No Tears In Heaven?

Eric Clapton sang a song about there being no tears in heaven. As great as Mr. Clapton is at playing the guitar, he’s no theologian.

Just as Christianity has a very wrong view of happiness on earth, they also have a wrong view of tears in heaven.

According to the standard Christian view: Christians don’t want tears on earth or in heaven. Meanwhile, the Bible puts plenty of tears in both places.

I’ll focus on the book of Revelation, one of the few books that gives us glimpses of heaven.

John is in heaven and sees a scroll that no one can open. John immediately bursts out crying. Tears in heaven.

Revelation 7 says the Lamb will wipe away tears from the eyes of people in heaven. In order to wipe tears away, tears must be there to begin with. Tears in heaven.

In both cases, people in heaven are hurting for the scenes of violence and corruption on the earth. John is bummed because no one can open the scroll that will judge all the unrighteous deeds on earth. Heavenly people are mourning, how much longer will God let evil prevail?

People in heaven seem to have a notion of what’s going on down here. Since they have now seen and experienced what full righteousness is like, the wickedness of this place causes them tears.

It’s not until later when God sets things right that no one cries anymore. Watch what happens in Revelation

Revelation 11:10—world rejoices over torment of God’s witnesses–people on earth think unrighteousness is happy.
Revelation 12:12—Satan is cast out of heaven to cause havoc on earth. God says because of this, heaven should rejoice and the earth will mourn over this.

It isn’t until God begins to drop judgment on the earth that people in heaven begin to rejoice. Until then, all earth’s sufferings are a cause of pain to those in heaven. They want righteousness to prevail.

God wipes out Babylon, the great city of earth’s luxury. When those on earth see Babylon fall they are crushed. Now the earth mourns when their pretty little city gets destroyed.

Meanwhile, back in heaven, God’s people are rejoicing! The Great Babylon is fallen shows the downfall of earth’s power, rebellion, and false kingdom.

Revelation 18:11-19—the world will weep when judgment drops.
Revelation 18:20—heaven rejoices over this judgment!

It’s not until the new heaven and the new earth where all pain and tears are taken away, Revelation 21:4.

Christianity has a very poor doctrine of crying. It’s enough to make a guy cry. I believe we should get it right or else we may find ourselves on the wrong side.

The Joy of the Lord Is Thy Strength

I read an article on “The Joy of the Lord” recently.

The biblical phrase, “the joy of the Lord is thy strength” is oft quoted and it is “so often repeated whenever there was any hint of sadness or frustration or boredom at our house: “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” It was a defeater statement, a kind of Jesus-juke meant to stifle any real emotions we might be feeling. Stop being sad/mad/bored/whatever and be JOYFUL! After all, you have a relationship with Jesus!”

I hear the author’s complaint and would agree.

Too many Christians believe that faith = happy. It’s the Joel Osteenization of Christianity. Unfortunately, it’s not just in whacky Osteenesque churches any more, it’s pretty much everywhere.

We believe that since we go to church God will give us the happiest marriage ever, the happiest kids, the happiest job, the happiest everything! Happiness is even used as a lure to believe the Gospel “God has a wonderful plan for your life!”

Happy, happy. Joy, joy. If you aint happy; you aint believin’!

“The joy of the Lord is thy strength” comes from the little book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah and a remnant of Jews went back to rebuild Jerusalem during the Babylonian captivity. The nation was gone, the walls were gone, and most devastatingly, the temple was gone.

Nehemiah determines to rebuild while Ezra the priest determines to hold a revival. Nehemiah 8, the passage with the above phrase, shows Ezra reading the law to them in the street. I believe elsewhere it points out that it was raining as well.

After a half day of bludgeoning by the law, the people are crushed. They hang their heads, bow to the ground and weep. Nehemiah 8:9 says,

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

The people were weeping and Nehemiah tells them to stop, and then and only then does he go on to say verse 10:

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

The only time the Bible tells people specifically to cheer up is when they are rolling in the dust in anguish. This is no plea to live in happiness day by day. This is a command to rejoice that though the law just crushed you, you still have the Lord and His promises. Rejoice in Him.

There is no way this verse can broadly be applied to American Christianity. The verse that fits better with American Christianity is “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

As I’ve said before, Christianity is way too happy.

Laughter and Christlikeness don’t really go together. Although I can show you several verses where Jesus cried, I can’t find one that said He laughed. I imagine that means something.

Granted, the Bible does praise laughter from time to time. We are to have joy. But the joy and laughter the Bible speaks of is not a distraction with worldly funny and worldly pleasure.

Biblical joy and laughter are centered in Christ, yet outwardly the believer should feel and show pain, tears, sorrow, and mourning. At least sometimes! Once?!

This world is falling apart, yet we laugh our way through, amusing ourselves to Armageddon. Our laughter may be one of the biggest things held against us at Judgment Day.

This post is one-sided, I mean it to be that way. We could all use a little sobering up.

Here’s Who You Blame When You Find Out You’re A Moron

When I was in college, I assumed I was smart. I assumed I knew nearly everything there was to know.

Then I heard some stuff I’d never heard before. Hmm, what to do with this? I could conclude:

1) My teachers in my younger years must have been morons, or
2) This must be new information

Certainly it couldn’t be that I didn’t know something!

Many college age kids are like this. They swallow the party line they were taught, which may or may not be good depending on what party you were born into, then once they leave the house they are introduced to new stuff they’ve never heard before.

Since they know everything, yet they didn’t know this, they assume no one else must have heard of it either. Foundations shake.

They go back to their home pastor, “What’s up with this Calvinism stuff? Didn’t you know God created people to go to hell for His glory?”

Yup, the pastor knew, probably even taught on it 4,000 times. You just weren’t paying attention. You had no idea you needed to, you thought you already knew everything.

