The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Living & Dying Unto the Lord

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 29, 2017

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My husband and I have entered the longest, darkest valley we’ve ever been in. He was diagnosed with cancer. We were told he was cancer-free after surgery, but shortly after that, 5 tumors were spotted in his abdominal soft tissue. We went the all natural route with a very clean diet and supplements, detoxing, etc. But a month ago, the unforeseeable happened. A tumor burst through my husband’s skin. Until then, he was doing very well, even working full time. After this, his health rapidly declined, and the tumors began to grow extremely fast, bursting through the skin one by one. In one month’s time, he went from feeling “normal” to seemingly at death’s door. He spent 8 days in the hospital. We are beginning new treatments this week, along with continuing to try to nourish him with foods like moringa, turmeric, coconut oil, etc.

Nothing can prepare you to watch someone you love lose his strength, his muscle, his size, his energy, his skin (the tumors are eating the skin off his stomach).  Even his voice has been reduced almost to a whisper. I have to remind myself that even “Jesus wept.” It hurts.

But…God has saved him. He is redeemed. He is my brother. He has eternal life. He is committed to Jesus.  How do we assign value to this? Even as I weep off and on during the difficult days, I see the value of my husband’s redemption, and I feel its tremendous comfort.

And so into the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death, a Light shines. A Light bright enough to carry us all the way home if necessary, goodness and mercy trailing behind us. Some truths we understood in part; now we more fully understand. I expect the picture will grow clearer and clearer over time.

Unfortunately, sickness has a way of bringing miserable comforters to your side. They have good intentions, but they don’t understand what God is doing. See the book of Job. His friends insisted Job must have some sin in his life, or he would be healed. God corrected them. I’m so glad that book is in the Bible. Job still speaks comfort to the righteous all over the world who are suffering!

Someone gave us a book that claims physical healing is included in the atonement, and therefore any Christian can demand a physical healing, and God MUST heal them. If they don’t get healed, they must not have the right faith. This doctrine is false.

If we can command God, then we are God, and He is not God. He is God, and we are His sheep. He commands us, and He leads us where He wants because He’s alot wiser than we are. Sometimes He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death because it will bring a greater good whether we are eventually healed or not. Those who love Him follow Him wherever He goes, and He sustains them whether they live or die.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Rom. 14:8)

We will have neither sorrow nor pain nor tears nor death AFTER WE ARE RESURRECTED.The “second death” has no power over us (Rev. 2:11). But all are appointed  to die once in this temporary life, and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27). We have all been dying since we were born.  One day, something–or many things– will quit working, and these bodies will expire. If you have not yet realized that all flesh is like the grass, quickly fading, in time you will see this truth. It is hard to truly grasp until it happens to you.

The doctrine that if you aren’t healed, you lacked faith, very often condemns the just and makes the heart of the righteous sad, whom God has not made sad (Ezek. 13:22). Thankfully we have the Truth upholding us and the presence of Jesus surrounding us like an impregnable fortress. It’s ironic that we have to hold our shields of faith up to stop the fiery darts of the wicked one (that come through professed believers) saying, “You must have no faith.”

He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. 17:15)

Satan has created a false “faith” that says we can, like God Himself, name it and claim it. That’s not faith; it’s paganism.  Faith trusts in God’s promises–all of them–including the ones that promise we will suffer, but one day our sufferings will cease forever.

God has been preparing me for these days for two years. I didn’t understand the preparation time until now.  He’s been tearing away from me all obsession with this life. This life is beautiful even in a sin-cursed world, and yet the redemption of sinners and the building of God’s kingdom is the ultimate goal as we dwell in tents of perishable skin. I haven’t always had the right priorities. The world teaches us to seek after food, clothes, health, wealth, power, beauty. These are nothing but dung compared to knowing Jesus and making Him known. If I knew this before, I know it better now.

I believe God can do anything. He can heal with a Word. He does heal today. And He WILL heal if it brings the most good to the most people. But He alone knows what will bring the most good. I know if it was up to me to wave some magic wand and get everything I thought I needed, I’d be a self-centered narcissist. That’s not good, and it’s not what I need. I would never elect to go through the fire, but God knows we need refining. God values our souls more than our temporary bodies. His ways are higher than our ways. We are invited to have the mind of Christ, and to assign our bodies and souls the same value He does (Matt. 10:28).

I know and confess that God is good even if He doesn’t heal my husband of cancer. He has forgiven us our sins. He has reached through the confusion and pain of this life to give us the truth that healed our rebellious hearts. He has given us such a beautiful marriage, and precious children and grandchildren.  Even now He continues to bless us, but we need our spiritual eyesight sharpened to see it. That’s ok. On the days our eyesight is poor, He sends a godly friend with a word in season, and the picture clears. He is a good Father, our Healer, our Redeemer, our Provider, our Life, our peace, and our joy. The Friend that sticks closer than a brother. The One who wept at the tomb of Lazarus is not forgetting any labor of love we ever did, and our tears are in His bottle. “My soul magnifies the Lord”!

If you love the Lord Jesus, will you please pray for our family? Pray that my husband’s faith does not fail, and that our lights continue to shine brightly no matter what. Pray we glorify Jesus in this trial, as we should. Pray for the unbelievers in our lives that we may influence because of our circumstances. I am asking my Father to touch and heal my husband and give him more years here, but I trust that He knows what is best and will do it.

God bless you!

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Father Abraham Had Many Sons (And I am One of Them)

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 4, 2015

I have previously written on The Works of Abraham here, which contends that Abraham’s children are determined by their works, not by their bloodline.

Here is another passage of Scripture that confirms this truth–Romans 4:9-13:

9 Does this blessedness (justification) then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.

10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,

12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Several points from this passage:

1. Paul reminds us that Abraham was justified (i.e. saved) before being circumcised, circumcision being a mere sign of that which he already possessed (vss. 9-11).

2. Abraham is the father of “all those who believe” whether they are circumcised or not (vss 11-12). Circumcision for the Jews of Paul’s time was considered a sign that a person had embraced the God of Abraham (i.e. become a Jew). However as Paul had already pointed out in Rom. 2:25-29, it is the inward heart condition that God looks at. Many who had circumcised flesh were rejected by God for their lawless deeds, while others who had uncircumcised flesh were accepted by God by virtue of their circumcised hearts.

3. Abraham is the father of the circumcised (i.e. Jews) ONLY if they “also walk in the steps of faith which…Abraham had while still uncircumcised.” (vs. 12) This is so important, and so misunderstood today!  As Jesus also said, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” (Jn. 8:39) In other words, if a man is circumcised and/or follows the laws of the Jews, but doesn’t walk in the steps of Abraham (obedient faith), he has no right to call Abraham his father.

