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What do Spain and Israel have in common?

Excellent insight regarding Muslim tactics and a good Christian response.

One Characteristic of a False Religious System

There is one characteristic which inhabits many false religious systems within the world. It rears it’s head in many shapes and sizes (Metaphorically speaking).

Since the beginning in Genesis 3, there has been the same old subtle way of undermining what God has spoken or revealed. Consider Satan tempting Eve by causing her to think….”Has God really said? Surely not….YOU WON’T DIE EVE!!!” This is that subtle methodology that undermines the authority of what God has decreed in His Word…

It is the characteristic of my Jehovah Witness friends who say that the Bible is corrupted and therefore is in need of correction. Therefore the Watchtower society is able to do just that and provide the followers the tools available to draw close to God, but the Bible alone cannot achieve this.

My Muslim friends also say the Bible is corrupted and in need of correction, therefore their attempts were made to “restore” it.

My extreme Charismatic friends do the same thing (in it’s own way) when they elevate their so called “experiences” above the written Word. To them, they know what they’ve experienced and nothing can convince them otherwise. Though they have believed the true Gospel (normally), it’s still an error filled methodology in approaching the Scriptures. Eventually, the people can be led to believe just about anything someone comes along and says because they’ve “experienced it.” What is written is downplayed and cast aside for the superficial and temporary senses.

Now I can go on about many other systems that do this as well. Many would say the Bible isn’t enough, we need something more than the foundation laid by the Apostles. We need new revelations and new Scriptures. I would like some time to consider a few passages that would speak respectfully with these issues in mind.

Ponder if you will 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as Paul tells Timothy that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The word “adequate” here means complete, or can also denote to “perfect.” This speaks volumes when it comes to the sufficiency of what it takes to build us up in the Christian faith, and to sanctify and cleanse us. The Bible, is adequate enough for this purpose. It can complete us, and we will be held accountable to it and judged by it (Hebrews 4:12).

Now of course my thinking is underlain by the assumption that the Bible alone is those Scriptures, and therefore sufficient for what we need to develop an adequate relationship with God, knowing Him as much as He has revealed Himself and therefore being enough to have confidence and trust in Him. But for my friends who differ in this respect, I have many, many words of caution.

It is typical of any false religious system to undermine the Scriptures (The Bible alone). While this isn’t a catch all superfluous busting out the seams explanation, just follow my thinking for a few moments. If the Devil can allure some to simply neglect, misread, “correct,” or add to what is already declared sufficient by God through the Prophets & Apostles, he succeeds. This has been his method since before man’s fall in the garden…

Keep in mind my point here, the Word has always been under attack. False ideologies are not so hard to spot, they often creep in unnoticed. It often results from a wrong methodology, which allows for a false theology to come in subtly.

Another thought of importance to the matter is that the Apostles laid a foundation for us to build upon. I believe this ministry was a “once-for-all” event. The Apostles are not an ongoing ministry in my opinion, because their task was to lay the foundation, and to give us the New Testament which is “adequate” enough for us.

Consider texts like 1 Corinthians 3:10 where Paul declares that he laid the foundation, now its up to the other Christians and preachers/teachers to build upon it!

My last text for this blog is as follows, which I believe to be the clearest.  Ephesians 2:19-22 After Paul has developed the theme that Christ has brought near to God those who were once far off, he says… “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in The Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”  *Emphasis mine*

A few things stick out with regards to my case. First, the apostles and prophets built the foundation…ponder what this means. The word foundation carries with it the idea of being sure, being rooted and unchanging. It is what the rest of the show sets itself upon. This being the case, I take it to mean that the canon is complete, and that there are no new revelations or Scriptures, namely because the purpose of the apostles was to lay the foundation for the rest of us Christians.

That being said, that is why I place so much confidence in the Scriptures being the Bible, and don’t adopt anything else other than Scripture alone. Not experiences, nor any other prophets who claim to be speaking for God, but Scripture alone…

Notice also this passage says that the Holy Spirit is dwelling within believers, now they are the temple of God, not some building made with human hands, but now God takes up residence within the saints themselves, and their hope is made sure.

Herein lies my complete and utter trust and reliance upon what is spoken by God already by the original apostles who laid the foundation so that we might build upon that. Its a far stretch to say that the foundation is being laid constantly by new revelations.

If Satan can simply cause men to neglect, overlook, pass by, or reject altogether what God has spoken in the Bible, he succeeds. Then men and women have no objective standard to judge what is right from wrong. They cannot discern, and are therefore susceptible to falsehood.

My exhortation is this, stick to what the Bible says, let it be your guide, your aim. Revel in what God has spoken and revealed to us, and KNOW IT so well that it becomes the standard in which you discern all matters of life and truth. It refutes all the false ideologies and helps gird the people of God with a shield. Prepare your minds, be ready, for the Devil is the ultimate deceiver, if you’re unprepared or neglect His Word, you’ll fall prey quite easily.

Church Discipline, what is it, and should we do it?

Discipline is a naughty word in today’s church. The thought of actually disciplining someone to the point they are not welcomed seems both unfair and is looked upon with negativity.

It should always be the goal of every sincere Christian to be as close to Scripture as possible. What we can gather from Scripture, is that the church must be pure (Eph 5:26-27), this is so when Christ comes back we are not found lacking. It is imperative therefore, to not allow sin to enter in, be it false doctrine, immorality (1 Cor 5), sinning elders (1 Tim 5), unruliness (2 Thess 3:6) or any other sin that may have either overtaken a brother (Gal 6:1) or the brother is willfully committing (Matt 18). But when the sin does enter in, what is the church’s response to this? How are we to handle those who persist in a state of un-repented sin?

God has prescribed us a pattern within Scripture, and these are sometimes flexible depending on who it is, namely the difference is between an elder and a member. With an elder, they are to be publicly rebuked (corrected) (1 Tim 5), this is to challenge the believers there toward godliness and to make known the damaging consequences of sin in it’s leaders. For the sinning brother or sister, we gather that there is a process for discipline to occur.

We must keep in mind, that God never wants the church to act on a punitive level, but always a restorative one. Discipline was never laid out for us to condemn or punish someone. It is meant for the SOLE purpose to restore a sinning brother/sister back into loving fellowship with both God and the church. With this in mind I have much to say with regards to Gal 6:1 and Matt 18.

