The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘saints’

The Way You Know

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 2, 2016

“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” ~Jesus (John 14:4)

Jesus is the Way. If you truly know Him, you know the Way.

There are many voices in this world wanting to be followed as potential “ways.” Entirely false religions as well as false voices claiming to be from Christ, seeking to lead us by degrees to other gods. Prophets and dreamers, false accusers and soothsayers.  Even well-meaning people with blind spots can be used by the enemy to divert us from the course He has given us.  Our own thoughts and feelings can be shifting sand. Don’t be distracted by all the noise. Don’t turn to the right or to the left. Look unto the Word of God, your Redeemer, your Rock of Salvation.

If you know Jesus, if He has saved you, if it is Him–the Living Word–you are following, then the way you know. The way may be hard, but the way you know. There may be people who despise, condemn, or misunderstand you; but the way you know. You may not know exactly how the current trial will play out, but the way you know. You may not know what will happen to your country, your family, or your own body; but the way you know!  If you are truly His, I pray this fills you with holy comfort.

A beloved sister, Patricia White, maintains a faithful witness at the blog Hoshi’ana. She has been enduring trials recently, and shared a testimony with friends of how the Lord has been faithful, and how she will continue to stand in Him. Here it is:

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!

I will follow Jesus until the day I die. No devil in hell, no liar or wicked person, whether they be male or female, family or friend, politician, religious leader or teacher, will cause me to veer off course, will remove me from this Highway of Holiness, or will take my crown; though they try, oh how they try!

Jesus Christ rescued me from the pits of hell; He gave me His Name; He gave me His Holy Spirit; He gave me His Word and His promises. Jesus healed my body in more ways than I can count and opened my barren womb and gave me a son. He taught me the Truth and gave me revelation of the scriptures. He taught me holiness and repentance; faith and endurance; joy and peace.

The best day of my life was when, in a vision, I saw His face and received my calling. That event taught me the fear of the Lord in a greater way than I had already known and caused me to walk even closer to my Savior. Since that day, the trials of my faith appeared and continue to. Sometimes the cross is exceedingly heavy to carry, but He is faithful and comes along and lifts the burden from my heart. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Jesus opened the door to true fellowship and through the years I have been blessed by godly relationships, some near and some far. I have found friends that stick closer than a brother and have taught me through their patience and humility. Thank you for their lives, Lord.

Please let this not be seen as my boasting of self. Let it not be seen as I am anything at all, but that all glory and thanksgiving goes to my Lord. It is He who died for me, and it is He who redeemed me. This is a simple proclamation of faith and testimony to share with you all today – that, as many of you do know – God is good. His mercy endures forever. Keep climbing that Holy Mount friends. The end of our faith isn’t far away.

Peace be with you.

Praise God for the faith of the saints. Though they endure sufferings, they cling unto the One they know! He has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful yet again.

Samuel raised a stone called Ebenezer to remind God’s people of the Lord’s faithfulness thus far:

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (I Sam. 7:12)

“Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.”

From “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Raise your Ebenezer today, saints of the Lord. Recount how the Lord sent His Word to heal you, how He rescued you from Egypt, how He overcame your enemies, how He filled your mouth with truth, and your heart with joy and peace. Between here and eternity are struggles; but we know the Way! Keep to the Way, and you will make it home.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Paul knew that in every city, chains and tribulations awaited him (Acts 20:23), yet he confidently raised his Ebenezer before King Agrippa, a faithful witness to the end–

Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great… (Acts 26:22)

May you always do the same! The Way you know; the Way is Jesus!

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Posted in Christian Life, Suffering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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)

Posted in Calvinism, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

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

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

Complete hogwash!

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

Jesus taught the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you!

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

The Field is the World

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 15, 2011

When discussing the rampant sin in the professing church, how often have you heard, “The church is full of wheat and tares. We can’t tell the difference between the two, so we just have to wait until the end and let God remove the tares.”

