Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Vitality of Obedience to Authority: The Lord Jesus Christ Sets the Example of Obedience to Authority

Every facet of God's Word relates to authority and with God at the Top.  Even in the model prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ references the height of God the Father, "which art in heaven."  The Lord Jesus sets Himself under the Father, which also doesn't in any way diminish Him.  Just the opposite, He is elevated by His submission.  God the Father gave the Son a name above every name, because He had made Himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:5-8).

Satan knew how important authority was to the plan of God.  When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he attacked Him each time in the realm of authority.  He tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread, and nothing was wrong with turning stones to bread, except that the act of doing so functioned outside of the authority of the Father, and Jesus came to do the will of the Father or live by the Word of God.  In the second temptation, the Father should not be put in a position to deliver the Son with holy angels.  The Son shouldn't test the Father, because the Father needs no testing.  On the third temptation, Satan did not have the authority to give the kingdom to Jesus nor should Jesus prostrate Himself before Satan, both of those corresponding to authority.

In the first recorded words to man, God commanded Adam and Eve with an emphasis on "commanded."  Why not eat of the tree?  God said so, and He's in charge.  He calls Himself the LORD God.  He has the prerogative to tell them what to do.  There are other good reasons, but they aren't given.

When God finishes commanding, He communicates punishment for not obeying the command.  He is in authority by commanding and then by punishing the violations of the commands.  When Adam and Eve do violate the commands, God punishes.  Satan had told them He woudn't.  Adam and Eve don't get right with God then by continuing in rebellion.  They do that by repenting.  They know they're in trouble.  They know how wrong they have been and they want to get it right.  Later when Cain will not submit, rather than getting right, he continues in rebellion against the standard.

Every problem in the world traces back to insubordination to God.  God lays out rules and man doesn't keep them.  For man to get right with God, He must give in to God in His heart, believing in Jesus Christ.  He confesses with His mouth the Lord Jesus.  He relinquishes His life to the charge of Jesus.

When Jesus came to set the example of a human life, He obeyed everything the Father wanted Him to do.  It wasn't just verbatim following exact instruction, although He did that too.  He was doing the will of the Father.  He always did what the Father wanted Him to do.  He was sent by the Father to do that, which included the means by which Jesus would reconcile man to God.  Even when the Father wasn't commanding, He was doing what He knew the Father wanted.

Jesus even limited the free exercise of His Divine attributes.  He knew everything, but He limited His knowledge.  He was all powerful, could exercise unlimited power, but He limited His power.  He confined Himself out of obedience and set that example for every man to follow.  Jesus said, Follow me.  The Father said, Hear ye Him.  Paul wrote, Follow me, as I follow Christ.  Christ set an example that we should follow His steps and that example is submission.

As the Father sent the Son, so sends He us.  It is a hierarchy all under the authority of God.  The people who will live with Him under His authority forever want to be under His authority.  He won't receive those who don't want it.  They must receive Him to become the children of God.  This isn't a way to wash away all committed sins.  Sins are washed away, but the washing is one that yields successful obedience in the nature of the Son.  They join the Son in obedience to authority.

Fundamental in human relationship is authority.  Man does what God wants, woman does what man wants, and children do what parents want.  The only exception comes if what the man wants contradicts what God wants.

People have liberty, but not to disobey authority.  They must always obey authority.  Not obeying is represented as worshiping creature rather than Creator.  They reverse the roles.  Man is above God.

Men and women have roles, both of which are given by God.  The husband loves his wife.  God has commanded him to do that.  The wife submits to her husband.  God has commanded that.  Children obey their parents.  God has commanded that.

I hear the idea, children need liberties.  They will chafe under authority.  They need to see that they can do what they want.  They don't want to be told what to do.  If you as a parent keep telling them what to do, they will stop listening.  Nowhere does scripture give that counsel.  As a child matures, he will do what God wants and what His parents wants without being told, much like Jesus does with His Father.  Being an adult doesn't change the relationship to authority.

The goal in life isn't to do what you want and you haven't reached the greatest position when you're doing what you want.  Even when your parents aren't telling you what to do, you're still supposed to be doing what you are told.  Children who think that adulthood is doing what they want will wreck their own lives and those of many others.

Disobedient children are not good children.  If the parents are telling them not to obey God, that's another thing and that's bad, but if the parents are commanding them to obey God and then enforcing that, that's good.  That's what God wants.  If children don't like that and run from that, go a different direction than that, that is on the children.  It's a very bad future for those children.   It's also the foundation of a terrible society, a messed up community, no matter how proud the children are of themselves and their accomplishments and whatever accolades other rebels give them.

What kind of wife and mother will a girl or daughter be who will not submit to her Father and her Parents?  If she hates obeying her Father and then doesn't, she won't obey God as a wife either.  Scripture teaches this.  The Father gives away His daughter to a man as her wife.  She doesn't leave on her own according to her own will.

Work your way through scripture and see how authority weaves itself into the most basic relationships.  Adam abdicated headship and Eve ate the tree, bringing the fall, spoiling the relationship between the man and the woman.  Authority is at the root of it.  In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul stops and spends a large chunk of space about symbols of male headship, the woman a headcovering and long hair, the man without the headcovering and with short hair, to support God's design.  The model is the Father and the Son at the beginning of the chapter.  A few chapters previous (7), if a father wants to keep his virgin daughter from marriage to stay at home, he has the authority to do so, and she should submit, which is also laid out in Numbers in the Old Testament.

The best church members are obedient church members, not self-willed.  They are hearers of the Word and doers of the Word, not those who are slow to hear and quick to wrath.  They obey them that have the rule over them.  That starts with submission in the heart and then moves to obedience in the life.  The Christian life isn't a new invention.  It is living according to something very old that has been successfully lived by others who lived like others lived and like others before them lived.  It's not about something new that someone wants to do on his own.

God wants subjection to government except in the very serious situation that the government clashes with what God says.  Believers must be very careful with that.  Successful nations are full of people who are like that.  A good economy is built upon that.  They are self-governed people, who then are also able to be governed.  It all relates to God's authority.  They want what God wants.

