God’s Love is What God Says It Is Not What You Want It To Be

There is much talk about God’s love. Most of the talk is based on human opinions of love rather than what the Bible clearly says about God’s love.

–God is love therefore all are saved
–Love wins so no one goes to hell
–Love removes consequences
–Love makes sin irrelevent
–God loves freely, no strings attached
–God’s love is unconditional

All of these statements are based on opinion rather than the Bible. There are strings attached to God’s love. Love does cover a multitude of sins, but only to those whom God truly loves, not just to those who claim to have God’s love.

The Apostle John was the most in-depth writer on God’s love. He is the disciple whom Jesus loved and he is constantly talking about love.

“God is love” is from 1 John and is typically the only one of John’s verses people know about God’s love. But if you truly want to know what God’s love is like, how to get it and stay in it, then read John.

Justin Taylor wrote up a post about John’s teachings on God’s love. It’s short, quotes John’s actual words, and gives a great intro to the subject. Please read.

Becoming a Man and Owning Trees

I was cutting up trees for firewood and my boy was helping me. He was struggling to cut the last chunk in half. I carried on with my business and heard the escalating frustration behind me.

I waited until there were tears and the throwing of saws. “Jacob, you are the one with the brain here. The tree has no brain. You show it who is boss. Own the tree, Jacob.”

I made him deal with the frustration and cut the tree. Then I had him come back and grab the last two pieces of tree and hold them and yell “I own you!” He struggled through tears and frustration and about 10 minutes later he was able to say “I own you” to his tree with real conviction.

When God gave man dominion over the earth it wasn’t just a commission to plow land and stuff, it was an actual transference of authority. If we own trees, we are not to let trees own us.

No tree should make you mad and upset. No tree should ruin your day. No tree should own you. Part of ownership is being in control, inanimate objects should never get the best of us.

I may be stretching the spiritual point here but I think it factors in. In fact, it changed a young frustrated boy who was ready to give up all work for the rest of his life, into a young boy who continued to cut up trees for another half hour saying “I own you” to each piece he cut off.

My boy is becoming a man one tree at a time.

Being Known of God and Going to Heaven

Knowing God is how one gets to heaven, and what heaven consists of. If this bores you, prepare for hell.

But knowing God can be a deceitful thing. Many claim to know God who merely know facts about God. The real test of knowing God is whether He knows you.

Paul says that knowing God is actually God knowing you. It’s not head knowledge; it’s a relational knowing. Whether God knows us is the true test of whether we know God.

God is larger than us and if we are to know Him, He must take an interest in us for us to learn about him.

If I want to know Barack Obama I’d have to call him and spend time with him. Except that Barack doesn’t know me and thus won’t spend time with me or talk to me on the phone.

Saying I know Mr. Obama because I know some facts about him is not the same as knowing him, because he doesn’t, and more than likely, never will know me.

But God desires to be known and thus is willing to know you so you can know Him. Yesterday I showed you words of Christ that said eternal life consists of knowing God.

Today I show you a verse that says eternal life is God knowing you. I absolutely love the Bible and its stunning continuity.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Knowing God and being known of God are what eternal life consists of. God only grants eternal life to those He knows and to those who know Him, because you can’t truly have one without the other.

Knowing God and Going to Heaven

Many people express an interest in going to heaven. Heaven is generally brought up shortly after complaining about some dreaded experience in life, like car problems, health issues, and such like.

This isn’t all bad: it is indeed the sufferings of this world that pale in comparison with the glories of heaven. But I fear many stop here and view heaven as just like earth with less car problems and illness.

It isn’t. It’s much more and much different.

Heaven is about knowing God. A believer’s longing for eternal life is really a longing to know God better. Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Knowing God is eternal life. Knowing God is the way to get to heaven and the essence of being in heaven. Although many express a desire for eternal life in heaven, only those who are currently enthralled with knowing God now should have any expectation of going there.

In fact, if you have no discernible interest in knowing God here, I’m not sure you’re going to like heaven anyway. Heaven is not about you getting all your toys that don’t break; heaven is about getting God in full.

