What We Can Receive From God

God is gracious. God is eternal. God is eternally gracious, there is no end to His desire to give gifts.

People are given the option of receiving these gifts or rejecting them. Most reject them, as denoted by the road to destruction being broad. The world does a good job of looking like it’s better than all God’s gracious gifts. The many choose temporal gifts in exchange for eternal gifts.

Perhaps this decision doesn’t look that bad until eternity starts.

God, as the giver, offers gifts to people. People then can become receivers. Here is a list of all that we can receive from God:

Romans 1:5—grace and apostleship
Romans 5:11—atonement
Romans 5:17—abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness
Romans 8:15—the spirit of adoption
1 Corinthians 2:12—The Spirit of God
1 Corinthians 3:14—reward for his work
1 Corinthians 15:1—the Gospel
2 Corinthians 4:1—mercy
Galatians 3:14—the promise of the Spirit
Galatians 4:5—the adoption of sons
Ephesians 6:8—good things
Colossians 2:6—Christ Jesus the Lord
Colossians 3:24—the reward of the inheritance
1 Thessalonians 4:1—how to walk and please God
Hebrews 9:15—the promise of eternal inheritance
Hebrews 10:36—the promise
1 Peter 4:10—the gift

A fine looking receipt!

Oh the tragedy of man who chooses temporal dirt over all this.

Matthew 12:30, Mark 9:40 and Busting Contradictions

Jesus once said, “He that is not with me is against me.”

As John Wesley said about this passage, “For there are no neuters in this war. Every one must be either with Christ or against him; either a loyal subject or a rebel.” There is no middle ground, if you’re not with Him, consider yourself to be His enemy.

Then Mark has Jesus say, “For he that is not against us is on our part.” This seems much milder and seems to say that the one not against Him, is actually on His side.

Contradiction?

Probably, might as well throw the whole book out.

Not really. Seems to me these are two separate contexts. The Matthew passage has Jesus defending Himself against the charge He casts out devils by the power of Beelzebub. The Mark passage is where John tells Jesus he forbade a guy from casting out demons since he wasn’t a follower of Jesus.

Being against Jesus because you’re not with Him is a judgment He is passing on a group because they are clearly showing they have no part with Him. He’s talking about a divided kingdom, pick a side guys!

In the second passage John has passed a judgment on someone using partial knowledge. In this case, Jesus wants to check this impulse and remind the disciples to refrain from judgment. Be lenient with others, don’t assume the worst.

The first case deals with definite rebellion, the second deals with assumptions. The basic tenet seems to be this: when you don’t know, don’t judge, be lenient: when you do know, draw the line and carry on.

Indeed, choose you this day whom you will serve, but don’t judge who is serving whom if you don’t know the facts.

Bonhoeffer on the Beatitudes

From the book Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Dallas Roark, a summation of Bonhoeffer’s views on The Beatitudes:

The poor in spirit are those who have accepted the loss of all things including their own selves for His sake.

Those who mourn are those who do without what the world calls peace and prosperity. Mourning means to refuse to be in harmony with the standards of the world.

The meek are those who give up claims to their own rights for the will of Christ.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness  are those renouncing all claims to personal achievement, who wait for God’s reign of righteousness.

The merciful, having given up claims to their own dignity, become men for others, helping the needy, sick, outcasts–all those who need any kind of ministry.

The pure in heart become that by giving their hearts completely to the reign of Jesus. Under His rule, He purifies their hearts with His Word.

The peacemakers renounce all violence and maintain fellowship where others would break it off.

The persecuted for righteousness suffer for any just cause, and will be rejected by the world, but God’s kingdom belongs to them. To this motley crew the world says “away with them” and God agrees with the world. But He intends them for the kingdom of heaven, where their reward is great.

Proverbs 3:5,6, College Freshmen and Wisdom

Lots of kids are heading off to college for the first time, marking a huge transition in their lives. Christian statisticians tell us that something like 80% of kids who grew up in a Christian home leave the faith when they go off to college.

I have no idea if this is true, I’m skeptical of such numbers, but I know it happens frequently and it is a sad thing. There are, no doubt, many factors that cause young people to leave the faith, or at least the faith they grew up in, not least of which is the fact that college freshman are perhaps some of the dumbest smart people in the world. Also, not least of which is that many of the “faiths” college kids grew up in were wrong!

Our fears for their future scare us older folk. We’ve seen many a person ruin their life by a couple mistakes in college. The tendency is to lecture and drop spiritual sounding drivolities. Drivolities? Don’t know what it means, but I like it!

