Legalistic Libertines

The Pharisees are a hyper-strict sect of Jews, endeavoring to keep the law better than anyone else ever had.

If you read through the OT and then into the Gospels, it’s odd to find a Jew of any stripe following the Law, especially more strictly than intended.

Most of the OT shows Jewish people rebelling, not listening to God and usually worshipping idols. To then flip the page to Matthew and see Pharisees is just odd.

Perhaps the explanation lies in human nature and our leaning to go to extremes. After coming out of such monumental failure, a brand of Jews gets together to be the best Jews ever.

Perhaps this desire to be obedient, better than any other Jew, is what created Pharisaism.

It reminds me of people today who were brought up in legalistic traditions. Often they flip over to hyper-grace churches, or churches where there is an abundance of liberty, often bordering on licentiousness.

On the flip side, many who are brought up in “anything goes” brands of Christianity often gravitate toward legalistic branches.

The reason why there are legalistic branches and license branches of faith is because Christianity is a mix of both. We have liberty in Christ, and yet Paul says to bring your body under subjection.

There are rules, there is a requirement for obedience and submission, and at the same time there is liberty in Christ. We are indeed under the “perfect law of liberty!”

Don’t chuck liberty for law and don’t chuck law for liberty; use em both as they were intended.

Addition, Multiplication and The Gospel

6+4=10

If 6+4=13 for you, you need to examine your definition of 6 and 4.

I don’t have much more to say than what I said this past Sunday. A reflection on a conversation I have had approximately 43 times in the last year.

It is beginning to wear on me. It bothers me how Christ and His cross are trampled under foot by many well-meaning people who believe blasphemous doctrine.

I would like you to listen to this message. I pour my soul out regarding modern Christianity’s despicable version of the Gospel.

Use The Sword or Shut Up

Earlier this week I posted a list of characteristics Martin Luther thought every preacher should have. Last on the list was “be able to accept ridicule from anyone.”

Boy howdy.

I have endeavored to know the Word better so during these ridicule sessions I can merely respond with Scripture. I figure that if they are Spirit-indwelt that will help.

By quoting Scripture I hope to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men and instruct those who oppose themselves.

The 2 Timothy 2:25 verse–instruct those who oppose themselves–is a great verse and a great phrase. Paul had obviously spent some time arguing with “Christian” folk.

There is an amusingness to these conversations. Routinely people will argue a point that they said I made. More often than not, I did not make it, they just heard me make it. They heard a catch phrase or a red flag word and assumed the rest.

So they will argue. I will quote Scripture. They will not go back and deal with my quotation, they will move on to the next point. This will continue indefinitely. They move from one point to the next, I refute each point with Scripture.

In the midst of all this, generally they say my point, because all I’m doing is quoting Scripture. These are great times for me! Ha! You just said my point you’re arguing against! I love that.

I love it because it lets me know they do know the Scripture, and as long as that is true, there is a shot they will acknowledge the truth at some point. That’s all I hope for.

I know my words won’t save anyone, but God’s Word makes people wise unto salvation. Use it effectively as a sharp sword that cuts through foolishness and silences opposers.

To Live–Read The Word

Jesus Christ is called “the Word.” Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The word of God is quick and powerful. We do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God’s mouth. The Word makes it clear that The Word is vital to our lives.

It always boggles my mind when a Christian who has “been saved” for a long time admits they have never read a certain book of the Bible. Quite frankly, I’m stunned by that.

I do not understand Christians who don’t read the Word. I’m not trying to be judgmental, it comes naturally. No, seriously, I’m not trying to judge, I’m stating a fact.

How can we live by faith if we don’t hear the Word? It’s not just reading it once either. It’s daily consumed with it. I know we’re busy, etc., don’t care. This is the Word of God. God! God’s Words! How are we not interested in this more?

Reading and rereading God’s Word is crucial to Christian living. Here are several huge benefits of doing it:

1) Decision-making is simplified. You will instinctively know if a choice is Biblical because you will have a foundation for making choices God would approve of.

2) Heresy detection is heightened. When you are consuming God’s Word regularly, things that don’t jive with it will stick out like a poodle at an elephant convention.

3) You will be able to answer questions about your faith. Verses will pop into your mind. Soon you’ll be giving God’s answers instead of your little theories because God’s answers will roll off your tongue.

4) Peace, joy, lack of worry and many other benefits will overtake your mind. The Bible contains the story of God. He lasts a long time. He is in control. You’ll get this point by seeing it so regularly throughout thousands of years of biblical history.

5) Whatever role you are in at the time (boss, worker, husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, etc) will be used to glorify God. You’ll know God’s instructions to these people, you’ll have seen examples lived out in the Word, and you’ll better perform those roles yourself.

The Word of God is what we are to live by. There’s a reason God gave it to you. Get in it, stay in it, get in it again, stay in it again, read it, read it, read it, then read it again. Truly these are the words of life.

Death is Victory

Death is victory for the believer. Not many professed believers seem to know this. Seems they are just as reluctant to die as many unbelievers. That’s too bad.

The dying process is no fun, I have no problem with people being afraid of suffering, even Christ was. But death is the deliverance.

If you do not desire to die and be with your Lord, seems to me another crucial element of Christian doctrine will also take a hit–the desire to mortify the deeds of the body.

Sanctification, using what Christ has given you for godliness, is summed up by Paul in Romans 8 as mortify (keep on putting to death) the deeds of the body.

We are not killing the body or doing harm to it, we are putting to death what the body wants to do–fleshly lusts. Seems to me our desire to kill off our fleshly desires is directly linked to our desire to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

If we don’t want to leave this earth, why would we bother to limit what our flesh wants to do in this earth? If we want to be in heaven, we would set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth.

Thus, we would want to kill off the deeds of the body that are not consistent with our heavenly desires.

For the believer, death is victory. Consider yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. When we mortify the deeds of the body, Paul says we will truly live! Death is here already! Enjoy its benefits now!

Luther’s Marks of a Good Preacher

Carl Trueman did a couple posts about Martin Luther and his nine characteristics of a good preacher. You can read his posts (part one and part two) for fuller explanations, but here is the list:

A good preacher must have:

  • an ability to teach
  • a good head.
  • eloquence.
  • clarity of speech.
  • a good memory.
  • know when to stop.
  • be certain and diligent in his subject.
  • put his life, limb, possessions, and honor into his subject.
  • be able to accept ridicule from anyone.
  • I’m still working on a number of these, but I think this is a good summation of what it takes on the human level to be a good preacher.

    Romans 7 and 8

    These two chapters have spawned much discussion throughout Christianity. Is Romans 7 Paul’s experience as an unbeliever? Is Romans 8 Christian nirvana, higher living?

    If we want to do good and yet don’t do good, what does this say about us? What should our response be? Should we just throw up our hands, let sin rip, and yet have our minds in a happy Jesus state?

    Romans 7 and 8 are very practical chapters. There are no mind games, denial of reality or anything else. Faith has always been the same–hear God and do what He says.

    Thank God through Jesus Christ we have an advocate with the Father and we have also been given His Holy Spirit to help us kill off the deeds of the body and be led by the Spirit.

    Here’s my summation of these two chapters. (You’ll need Windows Media Player to listen)