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Month: February 2014
End Times Prophecy and Being Possessed
When Jesus discusses End Times prophecy with His disciples, He tells them not to get drunk. Perhaps the warning in the midst of discussion on coming Judgment is to keep us from blasting the world, when we may be eligible for judgment ourselves.
One of the joys of talking about End Times prophecy is that you can talk about how bad the world will get, are we that bad yet, will Merica survive til then? Which then leads into a discussion about how great Merica used to be and yet how the homos and drug pushers and left wing media ruined everything.
It leads to an inflated Us vs. Them mentality. In other words, obsessing on Bible prophecy tends to make people Pharisaical jerks.
It is amazing how everyone who talks about God’s coming judgment never assumes the judgment might be on them.
Jesus warns His disciples to not get drunk in the meanwhile. Earlier in His talk about End Times prophecy, He says,
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
While you are waiting for The End, don’t get drunk, instead, be patient and possess your souls.
John Wesley says of this verse
“Be calm and serene, masters of yourselves, and superior to all irrational and disquieting passions. By keeping the government of your spirits, you will both avoid much misery, and guard the better against all dangers.”
A person who truly is interested in The End coming, controls his passions, desires, appetites and will. You possess it. You win it. You own it.
The End is coming, it’s a sobering truth, literally.
You know you understand End Times prophecy when a patient, self-control takes you over, not when you are able to discern how Barack Obama facilitates the arrival of the Antichrist.
End Times Prophecy and Getting Drunk
Luke 21:34 uses a Greek word only used once in the New Testament. The KJV translates it as “surfeiting,” which totally clears up the meaning of this obscure word.
Luke is a doctor and this seems to be a medical word. The Greek word literally means “a headache!” It’s in the context of being drunk, therefore the implication is to indulge too excess in something that eventually makes your head hurt.
Jesus, in the larger context, is talking to His disciples about the signs of The End. In the midst of this discussion about how we’ll know when The End is arriving, Jesus throws in a warning for His DISCIPLES–He’s not talking to a crowd of sinners, but to His disciples about the end of the age, and He says:
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”
I am amazed how many people discuss the End Times and prophecy with a giddiness, an “ooo, I can’t wait for the bad guys to get it.” But note, in the midst of a discussion about The End, Jesus says, “Take heed to yourselves you don’t start getting headaches from indulging in alcohol.”
I find that fascinating and so out of place in our discussions of End Times Prophecy. Jesus knows He has to warn His disciples not to get drunk in the meanwhile.
Wow. I imagine that means something.
Sin and Love
There is much talk about private sin, that if your sin doesn’t hurt anyone then don’t worry about it.
This sounds nice, but it’s really bad advice.
Sin is selfishness. Sin, in whatever form, is putting your needs first. What makes sin bad is that you put your will ahead of God’s will, your desires above His.
The natural corollary to this is that if you put your will and desires ahead of God’s you are also putting it ahead of everyone else.
The first commandment is to love the Lord your God, the second is much like it, love your neighbor as yourself. If any one says he loves God and yet does not love his brother, he is a liar.
Sin is the killer of love.
“And because iniquity shall abound,
the love of many shall wax cold.”
Sin, whether you get caught or not, in fact, whether it’s just in your head or acted upon, kills love. When iniquity abounds; love shrivels and dies.
You may think that what you do behind closed doors, in the privacy of your own room, or even the privacy of your own head, doesn’t really matter cuz it doesn’t hurt anyone, but you are wrong.
Love is the ultimate NT virtue, the point of the Law, because love shows a lack of sin.
This is simple and yet profound. I wish I could deepen it further for you, but I can’t.
Two Questions I Have About Prayer
There are two questions about prayer I have long thought over. I am not interested in flippant responses that “answer” these questions. I think there is legitimate (but mostly ignored) tension that should cause us to think about how and what we pray.
1) Intercession. Praying for other people is supposed to be a major facet of prayer. However, most of the time when I intercede, or have heard others intercede, the prayer usually has more to do with me and my problem with that person. I get frustrated, angry, annoyed, irritated, or any number of other things, with people and pray that God grant them spiritual growth so they quit being so stinking irritating.
