Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Pharisaism and Sedation of Woke "Christianity": A Coronavirus to the Church

Former Treatment     A Second Former Treatment

The Great Awakening in mid-18th century colonial America, influenced by the biblical preaching of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, led to the American Revolution.  Some say we're now in the Great Awokening with aspirations for a different kind of revolution, perhaps something closer to that of the early 20th century Russian Bolsheviks. In 2018, Andrew Sullivan wrote in the New Yorker:
And so the young adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening. Like early modern Christians, they punish heresy by banishing sinners from society or coercing them to public demonstrations of shame, and provide an avenue for redemption in the form of a thorough public confession of sin. “Social justice” theory requires the admission of white privilege in ways that are strikingly like the admission of original sin. A Christian is born again; an activist gets woke. To the belief in human progress unfolding through history — itself a remnant of Christian eschatology — it adds the Leninist twist of a cadre of heroes who jump-start the revolution.
The awakening of the Bolsheviks stirred from a 19th century wokeness, the impetus of which proceeding from the utter failure of the state church in Europe in the 18th century, Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract and Discourse on Inequality, Hegelian dialectical materialism, and then the writings of Karl Marx.

The equality of the true church comes in the first instance of actual awakening.  Peter calls it the obtaining of "like precious faith" "through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1).  At that moment Paul writes the Galatian churches:  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).  This doesn't come through human progress (progressivism) but by Divine achievement by means of the power of the gospel.  God receives all the glory.

Wokeness doesn't give God glory because it is a human endeavor.  Atheists can be woke.  Professing evangelicals today just have their own version of wokeness where they have more common ground with reprobates than true converts of Jesus Christ.

God produces equality, real equality.  Progressivism inoculates against the real thing like the Pharisaism of Jesus' day.  The Pharisees were interested in the Messiah coming to bring in a physical kingdom that delivered from physical oppression.  Nothing said oppression more than poverty to the Pharisee.  They condemned anyone who wasn't as woke as they were, including Jesus.

Jesus didn't come with a message to deliver from physical oppression.  He said God will care about you greater than He does the lilies of the field and many sparrows (Matthew 6:25-34).  Don't worry about these physical things. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."  Wokeness reverses this.  It says seek first a physical kingdom of this world.  This was a direct contradiction by Jesus of the Pharisees.  To enter the kingdom, Jesus preached, "Repent," "be born again," and "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."  That wasn't a popular message then and it isn't today.

It is much easier to preach the wokeness of equality, inclusion, and poll tested words mantled with religious undertones:  "rest," "encourage," "empathy," and even "self-love."  True, biblical Christianity uses words like submission, authority, judgment, obedience, reverence, suffering, and solemnity.  This clashes with the sensual feelings of wokeness and niceness.

The root sin of Pharisaism is pride.  The world will be impressed with the kingdom you bring in through your efforts.  Look what you have done.  It's not poverty in spirit.  It is voluntary humility, that puts on a very sad face, like the Pharisees with their self-bruising to make them look sacrificial in a photo-op.  Preaching the gospel isn't popular with the world.  Like with Jesus, the world will hate you with preaching.  They loove the social activism, the free Christmas tree and canned goods.

The Lord Jesus Christ provides temporal bread.  He made bread and fish in John 6 to feed fifteen or so thousand including women and children.  He didn't keep feeding.  He said, "I am the Bread of Life."  The multitudes went away.  The woke crowd says, feeding is our program.  We'll keep feeding and feeding.  It's a popular, temporal, self-indulging message.  They include Jesus, except that He's a reinvented Jesus, another Jesus, who fits with their activism.

Wokeness sedates someone against a true awakening, like someone with his brain in a vat.  It's like the sleepiness someone feels after a big turkey dinner.  He doesn't hunger and thirst for actual righteousness, because he's been fed with what Jesus called "the meat that perisheth" (John 6:27).  They serve up a huge platter of "meat that perisheth," even a vegan version on the menu.  It might also come with a mimosa to provide a bit of the metaphysical popular in Ephesus and Corinth and the temple of Diana, served with the seductive rhythms of popular music in the background.  It is a spiritual experience, except not the Holy Spirit, rather the spirit of this age.

In my title, I conveniently called this the coronavirus to the church.  A virus doesn't live on its own.  It invades a living cell and reproduces off its intricate machinery until the cell is dead.  Woke Christianity attaches itself to a church and kills it by entering it and then reproducing itself until the church is dead.  It changes every doctrine.  God is a different God.  Jesus is a different Jesus.  The church is now a commune.  The gospel changes.  The future kingdom has arrived with the one that people want right now, not the pie in the sky stuff preached by actual biblical preachers.  In the end, the church isn't woke.  It's a corpse killed by the virus of Woke "Christianity."

Woke Christianity isn't really inclusive.  It's like slapping "fine dining" on the greasy spoon.  It doesn't include godly parents who warn against it and anyone else who preaches historic Christianity.  Sullivan writes:
And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults. These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven’t been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.
He used the words "cult" and "cultish," but I'm going to step out and agree on Woke Christianity.  If it is not a cult, then it is cultish.  It does not harmonize with historic Christianity in almost any way.  It's an impulse for something right now.

Ghosting is the form of separation for the inclusivists.  Anyone who rejects their profanity and corrupt doctrine is toxic.  This is how physical kingdoms are brought in.  It's how the revolution succeeds.  To Robespierre, one of the fanatics of the French revolution, the purveyor of the guillotine said, "On ne fuit pas d'omelette sans casser des oeufs."  Translated, "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs."  Deep down this is an angry group.  You've seen them.  They like the anonymity of masks, but they've got murder in their hearts for those who get in the way of their kingdoms of this world.

Monday, April 06, 2020

You Might Be Settled on God's Love For You, But What About Your Love for God?

God doesn't love us by sending on to us His sentimental feelings.  That's not love.  He actually loves us, and so does Jesus.  Jesus laid down His life.  God does things.  He provides.  He gives.  I can keep going, but it's the length of the whole Bible.

If God loved certain professing evangelicals, like they "loved" Him, they wouldn't experience anything.  They wouldn't even be alive to experience anything, but assuming that they were alive, they might hear God sing, maybe to them because it would be hard to tell if it was to them or for an audience, a simple, sappy, sensual song possibly while strumming on a guitar or hitting emotional chords on a piano.  They might get to sit through His crying about His feelings somewhat related to them.  They would get to watch God have a good time at their expense knowing that His love for them, the professing evangelicals, was His acceptance that they could put up with all the good times He was having.  It would be all about God.  He would have strong feelings toward them and they wouldn't know it.

The love of God for professing evangelicals that paralleled with their love for Him would take whatever they said to Him and make it about Him and not them.  That isn't love and it isn't the love of the true God, but it would be a love like professing evangelicals.  Evangelicals are into the love of God for them, and even though they are even missing on what His love is for them, they are absolutely off on what their love is for Him.

I think I can find some common ground with professing evangelicals about the love of God for men, perhaps more than half of it. We could list together dozens and dozens of things that God has done and does and will do.  I know we would not agree on even what His love is for men.  He doesn't love us by allowing us to live in a way that is displeasing to Him.  He doesn't accept the worldliness, superficiality, fleshliness, and regular sinning.  However, the bigger difference relates to their love for God.  We love Him because He first loved us.  They would agree with that, but that love wouldn't be actual love, as prescribed and described by God.  They focus in on His love for them and their love for Him is feeling good about what they think that love is, which is mainly acceptance and approval.