It’s funny to me how many people assume that since some doctrine is new to them, it must be new to everyone. It’s amusing how many people have informed me of “new doctrines” that have been around for 1,000 years or so. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Just because you’re clueless doesn’t mean everyone is.

Yet everyone goes through a clueless stage. It’s best to teach people that they are clueless. It’s best to inform people that learning requires work.

Too often we lead people to think that God zaps you with knowledge, that you just let go and let God fill in the details.

Nope. Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Study means zeal, energy. Workman means you need to work. The Bible is a large book. The fact that we think we know everything in it only proves our stupidity.

It’s a lifetime of learning, and even then you won’t get it all.

The most frightening people in all the world are those who figured it all out long ago. They don’t teach that learning is hard and takes forever, because for them, it didn’t.

And there’s a reason why it didn’t.

Why Did Christ Redeem You?

Why did Christ die for you?

Usually “love” is part of the answer. “Because He loves us.” Certainly He does. God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died for us because He loved us. This explains His character, His motivation for dying for us. He loves us.

True enough. But let’s answer the question from a different angle. Love explains why Christ did what He did, but for us, what is the takeaway for us that Christ died for us?

In other words, what is the purpose desired in those whom He died for? Yes, love is why He did it, but further, what was He hoping it would do for us?

Here is where it gets interesting. A couple verses:

Titus 2:14–Christ gave Himself for us in order to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

2 Corinthians 5:15–Christ died for us in order that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Ephesians 2:8-10–Christ died for us to create us new in Christ to do good works.

Christ grants salvation to whomever believes in His Gospel. You don’t earn this. You don’t clean yourself up enough until God lets you in. There’s nothing you can do to deserve salvation.

We are told to believe in Christ and His gracious Gospel. Once faith has taken root, the believer is regenerated, reborn, created new, and passes from death unto life.

This new life is the life of Christ–no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.

This new life is granted so that we would do righteousness, good works, and flee sin.

The reason Christ died for you, the purpose it is to produce in the Believer, is good works. Plain and simple. Good works are good. God is good. Do the works that line up with the God you allegedly believe.

A life of good works that flows out of faith is the only way a person can have true security and assurance of salvation.

You were saved to do good works. Don’t confuse the issue.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Sproul’s Ridiculous Answer to “Does God Desire All Men to be Saved?”

R C Sproul was asked on film if he believed God desired all men to be saved. The clip is below.

Although I could make a longer statement about Calvinist Mark Driscoll, recently fired pastor of Mars Hill Church for bullying people, I shall refrain. Feeling nice right now.

Anyhoo, the other day I was looking for a clip on the internet about something and came across this. My kids were sitting in the room with me.

After Driscoll asks whether God desires all men to be saved, I stopped the clip and said to my children. “The answer is yes.” I then alluded to the following clear statements of Scripture:

2 Peter 3:9–that the Lord is not willing that any should perish but should come to repentance.
Acts 17:30–that God now commands all men everywhere to repent.
1 Timothy 2:3,4–God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

“The answer is yes,” I repeated. “He only needs three letters to answer this question. Want to bet he’s not going to say ‘yes?'”

The video was stopped at the :54 second mark. All he has to do is say “yes,” but Sproul, being a backed into the corner Calvinist from way back, he can’t possibly say yes to this question, because he doesn’t believe God wants all men to be saved.

According to Calvinism, if God wanted all men to be saved, God would make all men saved. God doesn’t do that, therefore, according to Calvinism, God does not want all men to be saved.

I also knew Sproul wouldn’t answer “yes” because the video is 3:15 long! It only takes one second to say “yes.”

Sproul did not say yes. Sproul, as most false teachers do, went into defining words. A thing Paul warned against.

Calvinism is only true if the Bible’s uses of words are not standard. Calvinism needs new dictionaries. This is just one example of many.

Calvinism is false. I shall now stop. I have gotten the anti-Calvinist bug out of my system for another year or so. Thanks for listening.

An Example of Grace Gone Bad

Last week I read a “theology” book that drove me crazy. I did this on purpose. It’s fun to voluntarily be driven crazy. It’s why people own cats. I knew by deciding to read this book, I would go nuts at some point.

Boy howdy, did I.

This book was talking about grace and salvation. As many do when talking about grace, they go overboard. They take a fine idea and drive it into the ground until they begin teaching heresy.

Here is the quote I read word for word. Enjoy.

“For grace requires nothing of man but an acknowledgment of his undone condition and complete dependence on God. If an intellectual understanding were necessary to receive the gift of God, then there would be that in man which is meritorious in the sight of God.”

Oh my. Catch this sentence: “If an intellectual understanding were necessary to receive the gift of God, then there would be that in man which is meritorious in the sight of God.”

Did you get that? What he is saying is, “If you are intellectually able to understand the Gospel and respond to it, you have done a meritorious work and thus are not saved by grace.”

I mean, I’ve read some dumb things in my day, but wow.

Therefore, the only way a person can be saved is if they have absolutely no clue, no intellectual understanding, no mental assent to the Gospel. Otherwise, when they get saved they would glory in their superior intellect.

This is Calvinism gone way bad. This is hyper-grace gone way bad.

This means, the only people who can be saved are those who don’t understand the Gospel and thus never come to it knowingly.

I mean, come on. I can see how a person’s theological bias might drive them into this corner to say such a thing, but there’s no way a person can read the Bible and come away with such nonsense.

I am not saying we are saved by our intellect, I’m not saying a person has to understand it all before they can be saved, but I am definitely saying you kind of have to know what’s going on.

Paul told Timothy, “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Is Timothy not saved because he knew? Was his knowing the Scriptures a meritorious work forcing God to have to save him? Give me a break.