4. The promise to Abraham and his Seed comes through the righteousness of faith, not through the law (vs. 13). The law here mentioned is referring to laws that pertained to the Hebrews and/or Jews, especially the law of circumcision. The point is this:  the promise of salvation is not obtained by being born a Jew, or by becoming/living as a Jew. The promise is obtained only by faith. This allows people from every nation to obtain the promise, and allowed Abraham to become “the father of many nations.”

5. The spiritual promise to Abraham was not that he would be heir of a small piece of land, but “heir of the world” (vs. 13). This is why Abraham was able to dwell in the land of promise “as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents” and waiting for the city “which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. 11:9-10) There are many who claim to be Abraham’s children who now fight over a small piece of land as if this dying earth were going to last forever. They are not waiting for the heavenly city, but zealously contending for an earthly city which Scripture calls “Sodom and Egypt” spiritually (Rev. 11:8). These are not doing the works of Abraham; thus they are not his children.

(See also Children of Abraham and Sarah)

God bless you.

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High Above All Nations

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 27, 2014

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. (Deut. 28:1)

This promise opens a whole chapter which plainly teaches that obedience to God’s voice brings blessing, while disobedience to God’s voice brings a curse. Yes, to the earthly Israel was given a promise that IF-IF-IF they obeyed God’s voice, they would inherit blessing and be “high above all the nations on earth.”

When we consider how this chapter has played out in history–all recorded in Scripture for our learning, it should become obvious that some in the nation obeyed the Lord’s voice, and some did not–all the way up until the vineyard was taken from most of the original tenants of the land and given to others who would produce its fruit (Matt. 21:33-46).

In other words, of the original tenants, some DID inherit the promises, and they WERE set high above all the nations on earth. Those who did not obey, forfeited everything.

Look at this promise given to Jeremiah:

Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day SET YOU OVER THE NATIONS AND OVER THE KINGDOMS, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:9-10)

Not only was Jeremiah set over his own nation as a prophet and spiritual judge, he was also set over the surrounding nations. In the flesh, we see only a lowly prophet who was considered a threat to national security, thrown in a well, and/or largely ignored. In the Spirit, he was over all the nations, and none could dislodge him so long as he obeyed the voice of the Lord. Certainly, Jeremiah inherited the conditional promises of blessing.

God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. (Psa. 47:8)

For the kingdom is the Lord’s, And He rules over the nations. (Psa. 22:28)

This kingdom, which rules over the nations, was preached by Jesus and His disciples and apostles (Lk 8:1-2; Mk 1:14-15; Acts 20:25, 28:30-31). This is the kingdom into which we must all press if we are to be saved. Those who will inherit this kingdom are described in Matthew 5, in what is commonly called “The Beatitudes.” Strangely, many professing Christians deny that the Beatitudes have any authority over how we behave with relation to the nations. Instead they choose the ways of the world–exalting themselves through lies or violence or both. A textbook example would be the Crusaders fighting the Muslims over Jerusalem, claiming to be serving the Lord by their evil, but there are many other such examples in our modern times. Such may appear to be ruling over others for a time, but they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who inherit the kingdom, like Jeremiah, may appear to be the biggest losers while this earth still stands in its present form. Yet, they are promised to reign with Christ.

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)

Some see this verse as still entirely future. But the Son of Man is already seated on His throne of glory.

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Stephen was essentially testifying that Jesus was already on His throne with the Father, confirming Jesus’ earlier testimony that all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). John also testified that the Lamb (Jesus) could be seen “in the midst of the throne” (Rev. 5:6). See also Psalm 110 & Daniel 7:9-14.

I believe that all men who have been regenerated (born again) are already seated high above the nations in the kingdom of God, as Paul wrote here–

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-6)

Paul was clearly speaking by the Spirit about spiritual things–things which are very real, even if we cannot see them with carnal observation.

Those who are born again are presently seated with Christ in His kingdom! And from this safe place, no kingdom on earth can hurt them. Because their life is hid with Christ in God, they too are “high above all nations.” This is why we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but cannot touch the soul. (Matt. 10:28) The two witnesses were slain in the body, but their souls were safely caught up to heaven. Even the martyrs are found where?–in a safe place, resting, comforted by the Lord (Rev. 6:9-11).

It requires spiritual eyes to see and embrace these truths. One who isn’t born again cannot even see the kingdom. One who doesn’t come humbly, as a child, cannot enter it. God Himself lifts up the humble of the earth and sets them at His table, in a city made by His own hands. In this city there is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor any other proud faction. There are only the Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. They are the lowly of the earth who put their trust in Jesus, and in nothing else. These, God has lifted up and made His children.

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God Helps the Seed of Abraham

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 13, 2014

An Examination of Heb. 2:10-18

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one. (2:10-11)

There is a unity between the sanctifier, who was perfected through suffering, and those who are being sanctified; they are one. He has redeemed them from their sins with His blood. He washes them with the water of the Word and presents them clean to God. He supplies the branches of His Vine with His own nourishment, that both He and they may be a plant that brings forth fruit unto God.

for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again:“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” (2:11-13)

They are His brethren because they do what the Father says (Matt. 12:50). He is not ashamed to be called their elder brother, since they are being sanctified in Him. His brethren are “the assembly” or “the congregation” in Old Testament language, and “the Church” in New Testament language. The Lord has given to His Messiah children (Isa. 8:18). These are children of God, born again (fathered) by God’s Spirit. They are children of Abraham because they belong to the Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus. (Gal. 3:16; 29)

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (2:14-15)

The brethren of Jesus, the children of God and of Abraham, have a perfect High Priest who has chosen to share in flesh and blood, so that when He conquered death, He could deliver them from the fear of death also. He continues forever in an unchangeable priesthood; He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25).

For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

“Seed of Abraham” is here used interchangeably with “His [Jesus’] brethren.” Jesus’ brethren are only those who do the Father’s will (Matt. 12:50). Neither term, then, refers to the natural Jew, but only to the spiritual Jew (Rom. 2:28-29). Jesus is the Sanctifier, His brethren are those being sanctified, and they are one Body. They are the “Seed of Abraham.” The Seed of Abraham does include natural Jews who have the faith of Abraham, but it does not include natural Jews who do not have the faith of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham includes natural gentiles who have the faith of Abraham, but it does not include gentiles in whom is no faith. All who have faith are grafted into the same Body. They become the Seed of Abraham, in Christ, and recipients of God’s supernatural aid.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29)

The promises are inherited by faith, not by “the law”–that law by which men called themselves Jews, whether judging by genealogy, national boundary, or particular works peculiar to them–like circumcision of the flesh or preparing a proper sacrifice.

Scripture contends that the promise to Abraham was, from the beginning, a promise that would be inherited by faith. If there were another way to inherit the promise–by Jewish law–the criteria of faith would be made of no effect. But God has not allowed this; the criteria of faith stands. The promises are sure to “all the seed” including those outside “the law” (those outwardly unrecognized as Jews). Thus Abraham became “a father of many nations” and an “heir of the world” as promised.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.”) (Rom. 4:13-16)

And so returning to our original text from Heb. 2, God gives aid to the seed of Abraham. And the seed of Abraham consists of those who put their obedient trust in Christ, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. These are His brethren, and they are priests serving their High Priest faithfully in His House.