First: If a sin is witnessed by another member within the church, once the member has purified their own heart before God, asked Him in prayer to make known any of their own sin, confessing it and asking for wisdom and a loving spirit toward the erring brother/sister, they are to go to this person 1 on 1, and lovingly with a meek heart make known what they believe is sin in the erring brother/sister’s life. If the brother/sister agrees and repents of the sin, nothing further is needed, except praise to the God who restored the erring person.

Second: If the brother/sister disagrees the issue is sin, or if they refuse to repent if indeed it is sin, the member is to go to one or two other members (this can be any member or an elder), and do two important things. 1: They should confirm their own motives with the other member, and also confirm that what they believe is sin in the brother/sister’s life is indeed a sin, and 2: They are to go to the erring brother/sister and confront the sin. At this point the erring brother/sister can do one of two things, they can still disagree or refuse to repent, or they can be restored to God if indeed it is a sin.

Third: If the first two processes do not work, and the 2 or 3 are still in agreement this is indeed sin in the erring brother/sister’s life, they are to take it to the church (some view this to be the elder board at this point and the whole church only if this step does not work, I am OK with this however I do not believe the word “church” refers to an elder board in Scripture), in which the elders and other church members are in desperate prayer for the individual to repent and be restored back to God in fellowship, or there could potentially be a salvation issue. Remember this is also a time for the elders to all confirm that the issue is indeed a sin issue, because 3 people can be sincerely agreed, but can be sincerely wrong as well. The church and/OR elders are to confront the sinning brother/sister. If the erring person repents, praise the living God the person is restored! If not, then this calls for the next step.

Before the fourth stage, some churches allow for a period of time before exercising the step. This can allow for the individual to think, reflect, and the Holy Spirit to work in their heart, however Scripture doesn’t necessarily call for this. Therefore, it is up to the church if they want to allow for time between the 3rd and 4th steps. It would seem that enough time has been allowed for the erring brother/sister before this point, however I believe churches are free to allow for more time. Scripture simply does not say.

Four: The church is to publicly announce the erring brother/sister, and their sin, and make it known to the entire congregation that they are to instruct the church to not fellowship with this person. This does NOT mean that the members are not to go to this person and plea for repentance, this does NOT mean the members are to have a condemning spirit toward this person, and this does NOT mean they are never allowed to come back. This DOES mean they are not welcomed, and are only welcomed on grounds of repentance.

We must bare in mind, this process is a beautiful, prayer-filled, loving restoration process in which believers who are in sin are restored back to God in fellowship. 1 John lays out for us very clearly that when we are in sin, we are not in fellowship, and we are fooling ourselves when we think we are. Therefore, to keep the church pure, and the other members from sin’s influence, it is vital this ministry is taking place. IF this is done right, it should be taking place all the time, especially on the first and potentially second steps, it should rarely have to go to the third or fourth steps. If it does however, then the church must stick to the biblical mandate for disciple, the purity of Christ’s church is valued far above allowing a sinning member to influence others.

To some, this seems harsh and innapropriate and therefore is not practiced.  My word of caution, is that God deems the purity and holiness of the church and it’s members as far more important than unity and fellowship.  Christ is to present His church as a spotless bride one day, and it should be our goal to follow His commands in this ministry.  I consider it a ministry because it involves building up the church, not in number but in holiness (A VERY important distinction). Sin’s devastating effects destroy churches every single day because this ministry is not followed.

 

The Biblical Meaning of being “Spirit-filled”, What it is, and What it is not.

I would like to begin this blog with a few disclaimers.  I know this topic will be found offensive or “blasphemous” to some.  My plea is that you read this blog with the motive to test whether or not I treat Scripture fairly and appropriately.  Before you draw assumptions and dismiss my claims, read the entire post.  Make sure for yourselves that I am presenting Scripture in it’s fullness.  Be like the noble Bereans beloved brethren (Acts 17:11), who received the Word with a great eagerness, yet they examined the Scriptures daily to see whether or not what was being taught was true.  My heart is one of compassion for you all, that you would glorify God in your walks with Him, and would worship Him right, and in truth (Jn 4:24).  For to worship God in a false way would be a shameful act, I hope we can agree to this point.

I would like to make sure you know something before you read this blog, that I believe in the filling of the Holy Spirit.  I believe the filling of the Holy Spirit is something that can be experienced today, and even right now!  I also believe in the Scriptural gift of speaking in tongues, as Scripture describes it and as Scripture has allowed for it.  The differences between myself and my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends is how we would define these experiences.  This blog is attempting to explain thoroughly the Biblical viewpoint of exactly what the filling of the Holy Spirit is, and just as importantly, what it is not.  I have refrained from explaining the gift of tongues for the sake of time and space on this blog.

Most likely many will disagree with me, I know this.  For some, they have “experienced” this and therefore nothing can convince them differently.  It is important that we remain civil in this.  Good men disagree, and just because we disagree does not mean that we are “against” one another.  I still wish to fellowship with everyone on what we have in common, that is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.  His death, burial, and resurrection is what ties us together with an inseparable knot.  Though we may disagree on the Doctrine of the Spirit-filling, I still hold you dear as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  You are very near to my heart and are always on my mind.

I understand there are genuine and sincere believers that will read this who disagree with me as well.  It is important to note however, one can be sincerely wrong, no matter how right it “feels” or “seems” because you have “experienced” something.  One can believe something wrong their whole life, and never know it unless someone tell them, this is simply the humanity within us all.  Having believed something your whole life however, it can come across as “offensive” or “blasphemous” if someone comes along and says it is wrong, let alone they say it is false worship or of the devil!  These are very serious charges, I know this.

Your first reaction may be one of defensiveness, with fists clenched and teeth grit, lashing out with anger at my words.  This is not my goal, yet I know it will inevitably happen, and I am OK with this.  If anger is the means in which reform happens, then so be it!  Sometimes it is necessary we are upset to the point that we are forced to examine ourselves (1 Cor 11:28; 2 Cor  13:5; Gal 6:4; 1 Thess 5:21).  It is of utmost importance that we as Christians examine ourselves in light of Scripture at all times.  If our lives do not match that which Scripture commands, there is need of change.  Just as if our doctrine or practice does not match that within Scripture, there is of necessity a need for change as well.  Change to what?  Change to the prescribed truths in Scripture.  This is the sole duty of all those who profess that “Scripture is sufficient”  With humble hearts, pleasing God by abiding to His commands (Matt 5:19; 19:17; 28:20; Jn 15:14).