I doubt this is what intercession is supposed to be. Do we pause to consider whether our intercession is just anger? Is our concern for other people actually masked concern for our self? Or perhaps a little Pharisaical, “Lord thank you I don’t have the problems those jokers have. Lord help em. Amen.”
I think a lot of intercession is nothing more than proud gloating.
2) Worry. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, to “take no thought for tomorrow.” The context shows that He is referring to worry, wondering where food will come from and so forth. Should I not pray about worries for tomorrow then?
Consider–Saturday night, I’m in my basement, getting ready for Sunday sermon. I pray for people in the church, I pray for the sermon to go well, I pray that people get off their dumb excuses and get to church (there’s some of that proud intercession), etc. My thoughts about Sunday that take place on Saturday can be described with no other word than “Worry.”
I know many people say that we should take our worries to God in prayer “leave em with Jesus, brother,” and this qualifies as not worrying. However, if I’m not supposed to worry, how is bringing my worries to Jesus not worrying? It would be like Adam bringing bushels of half-eaten forbidden fruit to God.
Faith is a trust that God will take care of you. Faith is best shown by lack of worry and fear. If our prayers are mostly worry and fear, is this even a legitimate prayer? Isn’t it just giving voice to our lack of faith, which pretty much destroys the whole concept of prayer? (“Ask, in prayer, believing.”) I know we “cast our cares upon Him,” but still, He tells us not to worry.
There have been many a Saturday where I said to God, “You know, I’m not even going to think about tomorrow. You can take care of that, help me get my sermon ready today.” Perhaps that is more honoring than two hours of consternation about how church might be a failure tomorrow.
Again, let me just say, I am not interested in flippant responses to these questions. Regardless of what is said about this, I will continue to think on them. If you have any thoughts that might further my thoughts, feel free to share, but don’t Job’s Friends me here!
Uganda, Christianity and Homophobia
“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed a controversial law that will see homosexuals jailed for life, and dismissed warnings from key foreign allies and donors including the United States.”
According to the article, “Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, earlier this month also signed into law anti-pornography and dress code legislation which outlaws “provocative” clothing, bans scantily clad performers from Ugandan television and closely monitors what individuals view on the Internet.”
Probably the top sentence from the article is this:
“Homophobia is widespread in Uganda, where American-style evangelical Christianity is on the rise.”
“Evangelical Christianity = homophobia” is the translation, in case you missed it.
The fact the Bible says homosexuality is a sin does not equal homophobia, just as saying you think we got here by the Big Bang does not equal theophobia.
Good for Uganda for taking a stand regardless of all the money they will lose from foreign aid because of it. Nice to see someone show some conviction that costs money.
At the same time, I would never in a million years, as a follower of Christ, run a country like this. Sounds more like legalistic Islam than following Christ. A Christian version of Sharia Law.
Jesus, the King of Kings, never once even hinted at taking political power, nor dictating to others what they should do. He presented the Father’s Way, railed on humanity’s way, but, in the end, left it up to voluntary adherence after people count the cost. I think that’s the Christian approach.
God’s Word–It’s Better Than Your Word
It amazes me how many voices within Christianity seek to discredit God’s Word.
From the clear passages about homosexuality being sin, to women not having spiritual authority over men, to not entangling ourselves with the affairs of the world, etc.
God’s commands are clear. When He wants us to do something, He doesn’t hide His point behind ambiguous phrases.
“Hey Adam, don’t eat from that tree!”
But then we get thinking. “Did God really say that? Well, yes, He did, but lets consider what He really meant. Let’s not forget to apply some other information, maybe even some other stuff God said, to confuse the issue.”
We bash the stupid Pharisees for their technique of elevating their traditions, thoughts, and philosophies over clear statements of God, yet we do the same.
This technique has blown away God over the years too, best illustrated by the frustration Christ has with people on this issue.
