Paul Calling People Names

Yesterday I posted about Jesus’ tendency to tell things as they are, even if it meant calling people out on their sin.

If we are to follow Christ, it seems as if we should do the same thing.

This does not mean besmirching people’s character, or making up stuff, or being rude for the sake of being rude, but it does mean telling the truth.

If, in an effort to soften our verbiage, we end up lying, we are forsaking love’s delight in the truth.

Not only did Jesus Christ call people out, so did the Apostle Paul. There may be some who defend Jesus’ manner in calling people out by saying, “Well, yeah, He’s the Son of God, of course He can call us wicked and faithless.”

Well, Paul is not the Son of God, he’s a sinner like you and me, in fact, he calls himself the chief of sinners.

He calls himself that because Paul speaks the truth. Not only does he call other people stuff, he calls himself names!

In the book of Titus he says:

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true.

In another fascinating passage, Acts 23:3, Paul says to the high priest

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

Paul calls him a name, judges his performance, and calls upon God to smite him!

Paul later apologized for saying that to the high priest with the supposed defense that he did not know the guy was the high priest!

Paul is rather feisty. Jesus Christ was a tad feisty. People who speak the truth will be feisty, or at least come across that way.

Now, being feisty for feisty’s sake is not the issue. I’m not calling you to be a jerk and call people names.

What I am doing is saying that truth tends to hurt. If you speak the truth you will say things about people that they will not take kindly.

Most resentment and offendedness is a result of guilt. People who know they are sinners don’t like their sin to be pointed out. They want to live in the delusional world that they are sinning and getting away with it and everything is cool.

If you are an easily offended person, that’s because you are not walking in truth and righteousness. If you know you’re doing the right thing, what people accuse you of will bother you very little.

A sign of wisdom is listening to reproof and correction. Stupid people are the only ones who get offended at people correcting them, would be another way to put it.

This is a careful issue and I can easily be taken out of context. Hear what I’m saying.

My point is not that we should be judgmental jerks to people.

My point is to speak the truth and also, as you speak it, make sure you’re hearing it yourself. Start by dealing truthfully with your own sin before taking an interest in everyone else’s sin.

Calling People Names for Jesus

Everyone and their mother is upset right now over being called names, or being labeled and stereotyped.

Sticks and stones break people’s bones, names didn’t use to. Now, apparently they do.

In response to the hyper-sensitivity, we now come down on anyone who ever says anything the slightest judgmental about what someone else is doing.

As much as I agree we need to guard our mouths and be careful not to do unfair, self-righteous judging of others, I would also like to point out that there is a time and a place for labeling people for what they are.

Allow me to illustrate be quoting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
–Matthew 12:34

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
–Matthew 12:39

Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
–Matthew 12:45

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
–Matthew 16:4

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?
–Matthew 17:17

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
–Matthew 23:33

And that’s just Matthew!

Jesus is talking about a large group of people, a generation. Certainly He’s stereotyping and labeling with His generalizations.

Now, I’m not for you going out calling people names or stereotyping people.

I am for a call to reasonableness. At least for calling a spade a spade, rather than calling a spade a “garden implement useful for turning soil.”

Words mean things and need to be used carefully, wisely, and righteously.

We still live in the midst of a crooked, perverse, faithless, and wicked generation of vipers.

We should admit that. We should also admit we are part of that generation and are therefore implicated for our own part.

Sin is sin. Evil is evil. Call it what it is. Sinners sin. Speak the truth and call things what they are. This will protect you and also potentially help others.

BUT, proceed with love, grace, and compassion. Love rejoices in the truth. Don’t fear truth.

Stopping Sin Is Not Magic

Sin is a terrible, persistent enemy. We are told to be standing in the armor of God and watching and praying all the time. Sin doesn’t stop; unfortunately, our spiritual motivation does.

When our spiritual motivation wanes, sin pounces. Sin lies at the door, waiting for you to drop your guard.

There is an idea floating around Christianity, which I think started with John Wesley, or at least came out of some of his ideas, that there is a second birth, or a second conversion that fully delivers you from experiencing sin.

The idea goes like this:

A person gets saved and yet sin still reigns supreme in their life. They reach a point of desperation, an emotional angst that breaks out all at once and leads to a second work of the Holy Spirit, a second conversion where you are now filled for good with the Holy Spirit and conscious sin ceases.

(I say “conscious sin” because this was sort of Wesley’s idea: a believer might still sin, it would just be a sin he was unaware of. He would never knowingly sin. Some theories eliminate all sin, but most have this Wesleyan idea included.)

I’ve met believers who claim to have had this experience, and I’ve met many more who have heard the stories and deeply desire this experience.

