The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘God and country’

Walking after Christ, or Glorying in Shame?

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 26, 2015

Christian soldiers

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:17-20)

From this passage, 6 points stand out to me:

1. We are to imitate Paul’s way of life as he also imitated Christ’s way of life.

2. If we are imitating Paul and Christ, our citizenship is in heaven, not a place on earth.

3. Many religious men are instead enemies of the cross of Christ because they do not walk as Christ walked.

4. Such people serve not Christ, but their own belly or earthly appetites, caring overmuch for earthly things.

5. These people glory in (are proud of) that which should make them feel ashamed.

6. The end of such people is destruction.

1. First, we are to follow Paul’s example, as he has stated elsewhere: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (I Cor. 11:1) And what example has Paul, imitating Jesus, given to us? Although he was born with elite Jewish privilege and could have had all the honor from men associated with that privilege, he has counted it as worthless so as to pursue Christ. (Phil. 3:2-11) He understands that the true Circumcision includes only those who are worshiping God in the Spirit (vs. 3). He has not joined the Jewish Resistance to fight the Roman occupiers for land, just as Christ did not. He has not made the advancement and supremacy of his earthly nation his goal, just as Christ did not. He has not sought to protect his physical life from danger and death, just as Christ did not (2 Cor. 6:4-5). And this blessed man followed Jesus to the end, overcoming all things by not loving his own life to the death.

2. The one who is walking the same path as Paul and Christ has his citizenship in heaven. He is loyal to heaven and heaven’s goals. He is not an earthly man, but a spiritual man. He belongs to that kingdom which is not of this world (John 18:36); he no longer seeks/fights for things the world offers–including freedom from captivity, servitude or death. He knows his inheritance is reserved in heaven for him, and mortal man can do nothing to take it away, provided he remains faithful to the end (I Pet. 1:4, Matt. 10:28; Rom. 8:38-39). As a citizen of that holy country, he will speak to the people of this world as calling them out of their own perishing countries and into that enduring one. He will not give up his ambassadorship and ministry of reconciliation to fight instead against flesh and blood, for things he has already written off as loss.

3. While those who refuse to walk as Christ and Paul walked are often called “good conservative Christians” in our day, God calls them “enemies of the cross of Christ.” They do not want to empty themselves, give up their reputation among men, and go to the cross as Jesus did; they refuse to let that mind be in them which was also in Him (Phil. 2:5-7). The ways of God are foolishness to them. Instead they exalt themselves, attempting to harness the secular powers through the political process or military strength, not understanding that this illicit lover will turn on them (Rev. 17:16). They succumb to the temptation of the devil, which was,“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4:9) Who is like my country, they say, and who can make war with him? And they wave their flags and celebrate their holidays commemorating death and destruction. They are enemies of the cross because they despise its humility, its poverty, and its pain; all while claiming to serve its Christ.

4. Such people serve carnal appetites, not Christ, regardless of what they claim on Sunday morning. Their boast is not in how the cross has subdued and mastered them, but in what they have accomplished in this world by their flesh. They are not crucified to the world, and the world is not crucified to them (Gal. 3:14). They want land, they want privilege (which they call “freedom”), and they want the world to be under their immediate control–a deceptive illusion of reigning with Christ, when they will never reign with Christ if they do not go by way of the cross. The love of the world is still in their hearts. They have not so learned Christ (Eph. 4:20). This is not how Christ walked, and it is not how Paul walked. But these dual witnesses are ignored by those who must have their carnal appetites fed.

5. They glory in, and are proud of, that which should make them ashamed. There are many things earthly men–even religious men–will esteem, that God looks upon as pure abomination (Lk. 16:15). Most horrifying is when men purporting to serve Christ glory in the things Christ abhors. A perfect example can be seen in the picture above. Men proudly holding the Word of God (“Love your enemies”) in one hand, and a destroying weapon in the other. This picture is making the rounds in social media, and the comments are enough to break a child of God’s heart. Professing Christians glorying in such a picture! Glorying in our “might”–and purposely forgetting the suffering caused by it. Saying, “God is with us”–and purposely forgetting that God is never with people whose sins stink to high heavens, and whose faces remain proud despite the continuing stench. Forgetting also the gospel. Forgetting the call to love not the world and have no fellowship with the world. Forgetting the command to bless those who hate us. Forgetting the example of Paul and the example of Jesus. Willfully forgetting in far too many cases.

6. In conclusion, Scripture is clear that enemies of the cross will be destroyed. Those who do not repent of living and warring in the flesh (Rom. 8:13; 2 Cor. 10:3-4) will die the second death in the lake of fire. Murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them (I Jn. 3:15). Those who are still entangled in the games of this world, swearing oaths to obey earthly men and destroying flesh and blood, are not serving the Lord. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot fulfill two commissions at one time–one of reconciliation and the other of destruction. You cannot love both the world and God (I Jn. 2:15-17). Paul made his choice–he counted as worthless all that the world would have praised about him. He set his sights on eternal things and made up his mind to run his race in careful imitation of Christ. He let the mind of Christ Jesus be in him, ruling his behavior and deciding the course of his life. Many early believers did follow Paul as he followed Christ, and they suffered many things in their flesh. But in knowing Christ and being conformed to his death, they obtained an inheritance that will never fade away.