Peter wrote, be subject to your masters with all fear (1 Peter 2:18).  All authority is of God.  In whatever a place someone finds himself, he should obey authority and Peter says, "with all fear."  "Fear" is phobosPhobos, the basis of the word, phobia, is not a negative.  It is positive.  Fear and reverence of authority, what we might call, respect, is God's will, even if it isn't expected in this culture anymore.  God wants it.

Someone who continues disobeying is obviously not fearful enough.  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  The scorner in Proverbs is not fearful.  He is proud and unwilling to submit.  He doesn't want his error pointed out and he will not receive punishment for it.  When God punished Judah with the siege of Jerusalem, the perspective He offered to her was His faithfulness.  They weren't being consumed, which they deserved.  They were being punished and then needed to see the faithfulness of God in that.  He wanted the same over their later captivity in Babylon.  Someone who almost always complains about punishment of actual violations of scripture and will not submit to those is not submissive to authority.

If you are not going to obey, you have a responsibility in a clear way with due process to show how that what you are being told to do against God.  It is against what God has told you to do.  You better have very good reasons.  Your not liking it isn't good enough.  Your disapproval of how you were told or the kind of discipline you received when you didn't do what you are told is not a legitimate basis.  When correction comes, part of repentance throughout scripture is accepting the punishment.  For sure, there is punishment outside the bounds of scriptural punishment, but rarely is that exceeded anymore.  Almost always today it is short of what is right.  There is a right way to exact correction, but for the one corrected, his sin, his own lack of compliance to authority is what bothers him the most.

The Lord Jesus of course never had to repent of sin.  He always did His Father's will all the way to the end.  When scripture says the Father was pleased with the Son, it was always because He did what His Father wanted Him to do.  Jesus is the perfect example of obedience to authority.

Monday, April 27, 2020

I'm Sinning, Actively Disobedient to God's Word, Disobedient to the Scriptural Counsel of Parents, and I've Never Had More Peace

You know this verse?
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
It's not the Bible though.  It's considered part of Mormon scripture, Doctrines and Covenants 9:8, by Joseph Smith.  Nothing like it is in actual scripture, but you wouldn't know it by how many, if not most independent Baptists treat the will of God, if not most evangelicals today.  "You shall feel that it is right."  The technical terminology you will often read is "a settled peace," or a statement like in the title:  "I've never had more peace."  Someone makes a decision, and he knows it's the will of God because he feels at peace about it.  Garry Friesen in Decision Making and the Will of God (pp. 360-361, 2004) gives an example, his being negative of this approach by quoting an individual in his explanation of "faith promise giving":
How can a person know how much to promise [to give in Faith Promise giving]?  By asking God what additional amount He wants to channel through you.  Then by means of His Word and a settled peace that comes with prayer, you will come to a conclusion with thanksgiving to Him [emphasis mine].
Friessen explains the operative feature:
[T]he amount to be given is determined by God and revealed subjectively to the heart of the believer in response to faith and prayer. . . . Through prayer and inward impressions of the Holy Spirit, God is expected to reveal that specific amount to the believer.
"A settled peace" he calls "revealed subjectively to the heart of the believer. . . through inward impressions."  I call this "the voice in the head."  Friessen calls it an impression.  Imagine Lot pitching his tent toward Sodom and then never having more peace about his decision to move there.  This isn't how believers know the will of God.  That feeling of peace is parallel with or even synonymous to the Mormon "burning in the bosom" described by Joseph Smith.

Here's a person who claims the settled peace or never having more peace, while he is sinning without repentance, actively disobedient to God's Word, and disobedient to godly parents.  What is this settled peace?   Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification."  What about someone who feels good, who is sinning?  He's not obeying scripture and he's disobedient to his parents.  This person shouldn't feel at peace.  That feeling does not mark the will of God any more than the burning in the bosom says that Mormon doctrine is true.

The feeling is not how you know you are in the will of God.  The Bible no where says that you know the will of God by a feeling.  The feeling of peace when someone lives in sin without repentance is what Jeremiah describes of the false prophet in Jeremiah 6:14-15:
[S]aying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.
The peace of the prophets was a feeling, a feeling of peace while they were not ashamed, neither could they blush, even though they had committed an abomination.  The peace was the lack of shame of a person.  The Apostle Paul describes these people in Philippians 3:18-19:
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose] glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Richard Baxter writes in "The Right Method for A Settled Peace of Conscience" (p. 19) in a prescient manner:
It must be understood, that the case here to be resolved is not, How an unhumbled, profane sinner, that never was convinced of sin and misery, should be brought to a settled peace of conscience. Their carnal peace must first be broken, and they must be so far humbled, as to find the want and worth of mercy, that Christ and his consolations may not seem contemptible in their eyes.
To know and then be in the actual will of God, Baxter says "their carnal peace must first be broken."  This settled peace content with continuing in sin is a "carnal peace."  A defiled or seared conscience, one no longer trained by the law of God, no longer functions as the warning device God intends it. The spiritual senses have been numbed by continuous sin and a lie such as antinomianism, a cheap grace used as an "occasion to the flesh" (Galatians 5:13).