I mean, who wouldn’t?! This sounds dreamy! All my fleshly lusts suddenly disappear! I no longer have a desire to do the sins that dragged me down for years! This sounds truly magical. No fuss, no muss, no struggle, just POOF! Sin and its desires are gone!

There is much magical thinking in Christianity. The thing that keeps us sinning is our deep desire to do it. If I could just get rid of that desire once for all, everything would be cured.

Indeed. Again, I do think that through spiritual growth the desire can be killed off. I think this is real and true. I also think it comes through years of battle.

It does not happen in one magical moment or through one deeply emotional crisis.

The Bible does not speak in these terms. I know there are personal stories of this happening, maybe it could, but expecting it sets you up for discouragement.

The Bible speaks as life being a fight and a long race to be run. It does not speak in magical terms about the fight not seeming like a fight or the race not seeming like a race because magic zapping occurred.

There’s a fight. Don’t buy the idea that magic cure-all moments occur. This sounds more like a fleshly, worldly desire than a biblical expectation. Everyone wants the get rich quick scheme. Sounds too good to be true, primarily because it aint true.

Sin is a persistent enemy; it will not stop. One major thing keeping us looking ahead with hope is deliverance, final, victorious deliverance from this body of death.

You can enjoy this deliverance in part now by growing spiritually. You really can defeat sin, and sin less. But until we receive our glorified bodies, sin will remain an active force to be dealt with.

Run to win.

How to Stop Sin

Yesterday I put forth the case that as long as we are in the flesh body we will have a pull toward sin and we will give in to that pull from time to time.

I do not believe the believer should expect to cease sinning until they receive their glorified body.

I also don’t think individual sin has to be inevitable. People tend to flip from one side to the other on this issue: there are those who think they have stopped sinning and there are those who don’t even try, because why bother?

Although I do not believe we can have ultimate deliverance from all sin ever as long as we’re in this body, I do think we can have victory over sin, and increasingly so as we progress in faith.

Sin is a persistent enemy. Those who have told me they have not sinned for a long time, have always communicated this idea with lots of pride. If you did cease from sinning, you’d be the last person to know it, because as soon as you knew it, you’d be proud.

Lots of people say they want to stop sinning. Unfortunately, much of this desire is theoretical. People don’t actually want to stop, they just don’t want to feel guilty or have the repercussions of sin.

Desiring to not feel bad about sin is different from not wanting to sin!

Many desperately want to drop off their smoking, or drinking, or porn watching. The desire was truly there, but so too was a desire to continue doing those sins.

Sin truly is a dog returning to its vomit. It’s disgusting and yet keeps drawing us back in.

The first step in defeating a sin is to actually want to defeat it. Like, for real. Not just eliminate the cost or guilt, but eliminate the sin itself.

Secondly, you need to make sure you’re saved! If you are not saved, if you do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, you have zero shot at conquering sin. OK, that might not be true. Many unbelievers have stopped being alcoholics and things, but again, the force used is typically pride or some other sin. Replacing one addiction with another.

But to honestly do battle with sin you need the Holy Spirit and the provisions of the Gospel.

Thirdly, you need to do battle. I mean, really do battle. Make war on sin. Flee temptation. Avoid places that lead you to being tempted. Flee youthful lusts. Discipline and control yourself as much as possible. Take steps to make sin harder.

Many Christians hear step three and freak out. “Works righteousness! We don’t have to do anything; Christ does it all.” Good luck with that.

Being disciplined and fighting sin is not legalism, works righteousness, or any such foolishness; it’s the biblical mandate for defeating sin.

We have an enemy. There is a fight. We have been given armor. Use the armor to fight the fight and defeat the enemy. There is no other way to defeat sin.

Take sin seriously. Determine to actually want it to stop. Use all the provision of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit and go fight.

Can We Stop Sinning?

No.

That’s the simplest answer, and also the Biblical answer. As long as we are in this flesh body on this fallen earth we will sin. How do I know that? Ecclesiastes 7:20:

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

There does not exist a person on this earth who does not sin.

Most Christians would agree with this (there are always exceptions). Most, in fact, are more than happy to agree with this!

There are many who have the idea that if the Bible says everyone on earth sins, then sin must not be a problem, nor fought against.

I mean, why bother to defeat what cannot be defeated?

It’s like the Bears trying to beat the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. It aint gonna happen. They might as well stay home the day of that game.

But the Bible also says in many places that sin should be fought, resisted, and even defeated!

An interesting verse to put next to Ecclesiastes 7:20 is 1 John 3:9 and 5:18

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1 John was written so you would know that you have eternal life. yet many people come across these verses and immediately doubt they have eternal life!

John speaks in absolutes and he also uses continuous verb tenses. John is talking about habitual action, what your character is. The man of God does not continually sin. He is not marked by sin.