No interest in God? Then you have no interest in heaven. If you’d rather have toys, then get a job and go buy them. If you’d rather have heaven, then dump the toys and find God.

NASCAR and Prayer

A YouTube video featuring a plump southern pastor praying at a NASCAR race is making the rounds. Basically he makes a mockery of prayer by thanking God for all the NASCAR sponsors and throwing in the now pastorally obligatory “thank you for my smoking hot wife,” which taken literally she probably was smoking and since it’s been 300 degrees down south is, no doubt, hot as well.

There are two responses to this video:

1) This is the best prayer ever! Absolutely hilarious. ROFL!
2) This is sheer blasphemy, this pastor is heretic scum and should be stoned.

Here’s my response:

First off, it is funny. Secondly, it is total blasphemy. However, the whole notion of praying before a NASCAR race strikes me as blasphemy, it’s not the venue.

Guys who would use a prayer before a NASCAR race to share the Gospel may have their reward in heaven. In my book, accepting the offer to pray before a NASCAR race is mistake number one.

As a pastor I have had to pray in many venues, some of which seem ridiculous to me. Before church softball games, before Awana Grand Prix races, before many things that are nothing more than just plain fun.

I’m not opposed to praying before these things, but I am opposed to making prayer solemn in a unsolemn locale. At least before church softball or Awana Grand Prix you are talking to people who are aware that this is a churchy event.

NASCAR races are fun for those who find them fun. They are a gathering of people who enjoy partying, getting drunk and hoping to see guys get hurt, it’s no place for a prayer and you might as well have fun with it.

Would I do it? Not a chance, but this guy gives his stand before God someday and who knows, maybe God likes the high performance of Sunoco Racing Fuel and is glad someone finally thanked Him for it.

Ridiculous Giving and Spiritual Growth

“. . . one of the best things that could happen to many believers would be for them to be led to give away, all at one time, a substantial part of their savings.

“That is, they should give a substantial part of their capital.  Why?

“Because there is something about giving away a sizable percentage of one’s money – and, of course, the amount would vary entirely from one individual to another – that is spiritually invigorating.

“And there is seldom a case in which a large gift does not throw the Christian back on the Lord and increase the feeling that he is all-wonderful and that he is more than able to care for the one who trusts him.

“I have seen this happen in many instances.  And I have never known a true Christian to be sorry for even the most sacrificial giving afterward.”

James Montgomery Boice

Nahum, Jonah and Cookie-Cutter Pastors

Nahum was a prophet to Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah. Jonah warned Nineveh of doom and Nineveh frustratingly repented and the doom was averted.

Sometime after that (Jewish tradition says 40-days after Jonah left), Nineveh gave up on their repentance and returned to being a vile city in a vile kingdom. These were bad people and God finally has had enough.

Nahum comes to tell them that destruction looms. Nahum uses pretty nasty language about God pulling their skirts over their heads and throwing filth at them, throwing rocks and pouring out fiery fury.

Nahum got the job Jonah would have died to have.

Why did God choose Nahum to give this message and not Jonah? Was it merely a timing issue or was there something about their character that God used Nahum to give the final warning rather than Jonah?

Perhaps Jonah revelled in their destruction too much, maybe Nahum approached it with more humility. Perhaps that message if delivered by Jonah would have solidified Jonah in sin.

For whatever reason, God, in His wisdom, chose Nahum and not Jonah to talk about throwing filth on Nineveh.

As we observe the diverse landscape of modern Christianity, let’s avoid the tendency to make pastors, prophets, evangelists and other servants of the Lord all the same.

There is no cookie-cutter approach, yet for the most part one pastor is the same as the next. They tell the same sermon illustrations, with the same jokes, the same laugh, the same smile, the same tone of voice and inflection. It’s all so smooth, so practiced and so fake.

We’re all different. Many members, one Body. Don’t be afraid to use who you are as you humbly submit to God’s call on your life.

Jesus Preached Jihad?

Recently heard some of a debate between a Muslim and a Christian. The Muslim said that many Muslims know the Bible better than Christians.