Everything gets completely turned around.  Someone gets peace by faith in and then obedience to the Word of God.  The peace isn't a feeling.  It is reconciliation with God first receiving the "gospel of peace" (Eph 6:15, Rom 10:18).   The peace is reconciliation to God that 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls being "a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  The gospel of peace is a position peace that results in practical peace, that is described as reconciliation.  It isn't a feeling.  Spurgeon says in his sermon, "The Reason Why Many Cannot Find Peace":
To help you to a settled peace, let me, first of all, urge upon you to obey the comprehensive command of our text—“Submit yourselves therefore to God.” And then, secondly, let me further press upon you to practice the other precepts which follow, such as, “Resist the devil.” “Draw near to God.” “Cleanse your hands.” “Purify your hearts.” “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep.” And, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.”
I concur.  He continues:
Submission is essential to salvation, therefore bow before the Lord at once! May the Lord bend that stubborn will and conquer that wayward heart. Yield yourselves to God and pray to be delivered from future rebellion. If you have submitted, do so yet more completely, for so shall you be known to be Christians when you submit yourselves to God. If you will not submit, your faith is a lie, your hope is a delusion, your prayer is an insult, your peace is presumption and your end will be despair!
If you are to have peace with God there must be war with Satan! You cannot rest in your spirit and know the peace which faith gives unless you wage war to the knife against every evil and against the patron and Prince of Evil, even Satan. Are you ready for this? You cannot have peace unless you are! . . . . Can you ask God to be at peace with you while your hands grasp your sins with loving embrace and are full of bribes, or are foul with lusts, or are smiting with the fist of anger and wrath? . . . . Then it is added, “Purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Can they do this? Assuredly not by themselves, but still, in order to have peace with God there must be so much purification of the heart that it shall no longer be double-minded.
I said it was the reverse. You don't know the will of God through peace.  You know peace through the will of God.  When you are sinning, actively disobedient to God's Word and your godly parents, and you feel peace, that is a carnal peace of which you should repent.  You are in dangerous territory.  Your glory is your shame.  You mind earthly things.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Some Ecclesiological Issues Exposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic

The word "church" in the New Testament translates the Greek word ekklesia, which means "assembly" or "congregation," how Tyndale translated it in his New Testament, which predates the King James Version.  He was right.  It means "congregation" or "assembly."  "Congregate" and "assemble" are the same thing.

It might be a little hard to read the original script from the Tyndale New Testament, but perhaps you can see the words "I wyll bylde my congregacion" from Matthew 16:18 above.

A church is a congregation, which is a group of people assembled or a gathering of people.  When Jesus says, "my congregation," He distinguishes His congregation from other governing institutions on earth that are also assemblies.  You may have noticed that much government across the world is an assembly, known by different names.  In Russia, it is the Duma.  In France, it is the Assemble'e Nationale.  In Germany, it is the Bundestag.  In Spain, it is the Congreso de los Diputados.  Jesus said, "I will build my congregation."  He rules through that Assembly and He rules that Assembly.  His kingdom work is accomplished through His Assembly or Congregation on earth "in the midst of His enemies" (Psalm 110:2).  Some day He will have direct rule with a rod of iron.

A church must meet or gather.  Right now our church is not gathering, but there is the assumption that it will, just like there is the assumption that it will when it's not meeting on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Even when it isn't meeting, the church, however, is still the church.  The church is the church when sermons are livestreamed on youtube.  That's still our Assembly out there, the Congregacion of Tyndale's New Testament.  Some might ask, is this church?  Yes, it is church, because it is still church even when it isn't meeting.  This assumes still that the church will meet, and our church will meet.

As a related issue, should churches perform "virtual communion" or a "virtual Lord's Table"?  No.  Absolutely not.  Why?  If a church can livestream a sermon, then why can't it livestream the Lord's Table, where everyone takes the bread and the cup at home (or as some "churches" have done, the potato chips and the coca-cola)?

In the preeminent passage on the Lord's Table or communion in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul writes four different times:
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse (v. 17).
For first of all, when ye come together in the church (Tyndale: "when ye come togedder in the cogregacion"), I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it (v. 18).
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper (v. 20).
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another (v. 33).
I underlined every time he used the words, "when ye come together" (obviously).  First, the Assembly must observe the Lord's Table.  This is a required element of New Testament worship.  Second, "coming together" as an Assembly is a required circumstance of the New Testament to obey the required element.  Paul uses "come together" four times for the Lord's Table.  The Lord's Table isn't observed when the congregation does not "come together."  "Virtual communion" is not communion.  The church must "come together" for communion for it to be communion.

This subject I'm addressing relates to the regulative principle of worship. Worship of God must be regulated by God's Word.  God's Word is sufficient.  That means the church is not at liberty to do something scripture does not forbid.  Just because scripture doesn't say it's wrong doesn't mean that it isn't wrong.  If this is how God says to do it, and a church doesn't do that, then it is disobeying God.  The regulative principle of worship is a biblical principle.  Virtual communion is a violation of biblical worship, like changing the recipe for the incense at the altar of incense in the Old Testament.  It is a violation and obviously serious, because God killed Nadab and Abihu for it.

People give themselves liberty for virtual communion.  It can't be done that way.  "Coming together" is a requirement for the Lord's Table.  Our church looks forward to coming together for the Lord's Table.  We won't be attempting virtual communion.  Communion requires physical presence.

What about all the other elements of worship?  Can we pray at home?  Yes.  We have used zoom to pray together.  The terminology "come together" is not associated with any other element of worship.  Something is unique to the Lord's Table that requires coming together.  Families can't take the Lord's Table at home, but they can pray at home.  When the congregation does come together, it should pray.  Group prayer is biblical.  But scripture doesn't require coming together for group prayer.

The requirement of coming together for the Lord's Table is akin to certain circumstances required for baptism.  Someone cannot baptize himself.  Two people cannot decide to baptize each other.  True baptism does not occur when a group of people determine they will start baptizing.  Divine authority is necessary for baptism.  Baptism must be by immersion and for a believer only.  If baptism as a scriptural ordinance is regulated by scripture, which it is, then all of these circumstances are required.  In the same way, coming together is required for the Lord's Table.

The requirement of coming together for the Lord's Table exposes an important aspect of communion itself.  Communion requires a physical aspect.  The Lord's Table is called "communion" in the New Testament.  That communion is more than just getting together.  Communing people believe and practice the same.  They are aligned with each other.  False doctrine and sin break communion.  This is why the examination also must occur with the implication of confession of the sin.  Communion isn't really occurring when someone will not believe what God says and do what God says.

These people who are "coming together" are not just some arbitrary crowd, but people who are committed to the same doctrine and the same behavior in glory and obedience to God.  The truth and then biblical love (not sentimentalism) are components of the tie that binds them together in this communion of the Lord's Table.  Biblical community doesn't exist without the same doctrine and practice.

