The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

Washing Judas’ Feet

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 17, 2016

There are situations in life that give us the opportunity to discover whether we’ve really learned all that we think we have, and in my case, all that we have been preaching to others!  A situation like that occurred in my life this week. A sin was committed against me by a person I’d previously forgiven for the same sin. Learning of this was a knife to the heart. I could barely breathe, so great was the pain.

I was so distraught, I did not trust myself to confront the person. I also felt that a coerced “repentance” upon being found out was not what was best for the other person. There needed to be a deeper repentance and true godly sorrow over the sin, not just an attempt to appease me.

I was up most of the night crying and praying that I would walk completely blameless toward this person, and asking God what my response should be. I confessed my hurt, my anger, and also my willingness to obey God no matter how difficult it might be.

I can honestly say that He changed my heart toward my “enemy” that night. By morning I felt like a new person, a person on a mission.  The person who’d hurt me had become my missionfield. Where there had been insecurity and fear, there was now peace and a sense of rest for my soul. God had visited with me, caused me to feel His presence and comfort, and shown me the path for my feet. It would not be an easy path that would please the flesh, but it would be a path that would cause me to grow spiritually, and could potentially bring my enemy to repentance. It was the path He walked on His way to the cross, when His closest friends would desert Him, and one would attempt to cover a terrible betrayal with a kiss.

I started that very day, deliberately blessing this person and showing more kindness than even before. The response to my kindness was confusion and perhaps a bit of conviction.  I know there is no guarantee that godly sorrow and repentance will follow, but I have the peace of knowing I am following Jesus. I genuinely feel His smile upon my soul.

I know that going forward, continuing to bless and pray for this person, there is no guarantee I won’t get hurt again. When Jesus taught us to bless our enemies, there was no guarantee attached saying we’d never feel pain again. But my security is not in the belief that I won’t get hurt, but in the belief that God cares for me and will carry me through, even to the end of my days. I also know this–the greatest power in the world has been launched against the enemy–and truly flesh and blood is not the real enemy–the power of mercy. The power of the cross. It can break the most hardened heart and pierce through the lies of satan with blinding light.

The following poem came from the depth of my soul while I struggled before the Lord concerning how to respond to betrayal. It acknowledges that sometimes we find ourselves in situations where those who should love us can be turned aside to satan, and walk contrary to love. Satan’s goal is to destroy them, and to hurt or destroy us.  How will we respond in that moment of suffering?

I believe Jesus’ last interaction with Judas testified against his coming betrayal more than words of condemnation could have. There is no doubt that Jesus loved this man and gave him an opportunity to turn from his sin, but he would not. Judas would not, but others may. Peter did! I know that the kindness of Jesus while I was hurting Him is what changed me from a rebel to a servant (Rom. 2:4).

I hope this poem will be a blessing to others. Follow the Lamb wherever He goes!

Washing Judas’ Feet

Two thousand years ago,
You knelt before his feet
To wash them tenderly.
And with him, you did eat.

You pleaded with your friend
To love you back, but still
He kissed you like a traitor
And followed satan’s will.

Great sorrow filled your cup;
You drank it so that others
Would be able to become
Your sisters, brothers, mothers.

You washed the feet of Judas;
And with him, you did sup,
You said that we must follow you
And also drink the cup.

Your fellowship is nearer
When Judas dines with me.
He loves us, he loves us not.
He is our enemy.

I’m carrying the basin,
And I’m going to fetch the towel.
And why is it such agony
To force my flesh to bow?

Now Judas’ feet are in my hands.
Now they are clean and dried.
But I can’t make him love You.
There’s still some dirt inside.

I pray he finds repentance,
And in You, a new start.
For I was once a Judas too,
But mercy changed my heart.

And never was my Lord so near
Than now, when I stooped down
To wash the feet of Judas
On my journey to a crown.

Our tears will all be wiped away,
Our agonies well spent,
If we endure these trials with
A faith that won’t relent.

So set your heart on things above
And count this life as loss,
To win the resurrection
On the far side of the cross.

To all suffering saints, with love.

 

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Greater Love

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 5, 2014

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

This is a profound statement by Jesus, but like most of His profound statements, it is being twisted today in order to justify disobedience to Him.

I have been told that a person who kills other people “for his friends” is demonstrating this “greater love.”