So I challenge each of you beloved of the faith.  If there is a false way, do you want it exposed?  Are you willing to examine yourselves, no matter how right you think you are?  Just as God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 Jn 1:5), those who are of the faith are no longer of darkness but are children of the Light (Eph 5:8).  Those who are in that Light should continually try to “learn what is pleasing to The Lord”(Eph 5:10), and as much as you reflect that Light it is “goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph 5:9).  We are commanded to not participate in the “unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Eph 5:11).  The question to ask is, “How might we expose darkness in our lives?”  The answer is in Ephesians 5:13-17:

“But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.  For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most  of your time, because the days are evil.  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of The Lord is.”

This, beloved, should be the motive of every Christian, to expose darkness and reflect the Light of God in our lives!  To examine ourselves in light of the Holy Word of God as much as we can.  We are to be children of truth, those who seek after truth, live by it, walk by it, love it, and long for it with an unquenchable thirst.  Read Psalm 19 and 119 for beautiful representations of believers who long for truth and seek it with all of their hearts.  This leads us to a discussion before examining certain texts about Spirit Filling.

What determines truth in our lives?  What exactly is it that sets our agenda?  Where do we go to see if something is “true” or “right” in our Christian walk, especially when it pertains to matters of the faith?  I know we would all agree this to be Scripture.

There was a phrase coined by the reformers in the 1600s that marked the foundation for all that we believe, in which Evangelicals still stand on today.  “Sola Scriptura,”  this phrase means Scripture alone.  The idea is that Scripture alone determines our truth, Scripture is our only guide, our source of authority when it comes to all matters of the faith.  If the Bible does not say it, then it is not so (spiritually speaking).  To add to or to take away violates this belief that Scripture alone determines truth for our walk with God.

This is where the doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture was formed.  Most true Evangelical Christians would believe that Scripture is sufficient (meaning nothing else is needed, and no less is acceptable) for all matters of faith and conduct.  It is absolutely self-sufficient, God needs no other help to obtain His goal with His Word.  What is Scripture’s goal we might ask?  2 Timothy 3:16 paints for us a vivid picture of God’s goal with His Word.  It is for our teaching, for our reproof, for our correction, for our training in righteousness, for our adequateness, equipping us to every good work.  The word adequate means “completely perfect.”  This idea states that Scripture is enough to bring a man to perfection, though this is a paradox.  Man can never be perfect, this is where sanctification comes in.  It is a process, a life-long process of being formed into the image of God’s Son Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:10).  This is the God appointed goal of all Christians, to be more like Christ and to one day be glorified into perfection (Romans 8:17; 30).  Scripture, is enough to reach this goal.

Though most Christians believe this and would gladly affirm this, they aren’t necessarily living like it, nor do their methods demonstrate this fact.  I know several fellow believers who would gladly speak the words that “Scripture is sufficient,” and it is their “authority,” yet in their methodology they deny this truth.  Let me give you an example:

Experience, it is a good thing, and a godly thing.  To experience a walk with God, to experience the truths of Scripture being lived out in our daily lives, to experience God’s providence, His power and work in our lives, His comfort, protection, guidance, and unconditional love are all but some of the things Christians experience continuously.  These are good things, and the experience of them is available to all who have faith in Christ and live “Spirit-filled” lives in fellowship with God.

Yet experience has limitations.  Experience is severely limited to what it can teach us.  For those who would hold to “Sola Scriptura” for instance, experience is a very real thing, because the words of God are not merely static black and white ink on a page, but they are vibrant truths taking root in the deepest and innermost parts of the heart, affecting how they live and act (Titus 2:11-15).

Sadly though, this truth has grown dark.  For many, Scripture has been replaced with experience.  What do I mean?  Phrases such as “I know what I have experienced and no one will convince me otherwise” or “It doesn’t matter what the Bible says I know what I have experienced.”  I spoke with a lady once regarding being “slain in the spirit,” I left spirit with a small “s” on purpose.  She began explaining all these “experiences” she had been having, and how real they “felt” and that they just had to be true.  I asked her how she knew them to be true, she replied, “well, at first I doubted them, because I knew they weren’t in Scripture, but I prayed and prayed and asked God to reveal to me they were indeed real God experiences.”  I asked her how God revealed them to be real and she replied, “I was praying and opened my Bible and I saw on the page ‘these things I have shown you are true.”  I immediately thought, “how interesting.”  Satan has quite the subtle way of undermining Scripture doesn’t he?  For this sincere lady, turning to a page within Scripture and taking a verse out of it’s intended context is enough to validate an experience that was supposedly from the Holy Spirit.

This is a shallow approach to God’s Word to say the least.  Yet sadly it is the practice of many evangelicals today.  For them, their experience is authoritative though Scripture never mentions such encounters and attributing them to the Holy Spirit.  We have many Christians who believe that being “filled” with the Spirit is lapsing into convulsions, dancing hysterically, losing all self control, laughing uncontrollably, and passing out.  From a human standpoint, these are ridiculous and pagan-like experiences, yet what is even worse is that they are said to be “of God.”  I am here to say they are not of God, and they may be of some “spirit” but I can assure you they are not of the Holy Spirit.  These acts are no where attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture, but are only attributed to demon possessed persons (Matt 8:28; 9:32).  These experiences are a mockery to the Holy Spirit and His true ministry in the lives of God’s people.

No doubt at this charge many are saying, “What about Acts 2, Ephesians 5…..” etc.  I will get to those.  However first before I go further on such a thought, might we consider Scripture for some things that are truly “of God.”

Let me begin a discussion on what I believe to be the most prevalent of issues regarding the false “spirit filling.”  Pentecostals and Charismatic individuals often claim that when the Holy Spirit “fills” a believer they lose all self control.  A complete trance, unable to move or speak, but the Holy Spirit takes complete control over one’s body.  Often they begin dancing uncontrollably, jerking in awkward movements without guidance, and pass out on the floor.  Is this truly the Holy Spirit’s ministry?