People can listen to preaching on a livestream and not have communion with one another.  Communion is required for the Lord's Table.  This is one reason why the church limits who partakes. I might want thousands listening to our livestream, but I don't want everyone who is watching in the Lord's Table.  It is the communion of the Lord's body, which is formed of body parts truly under the headship of Christ over them, that Assembly.  It is a real rule or headship.  It isn't just a perfunctory symbolic role where people actually just do what they want and then are called His body.  They can't be functioning outside of His head to be a communion of His body.

The casual nature of the elements of worship and God's ordinances results in their diminishing.  People become preeminent and these offices and symbols become convenient, like building a new place of worship at Dan and Bethel like Jeroboam.  He doesn't want to lose his crowd, so he centers his "worship" on the convenience for the people.  God isn't worshiped though.  With the these elements being diminished, it isn't long and they are outright dismissed.  They don't mean anything, because they never were a biblical conviction.  They aren't sacred.  They don't matter any more.  Unless they are real, something actually for God and according to God's will, people won't keep finding a reason to continue them.  The apostasy has already started.


A bonus.  I watched this interview with Victor David Hansen. I don't think he's a Christian.  This is only tenuously related to the above post, but I didn't want to include it in a separate post.  What he says is almost identical to what I see occurring at it relates to Covid-19 and our culture, including his take on the President of the United States.  Our country has seemed to have lost its ability to make good decisions.  He exposes some of that.  Enjoy.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Unsheathed: Muhammad's Biography--An Accurate Presentation

Have you wanted to read an accurate biography of Muhammad, based on the original sources, and free from bias in favor of Islam?  I commend to you Unsheathed: The Story of Muhammad, by Tara MacArthur (penname to avoid getting killed; click on the book name to download it).  The book is a valuable work that accurate portrays the prophet of Islam's life, based on the earliest sources.  It does not gloss over the troubling and violent aspects of his life, but neither does it say only what is bad while leaving out the positive. There is also a short version of the book, both with pictures and one without pictures.  Finally, there is a well done audio book of UnsheathedWhat do you know about the life of one of the most influential men in history?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sin and Spirituality Do Not Coexist

True spirituality relates to the Holy Spirit.  Someone is spiritual when the Holy Spirit indwells him.  The Holy Spirit indwells believers, truly converted or saved people only.  He doesn't indwell unbelievers, so unbelievers are not spiritual.  The Holy Spirit in His holy nature does not indwell the unrighteous.  Every believer is spiritual because every believer possesses the Holy Spirit.  The essence of a believer is spirituality.  He is spiritual.  A crucial verse for this is Romans 8:9:
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 
Those in the flesh are not saved and those in the Spirit are saved.  Someone with the Spirit of Christ is one of God's, which fits with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
If your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, then you are bought with a price, and you are God's.  This is a spiritual person.  This is who Paul calls someone 'living in the Spirit' (Galatians 5:25).

On a practical level, however, the believer may not be spiritual.  He is spiritual in essence without being spiritual in practice.  This explains why Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
An implication of what Paul writes in Galatians 6:1 in light of what he writes in Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is that believers who are practically spiritual are the ones who are qualified to fulfill Paul's command.  A parallel to this could be what the Lord Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about getting the beam out of your eye before you judge the mote in your brother's eye (Matthew 7:3-5).  Out of the brethren whom Paul addresses, believers, he calls only on the spiritual ones to restore someone overtaken in a fault.  Believers live in the Spirit, but they also need to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), which they will do characteristically (Romans 8:1,4), since all believers are "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18).

Every believer is spiritual in position, spiritual in essence, but who are the believers who are spiritual in practice?  These are those who are filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) or walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:18).  Believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit because they might not be.  Their positions of being in the Spirit and having the Spirit indwelling them are the indicatives, and their practice of submitting to the Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit are imperatives.

Being filled with the Spirit is being controlled by the Spirit.  Walking in the Spirit is obeying the Holy Spirit.  Both of these are obeying the Word of God, sometimes by applying the principles of the Word of God.  They are never obedience to a voice in the head or an impression or an emotion conjured by some external source. They are obedience to the Holy Spirit, who is working through scripture (Ephesians 6:17, Colossians 3:16).

What is not being controlled by the Spirit or walking in the Spirit?  It is sinning.  Someone is not becoming more spiritual because of a feeling he has that indicates to him or her that he or she is "more spiritual."  No.  Someone is more spiritual is more obedient to the Holy Spirit either by doing what the Holy Spirit says to do through scripture or by not doing what the Holy Spirit says not to do through the Word of God.

Someone is not spiritual or more spiritual because the "Christian" rock or country or new age music gives him a "spiritual feeling."  That's actually the deceit of the flesh.  It's just the opposite of spirituality, but the flesh.  Because the contemporary, worldly "church" is "nicer," which makes someone feel better or more positive, that doesn't mean it is spiritual either.  Spirituality is not judged by feelings at all.  Those are lies to give someone the impression of spirituality that is some kind of spiritual deceit.

The person who keeps drinking his alcohol, listening to his rock music, chumming around with ungodly and unbelieving friends, and using foul language is not spiritual.  That is not the Holy Spirit.  Just because a feeling or impression tells him differently, that doesn't mean it is true.  It isn't true.  That is a counterfeit to the actual Holy Spirit in the realm of deceit.

As an example, let's say there is a young person who is rebellious and disobedient to his or her parents.  He or she is disrespectful and dishonoring to his or her parents.  This is disobeying one of a number of God's commands in scripture.  The Holy Spirit wrote against this in the Word of God.  This is not a spiritual person at least in practice.  A truly spiritual person in essence or in position will not continue perpetually disrespecting or dishonoring his parents.  Someone who does this manifests that he or she is not spiritual, that is, not saved.

Many modern evangelical churches support the dishonor and disrespect of parents.  They encourage their millennial members to participate in this, camouflaging this rebellion and lust by the feelings they provide or choreograph.  They even attempt to accredit the rebellion and lust with a mixture of secular psychology, like it is a form of revelation from God.  It isn't.  It is false teaching in the nature of what Paul calls, doctrines of demons.  It contradicts scripture.  Like Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:3, they make merchandise of these young millennials with feigned words.  They say the things that they want to hear, and then the good feelings are labeled as "spirituality."  If it is spiritual, it is the kind that Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 11:4, "another spirit."  It isn't the Holy Spirit, but a demonic spirit, carrying them along in their lust.