For instance, Jesus said that all who will not let Him reign over them should be brought before Him and killed.

The Christians laughed, “Where? Where does Jesus say that?”

Luke 19:27.

Go ahead, click on it. Sure it’s part of a parable, but He did say it. Not arguing the Muslim point, which I think is ignoring context, but the Christian guys didn’t even know Jesus said that.

That’s all my point is. Do we really know what the Bible says? Does a Muslim know it better than you?

Grace is Deceitful

Was doing a study on deceit and came across Proverbs 31:30, a verse I’ve heard many a makeupped woman ironically quote. The first phrase caught my attention, “Favour is deceitful.”

Most translations translate favour as charm, not sure where they get that from but the NASB, ESV and NIV all go with charm. KJV uses favour.

If you look up the word in the Hebrew it’s chen, the typical word for grace or favor. I only found one translation that translates it with the grace root, Darby’s Translation, “gracefulness is deceitful.”

But if you translate the word in the most common way (used 68 times in the OT and translated “grace” 38 times) you would put grace in there–grace is deceitful.

When someone shows you grace or favor they are either showing love or they want something!

Perhaps our modern notion of God’s grace is viewed in a deceitful way. Let me clarify–I am not saying that God’s grace is deceitful. I’m saying that the way many view it and teach it is used to lure in people to their way of thinking or to their church.

We avoid confronting sin, using church discipline, taking moral stands, exhorting people to avoid hell, etc. so we can talk about grace.

We’re not doing this to elevate God or His grace, no, we’re pretty much doing it to avoid confrontation and to win friends and influence people. As Joel Osteen says, “People come to church to feel good.”

“Grace is deceitful.” God said it, not me.

Faith and Testing God

–I’m bothered when people say the selling of their house was a work of God when in reality it was a work of a real estate agent.

–I’m bothered when some “Christian” politician wins and chalks it up to God giving them a miraculous victory when their campaign did the same thing every other campaign did.

–I’m bothered when people claim their injury was healed by God when it was healed by medicine and doctors just like the heathen scum’s injury next to them.

When I share these thoughts the Christian response is “Well, it was God, He puts government officials in place, he is behind buying and selling, and He designed the systems that heal people.”

Right, I get that, no problem. Giving God thanks for stuff is fine, but to chalk it up as a mighty work of God, as in a super-natural miracle, when in reality it was a natural process, seems off.

If God was truly displaying his power your house would have sold without you telling anyone it was for sale. If your politician was to win by an act of God there would have been no campaign. If God really did miraculously heal your injury you wouldn’t have needed a doctor or medicine.

Yet I would usually not encourage someone to forego realtors, campaigning or doctors because those are means in existence our brain can figure out how to use. To not use them may show faith, or it may be testing God.

I imagine whatever I have said here is unclear and comes across as being down on miracles or God’s sovereignty. This is not my point. My point is the fine line between faith and testing God.

To not use natural means in order to allow God to do a super-natural miracle takes faith, yet sometimes it’s nothing more than testing God, laziness with a theological veneer.

In summary, two main points:

1) If you’re using natural means, don’t say it was a miracle because that’s the exact opposite of the Bible’s usage of the word and
2) If you’re not using natural means, be prepared for a miracle or perhaps for judgment!

Sin, Crowds and Grace

After confessing my softball sins, a few people responded with nice words about grace and forgiveness. Grace even covers sins at softball games.

Amen. Tis true.

At the same time, knowing I have God’s grace does not imply I have people’s grace.

When David sinned with Bathsheba, lots of people found out about it, especially since he had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Nathan confronts David over his sin, and he has two parts to his message:

1) The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

Oh, great, thanks Lord! Grace is great, David has God’s forgiveness. But Nathan’s message continues:

2) Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

Getting God’s grace is guaranteed to the believer, Christ has indeed paid the price, taken the punishment, conquered sin, etc. That’s all true and wonderful.

But receiving God’s grace is not equivalent to receiving man’s grace. If you blow it before men, there will be a reaping of what you’ve sown. Some may leave you, hurt you back, hold it against you, etc.

