February 26, 2015

In Their Own Words XXVIII: Suit On A Corpse

Sometimes the rabid God-hating atheism of some people is staggering in the depths of haughtiness that it unwittingly plumbs. God-haters attempt to take dominion and authority that they don’t deserve nor understand properly…or they wouldn’t have made such pretentious or conceited comments. These statements don’t just come from men either...they can come from prideful women too. In an artistic hispter kind of way I present an awe-inspiring comment from novelist Rebecca N. Goldstein. The awe I speak of isn’t good either, it is an awe of disbelief of her naiveté. Instead of an awe of God from her I see only boastfulness.

“Math . . . music ... starry nights . . . These are secular ways of achieving transcendence, of feeling lifted into a grand perspective. It’s a sense of being awed by existence that almost obliterates the self. Religious people think of it as an essentially religious experience but it’s not. It’s an essentially human experience.”  – Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, philosopher and novelist

Again, this unbeliever misses the point totally. She totally misses the forest for the trees. The assumption that things just exist without cause is illogical thinking. Math and its order and absoluteness. Music which is essentially math in audible form. She speaks of a Creation that has organization supposedly arisen out of meaningless chaos. The improbability of it is beyond comprehension.  Newberger even speaks of the stars themselves. Starry nights she says are secular ways of transcendence. This of course begs the question. Transcendence of what or to what. Who created the stars? Did they accidently coalesce? Who created man to observe these transcendent moments? Did they just accidently evolve? Statistically, the probability of sentient man evolving from stardust is statistically impossible.

This woman will have us all to believe that existence and the universe is nothing more than mere chance and circumstance. The fact is the universe either took an unimaginable amount of creative energy to bring all this energy and matter into existence or it all came from nowhere. Which is more plausible to a rational mind? Seriously...answer the question.

This all points back to the Anthropic Cosmological Principle or the idea that the Universe appears “fine-tuned”. It is “dialed in” in such a way that it is nearly impossible that the order that now exists in the universe couldn’t have possibly arose out of the chaos of the Big Bang. How suited is the universe for the existence of mankind? The universe operates in accordance to exact physical laws. These physical laws allow man to calculate exact planetary orbits and exact properties of metals. It seems as if the universe was specifically created to allow for inductive study. It doesn’t have to be this way. Why is it that natural laws also allow us to predict when the moon will cause a solar eclipse? 

Strangely science will concede that the universe has order but will not concede that it is design because design will require an intelligence that could design something as massive as the universe. It requires that they concede that there is a God.

It is a universe that is about 20 billion light-years in diameter. There are approximately 100-200 billion galaxies in the Universe (Lawton, 1981), and an estimated 25 sextillion stars or a 25 followed by 25 zeroes (25,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). The Milky Way galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars. Traveling at the speed of light it would take 100,000 years to cross its diameter. Again, what is amazing is that all the matter in the universe this vast behaves in accordance to the same physical laws that lend themselves perfectly to human inductive study (or dominion). It totally begs the question of why?

Since we’re discussing numbers let’s look at her beloved math. She believes in the absolute certainties of math but she denies God. That is like believing in fish without believing in water. Why? Philosophy generally says that mathematics is true without reference to our physical/mental reality. The knowledge of mathematics (as opposed to the knowledge created by mathematics) is a priori which I have written about profusely. It is known without reference to reality. In other words it is true without having experienced it through our senses. Just as God is. It is claimed that mathematics is a higher form of knowledge. That even if the world around us doesn't exist, mathematics is still true. Just like God. That it is a form of knowledge that we can be certain of, even if we deny reality. Just like God. Our dear Rebecca here is being epistemologically bias. She will believe in one form of a priori knowledge (the truth of mathematics) without believing in another (the truth and knowledge of God).

It is known better as: “Picking and choosing” to suit one’s self. It is also called being logically and philosophically inconstant.