You aren't a Christian if you continue thinking you are more spiritual while you are sinning.  Sin vexes the true believer.  He might sin, but he can't continue in sin without that vexation.  The Holy Spirit reproves him of sin.  He won't be able to continue living with that reproof without doing something about it.  Whatever spirituality he is being sold or pawned or pushed is a false spirituality that either has to do with his own desires or with something demonic.  It's the worst position to be in, thinking that he's doing fine because of a feeling, but actually being deceived by the feeling to remain in a dangerous and destructive condition.

A believer has the ability not to sin, because of the Holy Spirit.  The unbeliever does not have ability not to sin.  He might not sin as much as he possibly can, but he does not have the power within him to hold him back from sinning, which is why he keeps sinning.  This is why Paul says in 1 John 3:9 about the believer:
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.
"He cannot sin" is continuous sin, sin as a lifestyle.  "His seed" is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit remains in him and that's why he doesn't sin continuously.  If someone lives for a decade in sin without repentance, he should examine himself whether he be in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Sin and spirituality do not coexist.  If it is sin, it is not the Spirit.  If it is the Spirit, it is not sin.  Someone under the control of the Holy Spirit will be holy as He is holy.  He has the power within him to stop sinning, so he will not sin as a lifestyle.  If you think you're saved, and you've been living in sin without repentance for years, you should consider that you are not a saved person.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

If You Lived in Germany Shortly Before and During World War Two, Would You Have Sworn an Oath to Hitler?

A rule I established for my family and me as our children grew up was that we didn't talk about television or movies in public.  I had several scriptural reasons.  I also made certain exceptions for myself, almost like the highway patrol that passes the speed limit sometimes.  If I talk about a film that doesn't mean I don't give it a certain disclaimer nor give my endorsement of the movie industry.  I had read about the film, A Hidden Life, from director Terrence Malick, and decided to watch it with my wife here at home in shelter-in-place, which tells the true story of Austrian peasant farmer Franz Jägerstätter.  Since I had never heard of it, I would call it a little known story.

Jägerstätter grew up somewhat irreligious with a wild reputation, but not after he married a very religious, Roman Catholic woman.  His life changed.  I don't believe he was truly converted, an actual biblical Christian.   However, his behavior and views reformed based upon his reading the Bible and studying stories of Catholic "saints" (all believers are saints in scripture).   Within just a few years, he and his wife, Franziska, bore three daughters.

After his marriage, Jägerstätter was instated as a requirement in the German army, trained as a soldier, but allowed to go home as a farmer.  In that short experience, he ascertained the doctrines of the Nazis and their purpose of war, and he rejected it.  He knew that if drafted, they would require him to take an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

Jägerstätter brooded intensely over what seemed a sure future decision.  His entire small, close-knit village in the mountains rejected and persecuted him and his family over his conviction.  What impelled him according to his testimony was God and the truth.  An oath would make his life a lie.

Franz Jägerstätter weighed the probabilities.  He would be executed and leave an elderly mother, a wife, and three daughters alone to survive without him.  His wife urged him to capitulate.  He got an appointment with his bishop, who did not support him, under pressure himself to acquiesce, so he used Romans 13 and Jägerstätter's responsibilities as a father to persuade him to relent.  He wouldn't.

The draft came, Jägerstätter reported, would not take the oath, was imprisoned, sent to Berlin, tortured, and then finally executed at age 36 by guillotine on July 6, 1943 in, as an irony for me, Brandenburg, Germany.  His death was not mourned by his village.  Over two decades later, only a few knew of his sacrifice for the truth, and his village still maligned him.  In 2007 the pope declared him a martyr and then he was beautified as a saint in Roman Catholicism.

You know I repudiate Roman Catholicism.  I doubt the salvation of Jägerstätter, so why use this story?  It presents a scenario I want to shift to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.  As a true Christian, would you like him have refused to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler?  It's easy to sympathize now and embrace the story with deep empathy.  Let's not be impressed with what you feel and testify of deep feeling and without willingness to really sacrifice.

The sacrifice today is just the feeling about the movie, stating that you like the story and feel sorry.  You don't like Hitler.  Hitler bad.  The Lord Jesus Christ calls for lesser sacrifices that shrink in comparison to Jägerstätter.  You won't sacrifice for your church.  Hitler is easy to oppose in almost any environment today.  It means almost nothing anymore.  You barely to never even preach the gospel.  You would rather sacrifice your parents than to give up your sensual, worldly pop music and immodest and androgynous dress.  You can't have the worldly, secular crowd make fun of you, and yet you would profess alliance with Jägerstätter.

I wish someone had preached a true gospel to Jägerstätter.  His martyrdom won't save him from sin.  However, true Christians have a cause worthy of greater sacrifice.  The world doesn't require an official oath, but it does of sorts.  It requires your capitulation, so that you won't miss any of its superficial rewards, what Paul called wood, hay, and stubble.  It's all going to burn, but you still love it more than you do a true Jesus or the Word of God.  Jägerstätter held no illusion that he both could believe what he did and could also make an oath to Hitler, despite the complete rejection of his entire village, including his own priest and bishop.

If you can't even give up your wordly desires and justify them according to a perverted view of the grace of God, don't tell me that you would die like Jägerstätter did.  You already prove that you will throw godly people under the bus to keep your worldly, God-denying and blaspheming, friendships and approval.  That is your god.  If you had to die for those things, you would give them up too, but you don't have to.  You get their temporal rewards, that will pass away with the lust thereof.  It's much easier to appear woke and sympathetic then to actually sacrifice for the truth.

Jägerstätter stood alone.  This is what is required even to be a Christian.  It's not give me the world and give me Jesus too.  It's take the world and give me Jesus alone.  Jesus said in John 6, labor not for meat that perisheth.  That's a requirement for salvation.  You have a choice.  No man can serve God and mammon.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Saul/Paul's Conversion: A Contradiction in Acts 9, 22, 26?