No-where, and I mean no-where, do we find a verse that explains Spirit-filling as losing self control, lapsing into convulsions, dancing uncontrollably, laughing hysterically, or passing out.  In fact, Spirit-filled believers exercise immense self-control!  Now to the exciting part!  Let’s examine all the Scriptures in the New testament speaking of Spirit-filling and let them speak for themselves.  I will save Acts 2 and Ephesians 5 for last as they will require extensive discussion.

John the Baptist (Lk 1:15)

John is described to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” in his future life.  No descriptions are given as to what this entails.  This is empowerment for a task.

Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother (Lk 1:41)

Here Elizabeth see’s Mary coming, John the Baptist leaps in her womb, and Elizabeth is “filled with the Holy Spirit” and prophesies.  This is it!  She doesn’t lose self-control, she prophesies.  This is empowerment for a task.

Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father (Lk 1:67)

Zacharias’ mouth had been shut because of lack of belief in the promise of God, and when John the Baptist was born, Zacharias’ mouth was opened and was filled with the Holy Spirit, he began to “prophesy.”  This is empowerment for a task.

Peter’s Message to the rulers/elders/scribes of Israel (Acts 4:8)

Here Peter was given special empowerment to deliver a powerful message to the rulers of Israel who had just arrested them for the crime of preaching the good news of Christ!  Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”  No uncontrollable laughing here, just preaching!  This is empowerment for a task.

Disciples given boldness to speak the Word (Acts 4:31)

After praying, the disciples and everyone around was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word with boldness.  Nothing crazy here.  This is empowerment for a task.

The Seven Men Chosen (Acts 6:3)

Here we have a need rising up in the church, the widows were being neglected.  7 honorable men needed to be chosen, one of their characteristics had to be that they were “full of the Spirit.”  What can we glean from this?  Being full of the Spirit isn’t just a zap we get from heaven, but a characteristic of our daily lives.  These 7 men were Spirit-led people, living their lives in total submission to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and fruits.  This is empowerment for holy living.

Stephen full of the Spirit (Acts 7:55)

Here we have another account of being full of the Spirit as a characteristic of a believer’s life.  This is phrased here to describe the type of man Stephen was, even nearing his death.  This is empowerment for holy living.

Paul filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17)

It is clear, the reason Paul is filled with the Spirit in this instance is to begin his ministry.  So we have here another reason for Spirit-filling, empowerment for an office or ministry.

Barnabas Full! (Acts 11:24)

Here yet again we have Barnabas being described as a man who lived a Spirit-filled life.  This is empowerment for holy living.

Paul filled again! (Acts 13:9)

Now we have Paul being filled with the Holy Spirit and rebuking Elymas the magician.  This is an empowerment for a task.  Paul was empowered with boldness to rebuke this man and call him to repentance.

The Disciples continuously filled! (Acts 13:52)

I have some observations for this text.  Notice the disciples were “continuously” filled with both joy and the Holy Spirit.  This implies that being “Spirit-filled” isn’t just an “event” but a continuous aspect of the Christian life.  This will be driven in great detail as I discuss Ephesians 5.  Notice also the filling of the Holy Spirit is somewhat equated with joy here.  This leads us to our third understanding of the filling of the Holy Spirit.  This is empowerment for holy living.

So we have here thus far 3 types of Spirit-filling.  The Holy Spirit empowers believers for certain tasks, certain offices, and holy living.  These, are the only 3 types of occurrences found within the New Testament.  Let this sink in……got it?

I have a major question to my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends.  Where do we find uncontrollable laughing, shaking, jerking, dancing, seizure-like convulsions, passing out, running on church pews, and the list goes on?  Where?  I am continually baffled as to how this has made it’s way into our churches.  Have we no eyes to see, no ears to hear, has the light within our minds grown dim?  Have we lost our “Sola-Scriptura” principle?  Have we adopted a false method of worship to God?  What is even worse, is that we would attribute these events to the Holy Spirit, who would in no wise approve of such bizarre behavior!  May I be so bold as to call you out and instruct you to repent of this evil?  I call it evil, because I believe it to be a work of Satan and his demons, not the Holy Spirit.  Before I consider Acts 2 and Ephesians 5, let us ponder upon the Word of God as to the true working of the Holy Spirit.

I will quote here numerous passages that exhort us as believers to constantly be under self-control.  No where in Scripture are we ever exhorted to lose it!  Let alone does the Holy Spirit take our self control!  Let us consider much of Scripture to speak about the self-control of a believer.

Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”  This is far removed from Pentecostal “spirit” filled theology.

Acts 24:25 Paul discusses with Felix “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come,”  no doubt Paul was explaining to Felix the gist of the Christian life!  Self-control being the chief discipline to mortify our flesh!

1 Cor 7:5 Here Paul describes the lack of self-control in a negative sense.

1 Cor 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable…..but I discipline my body and make it my slave.”  Here Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to exercise self-control in all things so that they may receive an imperishable reward.  This is discipline in the Christian life, brought on by self-control, to the point we make our bodies our slaves.

2 Timothy 3:3 – Paul describes men in the last days(now) who indulge their flesh and who follow not after God, these people are characterized by having a lack of “self-control.”

2 Peter 1:5-9 “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”  Peter tells us that if we lack self-control we are blind or short-sighted, and we have forgotten our purification from our former sins.

Titus 1:8 Here Paul says a minister must be a self-controlled individual.

Ponder 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control.”  Imagine this for a moment, God has given us a spirit of self-control, not a Spirit who causes us to lose it!

Now for the verse I have been most anxious to reveal!  Galatians 5:22-23 “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  This poses a major question to my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends.  Since when does the Holy Spirit cause you to lose His fruit?  Why would the Holy Spirit cause you to lose self-control, when clearly a fruit of the Spirit is self-control?!  Please ponder this.  Wouldn’t a believer being filled with the Holy Spirit be exercising immense self control?   Of course he/she would!  In fact, being Spirit-filled will result in all of these qualities in a believer’s life, at least to a degree in which reflects the believer’s current maturity level.  This is why when we consider Ephesians 5, this aspect of the Spirit-filling will be brought to full bloom!  With that in mind, it is now time to consider the next verse dealing with being Spirit-filled.

The Spirit-Filled believer (Ephesians 5:18-21)

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

I have several observations from this magnificent text of Scripture regarding the believer’s spirit-filled life.  Please follow closely.