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No Partiality With God

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 17, 2014

There are many professing Christians who believe that the earthly nation of modern Israel is in some way elevated over all other nations in the world today. Some of the reasons why this falsehood has been embraced include: the teachings of dispensationalism and zionism which twist Scripture, a biased American media, a complicit American government, a deceived yet very influential “American Right,” a whitewashed and edited history of how the modern state came into being, laziness on the part of the church to seek out the truth (or in some cases, believers have been focusing on other truths and simply have not searched out this issue yet), and an embracing of patriotism and nationalism in the church–which is idolatry.

The New Testament repeats over and over that there is no favoritism, no partiality, and no “respect of persons” with God. In fact, this was a major theme of the apostle Paul’s. But–

Let’s begin with John the Baptist, speaking to the Jews:

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt. 3:8-10)

Notice from above:

1. God is not looking for lineage, but for repentance.

2. The children of Abraham are not dependent upon lineage.

3. Judgment on those who will not repent is imminent, without any favoritism.

Now, let’s listen to Jesus:

Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 8:10-12)

Notice from above:

1. The kingdom of heaven will contain faithful Israelites (like Abraham, Isaac & Jacob) and many from the east & west (Gentiles.)

2. The “sons of the kingdom” (Jews who refuse to repent and believe) will be cast out.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. (Matt. 23:37-39)

Notice from above:

1. Jesus wanted to gather the apostate Jews to Himself (salvation), but they would not.

2. Their house was now left desolate (they were under the curse–Gal. 3:10)

3. Their only possibility of reconciliation was to embrace the Messiah (by entering the New Covenant).

A shortened conversation from John 8 in my own words, which gives insight into how God views lineage in relation to salvation:

Jewish leaders: We are Abraham’s seed and we are free (33).

Jesus: You’re not free, because you are servants of sin (34). You are Abraham’s physical seed, but my Word has no place in you (37), and it is knowing the Truth that makes us truly free (32).

Jewish leaders: Abraham is our father (39).

Jesus: Abraham is NOT your father, as evidenced by your works. Your works show that satan is your father (39). You are children of the devil (44).

Now let’s move onto the Apostle Paul:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)

The gospel is effectual in everyone who believes.

The righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Rom. 2:5b-11)

Both wrath and blessing come upon the Jew first, and then the Greek (Gentile.) There is no partiality!

For circumcision (the sign of Judaism) is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised (the Gentile), if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Rom. 2:25-29)

Notice from above:

1. Judaism is of no profit to a sinful Jew.

2. A Gentile who is obedient is more acceptable to God than a Jew who is disobedient.

3. “Jew” is redefined in spiritual terms: having an inner circumcision of the heart to do God’s will.

What then? Are we (Jews) better than they (Gentiles)? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. (Rom. 3:9)

Self-explanatory! There is no room for elitism in God’s family.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded…by the law of faith…is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Rom. 3:27-30)

God’s decision that faith would be the deciding factor in salvation excludes all grounds of boasting between Jews and Gentiles.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law (through being born into the nation & following its codes), but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law (Jews who believe), but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.” (Rom. 4:13-17)

Notice from above:

1. Abraham was promised to be “the heir of the world” not just one country.

2. If everyone who followed Judaism was an heir, God’s requirement of faith would be made void. If all Jews were saved, obviously ethnicity or religious practice would save them, rather than faith.

3. God made faith the deciding factor so that the promise would be sure to ALL the Seed (All who are in Christ.)

4. Abraham is the father of “many nations,” not of one nation only.

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (Rom. 9:6-8)

Notice from above:

1. The Word of God HAS taken effect, or come to pass. (Even though most Israelites have rejected salvation, the promises have still come true.)

2. “They are not all Israel who are of Israel.” Paul understands that there are two Israels. One after the flesh and one after the Spirit.

3. Only children born of the Spirit or “children of Promise” are counted as God’s Israel.

4. Because God’s Israel is growing today, the Word of God (the prophecies of how God would rebuild Jerusalem, live among His people, etc.) have come, and are still coming to pass.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:12-13)

NO DISTINCTION! It is time for us believers to put on the mind of Christ and admit no distinction also.

Circumcision (being a Jew) is nothing and uncircumcision (being a Gentile) is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (I Cor. 7:19)

God shows personal favoritism to no man. (Gal. 2:6)

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Gal. 3:7-9)

Notice from above:

1. Abraham’s children ONLY include people of faith. Paul says we are to “know” this.

2. The gospel was preached and effectual in the Old Testament. (The true Israel of God was being built then.)

3. The blessing (promises) are given to people of faith.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29)

Who are heirs of the promise?–Those who are in Christ.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Gal. 5:6)

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity…to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross…For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Eph. 2:11-22)

Notice from above:

1. Gentiles who are in Christ are no longer “aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel” or “strangers from the covenants of promise.” This means in God’s eyes, they are citizens of Israel–“Israelites indeed” and “true Jews.”

2. The separation between Jews and Gentiles has been abolished in Christ’s flesh, and One New Man has been created. Anyone who tries to separate what God has put together is fighting God.

By revelation He made known to me the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. (Eph. 3:3-6)

Gentiles are “fellow heirs” and “partakers of His promise” in Christ. We are not simply heirs of New Testament promises. We are heirs of the promises to Abraham. The OT promises are fulfilled in Christ.

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Col. 3:11)

Also, see my last paper on Romans 11 (here), in which Paul describes the building of God’s olive tree out of both Jews and Gentiles, their being excluded or included only on the basis of faith.

Now, Peter is yet another witness:

So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith…But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (Jews) shall be saved in the same manner as they (Gentiles). (Acts 15:8-11)

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts. 10:34-35)

More Scriptures about “respect of persons” or “partiality” in general:

Judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. (2 Chron. 19:6-7)

The judges of God’s people were not to judge “for man,” or to please man. They were only to consider what would please God. (Making judgments partial to Israel out of fear of being called “anti-semite” is sin. Any theology that leads one to make impartial judgments is automatically suspect. None of God’s true people–the OT prophets, Jesus, the NT apostles, etc., were afraid to call the wickedness of their own people wicked.)

…neither does God respect any person… (2 Sam. 14:14)

There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. (2 Chron. 19:7)

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. (Prov. 24:23)

…neither is there respect of persons with him (God). (Eph. 6:9)

Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ. But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons. (Col. 3:24-25)

Notice that the inheritance goes to those who serve Jesus, and Paul was writing this to Gentiles!

…the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man’s work…(I Pet. 1:17)

The Father judges every man individually; He does not save whole nations and never has.