I think I know why too. I believe the clue to Goldstein’s ideological and intellectual perspective is exposed in her statement, “These are secular ways of achieving transcendence, of feeling lifted into a grand perspective.” It looks like a megalomaniacal perspective too. She is making herself her own highest authority. An authority that is even allowed to deny logic and reason to ignorantly maintain an inconsistent view. With “a grand perspective” she is claiming a position or vantage point reserved for only God or an omniscient being. She assumes from her human throne of observation that she, sitting on the throne, has a grand perspective from which to make observation and pass wisdom judgments about the Creation (even though they are inconsistent and bias). She is usurping God’s throne here in a really dangerous way. How do I know she is trying to take God’s throne? How do I know that she is trying to replace God on his own seat of power and authority? She told us she was indirectly.  What did she just say?

She said she is trying to achieve transcendence without a transcendent being. She is trying to lift herself to a grand perspective through her own thinking and actions. This assumes she can even get there. What has the Bible told us? Who does this sound like? I don’t know about you but this following verse sounds like Mrs. Goldstein is in really poor company.

Isaiah 14:13 ~ “You said in your heart, "I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

Sometimes the claims the godless make transcend the mundane and reach to the seat of absurdity. This is just another case of that transcendent stupidity that has been taking place since Lucifer fell from Heaven in his own pride and it is a dreadful shame. Her words are laced with grandiloquence and flowery language but they are nothing more than a nice suit on a corpse. Visually and aesthetically pleasing on the surface but deep inside, they're quite dead.

February 21, 2015

Standing Down

This post is by no means an easy one to type. It reveals painful truths about my past that I still battle with and at times, I lose. Some days it is a full-scale war. If I allow it, my past can still negatively effect my present and future because of latent sin. I cannot allow this so I type this to show others in similar situations...they are not alone in their struggle.

Growing up in a dysfunctional (and abusive) home, I've always had distrust issues even long after leaving youth behind. Unfortunately for my wife, she always gotten the brunt of them even when she was undeserving. It's a burden I've carried around all of my life. If you can relate, you've have the same mantra as I: "No one is trustworthy but God." Sadly I have found that even this trust comes under fire when I’ve been in entrenched and prolonged periods of trial and distress (like now). Although this mantra has merit and is basically truthful in many cases, at its heart...it is unbiblical. It is purely a lack of faith and trust in God. We might not be able to fully trust people because they are sinners but we are called to love them and to love them...requires that we trust them. Why? It is because God is in charge even over the untrustworthy sinners. It is not the sinner we are really distrusting, it is God we are slapping in the face with disdainful hand of distrust.

Besides attempting to control people, I have always used the withholding of trust as a form of protecting myself. That is until I realized that by withholding trust, I was actually unprotecting myself from spiritual/emotional attack and causing more harm than good. Withholding it was hurting me much more than giving grace freely would’ve done good for me. Until I realized this was the Devil helping to dump acid in an already painful wound, I did not let God in to heal the wounds of past abuses.

I unbiblically and detrimentally learned to live in a state of distrust and heightened state of acuity or defensiveness. It was a self-protective measure due to the abuses in my past. As I said, this distrust even bleeds over to my relationship with God. This is a dead-end and is ruinous to a man’s life and relationships. In this way I was reacting more to the way I didn’t want life to be (which hadn’t really happened) than reacting to the way life really was. I was prepping for disaster knowing full well that the disaster I was prepping for may possibly never happen. I was reacting to the proverbial worst-case scenario in nearly every circumstance that looked as if it was a threat. In so doing I was blowing up my own emplacements and defenses, the enemy didn't have to.

At the point of failure in my trust in God...the place where I broke, I found the level of my spiritual immaturity. I find/found it is a woefully low cut-off point. Because of a lack of trust in others (therefore God), I always lived my life in a state of DEFCON 1 or 2. This is not a way to live…it is a way to die from both sin and stress brought on by the burden of that sin.

How does one get off of DEFCON 1 and decompress? How does one come down from a constant state of heightened readiness that one has been programmed with since they were a abused child? No man can live in this state forever or even for prolonged periods without damage, breakdown or total failure. If you don't believe me go out and drive your car with the throttle pegged to the floor and see what happens to the engine in you car. DEFCON 1 in perpetuity leads to a terminal event. At some point everyone needs to stand down. The only thing I have found that depressurizes these states is to turn it over to God in trust and to walk away. To be still even when everything in me screams that I should move or react.

