Hell and Active Imaginations

People have often tried to tell us what Hell is like. We know it’s not a good place, but what exactly is it?

The Bible uses terms like “lake of fire” to describe Hell. Jesus describes Hell as a place of darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Revelation says there will be people “tormented with fire and brimstone” with “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.”

So, undoubtedly, the way most people read their Bibles, Hell is not torment in fire that lasts forever.

These are pretty much the details the Bible gives about Hell. This leaves a lot to the imagination. Our imaginations get more use than our intellects in such circumstances.

I just finished reading Dante’s Inferno. In all honesty, I didn’t follow it very well. I picked up some things, most of which was pretty gross involving names of people I don’t know. Apparently, if I had followed what Dante was saying, the Inferno is broken down like this:

Dante’s Inferno has nine layers of Hell. The first layer is Limbo reserved for the unbaptized and virtuous pagans (such as Homer, Ovid, and Socrates). The second circle is for the Lustful, the third circle is for the Gluttonous, the fourth for Avarice, the fifth for Wrath and Sloth, the sixth for Heresy. The seventh circle is for violence and has three layers: 1. violence against people and property 2. Suicide 3. Violence against God. The eighth circle is for fraud and is broken up into 10 bolgie (ditches). The ninth and worse layer is for treason and has 4 zones: Caina, Antenora, Ptolomaea, and Judecca.

Most of his punishments were quite unique and fantastic. You can tell Dante’s moral code quite well from reading this.

People have been getting visions of hell for many years, most of which are quite silly. The classic red devil with horns on his head, a pointy tail and a pitchfork laughing away over his minions in hell comes to mind.

What we can clearly gather from Scripture is that Hell is a nasty place you don’t want to be in. Trying to give more details about what has not been revealed will only make you look ridiculous. It is best not to tread in waters God has not opened for swimming.

Take Jesus’ word for it:

“fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Sin, Hell and the Love of God

Hell is a place of eternal torment. This used to be fairly standard Christian teaching.

Lately, however, the Christian doctrine of hell has become a “temporary place of mild discomfort.”

In our ever-increasing normality of sin, we can’t imagine God being upset about it.Sin rarely bothers us, why should it bother God and all His lovey-dovey talk?

Sin is supposed to be rare, it was not intended at Creation. Sin is the creation of creation, it’s our one contribution to God’s masterwork. Sin ruins, kills and destroys.

I made a B-52 bomber model when I was a boy. I took it somewhere to show a friend. I put it in the back seat of the care afterwards so I wouldn’t forget to take it home. When we got in the car it was dark and my sister sat on it and broke the wing.

She probably doesn’t even remember this. I was devastated. This was the absolute coolest creation I had ever made in my life. Based on my latest foray into replacing our kitchen faucet, it might still be my greatest mechanical achievement.

It was ruined and I was mad. Creator get mad when someone destroys what they created. The greater the thing made, the greater the anger at its destruction. Try messing with a momma bear’s cubs some time.

Humanity is made in God’s image. Our anger at someone destroying what we made is from God. He does not like sin and sin ruins what He made. Hell is the ultimate punishment for rejecting God.

Hell isn’t just the punishment for doing sin. Sinners populate heaven through God’s forgiveness. Hell is for rejecting the grace and love of God on display in the Gospel. Trampling under foot the son of God will get you hell.

We enjoy talking about God’s love. His love is indeed a great thing. It is mightier than  all other loves combined. To reject that love, to trample it under foot, makes God angry.

Hell can be avoided through God’s Love. If you do not see the tragedy and punishment of rejecting the Gospel, you will never see the true power of His love.

Missing the Point of Sin

Sin is viewed morally.

We think sin is bad stuff we do. We measure how much sin is in our life or in other’s lives by what they do. They get drunk. They swear. They look at porn. Etc.

We then look at ourselves and somehow manage to miss most of our sin but yeah, we’ll throw in a “I gossip sometimes” or “yeah, I do covet new stuff.” Since gossip and coveting are minor in comparison to murder and homosexuality, we chalk ourselves up as being “pretty good.”

When we think of conversion we think about drunkards giving up drinking, smokers not smoking, thieves not stealing, homosexuals not homosexualitizing.

We imagine that the Gospel is all about people coming to not sin.

Now, I think getting over sin is a huge result of the Gospel, one probably not talked about enough in the modern “do whatever you want, it’s all grace, baby” American church. The Gospel does indeed give us power over sin, not just forgiveness of past sin.

But our fixation on the physical, moral proofs of sin dooms us.

The real point of the Gospel is to transform the heart. Sin isn’t just stuff you do–sin is a state of being. Sin is not loving the Lord your God with all your, heart, soul, mind and body.

To those who think they are in perfect sinlessness, do you really claim to be loving the Lord with ALL your mind, soul and body? Really?

“All” is a huge word.

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” The Gospel transforms us, not by working on the exterior, by taking away an urge to puff a few Marlboro’s. No, the Gospel has bigger work to do–it wants your heart.

When the heart is changed, when you begin to see the Love of God through Jesus Christ and the beauties of the Gospel, the heart changes and loving the Lord your God becomes a big issue.

As this big issue develops, sin will fade away. We too quickly emphasize physical proofs, distracting from the main point. It’s the heart. That’s what it’s about. What is on the inside is demonstrated by what is going on with the outside.

But you start on the inside. Love the Lord your God.

When Giving Glory to God Goes Wrong

About an hour ago I had two of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had in my life. For context–I have eaten chocolate chip cookies 75% of the days in my life. I know a good chocolate chip cookie.

My wife is quite skilled with cranking out the chocolate chip cookies, but this batch, boy howdy I tell ya what, she nailed it!

No, you cannot have any.

Now, I know that I am to give God glory and thanks for my cookies, which I did. But I also went out of my way to say to my wife, “Wow, wife, those two chocolate chip cookies were the best cookies I have ever had in my life.”

By doing so, I gave thanks to my wife and also glorified her and her cookie abilities. Both God and my wife were glorified, for by my wife’s cookie-making works, I glorified my Father in heaven.