Those who use God’s grace as a license to sin at the same time cause others to blaspheme God, and this is not a sin you want to give an account for. Can God forgive this? Yes, He can, but people may not.

Peer pressure is not the best deterrent to sin, but it aint the worst one either.

Softball, Blowing Testimonies and Grace

“If you run away from every opportunity to make a mistake, you will be the most isolated, safe, boring, uncaring person imaginable.”

This is a quote from John Piper about the inevitability of saying the wrong thing to a handicapped person. He encourages people to approach the handicapped or their parents, rather than walking away and guaranteeing you won’t say the wrong thing.

It’s a fine point, but I think the quote can be applied to a vast array of situations. Take church softball as a random example.

Say it’s 105 degree heat index and your team is playing a denomination known for having a certain sex of people who argue all the time and you happen to be legally blind and can’t see once the sun goes down and yet no one else is available to play shortstop and your throwing and hitting and catching are off and every play has an argument attached to it and you happen to be a pastor of a church who probably blew his testimony before many small children a multitude of times.

Random example.

Hypothetically, this person as soon as he gets in the car says he probably won’t play softball again. Ever.

What happens if this hypothetical pastor decides never again to put himself in a situation to blow it? Will he have less sin? Yup, but will he ever learn? Nope.

The desire to be righteous must not ever overpower the desire to still live. Living in caves is a fine solution for your self-centered growth, but it helps no one and actually closes you off from growth.

Oh that we’d have the grace to forgive one another, to overlook faults and encourage each other to continue on. It’s why church is so important–as we forgive each other and edify one another, we are all helped.

Some days you’re the one who blows it; some days you’re the one who shows grace. Grace is nice. Show it. Especially to hypothetical pastors.

To All Who Have Left THE Church: Grow Up

(This post is not directed at those who have left my church specifically, but to the many who have left church in general.)

Reasons I’ve heard for why people have left the church:

Too much arguing
Too judgmental
Filled with hypocrites
All about money
Filled with phony religious fakery

There are many reasons people have left the Church, some more appreciable than others, but all of them beg the question: Isn’t Church worth it?

Is it really that painful for you? Does it really stretch you that far that the only recourse is to avoid it altogether? Really?

The arguments given may indeed be true, in fact, they are true, yet church is nothing more than a physical representation of a spiritual truth–the Church is all true believers in Christ.

What did Christ give up for the Church? Did He not put up with hypocrites, judgmental people, arguing, religious fakery and money-obsessed jerks? And, didn’t He go ahead and suffer unto death for them anyway?

To all who have given up on Church, let me say a Spirit-led word of admonishment to you: Grow up.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

He gave His life for it, you may have to give yours. He deemed it worth it, why disagree?

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader and Church

The other day a child of mine was watching “Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” At the end of the show, the loser contestant says, “Hi, I’m Jeff, and I am NOT smarter than a fifth grader.”

Everyone loses. The point of the show is to laugh at how dumb adults are and how smart kids are.

Actually, seems to me, the point of the show is this: Parents, do you realize how pointless your child’s education is?

The reason no adult knows more than a fifth grader is because fifth graders don’t know anything adults find useful.

This all reminds me of church. We celebrate how smart we are because we can list off our doctrines and give points supporting our church’s stances on social issues and theology.

Come to find out, most of what people learn in church is actually quite useless to actual mature Christian Life.

A mature Christian comes in and yet he can’t defend Calvinism, pre-mellennialism, or whatever theological -ism your church harps on, and we all laugh at him, “Dummy, doesn’t even know the T in TULIP.”

Yet the guy has faithfully walked with God, led others to Christ, developed a prayer life deeper than your conversational life with your wife, and yet he’s the dummy.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Let me tell ya something, I’ve lived with fifth graders, they’re pretty dumb people. Sure, they may be able to give you the area of a triangle, but can they discern right from wrong?