The Bible is replete with statements about trust and above all is a trust and faith in God. Without this faith/trust in God, none of the other trusts will hold up under severe trial. Without solid faith there can be no perseverance of a saint. If we trust in God, the trust that other people will work in our best interests follows suit. The bottom line is simple. Trusting is believing in the promises of God in all circumstances, even in those where the evidence seems to be to the contrary. We cannot trust in ourselves because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our sin natures.

Some of the passages about trust are as follows:
1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Jeremiah 17:7 ~ “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5 ~ “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Proverbs 3:5 ~ “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Psalm 56:3-4 ~ “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”

Psalm 40:4 ~ “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!”

Mark 11:24 ~ “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Psalm 112:7 ~ “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”

James 1:12 ~ “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When the Bible speaks of trust it is a trust that always invokes or stimulates further trust in God, not less. It is a progressive trust. If it lessens your trust in God or others…it isn’t really trust you are experiencing. It is a wiles of the Devil, nothing more. Whatever you are experiencing is therefore demonic and/or sinful.  Although a man of God never stops trusting in God completely, there will be times that it will wane and falter because of our sin. "Oh, ye of little faith" is how Jesus addressed it with the disciples. A believer will falter, yes, but they will not fail.

Psalm 37-23-24 ~ “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

In the end the man of God must realize that, that even though trials will plague his life, his trust in God should not waiver because that trust is not based on his own ability to have trust but rather it is the faith in the promises of God and that strength to persevere is given by God Himself. God actually promised the believer this will eventually work in their favor (but not necessarily in this life).

1 Peter 1:4 ~ “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…”

The start of a turnaround is to pray and solicit prayer. At first I was horribly ashamed to do so because I felt I had lost control of life. It turns out I never really had control to begin with. This of course then drove me in humility to supplicate before the throne of God. The shame dissipated because I realized I just could not do this on my own. I was a sick man and needed a cure, I needed deliverance. The mind can become ill just like the body. In the end a rectification of the problem(s) is to God’s glory. Bad thinking or sinful thinking is diseased thinking and diseases need prayer and a cure to be overcome.

James 5:14 ~ “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

By constantly being in a state of DEFCON 1 I was not believing the best about other people and loving them, nor God. I was unloving them and this is the same as hating them. I was (and am) disobeying the greatest commandments to love God with all my heart and love my neighbor as myself. I am doing so by either not trusting my wife or others to do things in my best interest or I am implicating God Himself by showing that I believe He is not in control and doing things in my best interest. This isn’t just a lack of faith, it is an overt condemnation of God's intentions by my actions. This flirts dangerously close to apostasy. That is a scary proposition.

1 Corinthians 13:7 ~ “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Finally, I have learned to try not to dwell in the past and stew in toxic memories and feelings. I struggle to forgive some people but I forgive regardless. I try and often fail to let go of the memories and bad side effects of the past but even when I cannot fully do this, if I can't let go of the memories that make trust difficult for me, I try to remember what the Apostle Paul said when he was joyful and in prison.

Philippians 3:13-14 ~ "But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…"

We all need to forgive (not forget) past hurt. Yes, our past can continue to harm us even if we’ve distanced ourselves from it in time and physicality. I admit outright that I am still a work-in-progress as is every husband, father and son (if they are honest).  Our Father in Heaven is good at grinding away rough edges to make beautiful gems but it is a long process and it takes effort. The more hardened by sin and abuse we are the longer the grinding process will take. God, love and time can eventually soften what we are made of. It can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. It can also solidify a soft and weak faith into something as hard and sure as a diamond in a Kings Crown.

We need to stand down and drop our distrust like its scorching hot. Hot just like the piece of Hell's brimstone that it is. It serves no good purpose and it shows in reality that we are not trusting God. We need to disengage from an alert state or a state of readiness and allow God to be our sentinel. Relationships with God and others is no place for the practices of war. We should be saving that energy for the real war being waged in the spiritual realm against all the Christian brothers and sisters.


Just so I am perfectly clear with my readership...I am in no way beyond theses issues I speak of. I am very much right in the middle of them. I just need to get these pieces of information out there in a way that might help others see the nature of their struggles in a clearer light also. As I walk this path I slowly gain insight and tidbits to how my life has become a train wreck. I have also begun to see how God incrementally reveals these things piece by piece so not do destroy me outright. It is a tangled web of sin that I have created in my life. I see some of the answers but often times am at a loss on how to implement them to allow healing to take place. Every step is uphill not only for me...but also those around me that are the closest. For this I am ashamed.

