- Peter asked, “…why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither you nor your fathers were able to bear?” (15:10)
- James, considering the coming of the Gentiles to Christ, in view of prophecy, stated, “…we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God…” (15:19)
- The apostles distinguished themselves from the Law proponents, declaring, “…we gave no such commandment…” (15:24)
- The apostles, inspired of God, wrote to the Gentiles, saying, “…it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (15:28-29)
The misunderstanding of prayer is hurting people. It’s leading them astray into frustration and faithlessness. It’s not uncommon to hear of people’s exasperation at ‘unanswered’ prayer. Still others are ‘on the outs with God’ because their prayers are unfulfilled.
Not only that, but mockers are using it against the faithful when they see evil in the world. They say things like, “your thoughts and prayers are meaningless.” In one sense they’re right because they’re attacking the MYTHS about prayer that many believers are telling!
We must understand prayer. We need to teach it to people. To this end, here are the top 5 MYTHS about prayer.
The first MYTH is that MONEY & prosperity shows up without effort. I’ve heard people say, “if God had meant for me to be rich, I would be rich.”
He does want us to be financially secure and has given us laws about money that we can follow to become financially secure. Laws like…
Debt: “…borrower is servant to the lender.” [Prov 22:7]
Work: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]
People pray for financial prosperity while simultaneously break the rules of God about finances.
The 2nd MYTH is that God will say YES to every petition. Experience should show them this is wrong and scripture says it directly.
If you doubt, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” [Jas 1:7]
And, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [Jas 4:3]
God gives no guarantee when we ask amiss.
A 3rd MYTH is that God will TAKE away all pain & evil. Where did you get that? This is the one the MOCKERS cite in their criticism of God. “Since there’s so much evil in the world God is either powerless, unkind or non-existent.”
This myth assumes that heaven is on earth. It’s never taught that way in scripture. Heaven is a place prepared for the obedient faithful (but I repeat myself) after the destruction of the world & it’s evil. [2Pet 39-10; Rev 21:4]
The 4th MYTH about prayer is that God will HEAL everyone everywhere of everything. That’s absurd. This myth misses the teaching about the purpose of miraculous healing done by Christ and the Apostles in the first century.
Miraculous healing (1 of 9 spiritual gifts) were for the express purpose of showing God’s confirmation of those who were teaching the Gospel and the New Covenant of Christ. In one instance, Jesus said, “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” [Mark 2:9-11, emph mine seb]
This is just one of many proofs to show that the miraculous healing of that day was for the purpose of confirming the word of God.
Does God want good health for us today? I believe so because the bible teaches it, but not in the way MYTH tellers say. We need to learn about this and teach it accurately.
The last MYTH about prayer is that God will just beam SCRIPTURE into their mind without study. It’s true that God gave inspiration to some for the purpose of revealing His will and they wrote it down for us today [Eph 3:3-4]. It IS NOT TRUE that you should expect that same inspiration today. When you read what is written you can;
BELIEVE, UNDERSTAND, PROFIT, PLEASE GOD, & KNOW GOD’S WILL.
[John 20:30-31; 2Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 2Pet 3:15-16]
Misunderstanding prayer is making spiritually weak and lazy believers. God wants us to pray to Him, but He also commands it be done “according to His will” [1John 5:14] which means we must know what He wants and be obedient to His will.
This morning’s sermon will cover this and more about Godly prayer.
Hell is a serious subject, that is if you believe it’s a REAL place. If, however, you’re one of those who don’t believe hell is REAL, then everything in this article will be ignored.
I HOPE YOU DON’T IGNORE THIS TOPIC. If you do, there are serious consequences to YOU if you don’t believe that hell is a real place.
It matters what one believes as our beliefs drive our actions and attitudes.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” [Prov 23:7a]
WHAT ARE THE FOUR CONSEQUENCES if you don’t believe that hell is REAL?
First, you will have little to no REGARD for the gravity of sin. You have a lowered view about sin and you underestimate the purity of God.
Sin is a direct disregard for God and His sovereignty. There is no sin in God, not one drop.
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent:” [Num 23:19a; cr Titus 1:2]
From the very beginning this lesson is taught. In the garden, when Adam & Eve took of the fruit of the KOGAE tree, they had to be separated from God.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” [Isaiah 59:2]
Sin is that bad.
The next thing that begins to change in you is that you will lessen your EVANGELISM.