But is this what Jesus meant by His statement? Is this the example He demonstrated in His own life? It is not.

Jesus claimed the Father would have sent Him twelve legions of angels to protect Him from physical harm, had He but asked! (Matt. 26:53). He rebuked his own friend Peter for using a carnal sword on a man, saying, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (vs. 52)

Simply put, the Word does not say “Greater love has no one than this, than to take other men’s lives for his friends.”

It says (my paraphrase), “Greater love has no man than this, than to LAY DOWN HIS OWN LIFE for his friends.” There is a huge difference between the two statements.

And let us not forget that He laid down His life for those who would become His friends at a future time, and He did it while they were still His hateful enemies!

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

The question before us is this: Are we willing to demonstrate this kind of love to people while they are still sinners? Christ desires this in us, for He wrote,

But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Lk. 6:32-36)

Worldly love is meted out only to those who seem to be deserving. It is shallow, easily offended, and retractable whenever “self” feels threatened.

The love that God can shed abroad in our hearts is a love that is willingly given to those who aren’t deserving. It is willing to be spent for the souls of others, even if the love is never returned (2 Cor. 12:15). If we want to be sons of the Most High, we must have this love while “hoping for nothing in return.” If we want to be sons of the Father, we must bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us (Matt. 5:44-45). These are deliberate acts of love done in spite of whatever wounded feelings and heavy sorrows we might have. Though this sounds very difficult, and it is (for the flesh), when we die to ourselves, Christ makes us alive and well able to operate in this kind of unselfish benevolence.

This kind of love is the most powerful force on the earth. This kind of love plundered the devil’s kingdom, and is still plundering it today. This kind of love changes people from the inside out. If we see any lack of this in our lives, let us pray that God in His mercy will help us to be more like Him, and to walk exactly as Jesus walked.

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. (I Jn. 4:17)

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Hate Evil, Love Good, Establish Justice

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 23, 2014

A Meditation on Amos 5

Hear this word which I take up against you, a lamentation, O house of Israel:

2 The virgin of Israel has fallen;
She will rise no more.
She lies forsaken on her land;
There is no one to raise her up.

3 For thus says the Lord God:
“The city that goes out by a thousand
Shall have a hundred left,
And that which goes out by a hundred
Shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”

God has decided that the virgin of Israel will “rise no more” and there will be only a remnant left.

4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;

5 But do not seek Bethel,
Nor enter Gilgal,
Nor pass over to Beersheba;
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
And Bethel shall come to nothing.

God’s instruction to the remnant is to seek HIM and live. They are not to seek particular places, as if by them they can live. God’s judgment will not overlook those places, but anyone hidden in God Himself will be protected.

6 Seek the Lord and live,
Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
And devour it,
With no one to quench it in Bethel—

God’s judgment does not pass over those who have His name, but not His character.

7 You who turn justice to wormwood,
And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!”

True justice and righteousness are very important to God, and there are many claiming His Name who make a mockery of these things.

8 He made the Pleiades and Orion;
He turns the shadow of death into morning
And makes the day dark as night;
He calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth;
The Lord is His name.

9 He rains ruin upon the strong,
So that fury comes upon the fortress.

He is able to turn the blessing into a curse, as He has promised. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good (Josh. 24:20). The only hope for transgressors is to be humble and seek His mercy.

10 They hate the one who rebukes in the gate,
And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.

An indictment against Israel, but also against all wicked nations. The wicked and those who support them always turn against the one who rebukes them.

11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor
And take grain taxes from him,
Though you have built houses of hewn stone,
Yet you shall not dwell in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards,
But you shall not drink wine from them.

12 For I know your manifold transgressions
And your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.

Treading down the poor is a serious offense to God. Afflicting the just and taking bribes, diverting the poor from justice at the gate: God sees all these “manifold transgressions” and will punish.

13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time,
For it is an evil time.

Indeed, for when good is called evil and evil is called good, those who speak up for righteousness are punished. Remember when Lot tried to talk sense into his evil neighbors? They accused him of acting as a judge and promised to do worse to him than they intended to do to the angels (Gen. 19:9).

14 Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.

Apostate people are so fond of saying God is with them. But God is not with them. God is a God of Truth. He is not with us just because we say He is. He is only with us as we obey His Word. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (2 Chron. 15:2).