I paced up and down the hall for about half an hour preaching to no one, since I was home alone, til I got that one out of my system. Wow. Not only did the book this quote came from go in the garbage, every book by this author followed.

Although the author of this quote wants you to be stupid, I don’t. I want you to use your brain.

Calvinism and the Prodigal Son

Calvinists like to explain their theory of salvation with the resurrection of Lazarus. “Dead people can’t believe. God has to raise you up to believe.”

Never mind that nowhere in the passage about Lazarus rising from the dead does Jesus hint that this is an illustration of salvation.

What’s more ironic, is Calvinism doesn’t center on one of Jesus’ main parables of what salvation is like–The Prodigal Son. This is clearly stated to be an illustration of how salvation works.

The Prodigal Son wandered off and squandered all his dad gave him. While slopping around with pigs, he thinks about how good his dad is to others. “I bet if I go back he’ll be good to me.”

He goes back, because the goodness of God leads people to repentance.

The father receives him back and throws him a party. Salvation! It’s a wonderful thing!

Except Calvinists don’t like this story that much, or at least they have to do some spectacular gymnastics to avoid the obvious flow of what happened.

To the Calvinist, the Prodigal Son, by going back, is doing a meritorious work, the father, in essence, owes him a feast.

Now, certainly no Calvinist will come out and say this, but alas, it is their doctrine. As I recently read a Calvinist say, “If humans do one thing to obtain salvation, then it isn’t grace and God’s glory is diminished.” As if the Prodigal Son “coming to himself” and walking home to Dad, means Dad owes him a party. Walking home earned the party.

This is asinine reasoning.

The Prodigal Son, while wallowing with pigs, comes to himself. he sees his condition. Furthermore, he clearly sees his father’s character. These two things work together to lead him to go to the father. Him leaving pigs to receive salvation from his dad is not a meritorious work; it’s common sense.

That is salvation. God has demonstrated His love toward us. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN. We know God is good. When we realize we’re bad and we desperately need Him, that is when we come.

He willingly takes us and throws a party of celebration, shedding His grace abundantly on us.

This is the traditional, long before Calvin and Augustine, view of how salvation works. This parable does not fit with the Calvinist interpretation of salvation.

Furthermore, just to rub it in and make the point a little further, while Calvinists like to talk about Lazarus being dead and raised to illustrate salvation, note what the father says about his returned son:

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Did you get that?! Calvinists love to talk about how we’re dead, unable to return. Notice what the father said about his son! “My son was dead, and is alive again.”

Being dead spiritually is not akin to Lazarus in the grace. Being dead spiritually is akin to being a rebellious, idiot, pig slop eating, sinner like the prodigal son.

Although Calvinism likes to twist other parables to attempt to prove their theory, they do a fine job of ignoring obvious parables that clearly portray salvation happening differently than their theory.

Calvinism is wrong. The end.

Raising Lazarus Has Nothing to do with Calvinism

One of the favorite pastimes of Calvinists is to see Calvinism’s view of salvation in passages that have nothing to do with salvation.

A classic example is John 11 and the raising of Lazarus.

Many times I have heard a Calvinist tell me that salvation is like Lazarus getting up from the grave. Non-Calvinist evangelism is just preaching in a cemetery. You can’t raise the dead! Only God can do that! God raises you up and then you believe.

Right off the bat, what you’ll notice about John 11 is that at no point does Jesus say that what He’s about to do is an illustration of how salvation works. Nowhere does He say, “In like manner, so to will you be saved when God raises you up and saves you like I did Lazarus.”

Nope, not there. You won’t find it. Nothing in the passage indicates that Jesus is doing an object lesson of salvation.

In fact, Jesus does come out and tell people what the whole point of the resurrection of Lazarus is all about–it’s so Israel might believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Again, as I said yesterday, people who hold to Covenant Theology, like Calvin did, are Calvinists. Covenant Theology does not see the distinction between Israel and the Church like Dispensational Theology does. Not only does this cloud their understanding of Romans 9-11, it clouds them on many passages.

The disciples are clueless about what is going on with Lazarus, they think he’s taking a nap. Since disciples can’t even tell when a guy is dead, I’m pretty sure this eliminates this being an elaborate, hidden parable of how salvation works.

Jesus says to His confused disciples, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Jesus says He’s glad Lazarus is dead, because it will give His disciples an opportunity to believe. To believe what? The same thing as what Martha was asked to believe:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Martha is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. If He has power to raise the dead, then you know this is the Messiah. As Jesus told John the Baptist when he doubted:

The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

The whole point of raising Lazarus was to convince people to believe! Note what He said earlier: “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

When you believe, you cease being dead and come alive! Believing is what turns that corner.

If Jesus were doing this to illustrate Calvinism, no doubt He would have said, “God will raise you up so you might believe and then I can stop wasting my time trying to show you signs so you will believe.”

He didn’t. Instead He uses all this to ask people to believe. He wraps up the whole scene with this:

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

He does things so that people might believe. He leaves it up to them after making it obvious who He was. If they want Him, they can get Him. Jesus is no Calvinist. And thank God for that.

Romans 9-11 is About Israel, Not God Hating Your Unborn Baby

I haven’t bashed on Calvinism for a while. Feeling like I should, otherwise certain pesky Calvinists will think I’ve begun to reconsider my ways.

Recently I have done a little reading in Romans and particularly focused on Romans 9-11. I have avoided reading alternative understandings of Romans 9 because I wanted to study it myself.

In the past, I have held to the standard Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9–God hates some people and loves others, deal with it, you pile of dirt.

But this interpretation leads to all manner of things that are blatantly contradictory with the rest of the Bible. It seems to me, that if God said what He meant, Romans 9 can’t mean what Calvinists say it means.

So, what is Romans 9-11 about? It would be too wordy and intricate to get into detail in writing, but the gist is that Romans 9-11 is about God’s removal of Israel from their prime spot and the bringing in of the Gentiles.