The love we show God, if it is true love, is very similar to the actual love He shows us.  A portion of the love He shows us, professing evangelicals want a lot of that.  They don't want the chastisement.  They don't want the toughness.  They don't want the love that enables holiness, purity, and sacrificial service.  They want love that takes away their guilt really for their not loving Him.  They want love that accepts their feelings toward Him.  They want love that covers for past sin and continued present sin.

When Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:22, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha," he wasn't using the verb "love" in an arbitrary or ambiguous way.  It wasn't, "Fill in the blank on whatever it is that you want love to be."  Love is what God says love is.  God is love.  All love fits into the nature of God.  Most professing evangelicals just profess to love God.  They have developed a theology to convince themselves that they love God, when they don't.  So they are "Anathema Maranatha."

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Biblical Considerations of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Many pastors and theologians have provided their counsel, take, admonition, or encouragement on  this virus that is sickening and killing people all over the world.  I've listened to at least four sermons on it, while going about working at home while sheltered-in-place, a terminology I never remember hearing until now.  It's come up in about every one of my sermons since we knew a pandemic had begun.  In addition to the offerings of Thomas Ross in the way of a gospel tract, David Warner from our church wrote one (click on the link here).    Those are very good and should be utilized, if people will touch them, considering the virus might survive on the surface of the tract for twenty-four hours.

Here are ten typical subjects right now, no offense to anyone.  I've brought them up too.  They are worth meditating upon.
  • God is sovereign.
  • Everyone's going to die.
  • God is gracious that this isn't worse.
  • God cares for us more than many sparrows.
  • All things work together for good for them who love God.
  • Sin is the cause of the virus at least as a byproduct.
  • We all deserve worse than this outcome.
  • We know not what shall be on the morrow.
  • Except we repent, we shall all likewise perish.
  • It is only by God's faithfulness that we are not consumed.
Other related topics addressed are the following: Is livestreaming "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb 10:24-25), is it actual church or a service, at what point do we meet again anyway, or is this the state taking away religious freedom?  Those are all interesting and appropriate.  This post will take at least a little different tact than any of these above.

Is There A Prophetic Nature to the Virus?

Is the world so wicked that God is sending a shot across its bow to warn it of something much greater to come?  Besides just the virus, are signs of the time in the air?  The soon return of Christ has been mentioned to me far more often since this started, so it's something I think about.  The virus is not technically a "sign" of the coming of Jesus Christ, so why does it get the attention as that?

The book of Revelation uses the word "plague" and "plagues" several times, and the term plague is associated with apocalypse.  The word "apocalypse" is a transliteration of the Greek word that is the title of the last book of the Bible, Revelation.  "Apo" means "from," and "calypse" means "cover."  It literally means "to uncover."  It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.  "Apocalypse" has come to be understood in our culture as "the time when the world ends," and you might add, "with plagues."  Covid-19 is a worldwide plague, which is killing people.  The book of Revelation has multiple plagues that kill people.

More people were killed by World War 2, World War 1, the Spanish Flu, the American Civil War, and the Bubonic Plague, especially by percentage.  The situation we're in seems worse.  Why?  What is it?  Through the history of the world, people were accustomed to early death or even the threat of it.  Rows and rows of emaciated sick bodies on the verge of dying is intolerable.  It seems humanity can stop this and if it can, then it must.  It's a society that will kill millions through abortion, a clandestine death, isolated from human perception.  I'm not impressed by its sudden embrace of life.  I read it as a selfish embrace, more in the nature of the self-serving.

Covid-19 kills.  It doesn't kill everyone, so the death rate is lower by far than other pandemics.  However, we don't know who it will kill.  Some get it and are asymptomatic, another word I don't think I used in my life before this last month.  Since there is no cure, the asymptomatic can be spreading it and give it to someone who is susceptible and to whom it is deadly.  The idea right now is that you touch a door knob or cardboard box, not wash your hands, and you might kill your grandparents.  There is no antidote.

If something isn't done, the disease and death rate overwhelms the healthcare industry, where the few sacrifice themselves for the many.  More casualties of the few bring greater for the many.  Some kind of never before experienced tipping point could occur and the terminology, "mass graves," is used, and sometimes, "body bags."  Funerals become too risky to attend. 

The virus brings apparent justifiable fear, enough fear to stop people from traveling, shopping, and working, all of what results in industry and economy.  Industry and economy stops.  The supply chain is disrupted.  Economy brings people into contact that makes them sick.

Humanity has also become more accustomed to a higher standard of living.  Something much lower seems apocalyptic.  One could and should call this covetousness or greed.  To get what they want, people live right up to the edge, leaving most people one month or less away from bankruptcy.  That seems fine for the people, who have money in the bank, except that they are in the minority.  Businesses can't close, because home owners are so close to defaulting on their mortgage or renters so close to not paying the rent, which results in the landlord defaulting on his loan, that the whole system comes tumbling down, this in a matter of mere months.  Can it start up again then?  Maybe, but only if more money is printed and the federal government borrows the money to bail out more than half the country.

This isn't over yet.  People do not know what will happen.  It might take a long time to sort out.  The fear stops people from buying, which stops people from hiring, which results in less buying, less hiring, and massive unemployment, the collapse of the housing market, then the banks.  I'm describing what could happen, and then the crime.  Some are not going to put up with the lesser lifestyle.  Some will become desperate and steal.  Drug and alcohol use rise.  Societies are not accustomed to what's going to happen.  They will turn to leaders that pander to their worst instincts.  They will be encouraged by others like them.  They have become accustomed to doing what is most expedient.

With due respect to those with the virus who are suffering and have suffered or know or love those who have died from it, this virus is a slap in the hand on a world that deserves destruction.  It is not a real apocalypse.  That is described in the book of Revelation.  However, it is the sample platter.  It is a sample like I haven't, again, seen in my lifetime.  People have the opportunity to repent.  That is the big question right now.  Will they?  Will they listen?  Is this enough?  I don't think it will still be enough.  Yet, believers should use the possible opportunity. I say, possible, because a few perhaps will listen.

2 Chronicles 7:14 Again

2 Chronicles 7:14 doesn't apply to the pandemic.  Solomon had prayed for God to hear Israel's prayers in the temple he led in building, if Israel found herself suffering through pestilence and famine and war, because of her disobedience.  Could she come to the temple and pray out of repentance and have God hear her?  The answer is, yes, if my people come and pray with a truly repentant heart, I'll hear her prayers.  That's all based on God's promises to Israel and in particular Solomon.

Our country can repent.  That will help the country.  Perhaps people would then have the discernment to make good decisions that would result in a virus not wreaking so much havoc on a nation.  Maybe the disease is a message to the world.  The world, and our nation, should take it as such.  It should be the Luke 13:1-5 message from Jesus, to repent.  Everyone needs to repent, because either from this virus or the debilitating depression that arises from it or something else, everyone is going to die and face God.

We should be preaching repentance, a message that churches haven't been preaching, perhaps 80 percent or more.   We should be praying biblical prayers.  I won't pray for the disease to end.  I'll trust God to do His will.  I'll pray for boldness and abounding love and knowledge and wisdom.  I will pray what God says to pray for his people.  I will pray for the governing leaders.  I will keep serving and preaching in and through the church.  I will not look for something sensational based on a false interpretation of the Old Testament.

As much as ever, people need the Word of God.  This break from the regular rush should bring renewed Bible and prayer.  It shouldn't be planning parties and binging on entertainment.   We should use this crisis as God would have us, to take advantage of the mercy and grace of God.