  • First, this is not to be mistaken as meaning that the filling of the Holy Spirit is like being drunk.  This is a grave misunderstanding of the text.  While Paul is clearly drawing for us a comparison to be grasped, he is not equating the two.  In acts 2 the outsiders from the Pentecost event accused the men of being drunk “with new wine.”  I will explain this when I get to Acts 2.  However for this verse, the Greek grammar does not allow for being filled with the Spirit as being like a drunk man.  We have here a command to not be drunk, but to be filled with the Spirit.  If Paul wished to describe being filled with the Spirit as a drunken stupor, he could have done so.  Furthermore, this would violate many Scriptural mandates to be of a sober mind at all times, to be wise, walk in wisdom, etc.   The best way to see this verse is an exhortation to not be drunk, and now instead of being drunk, “be filled with the Spirit.”  This would give a stark contrast to the lives of their pagan outsider friends.  This was a way Christians were to be characterized.  Read 1 Peter 4:4.  Christians were to be a Spirit-led people, living vibrant and spiritually abundant lives, not to give themselves over to drunkenness.  The contrast is evident, those who pursue drunkenness live a wanton life, an excessive one, the complete opposite of an abundant and full life which results from being Spirit-filled.
  • Next, this is a command.  This is something Christians must obey.  This type of Spirit-filling is not simply an “event” that “happens” to us, but a command we are to obey at all times.  Why is this important?  Because most of my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends believe it is something that “happens” to them at a church service on Sunday.  It is imperative we grasp this point.  This is a command for all of us to obey, meaning that we as Christians are to live Spirit-filled lives constantly.  All of us are to strive to live our lives in the Spirit’s guidance, direction, and His fruit (Gal 5:22-23).
  • Paul explains what Spirit-filled believers will be like in the next 2 verses.  If Paul simply said, “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.”  We could call into question the meaning of being Spirit-filled.  However, pay very close attention to the very next verse.  “be filled with the Spirit,(commaspeaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”  Paul defines for us what it means to be Spirit-filled, though he does not define it exhaustively.  He gives us a description of the type of attitudes that would characterize a Spirit-filled believer.
  • This concludes that being Spirit-filled is not simply an event in which “happens to us” but a yielding of the believer to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  It is not us getting more of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit getting more of us.  We as Christians are to live our lives “in the Spirit.”  Living according to the Spirit’s leading, and how does the Spirit lead us?  To truth, righteousness, joy, peace, etc.  A truly  Spirit-filled believer will be exercising the fruits listed in Gal 5:22-23 at least to some degree.  Spirit-filling is not however some sort of event in which believers lose all self control, go into a trance, and pass-out.  Such nonsense is not of God, but of the pagan worshipers of Baal, and other false Gods who would extol themselves into ecstatic stupors and ecstasy like experiences.  Thus I conclude this type of falsehood is a false worship of God, and nothing compared to Scriptural worship.  Believers who live Spirit-filled lives are empowered to holy living.  The Holy Spirit is the means in which believers are enabled to live for God, in such a way that is in contrast to those who do not have the Holy Spirit.
  • So I rest, that a Spirit-filled believer will be one of great joy, unsurpassed joy in fact, to where it flows out in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”  This Spirit-filled believer will also be a thankful one, for they have much, oh much to be thankful for, because God works all things together for their good (Rom 8:28).  We can conclude then, that a Spirit-filled believer will also be one of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23a).  The Holy Spirit is working in the lives of those who belong to God by producing in them His fruits, and when the believer is totally yielding to Him, these fruits will surely be evident.  This is being Spirit-filled, not some ecstatic stupor.

Next, I will discuss Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost.  I will show that to treat this remarkable event as something “repeatable” is to make Pentecost a very small event, and it truly belittles it’s major significance within Scripture.

The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

I also have several observations regarding this text, for the sake of time however, I am leaving the discussion of “tongues” for another day and another blog, as this has nothing to bare on my argument that a drunken-like stupor is not of God.  Please follow carefully.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.  Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.  They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  ‘And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?  ‘Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.’ And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’  But others were mocking and saying, ‘They are full of sweet wine.”

  • First, as I said above, my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends treat the Day of Pentecost as if it something that must or can be experienced today, and frequently.  I believe this truly belittles Pentecost and it loses it’s significance.  The Day of Pentecost marks the beginning of the church.  The coming of the Holy Spirit, in which He indwelt all believers and empowered them.  This was a fulfillment of prophecy in both the Old Testament and in the Gospels when Jesus promised the coming of His Holy Spirit.  In Joel 2:28-32, Joel prophesies of this event, which Peter validates this with his sermon in Acts 2:16.  This was a one time event, the Day of Pentecost marked something extraordinary, the beginning of a new era of God’s working in the world, through the Church and His Holy Spirit dwelling in His believers permanently.  The Holy Spirit had yet to fulfill this event until the Day of Pentecost when He came to permanently indwell believers!
  • Now let’s consider how Luke describes the event, first there was a sound of a mighty rushing wind.  The sound was so immense, it filled the whole house.  This was a sound, not a physical event, nor was it actual wind, but simply the sound of it!  Then tongues of fire rested upon their heads.  Imagine this phenomena, this was to signify the Spirit’s coming and the powerful presence of God, for if His actual glory would have appeared everyone would have died.  Now, once they were filled with the Holy Spirit they began to speak in tongues (other languages).  The people were absolutely astonished!  They could not believe their eyes and ears, people from all around the world were hearing them in their own language!  The people were amazed!  Then Peter preaches his sermon to them explaining that this was the fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s words.
  • Notice, if you will, this extra-ordinary event of the Spirit’s filling.  What was the result?  The disciples spoke in tongues.  They were empowered for prophetic ministry.  Nothing else is described in the text, they were not at a loss of self control, they were not flipping around the floor, dancing, and passing out in some sort of a drunken stupor.  They spoke in tongues….in which I can explain in great detail what these tongues were and I plan to do so in a future blog.  I can assure you they were not an ecstatic gibberish that people use today to say they speak in tongues.  As I said, this is a discussion for another day, I simply wish to point out that the utter nonsense practiced in churches today that is equated with being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is not truly of the Spirit.
  • Lastly, there were “others” who were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet(or new) wine.”  Envision the scenery for a moment.  There were men from all around who were in Jerusalem for the feast of weeks.  Suddenly there was an outbreak of prophesying in their midst, men began to speak with a strange countenance declaring the mighty works of God.  Not only were these men speaking with an awkward boldness, they were speaking in many different languages, all at the same time.  Many that were there heard them in “their own language!”  This was nothing of a natural sort, but a strange phenomena, in which there were “others” who were skeptics.  As always, there are people who refuse to believe, they mock, they laugh, they scorn.  Did they not do this as Jesus performed miracles in their midst?  The phrase, “they are filled with new(sweet) wine” is not to instruct us as to the description of being Spirit-filled.  Instead, it was coming from the mouth of a skeptic, an unbeliever, who saw what was going on, and mocked, laughed, and shouted out of their truly unregenerate hearts.  They were described as “mocking” the event for a reason.  When the “others” saw that the disciples were all speaking in tongues at the same time, their immediate reaction was that these people were drunk.  It was a totally ignorant criticism, and nothing truthful about it, for the disciples were indeed filled with the Holy Spirit.  Paul says people will have this same reaction in 1 Corinthians 14:23, “Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?”  The “others” in Acts 2 have this same exact reaction to the “tongues” spoken by the Disciples.  Just because the “others” mocked and accused them of drunkenness, in no wise means the beloved Christians were acting like drunk men.  They were not!  They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
  • You may ask now, “If the disciples weren’t acting like drunk men then why did the ‘others’ accuse them of bring drunk?”  This is simple, the text only describes them as speaking in tongues as a result of the Holy Spirit’s filling.  The text in 1 Cor 14 also says people would think the church to be mad men, why?  Simply because they would all be speaking in tongues.  Not because they were involved in running around the church, losing self-control, jerking uncontrollably, hysterically laughing, and passing out like drunk men.  It was due to the simple gift of tongues.