To dispensational people, such as myself, we see that Israel and the Church are two different things. We believe that God will fulfill all His promises to Israel even though they’ve been set aside for a time.

The opposite interpretation of dispensationalism, is Covenant Theology. Covenant people think Israel has replaced the Church, that God won’t fulfill His promises to Israel literally because they’ve been spiritually fulfilled in the Church.

White guys going to church in Iowa is what God meant when He promised David a kingdom. I don’t buy it.

As far as I know, if you adhere to a Covenant interpretation of Scripture, you are also a Calvinist. Calvin held a Covenant Theology view of Scripture. Covenant people don’t see the Israel/Church distinction.

Therefore, since Romans 9-11 is all about the Israel/Church distinction, it only makes sense that they’d completely miss Paul’s point there. And they do. Big time.

The following is as brief as possible that I can lay down what I’ve seen. The basic point is that Romans 9 asks the question—why can God harden Israel? Romans 10 answers the question—because all day long I held out my hands and they didn’t come, so now they are cut off and Gentiles are grafted in.

Romans 9:1-7—the advantage of the Jew does not imply all Jews are saved
Romans 9:24—some in Jews and Gentiles are called
Romans 9:27-10:1—Israel largely misses the point, only a few are saved
Romans 10:12—no difference between Jew and Gentile
Romans 10:19-21—God has been extending His hand to Israel for years
Romans 11:1-3—Has God completely cast off Israel, The natural seed of Abraham?
Romans 11:7—some got it–the elect remnant–those who missed it God blinded
Romans 11:25-26—Don’t miss my point! Gentiles stay humble. God has a plan for Israel to fulfill His promises to them.

The passage ends with a warning to Gentiles not to get carried away thinking they are better than Israel, God can cut you out too. God is giving us a shot, just like He gave Israel. Israel blew it. Will we?

Religious Stuff Is Easier Than Love

The Sermon on the Mount tells us not to do our religious worshipy stuff in front of people. He talks about prayer, giving alms, and fasting as examples. He says we should do these things in secret, not letting anyone know we’re doing them.

The reason we keep our worship private is because it’s for God. Since it’s for God, why are we desiring to show off for people?

In the previous chapter, however, Jesus also says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Hmm, that’s weird. Why would Jesus say to let people see your good works and yet right after tell people not to let anyone see your religious deeds?

Surely this is a contradiction, final proof that Jesus was a crazy person and the Bible is nuts.

Nope, not really. He is speaking about two different things.

Good works are summed up with the word “love.” Love is the fulfilling of the law. When the NT talks about good works, it is talking about love. Love is often the determiner of whether what you just did was good or not (see 1 Corinthians 13).

Religious deeds, such as prayer, alms, and fasting, are not good works, they are just part of what you do in worship of God.

Which is easier to do: religious deeds or love?

Religious deeds are easier. Love is hard, and often has severe cost. Religious deeds are pretty simple in comparison, plus they look good and make you feel good.

Religious stuff gets all the attention, not only in Judaism, but also in Christianity. They look swell. You’ll get way more people to fast than you ever will to sacrificially love others. (In the end, most won’t do the fast either, however!)

It’s easy to show up in church (theoretically); tough to show up day-in and day-out to help crusty old woman neighbor do her laundry.

It’s easy to write a check to poor people you’ll never meet and get special recognition from the organization, than it is to know and care for poor people in town.

Jesus says when we show the Gospel right, in word and deed, people will see our good works and will glorify our Father in heaven. This is what the believer desires.

The hypocrite merely desires recognition. “Oooh, what a spiritual person.” Is what they are going for. They might get that response, but that’s about it. God does not approve.

Don’t play games with God. He knows your heart. He knows if you are doing things out of love, or if you are doing them for show.

He knows if you are doing things for Him, or just to make you feel better about yourself. This aint no game. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Lent and Bad Worship

Worship can get carried away. Sometimes that’s ok; sometimes it isn’t.

I have had moments of worship in my life that if others saw or heard it they would no doubt be offended. I have sat through many other people’s worship that I deemed offensive.

Is our offense at worship merely personal preferences, or is there truly offensive worship?

2 Samuel 6 contains two instances of people doing “bad worship.”

The first is when the Ark of the Covenant was being brought back and Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark that shifted on the cart. Seems like a logical thing to do, might have even just been a reactionary movement.

God struck him dead. The New American Standard says, “God struck him down there for his irreverence.” He violated the rules of worship for Israel.

Later, when the ark is being brought into Jerusalem, David dances before the procession and his wife despises him. “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

In the first instance God is the one who is “offended.” In the second it’s a guy’s wife. The passage makes it clear that David’s wife was wrong in her judgment as she went childless after that.

Although it is possible to offend others by your worship, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just an opinion.

However, when we violate God’s rules for worship, now we might get in trouble.

It is interesting how many Christians have justifications for why it’s OK to violate God’s rules for worship in the church. Read the NT and note how often we violate God’s rules on this issue.

Take fasting as one example. The Bible says that when you fast, don’t tell anyone, don’t make a show out of it, go out of your way to show how non-fasty you are.

Then note that we are entering the period of the church calendar called Lent, where everyone and their mother has to tell everyone that they are fasting and what they are fasting from.

Hmmm. That’s just one example of many.

Following God’s rules for worship is a really good idea. he is the one being worshiped, after all. Supposedly. Yet when we get interested more in our ideas on worship, it seems we worship ourselves more than Him. This is a bad idea.

It is a good idea to lighten up on how others worship if there are no biblical commands being broken by the worshiper. Lighten up. So they like different music, chill.

Worship, ultimately, is for God. It’s adoration and thanks for Him being who He is. He doesn’t need it. He’s not desperate for it. But He is also clear about what He considers to be true worship. I think we should be interested in that.