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Memorial Day

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 24, 2015

There was a time when days like this gave me vaguely fuzzy feelings for reasons I did not fully understand.  Somewhere, someone had “died for me,” and because they made the ultimate sacrifice, I was now “free.” It sounded pretty amazing. Sentimental parallels have been drawn between these combat soldiers and Jesus. I now know that this is as appropriate as drawing sentimental parallels between Jesus and the antichrist.

When I was converted, the love of God was shed abroad in my heart in a powerful way. I had been the antagonist, the rebel against God’s law and kingdom. I had done what was right in my own eyes for a long time; thus I deserved to be destroyed. But God became a man who died to redeem me, and then He patiently sent ambassadors to draw me into fellowship with Him. Why?  What difference does one stubborn human being make?  I still don’t know the answer to that question, but one thing I know:  I am changed, and I can’t go back to what I was.  When Jesus called me to die to myself and follow Him, He called me to a life of humbling myself to reach those who don’t deserve being reached (just as I didn’t deserve it).  He sent me to “every creature” with good news that God wants them back and has made a way back, if they will surrender.  Who should be exempted from this good news?  I can think of no one that exists outside of “every creature.”

When I recognized that Jesus was rightfully my Lord, I began to desire His opinion on everything, so that I might live pleasing to Him. Not only did I pray to understand His will, but I studied Scripture carefully apart from the direction of a church. This is not a slam on churches, but I’m pretty sure this is what saved me from adopting the “God and country” divided heart that I see in so many professing believers. (I should confess that I have not always been free of a divided heart in other areas.)  It is a tragic reality that many churches proudly display their divided loyalties by having an American flag right by the altar. Can a man give allegiance to two masters who have entirely different goals?

I had been raised a good patriot who believed in the inherent goodness of America compared to other nations. I believed we were free, we were more moral than others, we only fought in “just wars,” and it was possible to strap on a machine gun and go off to war in the name of God. I carried this cultural baggage into my new relationship with God, but eventually I learned that I had never been truly free; neither had I been more moral than others. True freedom is accessible to God’s children from any prison, and is denied to the richest, most powerful people on the planet.  True morality is only found in Christ. [Oh, but you are spiritualizing. Of course I am spiritualizing. We are supposed to be spiritual people, who do not have in mind earthly things but heavenly.] Further, the idea that I could now kill in God’s name and with His blessing seemed greatly at odds with the Great commission, which has the salvation–not the destruction–of people in view (Lk. 9:55-56). God’s command to Peter to put away his sword was suddenly His command to me, and the example and instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples became the plumbline of my life. That included His instructions in the Sermon on the Mount about loving and blessing my enemies–a portion of Scripture men of all denominations have cleverly twisted in order to grant themselves licentious loopholes.

As a member of God’s kingdom, I learned that I would need to walk in God’s “higher ways” rather than in the earth’s ways. Nowhere can His higher ways be seen more clearly than in the life and death of Christ, the innocent suffering to rescue the guilty. I saw that although we have a crude but necessary form of justice in our country, man’s justice will always pale in comparison with the righteous justice of God coupled with His triumphing mercy.

By looking deeper than the picture painted by mainstream media, I also found that the “just wars” we were waging were actually the ungodly schemes of ungodly men by which they enrich only themselves, and destroy multitudes (including those sainted soldiers who signed up to kill people they didn’t know for a cause they only thought they understood).  I saw patriotism for what it really is–“the pride of life”–something that belongs explicitly to this perishing world. Something a child of God should abhor (I John 2:15-17).  I realized that every country sees itself as more moral, more just, etc., than others, and this is only a collective reflection of man’s propensity to judge himself pure in his own eyes.  Patriotic songs and holidays reflect those twisted sentiments that so defy the Word of God (for all have sinned, Rom. 3:23).

And perhaps most importantly, I saw that all nations are, in fact, raging against and competing with God (Psa. 2). They want our allegiance. They want our sworn oaths of unquestioning obedience (Matt. 5:34).  They want us to sing their praises, their virtues, their supremacy over others. They want us to believe that our freedom comes from what they do with live ammunition. They want us to teach the illusion of their goodness to our children, and lead our children to pledge their loyalty to this god-like protector. And if that is not enough, they want the very bodies of our children to sacrifice on their altar of global power.

Oh, they speak great swelling words about our feigned national righteousness, and most of us desperately cling to the lie that the tree is good (or used to be good), despite the evil fruit abounding in our midst. Why? Perhaps we are just afraid of losing our own little piece of the national pie, and instinctively know that our earthly dividends depend upon earthly schemes. If such is the case, we have proven ourselves lovers of this world and not God.