February 16, 2015

Christian Manifesto VIII: Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son of God

Declaration VIII: Jesus Christ Is The Only Begotten Son of God

I believe in Jesus Christ who is the only begotten Son of God. Yes, I know, I could write a 100 pages on this declaration alone but for the sake of clarity and brevity I made this mercifully short. Because it is short it is concise for impact. So don't get too wee-wee'd up that I didn't write a dissertation of Christology and complete a theological discourse on Jesus' divine nature. Okay?

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John 5:19 ~ “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing.”

The Apostles’ Creed is centered on Jesus. It places Jesus Christ at the center between two shorter sections on God the Father and God the Spirit.  The Bible is clear that we could not know about the Father except through Jesus the Son, nor would we have the Holy Spirit unless Jesus sent Him to us when He departed.

John 14:6 ~ “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 16:7 ~ “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The Apostles’ Creed was created in the anti-Nicene age when Christ-centered conflicts were a central issue in the Church. Two great creeds were developed in order to define what we believe about the Trinity and in particular, Jesus Christ. They would be the Apostle’s Creed in conjunction with the Nicene Creed.

The statements about Jesus is very concise, very clearly articulated, and very reasoned. “Jesus” His human name leads to his functional position under the Father as the Son of God. He is only begotten, not created and is of the same essence of the Father. Jesus is therefore fully human and fully divine.

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” ~ Nicene Creed

The name/title Christ also points to His divine role as the Savior of God’s people. He is the Messiah (Χριστός/Christos in Greek: the anointed one). His relationship is generated out of the Father’s will; He is therefore “begotten”… “not made”. Jesus Christ is therefore the ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός or only begotten Son. When I say only begotten Son I mean μονογενής/monogenes in the original Greek. This literally means "one of a kind". Mono meaning only or one and genes meaning kind, class or type. In other words, Jesus is God's offspring in the sense that God is eternal and He belongs to God as Son. He exists from all eternity. It is characteristic of men, because of the imperfections of their nature, to beget in time; but God's offspring is eternal, His nature being always perfect. Same essence, different functions.

Essentially by saying μονογενής/monogenes of God I am implying divinity and metaphysical implications to Jesus. The new view of μονογενής/monogenes even in some Reformed and very conservative circles are insisting that μονογενής/monogenes merely means the only Son meaning a single child, nothing more. This understanding of μονογενής/monogenes robs Jesus of His divine essence in relation to the Father. To me this is abhorrent and unacceptable from a theological standpoint.

In the both the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed the statements about Jesus Christ sets forth Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father. He is equal with God in His person and nature, but functionally subordinate to God in His will and work. People often use the comparative adjective equal when discussing the characteristics of the Son and the Father but what many totally forget or overlook is how Jesus Himself considered the relationship between he and the Father. The finesse and repose with which Jesus deals with this issue is genius.

John 5:19-23  ~ “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Jesus never says he is equal to the Father as he is accused of by the agitated Pharisees (John 5:16-18). No, Jesus is much more tactful than to do something so rash. Instead Jesus shows the unity between Himself and the Father. From a flawed human standpoint it is easy to see this as an issue of equality but Jesus having been in direct face-to-face relationship with the Father since eternity past would view it more as it had been and still was…He viewed relationally. Equality speaks of different levels, unity speaks of Oneness of being with a plurality of persona. It speaks of Trinity. 

When we see what “equality” has wrought in our society today we see that it encourages independence. This is not what the relationship between the Father and Son is about. Those who are equal are usually independent and do not need to depend on one another in a functional manner. Unity on the other hand says something else to us totally. Unity of purpose speaks of a dependence on others to fulfil functions. Independence speaks of the promises of the serpent in the Garden. Unity speaks of the Kingdom promised by Jesus in the Prayer for the Disciples and all believers in John 17…

John 17:20-23 ~ “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus who was the Son of God is equal with God in nature and one with His word. As such, they are in complete unity with God. As the Bible passages clarify, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are interdependent. Jesus depends on the Father’s will and love, and the Father is dependent on the Son’s obedience both passive and active.