But, here we are, like Job’s friends, assuming we are the people and wisdom will die with us. We know better. We’re smarter than those hicks who wrote the Bible. We know what God really meant.
So, we justify our actions because we know Paul didn’t write Hebrews, and Daniel was written later than his prophecies, and there were, like, four people writing Isaiah, probably none of whom were name Isaiah, and on and on we go.
God’s Word means nothing while our little opinions rule the day.
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
Jesus said that, by the way, Jesus who is named “The Word.” The whole Bible is the Word of Jesus and that is what we are judged with and by. Get ready.
Sermon: 2 Corinthians 10
You can subscribe to the Rhinelander Bible Church podcast on iTunes here.
Friendly Reminder: God is Going to Wipe Out Wicked Humanity. You Might Want to Deal With That Fact
Jesus Christ did not come the first time to judge, but rather to fill people in on what the Father wanted to reveal and to provide a way of salvation.
But the next time He comes, the next time He comes, He will judge.
Just when humanity begins to imagine that being human is grand, that we excel at our athletic endeavors, we rejoice in our intellectual attainments, sophisticated technologies and immensely elaborate philosophies, God lets us know who we really are.
God is God. We are breathing piles of dirt that have rebelled against Him. Do we really think we’ll get away with it?
Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every human heart will melt.
They will be dismayed:
pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame.
Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.
I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the Lord of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.
God is good all the time, eh?
You might want to fill yourself in on what God thinks is good.
Jesus’ Facebook Movie
Facebook users were recently given the opportunity to create their own Facebook retrospective movies. The movies became so popular that spoofs arose.
One of the spoof movies is about the life of Christ, and, to be honest, it’s not bad. Better than I expected, even though all the pictures show a well mannered white guy as Jesus.
Can True Christianity Ever “Go Viral’?
Jesus said if you want to be the greatest, serve. Serving gets little attention in our world. Few, if any, celebrities have achieved celebrity status because of their high levels of service to others.
Generally, people become celebrities by looking out for themselves, playing the necessary games to get known and then milk it, milk it, milk it. Once celebrity is achieved, then they do “service,” as long as cameras are around.
Yes, that was all very cynical, but still, it’s about right.
I don’t think following Christ fits in with celebrity. Even Jesus fought against the celebrity He was getting–constantly told people not to tell others who He was, he left when they tried to make Him king, He kept His mouth shut when questioned about His kingship.
Which takes me to this article:
“On Sunday night, I had the great privilege of seeing my grandfather cross the finish line. Like so many pilgrims before him, he crossed the river of death and met the Savior on the other side. One moment he was sucking stale air through an oxygen mask; the next moment he was inhaling the glories of heaven.
By worldly standards, my grandpa wasn’t great. He didn’t have a single Facebook friend or Twitter follower. He never wrote a book, never spoke at a conference, never created a viral video. He didn’t have a popular blog. He never played a Super Bowl halftime show, never participated in the Olympics, never was featured in an inspirational segment on ESPN.”
READ THE REST HERE
Snake-Handling Pastor Dies
As you’ve probably heard, Jamie Coots, the star of National Geographics’ Snake Salvation, has died from an untreated snake bite.
Coots is a pastor of a snake handling church. These folk believe that faith consists of taking up rattlesnakes and gyrating poorly to poorly sung blaring southern gospel music.
I will admit, this is way more exciting than listening to a sermon. Apparently obesity also shows faith, based on this video posted by Mr. Coots.
“He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand … within a second,” Winn said.
When an ambulance arrived at the church at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, they were told Coots had gone home, the Middlesboro Police Department said in a statement. Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment.
The justifications as to why have no doubt begun and the foolishness will continue.
Sermon Snippet: Logic Test for Health and Wealth “Teaching”
Trying something a little new–putting up snippets of my sermons. Here’s my first one from this past Sunday–a little logic applied to the health and wealth gospel.
Cheesy Worship Events that Replace Church Are Wrong
If you were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this past Sunday, you could have attended a worship service on top of a ski mountain. While enjoying snacks and coffee, you could have been enlightened by a sermon entitled, “Spiritual Lessons in Skiing and Snowboarding.”