During my debate with Shabir Ally on the topic: "The New Testament Picture of Jesus: Is it Accurate?" Dr. Ally claimed that the accounts of the Apostle Paul's conversion in Acts 9, 22, and 26 were contradictory.  He argued that the following passages were necessarily contradictory:

"And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:7) "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." (Acts 22:9)

Acts 9, Shabir Ally argued, claimed that the companions of Saul of Tarsus did not hear the voice of the risen Christ, while Acts 22, Dr. Ally claimed, affirmed that Paul's companions did har the voice of the Lord Jesus.

Are these texts actually contradictory?  Watch the video below to find out.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How Far Does Someone Need to Be "Off" About Jesus for Him Not to Be Jesus Anymore? It Is Not Good or Helpful to Accept or Approve a False Jesus

Is the Mormon Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible?  The Moslem Jesus?  The Roman Catholic Jesus?  The Jewish Jesus?  The Charismatic Jesus?  Is the evangelical Jesus the biblical one?

There is only one Jesus, the One in scripture.  However, the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:4,
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Someone may preach "another Jesus," just like there are other "gods," according Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."  John writes in 1 John 2:18,
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
Antichrists will exist, even as they have through history since actual Jesus Christ.  The doctrine of Christ relates to knowing and believing the right Jesus unto which John again writes in 2 John 1:9,
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
Just because other Christs were invented in previous ages and in different occasions of time doesn't mean that more of them will not still come.  The false Christ relates to the imagination unto which Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5,
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Someone can have a false Christ crafted in his own imagination.  A common apostasy is the creation of an idol.  The idol doesn't need to be a physical one, but also can be a spiritual one in someone's mind.  He invents a Christ in his mind and that Christ conforms to himself, just as communicated in the warning of Romans 1:21-23:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.
What are the characteristics of man to which he would turn his god or his Jesus?  He would turn God or Jesus into the image of his own lust.  He would create a Jesus, who not only tolerates his lust, but accepts false worship characterized by lust, which is against the nature of God or the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is "another Christ."

The perversion of Jesus into another Jesus either adds or takes away from the true Jesus.  One commonality of a false Jesus is He might not completely save or cannot do so, requiring then good works to save in addition to what he has done.  Many Christian denominations or religions do this.  Peter, John, and Paul all three in their epistles deal with what I'm addressing here.  John has much in his three epistles and in every chapter.

Just as an example, in 1 John 2:9, John writes:
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
The person John describes is either deceptive or deceived.  He says he's in the light.  He either knows he's not or he thinks he is and he doesn't know that he isn't.  Two verses later (v. 11), John says this person is deceived:
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
This person doesn't even know that he isn't walking in the light, because darkness has blinded his eyes.  He thinks he's right and he's not.  Many professing Christians think they are right for various reasons.  What I've noticed in many of the instances is that they compare themselves with other professing Christians.  They must be right, because they know other people who are like them or worse.

Is this above described hate just something arbitrary or ambiguous, just a feeling or impression?  Does he detest this person?  It's not like that in verse 10:
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
John brings two characteristics.  The one who loves his brother abides in the light, that is, he abides in doctrinal and practical light.  He is believing and practicing according to scripture.    Second, he brings no occasion of stumbling.  He doesn't want to cause a brother to stumble.  How does someone cause someone else to stumble?  This is not a synonym of not walking in the light.  Someone can cause someone to stumble, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8, by abusing a Christian liberty.  Paul said that eating meat offered unto idols caused someone to stumble.  Jesus mentions this same cause of stumbling twice in Revelation 2-3 and forbids it both times.

If someone dishonors and disobeys his parents, he is not walking in the light.  By dishonoring and disobeying his parents, he could also be causing someone to stumble.  Those two can overlap.  Paul says that someone hates his brother by not walking in the light and then by causing someone to stumble.  This is how someone hates someone.

John says much more in his epistle, but many people are deceived into thinking that have a true Jesus when they don't.  Their Jesus approves of those who don't walk in the light and those who also cause others to stumble.  Jesus is the light of the world.  We walk in the light as Jesus is in the light.  God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

I see perpetual disobedience to the Word of Christ, to scripture, by professing Christians, and yet they think they are walking in the light.  They are walking in darkness.  This is why they have no problem with sensual, worldly, and fleshly worship.  It's not even that their Jesus accepts it.  They aren't thinking about whether He receives it, because they are thinking about what it does for themselves.  They are shaping their music according to their own lust, and they think it's good because they like it.  Those singing it look and act like secular performers and their style is one that conforms to the world.  This is unacceptable to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).

If a professing Christian as a practice engages in false worship, is that walking in the light?  Is that loving a brother?  Is that causing others to stumble?

The only thing worse than a false Jesus to those with a false Jesus is pointing out their false Jesus.  They love the Jesus they can conform to themselves, not the one in the Bible.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Self-Love Is the Most Potent Stupid Pill: The Recent Ascent of Self-Love

Scripture does not teach self love.  It teaches against self love.  If one trait characterizes apostasy (2 Tim 3:1-3), it is self love.  When Jesus came to earth, He emptied His self (Philippians 2).  At the root of the gospel is self-denial and yet self-love grows today rampant among even professing Christians.  I thought perhaps new psychological studies on contemporary narcissism might flatten the curve for self-love into the foreseeable future, but it's making a comeback like a second wave of Covid-19 with an acceleration of the number of cases.