Why not just admit that Psalm 2 is correct?  Why not admit that most, if not all, of the traditions our fathers handed us are vain and only constitute an empty way of life (I Pet. 1:18)?  Why not admit that men globally killing men they don’t know for reasons they don’t comprehend is a bloody manifestation of the Destroyer’s kingdom, not the Kingdom Jesus founded.

This is why I am so critical of any parallel drawn between soldiers who die in armed combat, and the King of kings who gave Himself–silenced and slaughtered–to be food and life for His enemies.  Can light and darkness be equal?  Is giving your own life to save your enemies the same as giving your own life to kill your enemies? They are not the same! And those who have the living Jesus in them should know better.

If we are deceived any longer about this, we are deceived willingly. There are multitudes of citizens in this internet age who are revealing the secrets of the monster that America is (and this phenomenon is not limited to America). The secrets of the military are accessible to those who actually want to know;  military men are killing themselves in droves for a reason. Any honest person who evaluates the history of this country knows that this was never a land of freedom and justice for all;  there were always at least two classes of people robbed and abused from the beginning (Native Americans and Africans).

But even if these things were not so, we have the words of Jesus. If we have not let Him transform our thinking and behavior, we need to ask ourselves if we are really His sheep.  In His kingdom, a slave is God’s free man, and a free man is God’s slave. The way to life is by first dying, the way to inherit the earth is meekness, the way to deal with enemies is by blessing them, and the way to overcome is to submit. We shall not be as the Gentiles, lording it over others, but we shall be as the One who washed the feet of both the faithful and the betrayer.

But, if we would rather be as “the Gentiles” or “the world”–living by the sword or praising those who do–God will choose our delusion.  It will probably look something like this:

America is the greatest, most moral country on earth, and our soldiers are heroes who died to set us free. 

Such sentiment has become foolishness to me now. To me, Memorial day is a day of pride, purposeful blindness to our faults as a people, and utter rebellion against God’s ways.  I understand why the world participates–and every nation has its similar days. Factions of the world revere the destructive and counterproductive works of men because they do not know God. But what about those who say they DO know God?  Do they profess to know Him, but in works deny Him (Titus 1:16)?

I do not mean to disrespect the dead–perhaps someone you loved–by this writing. Often they were brave men and women who sacrificed a great deal for what they thought was right. However, it is my contention that they were as blinded by the god of this world as the jihadist, and those who celebrate their works are equally deceived. Memorial Day is a day of sadness for me–sadness that so many people kill and die for utter vanity because they never understood the power of the cross of Christ.   If there is still any deception remaining in you, dear brother or sister, I pray that you would shake it off and live as a citizen of heaven from this point on.

serve 2 masters

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Insight From Balaam’s Prophecy #1–Blessing & Cursing

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 13, 2014

Introduction: Although I consider Balaam to be a prophet who fell from grace according to 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude 11 and Rev. 2:14, I believe his prophecy recorded in Num. 23-24 was inspired by God (see 23:5, 16; 24:2). As such, it contains some very important truths.

At the time when Balaak wanted to curse Israel through the prophet Balaam, Israel was being obedient to God. Therefore God’s blessing was among them (Num. 23:21). Balaam was not permitted to curse them.

Insight #1 — No one can curse someone God has not cursed. God only curses those who deserve to be cursed. God decides who is blessed and who is cursed.

How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? (Num. 23:8)

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Prov. 26:2)

The cursed includes idolaters, those who dishonor their parents, thieves, those who lead others astray, those who pervert justice or oppress the weak, the sexually immoral, those who slay the innocent (including aborting parents and their murderous “doctors”), and those who disregard God’s law in any other way (Deut. 27-28). Scripture also declares that the proud (Psa. 119:21), those who trust in man or flesh rather than God (Jer. 17:5), and those who care nothing for the “least of these” (Matt. 25:41) are cursed.

In the charismatic church, I have noticed a strange paranoia that is identical to what is seen among remote superstitious pagans who feel they must make certain offerings or perform certain rituals in order to keep from being cursed. It is not uncommon for a professing Christian to surmise that some person has cursed them, and to blame all unfortunate events on this curse. Sometimes the Christian will feel they must give money to a ministry or make a trip to a certain place to get free of the curse. One such couple I knew believed a neighbor must be cursing them, or else the car would not have broken down, and the woman would not have tripped and cut her head open on a rock. They spent their time wondering where the curse was coming from, and had no peace.

False teachers take advantage of this ignorance of God’s Word, and exploit the gullible to gain followers and money. Just as a witchdoctor gets paid to keep his devotees “blessed” through witchcraft, these sophisticated liars sell thousands of dollars worth of books and cd’s which supposedly offer “the keys to success” their followers are convinced they need. It is the same deception re-packaged; there is nothing new under the sun. The only key to success is obedience to God’s Word, and this is a message we are to freely give to all.