Friday, April 03, 2020

COVID-19 / Coronavirus Gospel Tracts

I have written a COVID-19 / Coronavirus gospel tract entitled The Coming Plagues & COVID-19.  You can share the link with people whom you cannot easily contact because of social distancing.  You can also download a Word document version of the tract at the All Content page here (search for "Coming Plagues" and then download the MS Word file) which you can personalize for your church.  The tract fits on both sides of one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and if your church has a printer that can do staple binding, you can tell it to "staple" the single piece of paper and it will simply fold it in half without putting a staple in, so you don't need to actually fold the tract.  The Do You Know You Have Eternal Life?, Prepare for JudgmentGod and Science: Friends or Enemies?Role of Government: Has God Spoken? and other tracts also fit on a single 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folded in half.  It would then look like the pictures below:









You could also professionally print the tract, and it could look something like what you would see if you click here (a version of the Eternal Life? tract printed by Headwaters Baptist Church).

Another COVID tract, a tri-fold, can be downloaded by clicking here.  It also fits on two sides of a piece of paper and looks like the following:






I would encourage you, if you do not already have a good COVID tract or two, or if you picked up one some that are weak on various principles of Biblical evangelism, to see if one of these ones would be something your church could use for the glory of God.

-TDR

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Do Separatist, Independent Baptist Churches Believe And Teach Jesus' Love Must Be Earned?

A known person raised in an separatist, unaffiliated Baptist church in the last few months wrote on social media the following ideas (representative of them with some exact wording), broad brushing these churches as embracing the following doctrine and characteristics.  He uses the word "communities" referring to churches.  He said in essence:
  • Their children were made to believe by their leaders, who he says were abusing them physically, verbally, and emotionally in a traumatic way (how they were made), that Jesus' love and love in general came at the cost of earning an ever elusive acceptance.
  • The people in these said communities have a tendency to take on the personality of their leaders, an unfortunate characteristic.
  • It's difficult to sort through who are the good people and who are the bad people in these communities, but there are apparently a lot of good people, despite these above described conditions.
  • These communities contrast with the ones who love people unconditionally and don't make the love of Jesus to be conditional.
Many of the people reading at his site would associate his comments with our church and he implies that without mentioning any names.  He intends for people to think about our church the way he describes, despite all the inherent internal contradictions in his statements.

I have never heard these charges about our church ever and we have had plenty of time for people to make or use them.  We would have enemies with many opportunities to say these were elements of our belief and practice, but I've never heard it.  They've said other things, but not this.  I've actually heard the opposite. We're a discipleship church that doesn't manipulate anyone, and we love and love and love.  I question the love of the one making the statement and would like to see his love credentials, how he loves his parents, his church people, the lost, those he's discipled, what he's actually done for them versus the multitudinous things that they have done for him.

Related to his charge of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, an arbitrary and tenuous accusation, I haven't heard that once about our church.  No one has ever brought that against our church.  I've never heard it mentioned.  We have a school with an open enrollment up to sixth grade and no one from the school family has said anything.  Not even people who have left our church have said anything like that.  This is a first for me in thirty-two years.

One major event in the short history of our church was an investigation into our practice of child-rearing at a time when the state of California began a process in the state assembly to outlaw corporeal punishment for parents.  It did not succeed and our church had a major impact, which I'll recount one part.  We had a family in our church raising a foster child, remotely related to the family, so he was in our church and school.  The parents used spanking for discipline, which he definitely needed.  The state foster care program forbade corporeal punishment of its children and when the child ascertained this, he told the foster program.  They sent child protective services (CPS) to our school to question him.  They also looked over our school and this family with a fine tooth comb.  They found no abuse, even based on their eager scrutiny. They gave the option of continuing with the foster care but the family declined and the boy moved to another home.

CPS did not like the use of corporeal punishment by our parents and in our school.  However, they found zero evidence of abuse based on their strict interpretation of the law of California, which has no positive bias toward corporeal punishment.  The CPS agents were still angry because of a pamphlet on our premises, which exposes the biblical passages on child discipline, written by our principal.  Their investigators sent that to a newspaper reporter, hoping to incite opposition from the community to us.  They got the opposite.  We were supported.  Local television for the massive Bay Area here came out and interviewed us and they didn't find the wild eyed fanatics they hoped.  They found reasonable people, who could defend the biblical doctrine and practice in a calm, substantive way.  Many other parents in the region also wanted the availability of corporeal punishment as a tool for child-rearing.

We have not had one accusation of abuse in our church and school all thirty two years in any type of way.  This contrasts with the track record of the state schools.  As a personal example, we had a young man we tried to help and we didn't like his general body language and demeanor around children.  Then a mother called and reported that years before, he had molested a boy a few years younger than him, but that the family didn't prosecute.  We theretofore forbade him from proximity to children, which he refused, so we disciplined him for that lack of repentance.  I have not seen him since.

However, someone informed me some years later that he was teaching in the public school part time with one of his courses, elementary sex education.  Upon hearing this, I called the principal of that public elementary school.  Before I even told her his name, she knew who I was reporting.  It was obvious, but they had done nothing about it.  They still had him teaching that class with small children.  The public schools have had many incidents.  Anyone reading here knows Roman Catholicism has had too many to count.  Yet, we have had no charges for anything in our school or church for the entire 32 years.

The insinuation of abuse causing trauma is slanderous.  He uses very ambiguous deflective accusations that allow deniability.  About two months ago the boy, whom I described in foster care, now a twenty-something man, drove from a long distance on a Sunday to attend our church.  He sat right next to me in the Sunday School class.  He felt no fear being with our people.  He received hugs and acceptance.  This is the fruit of the worst possible example for us and this wasn't his first return visit.

I want to move to the other, I think, worse charge, and also deal with the substance of the other things he wrote.  He said that our church didn't just teach, but its leaders 'made children believe that Jesus' love had to be earned,' that it cost something, mixing that idea in with the concept that the children also had to earn the love of the leaders (with a sinister undertone to it).  We don't make people believe anything.  It's not our goal to coerce anyone.  We are very careful in our dealing with children and anyone with us knows that.  We don't pray prayers with them.  We don't force them into any decision.  Ever.  We don't use manipulative means.  I don't know of a church with which we fellowship that believes that either.  I don't accede to that idea at all.  Jesus paid it all.  No one earns the love of God.  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.

Our church celebrates the Lord's Table once a month.  We remember what Jesus did for each of us by eating the bread and drinking the cup.  We also examine ourselves.  I often mention the warning of 1 Corinthians 11, that some are sick and some are dead because they take unworthily.  There is a threat in that.  Is that saying that the love of Christ costs something?  Does Christ making us sick or killing us mean that His love costs something?  That is the discipline of Christ with which He wants the church to cooperate with church discipline.  If someone won't repent of sin, out of love for that person, we practice discipline.  Discipline is in fact the problem for these young people.  They don't want the expectation to live the Christian life, to be holy as God is holy.

Jesus makes people sick and die.  He expects church discipline, but He also directly intervenes in his own discipline, as seen in His letters to the seven churches (Revelations 2-3).  Does Jesus making sick and killing someone an extreme form of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse?  These are the types of internal contradictions for a false form of Christianity represented by this young man on social media.  It is rampant in evangelicalism today.

Salvation is free.  It is free, but it costs, as Jesus Himself taught, denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him.  Since you don't have anything spiritually to pay, because of your spiritual poverty (Matthew 5:3), you can't pay for it.  When we give up our all, when we sell all that we have for the pearl of great price or that treasure in the field, we are actually giving up nothing for everything.  It does cost us something though, which is why Jesus said, count the cost.  Jesus said that and it doesn't contradict salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

The accuser on the social media expanded further by saying that 'the beauty of Christianity is that we can't do anything to earn Jesus' love.'  He says that's the beauty of Christianity, that we can't earn the love of Jesus. That's an odd statement I've never heard from anyone in my life, so it would be very odd if it was in fact the beauty of Christianity.  We don't and can't earn the love of Jesus, is true. But that's not the beauty of Christianity.  Jesus earned it.  He paid it.  The beauty isn't that I can't.  I know I can't, which is why I mourn over my sin, and relinquish control to Jesus Christ.  The freedom the accuser explicates really is an apparent freedom to keep sinning against Jesus with no repercussions.