No doubt, there was some pretty hefty theology going on there.
I actually don’t mind using an activity to illustrate spiritual truth, Jesus did it all the time. However, a couple points:
1) Parables kept people from seeing the truth. When you look at Jesus’ explanation of why He taught in parables, He didn’t do it so people would understand, He did it because they couldn’t understand. Jesus was talking to a group of hardened people, so He shared stories, but only the disciples got the interpretation–only those who could see and hear for real got true teaching. When people have to use stories to keep your attention on spiritual things, it’s not a good sign. However, it might be a good introduction and hopefully will spur further questions to find truth.
2) Why do cheesy events replace church? There are 24 hours of 6 other days of the week to cheapen biblical teaching in such ways, why does church have to be cancelled to go have fun on a ski mountain? I’m all for fun on a ski mountain, but seriously, there is no other time to do this besides Sunday morning during church? It’s like people who cancel church to do service projects in the neighborhood. There’s just something wrong with that. What were they all doing Saturday? Is service only done if I can miss church to do it? Why not take some time from our copious levels of leisure to do service instead of cancelling church for it? Just a pastoral pet-peeve.
I know, I know, this is how people who may have aversions to attending church might be more comfortable in a neutral setting. blah, blah, blah. What you attract them with you keep them with.
Preach the word, in season and out.
What is Worship, and Does Tasing Tambourine Players Qualify?
Seems like every day there is a news story about some worshiper getting carried away and being tasered. OK, maybe not every day, but yesterday anyway.
It begs the question: what is worship? Is banging on a tambourine worship? Is tasering people worship?
Most have the notion that worship is music. Music certainly can be part of worship, that’s what the Psalms are about, but worship is not exclusive to music.
Others think worship has to have certain feelings, a weepiness or a swooning, perhaps some tingles up the spine. Although feelings may be part of worship, they certainly are not all of what worship it.
Some think worship has to include flowery speech. Whispering sweet-nothings to Jesus, almost as if He were the new boyfriend. Although there may be words of affection in our worship, worship is certainly more than that.
There are two main Greek words that pertain to worship:
Proskuneo–according to Strong’s Definitions, it means, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, that is, (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage.” The kiss is not a kiss of affection, but a kiss of submission, like kissing the king’s hand. I like the idea of a dog licking his master’s hand–it shows affection, fidelity, devotion and submission.
Latreuo–this word has more to do with service, the actual carrying out of duties. In the OT it referred primarily to priests doing the actual sacrificing of animals and so forth. It carries with it the idea of menial service, being a slave.
Combining both notions we can see that worship comes out of humility, an acknowledgment that I am low and God is high. I bow before Him, prostrate myself before Him whether literally or figuratively. It shows a total submission to the Master. Then it carries on into doing what the Master says.
Both words are used in Matthew 4:10, “for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
“Worship the Lord” is the word proskuneo, bow before the Lord, humbly come to Him. Him only shalt thou serve,” is the word lutreuo–do what He says.
Romans 12:1 says we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, this is our reasonable service (lutreuo). Being a living sacrifice means doing what God says.
Worship can take many forms, it may even take the form of tasing someone if that’s what the Master wants done (see Phinehas in the OT!). At its core, worship is humble, it’s an acknowledgment of God’s superiority and my duty to serve Him and then carrying out that duty.
If what you think worship is, isn’t this, then it isn’t worship!
When Worship Goes Wrong
A woman was apparently playing a tambourine too loudly during Wednesday night services. When she refused to stop, the woman was escorted out by an off duty Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Myers said, “He had to physically escort her outside the church. Once outside, she broke free from the deputy and tried to go back inside, there became a physical confrontation.” According to the arrest report, the deputy was forced to pepper spray and tase the unruly woman.
With much beautiful irony, the name of the church where this incident occurred is Victory Church. It’s my opinion that more worship leaders should be tased, but that’s just me.