I have also seen false teachers “curse” anyone who questions their doctrine, so as to insulate themselves from proper scrutiny. Do not be deceived. We are to examine every teaching carefully by God’s Word and warn others if it deviates. If you love God and obey His teaching, you will not be cursed. Neither will you be cursed for judging a man’s words by Scripture. However the godly will suffer trials and/or persecution in this life (2 Tim. 3:12; Acts 14:22).

Conversely, if you disregard God’s Word, you will be cursed, and no rituals or offerings will deliver you from reaping what you sow.

There is also gross ignorance in the church regarding the blessing or cursing of nations. Many think our nation can abort children, spread pornography and false teachings all over the globe, love violence and every kind of sexual perversion, neglect the proper teaching of our children, and yet still be blessed if only we do certain religious things right (such as “go to church” or “vote conservative” or “support Israel militarily.”) This is a lie. As a nation, we are reaping exactly what we have sown, and we will continue to reap what we sow. God is not bought off by hypocritical prayers offered by public officials. He is not blinded to what we are doing by religious rituals. America will continue to fall until she is destroyed, unless she repents. All nations that forget God are turned into hell, without exception (Psa. 9:17). But any individual who turns to God in repentance can be saved from this perverse generation (Acts 2:40), just as some Jews turned to Christ and were saved, while their countrymen continued to rebel until they were destroyed.

How about the blessing of God on the corporate Church? The proud American, apostate church (not the true disciples who are walking in the truth) is largely responsible for this nation’s destruction, and she is cursed. She was supposed to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but she has followed after the same idols loved by the world. She wants earthly power (dominion), earthly riches and the praises of wicked men (woe to her). The light within her is darkness, her testimony is hypocritical, her adulterous heart is divided. She has been a friend of the world–perverting God’s truth lest she bear the shame of the cross–and made herself an enemy of God. Yet she throws a few crumbs of false devotion to God and expects His blessing. She is deceived and is deceiving others! Many are her false teachers, like unclean birds in a cage, squawking out their lies: Give us money, and you will be blessed! Support other ungodly, Christ-rejecting nations with the arm of the flesh, and you will be blessed! Look at our financial prosperity–see how blessed we are! We have need of nothing! Look what our programs are doing! Look how beautiful our buildings are!

And all the while, because of SIN, the people are cursed and under strong delusion. Their money will soon fly away, their programs will be exposed as not being founded on God’s Word, and their buildings will become rubble.

BUT–those members of Christ’s Church whose “house” is founded on obedience to God’s Word will endure! (Matt. 7:24-25)

In summary, those who love and obey God’s Word will be blessed, and those who hate and disobey God’s Word will be cursed. God has decided this, and no one can circumvent it.

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. (Prov. 3:33)

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Give Us Barabbas

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 1, 2013

An interesting choice was presented to the people of Jerusalem around 30 AD. Do you want Jesus, or do you want Barabbas?

Jesus was accused of “perverting the nation,” claiming to be a king, and forbidding people to pay their taxes to Caesar (Luke 23:2). (How else could an apostate church use a secular government to put a good man to death, but to claim He was a national security threat?)  While Jesus had never encouraged tax evasion, He did readily admit to Pilate that He was a king. However He stated that His kingdom was not of this world, and this was why His servants were not fighting to protect Him (Lk. 20:20-25; 23:3;  Jn. 18:33-37). In an earthly kingdom, it is important to keep the king alive.

Barabbas was a Jewish “notable prisoner” of Rome (Matt. 27:16).  He was an insurrectionist and a rebel, who had both robbed and committed murder (Mark 15:7; Lk. 23:25; John 18:40).  When Pilate asked the Jewish people which of the two criminals–Jesus or Barabbas–they wanted released, they clamored for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.

There is historical evidence that Barabbas was actually called “Jesus Barabbas,” which means literally, “Jesus, son of the father.”  The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible includes the name “Jesus” with Barabbas in Matt. 27:16-17, and other ancient historical writings also attribute this name to him.  As an insurrectionist, he was almost certainly a patriot who had either led or participated in an attempt to thwart Roman occupation of his homeland. He was probably something of a hero in the minds of many Jews.

Jesus Christ was the “Son of the Father” also. He came to do the will of His Father, which included going to the cross to atone for the sins of mankind. He declared that He came into the world to “bear witness to the truth.” (Jn. 18:37). He said He was the way, the truth, and the life–the only possible way to the Father. And He declared that any who are not with Him are by default against Him (Matt. 12:30).

