of the flesh; and when they stumble, someone that fears the Lord will not rest until they confess and forsake their sin to God. When you belong to Jesus, your thankfulness, your reverence, and your fear of being outside His will, keeps you “sensitive” to sin. Why is that? Because he takes our heart of stone, which had no “sensitivity” to the true wickedness of our sin, and in its place He gives us a heart of flesh, which is “sensitive” to the things of God and His will:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

The condition of our heart will determine whether we will have a genuine reverence for God or not. The condition of our heart is either too proud to lay down our own selfish desires and seek God, or it is humble and contrite:

Mark 7:6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME.

Mark 7:20-23 And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

Acts 8:21-22 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

2Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Is your heart prideful? Ask God to humble you. Is your heart far from God??  Ask God to draw you close. Is their evil thoughts and desires coming from your heart? Ask God to give you a new heart, with new desires.

1Peter 5:5-7 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

The issue of pride and selfishness is not anything new, take a look at Isaiah 2:7-8; doesn’t it sound a lot like today’s America?:

Isaiah 2:7-9 Their land is also full of silver and gold, And there is no end to their treasures; Their land is also full of horses, And there is no end to their chariots. 8 Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made. 9 People bow down, And each man humbles himself; Therefore do not forgive them.

People were humbling themselves, but not to God; they were submitting themselves to idols and riches. There was (and is) no fear of God; there was (and is) only self-exaltation, people seeking the glory for themselves…and Jesus warned of this:

John 7:16-18 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

God is very clear about pride vs. humility; and about disregard for Him vs. fear and reverence for Him:

Job 28:28 And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' "

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.

Psalm 34:7-11 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

Psalm 145:18-20 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. 20 The LORD preserves all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.

Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 14:26-27 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

Proverbs 16:5-6 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished. 6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.

Proverbs 23:17-18 Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.

Isaiah 2:12 For the day of the LORD of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, Upon everything lifted up— And it shall be brought low—

Isaiah 2:17-18 The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; The LORD alone will be exalted in that day,18 But the idols He shall utterly abolish.

Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Born a rebel!

In my last blog we discussed two ditches we see many people trekking through in America in their desire to “make it” to Heaven. One is religion and the futile exercises of the flesh to “win” God’s favor; the other is minimal-izing sin, because “after all, God loves me and wouldn’t send me to hell. I will just continue to eat, drink and be merry.”

Whether you are counting on your own brand of religion, or you are counting on the Grace of God to “wink-wink” at your sin…you are on thin ice. God’s Word has serious warning for both groups of people. To pull yourself out of one of these two ditches requires reverence for God; a healthy fear of who God is, and how seriously He takes idolatry. Idolatry is putting anything or anyone ahead of God in your life; it is also creating a god to suit your own image of god whether it be physically, or in your mind. The most common form of this that I have noticed looks something like this, “well, my god would not send anyone to hell, he is a loving god.”

Let’s take a look at willful rebellion.  A friend of mine shared an amazing summary of James 4, which also gives the reality of where we are placing ourselves when we deliberately continue in sin:

“The Law says, ‘do not slander’, but if I chose to slander, I am exalting myself above God’s Law.”

James 4:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Anything that God forbids could be plugged in here. God’s Word says, do not fornicate; therefore:

“The Law says, ‘do not fornicate’, but if I chose to fornicate, I am exalting myself above God’s Law.”

“The Law says, ‘do not be a drunkard’, but if I chose to get drunk, I am exalting myself above God’s Law.”

“The Law says, ‘do not practice homosexuality’, but if I chose to practice homosexuality, I am exalting myself above God’s Law.”

You get the idea. Isn’t it interesting that our society pushes these three as normal behavior in all entertainment venues. You cannot watch a movie, sitcom, reality show, news program, sporting event, or concert without at least one (if not all) of these being presented subtly or overtly. Yet, God warns us in His Word that Sodom and Gomorrah are given as examples:

Jude 1:5-7  But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has been warning of rebellion against Him in both the Old and New Testament:

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;

He warns of forsaking Him and practicing sin:

Isaiah 1:4 Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.

1John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

God would be Just in condemning us all, yet He loves us so much that He continues to extend His Hand of Grace and Mercy; He does it all:

Isaiah 1:9 Unless the LORD of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah.

John 6:63-65  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."

Ephesians 2:4-9  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The spiritual battle in the time of Isaiah’s prophecy and today are the same. They (and us) lived in willful and deliberate rebellion and sin, yet they thought a few acts of the flesh and religiosity would restore their relationship with God and God hates t. This mindset is an exact opposite of reverence for God; this is a complete disrespect for our Creator.