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. (I Tim. 5:21)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (Jam. 3:17)

Dear reader, I have written previously (here) about the hypocrisy in the church in its judgments of the MidEast conflict. It is not my desire to swing us in the opposite direction of either excusing all actions of Palestinians, or giving blanket condemnation of all Israelis. In fact, some brave Israelis are speaking out against the injustices of their own nation. (See here, herehere, here, and here, for a few examples. An American Jew who regularly speaks out here.) But the church isn’t listening. It is too busy listening to propagandists.

Now I know there is so much lying in this world, it seems impossible at times to discern the truth. But I think if the Scriptures in this paper are laid and embraced as the foundation of truth and Christian practice, they will enable us to make better judgments as we view our world. They will keep us from joining with the wicked and adopting their carnal attitudes.

They will also, unfortunately, divide us from the many who continue to embrace favoritism, elitism, racism, dispensationalism, and zionism. Let God be true and every man a liar. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

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What is Self-Righteousness?

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 12, 2013

I was reading a devotional book by Rod and Staff Publishers*, and came across a statement which concerns a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. Here is the statement:

“To continue in our own way is an expression of self-righteousness.”

That statement has the ring of truth!

I readily admit this is not the definition of “self-righteousness” we generally hear. I have told family members that they need to stop doing their own thing and obey Jesus, and they accused me of being self-righteous!  Clearly, their definition of the word is the exact opposite of that which is written above. Self-righteousness is one of several words that seems to have been re-defined to fit popular cultural ideas.  In this post, I’d like to explore what self-righteousness looks like Biblically.

Speaking of the Jews who had rejected Jesus, Paul wrote, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10: 3)  There is much confusion about what this means, especially with all the sin-excusing, so called “Christian” doctrines abounding today. Many people think Paul was accusing the Jews of trying to obey God too much, whereas they would have found true salvation “resting” in an assurance that “Jesus did it all.” Their dangerous response to their false problem is being a lazy and compromising “Christian” with no standard, and refusing to judge any matter by the Word of God.

It is true that Jesus Himself made the only atonement that could wash our sins away, and it is by faith in Him that we are saved.  It is true that all the law and prophets pointed to the forgiveness offered and made possible by Jesus–and this is something many Jews were unwilling to accept.  But God has never been angry with people who obeyed Him from the heart, and in fact He earnestly desires this.  Obeying God from the heart is never self-righteousness. 

 
Psalm 50:23 declares that to him who orders his conduct aright, God will show His salvation. The man who orders his conduct aright does not save himself (atone for his own sins, or force God to forgive him)  by doing so. But his contrite heart is accepted by God, and because he has met God’s condition of repentance, he will be shown God’s salvation (Jesus), which he then can enter into by faith

The Jews that went about trying to establish their own righteousness were Christ-rejectors precisely because they first refused to order their conduct aright (repent). They had the writings of the law and prophets, which contained excoriating rebukes that applied to them and exposed their hypocrisy, but they did not humble themselves. It is no coincidence that both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries preaching that men must repent, and both preached against the religious hypocrisy that was so prevalent in their culture. These Jews were not called “self-righteous” because of their careful obedience, but because of their disobedience and hypocrisy. 

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  (Luke 12:1)

They failed to understand that all the law and prophets pointed to Jesus, the real sacrifice for sins. Why did they fail to understand? Again, I say it is because they refused to order their conduct aright, and so they stumbled over the Stumbling Stone. There were Jews who did come to understand these great spiritual truths, both in the Old Testament and the New. All of these were saved by their faith. The Pharisees and other Christ-rejecting Jews cherry-picked the Scriptures they had, so they could major on what profited them, and ignore what did not.  And as Jesus accused them in Mark 7:6-13, they outright rejected commandments of God in order to further traditions they had created to benefit themselves.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;  but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (Matt. 23:2-4)

In Matthew 23, Jesus detailed the many hypocrisies of Israel’s “blind guides.” But such hypocrisies were not limited to the spiritual leaders. There were many Jews who likewise went about trying to establish their own righteousness. They brought temple sacrifices and offerings, and claimed to be God’s people, while their hearts were far from God, and in fact in love with idols (Isa. 29:13).  They compared themselves to Gentiles and thought they were justified just because they were circumcised “children of Abraham,” and knew the one true God.  By insisting that they were already righteous as they were without a full submission to God, and while refusing to let God show them what would truly please Him, they traded in the righteousness of God for their own useless “righteousness.”  

What about those Jews who were doing their best to obey the law of God without hypocrisy? While such a life was pleasing to God, even one transgression must be atoned for. A return to obedience after disobedience, while commanded, cannot atone for transgressions. The law was never meant to forgive sins, but to bring the sinner to the One whose blood was shed for him!  Indeed, if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21). If the law could make sinners righteous again, we could just preach the law to everyone, and once people returned to obedience, they would be saved. But Jesus was lifted up from the earth to draw all men unto Him. And He becomes righteousness to all who come to Him (I Cor. 1:30), not by imputation of His personal obedience to our account (as some teach), but by forgiving our sins and washing them from us in His own sinless blood.  Unless one comes to Christ, the only Way God has provided, one who has sinned can never be truly righteous, though he may have a form of fictitious, self-created “righteousness.”  

Therefore self-righteousness can rightly be charged against anyone (Jew or Gentile) who insists he can be acceptable to God any other way than by the Way God prescribes. 

  • The orthodox Jew that rejects Christ but practices Hebrew law-keeping, cannot, by these habits, appease Him; he has no faith in God’s Way of salvation, and without faith it is impossible to please God. 
  • The Gentile that goes to three church services per week, sings in the choir, and supports building funds and missionaries–while he still lives and thinks in his heart any way he chooses, is not accepted by God.  Oh, he may talk about the blood of Jesus, but that very blood he has been trampling by his willing disobedience will testify against him and prove him a denier of Christ (Heb. 10:26-29; Titus 1:16), and his righteousness a counterfeit. 
  • The Muslim meticulously praying  and washing according to man-made standards God has not commanded, will never find himself closer to God by these deeds. 
  • The atheist who thinks he is righteous by adhering to a standard of morals he has created for himself, has likewise created his own “way.” 
 
All of these ways, though they seem right to each man from his own perspective, will end in death (Prov. 14:12). 

There is only one Way that leads to life, and the Way is Jesus. To be a follower of The Way is more than acknowledging Jesus as a historical figure, or claiming to follow Him. It is  trusting in His merciful provision of atonement for our personal offences against God, and receiving His forgiveness; and then willingly walking in all His commands. Joining with Him in death (to self and the world), and joining with Him in a resurrected life that bears holy fruit unto God.

There are multitudes of self-righteous people that consider and call themselves real Christians.  Some don’t associate with the organized church, but many do. They judge themselves by standards that are man-made, or they judge themselves only by cherry-picked Scriptures to the exclusion of the whole counsel of God. Some are more moral than others. What connects them is that they will not submit to letting God Himself teach them what is right and wrong, and will not submit to His washing and regenerating influence. They insist they can decide for themselves what is right and how they will live, and resent anyone’s assertion that they should change. Some are masters at justifying their false way with little twistings of Scripture;  they know just enough of the Word to thoroughly damn themselves.