The magician Penn Jillette, an atheist, said it this way;
“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
When we fail to realize the reality of HELL, we fail to take it seriously and fail to warn others about it.
The third consequence is we begin to believe that the lost are simply ANNIHILATED from existence. While this may be palatable to our senses, this too is a mistake.
If we believe in annihilation of the lost, we belittle the justice of God. He has said,
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Romans 12:19]
Where is the justice for the rape, murder and every manner of wickedness that man has done to other men?
We have no problem with the idea of Hell for the Hitlers, the rapists and the pedophiles, but we have a problem when it comes to those who sin against God. (I refer you back to the first point.)
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” [Jude 7; cf Heb 2:1-3]
Which brings us to the final point. We start to rationalize by saying, “a LOVING God would never send anyone to hell.”
This last point encompasses the previous three. Many denominational preachers have said that they won’t speak about sin or hell as it’s too negative. One said, “”No, I really don’t, because it’s a different approach.” This is a direct contradiction of how Paul preached;
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27; cr v20]
We ought not project what we want onto our Creator; “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” [Is 58:8]
HELL IS REAL. As these scriptures describe.
Lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)
Furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42)
Flaming fire (2Thess. 1:7-9)
Baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11-12)
Unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43)
Brimstone (Rev. 21:8)
Wailing & Gnashing (Matt. 8:12; 13:50)
Prepared for Devil (Matt. 25:41)
Outer darkness (Matt. 25:30)
Torment (Rev. 14:10-11)
Friends, Hell is real and we don’t want anyone, even our worst enemy to go there.
A previous post noted 4 shortcuts we THINK are Bible study but really are not, they are…
- LOOKING over the text but not studying it.
- Reading AUTHORS other than God.
- CLASS attendance without studying at home. I
- KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong.
Are our Study Habits Killing the Church? God warned the LACK of knowledge was destroying His people. [Hosea 4:6] It was true then and remains true now.
John was told to write the church at Sardis about this very thing. “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” [Rev 3:1]
Taking Bible study shortcuts may leave us also spiritually DEAD. Malnutrition of the bread of life will weaken us spiritually, making us unable to discern between good & evil.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5:14]
Is it any wonder that many congregations claiming to be the Lord’s church are ‘progressing’ into many strange activities? When the church becomes spiritually malnourished, they’ll begin to die, or worse be called DEAD.
What Is A Dead Church? A church isn’t dead only when it no longer has any members. Nor is it dead when the young people are no longer present. A DEAD church is one that is no longer faithful to its Founder, Christ Jesus [Rev 3:1]. A church can be growing numerically, having lots of fun, have plenty of money and doing all types of works, but still be dead spiritually because they’re no longer following their Leader [Rev 3:17]. Our country is full of spiritually dead mega-churches.
Appearances can be deceiving. What matters is when every part of the body does its share, “causing growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” [Eph 4:16b] Note 4 signs that a church might be DEAD:
4 SIGNS a church is DEAD:
DOCTRINE gets replaced by TRADITIONS. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Mark 7:7]. Paul warned Timothy that the time would come when they would not endure ‘SOUND DOCTRINE’ [2Tim 4:3]. When tradition becomes doctrine, then the church of Christ becomes a denomination rather than the church built by Christ at Pentecost [Mat 16:18, Acts 2].
EDIFICATION replaced by ENTERTAINMENT. Paul asked, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” [1Cor 11:22] So many churches are moving from biblical Edification, which is based on education [Eph 4:11-12], toward FOOD, FUN & FROLIC. The church is not in the entertainment business, it’s the ‘GROUND & PILLAR of the TRUTH.’ [1Tim 3:15, cr. Eph 3:10]
AUTHORITY of the word is replaced with FEELINGS. These feelings come from their own belly, not from the word of God. [Phil 3:19, 2King 5:11]. Children do what ‘FEELS GOOD,’ whereas the mature do what IS GOOD. [Eph 4:14]
DISCIPLINE is replaced with TOLERANCE. Toleration of sin is sweeping across this country like the whirlwind that destroyed Job’s family. We are told, ‘to just love,’ ‘to not judge,’ and ‘let people live as they are.’ These are false teachings from confusion about the love of God. God does love us, but He also requires us to repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2Peter 3:9]
Paul commanded the church at Corinth to DISCIPLINE an adulterous man [1Cor 5:1-2]. When they obeyed the Lord, they rescued the one in sin, for he repented (the whole church did) and was restored [2Cor 2:6-11; 7:9-10].