It seems to me that many, in a perfectly fine desire to thank God and give Him glory, often skip another step–thanking people. Here’s an example:

Many times I have heard “Christians” tell others “God is so good to me” because of some thing they determined is a blessing. “I sold my house! Praise God!” is one I’ve heard many times.

Now, here’s the thing, and hear me carefully, you should thank God for all things (if your house doesn’t sell you should still thank God, why? I do not know, but I know you should.).

You should also take the time to thank those who made your blessing happen!

Giving glory to God does not mean you forsake giving thanks and glory to people.

Here’s an observation: it seems as if in the last 30 years, more has been made out of giving glory to God. Certainly John Piper has capitalized on this trend. I’m all for it, but have also seen the other side that comes across as very rude.

If God truly sold your house you wouldn’t have needed a realtor, advertising, lawyers, or most other things that selling houses entails. If God truly worked a miracle it would actually look like a miracle.

Perhaps the reason your house sold is because your realtor knows what she’s doing.

Many blessings that people give glory to God for come out of the expense and hard work of other people. As we fixate on me and my glorying of God, we often shortchange the sacrifices made for us by others.

As the church has gotten carried away in “giving glory to God” we have also seen the demise of church. The trend to go without church entirely has grown. We are so consumed with my blessings, my glorying in God and my personal relationship, we’ve all but chucked the New Testament ideal of the Body of Christ.

God works through other people, too. Yes, you should thank God and  give Him glory, but you should thank and give glory to those who made the thing happen to.

You and God are not on an island together. The Body of Christ has many members. Perhaps some time you should look around and see how many people it takes to keep you happy. Tell them “thank you” some time.


Official Disclaimer:

(Yes, the glory of God is a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)

6 Questions About Doing All For the Glory of God

Earlier this month I achieved a life goal. It was something I wrote down about 11 years ago in a list of things to do rather than waste time on television or internet, to pursue some actual activity! Bizarre concept, I know.

One of the things I listed was “Lead singing on guitar.”

In order to do so, I had to learn to play the guitar, but mostly I had to learn to get the guts to play it in public. Then I had to get the guts to play guitar and sing, at the same time, in public!

I knew last spring I was close to being able to do it, but my fear kept me down. But this month I did it at our Wednesday night church group. I will sum it up by saying, “I survived.”

Now that I have done this, I want to get better. I want my voice to be stronger and my guitar playing to be better.

As I reflect on this, it lets me know I am a vain person! I was scared to do this the first time for fear of embarrassing myself and I want to get better so I can be more impressive. I mean, why lie about it? That’s the truth.

It is weird how going public with some talent makes you want to get better. It’s the same thing when I know there is a 5k or some race coming up, I will focus more on running and really give it my all. Not out of humility and love, oh no! Out of a desire to dominate and destroy!

Paul says we should do everything for the glory of God and that we shouldn’t do things as eye-servers or man-pleasers, but for the Lord.

How do I run a 5k for the glory of God? How do I play guitar for the glory of God? I know there are pat answers, I’ve heard them, and they all fall flat. I’m wondering if it’s even possible.

Some respond to compliments by saying, “Oh, it’s for Him” and point to heaven. I have never heard anyone say this after someone told them they messed up. Saying, “oh, it’s for Him” actually makes you look more pretentious.

I think we should just be honest and say we are entirely consumed with ourselves and want to be impressive for the sake of being impressive. When I was single, this was OK, because it was my pluming my feathers to attract a mate.

I got one. She’s not impressed anymore.

Now I just do impressive things to be impressive, for my own ego.

Is our desire to improve because–people are paying attention–avoidable?
Is our embarrassment proof that we are still too concerned with ourselves?
Why are people who lack all embarrassment and self-consciousness complete morons?
Don’t embarrassment and praise give us feedback to correct ourselves?
Is doing something for the glory of God mutually exclusive from doing something for a little glory for yourself?
How can awesome people not get glory from people?

I don’t know! Just some thoughts on a subject I am thinking about.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God.”


Official Disclaimer:

(Yes, the glory of God is a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)

Liberty and The Law

Paul warns people not to put themselves under a yoke of bondage, but rather to stand in the liberty Christ has provided.

Most interpretations of this verse sound like this “Christ has set us free from the law, so enjoy the freedom of living apart from the bondage of Law.”

I think this misses the point.

Certainly the Law has something to do with it, but is Paul talking antinomianism? (“Antinomianism” is the big word that literally means “without law.”)

Paul is not advocating antinomianism. One chapter after the “yoke of bondage” verse is “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Paul wants us to fulfill a law, he’s making a point here about HOW.

Paul later says a couple verses after the “yoke of bondage” verse that love fulfills the law. So, we need to be careful what Paul is really saying. Paul’s initial context in all this is circumcision–if you get circumcised for the Law, you bind yourself to do the whole Law, which even Israel couldn’t do.

No one has ever been saved by deeds of the law. No one. Not even anyone in Israel. Not any one who lived under the law was saved by deeds of the law. The law showed us our inability, our need for a Savior and was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

A man of faith will have no problem with the law of God. As a man walks in the Spirit He fulfills the law of God. As Paul later says in Galatians 5 (the same chapter as the “yoke of bondage” verse) that those who walk in the Spirit are not under law.

Why not? Because the Spirit produces fruit, none of which are against the law (also in the same chapter as the “yoke of bondage” verse).

Paul is saying that with the Spirit we have liberty, we are not bound to the Law as a fleshly duty. Instead, we are released into the liberty of the Spirit, who is going to lead you in love, bearing burdens of others, and fulfilling the law!

The law is only a burden to our flesh! Paul doesn’t want you toiling under the ineffectual power of your flesh to try to complete God’s spiritual guidelines, it won’t work and will only be burdensome duty for you–a yoke of bondage.

Rather, receive the Spirit and walk in the Spirit and by so doing you won’t have any problems with the law anyway! This same thing was true for Israel when they were under the law. None of them were saved by deeds of the law; all who were saved were saved by grace through faith.

Any true believer in the Old Covenant did not see the law as a burden; he saw it as perfect liberty. Any non-believer only saw the law as burden and a yoke of bondage.