Are you smarter than regular church-attenders? Who cares, knowing facts gets you not very far. Having the wisdom that only comes through trial, pleading with God and working out the Holy Spirit’s life in you is what we should celebrate not whether we can defend some guy’s theology.

Change Is Over-Rated

Change is our way of life. We change our clothes, which is ok, trust me, but we can also change our hair color, our body shape, our lunch, the channel, the book we’re reading, our music, our spouse, our careers, we can even change the blogs we read. We’re optioned to death.

We’re used to change. We like change. We think change is normal. Change is so rooted in us, many of us fear that heaven will be boring. “It’s just all the same for, like, forever.”

To me, having no change will be the sweetest thing about heaven, besides being with the Lord, of course. I love the hymn, Be Still My Soul. It’s a great tune and great words, especially the last line that describes our eternal home:

Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Beautiful. I can eat ham sandwiches for lunch every day with an apple and chips and a cookie. I’ve been eating that for about 20 years now. My wife gets annoyed with me, she gets bored making the same stuff.

I’ve explained to her many times that this is because she is an awful sinner, but she still wants me to change what I eat for lunch. I won’t, it’s practice for heaven.

One of the reasons Israel got severely judged by God is because they couldn’t stand eating the bread from heaven every day. They wanted Egypt’s leeks and onions; they’d take enslavement to be able to change their menu.

Change is often nothing more than giving into fleshly lusts and whims. Resisting change takes some discipline. If you’re too addicted to change, you may indeed be bored in heaven and I pity your soul.

Faith and Wilderness Israel

Faith is based on hearing. Hearing doesn’t just mean your ears are operational; hearing implies an action based on what you heard.

In Deuteronomy, Moses reviews the Law God gave Israel, giving them a history lesson and showing them how their fathers messed up. Repeatedly, Moses asserts their lack of hearing God, demonstrated by their lack of doing what God said.

He sums up his point in Deuteronomy 30:12-14, verses the Apostle Paul makes use of in Romans talking about faith and hearing.

“It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

The problem is not that God has not spoken or that His word is hard to come by, no, the problem is that they are searching diligently for excuses not to have to do what God said.

The rebellious, yet still religious, sinners say “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart.” Peace, peace, but there is no peace. This is the constant cry of the sinner playing with God.

Israel does not do what God says, so God judges them. Israel’s lack of doing shows they have no faith. After Moses summarizes the non-doing of God’s Law, he then describes Israel like this:

God says to them, “I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.” God’s problem with Israel in the wilderness is that they had no faith.

Faith means doing what God says. When you read the Bible you cannot miss this point. Our notion that faith means we heard and agreed to a Gospel message finds no home in Scripture.

Faith means dying to self, making the Gospel our life, no longer I but Christ. If this is not the result of your profession of faith, then you have no faith.

5 Thoughts on Hebrews 11:3

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

This is Hebrews 11:3 and I find it very thought-inspiring. Here are some thoughts:

1) “It is by faith we understand.” Faith is frequently put in opposition to thinking and logic. “Leaps of faith” are taken out into the dizzying heights of unknowing. Faith is a crutch for weak-minded morons. Yet the Bible says faith is how we understand.

2) Faith is specifically how we understand that the world was made. It does not come by pithy video productions about the origins of dinosaurs and how Darwin was an idiot. It is by preaching the Word that a man comes to believe that God created the world. Don’t put the cart before the horse, you uber-creationistas.

3) God took what was unseen and made it seen, the supernatural trumps the natural. The supernatural, eternal God created stuff in time demonstrating that the supernatural will always prevail. Living for physical things falls short of God’s intention, which was to point your eyes to the unseen not to the seen.

4) Since the supernatural created the natural, let us always remember that the supernatural can intervene in the natural at any time.

5) What you do in your life today means nothing unless it lasts for eternity. The unseen lasts longer than the seen; live accordingly.

Hallowing God’s Name

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” is how “The Lord’s Prayer” starts. It sounds great but what does it mean?

First, the word “hallow” means to set apart, to separate for consecrated reasons. It is to be kept holy, not treated as common, but rather magnified and sacred.