1 John talks about confessing our sins and goes on to say that we have a mediator. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

We’re not supposed to sin, certainly we’re not supposed to continue to sin as if it were no problem. Should we sin that grace may abound? God forbid! If we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, this certainly implies that we will sin.

Some people grab onto the couple verses in 1 John to say that a real believer never does a sin, ever. Some people grab the Ecclesiastes 7 verse and conclude that we all sin so don’t worry about it.

Neither is taking into consideration what the Bible says about sin. Both go to extremes that press the issue not only out of biblical sense, but even out of common sense.

Look, God knows our frame. He knows we are dust: breathing piles of dirt. He knows we sin. God, through Christ, has made a way for our sins to be forgiven.

This shows us two things:

  1. Sin was a massive problem that needed God’s intervention and sacrifice. If it required sacrifice from God to take care of it, let’s try to stay away from it.
  2. When we do sin we have an advocate with the Father.

The fact that we have an advocate when we sin does not imply: so go ahead and sin! Look what the Advocate went through for you!

There is no way that new life in Christ was granted to you so you could continue in sin. He that is dead is freed from sin. He that is dead to sin, how can he live in it any longer?

We’ve been given spiritual armor to resists temptation. The Holy Spirit helps us mortify the deeds of the body.

Yes, Christ covers for the believer when the believer sins, but in no way does this mean sin should be the believer’s normal pattern in life. But nor does it mean the believer doesn’t sin. If the believer never sinned, why would believers be given an advocate?

As is always the case, use the whole Bible to understand a biblical subject. Read and study. Figure it out and then live accordingly.

Hope of Eternal Life

Two times Paul talks about the “hope of eternal life” in the book of Titus.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began
–Titus 1:2

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life
–Titus 3:7

This hope of eternal life isn’t a “Boy, I sure hope I have eternal life” as if there’s some doubt. Hope is a confident expectation; it’s a sealed deal.

The basis of our hope of eternal life is on the fact that God had salvation with the reward of eternal life figured out for a long time!

God doesn’t lie! If God says you can have eternal life in Christ, then guess what? You can have eternal life in Christ!

This hope of eternal life motivates us to do what God says to do. Titus 3 starts with a list of things God wants His people to do. Right after verse 7 about the hope of eternal life, he tells believers to maintain good works.

Remember from Peter that our hope of eternal life is a lively hope. It’s a hope that gives life, energy, purpose, and power to live now.

Hopeless jobs where you show up every day and do your thing with no evident progress, recognition, or appreciation get tiresome. If you have no hope, it’s hard to get out of bed, let alone go do work.

But if you have an eternal hope, one filled with all the substance of the inheritance in Christ, there will be some motivation to get busy!

We lose hope when we look at temporal things. We look at our politicians, our society, our virtues and we lose hope. We lose motivation. Everything seems overwhelming and pointless to even try to resist.

Yup, that is correct! The Bible does not disagree with that assessment of life on earth–vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

But the Bible speaks of hope, which means the Bible must also speak of a better world ahead of us, and it does.

The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.

There is a better country with better virtues and better politicians! Put your hope there, let that hope fill you with passion, drive, and joy in doing God’s will even here. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Lively Hope

The New Testament speaks of believers being “born again” by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In fact, Jesus lectures Nicodemus for not getting that from the Old Testament! (That’s a thing to ponder. I honestly don’t have that one figured out. But alas, that is for another day!)

Some think that being born again is some tent revivalist lingo, or some sort of Christian jargon. But it’s actually a real thing.

John 3 is the biggest explanation of the idea. But there’s another cool passage in 1 Peter 1. This chapter mentions being born again a couple times. One of those times Peter calls it “begotten again.”

Here’s the phrase from 1 Peter 1:3: “begotten us again unto a lively hope.

We’ve been born again, or created again, unto a lively hope. What’s not to like about the phrase “lively hope?”

A lively hope is a hope that gives life. Hope, in the Bible, always refers to the future and the realization of God’s promises about the future.

The promise of the future is our bodily resurrection, which is based on the accomplished fact of Christ’s resurrection.

This coming resurrection and dwelling with God for eternity gives us life now.

Our hope in the future, in other words, can benefit us now in the present!

Our hope in the future revives the heart and makes the soul lively and vigorous.

Bring on the fight to be fought! Bring on the race to be run! I’ve got life! I’ve got energy!

Maybe not physically, but certainly spiritually. I now have a reason and a hope, a greater thing to work for and drive me forward. Not some temporal goal that will be accomplished, but an eternal destiny to be lived.

This is hope! You know you understand the hope when you discover energy to live the life of Christ in this present world.

The Cost to be Counted

Jesus Christ tells those considering following Him that it will be tough. It will cost you all things.

whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
–Luke 14:33

“All things” here means “all things.” Like, everything. Your life. Your family. Your possessions. Your career. All things.