The law wasn’t the bondage; the state of the person–being a believer or unbeliever–is the condition that made the law either bondage or liberty.

That’s why David, in his great Psalm about the Word, Psalm 119, can say “And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” Get that?! “Precepts” is another word for “commandment.”

David says seeking God’s law is the same as walking at liberty! Why? Because he sought it by faith and not by fleshly works.

There is much goofiness in the Church today about people trying to eliminate the Law, trying to tell you that listening to God is a yoke of bondage. That is blasphemy. Listening to God is not legalism; it’s faith.

For the person of faith, the law IS liberty as it frees you up from all the mindless, humanistic, self-serving blather you hear around you. It’s a light to our feet and a lamp to our path. Walk in it and enjoy the liberty that is there!


Official Disclaimer:

(Yes, law and liberty are a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)

Two Destructive Misconceptions About Spiritual Fruit

Christians know we are supposed to have “fruit.” Jesus even said people would know His disciples by their fruit. Fruit talk makes us feel guilty.

Misconceptions about fruit cause much of this guilt. There are two areas of confusion regarding spiritual fruit that lead the way in our confusion.

1) Spiritual fruit is not necessarily evidenced physically. We like to keep track, list and number stuff. We assume spiritual fruit is tangible like this. Therefore, fruit is evidenced by converts, followers, books sold, people in attendance, or baptisms, etc. None of these things are inherently evil, but they are not spiritual fruit.

2) Spiritual fruit is singular. The nine things listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are one fruit. Paul does not say “The fruits of the Spirit are,” he says, “The fruit of the Spirit is. . .” The fruit of the Spirit is a love-joy-peace-long-suffering-gentleness-goodness-faith-meekness-temperance kind of thing.

Consider: can a guy be able to love without joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, etc.? Can a guy be patient who can’t love, or have joy or peace? None of these things can exist without the other things.

Several times I have been warned by well-meaning Christians, “Never pray for patience–God will nail you with problems.” This is misguided. You are going to have problems regardless of whether you pray for patience!

Furthermore, your true need is not patience, your true need is more of the Spirit. You need His fruit in you, part of which is patience. Perhaps the reason you aren’t patient is because you don’t love people, or have joy, or have true peace, etc.

When we view the fruit of the Spirit as nine separate things we undermine what is going on. We exacerbate the problem when we look to physical things to prove our fruit.

If we think spiritual fruit means converts, we will not be loving people, we will be trying to convert them to feel good about our fruit production, often moving on to new converts without helping the former ones grow. If you think spiritual fruit is followers, you will be frustrated with people who are too dumb to follow you.

When we look to physical things we will get frustrated and undermine the fruit of the Spirit. The answer to bringing forth fruit is to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in us.

What we need is to be filled with the Spirit, to be under His influence. What we don’t need is more self-centered navel gazing, nor longing for more followers to make us feel “more used by God.”

Want more love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance kind of thing going on in you? Then look to Christ, His Word and pray for more of His Spirit at work in you.


Official Disclaimer:

(Yes, the Holy Spirit and fruit are a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)

The Bible’s Advice for What to do With Supid Politicians

The American government has been having some problem lately and much of it looks very childish. However, even in their most “adult” moments I typically disagree with everything they do.

I used to get into politics and pontificate on them, but I realized over the years that all political talk does is whip people up. We freak our side out with horror stories and then celebrate some victory on resolving an occasional issue we were freaked out about.

Up and down. Over and over.

I got tired. Couldn’t do it. I jumped off the political train, quit voting, quit pontificating and ignored it. It was swell.

Lately, however, government intrusion has interfered with my life. I am tempted to pontificate about politics, to care again, I even told my wife I might start voting again.

Then I saw this poll taken in the midst of the recent turmoil: Americans voted on what animal they would like to see maul congress. Leading the way was the grizzly bear.

“There was also strong support for the idea of Congress being set upon by a pack of rapacious animals, with rabid hyenas the first choice of many respondents, followed by feral dogs and cats.”

And, in case none of the options suited you, there was a choice 15% of Americans made to have congress “torn limb from limb by a grizzly bear or devoured by a pack of rabid hyenas is too good for these people. They should be eaten, very slowly, by a colony of hungry fire ants. Yes, that’s it—fire ants. That would be amazing.”

Wishing people were dead is not a good thing. Wishing people were killed in as torturous a manner as possible is not a good thing. I know this is an attempt at humor, but still.

Polls like this remind me why I checked out of the political fray. I don’t need to feel these emotions. So, I will spare you my political rantings and I will spare myself unnecessary emotional turmoil and will set my mind on things above and on the King of Kings.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

I imagine part of a quiet and peaceable life includes not wishing bears would pummel congressmen. Just a guess. Seek first the kingdom of God. Let the nations clamor for this world; the meek will get the good one to come.


Official Disclaimer:

(Yes, a Christians involvement in civil affairs is a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)

The Point of My Preaching and Blogging–Know the Word

I joined the WWW through Prodigy back in 1995 with the dial tone and no one to email. In January 2003 I began this blog.

For almost eleven years I have written this blog. For the most part I have loved it. I love writing. It has been a discipline in my life to write something biblically-based daily for 11 years. It’s been cool.

Through this process I have met cool people and can even say I have made new friends.

One commenter, Scotte Hodel, commented many times, much to my enjoyment as he had a great sense of humor and was quite insightful. Scotte commented on my blog up til days before his death from cancer back in 2009. I never met Scotte, but I consider him a friend and I still miss his comments (here’s one as an example).

That’s just one example of the power of the internet. Another is the fact that a handful of Australians read my blog, which blows my mind with its coolness! (Hey, my Australian friends, have you seen Andrew Ucles? How cool is that guy?!)

On the other hand, the internet has its dark side.

Many readers of this blog have no idea who I am, all some know is that I said something one time they didn’t like, so they refuse to grant the benefit of the doubt, to give me some time to actually see what I’m saying. Some of it is just funny. Most is irritating and wouldn’t happen if we were speaking face to face.