15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

God wants us to love good and hate evil, and to establish justice. Away with our wickedness, our excusing of sin, our favoritism, and our disregard for the poor and the weak. Without repentance, there is no possibility of God’s graciousness, but with it, “It may be that the Lord…will be gracious.” He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

16 Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, says this:
“There shall be wailing in all streets,
And they shall say in all the highways,
‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmer to mourning,
And skillful lamenters to wailing.

17 In all vineyards there shall be wailing,
For I will pass through you,”
Says the Lord.

It is easy to sit on high horses while God passes through others, but what will we do when He passes through us? If we do the same things we condemn in others, will we not meet the same fate?

18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
It will be darkness, and not light.

19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion,
And a bear met him!
Or as though he went into the house,
Leaned his hand on the wall,
And a serpent bit him!

20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?
Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

And this is remarkable–many say they desire the day of the Lord, who ought to be very afraid of it. This is because they abide in presumption that God is accepting of their sins and will not punish them. They rest in their heritage, they rest in their past faith, they rest in their rituals or their knowledge. But they do not seek the Lord, or have His life in them. If they did, their behavior would be very different.

21 “I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.

22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.

23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.

None of these things move God. He is not an idol to be appeased with rituals and gifts and songs. He is the God who is looking for the good fruit of righteousness in response to His Word. He hates “sacred assemblies” when the people in those assemblies do not bear His image.

24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let justice run down like water! Let righteousness run like a mighty stream! Then–then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday (Isa. 58:10–read the whole chapter for the context!) Otherwise, your knowledge and your religious practices are worthless, serving only to cause the heathen to blaspheme God (Rom. 2:24).

25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings
In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26 You also carried Sikkuth your king
And Chiun, your idols,
The star of your gods,
Which you made for yourselves.

What? Mixing the worship of God with the worship of idols? Who is this star god? God will not accept being part of a harem of idols. We are to worship Him alone. Let every nation pay attention to how God rebukes the nation of Israel for idolatry. As He has punished Israel, so He will punish all the nations. Take heed that you do not mix idolatry with your worship of God. Find out what is acceptable to Him, and what displeases Him (Eph. 5:10).

27 Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus, Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

Dear readers, the nations are raging against the Lord, but there is a King installed on Mount Zion (the same Mount Zion mentioned in Heb. 12:22–the heavenly Jerusalem.) Seek the Lord and live. Do not seek this place or that place on the earth, for all shall be burned with fire (2 Pet. 3:7). Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God, for this is what He requires (Mic. 6:8).

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?
Why do You hide in times of trouble?

2 The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;
Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;
He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.

4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
God is in none of his thoughts.

5 His ways are always prospering;
Your judgments are far above, out of his sight;
As for all his enemies, he sneers at them.

6 He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
I shall never be in adversity.”

7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression;
Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity.

8 He sits in the lurking places of the villages;
In the secret places he murders the innocent;
His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless.

9 He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den;
He lies in wait to catch the poor;
He catches the poor when he draws him into his net.

10 So he crouches, he lies low,
That the helpless may fall by his strength.

11 He has said in his heart,
“God has forgotten;
He hides His face;
He will never see.”

12 Arise, O Lord!
O God, lift up Your hand!
Do not forget the humble.

13 Why do the wicked renounce God?
He has said in his heart,
“You will not require an account.”

14 But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief,
To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man;
Seek out his wickedness until You find none.

16 The Lord is King forever and ever;
The nations have perished out of His land.

17 Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,

18 To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

Psalm 10

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Dear Backslider, …

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 1, 2014

Dear Backslider, 

Are you truly sorrowful for your sin?  Are you filled with remorse, wishing you could undo what you have done?  Do you honestly desire to be reinstated as an obedient child, forgiven and at peace once again?  Are you willing to cast your sins away from you in disgust and determination to submit to God?

God wants the backslider back. Don’t let satan cause you to doubt that.  If you are in a state of godly sorrow over your sin, there is hope for you.  Godly sorrow over sin produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). 

No one wasted his life more than the thief on the cross, yet Jesus–even in personal agony on His own cross–was quick to forgive him and comfort him because he humbled himself. 