Young people such as this young man don't even want to relinquish control.  It doesn't cost anything, even giving up the sin that results in damnation.  They keep on sinning.  And they want to be accepted for continuing to live in sin.  Not accepting it, they denounce as trauma.  The Lord Jesus Christ doesn't accept their or anyone's sinning.  That's why he makes someone sick and dead, which is the unconditional love of Jesus, disciplining or chastening (cf. Hebrews 12).  To be consistent, he would call that, what Jesus does, physical abuse and causing trauma.

One more note on corporeal punishment.  Scripture teaches it.  Scripture is the Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16).  If we love Jesus, we obey Him (John 14:15, 20-21).  The biblical means of child-training is also love.  Children who do not receive biblical child-rearing are not being loved.  It's an advocacy for hatred of children.

He wrote that the people take on the "personality" of their leader.  I get the cult charge implied.  I don't know of one personality that has changed in our church because of me.  There are many that share the same love for lost souls and care greatly for their families.  2 Peter 1 calls it like precious faith.  I like people to keep their own personality.  I don't criticize people for their personality.  I like preaching that doesn't sound like someone else.  All four of my children have different personalities, and they have kept all of their own personalities.

I've visited, watched, or read the kind of "communities" with the unconditional love and there are lots of the same types of persons.  Sentimental.  Touchy feely.  Pandering.  Manipulative.  Sensual.  Worldly.  Being a real man means alcohol and salty language (profanity).  Everyone speaks freely about their entertainment and popular music.  They have the hand raising, the eye-clinching fake sincerity with the affected vocals. They're like goths, trying to be different, and yet they all still looking the same.  All of those churches look the same.  Casual is the dress code.  It must be.  Conformity all over the place.  They're like business franchises.  They are mass produced out of the same church growth manuals with identical websites in most cases with identical wording.

We have five different men who preach in our church, all five with different personalities, not even one of them is even that close to the same.  Who are the good ones?  Who are the bad ones?  The young man says these churches have good people and bad people.  The good people, I reckon, are those who might be more likely to overlook his sin and not admonish or rebuke him for it, that is, give him "unconditional love."  I'm assuming that the good people are those who don't drink the koolaid.  Paul wrote that in the great house there are vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor. For someone to judge, he must rely on scripture, with the goal of reconciliation to God and to others.  It's not arbitrarily picking out who is bad and who is good.

The communities who give "unconditional love," which theirs isn't even love, but sentimentalism, are the ones with the antinomian, heretical view of sanctification I've written a lot about here recently.  They accept numerous views on most doctrines and practices, treating the Bible like it is a book full of contradictions. The Southern Baptist Convention is replete with these churches.  I call it virtual sanctification.  You don't actually have to live righteous, because Jesus already did that for you.  It's what Paul called sinning that grace might abound (Romans 6:1-2).

Do separatist, unaffiliated Baptist churches like ours really believe that people have got to earn the love of Jesus?  Or is that a scurrilous lie?   Is it just that he misrepresents the love of Jesus and offers a placebo "love"?  He does not represent who we are or what we teach.  I wouldn't take him to court over it for liable and slander, but if I were given due process, which we are not, because this type of accuser lobs the hand grenades from afar, his charge would be thrown out with honest witnesses.  It is outright slander, like the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself would make about a true, godly church.  What is even more sad is that he leaves many, many of those in his audience and under his influence twice the children of Hell that they once were.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Why Do People Have Such A Low View of the Law?

The Internal Revenue Code alone has 3.4 million words and 7,500 pages.  There are 20,000 laws governing just the use and ownership of guns.  I can keep going.  Now, that is intrusive.  That is onerous.  That is prohibitive.  That is repressive.  That is burdensome.  That is overwhelming.  I should hate the laws of the United States.  I can't learn all those laws.  And who wrote them anyway?  Who are the authors?

I don't hear the kind of hatred for United States law, and I stopped above with only two categories, as I hear of the hatred of God's law. There are 51 titles in multiple volumes of the U. S. law code.  By the 1980s -- and now there are many more -- there were 23,000 pages of just federal law.  There were in the 1980s 3,000 only federal and only criminal offenses.

I know that people take city, state, and federal law seriously.  They don't want the short-term penalties, fines, courts, lawsuits, imprisonment, and other punishments.  They don't think about how restrictive that all is.

So let's turn to the law of God.  Yes, God.  Why is the law of God viewed in such a negative fashion?  It is.  Many, if not most Christians, don't think we have to keep God's law anymore, and when you suggest it, you are viewed in a bad way.  Compare that to, say, being a law-abiding United States citizen.  The latter doesn't carry with it the same kind of dubiousness, suspicion, or hostility, as saying that you've got to follow Old Testament law or even just biblical law.

Who wrote the Old Testament law?  God.  Through the laws of the Old Testament, God would control people's lives.  Who wouldn't want that?  I'm not talking about human government, but divine government, not being controlled by congress, but by God.  Who wouldn't want to know what God wanted so that what He wanted could be done?  And that is exactly how God wanted His people to see His law -- wanting to do what God wanted

Compared to U.S. law, the Old Testament is easy.  It's not hard to keep up with what God said in His Word.  God doesn't over legislate.  He doesn't pass a law so that He could find out what was in it, for instance, like Nancy Pelosi said the United States Congress needed to do with the Affordable Care Act in 2010.  There are 613 commandments in the Old Testament.  That's a drop in the bucket compared to how the United States legislates your life, and God's law is easy to understand compared to the U. S. code.  On top of that, those laws in the Old Testament come from God, not a collection of flawed, sinful human beings.  The law of the Lord is perfect (Psalm 19:7).

In the history of Christianity, many different efforts have arisen from teachers to void the Old Testament.  From the teaching of the New Testament, one can see that this was happening right when the New Testament was being written, and those attempts were denounced.  Outside of scripture, early in the second century just after the completion of the twenty-seven New Testament books, a teacher from Sinope, Turkey, Marcion, went so far as to teach that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament were really two separate gods, the former a god of wrath and the latter a god of love.

A version of this two-different-god theory of Marcionism, though not embraced in a formal or technical sense, has become a very popular modern understanding of God.  People often today separate the God of the Old Testament from the one of the New Testament.  It's a common view.  They see the teaching of the the two testaments as diametrically different.  They've got a problem with Old Testament law.  They even think, albeit in a kind amateurish way, that the teachers of the New Testament and even Jesus themselves have a problem with the Old Testament, inclining them toward depreciation of the law. That division results in even laughing at some of what the Old Testament teaches.

Church leaders and Christian teachers today, although in most cases not wanting association with Marcion, feel the shame of affiliation with the teachings of the Old Testament and through their hermeneutic have essentially nullified the law of the Old Testament.  Very often they don't like some of the stories that are hard to explain either, so they use various systems of interpretation to accommodate a suppression of the Old Testament.  Even though they claim the same God wrote both testaments, in a more sophisticated and contemporary manner than Marcion, they treat the Old Testament like it's written by a different one.