I am the pastor of a church. I have people I need to care for. They like me and I like them. We give each other the benefit of the doubt and I think this is what Christian fellowship is all about. No, I am not perfect. No, I do not say everything the way you would. No, we do not agree with each other on everything.

I am cool with this; many are not.

For eleven years I’ve shared my theological views online every day except a few occasional breaks. Go ahead and share all your doctrine for eleven years on the internet sometime and see how it goes for ya! I’ve noticed that hostile commenters don’t blog regularly.

My point in being a pastor and in blogging theology is to get people to think and read the Bible. That’s it. I want people to think and read the Bible.

Many think I want people to agree with me, that I have some theological agenda to push. I don’t. I spend no time haranguing people who disagree with me. I view my job as letting God’s word speak, and one of my favorite ways to do this is to point out verses that most ignore.

Charles Spurgeon famously said, “The Word of God no more needs defense than does a lion in a cage. Just let the lion loose, and it will take care of itself!” I think that is well said.

My job is not to indoctrinate people into my beliefs: my job is to teach people to use the Bible and stand on it.

I have ignored many people who pester my blog, trying to convince me I should be in their theological camp. Encamping is not my point. My point is to get people to think and read the Bible.

No matter what you believe, I guarantee I can raise a verse that makes the opposite point! This is annoying and this is my point. Note the subtitle of this blog “2 Timothy 4:3. Doing my God-given duty to not tell you what you want to hear.”

Here’s an example: I conversed about pacifism for over a year with a pacifist I’ve never personally met. Since I have a pacifist streak running through me, he wanted me to read his book he wrote on pacifism.

I did. He skipped many verses I thought an intellectually honest writer should include. So I brought them up–Jesus told His disciples to take up swords. John the Baptist never told centurions to resign, and some other passages he skipped that didn’t completely agree with his hardline position.

My point was to help him be more thorough, to show him there are other verses he’s ignoring to make his encamped view. He ridiculed me, insulted me and never spoke to me again (that’s pacifism don’t ya know. Anti-war rallies are always the most violent.). I wasn’t encamped to his comfort and I wasn’t buying what he was saying, so that was it.

This is what I’m talking about. I don’t care if you’re a Calvinist, I like a lot of what Calvin said. I don’t care if you’re an Arminian, I like a lot of what Arminius said. I don’t care if you’re a pacifist, or a charismatic, or post-tribber, or whatever.

What I do care about is that you are going to the Word of God and honestly thinking about it and using the whole Word to grow by. It’s also what I care about for me and my faith. I care about this enough to have read the Bible 30 times cover-to-cover in the last ten years to make sure I am also knowing the Word.

I block one-issue-commenters who won’t drop their one issue. The internet has handy tools to eliminate unwanted communication, praise God!

When you have an issue that becomes “your issue,” you cease to be able to read the Bible for what it says. All you see is proof for your position and you skip the rest. I’ve seen this so many times. It destroys faith, breaks fellowship and has done much to destroy the foundations of the Church.

The work of the Word is there to fully equip us to do what is right. Nothing else can claim that power. Go to the Word. Don’t be an encamped, issues-driven bloviater who ignores 3/4’s of biblical revelation so you can “be right.”

Not interested. Read the Word and think about it.

Self-Esteem and Your Father

Self-esteem is so widely accepted these days I sound like a complete fool even questioning it. Oh sure, people will admit there are problems with some of the self-esteem movement, but self-esteem is antithetical to Christianity?

Yeah, I really think it is.

1 Corinthians 1 talks about how God chooses the base things and the weak things to confound the wise and the mighty. Are you a base, weak thing? Does the self-esteem movement help you come to that conclusion?

When Paul follows up this passage by saying “no flesh should glory in his presence” yet you can’t stop talking about your skills and your talents and your awesome exercise regimen, how does this work? He goes on to say “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

Yet you must share the latest awesome deed of your child and all the pictures of your latest trip and the new car and the remodeled house and on and on and on and on and on.

And I must tell you to read my blog and buy my book and send me nice comments and tell your friends about my awesome writing abilities, etc.

We can’t shut up about ourselves. We can’t stop glorying in ourselves. Apparently this is not a problem for most. Most have found ways to turn self-esteem into good doctrine, “Hey, I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, bro, just back off. I’m God’s child.”

Yeah, I know. If you were God’s child though, you’d act a lot like God’s Son who said “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” We are not here to gain our own glory but to act in a way where others “glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Your self-esteem does have a lot to do with Christianity: it’s the biggest hurdle you must overcome to rightly view yourself in light of the grace of God. God gives grace to the humble and He resists the proud. Act accordingly.

Self-Esteem, Satan and Eve

Philippians 2 is probably the best chapter in the Bible to shoot down self-esteem gibberish. I have already quoted from it this week, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. . .”

Before that quote is another fantastic quote making my point for me,

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

So, question for ya, since the modern self-esteem movement got cranked up (probably dates to the 1980’s), has our world grown in strife, vainglory, celebrity worship, fighting, arguing, bickering?


Now, this world has always been nuts, it’s foolish to say it’s worse today than it was before (ask Solomon, he’s the one who said that). But I can counter by saying the self-esteem movement has been around since the Garden of Eden!

Eve thought she was better! She deserved better! She deserved to know what God knew! She deserved it! She’s better than this!

Don’t forget the sin that lead to Satan’s downfall, five “I will” statements in Isaiah 14 that lead to Satan’s demise. Read it and tell me Satan didn’t have really good self-esteem!

Satan had dreams! He had a vision for his life, a mission statement, a goal, a purpose! Yes, yes he did and he’ll burn in hell because of it. Are you going to follow him there?

The flip side is to be like Christ, who humbled Himself, came in the form of a servant, to become obedient even unto death. Most Christians will flip out if you tell them they are supposed to obey God, because they believe they are better than that.

Esteem others better than yourself. I suppose there are some who will counter with: This doesn’t mean we have low self-esteem, it means we elevate others so highly they are even higher than our own esteem.

I suppose. And fruit looks good to eat too.