Some Closing Thoughts

Now, beloved, I have given you every example of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (to the best of my knowledge).  None of them describe the filling as an event that compares to a drunken stupor, or losing all self-control, lapsing into convulsions, dancing uncontrollably, shaking, jerking, running around fanatically, etc.  Furthermore, I have given ample evidence from Scripture that the Holy Spirit would in no wise approve of such behavior.  Instead, His fruits are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  It is imperative that you consider this, ponder it, and let it sink in.

If Scripture is sufficient in all matters of faith and conduct, then Scripture doesn’t allow for this strange and bizarre behavior.  A person who is truly Spirit-filled will exercise immense self-control, contrary to my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends who say being “filled” with the Holy Spirit causes them to lose it!

With this in mind, I make a plea.  Are you bold enough to stand for God’s truth?  Yes, you have erred, but do you care enough about God and His Word to repent of this, turn from it, and refuse to worship Him in such a false way?

In case you might say, “well this is simply what I have always done, nothing can change that.”  Perhaps you might be shaken by the words of Christ when He boldly rebuked the Pharisees, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matt 15:3).  Or else maybe you have even become “experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” (Mark 7:9).

This is a call to get back to a Scriptural Christianity, it is a call to reformation from a false way.  It is time my Charismatic friends are woken from a slumber, and come out of this wickedness.  It is not of God, and it certainly is not of the Holy Spirit.  My fear, is that it is of a “spirit” in which we do not want.  False doctrine does not always come in bold letters, but often through subtlety, creeping in through the cracks until it gains a foothold.  Satan dwelt in a Serpent for a reason, he is crafty, and he excels best at making his lies look as close to the truth as possible.  He is a deceiver, and it is his ultimate goal to undermine God and His truth.  Have you been deceived by this falsehood?

Men and women of the faith, I urge you, I implore you, I beg of you to repent if this behavior is in your midst.  With as much as is in me, I am asking all of my Charismatic and Pentecostal friends to consider the cost of a false worship to God, and what is worse, is that these awful things are attributed to the Holy Spirit.  This is not a matter of opinion, nor a matter of preference, but outright blasphemous to the true God of the Bible.  Shall you continue in this sin?  Yes, it is sin.  I call it for what it truly is, a sinful and shameful act that is attributed to God.  How long shall we tarry against God in this manner?  How long will His patience endure it?  He is long-suffering though beloved, therefore turn from this evil way, repent to God and embrace Him for who He truly is.

May God be glorified with every ounce of me and my words, amen.

The Glorious Plan of the Maker!

The exciting journey of exploration within the great truths of Scripture has bemused many, as it does me.  I invite you to take part in God’s story.  I am and always will be intrigued by God’s infinite wisdom, and His unwavering greatness.

Throughout the awakening of time, we have been given more and more revelation of God’s grand master plan.   How can we know Him except He reveal Himself to us?  We cannot, and therefore what has been revealed is what we know.  Though it is petty thought to believe we know all about Him, we will never do so!

Before the creation of the “earth and universe” Satan fell. The first sin ever to be committed was Satan falling away from God in his pride wanting to be above God. He was the highest Angel, and he had all the privileges that came with that. God created Satan so bright and glorious, but knew he would rebel. The unsearchable wisdom of God in creating Satan knowing he would rebel is beyond us, except the notion that God’s plan is His own glory, and in the end the destruction of evil and Satan brings Him glory.  This is simply the plan God chose to make His glory known.  Like it or not God is about His glory, not ours.

The moment Satan fell, he sat himself completely against his Maker. So when God created the world, and created man good, He knew Satan would try to destroy His plan, yet God all the while had a greater plan, to destroy Satan.  The fascinating part is that we are simply intermediates in the process of God’s greater plan to one day put an end to evil and have an eternity of righteousness and peace.  Man is caught up in pride to believe he is the purpose for God’s ultimate plan.  Though we sure get to partake in God’s unsearchable wisdom, we certainly aren’t the focal point of Creation.  As a friend and pastor I know once said, “Salvation isn’t God coming into our story, it is us getting to partake of God and His story.”

Satan, knowing man was created perfect and in fellowship with God unlike himself, sought to destroy that, which God knew he would do so. Therefore, he wanted to break what God had with man, thwarting God’s plan of a perfect earth to enjoy in fellowship with His creation.  Satan sought to end this beautiful fellowship man had with God.  Totally unbroken by sin, man enjoyed God’s presence without any distraction.  All the while God allowed Satan to believe he might win, for a grand scheme in which Satan falls into every time he doesn’t try to.  Satan….is simply God’s pawn, in the process of a grand master plan to glorify the Father of Lights.