He wants to know if we are truly interested in Him, or just in us feeling special about ourselves. You decide.

Trivia Crack and The Ten Commandments

Trivia Crack is an app basically depicting the old Trivial Pursuit game.

I’m not that good at trivia. I like to tell myself it’s because I don’t know a lot of stupid stuff. I only know smart stuff. The definition of trivia, after all, is “Insignificant or inessential matters; trifles.”

Regardless, the one main fault of Trivia Crack is that users write the questions. Be warned, my son has written several. You know if my son is a question writer, you’re going to run into some dumb questions.

“How many commandments does Christianity have?” was a recent question I was asked. The accepted answer was “ten.”

This irritated me.

You can respond to the questions and correct them, I should have but didn’t know how to do it then. If you play the game, and I’m certainly not telling you to, and you get this question, please inform them for me that this question is wrong.

Although you don’t have to explain all the following reasons why it’s wrong, here is my brief list.

1) The Ten Commandments were for the Old Covenant Jewish religion. If you don’t think so, you need to brush up on some theology. In Deuteronomy 5, where Moses rehearses the Ten Commandments, he makes it clear that these were part of the covenant God made with Israel. No mention of Christianity in that passage at all.

2) Even if you don’t want to grant me the first point, you should agree that Jesus gave us a new commandment summed up in LOVE. Followers of Christ have one main commandment.

3) Even if you don’t want to grant me point 1 or 2, you can read the New Testament and see many commandments given over those books. 1 Thessalonians 5 has a list of 22 commands alone. All these commands fit under the One Command of LOVE.

4) Too often Christians have ripped off Judaism. I find this to be another example of the Church replacing Israel, rather than seeing a distinction between the two groups, and frankly, the two religions. There is much that joins them, but there is much that separates them. There’s a reason why there is a New Covenant. It has been proven that the Old Covenant, based on the Ten Commandments, didn’t work.

To sum up, the Ten Commandments were for Israel. This is a point that many Christians do not grasp, clearly seen by how many get fired up over putting Ten Commandment plaques in courtrooms and so forth.

As Paul said, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” The Ten Commandments are rules written on a rock with no power.

Christianity is about new life in Christ. Please, I beg you, understand this and, if you get the chance, inform Trivia Crack that their question is wrong.

American Pickers and How to Get Good Theology

American Pickers is one of my favorite TV shows. Mike and Frank travel the country buying rusty gold, old rusty stuff that they turn around and sell for profit.

I find the show entertaining and educational. I also like the idea of collectibles and making money by paying attention.

This show got me to thinking about theology.

No really, it did.

I got to thinking, what about all those old rusty verses in your Bible, the ones that aren’t underlined. What if you went back and “bought those,” cleaned em up, and put them to use?

I believe that most denominational divides were created by what verses each group decided to ignore.

A guy once explained how the Bible and theology work together by saying,

Every relevant verse should impact what you believe. If you were to eliminate a verse from the Bible, or rather, if God had never put that verse in the Bible, how would your theology change?

If your answer is, “It wouldn’t change a thing,” you might be in trouble.

For instance, your view of Eternal Security (which we talked about yesterday). What if Ezekiel 33 weren’t in the Bible, how would your view of Eternal Security change? What if John 15 was gone?

If your answer is, “It wouldn’t change at all, amen.” Then I think you should review those passages and review your understanding of Eternal Security.

That is just one doctrine. If the Bible didn’t include 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, how would your understanding of the Gospel change?

If the Bible didn’t contain Romans 9, how would your view of God change?

If the Bible didn’t contain Romans 4, how would your understanding of justification change?

Each relevant passage has something to add to your understanding of a doctrine. There are many people who pretend as though some of these passages don’t exist, which, of course, doesn’t mean they don’t exist!

God said them, By every word in the Bible we will be judged.

I fear for those who so confidently ignore passages of Scripture. I can just imagine their defense on Judgment Day, “But God, you know how I explained how you didn’t mean that.”

Find those rusty old passages, the ones you threw out back. Go dig them out, polish them up, and bring them back into the light. Let them shape your doctrine.

The Bible is a two-edged sword, able to cut. Don’t let it get rusty and dull. Be willing to let it cut you deeply. You’ll be better off afterwards.

Have A Bible Shaped Doctrine, Not A Doctrinally Shaped Bible

I think theology and doctrine are important. Knowing what you believe is critical to spiritual well-being.

However, I have seen many make camp in a particular theology or doctrine, to hold to a doctrine at all costs, only to then make shipwreck of the rest of the Bible.

For instance, I recently read a book about Eternal Security, Once Saved Always Saved. From the start, let me say–I believe that the believer is eternally secure.

I also know that the Bible includes many warning passages and conditional statements about salvation. I don’t think this means you can lose your salvation, I think it means there are few who are saved, while many believe they are.

The author tried to counter the warning passages of the Bible and eliminate them from contention. I felt he did so poorly.

While talking about warning passages in the OT and Gospels, he concluded that this was for people under the law. He said flat out that people under the law could lose their salvation.

Really? In a book about eternal security he concludes that there was a time when people could lose their salvation? I thought that was unreal. Yet, in order to buck up his theological point, he has to make that conclusion otherwise he doesn’t know what to do with warning passages in the OT or Gospels.

Ironically, he quotes David at one point, saying that God was the rock of his salvation, yet the author then said no one who denies eternal security could make that claim! Wait, what?

Several times throughout the book he said things like, “Since we know eternal security is true, we know that this verse can’t be warning believers.”

In other words–since I believe this, whatever this verse means, it can’t mean the opposite of what I believe.

That is, quite possibly, the worst way to interpret Scripture.