John the Baptist, Jesus and Self-Esteem

What man esteems, God views as an abomination. If you are a Christian and you are caught up in self-esteem stuff, be warned.

We should all be saying with John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He (Christ) must increase.” Imagine how the Gospels would read if John the Baptist was encouraged to revel in self-esteem?

“Oh you Pharisee types, come to ol’ Johnny for some dunking, eh? Well you should. I’m the best baptizer ever. In fact, when they name baptizers, there will be none who will be named “The Baptist” but I. Sure, the Catholics have Peter as their first pope, but I will have Baptists all over the world looking to me as their pope. OK, maybe I got a little carried away with that one, but still! Am I not awesome? Of course I can latch Jesus’ sandals, it’s Jesus who should be fixing my footwear. What do you need that ol’ Messiah for anyway? Who needs Messiah when you’ve got Johnny B? Who wants to get wet? Come to pappa.”

This sounds a lot more like modern Christians than the real John the Baptist. John the Baptist knew he wasn’t supposed to esteem himself; he was here to esteem Christ, to make the path straight for Christ, not himself.

He did his job and melted off the scene when the time came. John the Baptist did nothing more or less than what we are called to do in following Christ. No longer I but Christ makes no sense to one who esteems himself.

The problem with not esteeming yourself is that no one else will either. If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will toot it for you. You’ll get bypassed in the rush. Everyone has something to sell, some talent they want to shove in your face so they can feel warm and special.

As Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Trust me, you’ll be waiting a long, long time for those other mouths to praise you! Do you have the patience, the self-control, the self-denial to wait?!

Christ repeatedly told people who saw His miracles not to tell anyone about them or to advertise who He was. Totally backward in our society today when people can’t shut up about advertising themselves.

Isaiah says it best

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

There are reasons few follow Christ. What He got will come to those who follow Him.

Self-Esteem Is Idolatry

My kids go to public school. I know, I know, I’m a horrible person–remember I have very bad self-esteem, so you don’t need to give me more reasons to down myself.

Every year of their schooling so far they have done projects (many a year) about themselves. They have done pictures, posters, poems, books, cards, etc where they list all the awesome things about themselves.

Usually, they will have other kids write down awesome things about them too. So they come home with a paper where little kids with horrible penmanship write “You are funny.” “You have nice clothes.” “You smile purty.” and such nonsense.

The attempt is to get kids to value one another, which is fine, I’d rather have them teach valuing others than valuing self, but still it seems there is something off about this too.

There are some verses in the Bible that should trouble you if you value people’s opinions. Here’s a great one:

“Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

What men highly esteem God thinks is an abomination. The word “abomination” has two ideas attached to it. The first means detestable. He hates it. The second links this word to idolatry. Esteeming something is idolatry.

Got that?

Allow me to repeat it since there are so many dumb people in the world who might not get it the first time (ooh, see? There’s that nasty sarcasm. I know, I know, I’m a horrible blog writer person.).

Esteeming something is idolatry.

Shall I repeat it one more time? OK, I will.

Esteeming something is idolatry.

Self-esteem is idolatry–just to clarify my point.

God’s opinion of our tremendous self-esteem is that we are doing nothing short of worshiping ourselves. Tell me this is not what self-esteem is?!

God is not pleased with our self-esteem.

Jesus and Self-Esteem

One of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity is that Christians are to become like Christ.

It is important, however, to remember that Jesus was The Messiah. He was the only person in the world who was right in having a Messiah Complex.

You are not The Messiah. You will not and can not save the world. Nor can I. Wisdom will not die with you when you breathe your last breath. The world will get by without you. The same cannot be said concerning Christ.

Jesus Christ was/is the perfect God-man. He was perfect. He didn’t say dumb things. He did miracles that astounded everyone. He raised the dead!

If there was ever a person alive who should have had tremendous self-esteem, it was Christ.

So, show me the passages where Jesus goes on talking about how great He is? For every one you might think you are showing me, I can show you more that show Jesus telling others not to talk about Him, not to praise Him but His Father.

Jesus did not esteem Himself; He esteemed His Father.

Christ did not come in awesomeness to judge the world; He came humbly as a baby to save the world. If Jesus had as much of an inflated view of Himself as many Christians have, I can’t see Him dying on a cross to save a bunch of rotten sinners.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

Self-Esteem Has Little If Any Place In Christianity

Self-esteem requires a certain amount of deception

Self-esteem is defined as

“a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities”
“a confidence and satisfaction in oneself”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find this impossible without lying to myself. I also understand that many people are more awesomer than I am, so maybe I’m in the minority here.

I have never had good self-esteem. I grew up being teased and feeling embarrassed about being legally blind and being cross-eyed. Not being able to see what’s going on all the time has a tendency to make you do really, really dumb things.

Due to all this (and more), I imagine I would have pretty horrible self-esteem if I were clinically analyzed.

Well, here’s the other thing: I don’t have much clinical analyst-esteem either.

Not only do I not esteem myself very highly, I don’t esteem others very highly either. And yes, I don’t esteem others often to the point of sinfulness!

Unfortunately, being made fun of as a kid turned me into a guy with a biting sarcasm that can tear others down quickly. Sharper than a two-edged sword kind of sarcasm. This has gotten me in trouble repeatedly.

The reason I learned to tear others down is because if I’m low, I need to bring you lower in order for me to feel better. I lie about how bad others are and have to lie to convince myself I’m better than I know I am.

It is my opinion, and I usually stand alone on this, God doesn’t want you to have self-esteem. Self-esteem is nothing more than being your own cheerleader, tooting your own horn, rah-rah go get em Tiger mind games that generally leads to tearing down others for your own good feelings.

For a people who reportedly believe in total depravity, I am stunned at how many Christians think so highly of themselves.

The problem with fixating on self-esteem is that you are always comparing yourself to others, or ignoring others to fixate on yourself. Neither of these responses gets you close to being loving.

Allow me to pontificate the next few days on why I think self-esteem is antithetical to Christianity. (Be sure to esteem me highly for my correct usage of the word “antithetical.” I felt really special about myself for using that word.)

What To Do With James 2

James 2 tells us that faith without works is dead. It is my contention that faith and love are intricately linked together in Scripture.