I submit to you that this is a wrong interpretation of the passage in question, Matt. 13:24-30. Let us examine it.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:  but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.   But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.   So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?   He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.   Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Notice that when tares appeared, the servants of the householder immediately recognized them as tares rather than wheat.  Servants of God can recognize the children of the devil and the children of God. “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” (Lk. 6:44)

Later in the chapter, when the disciples asked Jesus to help them understand this parable, Jesus declared the following:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;  the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.   As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;   and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.   Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (vss. 37-43)

The field is not the church. I repeat, THE FIELD IS NOT THE CHURCH!  The place where wheat and tares must be allowed to co-mingle until the end is THE WORLD.  In the world, there will always be wicked people and righteous people. If the righteous were to go about “gathering up” the tares (killing them!) before the appointed time, it would bring hurt to the wheat. Instead, the righteous must wait patiently for the angels to gather “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” and cast them into the furnace of fire.  Vengeance is the Lord’s, and He will repay. Untold harm has come to the testimony of the church when “holy wars” have been carried out in the name of Christ. These are the premature “gathering of tares” to which Christ was referring. While the door of salvation stands open, it is still possible for the children of the devil to repent and believe, and become children of God. In the meantime, the servants of God must be content to allow the wheat and tares to grow up together in THE WORLD (not the church!)

Now it is true that wicked men have crept into the church unawares, perverting the doctrines of God (Jude 4), but that is another subject.  The subject at hand is whether or not the righteous (wheat) and the wicked (tares) are permitted to grow up and produce fruit together in the church.

The belief that the the field of wheat and tares is the church, rather than the world as Christ taught, has caused leaven to spread unchecked in the church. This parable has been wrongfully used to ignore the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in I Cor. 5 to:

MOURN over sin in the church (vs 2),

JUDGE the deeds of wicked men in the church (vs 3, 12),

DELIVER sinners to satan for the destruction of the flesh (vs 5),

PURGE the leaven of sin out of the church (vs 7),

STOP having fellowship with wicked people who profess to be Christians (vss 9-11), and

PUT such people “away from among yourselves” (vs 13).

If we are to do all these things, is it not obvious that we must first judge the tree by its own fruit?–that we must discern whose works are inspired by the devil?

Paul asks in I Cor. 6:3-5,

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

Paul is reproving the church for failing to judge appropriately! Is there no one in the church who is wise enough to judge between what is good and evil? How can this be, among the very people who will judge angels?

Again, in Eph. 5:3-7, Paul writes:

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.   Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.   Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

We, the saints, are not to allow wicked people to remain “among us” in the church, turning a blind eye to their wicked works, saying “God will deal with the tares in His own time.” We are to purposefully refuse to be partakers in other men’s sins, and to keep ourselves pure (I Tim. 5:22). This means there must be church discipline. The sinner must be confronted in love, and commanded to repent. If he does not repent, we must separate from his company. There is not to be a mixing of holy and profane in the house of God, but a distinct difference between the two. It is this very mixing of holy and profane that has caused untold reproaches to fall unjustly on the name of Christ!

When sin is rampant in the church, and you hear the tired excuse, “God will deal with the tares in His own time,” and “it isn’t for me to judge,” remember that Jesus said THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.  Stand against the false teaching that the field is the church. The Bride of Christ that Jesus will come for is a pure Bride that lives in daily communion with Him, hearing His voice and following Him, and having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness that the children of the devil continue to produce.  Obey the Holy Ghost-inspired words of Paul–“Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

God bless you!

 

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Guarding the Fruit (Lessons From the Garden Part 2)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 10, 2011

In my last post, I described a garden that had a rough beginning, but was really looking beautiful. The lesson I learned was that we must not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.

If I thought that was the end of the story, and I could now sit back and wait for the fruit to drop into my hands, I was wrong. My first culprit seemed to be plant shock, and perhaps fungus. Now that those are under control, my garden has a more insistent predator. In one week’s time, a rabbit has finished off an entire row of lettuce plants, and most of a row of bean plants. Not only that, he destroyed all the marigolds I planted all around the garden. There are lots of leafless and flowerless stems left, looking stark and sad against the brown mulch.  That’s alot of work and watering seemingly for nothing.

I confess I am discouraged. But this time, I know that self-pity is a waste of time, and is a robber of the good fruit that follows patient endurance.

Obviously, sin has ravaged our earth, and producing fruit here is not going to be an easy task, whether we are referring to physical fruit or the more important spiritual fruit. It is going to take more work than we understood when we came to Jesus on that happy day that He washed our sins away and made us “the planting of the Lord” (Isa 61:3). We have to fight more than drought and blight; there are predators sent by satan to make us fruitless even after we have produced life and made some progress. Satan knows that if we are fruitless, we shall be hewn down with all the fruitless trees which are cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10).

Satan is not going to rest while we casually produce fruit and effortlessly plunder his dark kingdom. That is why we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Pet. 5:8-9)  After all, God hasn’t called us to a life of ease. In fact, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1) that stretch out upon their couches and entertain themselves while the church around them falls into ruins and disrepair. God has called us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Follow Him where? Wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4).