If you automatically eliminate a possible application because it disagrees with what you already believe, you might as well just quit reading the Bible.

It is my contention that most doctrines in the Bible have a verse or two (at least) that will seemingly contradict it. I think God does this on purpose to keep us humble, to keep us from having our knowledge puff us up.

This author’s knowledge puffed him up. I think that in an effort to buck up his doctrine he undermined three-fourths of the Bible to do it.

This is not good. Have the confidence in God that he meant what He said. Take all that God says about a subject and go with that. Don’t stake your claim and throw out everything “contradictory.” You look like a moron when you do that.

The Bible is a large book. Let it shape your doctrine; don’t let your doctrine shape it.

Light Leaves No Place for Darkness

Jesus tells us to have clear eyes so we might be filled with light. Bad, diseased eyes will fill you with darkness. The problem is that people with bad eyes don’t know what it is they aren’t seeing!

Jesus then says,

“If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.”

Jesus wants us to be filled with all light, NO PART DARK. What fellowship has light with darkness? Isaiah warned many years ago about false teachers who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.

People twist the truth. They sometimes do this deceitfully, knowing full well they are fooling you. Others just don’t know any better.

Regardless, we must be careful that we are filled with the light so we will be able to detect and drive off the dark.

Jesus then mentions a candle. This is interesting because a couple verses before this (go here for the context), Jesus mentioned a candle.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick

Candles give light. It makes no sense to put a light where it does no good to drive off darkness. What’s the point of a candle under a basket? This is Jesus warning us about the coming antichrist’s CFL’s that don’t work. What’s the point of lightbulbs that don’t light?

Right after these verses, Jesus goes off on the Pharisees and their inability to get over their meticulous rule keeping. They wash the outside of the cup but not the inside.

In other words, here are the Pharisees, all kinds of truth was given to them. They had the prophets, they had the Law, the covenant, the promises, the whole nine yards. They had the light.

What did they do with the light? They turned it into darkness. They thought for sure they had the point of the Law. They thought they nailed it. Boom! Been there, done that! We are awesome!

Instead, they nailed Jesus Christ to a cross. They killed Him. They rejected their Messiah while dividing up their mint into titheable offerings. Their light was darkness.

Romans 11 describes how Israel has been blinded, and because of their blindness, God is cutting them off. Paul then warns Gentiles not to do the same thing.

How well are we doing with God’s light? Are we using what we’ve been given to know God? Or are we wallowing in darkness all the while assuming we have it all figured out?

Sobering truths. These things were written for our learning so we don’t do the same stupid stuff.

Blind People Helping Blind Guides of the Blind Isn’t Help

Jesus warns us to have a single eye that is seeing clearly so that we might be filled with light. We are to get rid of the evil, diseased, and bad eye that fills us with darkness.

Sounds easy enough, but how do you know what kind of eye you have?

This is a trickier question than it may appear to be. If you can’t see, how do you know what it is you’re not seeing?! After Jesus gives this warning about our eyes, He says,

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.”

We are incredibly skilled at justifying ourselves, at fooling ourselves that we’re doing fine. Jesus warns that you might have what you think is light, but in fact it’s darkness.

There are many people who are absolutely convinced they have their stuff in order, that they have truth. When you point out their error, they think you are crazy.

They have sources they will tell you to look up to prove their case. They have testimonies and witnesses to the awesomeness of their view. They have a group of others who believe what they do, certainly all those people can’t be wrong!

Jesus talks about such groups of people. He describes them as the blind leading the blind. Interestingly, Jesus says “Let them alone, they be blind leaders of the blind.”

Let them alone! Are you kidding me? Shouldn’t we intervene? Shouldn’t we warn them about the ditch? Maybe even forcefully grab them and pull them away from danger?

Let them alone. Fascinating.

One of the most sobering truths of the Bible is that in all your assurance, all your feelings of being right, all your awesome glory of being so smart: you might be completely wrong.

Ouch.

He says, “Take heed,” which means to spy out, examine, study, contemplate what you believe and where you are headed. The word has to do with taking aim. Paul would say, “Examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith.”

It’s so easy to be concerned about all the blind people out there being led by blind people, that we never stop to consider if we can actually see!

Jesus is warning us to find the truth, do the hard work, and the intellectual honesty, to consider you might be all wrong. It’s the first step to learning.

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.”

Single Eye and Evil Eye

People who don’t mind sin have a bad view of God. Furthermore, people with a bad view of God, don’t mind sin. Your view of God and your behavior are linked.

Now, of course, this is politically incorrect to say, nevertheless, it is true.

People become who they think God is.

If you think God is a pushover, you will do whatever you want, God don’t mind. What’s He gonna do about it anyway? That being the case, you can sin and also take pleasure in those that sin with you. No judging here!

If you think God is a tyrannical dictator, you will probably become a jerk.

If you think God is all about order, discipline, rules, and checklists, you will become a flaming legalist.

If you think God is just peace and love, man, then you will become a fruitcake, rejoicing in all your “impressions” and “leadings” you get from your cute little mind.

If you think God hates sin and yet is willing to forgive, so that He might make us righteous, then you’re probably developing Christlikeness.

“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”

Jesus said these words, and He knows what He’s talking about.

The Single Eye is an eye that is clear, focused, and has a simplicity. It’s healthy and good, looking at healthy and good stuff. The result is that you become good, a reflector of the light.

The Evil Eye is an eye that is sick and diseased, it can’t see stuff well. Therefore, since you’re not seeing clearly, you will be filled with unclear clutter. No clarity, no simplicity, no light.

When Jesus says these words in Matthew, the next verse says you cannot serve two masters, God or mammon, as you will hate the one and love the other.

It speaks to the idea of being double-minded. The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. That’s not good.

What you look at is what you become. If you are looking at the Light, you will be filled with the Light and become like the Light.