Martin Luther says we are justified by faith alone; James says we are not justified by faith alone. The Church has routinely gone with Luther on this one to an alarming extent! Did the Bible really mess this one up? Was James even writing inspired Scripture?

I have heard all manner of justifications, explanations, and rationalizations to explain away James 2. I have met very few who take James seriously.

I am not shocked by the state of the Church today.

It is my contention that faith works by love as Paul says in Galatians, and that love is greater than faith and faith without love profits you nothing as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.

When James says we are not justified by faith alone, if my contention is right, James has to then be talking about love. If faith works by love and faith without love profits nothing, then James must be talking about works of love.

If my contention is true, then James 2 (the context of “faith without works is dead”) better mention love. There would only be one reason I am bringing this up!

James 2:5“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him.” Notice that James describes inheritors of heaven as “rich in faith” and “them that love him.” James sure seems to see a link between faith and love.

James then talks about the church favoring rich people over poor people and how this is awful, bringing him to:

James 2:8“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” Well, looky there! James is talking about fulfilling the law by love! Boy howdy, who saw that coming?!

I did.

This is the context leading up to James 2:14, “though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” Note the context afterward, when James talks about prayer and how if you see someone naked and hungry, don’t just spout words, help the poor people.

Reminds one of “as you do to the least of these you do to me” kind of don’t it?

Yeah, faith and love, they’re like peas and carrots, except they taste better.

Faith without love won’t get you to heaven. I don’t mind breaking it to you because you need to know this. It will be prominently mentioned on Judgment Day. Get ready.

Living By Faith Is Walking After The Spirit

Most of Christianity tells you that if you have faith you fulfilled the law, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything good. It seems to matter very little to people that the Bible never says this.

It appears to me that Christians are more afraid today of doing good works than they are of doing sin. Sin at least keeps you dependent on grace, whereas good works can make you self-righteous.

Perhaps we have forgotten another biblical truth oft stated: Satan is a deceiver and the Church is filled with wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The righteousness of the law is not fulfilled in you by faith. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled by love.

Now, in order to carry out love that fulfills the law, man needs some assistance. This is where we must be born again. Once we have the Spirit we can love as God loves and thus fulfill the righteousness of the law.

Let me quote Paul from Romans to make the point for me:

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

The righteousness of the law is not fulfilled in us by faith, it is fulfilled in us by walking in the Spirit. Notice again it doesn’t say the law is fulfilled in those who had faith one time. Fulfilling the law is what the Christian life is all about and is only possible by the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit begins with “LOVE.”

We do not have the spirit of fear but the Spirit of power and of LOVE. As Peter says “ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren”

Again, Paul from Romans, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Saving faith rebirths a person. They are born of the Spirit. The just then live by faith, which means walking in the Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit (live by faith), we do not do the deeds of the flesh, but rather we love. And love fulfills the law.

Apart from Christ we have no shot. With Christ we have all we need. Christ’s life overpowers our life and we begin to live the selfless, sacrificial love of Christ. It’s a beautiful thing.

Love Fulfills The Law

So, if faith does not fulfill the law, what does?

“He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Faith does not fulfill the law; love does. Notice it doesn’t say “He who has believed at one time has fulfilled the law!” The second verse is from Galatians 5, the same chapter that says “faith which worketh by love.”

Faith establishes the law, it makes it firm, sets it in place. Faith is not a one time thing we bank on to get a free pass to heaven, faith is what we live by. Love is the fuel that fuels the engine of faith.

Love is what fulfills the law. Notice that love is something we do. Also remember that love is greater than faith. Faith without love profits you nothing.

Fulfilling the law is only possible with love. Love was the whole point. Love is part of the two greatest commandments (Love God; Love Neighbor). It’s the whole point!

It’s also the main reason Israel received judgment from God, because although they went through the motions of law-keeping, even to the extent they could boast about how well they kept it, they had no love.

Faith establishes the law; love fulfills the law. Yet most of Christianity tells you faith fulfilled the law, so you don’t have to do anything.

There is always a pull in every area of life to get away with doing the least possible. The Bible is easy to ignore–just don’t read it. We fill the void of knowledge with fine sounding theories based on some stuff we heard once.

We like to think we are saved by good intentions. That we’re saved by nice words that come out of our mouth at some point. No one really wants to deal with living by faith, a faith that works by love, a faith that if it has not works is no faith at all.

So we make fine sounding statements about Jesus and how He kept the law for me so I don’t have to. I can keep living my narcissistic lifestyle of sin and materialism and then get to get more narcissistic materialism in heaven for eternity! Aint it grand?

Be careful out there. Judgment Day will sort out the wheat from the tares. The wheat grows on the Word; the tares grow on lies and deception.

Faith Establishes The Law

Even though we’ve heard it over and over that “faith fulfills the law,” this is nowhere stated in Scripture. When the Scripture does mention faith doing something to the law it says, and I quote directly:

“Do we then make void the law through faith?
God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Faith does not void the law. Yes, I know, your youth pastor told you it did, but it doesn’t. Faith does not make the law irrelevant, nor does it do away with it. What it does is bring us to Christ, the true embodiment of the law.

Our faith is in Him, not because He kept the law for us, but because Christ is a fuller revelation of the righteousness of God that the law partially revealed. When that which is perfect is come, we look to the perfect thing and understand the other thing as part of the whole.

Faith doesn’t eliminate the law; faith points you to the embodiment of the law–Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and the law are not contrary to each other. Christ did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, to complete it, to work out all its prophecies and ensure all its promises.

It is by faith in Christ that we can now hit the purpose of the law–to live out the righteousness of God. If Christ did this and we are now in Christ so that it is no more I who live but Christ who lives in me, we are equipped to fulfill the law.

Tomorrow we look at how we fulfill the law.

Faith Does Not Fulfill The Law

One of the cool tricks invented by Christians to keep faith a past tense, already did that and checked it off the list thing, is the idea that believers don’t have to do anything good, Christ already did all the good for me.

This concept is stated in different ways but all mean the same thing–I don’t have to do anything.