Let us be on our guard with the sword of God [Eph 6:17] to fight the good fight of faith [1Tim 6:12] so that our lampstand remains and shines bright in this dark world [Rev 2:5].
Romans 10 tells us that a person cannot confess Christ unless they have heard of Him.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]
Many antagonists of the Gospel, this includes denominational believers, will often challenge obedience to the Gospel in Baptism by asking this question. This is one of the most challenging questions, but not unanswerable. As with all questions we turn to scriptures for the solution.
Before we answer, we must establish some undeniable facts about Christ. Here are 3 absolutes about Jesus:
1: JESUS is the ONLY WAY to the Father. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” [John 14:6]
If reconciliation to God could be done by good works of man, Mohammed, philosophy, ignorance or any other way, then what was the need of sending Jesus to provide a sacrifice? No one will get to heaven without coming to Jesus the Christ.
2: JESUS is the author of salvation for all that obey Him. All of the saved are obedient to Christ [Luke 6:46]. This is exactly the meaning of Hebrews 5:9: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
There is no salvation by accident, ignorance nor faith alone.
3: OBEDIENCE to the Gospel is required. The knowledge of God and obedience in Baptism are essential to salvation. One is not saved by faith only [Jas 2:24], is not saved then baptized. We are saved when we are baptized (buried) in water through faith.
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]
There’s more that could be said, but this is sufficient to prove the point, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD?
We answer this with the bible and just a little bit of reasoning.
Allow me to offer 2 possibilities:
EVERYONE WHO IS SEEKING THE TRUTH, GOD WILL ENSURE THAT THEY HEAR IT. We have a few examples of this in the New Testament. The first is the house of Cornelius. He was a devout believer in God and had been praying about this very thing. God sent him Peter to, “who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” [Acts 11:14]. We can also see this when Philip was urged to go down toward Gaza and encountered the seeking Eunuch. [Acts 8:26-39]. All the more reason we need to keep preaching to the whole world. [Mat 28:18-20; cr. Lu 10:2]
GOD KNOWS WHO WON’T ACCEPT THE GOSPEL EVEN IF THEY HEARD IT. The rich man in Luke 16 wanted Lazarus to go back from the dead to warn his brothers about the torment they were facing. The answer was, nope, if they’re not listening to the revelation they already have, they won’t hear even if someone were raised from the dead. [Luke 16:19-31]
Romans 1:20 tells us people are without excuse in light of creation. We all know that many reject God and they use His creation to do it. We could all think of a person that is NOT SEEKING the truth, rather they’re seeking THEIR TRUTH. [2Thess 2:8-10].
If they wouldn’t accept the basic light of creation declaring the existence of God, they won’t accept any more light. Jesus acknowledged this when He said, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” [Mat 15:14].
He also warned, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” [Mat 7:6]
There are those who just won’t believe regardless the effort, even if someone comes back from the dead. That’s what Jesus did, and many still won’t believe.
IT’S BEEN WRITTEN, BY THOSE WHO lived closer to the time, that there were 6 causes leading up to the RESTORATION MOVEMENT in the United States.
- DISSATISFACTION with human creeds: The first was a product of the REFORMATION movement that sought to transform the Catholic church. The Protestant denominations and their leaders had been forcing creeds upon the world as tests of fellowship. These creeds became sources of strife and were at best the opinions of men. Many of the creeds contained ideas that were objectionable to thinking people. The creeds set aside the authority of Christ and kept Christendom divided.
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Cor 1:12-13]
- TEACHING babies were lost because of the false teaching of total depravity. The error was taught that a person was born a sinner. That meant that babies were lost spiritually from birth. Infants were doomed at birth if ‘unbaptized.’ The dogma goes onto teach that a person was eternally lost or eternally saved as God elected them regardless of their faith. This made man a mere toy in the hands of his Maker.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:14]
III. THE MYSTICAL conception of conversion. Calvinistic theory teaches that every conversion had to have ‘miraculous accompaniments,’ such as a dream, vision or some other sort of mystical occurrence. It can be easily seen that this mystical theory of conversion appealed only to people who were temperamentally emotional.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:35-36]
- NEGLECTING BIBLE STUDY. Strange as it is to say, but Protestants knew very little about the bible. JD Tant, a Presbyterian preacher before becoming a Christian, was criticized for using too many scriptures in his sermons. The protestants had effectively hidden the scriptures behind their speculations as did the Roman Catholic church did with her traditions. The average denominational exhorter would more likely send you to the Psalms of David or Jeremiah to find out what to do to be saved over the book of Acts.