The mothballing of the law of God doesn't proceed from the teachings of Jesus.  A fair reading of Jesus doesn't see Him as distancing Himself from the law of the Old Testament.  He not only embraces it, but takes the strictest possible interpretation of the actual laws.  He says famously in Matthew 5:17-19:
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
There is no place in the New Testament where Jesus didn't follow the actual Old Testament law, not to be confused with His insubordination to faulty interpretations of religious teachers.  On top of not committing murder, He said, don't even hate a brother.  Further than not committing adultery, He said, don't even think about it.  The best way to look at this was not His adding to what had already been written, but giving the Divine spirit of the law.  It was intended to be supported, to be kept inside and out.

Shelving the law of God didn't come from the Apostle Paul either, even though Marcion said he was a follower of Paul.  Paul wrote, "we know that the law is good" (1 Timothy 1:8).  He said that "the law was holy" (Romans 7:12).  In addition, the Apostle John wrote, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).

The Old Testament saints, like David, whom the New Testament really admires (Acts 2:25, 4:25, 13:22, Romans 4:6, etc.), loved the law of God.
Psalm 40:8, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Psalm 119:77, Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
Psalm 119:97, O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:113, thy law do I love.
Psalm 119:163, thy law do I love.
Psalm 119:165, Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
God wrote the law.  God wanted His people to live the law.  If you loved God, then you loved His law.  It was the way your life was regulated by the God you loved.  God made you.  God sustained you.  So what's the problem with the law?  Why is there a low view of the law?

The underlying problem for people with God's law starts with God Himself.  If they loved and trusted God, they wouldn't have a problem with His law, so their actual problem is with Him.  It relates to something I posted last about the two sons of the Father in that parable of Jesus in Luke 15.  The problem with the regulations of the Father is a problem with the Father.  They don't want to be controlled by Him.  He clashes with their lust.

Even when someone wants to continue doing what he wants, the threat of promised bad consequences might and should check those desires.  However, he's got to believe in the reality of the consequences, which is a matter of faith.  Does He believe the Bible?  Does He believe God?  People don't take the Bible seriously, which is not taking what God said seriously.  If God says He will kill you for something, then you should expect to die for it, even if He might withhold that punishment in the short term.

Today the Bible is too embarrassing for people, who even call themselves Christians, to say something like, homosexuality is an abomination.   A test comes when the law runs up against conventional thinking.  I read someone I know quite well recently use the terminology, "core human sensibility."  Those three words are a rorschach ink blot that someone could pour about anything.  What are "core human sensibilities"?  People trust "core human sensibilities" more than they do God.  What are called "core human sensibilities" most often -- verging on one hundred percent of the time -- contradict the laws of God that are the most difficult or clash the most with the culture.

"Core human sensibilities" do not clash with the particular  laws of God that society still favors.  That's the sweet spot where their invented perversion of Christianity lies.  Those with a low view of the law of God, yet still want to be a Christian for whatever benefits they try to convince themselves they'll still receive, land all of their Christianity exactly where the world says it is permissible.  God controls through laws, so God isn't really in control, the world is.

The low view of God's law that voids laws of God that clash with "core human sensibilities" is actually a low view of God Himself.  It is a view of God that doesn't fear God, doesn't even want to be afraid of anything, resents that.  It is a view of God that doesn't trust God.  "God can't be right about all this," which is finally a view that doesn't love God or truly think that God loves us.  Loving conventional thinking is loving the world.  You don't trust God when you don't trust the "hard parts," which are the "clashing parts," really what it means to be a Christian, a lover of God.  The low view of the law proceeds from this.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Parable of the Prodigal Son Could Be Titled "Two Sons Who Both Hated Their Father"

Jesus tells three parables in Luke 15, all of which reveal the love of God the Father for the lost, unlike the religious leaders in Israel.  He searches for them like a lost coin, first parable, lost sheep, second, and lost son, third.  That states the correct view of God the Father and, therefore, also the view of every true believer toward the lost.

The third parable (Luke 15:11-32) has three characters:  the Father, the older son, and the younger son.  Many have focused almost exclusively on the younger son, whom is called "the prodigal."  In light of the historical context and the larger textual context of the flow of the gospel, attention should be given to both sons with an emphasis on the difference between the attitude of the Father versus the older son.  The parable itself starts with these words in verse 11:
A certain man had two sons.
What everyone needs to understand is that both sons hated their Father, not just the younger son, which means that the two sons both did not love their Father.  The Father in the story is God the Father.

To start, let's be clear that this is about the relationship of God to human beings.  In one sense, God is Father of all (1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6), not in a saving sense, but in the sense that God cares for all humanity and provides for every man.  This is not the "universal Fatherhood of man and brotherhood of men," but it is God as the source of all blessing for both the evil and the good.  The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

With the Father in the story being God the Father, someone might rightly ask, who could hate God the Father?  What did God the Father do or not do in order to deserve this hate?  Exposed to a psychiatrist, there would be something to blame God the Father.  The son hates the Father because of something the Father did, the son being a victim of some sort of abuse to justify his hatred.  No one should think that.  It really is all on either of the two sons.  The Father lays down His law and it could be thought to be controlling.  God wanted Israel in the land after Egypt and after Babylon and both times, His children wanted to stay, thinking their Father was toxic.

The profligate lifestyle of the younger son should be taken as a metaphor for spiritual prodigality.  He's turned away from his Father to his own sinful ways.  Even though it is about God's relationship to men, there is other truth to apply about the nature of the relationship of fathers and sons.  This parallel is seen repeated again and again throughout scripture, and it can tell us something about the relationship between sons and fathers.

The Father

Let us do a brief character study on the three members of the story.  Jesus shows the Father cares for both his sons in how he has treated them.  He had an inheritance set apart for both of them, working to support them both (v. 12).  He treated his sons much better than servants (v. 17).  He wanted to give his sons great things, even though they didn't deserve what he gave them (vv. 22-23).  He wanted to be with his sons (vv. 20, 24).  He was very concerned about the well-being of his sons (v. 24).  He intreated his sons when they confronted him and treated him in an angry way (v. 28).  He was willing to give all he had to his sons (v. 31).  He was glad for his sons' well being (v. 32).

The emphasis on the Father is provision and support.  He provides what his sons need to give them the best opportunity to succeed.  He is good in that way.  This is not the sentimental Fatherhood of high fives and "yo, dude."  When the younger son thought back to the goodness of his Father, he thought about the provision of his Father, all that His Father provided.  Did your father provide?  Was there food on the table, the security of a place to live, and loving restrictions like there are over 600 in the Old Testament and 1000 in the New?  It's obvious both sons wanted more from their Father, that he was falling short in each of their evaluation.  It is also to clear that reconciliation to the Father fell on the son recognizing the goodness of his Father, which was found in the provision and supply given.

The Younger Son

The younger son wanted to get out from under the authority of his Father (vv. 12-13).  He was especially tempted by the apparent freedom he would have by running away.  He wanted more than what he was getting.  He was discontent and covetous.  He immediately turns to riotous living, which is the idea of "prodigal."  "Riotous" corresponds to "prodigal."  The root word is found in only three other places.
Titus 1:6, If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
1 Peter 4:4, Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
Ephesians 5:18, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
With the latter of this, the actual riot is found in the physical item, the wine.  Wine with which someone can become drunk, alcoholic wine, has in it in the way of alcohol, the actual riot, translated "excess" in the King James Version.  

The son wanted more because he perceived the Father to be too controlling.  He's not allowing enough freedom.  One psychologist writes:
Many fathers are genuinely surprised to discover their children hate them.  They worked hard to pay the bills, bought the essentials, provided gifts, and paid tuition, and yet, after all their effort and willing contributions, their young adult hates them.
Many sons want more than support, provision, and loving guidance and restriction.  They are looking for a kind of approval that won't be given by a righteous Father.  He rejects unscriptural attitudes and actions.