Again, note that this is the same logic Israel used in the Old Testament–I’m circumcised, I don’t have to do anything. Then note that after this thought took root Israel was rejected by God, judged and dispersed.

They thought keeping circumcision was good enough to prove they kept the whole law. But as Paul says in Romans, circumcision doesn’t free you from the rest of the law, but actually binds you to it. Circumcision is not one act and now I’m done with the law. Doesn’t work that way.

Nor should you think saying the sinner’s prayer, getting baptized or whatever else suddenly frees you from obeying God. Paul says that circumcision of the heart is what is needed.

Messing with the external proves nothing as faith has to do with the heart. This applies to whether your physical body got wet in baptism or your mouth physically said the sinner’s prayer. Neither are the issue; the issue is always the heart and true faith.

True faith results in being born again, having the Spirit who empowers us to live by faith–by God’s Word.

When people say “Christ fulfilled the law for me so I don’t have to” what they want to believe is that they can keep sinning and still go to heaven. People want to believe that faith fulfills the law.

In fact, I bet you think the Bible even says “faith fulfills the law” we’ve heard that so many times. Perhaps again we can trace this back to Martin Luther who said, “the whole Decalogue is fulfilled by faith.”

Rest assured, I already checked, the Bible doesn’t say faith fulfills the law. What it does say is that “faith establishes the law.”

Hmm, now that’s different. I’ll go into it tomorrow.

Past Faith Does Not Guarantee Future Faith

People are saved by grace through faith. There is no other way to be saved. Once a person is justified–which is what is needed to be saved–the just person lives by faith. Faith is ongoing and is the believer’s way of life–we walk by faith.

The Old Testament shows Israel’s rise and then fall from God’s favor. One of the reasons they fell out of favor is that they viewed faith as a one-time-now-leave-me-alone thing.

The classic example that Paul brings up all the time is circumcision. Jewish boys were circumcised eight days into life. They were in. At eight days old they were done! Sweet! They boasted in their circumcision and never got around to faith, let alone living by faith.

The same attitude was demonstrated through observing a few holy days, a sabbath here and there and maybe even a sacrifice or two. “We jumped through your hoops God, be happy and get off our backs.”

Israelites are no different from you and me. We want the shortcut, the thing we can do to cross faith off the list. No, we don’t bother with circumcision any more, we’ve at least heard enough Paul to get rid of that one. But we substitute our own versions to accomplish the same deal.

Whether it be infant baptism, communion, adult baptism, church attendance, saying the “sinners prayer,” giving money or some other self-righteous work we do to prove we have faith and God should leave us alone now, it is nothing more than modern circumcision.

It didn’t work in the Old Testament and it won’t work now. But we keep trying. We want faith to be a one time deal and then for us to be done with faith.

I believe this is the outcome of Sola Fide. Regardless of what was intended by those who made much of Sola Fide, it has come to mean “Have you said the sinners prayer?” for most Evangelical people and “have you been baptized?” for most mainline denominations.

They both hint at the same thing–“since we’re saved by faith, show me the thing you did that one time that proved you believed this.” We want the past tense to prove the current reality. “Have you trusted Christ?” If it’s past tense, we can rest that we are done now.

As I stated a couple weeks ago, Sola Fide isn’t even a biblical concept, it’s the result of the musings of a beer drinking former monk!

Faith is a big deal. I am amazed how little people consider what the Bible says about it.

Faith, Your Life and Heaven

Faith makes no earthly sense, but it makes a tremendous amount of heavenly sense!

Faith is hearing God to carry out what God says. Most are too busy in worldly affairs to take the time and energy to do what God says. To combat this, “Christians” try to redefine faith to its lowest common denominator with fleshly living, resulting in the apathetic, apostate church of our day.

Redefining faith will make us feel better (makes earthly sense) but won’t stand up on judgment day (where heavenly sense rules).

All the faithful people of Hebrews 11 did what God told them “by faith.” All their deeds were done out of love for God, resulting in love for someone else. The most loving thing you can do for someone is be a faithful example. So even Enoch who was taken by God directly to heaven, is a faithful, loving witness to all, including you and me.

Hebrews 11 sticks some dandy verses near the middle of the chapter that sums up what loving God, others and faith will look like. I’ll just quote them all because I can’t summarize it any better. Be sure to read them:

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

Faith looks like living for heaven. If your life looks like it’s lived for the earth, have no expectation that you will get heaven. Faith makes you embrace the center of your faith–God. This then leads your life to move to where He is–heaven.

Life lived for earth means you are still the center, you are the object of your faith. You will live according to your definition of faith and not God’s.

Notice the phrase near the end about God! “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Wow. Just, wow. And again I say, wow.

God only prepares a city for those He is not ashamed of. Those He is not ashamed of live for heaven, not for earth. Being a stranger and pilgrim on the earth is not something a Christian might grow into.

No, being a stranger and pilgrim on the earth is a prerequisite for arrival in heaven. Being a stranger and pilgrim is not a work you do to be saved; being a stranger and pilgrim is what faith will always result in.

Not a stranger and pilgrim? Not living for heaven? Your life is consumed with earthly things? Then you have no faith and you are not going to heaven.

The Bible is a rough book if you read it. On Judgment Day we are judged according to these words, not yours.

Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

Faith Implies Doing

Faith is summed up by hearing God. When I tell my children “Do the dishes” how do I know if they heard me? Certainly not because they say “OK!” I know they heard me when they do the dishes.

Hearing implies doing; to say otherwise is to be a moron.

Jesus tells a parable along these lines–a father has two sons whom he tells to go work in the field. The one says “Yes” and never goes, the other says “No” but later goes. Which one did the father’s will? Not the one who verbally agreed, but the one who obeyed what he was told.

Faith carries out what you heard God say. There are some who define faith so loosely they basically mean “anyone within earshot of the Gospel goes to heaven” (sorry deaf people). Most, however, know you at least have to say “yes” by praying “the prayer.”

But the Bible goes further. It is important to define faith the way God defines it. Not by taking a couple verses out of context either, but by applying all Scripture to our understanding of what faith is.