Second, notice that in the prayer we are not asking for His name to be hallowed, but rather stating a fact. Perhaps it’s a reminder to us, but it is not asking God to hallow further His name, as I’m not sure how that would be possible.

Third, why is God’s name hallowed? Came across a neat verse, which inspired all these thoughts, back in Leviticus 22:32.

“Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you.”

People are only hallowed if we become God’s people. We turn from sinners to saints and take on His name, which does not improve His hallowedness, but certainly does improve ours!

God’s name is hallowed whether we hallow His name or not. But if we claim to be His people, we must know Him for who He is, and thus see Him and us for who we are–joined with Him in hallowness.

A man who claims to be a believer and yet has no desire to listen to God, resists the need for obedience, submission, and all else that God desires from man, does not hallow God’s name and shows his own lack of being hallowed by God.

Only those who are hallowed by God can hallow God, but remember, God is already hallowed whether you think He is or not. You will learn His hallowedness one way or the other–by reward or judgment.

Might as well get it right now.

Jesus and Gandhi

Finished reading a biography of Gandhi that has come under scrutiny as not being hagiographic enough. I knew stuff about Gandhi already and wasn’t entirely impressed. This book did not improve my impression.

I understand liking various historical figures. My favorites are Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. I get people who like Gandhi in that way.

I do not, and don’t think I ever will, understand how Christians hold him up as a celebrated spiritual personality. I just don’t. Gandhi was Hindu and refused to convert to Christianity, so right there I have a problem.

Some think Gandhi personified Christ-like qualities, but outside of wearing a robe, not sure how. Here are some major differences between the two, in my opinion, which is probably far from humble.

1. Gandhi did self-denial to further political means; Jesus taught that self-denial should be practiced in private and no one should know about it.

2. Gandhi was a politician; Jesus was the Son of God. Gandhi did little in life that was not done to enhance his political image and promotion.

3. Gandhi vowed to be poor; Jesus just didn’t care about getting money. One of his aids quipped that it cost a lot of money to keep Gandhi poor. On one tour through India he raised over $1 million dollars for his organizations and was so fixated on getting money that women would take their jewels off before coming to his rallies so he wouldn’t take them.

4. Gandhi set up an organization to protect cows; Jesus gave His life to save humanity.

5. Gandhi abandoned his wife and kids; Jesus knew better than to even start down that road.

6. Gandhi was fixated on sex; Jesus rarely mentioned it. Gandhi throughout his life had various young women who would sleep with him. In order to prove his self-mastery he would sleep with a naked woman and not have sex with her. That is just odd. Will not even go further on his homoerotic relationships.

7. Gandhi was Hindu; Jesus is the only way to the Father.

8. Gandhi spent his life trying to get Muslims and Hindus to join together; Jesus came to bring division, even among families.

9. Gandhi refused to convert to Christianity as it would negatively hinder his Hindu/Muslim voting bloc; Jesus said you have to be born again.

10. Gandhi went out of his way to pick fights; Jesus was just righteous and the fights found Him. Gandhi spent his life purposely sticking his nose in trouble pretty much up to wanting to get assassinated.

I don’t like Gandhi. He is not my model for Christian living. He became a proud, self-righteous, odd individual. India may have benefited from him some (not sure that point is true or not), and that is fine.

Like him as a politician, but not as a spiritual guru.

Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–1 Corinthians 6

Two times Paul lists a bunch of sins and says people who do these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. His first list is in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and the other is in Galatians 5:19-21.

These verses plainly say that people who persistently follow these sins are not saved. This is the clear message, which, again, is why we need commentaries to explain to us how actually Paul meant the exact opposite of what he just said.

So, we can conclude with most commentaries that Paul is actually OK with people persisting in these sins, we can then argue, “And what constitutes ‘persisting?’ One time a day? Two? Three?” We can then follow-up with “he’s referring to our position in Christ, not our actual behavior.”

Thus, we have eliminated Paul’s point and can carry on doing unrighteousness and convince ourselves we are going to heaven.

