Lawful Use of the Law

Many believe that Law is the opposite of Gospel. This is unfortunate because the Law is part of the Gospel.

Many throw around Paul’s phrase, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man” and conclude that Law is opposed to the Gospel or unnecessary.

Getting Greeky on ya, there is no definite article before law (for those of you who read the NIV, the definite article is the word “the”). Therefore, it is referring to law in general, not specifically the Mosaic Law, although that would certainly be included.

In other words: law in general is not for righteous people. Speed limits are not necessary for people who don’t break them. Telling non-murderers not to murder is unnecessary. You don’t punish kids who are quiet but those who are talking, etc.

Furthermore, the context helps us see what Paul is talking about. Is the Law chucked once we are saved? Is it of no further value? If we are made righteous in Christ is the law no longer edifying?

Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 1:9,10 listing various sinners who need the law and he wraps up his list by saying the law is lawfully used “if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”

Hmm, wonder what Paul means by “sound doctrine?” Context will let you know (for those of you who read the NIV, “context” means “the next verse”).

1 Timothy 1:10b-11, “if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

Get it?! The law is lawfully used to correct people’s understanding of the Gospel that Paul preaches! The law will point out where you differ from Paul’s Gospel!

The law is part of the Gospel, they are not opposed. They help us understand what all is at stake, just how great the grace of God is. Oh, it’s a thing of beauty.

Impossible Commands Part 3

So if we can’t do the commands of God, why does He keep commanding us to do stuff? This is an important question.

First, no command can save. “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” No flesh has ever been justified by doing commandments.

If this is not understood much error ensues. Not anyone has ever or can ever be saved by doing the Law. Even guys under the Law were saved by faith.

Second, commandments were given to point out what sin is, to reveal the righteousness of God, to keep every mouth quiet in guilt, to help keep humans humble and dependent on the gracious salvation of Jesus Christ.

Third, people are stupid. People miss the point of the law and try to use it as a means to achieve their own righteousness. This will not do.

Fourth, God is not stupid. He’s smart enough to know that man will try to kill himself because that’s what man’s been trying to do since creation. Therefore, God gives commands to help people live. But what was given to help keep people alive, stupid people find to be a means of death. It merely tempts our self-destructive nature.

Fifth, as long as people are in this fallen world they will persist in being stupid, God will persist in being wise. He will persist in telling us to avoid the death traps of sin.

Sixth, God knows our stupidity to the degree that He just went ahead and accomplished everything for our salvation. He even did this before the foundation of the world, which is why the Gospel is eternal.

Seventh, God knows our stupidity so much that He knew the only answer is for us to be made new creations, to be made perfect in Christ. To make us to be the fulfillment of the righteousness of the law.

Eighth, oh but we have amazing powers of stupidity. We retain the characteristics of the old man that was crucified with Christ. We continue to revert to stupidity. But God hasn’t just told us stuff; He’s made us the fulfillment of what He has told us. We are to do what we have been made.

Ninth, oh but that stupidity remains. We forget. We lapse and relapse. We go back to eating our vomit. So God, even apart from the law, continues to tell us what life in Christ looks like.

Tenth, Christianity is not about being and not doing. Christianity is about doing what we be. We forget what we be, so He tells us over and over and over what we be and what that means for what we do.

Impossible Commands Part 2

Although I’m not a fan of beating dead horses, occasionally beating dead cats is fine, so I will beat this one a tad further.

There is a debate about the Gospel and grace and whether commands are consistent with them. Are commands inconsistent with the gospel?

The obvious answer is: no. This obvious “no” is proved by the fact that from beginning to end the Bible is filled with commands and the Bible presents, what John calls, “the everlasting Gospel.” It’s the same Gospel that was revealed to Adam and Eve, the same preached by Noah, the same one preached to Abraham and the same witnessed to by the law and prophets.

It is also obvious that most of these commands are impossible! I say “most” because “let no man lie with an animal” has been kept by quite a few.

The sticking point comes when we use certain commands that sound more impossible than others. Like be perfect or holy as your Father in heaven.

Why is this one a problem but so many others are not? Why do we flip out on these but we seemingly have no problem with: husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church? Isn’t that the same command, or at least the same impossible standard?