This unspoken unity between the persons of the Trinity is the exact same dynamic that holds the Church in permanency. The unity of persona and purpose is the same thing that tightly binds the individual members of the Church in unity through the Holy Spirit. All are held together both God and believer through the Spirit.

I believe if we would focus more on our unity in Christ in our families, our churches and society and worry less about our equality…we would actually get along a lot better and our morality would improve. Disunity with our fellow man and disunity with God can only lead to more unraveling and chaos.

…and we all know who the ruler of chaos is.

So when I say I believe in Jesus Christ and that he is the Only Begotten Son of God...now you know what I mean. Is that clear enough for everyone?

Supporting Scripture:

John 1:14 ~ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 ~ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 3:16 ~ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:18 ~ He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of

1 John 4:9 ~ In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

February 12, 2015

Christian Manifesto VII: Good Works

Declaration VII: True Christians Manifest Good Works

Matthew 5:16 ~ "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

I believe that a true Christian will manifest good works as a fruit or a outgrowth of what they are in Jesus Christ because they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Conversely, the works are not a work to gain salvation. Therefore salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The works of a Christian are the logical reaction of a person that believes in the magnanimous gift of the Gospel and realizes what God has done for them.

Titus 3:8 ~ “Those who have believed in God may devote themselves to good works.”

James 2:14-20   ~ “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

Let me be clear. Nothing you do will gain you salvation. That work has been completed by Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is nothing we do.

Ephesians 2:8 ~ “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”

Good deeds are mentioned throughout the Bible. It is especially focused on in James and in Titus. It is mentioned six times in three chapters of Titus. It is repeated shown that good works did not save but works proved saving faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith states:

“These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith” Westminster Confession of Faith 16, Part 2

These works become the main actions by which Christian values are put out into the world. Without these deeds driven on by the Spirit, our witness becomes null or muted as James states, faith without deeds is useless. We need to assure that in engaging in justice, grace and helping others we don't inadvertently make the Gospel into the social gospel. We must be careful to not do humanitarian actions for our own glorification or thinking that we ourselves are ringing in the Kingdom only the Lord can ring in.

Paul states in Titus 2:14 that Jesus died for the elect for this reason: “…to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works”. Are we doing what Jesus died for? Is the practice of good deeds even for those we don’t deem deserving characterize our lives? Charity begins at home in and the Church, but if it doesn’t work its way into the community at-large, something is missing.

If you are a Christian the Gospel becomes a call to action. As I’ve heard it said before, the Spirit in one’s heart is shown most profoundly in one’s worn-out soles (on their shoes) and callouses and dirt on one’s hands. They are deeds done not for selfish motive but through compulsion of the Holy Spirit and a desire to bring glory to God. If Christ in the Gospel is the root of our faith than part of the fruits are the deeds done out of a purified heart. Good works are our an educational example to our fellow believers and even the non-believer.

Titus 2:7 ~ "In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility"

If understood properly a Scriptural view of "good works" encompass every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God. They therefore become acts of worship before God also. That means that good works don’t just encompass charity to the poor, but also behaving in a holy way toward your neighbor and even your family whether you’re being watched or not. In truth you are always being watched as God is omniscient.

We were created for good work. 

Genesis 2:15 ~ "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." 

After we fell in Adam, God still used man for the same purpose (work) but because sin came into the world, God point man to the work of spreading the Gospel to overturn the very sin that man committed and fell into. We could've had it easy working in the Garden but instead, through our own fault we chose a much harder path. God though is still glorified because we are still being utilized for our original purpose, just in a different way. If we are indeed God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, how better can we reflect this fact than to show it in our own works that emulate His work of creation in us?

Let’s face it, it’s hard to criticize someone who is doing good actions for another person regardless of what their motive but when people realize the deeds are not selfishly motivated even the most jaded person sits up and takes notice. When the person doing the deed is a Christian, it makes even the jaded man look on in earnest.

February 9, 2015

A Sin That Fans The Flame: Ascribing Intent

A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle
El Greco
Ascribing intent to someone's actions. Also known as: Thinking the worst about someone. It is your own mind murdering a person's character before you take the time to find out the truth. There is no trust in the person or God here. Just distrust and a lack of faith.

Proverbs 17:20 ~ “A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.”