If you look at darkness, you will be filled with darkness, and become like darkness.

It is important that we deal with truth. It is important that we seek it out, study it, learn it, and become it. God has promised to do this in us if we come to the Light.

Do not fear the Light!

The Idiot’s Guide to Dealing With Idiots

The depths of stupid out there are really overwhelming.

Any given subject has people firmly stationed on the idiot side of the spectrum. Politics. Sports. Theology. People argue about chickens for crying out loud.

What does a guy do when he comes across idiocy? Especially since everything a guy comes across is so idiotic?

Should something be said to the idiot every time?

Solomon said, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”

You can’t just go around getting ticked off, being all hot and bothered about every idiotic word that proceeds from the mouth of idiots. You’ll be exhausted, for ye have the idiots always with you.

The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.

At the same time, good night people, we can’t just let the idiots get away with their idiocy now can we?

Solomon also says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

If idiots are never corrected, they’ll go on being an idiot yet feeling really swell about it. Not correcting an idiot can show a disinterest in their well-being.

But, but, but Solomon, you just said two different things! How do I know which to do? Solomon, you’re the smartest guy in the world, make a decision for me!

But Solomon won’t. Solomon knows idiots abound. Solomon doesn’t know what to do with them any more than you do.

Solomon knows there’s “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Good luck picking the right time!

Faith puts us in total dependence upon God and the working of the Holy Spirit. Pray. Breathe. Think. Esteem others better than yourself.

Too much of our judgments of idiots is nothing more than an over-estimation of our own virtue.

By love serve one another. “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men

Biblical Liberty Is Being Free From Death

Biblical liberty means we are set free from the bondage of the fear of death. In Christ, we view ourselves as dead already, this world holds no attraction. We are crucified to the world and the world to us.

When you examine the contexts of freedom in the Bible, you will see the consistency that we’re talking about freedom from death.

Yes, we have freedom from the Law, but note how Paul explains that:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

The law is what makes sin necessary–the wages of sin is death. Sin is a violation of the law. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” Our freedom from the law doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. Freedom from the law means we are free from the penalty of violating the law–death. The law binds, it grants no power to obey, and merely leads to failure and death. The Spirit brings us alive and helps us fulfill the righteousness of the law. Freedom!

Paul goes on in Romans 8 to talk about all of creation groaning because of death and corruption due to humanity’s sin. Paul then says, “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The thing we are freed from is corruption, death, falling apart. Freedom has to do with being set free from death.

In Galatians Paul says “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” The elements of the world are the temporary things that make up our existence. These things are not what is important. Eternal, spiritual things have importance. What good does it do to have a religion with temporal, physical, decaying things? No good at all! We have been set free to worship in Spirit and in truth, not captive to external, religious observances that exist to placate your conscience so you can get back to your sin.

By faith we join with Christ in being crucified, buried, and raised again. Death no more hath dominion over us. We are dead in Christ, dead to sin, and alive unto God.

This is freedom! The world around us is clamoring for their stuff, trying to get it all in, see their 101 places you must see before you die! They are caught up in the rat race keeping themselves alive, bringing themselves into bondage so that they might live a little longer.

There is no freedom there. There is no liberty. There is only fear. Fear that my stuff will run out. Fear that I will die and the fun will die with me. Fear that who knows what might sneak up and get me.

The world lives in fear. They are afraid to die. Christians should be the glaring exception. No, the process of death is no fun, don’t minimize reality. But there is a better life in a better country coming!

This sets us free from all that binds our world. If we can grasp this, we will be free indeed.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

10 Things You Don’t Understand if You Think Liberty Means You Can Sin

Biblical liberty does not mean “you can do whatever you want,” no matter how many people may tell you it does.

Liberty in Christ is summed up by being delivered from the fear of death. Since we are dead in Christ already, crucified unto the world and the world unto me, we can now use our life and our stuff to help others, not narcissistically feed our fleshly lusts.

Human beings have to serve someone. Even the Bible points this out, very well in Romans 6, where we are told we no longer serve sin but now, in Christ, we serve righteousness.

If serving righteousness does not sound like liberty to you, may I suggest you are 1) not saved or 2) very misinformed as to what salvation is about.

We have been given liberty, set free from the world and its corruptions. This frees us to live for others, not ourselves like everyone else is doing. Note two verses:

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

These verses clearly demonstrate that biblical liberty does not mean you can do whatever you want!

We are to use our liberty to serve others and be a servant of God.

Serving God, to your flesh, sounds like drudgery. “How is that freedom?” I fear that those who say liberty means they can sin freely, do not love God, Christ, righteousness, nor the Gospel.

You have to serve someone. If you do not see the beauty in being equipped to serve God, if you don’t see that serving Him IS FREEDOM, then you do not understand many things.

1) You don’t understand the destructive nature of sin
2) You don’t understand the power of the Gospel to raise you to new life.
3) You don’t understand the beauty of doing what is right.
4) You don’t understand your inability to do what is right apart from Christ.
5) You don’t understand the power that death holds over you.
6) You don’t understand grace, which teaches us to do righteousness.
7) You don’t understand Scripture, nor its ability to perfect you and equip you to do good works.
8) You don’t understand the function of the church, which is to perfect you and equip you to do the work of the ministry.
9) You don’t understand how self-centered you are and how uncaring you are to the needs of others.
10) You don’t understand the character and person of Christ who humbled Himself in the form of a servant to die for you.

Serving Christ is freedom. If you think freedom means you can sin now and God is cool with it, you are deceived and heading away from Him.

Understand what freedom in Christ is, then use that freedom to serve Him and others.

False Liberty Is Merely Subjection to the Definer of Liberty

Biblical liberty does not mean “you can do whatever you want.”

Although many false teachers have promised this definition, there’s no way it can happen.