Colossians 3, for example, is a chapter filled with commands, all of which are necessary to be stated and none of which contradict any part of the Gospel. All are stated to believers who “have put off the old man” and “have put on the new man,” both stated as past tense, done acts.

Why are commands seen as being opposed to Grace or the Gospel? Why are only a very few commands viewed as impossible? Why are some viewed as more Law than others?

Women and Homosexual Pastors

Here is a conversation I had the other day.

Person: I’m going to this church group and a lot of the women in there keep going on about tongues and I tell them I don’t believe in tongues. They say there’s something wrong with me, I’m not as spiritual. I just don’t get the point of tongues. What do you think about it?

Me: Well, Paul didn’t seem to get the point of tongues either if they aren’t done biblically. He said he’d rather speak five words in a known tongue than a thousand in an unknown tongue.

Person: Yeah, I agree. But they keep saying there’s stuff wrong with me for not doing it.

Me: Well, you could point them to 1 Corinthians 14 and show them that even if tongues are taking place they aren’t supposed to be done by women.

Person: Really? It says that?

Me: Pretty much.

Person: What is up with the Bible saying women aren’t supposed to talk in church? I thought we lived in liberated days?

Me: We do live in liberated days. But the Bible still says women aren’t supposed to take teaching positions over men in the church.

Person. So you don’t think there should be women pastors?

Me: Not according to Scripture.

Person: Well, I don’t know about that. Women are liberated now. It really is hard to find a good church. The one I grew up in is letting the homosexuals in as pastors. I don’t get it. How can they let homosexuals be pastors? Don’t people read their Bibles anymore?

Me: You mean like the part about women not having teaching authority in the church?

Person: (Wry smile)

Me: I’m just saying. If we determine one part is cultural, not applicable to today on a whim, with absolutely no indication that it has changed, why not change any other part? If you open that door a crack pretty soon all manner of error will come in.

Person: OK. I’ll think about that. See you later.

Impossible Commands

There are one of two ways a guy can approach commands like “be holy,” “be perfect” and “be merciful” with God as our example.

1) Legalism. OH, OK, no problem. I’ll get right on that. I’ll memorize Scripture and do everything it says and point out how you don’t. Got it.

2) Licentiousness. Hey, I can’t do that. But I’m under grace, God forgives me so who cares! Whoohoo party time! Let us sin that grace may abound!

Scripture has a problem with both approaches. Surely there is another way.

Illustration: A little league player asks his coach “Coach, what’s the point of being up to bat?” Coach says, “There’s only one reason for batting: get on base.”

When this little league batter strikes out, does the coach kick him off the team? “You’re horrible! Don’t you ever listen to me? I said to get on base!”

Is he giving him an impossible standard that will doom him to eternal cubdom? Should all prospective little leaguers say, “You know, that really doesn’t seem worth it. That coach says I’m supposed to get on base every time, I can’t do that. Never mind.”

Here’s the point: What’s God supposed to say? “Hey guys, I know you’re sinners, nothing I can do about that. Just muddle in mediocrity. Shoot for being slightly better than Judas.”

Trying to do something that is impossible is pretty much life on earth, from little league baseball to making the perfect kitchen table to having the perfect conversation with your wife to spiritual perfection.

We look unto Jesus, He’s who we are being formed into. Our goal, our desire, and our command is to be like Him as much as possible even now. That’s why we’re told to be perfect, to be holy and to be merciful: that’s what Christ is.

It is also what we are becoming through the power of the Holy Spirit and the renewing power of God’s grace if we indeed decide to labor in that direction.

Be Perfect, Be Holy, Be Merciful

A week ago I did a post on “Be holy as God is holy.” Then I did a post on being perfect. The comments I receive upon making these points are typically along the lines of, “God is more holy than we are, I can’t be holy.” Or “Jesus makes us perfect, that’s the only way, so that’s what it means.”

I don’t have much of an argument over that, however, it still says to be holy several times (Romans 6:19,22; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:15,16; Revelation 22:11). And as pointed out the other day, we are told by NT writers to be perfect as well. Then there’s Paul’s doozy in 2 Corinthians 7:1 that tells us to be “perfecting holiness.” Nice.

What’s interesting is that there is not nearly this level of complaint when we covered “be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful.” Everyone is for that one. Apparently we think we got that one covered. This is intriguing.