Now, this will look different for each person. It will depend on where you’re coming from. But be not deceived: following Christ will cost you.

The basic idea is that if you follow Christ, you’ll have to decide over and over again: will I do what Christ says, or will I do what allows me to keep my stuff?

The Bible is very honest and open about this cost. Paul explains the cost in his own life in Philippians.

Ever since I was 3, people told me “Philippians is a book about joy.” Certainly joy is in Philippians; but suffering and loss are in there about as much.

Why isn’t Philippians ever described as a book about suffering?!

Because no one wants to hear about suffering; we are all about the happy-happy, joy-joy. today.

Paul says that he suffered the loss of all things to gain Christ. Paul wrote Philippians from jail. Paul talks about how he had no other man besides Timothy to help him. He was alone and rotting in prison.

Paul did have joy, but the reason he had joy is because he was looking forward eternal life after death! He wanted to die when he wrote Philippians–the strait between two; his desire to depart, which is far better.

How we translate that into your best life now and health and wealth happiness is beyond me.

Many years ago church people actually read the Bible. They discovered that the Bible used harsh terms about following Christ.

These church people realized that if they went with that message, no one would sign on.

So church people told outsiders that the Gospel would make them happy, rich, and healthy. You’ll have a stronger marriage and better kids. On and on the lies went.

People signed up. Churches got full and church people got paid well. It was a sweet deal for everyone involved.

Until they died.

Notice this is the same thing Israel did in the Old Testament. “Peace, peace when there is no peace.” The false message of the false prophets won the day, which kept everyone happy.

Until they died.

We’re doing the same thing today. There’s nothing new under the sun.

There is a cost to following Christ. If church people had stuck with New Testament teaching, they would been rejected and impoverished, and would have taken part in the suffering Christ spoke of.

But people don’t count the cost anymore. Today we count the benefits we imagine the Gospel will bring us.

If you stick with the real Gospel and teach it, you’ll lose friends, cause tension in your family, you’ll be disrespected and maligned. You’ll feel lonely and misunderstood.

It’ll cost you. It will hurt and won’t be much fun.

It’ll also drive you to hope, which is the only thing that brings true joy and peace. This was Paul’s point in Philippians: my life is pretty terrible, so much so that I want to die. But after death! After death is when I get my glory! So I’ll let that hope buck me up and I’ll stick with the Gospel and I’ll keep serving and suffering until that day comes.

Too many people are holding too tightly to the wrong life and the things of the wrong world.

Let go of this life, this world and its things and lay hold on eternal life. Let hope drive you and lead you to true joy. Not dependent on material, temporal success, but on eternal hope.

Count the cost. Are you wiling to lose everything in this world to gain the next world?

Count the Cost of What?

Jesus Christ once told a multitude to “count the cost.”

This was in relation to following Him. Previous to this statement, He said if you don’t hate various family members, deny self, and take up the cross you can’t be His disciple.

So, count the cost.

The reason He said to count the cost is so you won’t be embarrassed when you don’t finish the job.

This was in relation to building a building and a king going to war (click here for the passage). Doing things without considering what you’re doing will make you look dumb.

Jesus Christ does not want you to look dumb.

He tells people up front how difficult it will be to follow Him.

If you follow the Suffering Servant, guess where you’ll end up? I’m going to go with: I’ll end up with suffering service.

If you follow the man of sorrows acquainted with grief, guess where you’ll end up? You’ll end up with sorrow and grief.

This is so out of place in our day. Today’s Gospel tells people that if you believe this cute story about this guy from 2,000 years ago, you’ll have your best life now and when you die you’ll go to heaven.

That’s it.

“Count the cost” is the most ridiculous thing a person could say in relation to today’s “gospel.”

“Count the cost of what? I just get a wonderful plan for my life and then more wonderful after I’m dead. Where’s the cost in that?”

So, we must conclude one of two things:

1) Today’s Gospel is wrong, or
2) Jesus Christ was wrong

I’ve heard people on both sides.

I can tell you for certain which side I’m on!

Today’s Gospel is wrong.

Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be right. He’s also going to be your Judge. Imagine explaining to Him how you didn’t follow Him because you thought He was wrong.

Evangelical Christians and Politics

I am reading a book called, The Evangelicals. It is a history of the Evangelical movement within American Christianity, particularly the political involvement they have gotten into over the years.

It’s a 600 page book. The first 200 pages dealt with Wesley through Billy Graham. The last 400 is from Billy Graham to today. It has bogged down tremendously.

One fascinating thing that stands out to me is how ridiculous, from a historical perspective, church leaders look when they get involved in politics.

Politics is driven by fear. There are HUGE problems, so vote for us to solve them. If they solved them; you wouldn’t need them anymore! So, they never get around to solving issues, just changing them and freaking everyone out along the way so they get votes.