God the Father has standards found in His law.  If a son sees those laws as good, like scripture says about God's law, then he will see them as helpful.  He won't see them as imposing freedom, but protection.  Closely related to the impeding standards in the home is the discipline to enforce the standards.  Biblical spanking, which is called chastisement when God the Father does it (Hebrews 12:3-12), is often called abuse by the one who chafes under authority and refuses to see the goodness he is and was receiving.

The younger son turns back to the Father and returns home when he understands how good he had it.  The Father does nothing in the story, except in the nature of conviction that the younger son experiences, which could be seen as the work of the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of the Father.  It could be the conscience.  This is not on the Father but on the son to come to his senses.  The Father has been and done good and it takes true acknowledgement of that.  The rebellion will remain as long as the son keep thinking he was ripped off.  That's a lie he will embrace to justify his lifestyle.  This is what is seen in 1 Peter 4:4.

In the text of 1 Peter 4:4, the prodigal speaks of evil of the ones that run not with them.  Those who will not approve of their lifestyle even by mere participation are treated in an evil way.  The next verse says they "shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead."  They speak evil of you, but they won't be giving an account to you, but unto God.  A psychologist writes about children who hate their fathers:
Sooner or later, they will demand the freedom to be themselves. If they resent the restrictions you placed on them year after year—refusing to allow them to make their own decisions, pursue their interests, and have the power to reject the sports or school subjects they had no interest in but you insisted they pursue—don't be surprised if they hate you.
The implication of Luke 15 is that the father restricted his son.  His son wanted his way and so with disrespect of his Father, he took off.  An indication of repentance was that he came back to the Father, volunteering to be one of the slaves.  He put the relationship to the Father ahead of his own self-interest.  Sometimes the self-interest is the acceptance of the world, where the son puts that acceptance ahead of the approval of the Father.  This is loving the world and not having the love of the Father in you (1 John 2:15-17).

The Older Son

The Father is obviously the central character of Jesus' story, but the spotlight is on the older son.  He's the audience of the story, representing the Pharisees.  He not only hates the Father, but also his younger brother.  Love is not envious (1 Corinthians 13:4) and he is envious of the Father's treatment of his younger brother after he repents and returns (Luke 15:29).   The older son not only wants something he doesn't think he's getting from his Father, but he doesn't want the younger son to receive approval.  Those who receive his approval because of their right belief and practice, they also do not love.  He can't be happy about the approval others receive, because it represents the approval he perceives he does not receive (verses 29-32).

The older son stays home in body, but in spirit he's on the road like his brother was.  He wonders why he couldn't have a fatted calf to slaughter and barbecue with his friends (v. 29).  He reminds me of Cain when God disrespected his offering in Genesis 4.  He became angry and killed his brother Abel.  He also reminds me of Saul when the people of Israel cried out that Saul had slain his thousands but David his ten thousands (1 Samuel 18:7).  Saul tried then to kill David out of that jealousy.  Jesus said that when someone won't reconcile, he's as good as committed murder against that person in his heart and that he hates that person (Matthew 5:21-26).

A pivotal problem of the older son is his false view of himself.  He doesn't see himself as a sinner.  Like the rich young ruler, he hasn't "transgressed. . . anytime thy commandment" (v. 29).  Surely he broke some of his Father's commandments.  Even if not, he was betraying his violation of the spirit of the command, because he wasn't keeping the commandments with the right attitude.  Some have called this "keeping your head down."  They keep the commandments, but they don't like keeping them.  Surely the younger son didn't like keeping them either because of his own previous wrong view of his Father, before repentance.

1 John 5:3 talks about the attitude of the true believer, and the keeping of God's commandments are not grievous or burdensome, because he loves God.  Why should anyone love God, when God hasn't given them everything that they want?  They should love God because God commands it.  They should love God because it is the truth.  They should love God out of recognition for the thousands of things that God has done.  Not recognizing those good things is being unthankful, like unbelievers are characterized in Romans 1:21.

Instead of staying and keeping his head down, the older son should have concentrated on all the good things.  Colossians 3:1 calls this setting one's affections on things above.  This keeps someone from turning to his own ways.  It's not on the Father to do more things, but for the son to recognize what He has done.

The older son doesn't feel loved by his Father, because his Father isn't giving him what he thinks he warrants.  This is worshiping the creature rather than the Creator.  He isn't denying self.  Society today portrays Fatherhood itself as a social construct.

Sons and Fathers

To the world, Fathers have that authority based only on the domination of men.  Modern sons buy into this idea.  Fathers don't have authority.  They must earn it.  This is role reversal, because the father earns his authority, rather than divinely possessing it, by submitting to the son.  The father exists like a goodymeister to accede to the wishes of those he "serves" through "servant leadership," which is most often an obvious cover today for role reversal.  I call this "renting the jumper."

Churches have also bought into the expectations of modern sons.  They pander to their modern sensibilities with the stress on "unconditional love."  They agree the son has been abused.

When the younger son left, he was separate from the father.  The love of the father was at the most found in his turning his own son over to Satan, like 1 Corinthians 5:5, that "his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."  The Father doesn't want that, but that's the best choice in the circumstance.  That is actually the Father continuing to love.  He's not accepting the son's behavior, like these churches, who welcome it in, not delivering these sons to Satan, but rewarding them as recipients of faux abounding grace.

Luke 15 tells the story of a good Father and two bad sons, who both did not love their Father.  The two sons mirror each other.  Both blame it on their Father.  One son returned and loved his Father, providing the example of a way back for a son.  The Father of the story gives the model for a father.  He awaits with love the repentant son's return.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Life's Spontaneous Origin: How Likely Is It?

Evolutionists claim that the universe is billions of years old, and that supplies plenty of time for life itself, and all living beings afterwards, to evolve.  How likely is the spontaneous origin of life from non-life?  It is approximately one in 10112,500(source).  That means that it is incomprehensibly more likely that you will win the jackpot on every single ticket if you buy a billion lottery tickets every single second of your entire life than it is that life will spontaneously evolve:


While there are great Biblical and scientific reasons to believe in a young earth, as resources from scientists associated with the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis demonstrate, billions of years do not even come anywhere close to solving the problem of the origin of life for evolutionists.  Only infinite time would do--but even evolutionary scientists now admit that the universe is expanding and consequently had a beginning, and so there is no infinite time for evolution to do its work.

-TDR

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What Does This Mean? "He That Feareth Is Not Made Perfect in Love" (1 John 4:18b)

Part One

Today many millennial professing Christians have made themselves prey to superficial and self-help style preaching in postmodern evangelical churches.  They are not set in these churches by God, but they've searched them for agreement with a world of their own imagination. The look or imagery is the pastor on a dark stage in his "dress" t-shirt with a neon lettered "JESUS" in the background.  He's using the Bible, actually in the casual, disarming verbiage of a vulgarized modern version.  It's hard to tell where the text of scripture ends and the speaker's commentary begin.  He's not preaching the text, but pawning popular psychology under the subterfuge of scripture.  He lightly seasons his talk with sprinkles of biblical phrases, giving the impression of divine harmoniousness.

As an example of the type of sprinkle of biblical phrase, I return to 1 John 4:18 and the second half of that verse:  "He that feareth is not made perfect in love."  If you read that out of its context, it sounds like the fear of someone is holding him back from love that would perfect him.  Fear is then an actual enemy.  "Made perfect" is what happens to him if he operates in the sphere of love.  The love is God's unconditional love for him, that doesn't require keeping any standards.  Since salvation is free, not based on performance, God keeps loving him when he's drunk, fornicating, using foul language, dishonoring his parents, and watching naked sex on television.  The threat of punishment for violating standards is the real adversary, because it contradicts allowed freedom of unconditional love.  Jesus already paid for that sin, so there's nothing to be afraid of.