What if He leads us into trouble and hardship? Follow Him, for “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

What if He leads us into the valley of the shadow of death? Follow Him. We will not fear evil even there; even surrounded by enemies, He spreads a table before us.

There are many enemies, there is much work to be done, there is the hope of a harvest, but there are so few willing to labor and overcome.

Saints, all around us we see (in the Spirit) the broken walls of a destroyed city–the city of the Great King–seemingly in ruins. Apostasy is here. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many (for Jesus) has grown cold (Matt. 24:12). If these anathemas describe you, there is no time to lose–rise and shake off the dust, repent!  Fan into flame the gift that is in you before your lamp goes out and the light that is in you is only darkness!

False teachers have ravaged the sheep and fattened themselves on their flesh, and those who haven’t utterly been destroyed wander on every hill like “sheep without a shepherd,” following every wind of doctrine. It is easy to think there is nothing we can do, and this is precisely what satan wants us to think. He wants us to grow weary in well doing, so that we pine away in self-pity & the harvest never comes. Wave after wave of setbacks will come. We are called not to wilt under the pressure, but to overcome them in Jesus! You must not shrink back when everyone else says it’s hopeless, for “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Prov. 24:10) And “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38) Have the footmen already wearied you, fainting saint? God will soon ask you to run with horses. Has the land of peace seemed  too difficult? The Jordan will soon swell (Jer. 12:5). Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, but you will not take the kingdom without the faith of Joshua and Caleb.

I am reminded of Nehemiah, who arose in the night and went “by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.” (Neh. 2:13)  I don’t think the word choices in this verse are by accident–“the gate of the valley”–“dragon well”–“dung port”–all seems dismal and overwhelmingly hopeless. But our God brings life out of death, starting with the passion in our hearts to make a change whatever the cost to us, however heavy the cross. Just as I must now construct a wall around my ravaged garden to keep future predators out, Nehemiah would eventually oversee the daunting task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the face of tremendous opposition.

I sometimes look at Acts 2 wistfully–all seems blissful–the saints living, eating, and ministering together and enjoying peace while God added to the church daily. But we do disservice to ourselves if we forget that all of life proceeds in seasons. We must understand the times we live in and behave with the wisdom God gives. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Eccl. 3:2). There is a time to celebrate the good harvest of the Lord, and a time to mourn for the devastation around us, seeking to repair the breaches in the house of the Lord wherever we find them–we must keep in step with the Spirit. When predators come to rob the fruit in the garden of the Lord, it is not time to go into hiding or to lounge at ease on our couches, feeding ourselves on past harvests, but to stand and fight, not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)

Beloved, fortify your life and your labor against the wiles of the devil, having your spiritual armor on at all times (Eph. 6) and determining that as long as you have breath, you will serve the Lord wherever you are, however you can. In humbled ruins, there are dormant seeds.

Scripture says “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Tim. 4:1-2) Many of the mighty are already fallen; many are already turned aside after satan. But do not let the ruins and devastation immobilize you; continue rather “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)

Every soul recovered is another stone in the rebuilt wall, and even one soul makes a lifetime of backbreaking toil worthwhile.

As for me and my vegetable garden, it is time to dig a trench and plant a fence.

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Sovereignty and Free Will

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 1, 2010

Are Sovereignty and Free Will opposites?

Those who are trained to think of God’s sovereignty in the Calvinistic sense insist that men have no free will. To think a man can choose to repent and follow Christ negates God’s sovereignty, they think. They think if a man can choose one way or the other, then that man has control rather than God.

If God is completely all powerful (sovereign), is He not then able to apportion a measure of control to his human subjects? I say that to deny God’s right to do so is to attack the sovereignty of God; it is to say that He is not able to control a universe unless He micromanages every decision of His subjects. The truth is that God is more sovereign than Calvinists think.

There are many biblical truths illustrated in life for our learning, if we are observant and careful to compare everything to the Word of God (so that we don’t stray from it in our reasonings.)  In using parables, Jesus Himself often used natural things to teach spiritual principles.

I believe the tension between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man can be seen in two examples in nature: natural parental sovereignty, and the synergism between God and man in growing crops.