When the Church, which is allegedly filled with people with eternal hope, gets involved in temporal squabbles heightened by fear, they look really stupid.

This is especially true when they fall for predictions about the future. There have been so many “threats” to us that should have wiped us out. But none of the major fears ever developed and predictions, predictably (!), fail.

What happened was Evangelicalism, which originally just meant people who were focused on the Gospel (the “evangel” part of Evangelical), got wrapped up with politics. Billy Graham solidified the movement. He thought he was doing the right thing at the time. Richard Nixon broke his heart.

The church got sucked into Republican politics with the Moral Majority and so forth in the 1970’s-90’s. They got carried away and got used, while America continued to remain firmly nowhere near Evangelical ideals.

So, the church learned its lesson. It got tired of being lumped in with rightwing nutjobs. Which brings us to today.

While reading this book about the roaring 70’s-90’s Republican Christian Might, a debate over the Social Gospel erupted.

The Social Gospel, often called Social Justice, Movement is nothing more than leftwing nutjob thinking.

The lesson the church apparently has learned from our losing with the Right, is to join the Left.

I fully expect that in about 40 years all these church leaders fired up over the new leftwing Social Justice stuff will look just as ridiculous as the rightwingers of the 70’s look to us now.

Allow me to posit a theory.

Perhaps the lesson the church should have learned from the disastrous Moral Majority days, is not to shift from the Right to the Left, but rather to stay out of the world’s fray to begin with.

Something like, oh, I don’t know, come out from among them and be separate. What fellowship has light with darkness? Set your affection on things above and not things on the earth. Not falling for the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke out spiritual growth.

Maybe something like that. You know, like, what the Bible says and stuff.

Just a theory.

Love Believes All Things and Hopes All Things

Love is tough. Love is great when someone shows it to you, but showing it to someone else, boy howdy. it aint easy.

Love covers a multitude of sin. Covering sin, which means to overlook it and act as if they didn’t just offend you, is hard.

It’s way more fun to be a victim, yell and scream, throw a tantrum, and fight for your rights.

What’s harder is to take a beating for no reason.

Love believes all things. How insane is that?!

I know people who lie and break promises all the time. I know better than to believe the words that come out of their mouth. Is love supposed to believe liars?

After believing all things in 1 Corinthians 13, we’re told that love hopes all things.

Hope is about the future, that something better is coming.

Perhaps these go together.

OK, I know this guy is lying, so I can’t believe what he’s telling me, so now I shift to hope. Perhaps this time he’ll be true. Perhaps he’ll repent at some point, maybe even because of my loving response to him, and stop lying soon. Or maybe it goes beyond to see what reason there is that this person is untrustworthy, maybe there’s a legitimate reason they are letting me down.

Adam Clarke has this to say about it:

When there is no place left for believing good of a person, then love comes in with its hope, where it could not work by its faith; and begins immediately to make allowances and excuses, as far as a good conscience can permit; and farther, anticipates the repentance of the transgressor.

I think that is well said.

Love basically gives people the benefit of the doubt. Chill. Relax. Remember that you lie too. Remember that you sin and let others down too. You have no problem defending and excusing your own sin!

Why do you think you are so good at justifying your own sin? Perhaps it’s because you love yourself?!

That’s exactly why. If you love others, you’ll begin to lighten up about their faults. Love your neighbor as yourself. You’ll be quicker to forgive, just as God, who is love, is quick to forgive.

Love gives people a break. Stop being Perfect in your own mind and outraged at other people’s faults. You aint perfect; neither are they. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Give people a break.

Faith and Hope

Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Faith contains all the things hoped for that we do not yet see or possess.

Faith is trusting that God knows stuff you don’t know, and since you don’t know, you’re going to take His word for it.

Much of faith has to do with the future. The future aspect of faith is “hope.” Hope is always about the future.

Hope is a confident expectation that what God says will happen, will happen.

I have no ability to see into the future. I have no proof of what the future holds. Nor do I even have power to guarantee my own future.

Therefore, in me, I have no hope. I have no confidence, trust, or faith in me. What do I know?

But God knows all and has told us some of what He knows. Our job is to trust His word.

Part of what His word tells us is that believers will be glorified in the future. He tells believers they will live in righteousness in the future. Believers will enjoy God’s presence for eternity in the splendors of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

This gives us hope, and hope brings joy and peace.

If there is no hope, then there can be no joy and there can be no peace.

But if we know our future is wrapped up securely in the promises of God, and there’s nothing anyone can do to remove us out of God’s hands, then we have joy, peace, and all hope.

This sort of hope can get you through a world of tribulation and suffering. It was the joy set before Christ that helped Him endure the cross. The same is true for us.

If there is no resurrection, then there is no hope, and if we have no hope, then are we of all men most miserable.