God begins His working through Israel as a nation, they were to be a light to the world, and they failed, yet God does not fail!  He promised that He would not forsake mankind.  God promised He would put an end to evil, and redeem mankind from his sins.

Now 2000 years ago we were given His ultimate revelation of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ!   God became flesh, incarnated Himself as the  man Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God, humbled Himself.  He took on the form of humanity, stooped lower than the angels.  For what purpose we might ask?  To grant the remission of sins to a people who call upon His glorious Name!   To be the promised Messiah to Israel, yet what He demanded they did not want, what He commanded they could not give.  It has always been God’s desire for His people to have faith.  Israel’s confidence was in their own works, not in God.  They had stooped to a man-made concept that chose to believe he was even capable of reaching God on his own.  What a deception.

Man cannot reach God, so God reached man.  Jesus Christ broke the chain of history, sin can no longer dominate those who are His, it runs when He shows up!  Now God gives mankind the opportunity to believe, and to take part in His grand master plan!  The simple act of faith, the belief in His name and plan, grants a man redemption.  What was broken, can be restored!  What took place at the fall can be reversed, because Christ has done what Adam could not do.   Christ remained without sin, and through His death He became the perfect sacrifice God required for the remission of sins.  Yet if Christ merely died, why would there be hope?

This Jesus Christ promised He would raise again 3 days later.  When the time came, the tomb where He laid was found empty.  Jesus Christ had been resurrected!!!  Yes, Jesus Christ is God, now He has proven His faithfulness to mankind yet once again!  He appeared to many, dazzled as they were, they believed, and became fanatics for Christ!  Many in Israel who had sentenced Him to death, now were pricked in their hearts and believed!!

This, friends, is the glorious plan of the Maker!  We too, are given the privilege of taking part in it.  Now the church, through whom God has His dealings with the world.  We now await for that one day, His glorious return to us.  Yet this time He will not humble Himself, He will come as a Lion.  My hope is that all men find His good side.

To give you some practical hope, in the future when sin is completely done away with, Satan is destroyed in Hell for eternity, we will no longer even have the desire to sin, we won’t even know what sin is.  The only thing we will do for all of eternity is live in new glorified physical bodies living with perfect sinless natures, in a perfect world not affected by the fall.  As Isaiah puts it, a lamb will lay with a lion, there will be no bloodshed, etc. Man will live for eternity in the newly created earth.  We will have “free will” in the sense we will act according to our new natures, all of our choices will glorify God!! We will be handed the universe to explore, enjoy, and to use to our benefit, all without sin! That is the grand and glorious plan of our Maker!

Imagine for all eternity, living in complete and un-defiled fellowship with God as He originally created us. What we have now is but a taste of what is to come!  The fellowship with God we can enjoy in the present, is but to wet our appetite of the unsurpassed joy we will incur as we spend eternity never to be out of fellowship with God again!  There will never be a moment in which sin taints our heart.  There will never be hurt to re-enact itself in our lives.  We won’t even have the desire to sin.  Every thing we do, will flourish, it will bring glory to the Grand Weaver God.  His character will be woven into our lives, every way in which we act will reflect the character of God.  We will have nothing but righteous attitude, pure hearts, and blissful fidelity.

This is why we ought to live our lives to the glory of God now, because that will increase the quality of our stay in eternity. We will heap reward, and if we endure to the end, we will one day Reign with Christ!  Those who are His and are faithful, will be richly rewarded.  They will be those who are handed great responsibility and revelation of God.  It is this life now, in which God will one day judge and determine our eternal state.  While yes, mere faith in Him will grant one an eternal stay, obedience to Him will grant a glorious stay.

It is utterly deceiving to believe one might simply “believe” and live an ungodly life.  That person cannot think he/she will possibly enjoy a rich eternity.  They will suffer great loss, you see, God will judge even His own children, and they will receive what has been earned for all their deeds, whether good or bad.  The lives of God’s followers will be burned with fire, and only those things which are in faithfulness to God will survive the fervent heat of His swift judgment.  Those things which aren’t glorifying to Him will be seared to ash.  To those who choose to live ungodly, they will receive the recompense of their error.

This, friends, Christians, ought to affect you.  This is the Glorious Plan of the Maker, the Grand Weaver of eternity has a plan, which surpasses all the wisdom of man.  He is high and exalted, His Name is glorious and His wisdom is unsearchable.  No man can ever know the depths of God, because God cannot be exhausted!  Praise be to His Holy Name!

Was it possible for Adam and Eve to have sinned in any other way besides eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

To answer this question, one must consider first what sin is, and just as importantly, what sin is not.

We know what sin is, and what righteousness is due to the character of who God is. It isn’t necessarily an idea of  “rules” that God gave us to abide by, it all stems from His character. The reason we know murder to be sin, is because it is in complete contrast to God’s character and who He is.  The reason we cannot lie, is because God does not lie, not because He simply says we can’t because that’s the way He wants it done.

From understanding what sin is, we can now understand that Adam and Eve were completely reflecting God’s perfect nature and character in their humanity on a daily basis before the fall. They did not even have the desire to sin, let alone did they know even what sin was. To partly answer the question, they could not have sinned in any way because sin was not introduced or enticed as of yet. They were perfect, just as God was perfect. They could not sin because they had no sin nature.  Just as a lion would never eat a bucket of oats no matter how hungry he is, humans could never have sinned before inheriting the sin nature.  You see, the Lion acts according to it’s nature, if we were to give him a steak, it would be devoured in a matter of seconds.  We too, act according to our nature in a strikingly similar way.

We know before the creation of the “earth and universe” Satan fell. The first sin therefore was Satan falling away from God through his pride wanting to be above God. He was the highest Angel, and he had all the privileges that came with that. God created Satan so bright and glorious, but knew he would rebel. The unsearchable wisdom of God in creating Satan knowing he would rebel is beyond us, except the notion that God’s plan is His own glory, and in the end the destruction of evil and Satan brings Him glory.  This is simply the plan God chose to make His glory known.  Like it or not God is about His glory, not ours.

The moment Satan fell, he sat himself completely against his Maker. So when God created the world, and created man good, He knew Satan would try to destroy His plan, yet God all the while had a greater plan, to destroy Satan.  The fascinating part is that we are simply intermediates in the process of God’s greater plan to one day put an end to evil and have an eternity of righteousness and peace.  Man is caught up in pride to believe he is the purpose for God’s ultimate plan.  Though we sure get to partake in God’s unsearchable wisdom, we certainly aren’t the focal point of Creation.  As a friend and pastor I know once said, “Salvation isn’t God coming into our story, it is us getting to partake of God and His story.”