I will share a case in point:

I have an unsaved brother that hates homosexuality.  He is right to hate this sin, but he does not hate his own drunkenness, fornication, blasphemies, racism (he is a member of the KKK), and pervasive selfishness that continually hurts alot of people. He boldly told me he was a Christian.  He condemns the homosexual while claiming he is righteous. Jesus condemns all of the above, and calls both the homosexual and the heterosexual fornicator to acknowledge their own personal crimes against God. My brother will “preach” against homosexuality if the subject comes up, but if I preach against his own list of crimes, using the Word of God as the authority, then I am rejected. Why? He has not submitted to the righteousness of God, but is going about to establish his own. His life may be vastly different than the life of the orthodox Jew who carefully avoids fornication and drunkenness, but both are excluded from the kingdom of God together because neither is submitted to the Word of God.  When the Word is rejected, salvation is rejected. The Word of God is sent to heal us (Psa. 107:20), but disobedience to that Word leads to stumbling (I Pet. 2:8).  The wrath of God abides on all who continue in their own way.

A person like my brother can acknowledge that Jesus was a historical figure, and he might even say Jesus was a good man or a prophet, if he were pressed. A good Muslim would agree with these sentiments about Jesus, as would most Americans. But as long as men insist on deciding for themselves what righteousness looks like, they will never be saved, even if they live relatively moral lives, as do some Jews, Muslims, atheists, and professing Christians. Am I saying morality is inconsequential?–Absolutely not.  The law of God written on a person’s heart, and the Spirit of God directing a person’s steps, will produce a moral life because God is moral. But this will be a true morality borne out of a Spirit-led life, rather than a hypocritical, self-serving morality, such as the morality my brother walks in–or the morality some Jews, Muslims, or false Christians walk in. 

Returning to a point I touched on earlier, those who earnestly plead with sinners to abandon their self-led lives are not being “self-righteous.” It is the self-led sinner who assumes his own spiritual safety that is self-righteous.  But many sinners will hastily slap this label on the truthful witness that testifies against them and calls them to repentance.  Ear-tickling false doctrine streaming from too many pulpits facilitates this deception;  unfortunately many a false shepherd would agree with them and verbally crucify the witness!  Nevertheless, I think it helpful for the faithful witnesses to remember what self-righteousness really is, so that we are not intimidated by false accusations.

God bless you, readers!

Adult Bible Studies, Studies in Romans.  Crockett, Kentucky: Rod and Staff Publishers; January, February, March 2013.

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In Perilous Times, Fear Not

Posted by israeliteindeed on April 19, 2013

Undoubtedly, these are dangerous days. There are dangers of bombings and explosions. There are dangers brought in by evil men who destroy the earth’s food, air, and water. There are dangers to our children imposed by the education system, the “health” system, etc.  There are dangers of heresies, false gospels, a false Jesus, and false churches that stumble souls rather than help them. There are dangers due to wicked governments all over the earth.

Then you have the “truthers,” who claim to expose all the truth for us. But there is a subtle danger here too.  So often they do not really expose all the truth, but only part of it. They expose only the negative and they fill us with fear. They have proof and they have daily videos and caustic diatribes that get us worked up and agitated.  They make a living peddling fear and leading us to trust in them and their foresight. They exalt in guns and off-grid living (which are not inherently evil but offer no real refuge).

What they fail to show us is the armies of God in the heavens poised and ready to fight for God’s people. They don’t show this because they do not see it. They only see “the enemy” (whichever one they are currently focused on), and think the cure is a fight in the flesh to save our flesh, or a valiant stand on a man-made constitution. They have only half the story and pitiful cures. They will teach you to save bottled water and freeze-dried food, but they seldom teach you about the Word of God that keeps alive the man who trusts in it. They can serve to awaken us to danger but they can’t provide any real help. They are often angry and bitter, and disobedient to God’s commands to trust in Him and pray for our leaders. The powerful gospel which alone changes men is shelved and forgotten, while vitriolic remarks against “the enemy” are taken up.

They–and those who trust in them–think they are saving us all by pointing out the “real terrorists,” whether these real terrorists be Muslims, government officials, Jews, Illuminati, bankers, the catholic church, or the KKK.   And while people expend great efforts to expose “the truth,” the whole truth is that EVERY PERSON AT WAR WITH GOD IS A TERRORIST. Some are fighting for Allah, some are fighting for a false Jesus, some are fighting for physical freedom and the pride of a nation, some are fighting for racial elevation, some are fighting for global power or financial gains. But all are deceived and fighting God and trampling His people. All are headed for destruction no matter how heavily armed or well-fed they may be.

In the meantime, the one who has found refuge in the mercy of Jesus knows that a thousand may fall at our side and ten thousand may fall at our right hand, but it shall not come near us. What shall not come near us? Shall our bodies be kept from the perils of this perishing world? Not necessarily. Paul was shipwrecked, suffered hunger, and was beaten and stoned. He was chained in prison, and his mortal life was cut short by violent men. But–if we look through spiritual eyes–he fought the good fight and won, he finished his course triumphantly, he kept the faith, and he won the imperishable crown of righteousness. To live was Christ and to die was gain. He knew that whether he lived or died, he was the Lord’s. His eye was single and he recognized that his battle was not against flesh and blood, and his weapons were spiritual weapons.

Disciple of Jesus, even the sparrows do not fall to the ground unnoticed. You are worth more than many sparrows. Do you believe this?

Be not afraid of them that kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (Jesus in Luke 12:4-9)

The greatest danger may not be what we think it is. The greatest danger is denying our Lord Jesus by refusing to live a life focused on confessing Him before men, come what may.

We are not constitutionalists, but soldiers of Jesus, ambassadors of His Kingdom, and carriers of His precious Word. We are not saviors of the physical body, but bearers of good news that saves every soul that believes. We are not proud Americans (or some other nationality) who need to rise up & preach the glories of our nation; we are bold witnesses who will suffer all things gladly for His sake.  We are not saved to preserve whatever culture we were born in; we are  saved to advance an eternal righteous kingdom that is not of this world. We do not teach the fear of men, but the fear of God who is coming to judge the world!

 
Our homes may burn, our jobs may be lost, our health may deteriorate, and our bodies may be locked in a steel and concrete cell away from the light and fresh air. If our faith is real, we will not wilt under these conditions! Because of the Word of our God, we will live and flourish and have light in the darkness. We will be like trees planted by the rivers of water that continue to bring forth fruit in season, and all the devils in hell will not prevent our fruit-bearing. The Word of God cannot be chained, WILL NOT be chained, and WILL NOT return void.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, who raises up all those who are bowed down. His meek shall inherit the earth. They SHALL inherit the earth.  No weapon formed against Him or His sheep shall prosper. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. We do not judge by sight alone. We do not judge by our feelings or by circumstances and current events. We judge by the mind of Jesus Christ, who has already overcome the world.