   

Natural Parental Sovereignty

Let’s say I have 10 children. I might say to my children, “I want you to get your chores done on time. Please be obedient. If you get your chores finished on time, you will have dessert. If you don’t get them done on time, you will be denied any dessert at all.”I am completely in control of whether they get dessert or not. If I decide to give them ice cream, they will enjoy some ice cream–and if I decide they get no dessert, there is nothing they can do about it. Since I have all the power on my side (sovereignty), I could even go back on my word and deny them dessert even after they finish their chores in time–but for the sake of argument, in our example I am a loving and just parent/ruler (as God also is), and I will always keep my word.

As a good parent, I have a high purpose in teaching them to do what is right with diligence–my rules are not arbitrary. They may not understand the importance of finishing their chores on time; nevertheless they have a choice to make, and an obedience to fulfill. They will reap exactly what they sow, and what they sow is THEIR choice, not mine. I am not going to force them to do their chores; neither will I hinder their efforts to obey. They have freedom to choose to disobey (which is contrary to my will). But they are not free to choose to have the dessert ANYWAY if they disobey. If they disobey me, I will keep my word and allow them no dessert. That part has been “predestined,” if you will, by their parent. They are free to choose, but their free-will is limited by my sovereignty.

Suppose a child were to say, “My parents are sovereign, and it is their sovereign choice whether or not I get dessert. There is nothing I can do to change my future one way or the other. There is no point in my doing chores or anything else; everything has been decided for me.”  Or suppose a child were to examine the history of his siblings, and notice that a few were routinely getting dessert, while others were routinely denied dessert. Should he then decide that his parents have predestined some for dessert and others to go without dessert completely apart from anything they might do? Hopefully you see the folly of such thinking. Yet this is exactly what the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty declares about God’s relationship with men, and using this distorted view of sovereignty, many attempt to shirk the responsibilities God has given to men.

   

Application

God has made His will known–it is His will that all men repent of their sins and come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. He desires men to love Him with all their hearts, and to love their neighbors as themselves (doing no evil to any man.) He has said that all men will be judged by their works (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20: 12-13), and will reap either death or everlasting life depending on what they “sow” in this life (Gal. 6:7-8).  We are free to choose whether we will sow to please our flesh or the Spirit of God (free will), but we are not free to choose a reward that is contrary to what we have sown–God  in His sovereignty will make absolutely sure that we reap according to how we have sown–He will not be mocked. We will get our just desserts.

 

Growing Crops

If a man plows his land, sows wheat, and is diligent to care for his fields; then provided no catastrophe happens, he will reap wheat. If he sows corn, he will reap corn. If he is lazy and sows nothing, he will reap nothing but weeds and thistles. God has given knowledge to man, and man knows how to grow food through hard work. But God does not force men to plow and sow, nor does He choose for man what type of seed should be sown.  God allows him to sow anything he wants, or to sow nothing at all in his garden. God allows him to give half-hearted attention, full devotion, or total negligence to his fields. That is free will

Nevertheless, God is the one who put life inside a seed. God is the one who sends rain, and the one who either sends or withholds bad weather. What happens beneath the soil is a wonderful miracle, and no farmer–no matter how brilliant or diligent–has control over what takes place there. No farmer can reap anything in a field God devastates by floods or other natural disasters. No farmer can grow anything apart from God, because God is in the process from beginning to end–He is the Author and Finisher. That is sovereignty.  

Now suppose a farmer were to say, “God is sovereign. It’s all up to God, so I will just sit here and watch good fruit appear in my garden all by itself.” We know that this would not happen–this foolish man would starve to death with his family! God has taught men to sow and expects them to do their part. “Doing their part” to cultivate the soil and plant good seed in no way steals glory from God; rather it honors God by properly stewarding the gifts God has given to men.  This is called synergism.    

 

Application:

In salvation, repentance is the plowing of the soil. Even good seed simply won’t grow in rocky, hard soil. Jesus said unless you repent you will perish (no repentance, no life). God does not command what a man has no power to do (that would make Him unjust.)

Faith in Jesus Christ is the receiving of the Good Seed (Jesus, the Word) into the soil.  Endurance or perseverance must happen next, as Jesus taught you must not only hear the Word, but keep it and “bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)  

While God is both the Author and Finisher of Salvation/Eternal life (as He also is the creator of the life in the seed, and the one who controls the weather in our former example), He still commands our participation in the salvation He offers. He allows us to CHOOSE whether we will:  

-Repent (plow),
-Believe (receive the Seed), and 
-Endure (bring forth fruit with patience).  