In Matthew 5-7, Jesus taught the principles by which the Kingdom of God is operated.  He warned that a man cannot be ruled by both God and money; he will serve only one, so we dare not focus on what we will eat and drink and wear. We must have our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. He taught that His disciples were to love their enemies and pray for them that mistreated them. He taught that it was the meek, the merciful, the peacemaker and the persecuted that would enter the kingdom of God.  He even commanded His followers not to resist an evil person. We are to let the one who slaps us, slap us again; and we are to let one who takes our tunic have our cloak also. He said we must seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above all else, and warned that it was a narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He declared that only a few people would actually walk the difficult way to life, though many would give him the lipservice of addressing Him as “Lord, Lord.” And He ends this passage with the stark reality that only those who DO His words will be saved. Those who merely hear His words will end in destruction.

It is important to remember that these teachings were delivered to a people oppressed and heavily taxed by an occupying nation. The nation of Israel, though apostate from God, certainly saw Rome as pagan and wicked compared to themselves. Yet Jesus did not lead an insurrection against Rome, or murder or rob anyone.  He did not spew venomous rhetoric against the occupying forces; in fact He healed a Roman Centurion’s servant out of pure compassion. Why?–The weapons of His warfare were not carnal. While He acknowledged He was a King, He was careful to make a distinction between His kingdom and others. And when Peter spoke out rashly that this King should not suffer, Jesus gave him the harshest possible rebuke, attributing his words to satan, and exposing his motive for agreeing with the devil–he cared more about “the things of men” than the things of God. (Matt. 16:21-23)

I submit to you today that professing Christians in America live in days very similar to the times of the Jews under Roman occupation. We live in a nation that once enjoyed prosperity and relative peace, the deterioration of which is due to our own sin.  We see our freedoms being taken away and we nostalgically long for the days of old. Like the Jews who prided themselves in having “the law of God,” and oblivious to how much perversion had entered the picture through their own apostasy, we pride ourselves in being in a nation that still has some shreds of Biblical truth remaining. Our justice system still bears a resemblance to the guidelines that God gave to Israel. Almost everyone knows the “golden rule” even if they do not obey it, and “God bless America” is commonly heard on the lips of those whose daily deeds call down curses upon themselves rather than blessings. We have joined the righteous fight to keep God’s name in our antichrist schools, and on the money we love more than God.  We hate the direction our nation is headed in and desire to throw off the “occupation,” but we do not seem to have enough sense to get on our knees and acknowledge that we ourselves have stopped loving God, even in our churches!

To add insult to injury, we have become a nation that judges other nations by our own hypocritical “form of godliness,” rather than a nation that judges itself by God’s Word. We are, by and large, not Good Samaritans stooping to pour oil and wine into the wounds of other nations (Luke 10:29-37), but instead good Pharisees stooping to any level of wickedness to preserve our own positions of authority and wealth (John 11:48).  We send out democratic “missionaries” to recreate overseas what we have here in America, because we are sure our righteousness is better than their righteousness, and sure this righteousness can be advanced by force.  In the meantime, we ourselves are drunk on pornography, the love of money, blatant promiscuity, and violence; we are lovers of ourselves.  Instead of condemning our own actions and seeking God’s forgiveness, we export these evils to other nations in the name of “freedom.”  We promise them liberty while we ourselves are servants of corruption.  We have been doing these things for many years, but we justify ourselves by blaming our current state of subjugation on our current leader. The apostate church is no victim of these events, carried along against her will; she is leading in this hypocrisy. But we are “the people of God!” Surely we cannot be to blame!  Surely if we rise up in the flesh, we can save our nation (and our money and our position!)

Before the “people of God” is set a choice. Do we want Barabbas, or do we want Jesus Christ?

We can choose “Jesus, son of the father” or we can choose “Jesus, Son of the Father.”  Which Jesus do you want?–the patriot Jesus or the suffering servant Jesus?

The first did the will of the one who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and the second did the will of God, who desires all men to have life.  The first was a man who reacted in the flesh to secure a temporary carnal kingdom; the second was a Man who obeyed the Spirit of God to secure an eternal spiritual kingdom.  The first cared for the things of men;  the second for the things of God.  The first took the life of an enemy; the second gave His own life for His enemies.  The first was a national hero in spite of his evil;  the second was despised and rejected of men in spite of His good (Isa. 53:3).  The first took part in an insurrection that changed very little; the second took part in a resurrection that changed everything.

The Jews chose Barabbas.  Here was a man after their own hearts, for he loved their physical nation. They had hoped Jesus would help them to throw off the Romans, but He insisted on preaching this invisible “kingdom” into which only the meek could enter.  They had tried to crown Jesus king, but He had slipped away from them, content to rule only in the hearts of men who could hear His voice.  They cheered for Him when He rode into Jerusalem, but why did He go like a lamb to the slaughter rather than organizing an armed resistance?–How disappointing! His Sermon on the Mount was idealistic, but anyone with common sense knows these ideals don’t work in the real world! What is this we hear about Jesus telling Peter to put his sword away? Away with this useless man! Give us Barabbas!

How about you?

Which one do you want–Barabbas or Jesus Christ?