We do not turn aside from our great commission to lesser goals.

And though we are a “little flock” sent out into the very midst of wolves, we will obey the command of Jesus to FEAR NOT.

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If You Have Faith

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 30, 2012

“If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)

“If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6)

I must preface this writing by saying that these Scriptures are not a blank check from heaven to order anything you like. A person asking things from God in order to merely gratify the pleasure of the flesh is not under the blessing of God; he is asking amiss (James 4:3).   We know that greed is wickedness and living for selfish pleasure is sin.

However, these Scriptures contain some beautiful truth we don’t want to miss or set aside just because some teachers have attempted to twist their meaning.

Many Christians have mountains and trees in their lives that desperately need to go. And even a tiny amount of real faith can make them go. God has made his empowering grace accessible to the weak.  Only believe.

The mountain has accumulated over a long period of time, and has become of such a monstrous nature, it appears immovable. It is some besetting sin, practiced so consistently it has become a habit. Perhaps it is an ungrateful, negative spirit that blocks others’ view of the sky and casts a dark shadow of gloom upon them.  Perhaps it is a habit of speaking angry words, or being too unyielding and unforgiving of the minor faults of others.

The mulberry tree might be the habit of impatience with the children or spouse or coworkers.  Everything they do gets under your skin, and you quickly snap. You’ve been this way all your life, so you think you can’t change. Sure you quit drinking, fornicating, lying and stealing when you made your decision to follow Christ, but can He really uproot this other thing from your life–this thing that has deep roots in your soul and seems to be an integral part of your personality?  The answer is yes. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, this tree can be uprooted and planted in the sea of God’s forgetfulness. It can be forgiven and utterly removed from your life and character. Do you believe?

The grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12). That means the teaching we need is available to us;  it is for us to submit to the teaching and obey it.  Wisdom in how to apply and work out our own salvation is available for the asking (James 1:5).  We can and must learn to live soberly, righteously and godly in our present-day homes, fellowships, neighborhoods, and work environments.  The mountains and trees that seem they are here to stay must be uprooted and moved, and nothing shall be impossible for the one who believes.  Just as the face of the earth is always changing–deserts become lush gardens and gardens become deserts–so God’s will is for the spiritual wasteland that is our past life to be renewed and replenished and made fruitful in the present. We must become co-workers with God to that end, sowing consistently to the Spirit and refusing to sow to the flesh.  With patient continuance in this endeavor, we can trust a harvest of righteousness will come.  Just as a sinful habit was created by a continual making provision for the flesh, so a holy habit can be made by a continual denial of the flesh and a deliberate sowing to the Spirit of God.

When the twelve spies were sent to search out the land of Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb came back confident that the land could be taken with God leading the way. The rest brought an evil report of giants, and the dismal view that overcoming the land was impossible. Their view infected the whole camp like a disease, and the people rebelled against God, accusing Him of bringing them gloriously out of Egypt only to fail and end in defeat.  This faithlessness was so abhorrent to God that He had a mind to disinherit the people! (Num. 14:11-12)

We need to be like Joshua and Caleb, men of faith in God. If God says the land can be taken, it can. If God says that mountain can be made to move, or that tree can be uprooted and thrown into the sea, they can.  He will lead the way, and give patient instruction and supernatural power; only continue to live by faith in His words and do not draw back, lest He have no pleasure in you (Heb. 10:38).

There are too many teachers who are like the 10 faithless spies. They drum an evil report into the ears of their congregations–“We will all keep living in sin as long as we are in the flesh. Nobody is perfect; the best we can hope for is to have a positional righteousness in Christ even while we are losing every battle in our lives and sin is still our master.”  Don’t give heed to this faithless and wicked report no matter how spiritual the teacher appears to be; he is a hireling who has a form of godliness denying the power thereof. Shun this teacher like the plague; he speaks for the devil to keep you in bondage.  If he has no power in his own life over sin, how can he teach you to overcome anything? The best he can do is preach a message of faithlessness and surround himself with other powerless people who are satisfied with equally powerless lives.   This is deception, and is NOT a manifestation of the true Gospel, which makes men new creatures and sets them free to run in the paths of righteousness. The sons of God have a glorious liberty; their chains are broken. When they recognize an area of bondage in their lives, they know from past experience that this hurdle too can be overcome.

I was gloriously set free from fornication, drunkenness, potty-mouth, and a host of other sins at my conversion. However one besetting sin that I struggled with for a while was losing my temper with my children. I had been short-tempered for so long, I didn’t understand how to ever stop and wasn’t convinced it was possible. Satan would tell me it was just my personality and I had to accept it, and so did they. But the Spirit of God was also speaking to me, calling me to lay aside the weight of this besetting sin so that I could run my race more effectually (Heb. 12:1).  There was alot at stake.  Not only was I a poor example to the children to whom I was working to impart the Gospel, but I was in serious danger of becoming a castaway if I did not get control of my emotions and behavior.  I remember the day I came to this verse, and my whole world stopped. It was as if God’s voice suddenly magnified when I read–

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Cor. 10:13)

Leonard Ravenhill once quipped, ““One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it.”

When I read that verse with a heart that wanted deliverance from my besetting sin, I was simple enough to believe the Word of God exactly as it was written. I believed that every temptation I experienced, including the well-established habit of lashing out at my children, was completely withstandable and conquerable.  There was a way of escape provided for me, and it was my duty before God to take that way of escape from now on.  There could be no more excuses, for I had been given precious promises that would enable me to partake of the divine nature of holiness and escape the corruption in which I had been entangled (2 Pet. 1:4).  From that point on, I began to catch myself about to make provision for my flesh, and learned through consistent practice to make my frustrated thoughts obedient to Christ and keep my flesh disciplined and in subjection to the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 9:27; 10:5).  There is truly victory in Jesus to the one simple enough to believe that there is power over sin and death in Him, and persistent enough to practice what He teaches until the victory is complete.

Dear follower of Jesus, allow me to tie together the testimony of Joshua and Caleb with the truth of I Cor. 10:13:  there is no giant in the land of your life except such as commonly faces all men, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be faced by a giant stronger than you can withstand with the strength of God in you, but in every single case will provide the way to overcome and get the victory. There is neither ominous mountain nor stubborn tree that cannot be made to move out of your way, so that you can run your race with the endurance necessary to reach the finish line–if you have faith as a mustard seed. Grab hold of the precious promises of God and believe them. Make straight paths for your feet to walk in, so that your lameness may be healed (Heb. 12:13). 

Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (I Jn. 5:4). Amen. God be with all–and empower all–who love the Lord Jesus in truth.