“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16]
- RAMPANT SECTARIANISM. Not only were they ignoring the Lord’s prayer for unity, they were defending denominationalism. The arguments were that denominations were needed to suit the style preferences of the people. They became blind to the theological mess their reasoning had created.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10]
- RELIGIOUS STAGNATION and a widespread decline of morals. Perhaps because of the aforementioned problems in denominational religion, the world grew skeptical and attacks against the bible and against the Christian faith increased. Skepticism was seen in the colleges & universities of the United States and the spread of irreligious activity was enhanced. Public morals dropped, intemperance, gambling and even debauchery prevailed to an alarming degree, even among their own clergy.
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up,” [1Cor 5:1-2a]
WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION?
The pioneers of the RESTORATION movement stood on plain & simple high ground, the word of God.
- “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
- They opposed anything that could not be supported with the Authority of Christ.
- They rejected all sectarian names and creeds. During a debate over creeds, they petitioned an unbiased Frenchman who had heard the entire debate to decide who was right. The Frenchman asked the man with the New Testament who made his creed. “Jesus Christ” was the answer. Turning to the man debating for a creed he asked the same question. The creed holder said, “it was adopted in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1742.” The Frenchman said, “Very well gentlemen, that is enough. If you follow your creed, Mr. Christian, when you die, it will take you to Jesus Christ. Follow yours, Mr. Baptist, and when you die, you will go to Philadelphia.”
- “Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or be made a term of communion among Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.”
The ‘pioneers’ of that day were only coming to the truth that many others had already been practicing in this country. Whenever someone takes the seed of the Kingdom, the word of God [Matt 13:19] and understands it, they too can become just a CHRISTIAN when they obey the Gospel of Christ.
References: adapted from, “Sermon Outlines on The Restoration Plea” by C.C. Crawford, 1927 second edition 1956.
THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION is very simple but not liked. The question always arises after such violent tragedies as was seen this last week in El Paso & Dayton (just 2 of many in recent years). In reality, millions of people have suffered under tyrannical evil from the time after the Garden. [Gen 3]
Evil exists because of the fall in the garden of Eden. It entered the world through the tempting by the serpent.
Since then, mankind has had to struggle with sin (evil’s real name). EVIL does not exist unless there is something that is GOOD (it’s the absence of good). For us to distinguish between the two there must be a moral law. A moral law that doesn’t move with the times requires a MORAL LAW GIVER. We call Him GOD.
Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1-3; 53:1]. This being true, mankind is not generally good. Neither are they generally evil as the error of inherited sin proposes. Babies are innocent (2Sam 12:23; Mark 10:14), as are those born with stunted mental ability & remain with a childlike maturity. What this means is that sin is in the world, and man learns to sin. We all sin, if we say we’re without sin we lie. [1John 1:7]
So, where does all of this evil come from? It comes from sin. James gives more information about the source of wars & fighting;
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:1-4]
Therefore, evil comes because of selfish, narcissistic lusts & desires. Now that we’ve established that sin is in the world, which is evil, let’s approach it from another direction.
Witnessing the terrible evils of our day give us much grief, perhaps anxiety. Definitely frustration and anger. The next question is this; “HOW DO I COPE WITH THE EVIL?”
This question is a bit more difficult to answer as each person must wrestle with their own emotions & reasonings. However, there may be help by understanding a major reality of this life. (This is just one of five things to help you cope. The other four will be in this morning’s sermon.)
PARADISE has been lost. It was lost within 100 years of creation and will no longer be found on earth.
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” [Gen 3:22-24]
We will never be able to eradicate EVIL; no laws will stop it. There’s no place on Earth you can go to avoid it. Therein lies the key, no place ON EARTH. Utopia, bliss, peace, whatever word you want to use shall not be found on the Earth. This is awaiting the faithful in HEAVEN.
God has provided a way of escape and a way to cope with the evil of this world by providing a rescue plan in Christ Jesus. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 5:21, cr. Rev 21:1-8]
This is the first of five keys to coping with EVIL in this life but, it’s one of the most important. Let me sum in up this way; EVIL angers & frustrates us because we think we can get rid of it. We can’t. We CAN make things better in this life by working on brightening our own lights in the Gospel and teaching others to obey the Gospel also. This is the only proven way to fight evil.
FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY, TWO MEN SET FOOT ON THE SURFACE OF THE MOON. “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a moment of international attention with nearly 500 million people watching it on live TV.
Very little of our day draws that kind of unity or interest, nothing positive anyway. It was a time of national pride that got behind the accomplishment of a national goal. A goal set by President Kennedy during a speech in Houston Texas on September 12, 1962.
As fantastic as that accomplishment was, it wasn’t the first time that man attempted to reach the heavens. As a matter of fact, the whole world got behind a movement to not only reach up into the stars, but attempted to reach into heaven itself. You know it best as the TOWER of BABEL.
THE STORY is found in Genesis 11:1-9, and goes like this: The whole world had one language and they tended to stay grouped together. One day, an idea developed saying, “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” [11:4].
There are 3 takeaways about the people that we can draw from this one idea:
- PRIDE ruled their hearts when their primary goal was to make a name for themselves. This was an afront to God their Creator for He had already given them the top place among all the creation of the earth. Man was made in the image of God. Gen 1:27
- ARROGANCE in that they thought they could prevent or otherwise thwart God’s will and stay together. In Genesis 1:28 man was commanded to “fill the earth.”
- DISOBEDIENCE was the result of the first two. By building the tower, they were in willful disobedience to God. Sin of commission and the sin of omission. They added to and took away from God’s word.
It doesn’t go well for man when he seeks to disobey God. As the building program was under way, God saw what they were doing and put an end to it. It’s interesting how He did it. Rather than destroy the tower, He simply confused their language so they could no longer effectively communicate. This got them back on the right track and they scattered all over the earth, abandoning their silly building scheme.
There are 5 things we can learn from this pivotal event:
- BUILDING schemes of man, no matter how popular they are, will never get man into heaven. Jesus said that, “I will build my church” [Mat 16:18]. That is the only place where God will meet with us.
- ALWAYS do what God commands, it’s the only way. God gives us free will, but He also gave us commands to follow that will lead us back to him. We cannot even do good without His authority. [Mat 7:21-23; Is 59:2]
- BODIES of FLESH cannot go into heaven. Only Spiritual bodies may, and that spiritual body is provided by God to those who are in Christ. [1Cor 15:50-58]
- EARTH is only a temporary dwelling place, and no matter how successful we become, or how great a name we try to make for ourselves, the result of this life is death. Man has a tendency to plan only for his EARTHLY future. We ought to be mapping our lives into our ETERNAL future. It will either be in Heaven or it will be in Hell. These are the only 2 choices, and it is our choice. [Mat 25:31-46]
- LANGUAGE UNIFIES. It can unify us for good or for evil. The breakdown of relationships comes from a failure to communicate. In a figure, we’re not speaking the same language. Paul urged the Corinthians to; “that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10; John 17:17]
The next time The Lord comes down to earth, it will be with His Holy angels to gather up His church, to destroy the earth and then the judgement. [1Thess 4:16-18] Will He find us “making a name” for ourselves, or will He find us doing His will? [Luke 12:43]
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [2Cor 5:10]
While talking with a denominational preacher about reaching the lost he said, “Some people just aren’t interested in spiritual things, they don’t study and don’t have many conversations about spiritual things. In these cases, all we can do is let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.”
This man would say that he doesn’t accept Calvinism, but he was vocalizing the false doctrine. To remind you of what Calvinism teaches allow me to summarize…
- Total Depravity: All mankind is born into sin, including babies.
- Unconditional Election: God picks and chooses who will be saved or lost and it’s unchangeable.
- Limited Atonement: That God picks only a few individuals to be saved and all else will be lost and you can’t change it. Including babies.
- Irresistible Grace: That if you’re among those being chosen to be saved, then you cannot prevent it nor resist it.
- Perseverance of the Saints: Once God saves you (even if against your will) then you can never lose your salvation ever, no matter how sinful a life you lead or even if you change your belief.
Now this is my summary of their belief and if you asked a Calvinist, he will spin it so it sounds better, but the result will be the same; IT’S UNSCRIPTURAL. Another thing you might find is that there are denominations that accept all or part of the above. Belief (faith) comes from hearing the written word of God [John 20:30-31; Rom 10:17].