“She was not filled with the Holy spirit. She was not being very Christianly and this is why the folks decided to get her out as soon as possible.”
But how can you be so sure? David’s wife Michal may have tased her husband if tasing were invented then. It’s OK dear tambourine woman, claim the promise of Jeremiah 31:4 as your own, ““Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.”
You’ll feel better in the jingle jangle morning.
Pastor’s Kids, Katy Perry, Church and My kids
Pastor’s kids have long had a bad reputation. Living in the home of a pastor presents various troubles for a youth. Pastors are human and react humanly to things other humans do.
Kids take this all in. Church can be a PK’s biggest enemy in life, and Christianity can be the worst group of people in the world, since that seems to be the group that is ruining their parent’s life.
I am a pastor’s kid and had much resentment toward the church and the “Christians” who made my dad’s life miserable. Thankfully, I was also taught reality about sin and the need for the Gospel. Rather than whine and quit, I became strengthened to try to help out.
Not all pastor’s kids respond this way. Katy Perry is the latest famous PK who has walked away from the faith, saying she no longer believes in God.
As I progress through my career as a pastor and attempt to raise three kids into adults, I fear for them as well. The biggest things I try to do for them is to be honest about church stuff, be upfront about the problems, but also upfront about forgiveness.
I spend time with them, maybe too much. I talk things through and try to help them think. I also try to develop a life for them outside of church, let them be in the world and let them see that the world is way crummier than your church!
I am also blessed to have great people in my church who my kids can honestly look up to. In the end, a church made up of phonies is going to turn kids off, whether they are related to the pastor or not.
My desire has always been to have a real church doing the real ministry of the Body of Christ, not just a group of people who pat each other on the back for our good acting skills, while stabbing each other in the back.
You’re Not Right All the Time and That’s OK
There has never been any person on this planet whose thoughts have all been true, except for John Piper, I mean, except for Jesus.
Some people honestly think all their beliefs are true and all their thoughts are 100% true, but these people are delusional.
To know that some of your views are wrong, and you might not even know which ones, may seem unnerving, it bothers many a person. “How can I know anything then?” is the typical overreaction.
Knowing that not everything you think or believe is true is humbling. It keeps you from bashing others into the ground. It keeps you out of the sphere of being like Job’s friends. Knowing you might be wrong keeps you from being a jerk.
We’re all fallible. There is a freedom in that, but mostly there should be humility.
91-year old Kenny Sailor, inventor of the jump shot, shares a bit of his testimony. Cool little video.
Two Main Proofs You Are Saved
Many people have the idea that Christianity is about avoiding big time sins. We have a list of sins that are worser than others:
Sex out of wedlock
Certainly these sins are sins and to be avoided, no denying that, but perhaps the main reason we like to pick on them is because we don’t do them, or at least have few opportunities to indulge in them.
When one looks at the Bible and gets to the core of Christian virtue, one will note there are two huge, oft-repeated areas of life the Bible emphasizes to prove spiritual life is present:
1) Control of your mouth
2) What you do with your stuff and your money
These two issues come up all the time throughout our day. The number of times you have had to murder people in life is much less than how often you have dealt with these two issues. Even murderers don’t murder that frequently!
The number of opportunities you have to commit adultery or have an abortion are few compared with the number of times you open your mouth throughout the day.
True evidence of Christ in you is not just that you avoid certain sins, but that the life of Christ transforms your speech from vain words to wholesome speech, and transforms your view of the world and the things of the world from selfish living to selfless giving.
Be careful about sin checklists as proof of your salvation. Rather, look to see if you are living by faith. Your mouth reveals your heart. Your spending reveals your heart. New hearts are what we need and they transform lives.
Sermon: 2 Corinthians 9
You can subscribe to the Rhinelander Bible Church podcast on iTunes here.
Nudist Church in Need of Many Things, Including More One-Liners
“About an hour’s drive south of Richmond, there’s a small congregation that doesn’t care about “material” things. They worship the same way we were all brought into this world, naked.