However, if you’d rather face the truth, read Paul’s context. After his list of sinners who won’t be in heaven, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “and such were some of you,” which clearly teaches that those who are saved, washed, cleansed, do not continue in their sins as they did before.

Galatians 5 follows the list of sins with the fruit of the Spirit. A man with the Spirit will have this fruit and not the works of the flesh on display. Paul is speaking of practical sanctification, a real, true change in a man.

There may be a process of cleansing in practice, but it will happen if a man is truly saved.

1 Corinthians 6 says sinners won’t be in heaven and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without putting off sin is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear and putting off sin is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told and we are told to put off sin and all filthiness of the flesh and Spirit, only the believer can do this and the believer will!

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. I could go on, but I’ve made enough of a case to get you thinking and that’s what I intended to do. Consider my hole dug.

Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–Romans 2:7

Romans is the epistle that Luther read that lead him to see that justification is by faith, which is clearly taught. Luther also wanted to throw James out of the Bible, for obvious reasons.

What Luther apparently couldn’t put together is the link between faith and works. You are not justified by working your way into salvation; you are justified by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

This faith results in works–Ephesians 2:10 does indeed follow Ephesians 2:8 and 9. If there are no works following, then your case for having faith has now blown up.

Those who do righteousness are ones who have been made righteous through the blood and resurrection of Christ by faith. Thus, Paul defines those who are saved, those who will get eternal life, like this:

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

God only gives eternal life to those who patiently continue to do good. This seems oddly out-of-place from the common view of Romans! Paul should have checked with us before putting this drivel in his otherwise magnificent book.

So, Paul says that a man receives eternal life only if he patiently continues to do well and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without a pattern of well-doing is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear, and continuing to do well is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told.

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. Tomorrow I dig the hole deeper.

Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–1 John 2:29

1 John is an irritating book. It’s all about testing whether you are saved or not. John uses very basic language and a repetitive style to get his point across. This is a real bummer because to ignore his case you cannot pretend his meaning is hidden in complex Greek language structures.

No, John says very black and white things showing the sincere believer whether he is saved or not. Here’s a doozy:

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”

One way to know you are saved, or that you are born again, is whether you do righteousness. Notice he didn’t say whether you feel righteous, or whether you claim to be righteous, but whether you do righteousness.

Perhaps he means it more floaty though, can’t we get around this somehow, isn’t saying we’ve been declared righteous enough? He eliminates all doubt about what he means by “do righteousness” when he says in the next chapter:

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”

Being declared righteous by faith results in doing righteousness. John knows there will be a debate over his words so he even includes a warning about people deceiving you that doing righteousness isn’t a part of being righteous.

You can take their word for it, or you can take God’s Word for it. Inconvenient? Yes, but isn’t having the truth a beneficial thing?

John says we are only saved if we do righteousness and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without doing righteousness is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear God’s righteous words and doing righteousness is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told.

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. Tomorrow I dig the hole deeper.

Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–James 2:24

Debating what James 2 means has been an ongoing, drawn-out discussion. James 2 is understood one of two ways:

1) James 2 means what it says
2) James 2 may mean a lot of things, but it surely does not mean what it says.

I am a firm believer that it means what it says, which means I have a problem with Sola Fide, and so should anyone else who thinks James 2 means what it says.

Sola Fide is a Latin phrase meaning “by faith alone,” which is comical considering the only time the Bible links “faith” and “alone” is when it says “not by faith alone!”

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

In order to keep our Reformed battle cry, we then must endeavor to make James 2 not say what it says, hence the need for commentaries. Commentaries, as defined by me, are “books that explain how the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly says.”

Rather than extrapolating new definitions for words, or figuring out how James is not canonical, or endeavoring to show how James is an idiot in comparison to Paul, we should just take what it says.

James says we are saved by faith and works and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without works is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear and works are the result of hearing–you do what you’re told.

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. Tomorrow I dig the hole deeper.

Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–Hebrews 5:9

“Every once in a while, you should read the verses in your Bible that are not underlined.”