Satan, knowing man was created perfect and in fellowship with God unlike himself, sought to destroy that, which God knew he would do so. Therefore, he wanted to break what God had with man, thwarting God’s plan of a perfect earth to enjoy in fellowship with His creation.  Satan sought to end this beautiful fellowship man had with God.  Totally unbroken by sin, man enjoyed God’s presence without any distraction.  All the while God allowed Satan to believe he might win, for a grand scheme in which Satan falls into every time he doesn’t try to.  Satan….is simply God’s pawn, in the process of a grand master plan to glorify the Father of Lights.

Man was completely innocent at this point, and could not even have the desire to sin without some external help in the matter, which is where Satan came in…He chose to indwell a snake, met Eve near the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and enticed her to eat of it’s fruits. He instilled in her a desire to be like God knowing both good and evil, because at this point they only knew good, and did not know evil.  Satan gave man the same desire he has, to be God.  Eve fell to Satan’s deception, and shortly after Adam did. It was at this moment they were deceived and knew evil for the first time.  They looked upon one another with lustful hearts and were ashamed of their nakedness, and so on.

Once God appears to them, He plays along, gives them an opportunity to confess, but because of shame they were hiding, as if they even could…. and so on, you know the rest of the story.

So to answer the question, it is important to have given some background. Sin came from the enticement of Satan, without which Adam and Eve could have never sinned because they didn’t even know how. They were created perfect, and could have never even accidentally killed each other. They would have perfectly obeyed the command to not eat of the tree if it had not been for Satan’s deception. Without Satan, there would be no evil, there would be no fall. Yet God has a greater plan of redemption! We are not His ultimate purpose, but His glory in the destruction of sin, Satan, and evil is!  His glory in the forgiveness of sin, evil, and wickedness too!  We simply get to reap the benefits. It is all to…per say….be shot in the face of Satan. As Satan chose to rebel, He will be put under, and destroyed, for eternity, and all those that choose to follow him, his angels, and the people who are under his deception and grasp today.

God’s grand and master plan does not stop here!  There is good news!

Follow this link to learn more about God’s Grand Master Plan!

http://totaltruth.net/2013/11/09/the-glorious-plan-of-the-maker/

A Bold Faith

The early Christians were regularly ridiculed, threatened, their leaders were tortured and often burned alive, stretched until their limbs were torn from their bodies. Their families were broken apart, they were imprisoned, awaiting their match in the arena as their bodies were ripped to shreds by lions and other wild beasts, and if they were fortunate, their heads were severed by a gladiator’s sword before they were chopped.

I say this not to terrify some, but to embolden those who have embraced Christ. Why were they persecuted in this way? It was because they refused to bow to the Roman pluralism of the day. Seems rather modern doesn’t it? They refused to accept that Jesus was “a” god rather than the God incarnate. Looked upon with disdain in the Roman culture, the intellectual elites found their refusal to change their beliefs to that of the Empire’s as grounds for punishment.

The Romans thought this would disseminate the Christians and they would deny that Jesus was Lord, however it only served for the opposite response! The Christians were emboldened by the courageous deaths of their fellow brothers and sisters. Children too were included in those who were torn apart within the arena.

All of this because Christians had the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and the only hope for mankind. All other attempts to reach God through law had utterly failed, and sinful mankind’s only hope of redemption was that in the despicable Roman cross. Such preposterous assumptions, those Christians, as the Romans thought. Nevertheless, the belief that Jesus had indeed bodily resurrected had surpassed all persecution attempts. These faithful witnesses for Christ serve as a reminder for us today to embrace Christ all the more!

In today’s arena, we face those in the modern education scheme that claim Jesus as “a way” and not the only way. They too in the 1st and 2nd centuries would have gladly accepted the idea that Jesus was another “path.” That would have been totally accepted in their day. In fact they would have even dedicated a portion of their temples to him, if and only if His followers would have denied the silly idea that Jesus was God incarnate and the only hope for sinful mankind.

Today’s pluralism is remarkably similar, but the claims of Jesus Christ smash directly head long into the face of it. Jesus claims to be the only way, the only hope, and the only life one can have and have abundantly at that. We Christians embrace this thought and hope, and look forward to the day our Lord and Savior triumphs over all things once for all. He conquered death and sin’s grip on the human heart, He will one day conquer Satan and his schemes. Including those within the false religious systems throughout the world.

So, though a Christian may face resentment, ridicule, mocking, etc in the new era we are about to embark, remember that we glory in these tribulations and trials, and we gladly partake in the sufferings of Christ Jesus, for He has counted us worthy to do so! (Acts 5:41). It is to His name we set our lives, and death itself cannot take His seal from our hearts (Romans 8:38-39).

Be bold brothers and sisters, and be thankful that God has considered us worthy to embrace His name, we carry the banner of Jesus Christ, though we may be friends of many, there will be enemies of the cross as well. Just as the Apostles were emboldened by the persecution of the Jewish leaders, so should we be emboldened to suffer for the name of Christ!

And to those who think this may not happen today, consider North Korea, if one does not bow to the empower and worship him as God, they will face imprisonment, and potential death, including their family members as well. Consider Atheistic communism in China, Christianity was banned for a long time until recently, where now millions upon millions embrace the hope of the Gospel because they have been starving for truth for so long. Consider the Eastern countries, in Muslim cultures, if anyone denies their faith and considers themselves Christians they are publicly ridiculed and often tortured and killed, if not imprisoned and tried for the crime of being Christian.

Let these thoughts sink in, be sure in your faith, and remember that faith in Jesus Christ could cost one’s life, and in this area, at tops your social life.

Persecution, though not something to wish for, is promised, by both Jesus and the Apostles who carried His Gospel to the world in need of it (Matthew 10:22; Luke 6:22; 2 Tim 2:3; 1 Peter 4). We are promised that if indeed we choose to live godly we will suffer for it (2 Tim 3:12).

Please pray for those being persecuted for their faith today in other countries, and including our own. May God grant them the courage to embrace it with the hope that this life is only the steppingstone to the next! God will richly reward those who suffer for His name, in any way (Romans 8:17-18).