But we aren’t the most miserable; we are the most joyful. Not because our present circumstances are great, but because our future eternity will be glorious.

Let this hope transform your life, make you willing to take up the cross and be a living sacrifice, and fill you with anticipation, joy, and peace that all will be well for eternity!

Faith and hope go together. Where there is faith; there is hope. You can’t have one without the other.

Faith and Death

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of thins not seen.
–Hebrews 11:1

This is how the great Chapter of Faith, Hebrews 11, starts.

Following this, you have a long list of people who were told to do something today because something was going to happen in the future.

Noah was to build an ark for 120 years because a massive flood was coming. Noah didn’t know the flood was coming for sure, there was no Doppler radar. But Noah built a large boat because he was told he’d need it later.

Abraham and the following two generations were going to live in tents, waiting for an established city to come. They never saw the city. They only saw tents.

Down the list he goes, touching on many lives, some whom we know and others we don[‘t, of people who all took scary steps of faith based on what God said.

We are told earlier in Hebrews 9, that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.

How do you know what’s going to happen after death?

You have no idea what’s going to happen after death. You can’t ask dead people. You can’t see into the future beyond the grave. So, how do you know a judgment is coming after death?

There’s only one way: if someone who is beyond death could tell you. That someone would be God. He knows and He tells us a judgment is coming.

By faith I hear what God says about the future and take action today. That is the message of Hebrews 11.

In this world we will have tribulation, and then we die, and then there’s a judgment.

That’s what the future holds for you.

You can’t take the scientific method out and test this hypothesis. There is no physical proof that a judgment follows death.

Faith is proved by what is not seen. Think about that one for a while!

Faith comes by hearing. We walk by faith, not by sight.

You have no idea what’s going to happen after death, nor are there experiments you can do to find out. You are left with taking God’s word for it.

Now is the time of salvation. Now is the time to awake out of sleep. Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Death is coming, which means judgment is coming. Current life is the time to prepare.

Get ready. It’s coming.

Faith and Proof

Faith is hard.

No really. Seriously. Faith is hard.

I’m shocked by how many people think it’s easy and further shocked by people’s responses to those who have doubts.

Faith can’t even live in a place without doubt.

We are a physical people who mind physical things.

Our modern scientific method has become our test for all things. “If there’s no physical proof; then it’s false.”

This is said with no physical proof that this is the case!

Granted, you can certainly learn things by making observations, not against that. But observing things can’t prove everything that needs proving.

At a certain point you will run out of physical proofs and yet still have questions left.

Faith, biblically speaking, is not taking a blind leap.

Faith is taking someone else’s word for something. A something that, although not proved, can still be found to be logical or not and then believed or not.

There is a dehumidifier running next to me as I write this.

You have no idea if that is true or not. So, how do you know I’m telling the truth?

Well, first of all, why would I lie about that? Is there anything I benefit from by saying that if it isn’t true? Has your past experience with me shown that I lie about stuff?

Second, am I known to be a believer in the effectiveness of dehumidifiers in basements? Yes I am. You can ask anyone who’s been in my basement if there is a dehumidifier there. Evey basement I’ve ever been in control of has had a dehumidifier.

Third, you can find out when I wrote this and see what the weather was. I am writing this on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. You can look up the weather and see that we had torrential downpours all last night. If a dehumidifier were to be running, it would certainly be on the day after a night of torrential downpours.

So, do you think there is a dehumidifier running in my basement as I type this? Am I telling the truth? You can’t know for sure, but you can analyze these points and probably believe that there is a dehumidifier running next to me.

At a certain point, with all the above facts taken into consideration, you still need to believe what I said.

Faith comes by hearing. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is the evidence of things not seen.

If you were standing next to me right now you would hear the dehumidifier running and you can see it shaking in the corner and see drops of water falling into its reservoir. Therefore, at that point when you see the thing in action, you no longer need faith; you just know.

Seeing is not believing. Seeing is the end of believing.

That’s why faith is hard. Faith believes what it cannot see. If I can’t see it, I must take someone’s word for it.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Is God known for lying? Does God say His word is true? Do you know everything the Bible says is true?

You can’t know it’s true for sure with absolute, infallible, physical proofs, but you can take someone else’s word for it and trust that they do know. That’s what faith does!

Faith says, “I don’t know, but I believe you do, so I’ll go with what you say.” Faith is humble and dependent. That’s why faith is hard!

If you don’t find faith hard, there’s a chance you aint doing it!

Humility Is Not A Work

God gives grace to the humble.

That bothers a lot of people, because they think there is nothing you can do to get grace. The following verse is trotted out as proof text:

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
–Romans 11:6

This passage, in its context, is talking about the choosing of the nation of Israel for the Messiah to come through. The choosing of the nation that all nations would be blessed by. Salvation is of the Jews.