To reveal my method, I googled "self-love" in the last month (3,170,000,000 results all time, that's 3 billion, B not M).  If you look for "wellness and self-love" those go together, when they should contradict.  Self-love is not wellness, but that google search yielded 539,000 results.  I didn't cherry pick for bad quotes.  The first comes from Self-Love in the Time of Coronavirus:
Importantly, taking charge of our health and well being and proactively loving ourselves by engaging in self-care are radical actions for those of us with marginalized identities, especially in a nation whose leader’s bigotry is self-evident and who seems hell-bent on destroying us.  
“Self-care can be described as the practice of taking an active role in taking care of and protecting your own well being and happiness during periods of stress,” Dr. Seely-Jefferson says. “This can involve saying no, prioritizing your own feelings, asking for help, spending time alone, putting yourself first, asking for what you need, setting boundaries, staying at home, forgiving yourself and taking a step back. These are different from the traditional ways we define self-care and are soul-affirming activities that can counter some of the negative insults we get on a daily basis.”
Is this only secular?  I read identical material in social media from those claiming Christ, promoting self-love just like secular naturalists.  The following comes from Self-Love Meditation:  How To Truly Love Yourself:
What Is Self-Love? 
Self-love is the best love and the ultimate way to boost your self-esteem and become a fully healed and integrated human being. People often come to the idea backward. They look at attributes such as the way that a confident person walks or observe their traits. 
But fundamentally, all radical change begins from within. You then start to really value yourself as a powerful creator of your own reality and deserving of love and respect from everybody. Self-love is the opposite of selfishness.
These are horrific lies told.  God says the opposite.  He says (Philippians 2:4-5)
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
You cannot love God and love self.  These two are mutually exclusive.  This is worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.  If anyone could or should love self, at least from our surmisal, it would be Jesus, because He's got something to love, and yet Jesus looked not on His own things, but on the things of others.

It's not even good for the psyche to do this naval gazing, promoted by false teachers.  Millennials especially are fed this poison, a literal stupid pill, because self-love will make you stupid, take the opposite trajectory of wisdom, which comes from above (James 3:15-17).  If you can't explain stupid behavior, many times at the root of it today is self-love.  Joyce Marter titles her article, Self-Love Must Come First.  Her most fundamental counsel, given in a sub-title, reads:
Self-love is a journey. It takes dedication, devotion, and practice. Resolve to love yourself each and every day and watch your best self blossom and your greatest life unfold! Self-love is an exponential force.
The Wikipedia article explains the revival of self-love in today's culture in the very last line of the entry on self-love:
The emergence of social media has created a platform for self-love promotion and mental health awareness in order to end the stigma surrounding mental health and to address self-love positively rather than negatively.
Self-love is not good for mental health.  Scripture teaches "take the focus off self and put it on God."  If someone believes God by listening to God, he will receive the correct view of self.  Love of self results in a multiplicity of bad behavior.  Maybe in certain cases, someone won't commit physical suicide, but he instead replaces it with spiritual suicide.

I've noticed that some professing Christian millennials won't say, "self-love," but have replaced it with "self-care."  They feel stressed because of their own poor choices, so they act out of self-care to relieve that stress.  Self-care is nothing more than a trojan horse of self-love.  At Psychology Today, Shainna Ali writes in Is Self-Care Just a Trend?
Self-care is a holistic process that we all need in order to foster presence, engagement, wellness, and self-love. Self-care is not a singular skill. Instead, self-care includes a wide variety of tasks tailored to meet your diverse needs. Although there may be similarities between self-care strategies, self-care is subjective and tends to vary from person to person.
What they do then is love themselves and pamper themselves and feel justified because it's a form of self-medication.  They justify it by saying that they can't be any good to someone else until they start by caring for themselves.

Scripture says, look to God.  Scripture says (Psalm 128:1-2):
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.  For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
"It shall be well with thee."  Wellness proceeds from fearing God.  That isn't loving self.  It's the opposite.  God also says, "it shall be well with thee," when we obey our parents (Eph 6:3).  When we look to God and His surrogates, godly parents, He supplies all our needs and then gives us an interminable supply of power, energy, knowledge, wisdom, and motivation to serve others.  The self-love really is the most pervasive form of idolatry in the world today that also populates evangelical churches.

Scripture doesn't teach or command self-love contrary to those who say Jesus taught it when he said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."  That interpretation of that verse is a recent arrival in Christian history, never before seen.  Why?  It was introduced by psychologists, not Christians or the church or biblical thinkers.  Actual Christian history has said the exact opposite.  When scripture -- God, Moses, Jesus, Paul -- says "love they neighbor as thyself," it assumes that people already love themselves, according to the grammar.  The comparison after a command is quite common in scripture and in every single case it is commanding someone do something "like" or "as" something that's already happening.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
The command here in Matthew 6:10 is "Be doing God's will on earth."  That's the command.  What Jesus commands, He compares to what already is being done in heaven.  All of these types of comparisons after commands are the same.  Matthew 22:39 and all the other places with the identical teaching do not command someone to love himself.  There are teachings in scripture, however, not to love yourself.  Those are the ones that should be followed.  For someone to come to Jesus, it is imperative that he "deny self," not love self (Luke 9:27).

I know that calling it a "stupid pill" could be controversial, but the most stupid decisions arise from me-first.  God-love results in God honoring decisions that are the best for others and yourself.  They bring wisdom, not foolishness.  Self-love brings a multiplicity of selfish decisions with mounting stupidity.  It is a recipe for disaster for a person and institution.

When Christians teach self-love, they are flying in the face of scripture.  They are contradicting God.  They are harming everyone listening to their perversion of biblical doctrine and practice.

One more thing.  Some professing Christians may not teach "self-love."  However, when others come on their social media, proclaiming self-love, they need to be repudiated.  It is darkness.  Have no fellowship with darkness, rather reprove it (Eph 5:11).

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Baptist Churches and the Spanish Flu, 1918-1920

The government is not the friend of churches.  A conspiracy of Satan exists against the church as part of his war against God.  I see religious liberty in America disappearing.  Is this Covid-19 shelter-in-place, no gatherings above five or ten, a part of the overall plan to stop churches?  Or is it spiritually a means by which Satan disrupts the church, the churches and their leaders sending a message that assembling isn't essential?

I don't want this post to be a problem for churches.  People read here whose pastors might be leading their churches to meet against government orders.  Their people could quote me against them.  If my pastor led the church to assemble, I'd assemble with them and figure out a way with my parents living with us.  I am a pastor, and we're not meeting.  We've been livestreaming.  I have received comments here, which I've not published, excoriating me about that.  One implied that we wouldn't visit someone in our church dying with the virus, which isn't true at all.  I don't know of anyone in our church, who has caught the disease, but I digress.  That's not what I'm writing about.