There are many proponents of grace and love that overstate liberty.

They tout some sort of doctrine that–since you’re in Christ, God doesn’t see you any more. That, since there’s no condemnation, you can do whatever you want and be free of guilt. Good works are probably bad, you can do whatever you want now. There are no commands; only suggestions. Etc.

This is all human philosophy justifying our desire to continue in sin. There is no way this teaching can hold up with any sort of consistent reading of Scripture.

However, few consistently read Scripture, so the teaching has spread far and wide.

This sort of thing does not surprise the writers of Scripture. Peter was aware of this stuff long before we heard about it.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

The irony of teachers who teach that liberty means you can do whatever you want, is that they bring you under bondage in another direction.

I’ve seen this worked out before my very eyes.

I knew some folks who told me I could do whatever I wanted, good works weren’t necessary and God only suggested we do things, He never commanded us.

One day I wore a tie to church in front of them. They about had a conniption. “No, no, no! You don’t have to dress up in church, we know grace. We don’t wear ties.”

OK, wait, what now? Because you know grace and liberty I can’t wear a tie?

Often if you turn to the wrong book of the Bible (usually one that talks about doing good stuff–prime example is The Sermon on the Mount, don’t even think about James) they will tell you that you can’t read that part.

If you mention tithing, you’ll get a lecture you’ll never forget.

Serving the poor is right out. What are you trying to earn your salvation?

It’s horribly ironic. People have weird notions about liberty. They will free you from obligation to do stuff they don’t want to do, but trust me, they’ll bind you in something else.

This is not liberty and it falls way short of Biblical liberty. Don’t listen to people; follow God’s Word and learn the true liberty in Christ.

Christ Releases From the Bondage of the Fear of Death

There is an element of the Gospel that gets little air time. It is best stated in Hebrews 2:15 that Jesus will “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

There is a lot of talk within Christianity about freedom and liberty. Much of the talk has nothing to do with what the Bible is talking about when mentioning freedom and liberty.

To many, “freedom” means “you can do whatever you want.”

In America we think we’re free. Yet try not paying your taxes. Watch what happens when the government wants to build a highway through your living room. Stop paying your bills and see how free you are.

Freedom is an illusion. You have to serve somebody.

Biblical mentions of freedom and liberty never mean “you can do what you want.” The Bible talks about being servants and slaves. We are no longer servants of sin, but now servants of righteousness.

Either way, you’re a servant. Servants (Greek word is the word for “slave”) are not free. They do what the master says.

Biblical freedom has to do with deliverance from our biggest enemy: death.

Christ sets us free from the bondage of the fear of death. We pass from death unto life, therefore death loses its sting, the grave is victory. We don’t need to fear death and this is a release.

Our entire world is clamoring for life. Me first. Get out of my way; I need to stay alive. Babies come out screaming their heads off for food. Most never stop crying for “me, me, me” their whole life.

The believer doesn’t have to do this. We are dead with Christ already. That’s why we can now use our time and resources to serve others, rather than selfishly serve ourselves.

Love is impossible if you are not released from the bondage to the fear of death. The Gospel sets you free from death. This is freedom indeed.

Throwing Like Girls and the Irony of Feminism

During the Super Bowl a commercial aired about throwing like a girl. The first half showed people apparently making fun of how girls’ throw, which all pretty much looked like how girls throw.

Then they brought in other girls who threw apparently not like girls throw, except, according to my wife, they looked a lot like the first group of girl throwers, just a tad more spasmodic.

The point of the commercial is that we are to celebrate girl power. Which apparently means: celebrate your girls when they look like boys.

At halftime, Katy Perry sang some songs, including one about how she kissed a girl and liked it, and she hoped her boyfriend didn’t mind that.

Again, this seems to be making the same point. Throughout all history boys have been kissing girls. But now girls are supposed to kiss girls and this is to be celebrated. Celebrate your girls when they act like boys.

They are supposed to throw like boys do and kiss girls like boys do.

These two separate, and yet related, demonstrations point out the biggest irony of feminism. Feminism says girls don’t have value unless they are like boys. I don’t get it. I thought that’s what they were against?

Although feminism hopes to make women equal with men (which is fine as far as rights go and whatnot), but really, in the end, they hope to make girls into boys.

I am a father of two girls. I love my girls. I think my girls are awesome. They are different from my son. They are even different from each other. I love them both, and I love what makes them different from each other, and what makes them different from their brother.

I have a daughter who can throw pretty well, better than most girls I’ve seen, and many boys. I also have a daughter who I taught to throw and has gotten much better, but still has some “issues.” They both know this. It’s not a secret.

In the end, however, they both throw like girls. They are girls. That’s how they throw.

Yes, some girls throw better than others, and some of those girls throw better than some boys. But notice this commercial did not air in a spot costing millions of dollars because so many people are watching girls play football. More irony.

I have never thought my girls were less human because they can’t throw like their brother. No disrespect to either of my daughters, but their brother could throw better than both of them combined when he was about four.

I am not worried about this. I don’t think they should be ashamed of this. I don’t think it is a character flaw in them. It’s just who they are. And it’s fine with me and seems to be fine with them.

Feminism is subtly telling every girl there is something wrong with them because they need to be more like boys. It’s ironic and ultimately quite sad.

I want my girls to do well in whatever they do. I want them to give it their all and take advantage of opportunities. In the end, I want them to be classy and godly women who understand what femininity is for.

How does it help to constantly tell girls they need to be more like boys? Let boys be boys. Let girls be girls. Boys don’t need to be girls, nor do girls need to be boys.

I love my daughters. I do not demand they throw better to see value in them. I love them because they are girls and girls have a lot to offer that no boy ever could.

I choose to honor them, not belittle them for not being a boy.

I am sick of this world. I really am.