So, if we conclude that we can’t be perfect or holy like God, so we don’t really have to do those, why is it we so readily take on “be merciful?” Perhaps it’s because we don’t think God is all that much more merciful than us? Perhaps being merciful does not sound as hard as being perfect or holy? Perhaps mercy is just more fun to talk about?

Here’s the beauty, check out the context of “be ye perfect” and the context of “be ye merciful.” Oh don’t ya just love the Bible?! It’s the same context! One disciple remembers Jesus saying “be perfect” and one remembers Him saying “be merciful.”

What’s the resolution? Luke had a senior moment? Being perfect requires being merciful and being merciful requires being perfect. You can’t do one without the other. It’s funny we apparently think we can.


The Bible has many commands telling us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 6:1; James 1:4).

Many explain this to mean that we are to be “mature.” One problem is that if you repeat these verses using the word mature, you have the unfortunate consequence of saying, “be mature as your Father in heaven is mature.”

First, that just sounds off. Second, God is pretty mature, eh, not sure this alleviates any problems.

You can’t say this is impossible because Paul, at one point, addresses some foils as “as many as be perfect

What’s interesting about that passage is that he then proceeds to tell the perfect people what to do!

So, go on unto perfection. Be perfect. What’s that do for ya?

The Plain Fact About the Law

Although many have erroneously thought that guys can be saved by keeping the Law, the Law makes it clear this is not so. In fact, Deuteronomy makes it nauseatingly repetitively clear that keeping the Law was for Israel to get and stay in the Promised Land.

If they kept the Law things would go well for them in the Land. They would get blessings and the Land would super-abound with great things. It would be so grand that there will be NO poor people in the Land.

Imagine that! Everyone would be holy and perfect. God will smile on them and bless them ridiculously. Everyone will have all manner of good things to eat and sit on and sleep in and ride on. Awesome.

Then you keep reading. Seven verses after this grand statement comes this, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hang on here God, what meanest Thou witheth thiseth?!

What He meaneth iseth thiseth: YOU CAN’T KEEP THE LAW!

Have Mercy

When Jesus talks about loving your enemies, being good to those who are mean and nasty to you, He wraps it up with “be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful.”

This is great. The best way to get people to be nice is to remind them how nice it is when others are nice to you. Especially if the others happen to be God, who could smash you if He felt so led.

Mercy is a great deal. Showing compassion to someone. Giving them a break even though you deserve to be offended. Instead, you decide to back off revenge, gossip, witty retorts, etc and just “let it go.”

That’s mercy. Let it go. Furthermore, go out of your way to show them compassion. Be nice. Let it go and be nice. Who could have a problem with that?

The Silences of God

Working on a theory, a theory which will change nothing, just a theory. It involves the silence of God. Why do portions of biblical history include so many divine interventions while other portions have nothing?

Yes, I know that God is always active and His Spirit is always working and “the sunrise is a miracle every morning.” Not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about signs, judgments, prophets, fire from heaven, etc. I’m also not talking about Pentecostal wonders, not to offend, but seriously, not the same stuff.

So here’s my thinking to this point based on the following facts.

Periods of God’s silence:
*After the fall, Cain to Noah.
*Noah to Babel and Abram
*Joseph to Moses
*Malachi to John the Baptist and Jesus
*Apostolic Era to Signs of the End

My theory, at this point, says that God has periods of silence after people kind of mess up stuff. The Fall, the Flood, the Flight to Egypt, the Failure to hear the prophets, and the Crucifixion of Christ all occur before God goes silent.

Perhaps the reason for the extended period of silence we are in now is a result of rejecting God’s most clear revelation of Himself and His righteousness. Romans 1 seems to back this up to some extent.

Again, God’s silence cannot always be assumed to be a sign of His grace, it may be a sign that He has given us over to our fleshly desires. Watch out when the silence ends!

Law and Faith

Pharisees kept the Law better than anyone and yet Jesus had big problems with them. Their primary problem is that their law relationship was external and never touched the internal. He told them to wash the inside of the cup first, the outside will take care of itself (Matthew 23:25,26).

Here’s another way He put it in Matthew 23:23

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

They picked up the little bits of the law, not the major bits. Yes, as every pastor likes to say, they majored on the minors. Ahh, nice to let the inner pastor come forth.