Even in February, when temperatures can average in the 20s, members show up in various forms: some fully clothed, others topless, many still completely nude.
Pastor Allen Parker says it’s not about the clothes, or lack thereof. He says it’s about baring his soul to Christ and leading his flock down that path of righteousness, no matter what they’re wearing.”
Of all the applications of Hebrews 4:13, this has got to be the worst one.
Greeting one another with a holy kiss has never been so awkward.
Brings new meaning to “Just as I am.”
If you can’t be clothed in righteousness, then be not clothed at all.
Didn’t Jesus throw people out of a wedding for this?
So that’s why they call em “pews.”
Look to the Lamb of God, cuz you can’t afford to look anywhere else.
Maybe you should have a couple things between your soul and the Savior.
Bet they never sing, “Sweeter as the years go by.”
Situational Ethics and Being Like Christ
Back in seminary I took a class on Postmodernism. The basic tenet of “postmodern thought” is that truth is relative, your truth isn’t my truth, so who are you to tell me what to do?
The big, evil, nasty idea from this was “situational ethics.” Situational ethics, to most observers, said that right and wrong change based on what situation you are in.
Christianity viewed this as big time trouble.
However, let me just say, there is some truth to it. Not always, but some times. That’s right, there are certain situations where situational ethics are correct!
Rahab lying to protect the spies is a classic example. The midwives lying and hiding the Jewish baby boys is another.
Jesus Himself shows a tremendous ability to shift what He does based on the situation. The woman caught in adultery is told to go, I won’t condemn you. The Canaanite woman who begs for a miracle is called a dog by Jesus.
Is there really a situation where someone should be called a dog? Apparently so, unless you think Jesus made a mistake.
The Gospels are filled with examples of treating people as individuals, there is no cookie-cutter approach that fit all situations.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It’s up to us to, by faith, figure out what fits the season we and others are in. Discern the times and speak a well-fitted word.
If your response to people is always the same, no variation, you know exactly what to do all the time and it’s always __________(fill in the blank with your go-to thing), faith has probably left your life.
Shake it up a bit. Think things through, don’t just whip out the old routinized habit. Something tells me your old life being replaced by a new life is going to result in some new actions in old situations!
Shroud of Turin All Shook Up
The Shroud of Turin, a piece of cloth with what appears to be a man’s face on it, has long been exploited (although not officially) to be the burial shroud of Jesus.
Let me just say for the record: I doubt it highly.
Lots of tests have been done on the shroud to determine its origin and possible date. The latest theory is that the shroud is the result of an earthquake.
Apparently, “neutron emissions from an ancient earthquake that rocked Jerusalem could have created the iconic image, as well as messed up the radiocarbon levels that later suggested the shroud was a medieval forgery.”
“These neutron emissions could have interacted directly with nitrogen atoms in the linen fibers, inducing chemical reactions that created the distinctive face image on the shroud, the scientists say.”
I don’t know, sounds shaky to me.
Can Christians Say “Allah”? Wait, I said It Again!
Malaysia is currently deciding whether non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” along with 18-25 other words. Particular attention to Christians using those words in efforts to evangelize Muslims. If “Allah” was “allowed to be used by Christians, it could threaten national security and public order.”
“Any attempt to stop the Christians to use the word will violate their constitutional right to practise their faith unhindered,” Jagir told The Malaysian Insider.
He made the comments following a statement by Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday that the 10-point solution allowing for the use of “Allah” in Bibles was valid for Sabah and Sarawak, and any other state that does not forbid its use among non-Muslims.”
As much as I find it silly that Muslims are uptight about such things, I also find it silly that Christians would describe God as Allah in an effort to evangelize.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” and He aint the God Allah.
The Key Difference Between the Third-Party Payment of the Gospel and Obamacare
Third-party payments ruin everything. Health care is the prime example. If I have to pay out of my pocket every time I go to the doctor, I will go to the doctor less. If someone else pays for me to go to the doctor, I will go to the doctor more.
Insurance was set up to spread costs among many people. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until economics reared its head. Once people found out they can go to the doctor and not have to pay hardly anything, they went for every sneeze and hiccup.