The Messiah was one Man and could be related to one race of people. That people was/is Israel. Romans 9-11 explains God’s plan of redemption and the interaction between Jews and Gentiles in the revealing of that plan.

I don’t think this verse has anything to do with how people receive salvation by grace.

Another verse quoted is Romans 4:4

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Paul’s point is that salvation is not achieved by works of the law, by circumcision, and keeping the old covenant law.

The context flows back into Romans 3, which is all about the Jews and their law. They thought doing Old Covenant law is what saved them. But never once did God ever tell anyone that keeping the Old Covenant law would save them. It was a covenant to stay in the Promised Land.

Abraham was before the law, therefore salvation, which was around in Abraham’s day, couldn’t be by the law. Romans 4 goes on to quote David, who lived under the law, also saying that salvation is not something you work your way into.

Therefore, if the Bible says there are things we do to get grace, and it does, then clearly those things cannot be the work Paul refers to in Romans.

The only way it could be is if the Bible is massively inconsistent on this issue, which some have staked their doctrine to such a claim. Not a good idea, but at least they are being more honest then most!

We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is what God provides; faith is how we respond. Faith is humble.

Every single human being knows they are bad. We have a conscience. A conscience is not proof of spiritual life; it’s proof that you are human. We all feel guilt. Yes, the conscience can be hardened, but it’s still there.

Knowing we are wrong wears a person out. We will seek mind altering chemicals to drown it out, or entertainment and distraction to get it to shut up, or sometimes even suicide.

All our desires of the flesh exist to quiet guilt. Yet the more we use the flesh to quiet guilt, the more guilty we become. It’s hopeless.

When the light of the Gospel shines in and a hopeless, guilt-ridden person hears that God loves them and wants to set them free from sin and guilt through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some grab onto that message with humble dependence.

When a person comes to the end, when hopelessness and guilt have trounced their soul, they respond to the Gospel.

This is not trying to fix the flesh, impress God, or in any way purchasing our own salvation. This is an admission that we got nothing and Christ is all.

I fail to see how this is pride and fleshly works.

Humility, love, and faith are exactly what the Gospel draws out of a person who seeks deliverance from themselves.

This is how the Bible speaks of how salvation happens. Any other theory plays fast and loose with Scripture and makes much of it false. Don’t do that. Be humble! Hear God’s Word and respond accordingly.

Getting Grace and Monergism

Many believe there is nothing you can do to get grace. That if you had to do something to get it; it wouldn’t be grace.

The question then is: OK, so how does one get grace?

If there is nothing I can do to get grace, then either

1) I can’t get grace, or
2) Something else must do everything with grace and me getting it without me doing anything.

Every believer knows some people get grace, so option 1 can’t be the answer. Therefore, we are left with option 2.

Option 2 is officially called “Monergism.” Here is a definition of Monergism accepted by Monergists:

“In theology, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated, and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

Humans cannot respond to God. Everything is done by the Holy Spirit. Once a person is regenerated, then they can believe the Gospel.

Regeneration before believing is nowhere stated in the Bible and often said in the opposite way, such as, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

Nowhere are we told, “Be saved and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Monergism is completely contrary to Scripture. Sure, you can bend a handful of verses to seem like they are saying this, but no, this is not how the Scripture speaks of salvation.

So neither option answers our dilemma of how we can get grace by doing nothing.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is to assume there must be something we can do to get grace, and this thing we do to get grace, does not mean I earned it or worked for it. It means I met a condition.

This simple understanding seems to fit quite nicely with Scripture.

“God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble,” the Bible says several times. If you’re not humble then you don’t get grace. How does this fit with Monergism?

Monergism would say, “Well yeah, God makes you humble so you get grace.” OK, well, wouldn’t God making me humble while I was not humble be a gracious thing? If so, then God does give grace to non-humble people.

Monergism is held true as long as you’re cool with making Scripture false.

Don’t let your doctrine get carried away and make you call the Scriptures a liar. Stick with the Scripture. Line your doctrine up with it.

How to Get Grace

There are some who read that title and are already ticked off!

“There’s nothing you do to get grace! Grace is God’s undeserved favor. If you did something to get it; then it wouldn’t be grace!”

This is the view of Calvinism and the “I” of their TULIP–Irresistible Grace.

Irresistible Grace says the only way you get grace is if God chooses you to get it. If you win the luck of the draw, God will shove His grace down your throat whether you want it or not.

OK, that was my cynical and not very complimentary definition of Irresistible Grace. It is, however, in essence what it is, just without the theological politeness!

Clearly I do not believe in Irresistible Grace. Grace can be resisted; that’s why there are people in hell.

Saying there is something you do to get grace does not mean we earn grace, merit grace, nor that we worked for grace.