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

In the previous post, I wrote out some Scriptures from the Old Testament that demonstrate that once being chosen and favored by God does not make one exempt from living a life pleasing to Him. After entering into covenant with God, one’s future sins are not invisible to God. Many members of “the chosen people” did not inherit the promise because they did not continue to obey the Lord; their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and these things were recorded to warn us that such can happen to us (I Cor. 10:1-12).  Now I would like to examine some New Testament texts that confirm our need for obedience to the Lord after being born into His family, and the consequences for disobedience.

A favorite doctrinal component of Calvinism is that if you have ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, or ever had a moment of true faith, His personal righteousness has been imputed to your account once-for-all, and is the only thing God will ever see when He looks at you in the future. In other words, even if you live a wicked life after that and die in sin, God can’t see it; all He sees is Jesus when He looks at you.  If such were true, then not only will He continue to see us as obedient when we disobey, He will be mocked.  He said we would reap what we sow, but we really won’t! He said the wages of sin was death, but we have found a loophole whereby we can sow to our flesh and not reap corruption! He is not only blind, He can’t chastise His children when they do wrong, since He can’t see their sin!

Complete hogwash!

One wonders how God could ever see the righteous acts of the saints, if He can’t see their sin! Do NOT be deceived by these teachings; God will not be mocked. If we sow to our flesh we WILL reap corruption, and God DOES chastise His children when they do wrong. (Gal. 6:7-8; Heb. 12:7) The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3) The Lord is wearied when people falsely say that evildoers are good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them (Mal. 2:17). People who do what is wicked are wicked; only he that does righteousness is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Jesus taught the following:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves…shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (Jn. 5:28-29)

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught the importance of DOING the Father’s will (righteousness), not just acknowledging or SAYING “Lord, Lord.” So important is it to DO the teachings of Christ, that the man who DOES them is likened to a house that survives a storm, while the man who does not DO them is likened to a house that is destroyed in the storm for lack of a proper foundation.  Friend, you ARE that house, and you are determining the final destiny of your house by whether or not you are submitting to Christ and doing God’s will. This is FOUNDATIONAL to your spiritual life.  Remember, King Jesus will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (cause sin) and all persons who do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt.13:41-42). So serious it is to get the sin out of your life, Christian, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an offending body-part than to have your whole body “cast into hell.” (Matt. 5: 29-30)

So what if you don’t do as Jesus said, and deal a death blow to the sin in your own life?  Is all automatically forgiven because of His blood shed on the cross?

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:   of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Friends, this Scripture destroys the license-to-sin doctrine.  If you willfully continue to sin after being sanctified, you are treating the precious blood of Jesus as an unholy thing!  God sees it and views you as worthy of much sorer punishment than the punishments inflicted on those who disobeyed Moses’ law!  When Ananias and Sapphira sinned in the church, was their sin hidden from God’s view? On the contrary, Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, rebuked them publicly. Their judgment was swift, and caused the fear of God to fall on the people who heard about it. Paul instructed Timothy to deal with sin in the church in like manner:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.   Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.  (I Tim. 5:20-22)

Instead of following the right ways of the Lord, many in the church instead excuse or overlook flagrant sin, letting it spread like leaven through the whole lump. After all, if a person is considered positionally righteous even when they are doing unrighteous things, then who are they to judge?  False teaching is so dangerous!! Paul instructed the Corinthian church to put the sinner out of the church until he repents!! (I Cor. 5)  To refuse to do so is to be a partaker in other men’s sins and to become defiled.  Remember, the pure religion that pleases God includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27); this presupposes that God sees when we become “spotted.”

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus–who is God–addresses the church. Does He only see His own righteousness when He looks at them, or does He assess them exactly according to their own works, and command repentance when necessary?  Indeed, Jesus makes some startling threats toward those who will not repent!

“Thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:14-16)

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.   Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.   He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  (Rev. 3:1-5)

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (Rev. 3:15-19)

Please study those two chapters in full, and you cannot fail to see that all the beautiful promises of God are specifically for overcomers. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). There is no easy way; the easy way taken by most is the wide road that leads to destruction. We must die to ourselves, and strive [make every effort, agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Peter wrote that because the judgment of God is coming, and because we look forward to a new heaven and earth where only righteousness dwells, we must be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless…and beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pet. 3:14, 17)  The righteous can be led away with the error of the wicked and fall? Yes!

Paul wrote of those who swerved away from love, a clean conscience, and sincere faith, and so had left the path of life and had only “vain jangling” or “meaningless talk”–the emptiness of religion without God (I Tim. 1:5-6). He wrote that some who had not held onto faith and a “good conscience” (they defiled and hardened their conscience by disobedience), had shipwrecked their faith! (I Tim. 1:19) He wrote that any who refused to provide financially for their own widows had, by his wickedness, denied the faith, and was worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). He wrote that some younger widows, being idle and gossipers, had already turned aside after Satan. (I Tim. 5:15)  In fact, Paul recognized that he himself was not immune to falling away:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:   But I keep under my body [keep my flesh crucified], and bring it into subjection [to God’s will]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:24-27, brackets mine)

Paul recognized he could be cast away even after all his dedicated service to God! Just as a man who wants to win a race must be disciplined, so must the Christian life be disciplined, for “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)  It is possible to begin the spiritual race and not finish the course, which is why we are urged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience [endurance].” (Heb. 12:1)  It is possible to engage in “the good fight” and not compete lawfully, being finally disqualified.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter wrote of false teachers who bring in damnable heresies [such as once-saved-always-saved or “God doesn’t see your sin”], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  Peter describes these false teachers as having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices. Beware if your spiritual teacher shamelessly claims he cannot cease from sin, and that we must all sin every day in thought, word and deed! They teach such lies because they themselves are spiritually adulterous, loving the things of this world, especially the adoration and financial support of others who love sin and wish to have their ears tickled with sin-excusing lies.  Such teachers allure through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. And so these wolves pretending to be ministers teach the flock of God that they have “liberty in Christ” to sin all they want! But when a man serves sin, he becomes the slave of sin! His so-called liberty is false! Don’t be deceived. Peter called these who had at first escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and were again entangled therein and overcome worse off than they were before they knew the Lord!  They were like dogs returning to lick up the vomit they had expelled, or pigs washed from their filthiness returning to their filth.  Truly this is receiving the grace of God in vain!

Dear reader, it is possible to deny the Lord by your disobedient works (Titus 1:16). Consider this carefully:

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:19)

This is the foundation of the Lord, and will not change despite the empty promises of false teachers.  How do you then depart from iniquity? David said a man could cleanse his way by taking heed to God’s Word (Psa. 119:9)  It is by abiding in Christ that His good fruit will be manifest in your life (John 15).   I John 3:6 teaches that whoever abides in Jesus does not sin! When you go astray, it is directly due to your not abiding in Christ.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  (John 15:7)

Paul said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3)  We must CHOOSE the things above or the things of this earth. We must CHOOSE to mortify our members which are on this earth, and to follow the things that please the Lord, because the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:5-6).