What a great quote, too bad I don’t know who said it first. Those who accidentally read God’s Word quickly discover that they either need to ignore verses or else change their doctrine. Changing doctrine is inconvenient and embarrassing, so we ignore verses instead.

This seems especially true when discussing salvation. Apparently, Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 are the only verses in the Bible on salvation (at least Acts 16:31 up to promising a whole household to be saved, we even just ignore inconveniently placed phrases of verses).

I’ll bring up a few verses in the coming days that are ignored in our theology of getting saved. I’m not saying these are the only verses either, I’m just saying these verses ought to shape our theology as much as the others do.

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Salvation is given to all those who obey Christ. This does not mean we obey Him by saying a prayer one time, it means those who obey Him as a way of life, not a one time momentary obedience brought on by emotional preaching and weepy music and peer pressure, etc.

Only people who obey Christ get salvation. Obedience means to do what you’re told. Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without obedience is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear and obedience is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told.

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. Tomorrow I dig the hole deeper.

Meriting Righteousness

Every once in a while a guy comes across a verse that makes him have to think! Unfortunate, but true.

Long-held doctrines are challenged by inconveniently worded verses of Scripture. I came across one recently that has me thinking.

We are told that being declared righteous is something we don’t deserve, it is not merited. Grace is frequently defined as “unmerited favor.” Some take it so far as to say there is nothing in us, even after salvation, that merits anything with God.

This is all stressed to supposedly emphasize the greatness of God and the utter sinfulness of humanity. It is often stressed out of proportion with God’s Word. Observe Revelation 3:4, in the midst of the letter to the church at Sardis:

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”

Being clothed in white robes has always been explained to me as being clothed with Christ’s righteousness. However, Revelation also inconveniently busts that theory too–white robes represent the righteousness of the saints.

Worthy is the word in Revelation 3:4 I want to point out–it means to weigh the same thing, to measure up, to deserve or merit.

I’m just saying. No doubt I will now be informed how this verse does not mean what it says, but nevertheless, this is God’s Word, we ought to bend for it, not vice-versa.

Peter and Despising Government

Not only does Peter say we should obey every ordinance of man so that we can silence charges against us, he goes further in 2 Peter:

“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”

People who despise government are people who are not afraid to rip on government officials. This is a problem with God since every power is ordained of God.

A person who despises government (despise meaning to think little of) is despising God’s chosen vessels and is thus self-willed and presumptuous. You’re an arrogant man who is daring authority–government’s or God’s.

Ultimately, Peter describes people who despise government and speak badly of government officials as fleshly minded and unclean, which in Peter’s world means “unbeliever heathen scum.”

How frequently do we hear in Christian circles the despising of government officials? How frequently do I say and think these thoughts? How far we are from the Christian ideal.

People say “if you don’t vote you can’t criticize.” And by “criticize” we mean calling them “commi-pinko, flip-flopping, big government whores, etc.” This should better be said “If you’re a Christian you can’t despise them.”

American Christians have fallen off the wagon on this one. Most of us are downright unbiblical and acting like heathen scum who truly do have their hope in this world.

Being entangled with the affairs of this earth is akin to placing your treasure on earth, despising your eternal inheritance and treading under foot the King of Kings. Let us live peaceably with all men and pray for those in authority.

Peter and Excessive Legislation

Government feels the obligation to continue to create more laws, some more ridiculous than others. Every new government official feels the need to rescue the world by passing his brand of legislation.

It is fun to rip on government and stupid laws. It is also easy to not act like a Christian!

Peter, who lived under horrendous government conditions, has several convicting verses to share on this subject. Here is one:

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.”

That is brutal. Every ordinance? Even the stupid ones? Unless following the ordinance leads you to violate God’s Law, yup.

Fo’realz?

Yup. Even speed limits and dumbly placed STOP signs. Peter says the reason we obey every ordinance is because by our works people may be lead to glorify God or at least to put to silence their goofy charges against us.

Peter is saying these things for our benefit. When we are seen disobeying government, whom God has put in place, we blow our testimony.

We have liberty, but don’t use it to commit sin; use it to serve God.

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