No man was ever justified by works of the law, it’s impossible. Faith is the requirement. Faith that leads to rebirth, to being brought into Christ and Christ into us.

Paul says, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Faith means hearing God’s Word and this will always result in us establishing, carrying out what God said.

Paul even says, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” There is a law of faith, it’s the faith that comes to God for judgment and mercy. It’s the faith that looks to Him, not ourselves. It’s the faith that results in no longer I but Christ.

One of the Law’s points was to bring men to faith (Galatians 3:24). The Law says “You can’t get here.” The answer is not to try to get there. The answer is to find the Law’s own answer to the problem the Law created.

The answer has been and always will be “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17).

Sarcasm’s Place in the Church

Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Journal (a magazine type thing for pastor types) has a post on sarcasm and what it may say about the church. He is part of my generation and notes how much of our generation uses sarcasm.

I thought it was a thought provoking article and somewhat convicting. The use of the word “somewhat” in the previous sentence was a tad sarcastic.

Being Graceful

Without God’s grace we have no shot. There is no way we can be right with God. It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.

In sharing the Gospel, grace has to be forefront. Grace is a word that can be coldly defined or it can be a word that is lived. You can tell people about God’s grace and how great you think it is and how fortunate you are to have received it. You can explain the ramifications of grace, the cause of grace, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to accomplish grace.

You can make a great case for grace with words. But people will watch the actions of the one proclaiming grace. They will watch to find out what grace is. Grace is best shown when you face what you despise. Is our description of God’s grace consistent with:

*our emotional criticism of President Obama and his health care plan
*our reaction when a tattoed, knit cap wearing, low hung jeans guy cuts in front of us at the store
*our comments when an obese person walks by
*our ridicule of the girls walking around on their cell phones

Our disdain of all that is contrary to our sensibilities refutes our “understanding of grace.” Grace is not just a word; it’s an action that only arises from being a recipient of the grace we all equally need.

The more we understand it the more we realize how desperately we keep needing it. His grace is sufficient, when we are weak He is made strong. Let it weaken us so we may be strengthened.

Be Holy as I Am Holy

God is holy. Christians don’t have much trouble admitting that fact. The larger problem with knowing God is holy is that we don’t know what Holy is.

What does Holy mean? Most answer along the lines of “Without sin.”

What does Righteous mean? Um, without sin.

Holy isn’t just being without sin; holy means to be separate. God is wholly other than we are. God is a spirit; we are physical. He is completely different, totally separate from His creation. He is separate and He is separating a people to His name.

God wants us to be holy, separated and different. God wants us to avoid sin, this is obvious, but why?

After a very long list of laws, God tells Israel He wants them to avoid these sins because that’s what the nations He’s driving out of their land did. It’s not just an issue of doing wrong; it’s an issue of being different from sinful idiots.

Who we are as God’s children separates us from those who are not God’s children. Even in the OT the people were made holy by God, He is the one who sanctifies (makes holy, separates).

Can a person be separated to God and not act separate? Not if the person is around for any length of time. Even the thief on the cross made a separated stand from his fellow criminal.

We’re supposed to be different because it shows the character of our God. Whatever our world is doing: the opposite gives a pretty good idea as to what God desires from His Holy People. Let’s do that then.

Handicapped Pastors

I’m legally blind. I got messed up eyes. I’m also a pastor after the order of 1 Timothy and Titus.

Pastors are not priests, but they are similar in their face before a congregation. In Leviticus Aaron and his sons are told that handicapped guys cannot be priests.

Nowhere in the New Testament is any man forbidden from spiritual service due to a handicap. What gives? What changed?

I imagine the flip answer is that the cross changed everything. But I think the answer lies deeper.

The Leviticus passage refers to priests who will “come nigh” or “approach” the presence of God to offer sacrifice. There was a physical presence of God that required a physically “perfect” priest to draw near.

One of the results of the cross is the ability to worship in Spirit and in truth. It’s a big deal in the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. Since we worship in Spirit and there is no physical place where the physical presence of God is, physical perfection is no longer a necessity.

Then again, I could be completely off. It’s just a thought.

Peace! Peace!

In discussing the end times and war and stuff, people often throw around the verse, “They say ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”

This verse is found in Jeremiah and has to deal with the destruction of Jerusalem and nothing to do with the End Times. Granted there are similar things said about the End Times, but not this verse.