If your church is meeting, good for you.  We're not.  I'm not even going to offer a scriptural defense myself for why we're not assembling.  I don't fear the virus.  We made the choice right away without a feeling of pressure at all on me.  We shut down our school on a Friday, met on a Sunday for the last time, and then stopped meeting on a Wednesday.  Tomorrow is our fourth Sunday.

Several different sites online posted this page from Richard Baxter in the 17th century about church attendance during a time of pestilence.
Baxter wasn't a Baptist.  I became curious about Baptists during the era of the Spanish flu (1918-1920).  Google Books offers material.  The History of the Wingate Baptist Church, 1810-2009 reads:
Related to this concern for member's behavior, the church returned to its old custom of having members appear in person "concerning offenses" instead of sending another person to do so.  In October 1918 services were called off due to the "Spanish Influenza Situation."
The Memorial Sketch of the First Swedish Baptist Church (St. Paul, MN) explains, speaking of some revival meetings that started there:
In October the meetings were held with large attendance.  Just then an epidemic of Spanish influenza broke out in the city.  Public places were closed, among them the tabernacle.  In January 1919, it was reopened and meetings were resumed.
The church closed down meetings for a few months, it seems.  The book, Baptists in Oregon, accounts:
[A]ll the churches in the State were forced on government order to suspend services for a time because of the Spanish influenza epidemic. The McMinnville First Baptist Church conducted no services from October 17 through November 13, 1918 as was the case with other congregations for similar periods of time.
The Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention (1918) reports:
Most of the churches were closed during the epidemic of Spanish Influenza , but in spite of that, a spirit of revival has existed.
Finally, December 22, 1918, "church services resumed after being closed for 11 weeks on account of an epidemic of the Spanish influenza."
I'm writing this only to say that there is precedent for not meeting.  I don't mind talking about the theological aspects of this, what the Bible teaches.  If men think they can meet, I'm supportive of their gathering.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Pray for Power! (Or pray for grace?)

"If you do not pray for God's power, you do not understand even the most fundamental aspects of the Christian life.  You think that you need to live for Christ by your own strength, in a self-dependent way.  Since, for example, Bro. Brandenburg does not pray for power, he must be totally ignorant of  how the Christian life.  He certainly is someone who is bad and who needs to be avoided, and we should tell other people this and warn about him, warn about Bethel Baptist Church, and warn about their proud rejection of Biblical Christianity in their refusal to pray for power."

If you believe that the paragraph above is true, you should be prepared to answer the following questions:

1.) Does anyone pray for "power" in the New Testament?  Does Christ teach His people to pray for power in the model prayer?  In the inspired prayerbook of Israel, the Psalter, does anyone pray for power?  If the answer to the questions above is "no," is Scripture sufficient for teaching us how to pray?

2.) Can someone recognize, rejoice in, and have absolute confidence in the reality that without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) by trusting in the power of Christ, just like he can trust in the strength of the indwelling Spirit, without specifically praying for power?  Do we need to pray for indwelling in order to trust in the strength of the indwelling Spirit?

3.) Do we know what we are asking for when we pray for "power"?  Do we mean that we expect God to do what happened with Elijah and suspend the climate over Israel for three years and then make literal fire come down literally from heaven (1 Kings 18)? Do we mean a sign miracle, in the sense of the Greek word semeion? Alternatively, do we mean what Jack Hyles meant when he prayed to his dead mother, the ability to get more people to repeat the "sinner's prayer"  than would have done it without praying for power? Do we mean what Scripture means by dunamis, exousia, etc.? If we have never studied out what the Greek and Hebrew words the Holy Spirit dictated for power mean or if we don't care what God means by the words translated power enough to see what He has revealed on the subject, do we even know what we are asking for when we pray for power?  (Note the study here on the differences between the words for "miracle," some of which are also rendered "power," which is very important if we are going to say we need to pray for power.)

4.) Can someone who prays for what Christ specifically said to pray for in the model prayer, who has carefully studied every single prayer in the New Testament, preached expositionally through the entire Psalter, and prays for what the Apostles prayed for, for what Christ told His people to pray for, but does not specifically pray for "power" because there is not even one example of that in the NT, be missing "one of the most basic facts of the Christian life"? Is Scripture sufficient for instruction on how to live the Christian life?

5.) Let us say a Christian notices that practically every NT epistle begins with asking God for "grace," sees that there are actual commands that relate to this, e. g., "let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb 12:28), and so is utterly dependent upon God for grace, prays for grace, and glories in God's grace.  However, he does not pray for "power" because there is not a single example of prayer for it but Scripture actually says that God's mighty power is working in all who believe (Eph 1:19) and what we need to pray for us to have our eyes enlightened to this fact (Eph 1:18).  Is it OK to pray for grace and depend upon God's grace instead of praying for power? (Note that by praying for "grace" we can study Scripture to see exactly what this means in relation to prayer--something we cannot do when praying for "power.")

6.) When you say we need to pray for "power" are you actually thinking of what the Bible models when it teaches over and over again invoking God for His grace?  If so, is it OK to pray for grace instead of praying for "power"?

7.) If you mean something other than what Scripture means when it models praying for "grace" when you say we need to pray for "power," how do you know what you mean by this?  Would you know how to pray without uninspired books and the teachings of fallible men?

8.) If you pray for "power" but have never thought about the questions above--and, even worse, if you don't care what the Biblical answers are--is the God who inspired the Bible answering your prayer?

If you don't pray for grace, don't pray the types of things in the model prayer, don't pray for what we see modeled in the New Testament, are self-dependent, and learn nothing from the prayers in the Psalter, you are indeed missing crucial aspects of the Christian life, and you need to get with the program right away.  Don't be foolish and use the misinterpretation of Scripture by other people as an excuse to be spiritually weak yourself.  Learn what the Bible teaches about prayer and pray that way. Start as soon as you confess your wicked prayerlessness.

If you are depending on the strength of Christ, are praying in faith for things mentioned in the model prayer, in the prayers of the New Testament, in the Psalter, and other parts of the Bible, and are trusting in and calling upon God for His grace, you are going to be OK, even if sinful and fallible men condemn you for not using the word "power" in your prayers, because the Lord Jesus said "the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).


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.