Peter was someone who knew the Lord and walked with Him, and heard His teaching and even had Jesus explain teachings to him on an intimate basis.  He fell away the night Jesus was betrayed, due to his fear of what men might do to him. But afterward he sorrowed to repentance, and Jesus not only accepted him back, but gave him instructions (“feed my sheep”–John 21:15-18).  Peter went on to be a strong leader in the church despite his failure (which the whole world knows about!)

Read Micah 7:18-19.  God “delights in mercy.”  He does not give mercy grudgingly to the humble. He gives it gladly. It rejoices His heart to see a sinner repent, and Jesus was careful to tell us that all of heaven rejoices with God over this too (Luke 15:10). 

Are you afraid you have messed up so much that you can’t come back? Many believe they may have committed the “unpardonable sin,” and this keeps them from returning to the Lord.

The “unpardonable sin” is a confusing topic, but read the passage in Matthew 12:22-32. Notice that the pharisees had accused Jesus of setting a man free from a demon by the power of the devil (vs 24). The truth was that Jesus had done it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the sin Jesus referred to, which would not be forgiven.  

It is not 100% clear to me why this won’t be forgiven. Perhaps it is because there is “woe to those who call good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)  If a man is in bondage to devils, and then he is freed by God, and you are so blind as to call his salvation from devils evil, what hope does God have at leading you to repentance by His Spirit?–If you are now referring to His Holy Spirit as the devil?  This is the terrible place the pharisees were in. They were so hardened in their hearts that even the most beautiful deliverance was evil to them. They could not recognize God the Son, and they could not recognize God the Spirit, but instead always resisted Him (Acts 7:51).  They refused the baptism that signified repentance (Luke 7:29-30), showing that they were not willing to let the Holy Spirit draw them to God. 

If you are not rejecting repentance, or attributing the works of the Holy Spirit of Jesus to the devil in an effort to reject Jesus, then you are not committing “the unpardonable sin.”   If you see your need, that is proof enough that there is hope for you

If you see that your wasted time is a debt you owe God, if you see that your sin should never have been committed, and if you desire to be restored as God’s child, and if you will sincerely repent and submit to Him, He will happily forgive you and let you start over!  Let the remorse over your past be a fuel that works for your good, and for God’s good! Let it bind your wandering heart more tightly to Him from this day forward.  

After I first got right with the Lord for a while, I backslid. In fact, I entered into sin more wicked than the things I had done before!  I can still remember hearing a voice in my head saying that I was destined to continue in sin. The voice said there was no way out. That voice was the devil lying to me (just as he may now be lying to you.) He had gained access to my life through my sin, but I began to plead with God to rescue me from the deep pit I was in. 

Something inside me knew that there must be hope, even though I did not know the Bible very well at that time.  God answered my repeated cries for help by having a Christian brother call me. He told me he had noticed I was “not right,” and asked if there was something wrong. I realized this was my “rescue rope” sent by God, and if I didn’t grab it with all my might, I might be lost forever. I humbled myself and confessed my dark secrets to him.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this man, telling me my sin had separated me from God, but if I would put away my sin and ask for mercy, I could start over.   I fully turned away from those things, including making changes that would help me keep from that sin in the future.  

It is always hard to go back to the beginning, and if the heart is properly tenderized by regret, it is a very humble and low place. It is a place of agonizing.  “Strive to enter the narrow gate” literally means “Agonize to enter” in the Greek.  But it is in that humble and low place that God begins to help us, for He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  It starts out as agonizing, but it becomes a place of mercy and freedom as God washes us in His own blood, and draws near to us in our humility (James 4:7-10).  In this humble place, He teaches us that our own hearts and emotions are not to be trusted (they got us into alot of trouble), the world is not to be trusted, the lusts of the flesh must be crucified, and if we are to be overcomers, we must find a deep abiding place in Jesus. We learn to be humble sheep following our Good Shepherd and not wandering off. 

Read Hosea 5:14 through Hosea 6:3.  God tore at the backsliders as a lion would tear the prey, then He retreated to His den (seeming to ignore them) to wait for them to “acknowledge their offense.”   Do you feel the affliction and sense the awful separation your sin has caused?  There is hope for you.  He afflicted them SO THAT they would seek Him.  He could have just killed them, but in mercy He afflicted them and waited for their repentance.   All of this was in order to bring about the beautiful ending–Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  

Dear Backslider, I hope that what I have shared here will increase your hope in the Lord, and that you will have a testimony of full restoration to share with others in the near future.  After you are restored to the Lord, get into the Word of God with all your might.  Seek God in the Scriptures and read to apply every word to your life. His Word will renew your mind and change you from the inside out. And it will fortify you from the false teachings that are everywhere. 