A small microcosm of this is my high school years. I was very rude, disrespectful, and problematic for most teachers and administrators. I was a nightmare and the school would have been better off without me there. But, even with that being the case, there were a few teachers that I respected. I wasn’t worthy that they should care if I respected them or not, and I am sure they didn’t care if I respected them or not; none the less, I did respect them and at some level I feared them and I never screwed around in their class. I was respected their wishes and was obedient to their rules. Even as I write this I can’t help but think what conversation may have been like in the faculty lounge with most of my teachers commenting on what a nightmare Steve Culley is and one of them being confused because they didn’t see the person being described; after all, I was a model student in their class. This is reverence, respect, a healthy fear.

Isaiah 1:11-14  "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. 12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

Galatians 5:1-4 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

One of the scariest realities of not being in a right standing relationship with God is the fact that prayers are not heard:

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.


Revelation 8:3-4  Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.

So then, who are saints? All those that call on the name of Jesus Christ as their Lord:

1Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

God is very serious about obedience, yet He continually extends His hand of Love, Grace, ad Mercy:

Isaiah 1:18-19 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;

Hebrews 3:15 while it is said: "TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION." 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Yet, once again, He is not without warning. Isaiah chapter 1 has presented the bad news and the good news, as should be the case whenever the true Gospel is presented; however, He doesn’t allow for any confusion about the fate of those that ignore the warning, and those who do not take seriously the seriousness of sin. 

Isaiah 1:24 Therefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, "Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, And take vengeance on My enemies.

Isaiah 1:28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sate Title Lost on Technicality

Last night was our first real snow for 2011, as far as difficulty driving any way. It’s funny how when the driving conditions are difficult, two lane hi-ways end up one line. There’s only those few that are considered adventurous or foolish (depending on your perspective) that will forge through the snowy, icy part of the road that has no tire tracks.  Usually these are the 4-wheel drive guys that have been waiting all year to show the world, “this is why I got this big truck!”  I have to admit (keep in mind, I am still being sanctified), but I have to admit, I get a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing these guys in the ditch. It’s like, “Yea, you can plow through a lot of stuff, but you can’t plow through a deep ditch.

Jesus said very clearly, broad is the road that leads to destruction and many go that way, but narrow is the Way that leads to life and few find it. The biggest problem with professing Christians is that they do not realize that there is a ditch on both sides of that narrow path. I am not talking about those that have not professed their faith in Jesus Christ, I am talking about confused Christians that are in the ditch and don’t even realize it. That 4-wheel drive truck can spin its wheels in the ditch all day long, but the fact is, it is never going to get to its destination until it gets pulled out of the ditch. In the same way, there are many Christians that are in a ditch spinning their wheels, not realizing that their efforts will not get them to Heaven.

I used to be in one of these ditches and I am thankful beyond words for the person that loved me enough to tell me the Truth. As I write this, it reminds me of what Paul said:

Galatians 4:16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

I am hopeful that as you read this you will examine yourself in the faith to be certain that you are not attempting to trek through one of these ditches that does not lead to Heaven; after all, we are supposed to examine ourselves in the faith.

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

I remember a few years ago a coach came in to my shop to get a design started for some State Championship T-Shirts. He was certain they were going to win, after all, they only had one meet left and they were certain they were going to win. He called the day after the meet and I was expecting him to say, “yep, we won….go ahead and run the shirts.”  Instead I heard the story of how they had seemingly won, but the opposing coach brought it to the attention of the judges that a kid on the other team was wearing a small lapel pin on his jersey. The kid was the stud of the team, and he wore the pin all year, and if memory serves, it was to honor his mom who had died. All season the opposing coach knew the kid wore the pin, but he didn’t play “his ace in the hole” until it really mattered. That coach wanted to win the State Championship so bad that he was willing to crush the kid’s dreams because he wore a lapel pin to honor his mom; and it was against the state high school rules. Imagine the disappointment that team had, thinking they just won the State Championship, only to have it taken away.

You have an enemy that hates you so bad that he will deceive you by any means necessary to keep you from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Imagine that horrific scene, where a person is  “running the race” like they thought they were supposed to run, only to find that they were deceived in to doing what ought not be done, and they are disqualified as they cross the finish line.

1Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

2Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The two ditches I am talking about are addressed by the apostle Paul in God’s Word. Paul warns us of both that we may test ourselves in the faith, not be deceived, and finish the race. Paul even rebukes the believers in Galatia before he educates them (again) on the elementary doctrines of saving faith:

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.

Paul takes it a step further:

Galatians 1:8 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.

Whatever it is Paul is about to correct them on is so serious, and he is so upset about, that twice in two verses that anyone teaching this doctrine should be damned to hell! WOW!!

So, what is this horrific teaching? RELIGION! Here’s the deal, these people have been introduced to Jesus Christ and they have seemingly received Him as their Lord and Savior; however, there were those that came in and convinced them, “OK, now you need to be circumcised.”  In other words, they were saying, “great, you received Jesus, but now you have to keep the Levitical Law.” Do you see how insane that is? God made a covenant with His people that He will be their God, and they shall be His people; however, they are not to have any other gods before Him. His people committed adultery; they did worship other gods…THEY BROKE THE COVENANT! But, God provided another Covenant; a Covenant that would provide the Way of redemption for ALL PEOPLE. This is the Blood Covenant which can be entered in to when we repent and put our trust in Jesus Christ alone to redeem us from our sin. Are you seeing the madness of these people that would attempt to bring a person under the old covenant law after they have entered in to the New Covenant? That is as silly as divorcing your first wife because she commits adultery, remarrying a faithful women and being told that you have to go back and spend a week-end every now and then with your first wife. How would your second wife feel about that? When we belong to Christ, we are the bride of Christ, He DOES NOT want us returning to a yoke of religious bondage, whether it be the Levitical Law, or the “man-made” religion of today:

Galatians 5:1-7 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. 7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Paul’s focus here is on those that are adding circumcision to obtain salvation; however, the fact is, you can plug in any work of the flesh or religious ritual. Whether it be confirmation, catholic confession, communion, or anything else that religion will add to the work of The Cross…Christ plus ANYTIHNG is an abomination. We are saved by Grace through Faith when we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ, there is nothing we can do to earn it our deserve it.

With that being said, it brings us to the other ditch. In the flesh, a logical question would be “If I’m saved by Grace and there is nothing that I can do to earn it or deserve it can’t I just continue in sin since ‘Jesus died for my sin’”. As you might expect, Paul addressed this exact question, and his answer was short and to the point:

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

The question then becomes, did we die to sin? In other words, do you hate the sin in your life and war against it; or do you still enjoy it? I am not talking about being perfect; I am talking about hating your sin and warring against it. Or, do you have the mindset that says (even if it is subconscious), “I’ve cleaned up my act a little bit, but I am still battling with this or that”? Praise God of you have the discernment to recognize things you are doing that are outside of God’s Will, but don’t be deceived in to thinking that your feeble attempts in the flesh will hold an argument on the Day of Judgment. A willingness to deliberately continue in sin only demonstrates that a person in not dead to sin, he has not crucified the “old man”; it clearly demonstrates that the “old man” is alive and well:

Romans 6:6-7  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at some of lifestyles we may be in bondage to that we need to crucify with Christ” (through His strength when we surrender to Him):

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:3-6 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

2Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish--that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Notice how Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, that “they have not repented of”? He did not say that they have “never done these things”. The difference is not whether or not you have sinned against God in a portion of the listed things above, or if you have sinned against God in their entirety. The difference is whether or not you feel the weight of conviction in realizing that you have done these things and sinned against God and you want to repent of them. You no longer want to enjoy them, you no longer want to practice them, you no longer want to even entertain them in your mind, you want to turn completely from them, you want to war against them as though your life depends on it, you no longer want to walk in the flesh, but instead you desire to walk in the spirit. That is what God promises to all that will surrender to Jesus Christ, a new heart with new desires; we will cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light:

Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Now that we have looked at these to ditches, a logical question might be, “which is it, ‘I can’t do anything to earn or deserve it and religious ritual is bad’ OR ‘I need to live a certain way or I will be condemned’?” Answer: “YES!” Both of these statements are true, but you do not live holy to be saved, it is evidence that you have been saved. If you examine yourself in the faith today and conclude, “WOW, I still continually practice these things that are ungodly. So according to the Word of God I am not going to Heaven. I will be disqualified from the race at the finish line.” I would lovingly, gently, and respectfully say to you, “Today is the day of salvation. Call out to Jesus and tell Him, “my body is weak, but my spirit is willing, please help me to set my mind on you ad repent of my wickedness. Please forgive me, Lord, save me.”

Colossians 3:1-14 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Romans 8:1-15 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 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, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."