This is where Hebrews 11 becomes so powerful. Hebrews 11 sums up the Old Testament and then applies it to us. By faith all these faithful people did exactly what God said they should do. That is faith.

I think all of faithful living is summed up in–love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. All the faithful acts in Hebrews 11 fit into this.

When you love the Lord you listen to Him, you obey and carry out what He said because that’s what love does. This will result in you doing loving things for others. Faith works by love remember.

Noah loved the Lord, so when the Lord said, “build an ark,” Noah built an ark. The result of building the ark was to provide salvation to anyone who would receive it, which unfortunately didn’t include many people who were too busy being married and eating and drinking.

The end of the world will be like the time of Noah. Our day is consumed with food and drink and people being too busy, many of whom are busy in their cute little marriages. The offer of salvation is being given, but busy-ness will prevent many from receiving it.

Note that heinous, gross sin isn’t keeping people from salvation: being busy and having fun does! Who has time to listen to God when there are so many other more attractive alternatives?

Since most don’t want to conclude that being busy will keep them from heaven, they will conclude that faith means “yeah I heard God one time. I did that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go on date night with my wife to eat and drink.”

And so heaven will remain sparsely populated.

“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

Faith Is Doing What God Said

Since we believe we are saved by faith, that our very entrance into eternal life with God is dependent on faith, seems we should have a clue what the Bible is talking about when it uses the word “faith!”

Understanding what faithful people did in the Bible will give us a good idea what faithful people do today.

No, we don’t build an ark like Noah did. Just because you build an ark doesn’t mean you have faith!

We know that when Noah built an ark he built it by faith. Why? Because God told him to build an ark. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). God told Noah to build an ark, so by faith Noah built an ark.

If I built an ark I’d just have a giant boxy boat in my backyard for no real purpose. I’d probably charge admission or something. Of course, knowing my craftsmanship, one drop of rain and my ark would collapse.

Doing what some person with faith does and thinking “hey, I did what they did and they have faith, so clearly I must have faith,” is not faith; it’s walking by sight. In the end, what other people are doing means very little in proving your own faith.

In fact, if you have faith, more than likely you won’t be doing what anyone else is doing. Noah was the only ark builder! I fear that much “faith” in Christianity is just people doing what other people do. We’re just a bunch of ark builders congregating in the desert wondering what all these boats are for.

The true principle of faith is hearing God and doing what He said. Each person in the Bible was told what to do by God and “by faith” they did it. This proves two solid things:

1) God has communicated and we are to listen.
2) Faith does what God has communicated.

These two things prove what James says, that faith without works is dead. Faith with no works is listening like a junior higher. “Wait what? Were you talking to me?”

So, this leads us to the next hurdle: does God tell each of us what to do? Do we get visions, dreams, voices from on high telling us what to do?

More than likely–NO. There are a number of people in Hebrews 11 who, as far as the Bible reveals, heard nothing from God. Rahab is a perfect example. God never spoke to her, she just did the right thing.

Listening to God does not imply that God will speak to us directly. All believers have been told the same thing in the Bible. Where it differs is in how each of us applies what God has said.

We come from different backgrounds and live in different spheres of existence. What “love your neighbor” looks like in the suburbs of Chicago might look different from “love your neighbor” in the backwoods of Wisconsin.

But there will be no doubt that if people in both places loved their neighbor, people will be able to tell faith showed up!

Walking in lockstep is not a sign of faith; it’s usually the sign of a cult. Faith is applying what God has said into your life.

What Does “Faith” Mean?

Christianity isn’t worth it from an earthly perspective. It never has been and never will be.

I know this because of Hebrews 11, which talks about many people of faith who held on to something eternal through much earthly struggle.

“Faith” means any number of things to people. Here are some definitions of faith I’ve gathered from people who claim to have faith.

1) Faith means agreeing intellectually with the facts (or at least some of the facts) of the Bible.
2) Faith means getting emotional at appropriate times–appropriate times are the times when the guy leading you tells you to feel the right emotion at his appointed time.
3) Faith means ignoring natural law. I’ve heard faith expressed by not filling up the gas tank and believing God will get you there, not wearing a seatbelt, money will magically multiply (and not by compound interest either), etc.
4) Faith means flying by the seat of your pants. Planning, thinking, paying attention, discipline or any other regulation is thrown out the window as we “trust God.”
5) Faith means happiness. Whatever happens in life, greet it with a smile, convincing yourself “God has a plan” and all your sin, bad choices, reaping the fruit of the bad seeds you’ve sown, is met with thrills, happiness and much pride.
6) Faith means superstition. If I rub God the right way I will get what I want. If I pray so many hours my prayer will be heard. If I go to church Sunday, God won’t mind if I go to the bar Monday.
7) Faith means chucking common sense. I believe if I never leave my home God will deliver my perfect man to my house and we will be married. I believe that if I never discipline my kid he will turn out fine because God is big.

You get the idea. Faith actually means living by God’s Word and not by sight. It’s a word directed at the senses–hearing over seeing. Most of our life is driven by sight–what we can see, touch and experience. The bills in front of us carry more weight than God’s talk about some future “day of judgment” that we don’t know when will arrive.

Hebrews 11, all about faith and people who lived their faith, says the essence of faith “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith has to do with the unseen. If you can see it, you don’t need faith.

Faith is proved, evidenced, by looking at what cannot be seen. Note that this makes no sense!

Faith is not proved by sight. Faith goes on what is heard to decipher what is seen. Faith comes by hearing. We walk by faith not by sight.

If you prove your faith by a display of emotion, a full gas tank, a smile on your face, or any other temporal, physical thing, it’s not faith!

Yet I hear many “Christians” say they know they have faith because their knee was healed, they conquered drinking, they got unexpected money, they felt a tingly sensation, or beyond all odds, they sold their home in the worst housing market of all time, aint God grand?!

He is grand, but not because you sold your house. He’s grand because He tells us our houses are worthless piles of dirt that waste our money on stupid stuff and distract us from eternity, which is where we should be living for.

Hast thou faith? Then prove it by not living for what you see, but by listening to God.

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