There is no time of peace, but there are many times when people will convince you there is peace. Our desire is to speak happy thoughts and avoid all that negativity, even more so when true danger lurks.

Jeremiah 6:14 fully says, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” It’s an attempt to heal people. to soothe and console them in danger.

It’s a verbal band-aid to cover a bleeding wound with an amputation coming. It’s mom’s when they tell their kids lightning won’t hit them when they are scared in a storm. It’s adult kids telling their elderly parents they’ll be OK when the doctor just said the elder has two days to live.

It’s the modern day church telling unrepentant unbelievers that if they just say this prayer everything will be fine and they can go to heaven.

Contextual Worship

Recently people have been raising the issue of the place of the “arts” in the “church.” Shouldn’t we all be able to exercise our talents for Jesus in our congregational worship? If Skylar has the gift of dance, shouldn’t we allow her to dance for Jesus during church?

In order to answer this question we’ll look at Scripture, a novel idea, no doubt, but one that might be of value. The Law is filled with commands about how God’s people were supposed to worship.

For one example, God tells Aaron to wear special clothes as a priest. Now, if God wanted to give freedom and liberality, the ability for everyone to exercise their sewing and design talents, He would have left it at that.

Instead, God writes an entire chapter just on what Aaron’s clothes should look like. Very detailed and a purpose for each thread. God does not mess around with this stuff. If Aaron decided to wear something else, I’m guessing Aaron’s life would have been either much more leprous or much more short.

God actually does mean what He says. It’s true. He has specific desires, laws and order for His place of worship. It is not a free for all, it is not a place for you to demonstrate your abilities at cup stacking for Jesus. Cup stack at home for Jesus.

Obviously God’s intents for Israel’s worship are a tad different that the Church’s form of worship. I am not saying pastors should wear Aaron’s clothes. I am saying that we should go with the directions God gave about church and leave human ingenuity (i.e.–sin) to the heathen.

God did indeed tell us what Church was for, I imagine we might want to go with that.

How Well do you Know what Martin Luther Taught?

Alrighty, here’s the deal. I was reading a book by Martin Luther, Three Treatises, and came across this passage. I doubt many Lutherans are in agreement, but it gives an intriguing insight into the man.

It is my theory that every pastor/spiritual teacher should have at least one totally off the wall belief, just to keep people from building a church around them. Oh wait, I guess Luther needed some more zaniness. Anyway, here’s the passage. Enjoy!

“Consider the following case: A woman, wed to an impotent man, is unable to prover her husband’s impotence in court, or perhaps she is unwilling to do so with the mass of evidence and all the notoriety which the law demands; yet she is desirous of having children or is unable to remain continent.

“I would counsel her, with the consent of the man, to have intercourse with another, say her husband’s brother, but to keep this marriage secret and ascribe the children to the so-called putative father.

“Moreover, if the man will not give his consent, or agree to this separation–rather than allow the woman to burn or to commit adultery–I would counsel her to contract a marriage with another and flee to a distant unknown place.”

Yeah, so, anyway. There ya go. Good old Martin Luther. You can look it up in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” the name of the treatise I quote from. I skip a sentence here or there for emphasis of his point, but I assure you, I did not change the context.

Seeing Growth

Moses delivered Israel from Egypt. Pretty much all Moses hears from the folks who just got delivered is whining. They just can’t get a break. They have the nerve to ask the question “Is the Lord among us?”

Seriously? With all the miraculous stuff that happens with them, plus having a pillar of smoke and fire constantly before them and they still ask if God is among them?

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes for a visit and Moses recounts the story of God’s deliverance. Immediately Jethro says, “Now I know that the God of Israel is the true God.”

Recounting the past in a short synopsis often shows God’s power more effectively than the slow task of living it. We don’t have the big picture, we get discouraged because I failed today. We lose sight of the synopsis.

Biographies do a great job of this. They show a man’s entire life in a couple hundred pages, it looks remarkable, the man made use of every day. Meanwhile, during the guy’s life his family constantly chided him, “So, when are you going to do something with your life?”

In hindsight all believers can see God at work. Today I might have a moment where I feel like chucking it all out of frustration. The ability to look at life from the scope of eternity, to get the summary, is the way to view God’s power and fully trust that He will indeed finish what He started in you.