Everything in the previous paragraph is wrong.  It's in direct contradiction of the second half of 1 John 4:18.  It is the opposite of what God tells us in the verse.  Someone is afraid.  Who is it?  "He that feareth" is the person who is afraid of God's future judgment.   He should be.  It is appropriate to be fearful of God's future judgment.  What possible believer could or should be afraid of God's judgment?  One who is not sure of His salvation.  The professing believer, one who says he is saved, is afraid because he is not living as a believer.  How is he not living as a believer?  He is not loving like a believer.  Love is a test of true salvation.  Without the evidence of biblical love, he has appropriate fear of future judgment from God, that is, eternal punishment in Hell.

The previous three words in 1 John 4:18 are "fear hath torment."  "Torment" describes the fear.  "Torment" is punishment.  It is the befitting condition of a true believer, who is not obedient to God.  The disobedience to God is in not loving God and in not loving the brethren.  Not loving God or loving the brethren is not obeying the Word of God as it relates to God and the brethren (1 John 5:1-2).

The fear of future judgment of God, its effect of torment on the professing believer, is a helpful instrument from God to denote or detect the lack of conversion.  Here is a person who should take advantage of this absence of assurance of salvation in order to examine himself.  It is like physical pain to someone with an internal injury.  Something is wrong and the pain communicates that, so that he can do something about it.

A professing believer possesses fear because he "is not made perfect in love," that is, he is not maturing in love for God and for brethren like a genuine believer necessarily will mature.  He is not conforming to the image of the love of Jesus Christ.  He is not growing in the love that Jesus had for the Father and for others.  The fear is the helpful result of the lack of a mandatory evidence of conversion:  the transforming love for God and others found only in a genuine Christian.  A professing believer with this pain of torment should make good use of this amazing, benevolent tool of God.

Someone might wonder if he's got the coronavirus.  Testing positive to an accurate Covid-19 test will help him to take suitable action.  He can know what to do next.  The test is a gift of helpful information.  He won't die from the sniffles of a cold, but he could die from the sniffles of Covid-19.  He can go about to take the necessary remedy.

The self-help fraud preacher gives out a placebo test.  It tells the millennial he's fine like he is.  The people with fear actually have the problem.  It's a counterfeit message conformable to the spirit of this age.  Fear is the enemy.  Bathe in unconditional love.  Stop being afraid of the nasty transactional love that requires change. You're fine eating, drinking, and being merry.  You have nothing to be afraid of.  All of that present, ongoing lust is not just permissible, but it's the freedom that Christ died for.  He was suffering on that cross so you could live like you are in worldly lust.  That is a person made perfect in love.  Your fear is now gone because you are thinking about what Jesus did so that you could binge watch every season of Handmaid's Tale and bar hop from one den of live entertainment to the next.

The millennial is testing false negative.  He thinks he's fine and that's what his "preacher" wants him to think.  The "preacher" wants a congregation with this false sense of security, not feeling at all the torment of possible damning unbelief.  That's what his congregation needs, but he gives them instead a remedy for their pain.  They're dying and they don't know it, because they've been anesthetized to the necessary pangs of their lack of conversion.  Right now evangelicalism is teeming with these dulled from awful danger.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What Is Perfect Love and the Fear That It Casts Out in 1 John 4:18?

You can find a pretty horrific description of the pain and suffering of the coronavirus.  You can read the mounting deaths and see the graph of the steep upward curve of infections.  You can hear about the precipitous drop in employment and your retirement investment.  You could be afraid because of such information.  The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:18:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
You can apply 1 John 4:18 to the coronavirus, but not like most are doing it, who are using it right now.

Your parents hate your rock music, your alcohol, your immodest dress, your carnal or worldly entertainment, your love for the world system, your foul language, and your disobedience to scripture.  You might be afraid of that reality.  You read 1 John 4:18 and it takes away your fear of that.  You think you are relying on scripture to go ahead with your music, alcohol, immodest dress, carnal or worldly entertainment, love for the world system, your foul language, and your disobedience to scripture with fear of your parents's judgment.  That is a terrible perversion of 1 John 4:18 and just the opposite of what it means.  You are twisting it or listening to others twist it.  Just because you can plug in "love" and "fear" into a statement doesn't mean 1 John 4:18 applies to it.

"Perfect" is something that is "perfected."  This relates to the doctrine of sanctification.  "Perfect" translates teleios, an adjective modifying "love," and "made perfect" translates the verb teleiao, both related words.  The verb means "to bring to an end."  The "end" is the purpose for God, which is represented by the actual end of your life, when you see God.  The previous verse (v. 17) says:
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
When a true believer's love is made perfect, it is made like Jesus' love -- His love for whom?  This is Jesus' love for the Father, God, and for men.  This is loving God and your neighbor.  This is not God's love for you.  This is your love for Him and others.  A true believer's love will reach the purpose God has, which is a love conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

True believers are as Jesus is in the world, loving like Jesus loves, so that they can have confidence or boldness as they look forward to the day of judgment.  Love made perfect is love that continues to abound through sanctification, which occurs to all saved people.  They have peace as they see this love growing in their lives.  This is obviously holy love.  It contradicts rock music, alcohol, immodest dress, carnal or worldly entertainment, love for the world system, foul language, and disobedience to scripture.  These are unsaved people.

The way 1 John 4:18 is being used by those corrupting scripture is that they're covered by God, His "perfect" love for them, so that even though their love for God and others isn't being perfected by God, they have their anxieties removed by just thinking about this unconditional love of God for them or just preaching the gospel to themselves.  They are becoming more and more worldly by thinking about how that God just covers for everything they are doing.  Jesus died for them and now they have His righteousness and are all set for the day of judgment. This is just the opposite of what John is writing.  The righteousness Jesus imputes to a believer results in the believer living a righteous life.  He doesn't impute practical righteousness.  The believer has to live that.

The fear is taken away from a believer by his love being perfected.  God's love doesn't need to be perfected.  He's already perfect.  A person without his love being perfected should be afraid.  He should have massive anxiety.  He should be very very afraid.  He's going to Hell.

Love that is perfected is what casts out fear.  Why?  People who are loving God and loving others actually are saved.  They are saved people.  People who love the world (1 John 2:15-17), the love of the Father is not in them, so they do not possess perfected love.  They have every reason to be afraid.  If they are not afraid, it's because they are telling themselves this lie that everything is covered for them because of Jesus' perfect love for them.  They are not covered by Jesus love, because they are not saved.  People who are saved will have their love perfected by God.

What about the fear of the coronavirus?

Lauren Daigle, a "CCM pop star" thinks of the perfect love of Jesus and that takes away her anxiety.  The "perfect love" isn't Jesus' love for her.  The "perfect love" of 1 John 4:18 should be her love that is perfected by her keeping the Word of God.  She is not perfecting her love by giving out a twisted interpretation of scripture.  Others are not perfecting their love by retweeting her post to encourage others to get the same false interpretation.  It doesn't mean what she says it means.  Look at a few verses later in 1 John 5:1-2:
1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
Whoever loves God also loves "him that is begotten of him," that is, believers (this would include believing parents).  How do you know that you love children of God, that is, have love that is being perfected?  It is when you love God and keep his commandments.  Binge watching Game of Thrones, drinking alcohol, listening to rock music with foul language, and using foul language are actually all breaking God's commandments and, therefore, not loving the children of God.  This is a person who does not love God and should fear the day of judgment.  He should fear the coronavirus.  If he dies in this state, he will be sent to Hell. He is an unbeliever.  The twisting of scripture is like 2 Peter 3:16:
[The] unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
He twists scripture to justify his sin, and he does that to his own destruction.  Some of these same young people will say that they are growing close to God, feel the love of God more, and have grown more than ever in their life, which results in the actual massacring of the Word of God and perverting the love of God.  Does that sound like Christian growth?  This is not growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (two verses later, 2 Peter 3:18).