We are told that we have a choice to sow to please the Spirit or sow to please the flesh (Gal. 6:7-9). Please note in this verse that the CONSEQUENCES of this sowing are out of our control, though the sowing itself is in our control. We will reap “destruction” or “life everlasting” depending on what we CHOOSE to sow. (Everlasting life is at stake here, friends, not just heavenly rewards.) We can choose to sow to our flesh, but we are not free to still reap everlasting life if we do so. “Be not deceived . God is not mocked. WHATEVER a man sows [by his own choice] that shall he also reap.”  

“Whatever a man sows…” denotes free will choice.
“That shall he also reap.” denotes God’s sovereign and predetermined decision to give to every man according to his works (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20: 12-13.)

God bless you!

  

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An Expose on John Calvin

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 1, 2009

Rachel, from Smilesback’s Blog, has written a good article exposing John Calvin entitled, “The Evil Theologian, John Calvin.” Please have a look. The first paragraph is posted here:

“Once upon a time there was this certain boy…  He grew up.  He studied law.  Got his doctorate in law and became an attorney.  After reading philosophies of “admirable” religious philosophers, he had a “conversion experience” and started reading his Bible.  He then proceeded to write things about the Bible himself, but alas, since his opinions were quite “unorthodox” for the era, he was banished from his town.  No matter.  He took solace with a friend and writing more and more, became a self-proclaimed theologian and “authoritative” writer…” READ MORE

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Faith

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 28, 2009

The false teachings of Calvinism declare that God pre-selects certain individuals and gives them faith regardless of any choices they have made for good or evil.  It goes without saying, then, that God also (according to this abominable teaching) purposely withholds faith from other individuals, effectively keeping them from ever being saved regardless of any choices they might make for good or evil.

The following is just a small study I did on the subject of faith.

Faith comes from God, but God has given the opportunity to have faith to all.

Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [Amazingly, the Calvinist is taught that God purposely created the majority of people with the inability to please Him!  The Bible, however, leaves the way open to all men to exercise faith in God and seek Him diligently.]

Deut. 32:20 And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation,  Children in whom is no faith.  (Was God angry with them for not having faith when it was His fault they had no faith?)

Acts 14:27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. [the “door of faith” is open to 2 groups–Jews and Gentiles! That covers everyone.]

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, then God has given every person the ability to have faith. We are to preach the Word of the gospel to EVERY creature; we are to preach the Word in season and out of season.

Those who reject the Word of God judge THEMSELVES unworthy of everlasting life! (It isn’t God judging them unworthy of receiving faith!)

Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

Heb. 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Is not the whole world responsible for understanding this same truth–that the world was made by God? Then it follows that every man has the ability to have this faith, but those who have been shown the truth and glorify not God…become fools because of their own choices.

Rom. 1:18-23 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

What man does affects his faith in God.  A strong faith, weak faith, or dead faith is determined by how a person hears, and what he does with God’s Word.

I Tim. 1:18-19 Wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck. 

Luke 8:11-15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who HEAR; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they HEAR, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have HEARD, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having HEARD the word with a noble and good heart, KEEP IT AND BEAR FRUIT WITH PATIENCE.

Luke 8:18 Therefore TAKE HEED HOW YOU HEAR. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.

Heb. 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. [These Israelites who fell SEEMED to be God’s people, yet they did not add faith to the hearing of the gospel. Their faith had been shipwrecked, as I Tim. 1:18-19 states can happen; these “in time of temptation fell away.”]

James 1:21-25 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  (Notice you must DO 2 things: get rid of sin, and receive the Word with meekness) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (Again, what you DO counts. If you don’t DO the Word, you will become self-deceived.)For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Faith must be accompanied by and perfected by works/obedience to Christ.

James 2:19-26 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Faith works through love (Gal 5:6)

A Quick Scriptural Summary of Faith:

FAITH can be:

tested (James 1:3);

lacking, in need of being perfected (I Thess. 3:10);

denied (1 Tim. 5:8);

cast off (I Tim 5:12);

neglected (Matt. 23:23);

strayed from (I Tim. 6:10, 21);

departed from (I Tim 4:1);

overthrown (2 Tim. 2:18);

shipwrecked (I Tim. 1:19);

dead (James 2:17, 26);

strengthened (Acts 16:5, Rom. 4:20);

followed (2 Tim. 3:10, Heb. 13:7)

continued in (Col. 1:23, I Tim. 2:15);

encouraged (1 Thess. 3:2);

pursued (I Tim. 6:11, 2 Tim. 2:22);

grown (2 Thess. 1:3);

and kept (2 Tim. 4:7, Rev. 14:12).

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