Doing something to get grace merely means we met the conditions upon which grace is granted.

There are several conditions the Bible says we meet to get grace.

First, is faith. We are saved by grace through faith. We believe the Gospel, we believe that Jesus Christ is the only one able to save us. When we believe this, we receive the benefits of God’s grace.

Second, is humility. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Being humble is not a work of the flesh. Humility is knowing your flesh can’t work anything to save itself.

Third, is love. Here I will quote a little quoted verse, Ephesians 6:24, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” If you don’t love Jesus Christ sincerely; no grace for you!

None of this says we earn grace or worked for it. Grace is a beautiful thing. God, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, provides everything we need for salvation. This is offered by His grace.

Our response is a faithful, humble, love that is drawn to the humble love Christ demonstrated on the cross. It’s grabbing on to Jesus Christ for salvation in love and faith, completely appreciating and being humbled by His salvation.

This is not a fleshly work that puffs up the fleshly nature. This is simply a realization of who we are and who Christ is, and our desperate need for Him.

There is a reason why some get God’s grace for salvation and some don’t. It’s not luck of the draw either. It’s based on your humble, faithful, and loving reaction to the grace and love of God.

Go get some grace! You need it!

What Satan Thinks About You

Satan is our adversary. Paul says we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.

Is that really true?

It is, but the “we” there refers to spiritual people, believers, not to all people in general.

The way believers know Satan’s devices is because they read the Bible, which gives us the best information about who our adversary is and how to defeat him.

Satan thinks things about humans. He’s been messing with them for thousands of years. He lumps us together and knows, through much experience, what we are and what we do.

The Book of Job gives us some clues as to what Satan thinks about us. Satan’s underlying assumption about people is that we’re motivated by physical success.

When God tells Satan to consider righteous Job, Satan says, “put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Satan can’t deny Job’s righteousness, so instead he ascribes bad motives. Satan assumes Job sticks with God because God gives Job lots of stuff.

God allows Satan to take away Job’s stuff, yet Job doesn’t curse God. So, Satan says, “put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

OK, Job didn’t curse God when all his stuff was taken, but Job still has his health. If you remove Job’s health, then he’ll curse God.

God allows Satan to mess with Job’s health, yet Job still does not curse God.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

Job stays faithful all the way through.

But did you catch Satan’s assumption about us?

Satan says the only reason people listen to God is for wealth and health!

Want to know what the most popular brand of Christianity is today? A thing called The Health and Wealth Gospel.

The Health and Wealth Gospel assumes that the only reason to listen to God is if He gives you stuff and keeps you healthy.

I ask you: where did this message originate?

This is Satan’s assumption about us, and, by our actions, we are proving him correct.

A recent LifeWay study of Christians said that 75% of Evangelicals think God wants them to materially prosper.

How many would believe if their health and wealth went away? Job did, are there any others?

We don’t have to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. We’re told who he is and what he does. We might want to wake up.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
–Romans 13:11-12

Health and Wealth is American Christianity

A recent LifeWay study found that 75% of Evangelicals believe that God wants them to materially prosper.

The Health and Wealth Gospel used to be a peripheral message in the church; it is now one of our new fundamentals of the faith.

The Bible is massively against materialism and material success. It, in fact, says that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out faith.

If you trace back the Health and Wealth Gospel you will find it originated around a guy named DL Moody.

Moody, in order to fund his revivals and his schools, hit up businessmen constantly for money. In order to get money from rich guys, you have to preach a message that doesn’t make rich guys feel guilty.

Mr. John Wanamaker was a successful businessman. He invited Moody to speak at a lecture for businessman that would be “tailored more than any that preceded it to the needs of business and professional people who wanted to be freed from the guilt of doing what they were doing.”

In other words, don’t make them feel guilty for making money.

Moody dipped into Health and Wealth teaching when he wrote, “It’s a wonderful fact that men and women saved by the blood of Jesus rarely remain subjects of charity, but rise at once to comfort and respectability.”

He later said, “I don’t see how a man can follow Christ and not be successful.”

Clearly, DL Moody was not as extreme as some of our modern televangelists. But he got awful close. There is a dark side to American revivalists, one that seems to follow the tents. DL Moody, Billy Sunday, right on up to the modern televangelists.

There’s something about coming up with a message that appeals to a large audience that seems to feed on materialism. Perhaps because people want wealth and desperately want to get rich quick. If we can make the Gospel sound like the trick, people will “get saved.”

I’m not trying to besmirch anyone’s character, I merely point out Church History facts. The Health and Wealth Gospel didn’t drop out of the sky! There’s a logical and recorded development that got us where we are today.

If you think Christianity is going to make you rich, successful, and respectable, I suggest not reading the Bible, for that will end your dream.

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