A partial belief is what this preacher had accepted. He rejects most of Calvinism, but his statement, that the Holy Spirit will work on a person’s heart even as they have no interest in spiritual things, no reading, nor studying with others from the bible, proves it.
HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVERT?
No Bible believer questions the fact the Holy Spirit saves sinners (John 3:5), the question is HOW? We only have 2 options a) direct operation of the Spirit or b) through the influence of a medium (the Gospel, Romans 1:16).
The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit’s work, in the redemption of mankind, is the work of divine revelation. God originates, Christ procures, the Spirit reveals.
Review the chart on the next page to see HOW the Holy Spirit works to save sinners. What you will find is that people are converted through the Holy Spirit revealed word of God that utilized teaching, preaching or reading of the scriptures. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work on our hearts, but He does it through our diligent study of God’s divine word.
ILLUSTRATION: When a person says, “my spouse made a nourishing dinner,” who did it? Were they nourished by the spouse or the food? If a person and an instrument perform the same task, the person is working THROUGH the instrument.Thus, the Holy Spirit saves through the influence of the written word of God [John 3:5; 1Pet 1:22-23].
The Holy Spirit converts a person when they engage in seeking the Kingdom of God, Bible reading and a diligent study of God’s word, rightly divided. [Matt 6:33; 2Tim 2:15]
An Evangelist once visited a farmer to talk to him about Christ. “I wouldn’t come to church up there,” the farmer said. “I know old So and So (insert a name) church goer who claims to be a Christian and So and So (insert another name) church goer who claims to be a Christian, and they don’t live any differently from me. I’m as good as they are.” Everywhere the farmer went, he told about the hypocrites in that Church.
A few weeks go by and the Christian went to see the farmer again. “I want to buy a hog,” said the Christian. The farmer showed all his best hogs to him. “I believe I will take that one,” the Christian said. “BUT you don’t want that one. He’s the worst runt in the litter.” “I sure do,” said the Christian. So, they loaded the runt in the truck. The farmer then asks, “What are you going to do with this runt hog?”
The Christian replied, “I plan to take this pig here from your farm and ride all over this area telling folks that this is the kind of hogs you raise?”
“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the farmer exclaimed. “I have some nice hogs and you want to show people that runt?”…to which the Christian replied, “If it’s fair for the church, it’s fair for your operation!”
It’s a real problem. We face this situation, not with hog farmers, but with our friends, family & co-workers. We fear inviting because they may call us hypocrites. They’d be right because we’re flawed, we’re often broken, but that’s why we’ve come to the Lord. They’d also be wrong because what they don’t see is our desire to repent and grow into the mature Christian that our Lord & Savior wants us to become.
Unfairly, our flaws become obstacles to many. They don’t see that we’re learning and changing. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Romans 2:21; cf. 2Sam 12:14]
There will be occasions when a member of the Lord’s Body sins and should be rebuked or withdrawn from [cf. 1Corinthians 5:5], but their sinful behavior is not representative of the congregation as a whole, and it’s certainly not representative of the doctrine of Christ! As the farmer said, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”
Fortunately, the Lord will not judge us as a church, we will face him as individuals [2Corinthians 5:10]. He addressed this issue in the church at Sardis; “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. Read the letters to the church at Corinth. If we measure every person in the congregation by the actions of a few, then no one can be saved.
Since others will judge the church as a whole based on the actions of a few, it’s vital that we all strive to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those in the church at Rome; “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” [Romans 2:24].
Don’t let folks get away with judging the Lord’s body for the actions of a few. Rather, let them see our Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, & Temperance. Each of which are present in this beautiful congregation. A congregation that exists to serve the Lord as He commands. A congregation that seeks to remain pure from the influence of the world. A congregation that fights the compromises of denominational division. A congregation that desires to keep the commands of Christ out of the great LOVE that He showed them and that we have for Him.
“Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Peter 2:12].
“WHAT ABOUT HIM?” That’s what a child says when they’ve been caught in their bad behavior. Moms & Dads never accept this as an excuse for bad behavior. Neither does the Lord and neither should we.
A sound congregation of the Lord will have decent, but flawed, folks striving to serve the Lord. It will also have some not striving so much. A sound congregation will have mature Christians and some that are young in the faith. It will have a mix of individuals (cf. 1Cor 12:12-26].
Don’t make a decision about the Lord’s body based on those who are working on their flaws. Decide based on the truth of God’s word and your own need for repair. Besides, you would never refuse a gym because of all the overweight people, would you?