Amusingly, our government has decided to increase the number of people who are in the third-part payment system. They are stunned it isn’t working well.
Anytime someone else pays for you, you will take advantage of them. It’s human nature–money for nothing.
Christians believe that Christ paid for our sins. I don’t know exactly what people mean by this when they say it, since it’s not a biblical phrase, but I do know how people apply it–Hey, Christ paid for my sins! Woohoo! Party time! Let’s go sin!
The Law set up a system where if you sinned you paid the price through sacrifices. There was no third-party payment, it was you and your sin account. Obviously this system did not work overall.
Israel pretty much just stopped doing sacrifices. Skip that noise. For a significant portion of OT history, they had even lost the book the Law was written in!
No one was paying for any sins because no one was really paying attention. Kind of like young men not going to the doctor, insurance or not.
When Christ came along as the spotless Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, sin was now “paid for.” The sacrifice for sin was done, in fact, Christ was the fulfillment of all the types of sacrifice of the OT that covered sin.
Through redemption and the purchase of blood, believers are bought with a price and made God’s sons. This is all very cool. But, since it’s a third-party payment system, many have found the loophole and abuse it–since sin doesn’t cost me anything, I’m going to go sin more!
So, what’s the difference between Obamacare and Jesus paying for your sins? Well, Jesus has a functional website, that’s one difference.
Obamacare is a bureaucratic behemoth that treats you like a number. It’s also a system that you do pay for through taxes. It’s a bummer if you are rich or healthy, as with most government programs, doing worse is rewarded.
The Gospel, Christ’s third-party payment for your sins, is based on love. God does the paying. It would be similar to Obamacare if Barrack Obama himself paid all our medical expenses, but I assure you, that is not happening.
The Gospel is better than insurance, the Gospel is the love of a Father for His kids, even if His kids are still in the prodigal son stage of life. The response to the Gospel is not one of–how can I most irresponsibly get away with sin–the response to the Gospel is–I love Him because He first loved me.
God is the ultimate third-party payer. He pays out of love. He takes the expense on Himself, not forcing it on the unwilling masses. If you respond to the Gospel with libertine licentiousness, you don’t see God’s love and you fail to see the true danger and cost of sin.
For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only Son, so that whoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.
Other Stuff In Russia Besides Olympics
February 9 “Dressed in black, with a swastika behind his back and armed with a pistol, a 25- year-old broke into a church in Eastern Russia and, after firing indiscriminately against icons and faithful, killed two people and injured six others.”
“. . . the young man entered the cathedral shortly after the end of the Mass and began to shoot t the faithful and icons hanging on the wall, after having broken a cross. Not many people were left and some managed to escape, but the nun and the parishioner who tried to stop the attacker were killed. According to him, the killer cursed God and Christianity.”
Christianity is About More Than Beating Sin
Despite the best efforts of the Church, most people still think sin is bad. There are even some who would like to stop sin in their life.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one way to defeat sin, it has worked for believers and non-believers alike. There is no doubting the effectiveness of the method.
The problem with most of our obsessions with overcoming sin is that we want to beat sin for selfish reasons. Some want to defeat alcohol because it’s expensive. Some because it’s embarrassing to get arrested. Some just feel horribly guilty or hate what it does to them.
Very rarely do we desire to stop sin because God doesn’t like it. When David got busted, his reply to God was, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”
David wasn’t worried about his reputation, or the cost, or the newspaper reports. No, David knew his biggest problem was sinning against God.
Pride can be an effective destroyer of sin. Our desire to have a good reputation may keep us from sin, but is this really the point? Is God satisfied with self-righteous Pharisees who don’t break the law outwardly but are dirtier than death inwardly?
Too much of our desire for holiness is nothing but proud thinking. I have known Keswick Theology people who have had the “second conversion,” who now know everything, who are living victoriously.