I remember when I left for college I got a number of cards from church people, most of which contained the following:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Now, I certainly can’t argue with the verses, but I also know the intended meaning of this quote: “you’re an idiot, just listen to us and you’ll be fine.”

Sticking with God’s wisdom is a good idea. He knows more than you, no matter what time of life you are in. God knowing more than you is not the same thing as your home church fretting over your swerving from their traditions.

Here’s my advice to all college age people:

Go do stuff.
Do stuff you have never done before.
Go ahead, ask the girl out.
Learn stuff, just not the stuff you’re hearing in class cuz it’s all drivel, and or drivolities.
Don’t freak about grades: everything is vain.
Learn to do laundry correctly.
Read the Word and for the first time read it to get a clue as to what you believe.
Understand that you are indeed dumb. If you deny this point, you’re only proving the point.
You will get smarter and usually your wisdom will come by messing up.
Your mother loves you, make her life easy, don’t be a dork.
Get a job. Your college work experience will pay off more for you than whether you get an A or a B in any class.
Refuse to believe that staying up all night is helping your test-taking abilities.
Ignore everything I’m saying.

You’ll figure it out, as long as you don’t rely on what you already know. God knows more than you, this is a good thing. Don’t fear this fact, fear God. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and willing to forgive. There’s nothing you can do that can disqualify you for His grace, except being an arrogant, stubborn jerk because arrogant, stubborn jerks never ask for grace.

Proverbs 3:5,6 are true, but trusting in God’s wisdom does not always look like what everyone around you thinks it looks like. You’re on your own. Don’t rely on others. Learn to trust God and not people. Learn by doing, don’t be afraid of failure. Let your failure lead you to God who directs your path, not anyone else, including you.

Laborers for the Harvest

Stirring up folks to go to the mission field is something the church has done over the years. I’m all for this, but not always for the methods used.

I don’t think everyone is gifted to be evangelists, so we should be careful pressuring people into being one. There have been attempted evangelists who have done more damage than good. Quality control could increase on this front.

Typically, churches talk about the exciting adventures of missionaries, that they are Indiana Jones whipping teethy beasties and converting souls while discovering lost civilizations of cannibalistic giants.

Most missionaries lead pretty quiet, unassuming lifestyles. Let’s not overdo the picture.

But after talking up missionaries as larger than life, Bible-wielding action figures, the preacher than gets into his guilt-ridden appeal for “laborers for the harvest.”

“God can’t save souls unless laborers go.”

According to Romans 10, there is some truth to this idea–how will they hear unless someone tells them. But God’s plan of redemption does not hinge on preacher’s abilities to guilt otherwise-lawyers into missions.

Look at the “laborers” verse closely. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Our job is to pray that the Lord sends forth laborers. The request is not for us to get more laborers or to guilt more laborers into going, but to ask the Lord to send them. He doesn’t even say that we should get more laborers, or produce them, or anything other than pray for the Lord to send some.

Perhaps I’m over-analyzing and parsing too much, but the actual intent of this verse sure seems different from how it’s typically used. Thoughts?

Selfish Sanctification

Sanctification is being set apart, usually implying purity or holiness. It is seen by a separation from sin.

Many Christians desire sanctification. I should be able to say “all Christians desire sanctification,” but I can’t because some don’t. Some have even invented doctrines that make sanctification optional, if not entirely burdensome and unnecessary.

But this is a minority, most desire a separation from sin, but again, sin is fun, so even here we must qualify. There is a sanctification that is entirely selfish and proud. It can look like this:

–I desire sanctification so I don’t have to struggle
–I desire sanctification so I don’t have to keep getting in trouble
–I desire sanctification so I can less hypocritically judge others
–I desire sanctification so I can look better
–I desire sanctification so I don’t keep looking like an idiot
–I desire sanctification so I fit in with “the group” better
–I desire sanctification so I fulfill my dreams
–I desire sanctification so I can write books on sanctification and how great it is to be me

The list could go on forever. Most of our desires for spirituality are still coming from the flesh.

Whole sanctification, the only kind God provides, is ultimately an imitation of Christ. We were given a body not to do our will, but the will of God. This involves the whole person–body, soul and spirit.

Whole sanctification is putting you to an end and makes Christ all. We are sanctified to holiness, but even after holiness appears, we must also sanctify that holiness to God!

In other words, the results of sanctification, holiness every time, are not for our usage but for God’s use. Our holiness is not so we can fulfill dreams, write books or fit in with groups of people we want to be like. Our holiness is for God and to be used by Him for His glory, not yours.

The flesh gets us all over the place. There is no bit of life that we can trust the flesh to, that’s why we should desire to be wholly sanctified! Even our sanctification is His!