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The Religion of Patriotism

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 30, 2013

American patriotism has become a religion, complete with inspired “scripture” (the Constitution and other writings), patriarchs (the Founding Fathers) whose words are sacred, and martyrs (patriots) willing to die for what they believe in.

When I discuss the Sermon on the Mount with professing Christians, they send me quotes from the Founding Fathers, as if their “revelation” cancels out everything Jesus taught.

They see me as weak because I believe Jesus meant what He said, and I believe Jesus’ way of the cross is the only way that really advances true righteousness in the earth. They conclude that our country is in the mess it’s in because of people like me.

Worshipers at the altar of patriotism are blinded by their devotion to something other than Christ.

Alot of work goes into keeping a nation in love with itself. Continual propaganda that demonizes every other nation, glorification of the military and carefully controlled news about its objectives and actions,  indoctrination of children with the wonders of their country compared to all others, and a whitewashing of historical events.

It does not surprise me when unbelievers worship at this altar. All men worship, and we will seldom find a person who does not worship their country of birth.  Nation worship is a way to identify with something bigger, something unbelievers hope will protect them.

What hurts the most is professing Christians worshiping at this altar.

Our mother is “Jerusalem Above”–that free country that can only be seen in the Spirit by those who are born again (Gal. 4:26; John 3:3).  Have we not come to Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem? (Heb. 12:22)  It appears that many have not.

The sad reality is that many professing believers do not really want the “promised land” that is Christ, and they do not want His Jerusalem Above.  They look with longing back to Egypt (the world and its self-preserving ways).  They want flesh, and flesh they will have until it comes out their nostrils unless they repent (Num. 11:18-20).  They do not seek the things which are above; no, their affections are firmly planted in the things on earth–their lives, belongings, & physical “freedoms” (Col. 3:1-3). They are not looking to the eternal things which are not seen;  they love what is temporal (2 Cor. 4:18).  They forget that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I’m proud to be an American...) are not of the Father, but are of this perishing world (I John 2:15-17).

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:24-27)

How many professing Christians today are refusing to be identified as children of Pharaoh? How many would rather suffer affliction with the people of God than enjoy a season of pleasure bought with the bloodshed and oppression of others? Not too many. Most are like Esau–gratify me with soup now, and I care not what I lose later.

They do not see the One who is invisible, nor do they really want to see Him.  His name is on their lips but His ways are not in their hearts.

They have explained His teachings away and are confident in their judgment of His Words, because majority opinion is on their side.

They have judged His cross unbearable and unimportant, and they have inadvertently judged every godly martyr a fool for not fighting back.

They are most uncomfortable following the humble Jesus down paths of self-denial; they prefer earthly leaders they can see with their eyes, who will justify their disobedience and promise them the moon.

They have traded in the Sword of the Spirit for the sword of Constantine, and they do not know that they are now naked in battle. They are like Samson just shorn, unaware that the Spirit has even gone.

It is time to exit false religion once and for all. It is time to tear down the altars, and destroy the “high places” in our hearts where we worship idols. It is time to figure out who we are going to serve, the gods of our fathers or the One True God. Wars will continue until the end, and as long as men war, the religion of patriotism will continue to be practiced all over the earth. But our kingdom is not of this world.  Our allegiance is to the kingdom of Christ, and our duty is to bring people who think they are “free” into the true liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen  (I John 5:21).

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Nationalism is an Idol

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 29, 2013

God is not looking for us (American believers) to trust in the “founding fathers,” the man-made Constitution, guns, the military, the voting process, financial prosperity, or the pre-eminence of our country in the world scene. God wants us to depend on Him and His Word.  We must renounce our idolatry. Following Jesus is more than not getting drunk or believing the Bible is inspired. We are to be as He is in this world. We are to keep His commands and follow in His steps. Let us consider the steps He took while He walked the earth.

Jesus did not start a Jewish uprising to overthrow the pagan Roman government. He did not preach on a return to Jewish rule and law, or bitterly denounce the Romans for destroying His homeland. He did not run for political office; in fact He rejected being a secular king when He had the vote of the people.  He did not teach that His homeland was more righteous than other nations and deserved international preeminence–His biggest enemies did!  The Pharisees, from whom we have the racist/elitist Talmud, taught these things. Jesus told them they were of their father the devil. Their “form of godliness” did not impress Him; neither did the cause of the zealots who were trying to overthrow the Roman occupation.  He had bigger fish to fry. He came to strike the root of man’s problem. He understood that politics and nationalism could never be the vehicles through which real change would come, because both are always saturated with and fueled by man’s pride.

How about Jesus’ apostles and disciples? Where in their writings is there a hint of nationalism? Where do you see them promoting their country? On the contrary, you see them reaching out to other nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You see them risking their own lives to bring Truth where lies prevailed.  You see them standing before governors and kings and boldly yet respectfully declaring the Way of Salvation.  Did they get involved in politics and try to take their country back from the pagans? Did they work overtime to make new laws? Did they rail against the leaders of their day, and teach others to do the same? Did they encourage believers to arm themselves and prepare for civil war? Did they seek their own prosperity and complain about taxes?  They did none of these things. They obeyed Jesus and fulfilled the Great Commission. How far we have fallen, Church! We need to repent.