Daigle's wresting of 1 John 4:18 gives faux peace.  It doesn't help people to give them the wrong meaning of a passage, to take a little phrase out of context.  Maybe someone fed it to her.  It shows you how untrustworthy it is to rely on a "singer" to get your theology.  People who are not saved shouldn't be given a counterfeit peace.  They need the pain of conviction.  They need fear of judgment.  This works toward obtaining real peace, not an impostor or placebo peace.

A right view of 1 John 4:18 could give you peace about the coronavirus.  You could see the sanctifying work of God in your life, as your love is perfected, and that would give you peace about your final judgment.  That's not how Daigle uses it and many other millennials.  In fact, that usage creates a great danger of future judgment for these people.  They have a false sense of security.  It's not a perfected love for God and others, but actually a love for themselves, where they feel good personally even though they are in dire danger.  They confuse this feeling of well being with the love of God for them.  It isn't.  It's the opposite.

The wrong view of 1 John 4:18 anesthetizes counterfeit believers against true belief.  They think they're all set for judgment.  They can live in their sin and not have a feeling of conviction because they have embraced an impostor sanctification that wards away the real thing.  They think they're saved, when they really are not.  As Jesus said, they are twice the children of Hell that they once were.  Their continued lack of repentance and lack of actual perfected love is tell-tale in this.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Come to Israel! Join a Bible-Lands Tour in Early 2021


Unless the Rapture happens first, there should be relatively normal life on earth once the COVID-19 scare has passed (and you are tired of sitting at home wondering if you are going to get sick.)  As has been mentioned earlier on this blog, we are planning to move to the Bay Area to assist Bethel Baptist in the early part of 2021.  We may be able to lead a Bible lands trip to Israel (and possibly Jordan) in late January 2021 or possibly in February or March.  It is an incredible experience to visit Israel and see where so many of the might acts of God took place, and the land where the incarnate Son of God preached, healed, died to redeem mankind and rose from the dead.  When you come to Israel, you can see things in person such as:

1.)


The place where the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, as recorded in the book of Acts;

2.)


The place where the Lord Jesus was likely born in Bethlehem; 

3.)



Inscriptions such as the one above, which mentions Pontius Pilate by name, validating the accuracy of Scripture (as thousands of other archaeological evidences one can see in Israel do);

4.)


Visit the site where fire came down from heaven, validating that Jehovah God of Israel and God of Elijah was the true God, and Baal was not god, 1 Kings 18;

5.)


Visit the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Lord Jesus "being in an agony . . . prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44)

6.)


Visit Masada, where the Jews made their last stand against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, in fulfillment of the prediction of Christ (Luke 21:20ff.) and of Daniel 9:24-27;

7.)

See inscriptions such as the Tel Dan stele, which validate the existence of King David and his kingly house, mentioning the "house of David" by name;

and much, much more, from seeing Peter's house by the Sea of Galilee, to swimming in the Dead Sea, to seeing the place where Christ conquered death and rose from the grave!

Visiting Israel really opens up your eyes to the evidence for the Bible and can make Bible places come alive.  If you are interested in coming, please let me know and supply your contact information and I will plan to get details to you if there is enough interest.

-TDR

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Rejection of the Man of Sorrows

Philip Paul Bliss was a revivalist hymn writer in the mid 19th century, who in 1875 penned among others the well-known, "Hallelujah, What a Savior!", the first line of which reads:
Man of Sorrows! what a name for the Son of God, who came ruined sinners to reclaim.
"Man of sorrows" originates from Isaiah 53:3 in the King James Version, which says:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
I wouldn't argue against those who say Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the greatest passage in the entire Bible.  That text is the account of the future saving confession of a repentant Israel.  Six hundred years before Christ, Isaiah prophesies of an event at least two thousands years after Christ.  In Romans 11:26, Paul predicts, "All Israel shall be saved."  Zechariah 12:10 makes the the same prophecy:
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.
This moment we know is during the time of tribulation on earth, a period described in the book of Revelation (6-16), when large numbers of the twelve tribes of Israel will be saved (Revelation 7).  Before all of that is said, Isaiah 53 prophesies it.  Isaiah 52-53 is a prophecy of a people repenting for something they had done, which itself would not occur for another 600 years.

What we see described in Isaiah 52-53 is a mournful confession of Israel, where they finally, disconsolately, and fully admit they had not received their Messiah.  It should serve as the pattern henceforth for any saving confession.  An important part of it is the Jews' explanation of why they did not acknowledge Jesus Christ.  They are not saying there were legitimate reasons.  They are saying their "reasons" were monumentally faulty.  They bewail them. They agonized over their sinful pride, their fatuousness, and their thick incomprehension.  Isaiah 53:3 is part of that admission and a model of poverty of spirit and true mourning after sin.  They are really, truly sorry for what they did and repentant over it.

One of Israel's future admissions was that they rejected their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, because he was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."  Their imagined Messiah was not "a man of sorrows," hence their rejection of the real One.  They didn't want a sorrowful Messiah.  Instead, they would anticipate and desire an upbeat, victorious, and supremely confident Messiah.  He would have a skip to his step and look as though he owned the world and was on the very top of it with everyone else beneath Him.  Israel saw herself in that same category, their Messiah mirroring what they thought of themselves.  In their minds, this was the one they deserved.

I see society today the same in their envisioning of the person to follow, their leader, and their Jesus.  He is nice.  He is positive.  He offers admiring glances.  He gives only thumbs up.

Israel thought of herself as to be appreciated. Their Messiah would come and approve of them.  They were looking for a Messiah, who would be glad about them, not be sad when He saw them close up.  They were not looking for a doleful Messiah.  They wanted One Who came to endorse them and fight the Romans.  He wouldn't be angry with his enemies long, because He would do away with them so quickly.

What I'm writing relates to feelings.  I'm saying having the right feelings are important.  When Jesus first entered the temple as an adult in John 2, the disciples saw his zeal in cleansing it in a violent act against Israel, and they were reminded of the Psalm 69 prophecy of the future Messiah.  The feeling of Jesus cued Andrew toward his reception of Him, reinforcing that this was Jesus.  Others ascertained these as inappropriate.  Those feelings meant they did not want Him as theirs.

The Jesus people want to accept is a party style Jesus, who smiles and smiles, emoji-like, with likes and hearts and kisses, acceptance and approval.  Why was Jesus sorrowful?  He was someplace in complete contradiction to His nature.  Nowhere in scripture does Jesus laugh.  The sins all around weighed on Him, not just their hostility to His righteousness, but His compassion for those bound in them and His knowledge of their future consequence.   The sin brought present ruination and eternal damnation.  The Lord Jesus knew this to the furthest extent.

Israel confessed they rejected their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, because He was the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.   They would have none of Him.  When they make this confession, they understand.  He didn't die for sins He committed.  He died for theirs.  He was sorrowful over theirs.  He grieved over theirs.

Still today no one wants any sorrow over a sinful condition, no grieving over any wrong attitude or anything they've done.  Only celebration.  Only fun.  Only approval of the drunkenness, fornication, disobedience to parents, worldliness, and despicable dead apathy.   The man of sorrows continues to be rejected.