Regeneration = Change

When I got married I added a person to my life and my life changed drastically.

When we had our first child, again, our lives changed drastically.

When we had our second child more change entered.

When we had our third child the change continued.

Every time a person has been added to my life my life has changed incredibly. And, because of them, it continues to change.

It boggles my mind that some conclude that the eternal, all-powerful God of creation can enter your life and no change will occur. I don’t get that.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Regeneration and Legalism

Circumcision was a big deal to Jewish people during the writing of the New Testament. It became the sign that you were “in.” Paul battled against this external act as no proof of salvation. It was not an easy battle and it’s one that still rages.

There are two kinds of legalists in the world:

Those who think they must do external religious rites to be righteous
Those who think you better not do external religious rites to be righteous.

It’s amazing how human nature can turn liberty into a law! Liberty says I don’t have to do stuff so therefore you are wrong for doing that stuff. Nope, liberty says it doesn’t matter one way or the other!

External religious rites, following the commandments of men, or any other act does not determine your righteousness before God. Here is what matters, it mattered in the area of circumcision and in every other area:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

Regeneration is the issue! You must be born again. You can’t rebirth yourself. You had no say in your physical birth and you shouldn’t imagine you can create your spiritual birth. You cannot impress God apart from the faith that leads to regeneration.

He’s got it Covered

Jesus said the greatest commandment was this, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”

How is this possible? No unregenerate man can pull this off. In order to do the commands of Jesus Christ one needs some help. Serious help, as in being made a whole new person capable of doing it! This is exactly what Christ promises to give us!

Thy heart–To the end he may stablish your hearts  unblameable in holiness before God
Thy soul–will be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thy Strength–Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power.
Thy Mind–We have the mind of Christ.

This is part of what we have in Christ. All of us has been replaced with God’s stuff! This is who we are! Walk in newness of life! Reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God! Become servants of righteousness, it’s what believers are made for.

Leap for Joy


That should be a joyful word. For many believers joy is not real. The commands to be joyful are more guilt ridden than joy enducing. How do we get joy? It’s part of the fruit of the Spirit and one big way it occurs is when the Spirit leads us through trials.

In Luke 6 Jesus is talking and tells people to “leap for joy.” Does this mean we should all be happy, telling jokes and distributing whoopee cushions? I doubt it, the context will lead us home.

In the day that people trample your name and despise you for Jesus’ sake is the day you should leap for joy. Perhaps the reason we have no real joy today is that we have no real suffering today.

Many take the Bible’s demands for joy as a guide for life, as in live in such a way that you are happy. Get all the things you desire so you can have joy.

Here’s the beauty of context, the very next verse says, “But woe unto you that are rich!” Sort of cancels out American Christianity’s version of joy.

True joy comes from suffering. It’s what the beattitudes are all about. There’s no greater joy than getting rejected for Christ. You know something good is happening in you if you can withstand it and carry on in faith.

Rebirth Pains

Regeneration is cool. Having God make us new creations, old things passed away, all things become new.

If it’s so great, why isn’t everyone standing in the rebirth line? Because John 3 goes past verse 16 my friends. Verses 19-21 say that men love darkness rather than the light, those who come to the light get reproved.

Reproof is no fun. Being reproved by God is even less fun. No reproof for the time seems pleasant. Ah, but it is working a far greater work that is producing sanctification and righteousness in you.

But it hurts. John 15 says followers of Christ belong to heaven not this world, so not only will you get correction, have to drop off your fleshly fun, folks in the world will hate you for it.

So who wants that? Only people who want God more than anything else.


Regeneration is a lost doctrine. It gets buried under marriage and financial advice, even under justification and faith. It’s sort of tacked on.

This is unfortunate. When we do not understand regeneration we undermine Christ, the cross, grace, God’s creative power and pretty much everything necessary for the Christian life. Here’s the flow of regeneration.

Jesus says in John 8:23, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”

Then He says in John 15:19, “ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

Jesus Christ is not of this world, He is from Heaven. People who are born again are placed in Christ and become heavenly people.

You can’t become a heavenly person by working into it, by buying into it, by following some guy into it, by saying a magic formula, or by any other means other than by a supernatural rebirth.

You must be born again. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Without rebirth following Christ, defeating sin, and having victory over this world are impossible. With the rebirth we are more than conquerors. Watch out!

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