True morality cannot be legislated into existence. You can force some (not all) women with a law not to kill their children by abortion, but you cannot remove murder from–or create compassion in–their hearts with that law. You can take guns away from people, but Cain will still kill Abel with whatever is at his disposal. You can force people with the sword to “become Christians” (so-called), but you cannot remove the pagan idols from their hearts. You can ban homosexual marriage, and we should be glad if secular governments are wise enough to do this, but the Church–of all people–should know that this will not stop homosexuality from spreading.

Are we really seeking these things out of love for others, or out of love for ourselves? Don’t we just want to preserve a semblance of righteousness in our surroundings, so that we can comfortably continue to live as we always have?

Our goal must always be the true repentance of man from rebellion and self-will to love, which keeps the commands of God out of voluntary affection. In short, true morality can only come through the Gospel. Obedience to the gospel will only happen when the church focuses on plowing the ground and sowing Good Seed, by preaching repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Everything else is flailing at the branches of sin while the roots of men continue to plunge ever downward.

Both the laws of God and the laws of man have their purpose, but their purpose is not redemptive. Lawlessness is no antidote to wrong thinking about the law, but we must understand that enforcing law does not save wicked people.  They must be born again.

As people called to be ambassadors for the kingdom of God, we are here to bring a message of salvation to all nations. We are, with Christ, to strike at the root rather than the branches that regenerate faster than we can cut them off. Man does not need to merely stop aborting babies; man needs to stop being self-centered.  The message of salvation can be precluded by a recap of the moral law of God, which men have broken, so that men can see they need a Savior. But we (the Church) cannot have as our goal, forcing people to obey the law of God or even laws of morality. The government is correct to enforce morality whenever it does, and the government is given the right by God to use force if necessary to do this. However the government will be a reflection of the people, so we cannot expect that it will always have the same moral code we believers have.

The Church is not the secular government and has a much higher purpose. The Church has never been given the right to enforce morality in the world. Yes, she must discipline those professing believers in her midst who walk in immorality, but even this is only rebuke with intent to restore, and separation until there is repentance if necessary (I Cor. 5).  Yes, the Church is the salt of the earth, but we can assume Jesus was salty, and He did not join with secular powers to change men’s hearts. His Way was, and still is, the way of the cross.

When governments allow wickedness and punish righteousness, we can conclude that many of the people themselves are completely turned around morally due to separation from God. Who is best equipped to help the people change?–the government?–No, the Church.  How is she to do this? By holding hands with the wicked secular government and trying to direct its steps to force people to do what is right? No! Shall the Woman ride the Beast into a perfect sunset? No, the harlot church and the Beast will both be destroyed.

The true Church needs to refocus on her Lord and her mission. She will not see spiritual victories until she repents of worshiping the idol of nationalism. How can one idol worshiper help another?–This is the blind leading the blind, and it is hypocrisy.  Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” but he counted this as dung compared to knowing Christ. (Phil. 3:4-8). Are you “proud to be an American,” beloved? God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Are you going to stand up for your rights? Unless you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus, you cannot be saved.

Please see also:  Light that is Really Darkness, Proudly Armed Christians, Do Christians Love Guns? by Andrew Strom, American Excuses Rather than Repentance

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Proudly Armed Christians or Humble, Cross-Carrying Disciples

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 16, 2013

***The following is a note I published on Facebook, after being grieved by the warmongering, gun-praising,  civil-war promoting, and president & party-bashing that is happening among professing Christians.***

I recognize that guns are not responsible for the murders we are seeing, and confiscation of guns cannot prevent them.

I recognize that our constitution has made provision for self-defense and the rights of human beings (except unborn children, of course, who continue to die while we post on Facebook and YouTube about our rights.)

However, I also believe that guns will not be responsible for saving us all from the brokenness in our government and nation. Whether the current surge of murders is caused by lone lunatics strung out on psychotropic drugs,  or the government itself sacrificing people to disarm us (as some say), I do not know for sure.  The brokenness is pervasive. The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint, from the leadership to the unknowns in the streets.

What I do know is that I am a follower of Christ–not a tea-partier, gun advocate, or Republican (or Democrat). I do not follow Alex Jones;  I follow Jesus Christ.  God has not given me the spirit of fear that Alex Jones exudes, but love, power and a sound mind.  The “revelations” of Alex Jones may very well be true to some extent, but the revelations of Jesus Christ are TRUER.

Not a hair of my head will perish even if I perish. I am not to fear those who can kill the body.  I am to give my witness boldly and with confidence, and if I die doing so, my life will be bettered by far.