God bless you and help you!

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We Were Once Disobedient

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 13, 2013

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)

Yes, we were ONCE foolish, disobedient, deceived, and serving various lusts and pleasures.  But now we serve Jesus.

We ONCE walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (satan), that spirit who works in all disobedient children (Eph. 2:2-3). We ONCE conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, but if we are saved, we are not doing these things anymore.

Why?–The kindness and love of God our Savior has appeared to us, and it has not left us unchanged. When we deserved judgment, He offered us forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. His kindness, meant to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4), has done its work in our hearts. Because He loved us selflessly, we have learned to love Him (I John 4:19).  And because we love Him, we now give Him our willing obedience (John 14:23).

It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. What does this mean? Does it mean “works of righteousness” are unnecessary? Are they, as so many claim, “legalism”?

Paul writes later in this same chapter that the saints should be taught to “maintain good works.” (vs. 14)  We are changed and saved by God’s mercy. But beware of those who use Scripture to “prove” that we don’t have to obey God. Anyone who uses Scripture to promote unrighteousness is working for satan. It is one thing to acknowledge that we needed the undeserved mercy of God in order to be reconciled;  it is quite another to presume upon that mercy and continue willfully in unrighteousness.

If you were an employer who just caught an employee stealing from your company, you would have several options.  The most viable options are these:

1) You could terminate the employee immediately without any second chances to protect your company.  This perfectly legal option offers the least risk to the employer, and the least redemptive opportunity to the employee.

2) You could extend mercy to the employee, in hope that this mercy will change his heart and behavior, making him a valuable asset to your company in the future.  This is a risky option. Some people, given a second chance to do wrong, will take full advantage and do more wrong.  They may even mock the employer behind his back for being so gullible. Others may, in light of the undeserved kindness of the employer, feel a new sense of gratitude toward him, and commit to honesty from that time forward. An employer would only choose this option if benevolent concern for his employee outweighed concern for personal risk.

 

Applying our analogy to the Christian life, God has chosen option 2. We should have done everything He asked, but we were disobedient. We squandered His blessings and refused to steward our lives appropriately. We blackened His Name and robbed Him of His glory. He could have terminated us without mercy, and He would have been completely justified. But He chose the riskier course for Himself, in hope that some hearts would be changed by His mercy.Thankfully, some hearts have been changed. Some have responded to His mercy with repentance and willing submission.

Others mock Him by continuing willfully in sin, even after knowing the truth about His sacrifice on their behalf. They have insulted the Spirit of Grace.  The sacrifice of Jesus–which they claim gives them license to continue robbing God–only condemns them because they are still adversaries  (Heb. 10:26-31). They have not been made friends and children of God. They do not cry, “Abba, Father,” and submit to Him in grateful response to His mercy. They instead trample the blood of Christ beneath their feet by continued disobedience.

If you, a merciful employer, forgave the debt of a thieving employee, only to later find that he had continued pillaging you with the understanding that that your mercy gave him every right to do so, how would you respond?

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal. 6:7-8)

Dear reader, can you say that you were ONCE disobedient, but the kindness of God in Christ has changed you? It is true that no one can be saved by works.  It is also true that no one whose works do not change–in response to the mercy of God–can be saved.

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The Serious Consequences of Unforgiveness

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 29, 2011

Jesus said that the one who is forgiven much, loves much. I hope this describes you, dear reader, for love will cover a multitude of sins.

Just after Jesus told Peter that forgiveness must be given to an offender not seven times only, but seventy times seven, He taught an important parable that every Christian should be careful to remember.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  (Matt. 18:23-27)

Firstly, I’d like you to notice that being a Christian is likened to being in a kingdom under the jurisdiction of a King who will settle accounts with His servants. Jesus came preaching “the kingdom of Heaven” (or “the kingdom of God”) of which He Himself was and is the eternal King.  Each of us who have entered the good graces of that King, have done so by falling down before Him and desiring to be forgiven of a great debt we could not repay.  What man can cleanse his offending record and justify himself from the sins he has committed against this good King and His holy law of love? He cannot do it; he must have the compassion and forgiveness of the master, or he is all undone.  The master in this story (a picture of God) was “moved with compassion”–for the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy (Psa. 145:8).  He released him from the debt and freely forgave him, just as God will do for any sinner who humbles himself before Him earnestly desiring the Master’s patience.