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post!  I hope it is clear to you that in both Old and New Testaments, God’s covenants with men are conditional. If you have not already, please study both testaments on your own, asking God to open your understanding to the Truth. He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and He has promised to be found of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  He is the God of love, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. His grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-14). I pray that you do not receive the grace of God in vain! I will leave you with this powerful statement by the Apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2011

In this post, I would like to present you with Old Testament Scriptures which demonstrate that God deals with people on a day-to-day basis. He makes conditional covenants (agreements) with people, but if the people violate the conditions for blessing and refuse to repent, God is not bound to bless them still. The covenant has essentially been broken. Though God is merciful and loves to forgive, He does not blind Himself to the future sins of His people, allowing them to sin all they want and still remain under His protection and grace.

Some will argue that the Old Testament has no bearing on the lives of New Covenant believers, but this is error. We must remember that Jesus and all the New Testament teachers taught new believers from the Old Testament! It is applicable because God changes not. His character in the Old Testament is still the character He has today. There is a newer and better covenant in place, with a greater High Priest and more precious promises, but God remains the same covenant God, whose conditions must be met if one is to remain in His favor.

The Old Testament Judaic law was a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1)–meaning it was a type, from which we can draw truth and parallels relating directly to the present gospel time. Paul wrote exactly that in I Cor. 10:1-12, warning Christians that although the Old Testament Israelites had exited Egypt (symbolically: separated from the world), lived under the cloud (symbolically: enjoyed the protection of God), were baptized in the cloud and the sea (symbolically: old man crucified in baptism, resurrection to a new life as God’s child), ate spiritual meat (symbolically: partook of the True Bread, Jesus), and drank of the Rock who is Christ (received living waters), most were still overthrown in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. Why? They lusted, committed idolatry, fornicated, tempted Christ, and murmured in continual complaint, being unthankful. All these things happened to them, and were carefully recorded for examples to us, according to Paul!!

Therefore, we under the New Covenant can be sure that if we do the same things the Old Covenant people did, we will suffer the same fate. Though we have at one time separated from the world, enjoyed God’s protection, been baptized in Jesus, and feasted at the table of God, it is possible that because of our future sins, we will not receive the promise.  For this reason, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us,

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36)

It is imperative for those of us who have faith in the promise of God to DO THE WILL OF GOD with PATIENCE–BEFORE we receive the promise!

Listen to the promise of God given to Israel in Deut. 31:8–

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Right after Moses delivered this wonderful promise to Israel, God gave him a snapshot of the future; Israel would “rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.” What would happen next? Would God overlook their future sin and “never forsake them”?–

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? (Deut. 31:16, 17)

When Joshua’s men suffered defeat at Ai, he sought answers of the Lord. Hadn’t the Lord promised to be with them? Why was He not keeping His promise? The Lord’s answer:

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Josh. 7:11, 12)

Clearly, God’s promise to be with Israel was conditioned upon their remaining separate from “accursed things.”  God’s present favor is not a promise of unconditional future favor, no matter what you do.

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. (Josh. 24:20)

The same warning was given to Solomon, a man gifted with wisdom from God:

Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.  (I Chron. 28:9)

Azariah, speaking by the Spirit of God, said the following to King Asa, and the people of Judah and Benjamin:

The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. (2 Chron. 15:2)

Let us not forget David, the man after God’s own heart, the shepherd king chosen to replace the backsliding King Saul. When he took another man’s wife and had her husband killed, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Sam. 11:27)  The Lord did not overlook the sins of the man He had chosen. Many people believe that David remained in a perfectly safe, “saved” condition during the long period of time before he repented, but the Bible does not make this claim–contrarily, it claims that unrepentant adulterers and murders will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8). Certainly, God’s mercy was extended to David in that he did not die in an unrepentant state, and His hand was heavy on David leading him to repentance. David could have hardened his heart at Nathan’s rebuke; thankfully, he did not.  We should not conclude from this story that David was an adulterer who was saved (unbiblical), but that God saw David’s sin and expected repentance.

In Ezekiel 8, the prophet was encouraged by God to look upon the wicked abominations–and greater abominations than these–being committed in the house of God. Was this not the house that once had the glory of the Lord resting upon it? (I Kings 8:11) But now God was angry at what the people were doing, so angry that He said,

Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezek. 8:18)

Dear reader, God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11).  He does not turn a blind eye to the future deeds of those who are presently considered “righteous.” In fact, He declared that if a righteous person turns from past righteousness  to future sin, none of his past righteousness will even be remembered! (Ezek. 3:20; 18:24-26; 33:12) A righteous person’s future sins are not invisible to God! Dare you say to the all-seeing God, “You can’t see what I’m doing”?

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? (Isa. 29:15)

The Lord says to His chosen people that turn to sin, “I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins.” (Amos 5:12) Not only does He know them, but “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:14)  If you cover your sins (perhaps with unbiblical arguments like “God doesn’t see my sin”), you will NOT PROSPER, but if you confess AND FORSAKE them, you will have mercy (Prov. 28:13).

Although Israel had a covenant agreement with God whereby his sins could be covered and forgotten, his refusal to obey God’s voice, and his continuation in wickedness made his iniquity to be remembered (Ezek. 21:24). Because the people refused to restrain their wandering feet, the Lord no longer accepted them, but would now “remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.” (Jer. 4:10)

This doctrine that “God doesn’t see my sin” grieves the heart of God, who desires to heal backsliders of their ways if only they would “consider…in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.” (Hos. 7:1-2)

Apostasy was so rampant when the prophet Jeremiah was preaching, that the Lord directly said to the people, “I will utterly forget you…I will forsake you…and cast you out of my presence.” (Jer. 23:39)  Because the people transgressed the covenant and “cast off the thing that is good,” counting the “great things” of His law “a strange thing,” the Lord would no longer accept them, but would remember their iniquity and send them back to Egypt! (Hos. 8:3, 12, 13)  Because the people went whoring away from the God who loved them, and insisted upon corrupting themselves, He would “drive them out of His house,” “love them no more,” and “cast them away.” (Hos. 9)

The Israelites were taught by God, through the Levitical system, how costly sin was by seeing their innocent beasts die for their sins. Whatever sins were remitted by the shedding of blood would not be remembered against them. It was not a one-time deal, but a lifestyle of obeying God’s voice, examining themselves, and making appropriate offerings to God while seeking His forgiveness and favor. A man who became careless with the things of God was “cut off from his people.” Although the blood of animals cannot take away sins, these things were written for examples to us, and for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11).  Our offering for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ (shed once for all time), but this does not negate the fact that we must live lifestyles of obeying God’s voice, heeding His correction, examining ourselves sincerely, confessing and forsaking sin while seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, and looking to the crucified & risen Lamb of God with faith in His blood.  Carelessness and callousness can still result in being “cut off.” I will discuss this same theme in New Testament Scriptures in the next post.

God bless you!

Go to Part 3

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