I do not want the raging attitude of Alex Jones;  I want the attitude of Jesus, who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and…humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:7-8)

I am armed with only one cure for my God-hating nation–the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And my duty is to take up my cross, deny myself–and my rights–and follow Jesus.  My duty is to take this message into all the world, beginning with those close to me, and teach others to obey Jesus. I know this–those who do obey the gospel will not become mass-murderers or plot to take away the rights of others.

If this stance makes me “weak” in the eyes of some, then I will glory in my weakness, choosing it rather than to appear strong in their eyes.

Jesus is not telling me to buy more guns, post pictures of our president with horns on his head, or encourage my children to kill those people who infringe on their rights. I cannot do what He is not telling me to do, nor can I approve of those things.

Yes, satan is the god of this world, and a nation that hates God will have plenty of puppets doing his will.  This is understood, yet Scripture does not command us to rail against our governments or prepare for civil war.

What Jesus is telling me in secret, I will declare here on this “rooftop,” knowing in advance that some will not receive it, yet hoping my testimony will make a difference–Get your personal house in order, keep oil in your lamp, share the truth of true freedom from sin & death with as many as will listen, and endure to the end in faithfulness to the King.

His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is not America, Great Britain, your neighborhood, or your personal property fortified with stores of bullets and dehydrated food that will last a hundred years.

The Hebrews 11 saints who lived in caves were too good for this world, according to God. Some of us are too in love with this world to be any good for it.  This is a snare set for our souls.  Many saints have had their goods confiscated for Christ, or have watched their children die before their very eyes. These are blessed and their good works have followed them, and they will not lose their reward.

What has changed in the hearts of Christians over the centuries?–Whatever it is, it needs to be crucified. Crusaders in the past never advanced true Christianity, and they cannot advance it today.

Christians are called to die. We speak of the cross in such poetic terms and then we declare proudly that we will kill others to protect our homes and our stuff. Are we so easily drawn away from the One we profess to follow?  Do we really follow the Lamb wherever He goes, or have we put qualifications on our obedience?  Are we letting patriotism and self-love lead us off the true path onto a path that seems right but ends in death?–For those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

The church of Jesus Christ is not American, British, or any other nationality. It consists of remnants of many nations made into one Body, one holy nation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people who love one another and choose to love their enemies. If you cannot love your enemies, then you are not so peculiar, for even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32.)

These peculiar people do not learn war anymore, but have turned their instruments of death into plowshares, and are busy trying to bring forth lasting fruit for the kingdom of God.  They are eager to turn their enemies into followers of Jesus.  They are too busy interceding for their enemies’ souls to study how to kill them.

They know that this nation cannot last, just as the beautiful stones in Herod’s temple–so admired by the misled disciples–would all be cast down.  For there is only one Kingdom that lasts forever, and it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms (Daniel 2:44). Nations that forget God shall be turned into hell (Psalm 9:17).

The peculiar people of God know that war is inspired by lust, and self-defense is not a Kingdom-of-God principle.  They believe that in order to produce fruit that will last, a seed must enter the ground and die. They are willing to die if need be, not to protect things that moths eat and rust destroys, but to glorify the Truth in Christ that is incorruptible.

They recognize that the slave who is in Christ is the Lord’s freed man, and the Lord’s free man is also a slave.

They understand that this nation is falling–as all nations that hate God fall–but it cannot be resuscitated  by the fleshly arms of patriotism and militarism.

They see through the vanities of this life, and pursue the things that cannot be destroyed.

I know some will read this who have arguments for “just war” and self-defense. I know the arguments. All I am asking is that we examine ourselves and see if we are really walking in the Spirit of Christ in this world. It is heartbreaking to watch our nation crumble and become so literally insane. It is hard to see the just punished for what the wicked do, especially if the government itself is deceiving us (a possibility, in my opinion.)

But what should be our response if we are to remain blameless before God?

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Some of us are fighting the wrong enemies in the wrong war with the wrong weapons. We need to make sure that our efforts are being spent in a way that pleases God.

The Word declares that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers, and our weapons are not carnal–guns, bullets, raging words–but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds. Is our focus on setting flesh and blood free from lying strongholds with the powerful Word of God, or is our focus on storing up carnal weapons to fight flesh and blood for rights and belongings we think we deserve?

Are we sidetracked by the subtle enemy who says, “Do things my way and I will give you all this?”–I say that many of us are, and we need to be very careful.

What was the response of Christ to tyranny, and what was the response of His disciples to wicked governments and unjust laws? Where did they submit, and where did they refuse to surrender?  Did they defend the truth of the gospel to their own deaths, or did they defend their personal rights and their personal stuff with carnal weapons?

In our search for answers, let us not draw from the “founding fathers of America,” but let us draw from the Scriptures and the examples given us by the great cloud of witnesses. For we are not called to make Americans and patriots, but converts to the eternal Kingdom of God.

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