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  (Matt. 18:28-31)

Forgiven Christian, the question before you now is what will you do when one of your fellow servants becomes indebted to you through some injustice in word or deed?  Will you respond toward him the same way the King has responded toward you? Or will you hold the debt over his head, refusing to follow the example of the One who forgave you?  It is very important that we receive not the grace of God in vain. The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance. We ought not only to forsake the sin previously committed, but to become different people–people who respond to our debtors as God has responded to us.

Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and adds this warning: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matt. 6:12, 14-15)  This is plain language indicating that our own forgiveness (and salvation) is in part conditioned upon our choosing to forgive our debtors.  If instead, we hold our debtors in the prison of unforgiveness, what will become of us? The Lord’s teaching is dangerously clear.

Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matt. 18:32-35)

Is it possible to be a servant of the Lord, fully forgiven of all debt (sins) by the compassionate King, and then through our subsequent choices, forfeit the mercy that was ours? Indeed, it is, for the Lord has spoken truly: So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. And what will He do?  He will hold our past offenses (which were previously forgiven) against us until we pay for them. How can we pay for them and free ourselves from “the torturers”? We can’t.

Dear saint, you are called to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48).  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5: 7). Therefore be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6: 36).  You must forgive your brother from the heart, if you wish to remain in the love of God. Offenses sting and wound us, but as we forgive them, we are walking in the perfect way of love. We remember how great a debt the Lord forgave us, and how great a wound our sins imposed upon Him; and in the light of this, we count the sins committed against us of little regard and easily forgiven.  We lavish the same love on others that has been given unto us, thereby becoming conduits of the mercy of God to others. But if we reject this mission of mercy, we become debtors to God once again.

By the Spirit of God, our brother James wrote: 

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

Did James write that we will merely experience some loss of intimacy with God if we grumble against one another, or did he write that we will be condemned?  The wise Christian will take warning, and not try to explain away the clear teaching of God.  Forgiveness is not always easy, but it must be done by choice despite our feelings.  We choose to obey our Lord and follow His example, knowing His ways are right and good, and He in turn comforts us in our afflictions and removes the sting of our wounds. You can have a still-smarting wound and choose to walk in forgiveness, just as Jesus said, “Father forgive them” even as He suffered on the cross.  Choose today to always forgive your debtors immediately and thoroughly, from the heart, and you will be blessed.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Col. 3:13)

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  (Eph. 4:31-32)

May God bless you!

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Interpret the Writing on the Wall

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 6, 2011

Belshazzar the king of Babylon threw a great feast during which he called for the gold and silver dishes which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Jerusalem temple, that he and his friends could drink their wine from them.

They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. (Dan. 5:4)

What, Belshazzar? What about your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, who gave testimony about the high God whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom?  What about his dream of a huge tree filling the earth, suddenly hewn down with only a stump remaining?  What about Daniel’s warning to him that this was to be his lot unless he broke off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor?  What about how after 12 months (Nebuchadnezzar’s space to repent), all these things came upon him and he went raving mad for 7 years, until he was sufficiently humbled and gave this testimony:

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Dan. 4:37)

Belshazzar knew all this (5:22), and yet he praised created and temporal things, probably thinking in his heart that since he had the temple dishes, he had the better of Israel’s God.

Then into his vain revelries came a hand from heaven, writing holy words upon the wall–Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.  Belshazzar shook in terror, and no one could understand the words. Into this situation, Daniel–the man of God–was summoned, and he gave this interpretation:  God has numbered your kingdom and ended it, you have been weighed in God’s balance and found wanting, the kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.  That very night Belshazzar’s life ended, and his kingdom was given to Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede.  This author hopes that although Belshazzar himself was lost, some of his friends took warning from these events and turned from idols to God.