They are some of the most uncaring, unfeeling, unsympathetic people I’ve ever come in contact with, only outdone by those who believe they have attained sinless perfection. (yes, this is anecdotal evidence)
If your sole desire in sanctification is to overcome some sins you don’t like in you, may I suggest your motivation might be off? I use the word “might,” because you still might be fine.
But allow me to suggest that the Believer’s true desire is not to overcome sin alone, but to be like Christ. One of the results of being like Christ is overcoming sin, but it then moves on to doing the will of the Father, putting off the old life is replaced by putting on the new life.
Just beating sin might make you a more proud, arrogant boaster. There are some who would be better off going back to their sin just to keep their proud mouths shut. Replacing an outward sin with an inward sin is not defeating sin!
Becoming like Christ is the Believer’s true desire. Seek that.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”
Suicide Bombing Instructor Blows Up Class
It’s not funny when people die.
“A commander at a secluded terrorist training camp north of Baghdad unwittingly used a belt packed with explosives while conducting a demonstration early Monday for a group of militants, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, army and police officials said.”
You know, I’ve always said suicide bombers have no class.
That’s the great thing about being a teacher of Christianity, people don’t die in suicide bombing classes when the teacher makes a mistake.
“But thou, O Lord, shalt laugh at them;
thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.”
Christian Victimhood and Overcoming Sin
Every judgment of humanity by God is based on works–what you have done.
Unbelievers will be judged by God “according to their works.” Believers will also stand before the Lord to give an account for what he has “done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
At no point will God look at a person’s works, what they did with their body, and say, “Well, you know that sin stuff was pretty powerful, you really didn’t have a choice, you had to sin. And, looking back, I can say it was all My fault. If I didn’t want you to sin I could have stopped you, but I didn’t. My bad.”
The first reason He won’t say this is because the phrase “my bad” makes no grammatical sense. “Bad” is an adjective, a word that describes a noun. “My” implies ownership. People own things; things are nouns. You can’t own an adjective. Stop saying that.
The second reason He won’t say this is because it makes no earthly or heavenly sense. We are judged for OUR sin. OUR sin is OUR sin. We own it (sin is a noun). It’s ours.
I know, I know, everyone and their mother believes that alcoholism and drug abuse and pornography and other addictions are “diseases,” or a result of genetics. Not true. I’m not saying addiction isn’t a tough thing to break, it is. Your genetics may predispose you to certain addictions and might even work against you breaking the addiction, but that doesn’t mean you have no control or responsibility.
I’ve heard way too many people who claim to be believers give up fighting sin either because God is gracious so who cares, or because of some odd notion of sanctification that God is the only one who can stop me, I have no power to do anything.
Being a victim is a grand strategy. Lots of people will like your Facebook posts where you “keeps it real” about your victimhood. There is even big money in being a victim, you might be able to get on disability for your rampant sin.
In the end, no one likes to consider their stand before God and giving an account. No one wants to think about it because, at root, we all know we are responsible and we all know we’re blowing it.
Well, here’s my advice–STOP IT!
If you are out of control, then first, pray for salvation. Second, pray for the Spirit to teach you and get in the Word. Third, flee all appearance of evil. Fourth, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Fifth, by the Spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh.
You will note that in all the biblical commands about overcoming sin, YOU have something to do! Yes, Christ gives you the ability, the weapons and all that is needed, but you have to use them! It’s not His fault if sin continues to beat you down.
In all honesty, you probably don’t even need the Holy Spirit or salvation in order to overcome a powerful addiction. I know this because the watered-down doctrines of Alcoholics Anonymous are not telling you to go to Christ, they tell you to acknowledge a “higher power.”
All that Christ brings to the believer through the Gospel empowers the believer to overcome sin and the world. All this is received by faith and acted on in faith–that’s what faith is–doing what God says.
It will not only help you overcome alcoholism, it will enlighten you to see just how much sin really is in your heart and help you become like Christ, not just become a person who doesn’t drink alcohol.
Have a big vision of who Christ is. Trust His power to conform you to His image. Then go use the stuff He gave you–one of which is the spiritual fruit of self-control. Get off your victim status and get to work.