Christian, you will be summoned into situations like this, and your duty will be to cause the people to understand the holy writing.  Many people, like Belshazzar, have been exposed to prior testimony to the everlasting kingdom of God, the temporal nature of all earthly things, and their duty to repent and turn to God. In fact, all men have heard, at the least, the testimony of creation and are without excuse (Rom. 1).  Many SEE the writing of God but do not understand it. They have heaped up to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and turned their own ears from the truth until truth is a foreign language to them (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  Many will not hear the Words of God until they are terrified. Diverse horrors are falling on our land today–earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, fires, nuclear threats, wars, terrorist threats, debilitating disease and economic hardship. The writing is on the wall, and the kingdoms of men are falling. Possessing all the gold and silver in the world will not save anyone (it didn’t help Belshazzar.)

We must stand and deliver the meaning of the holy words,  the Holy Spirit in us convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). That which we hear in the ear we preach from the rooftops, not fearing those who can only kill the body, but fearing Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 27-28). We preach the everlasting gospel, saying with a loud voice, fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Rev. 14:6-7)  We offer the perishing the hope of salvation in submission to Jesus Christ, and not a shred of hope in anything else.  

Psalm 2

 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

God bless you.

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Refuting Calvinism

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 5, 2011

This is a very well-written article by Doctor Patrick Johnston, demonstrating how Calvinism is contrary to Biblical reason and sound doctrine.  God bless you!

Refuting What Calvinists Believe with What Calvinists Know

Muting the Objection of Conscience and Creation

There are many Calvinists both dead and living who have earned my admiration over the years. That I believe that they are in doctrinal error does not mitigate my respect and admiration for them as mighty men of God. Some of the greatest open air preachers and evangelists during the first and second Great Awakenings were Calvinists. Calvinists are leading Christendom in the restoration of biblical order for the home, in pioneering Christian home education, and are at the forefront of the attempts to apply the truths of God’s Word to issues generally thought of as secular: public education, welfare, economics, criminal justice, and the lordship of Christ over all matters of life. For that, they have my deep respect.

A Calvinist I deeply admire is Greg Bahnsen, one of my favorite Christian apologists who taught me, through his writings, books, and sermons, the presuppositional approach to evangelism and strengthened my belief in theonomy – the belief that governments and nations should obey God’s Word in all matters. When I prepared to listen to a CD that he preached on the subject of Calvinism, I grew concerned that my worldview was going to come crashing down. I have never heard Bahnsen say anything where he wasn’t overwhelmingly persuasive. I felt for certain he was going to bring a probing application of presuppositional apologetics to prove that Calvinism was true, necessitating a sea change in my theological beliefs.

What I heard from him, however, was the opposite: rather than a vigorous appeal to conscience and creation to prove the veracity of the Calvinist system, he advocated rather a suspension of our rational faculties and the muting of the predictable objection of human conscience. He did so based upon a passage from Isaiah, which is often misinterpreted. I’m sure you’ve heard a preacher say it: “God’s ways our not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.” They often take that passage to mean that we just cannot understand God, and therefore shouldn’t try; just accept the truth of His Word by faith. However, a cursory perusal of the passage reveals the gross error in this thinking.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your  thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9

If your ways aren’t God’s ways, you shouldn’t just accept the conflict as unavoidable – you should repent. If your thoughts aren’t God’s thoughts, you shouldn’t give up trying to think God’s thoughts – you should repent. That’s what this passage plainly means. To interpret this passage to mean that sincere Christians cannot understand God or His thoughts or ways is absurd.

Before one fully embraces the Calvinist system, they must first fall prey to the unstated presupposition that we must suspend our rational faculties and mute the objection of our consciences to simply accept by faith whatever God’s Word says about how He governs. First of all, this is an impractical mission. Without our rational faculties we could not even understand Scripture, much less build a cohesive theological system.  In order for Calvinists to suspend their rational faculties and mute the objection of conscience, they first must engage their rational faculties to come to that conclusion, and enlist the mandate of conscience to submit to the Word of God. Thus, the unstated presupposition of Calvinism is false based upon what Calvinists in fact do. Calvinism’s conclusions so plainly contradict the testimony of nature and conscience that we must constantly be reminded by Calvinists like Bahnsen at the onset of their teaching on Calvinism that “God’s ways aren’t our ways” and we just need to accept Calvinist doctrine in spite of its apparent contradiction to self-evident truths.

Is it not a sin to reason. “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord.” It’s as if Calvinists think that God made our bodies and the devil created our intellect and reason. No, we are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy mind.” (Read More)

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