Proverbs 21:23 ~ “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

All sin is pointless and hurtful to self and others but some sins seem to amplify the negative impact in people’s lives. It is the very nature of living in community with others that there will inevitably be communication hiccups. We certainly do not need to help the interpersonal miscues along and foster relational friction. The Devil thrives on these small individual daily disasters to cause chaos and disorder in our homes, work, schools and the public square.

Another person gives you a look. Your wife never texted you back. Your friends went to lunch without you. If we look hard enough we can find reasons to be offended by other people’s behaviors all day and every day. Most often you being offended for no reason is because you’ve ascribed or attributed bad intent to people’s actions. Come to think of it, to ascribe any intent on a person’s behalf without knowing what they are really thinking is foolhardy and dangerous. It is also a complete lack of trust of the person (and others as we will learn). Taking every action or lack of action as a personal affront is a tremendous mistakes and only leads to heartburn or heartache.

When you assume people are angry, you usually respond in kind. When you assume people hate you, you usually respond in kind. It doesn’t take long to see the horrendous damage this mindset inflicts on one’s self and those around us unaware. Our proclivity to jump to conclusions about other people’s actions kindle fires that consume grace. The worst form of this is when humans ascribe bad intent to God. This of course is ridiculous and makes no sense when the Bible tells us that God does things in our best interest and for our long term benefit. What is sad is that we can indirectly ascribe bad intent to God indirectly by the way we tread other people. How you ask? Read on.

A person content in all circumstances that does not allow their circumstances or the intent of others to affect their walk with God anyway. When someone assumes the worst about others it screams of a much worse underlying relational condition with God. It assumes that things are not being orchestrated by God in your best interest or long-term benefit. To believe this is to not believe what the Bible has told is true. The Bible tells us that God does things to benefit us, not harm us. So by assuming the worst about someone exposes that we have assumed the worst about God’s intent also. This is blatant disobedience based in a total lack of faith.

Jeremiah 29:11 ~ For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Philippians 4:11 ~ “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t make every incident and event personal tragedy. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others. This isn’t smart nor is it Biblical. The only intent that we can know for certain has already been communicated to us through the Bible. It is God’s intent and he has a plan that is all but complete. A plan that involved our sinful condition, the sending of His Son in accord with Scripture. A plan that saw His Son crucified, buried and resurrected the third day. A plan that would restore man to the good graces of the Father justified and saved from their sins.

Furthermore, a person that loves does not assume the worst or ascribe intent to others actions without knowing for sure of the intent behind the action. 1 Corinthians 13:5 indirectly speaks to ascribing intent. It tells us that love…

1 Corinthians 13:5 ~ “…does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

This verse is the dividing line between good and evil, love and hate. It is at this very point that a Christians has to make a decision. They can dishonor others, self-seek, easily angered, and keep records of wrongs….or not. To choose to do so forces a person to make many assumptions that might not be true….or they can just love a person and chose to overlook many of the perceived faults. Even if there was malicious intent by another, we still have a choice in how to respond to it and to assume the worst is never better than an attempt to first forgive.

Love does not assume the worst about other people. Love doesn’t jump to conclusions. It seeks to understand the other person even if we feel we’ve been wronged. Love seeks to get all the facts of the situation before making a final decision that will affect the relationship with other people and God. Thinking the best of others is not naivety. As Christians we are still called to be critically discerning. To separate the good from the bad. If there is an overbearing or overt evidence of malevolent intent we need to tread cautiously but toe assume everyone is evil and no one does things for righteous reasons is to ignore a majority of Scripture. Yes, man is inherently fallen and sinful but through Christ, men are saved and can do things for righteous reasons. To assume otherwise is to doubt God’s word. Again, a lack of faith.

James 1:19-20 ~ “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

If we do not assume good intent of others actions we therefore delight in negativity and wrongdoing o the other person. As the Proverb at the beginning of this post alludes to, when we assume bad intent we will set ourselves on a footing for slanderous speech and maligning people. All this because we feel we’ve been wronged…even when we haven’t. We become the thing that we accuse the other person of being. Instead of the accused being guilty of the sin we’ve accused them of (slander), we become the thing we despise. So not only are we guilty of being slanderous ascribing guilt to the innocent which is injustice, we also become guilty of hypocrisy at the same time.

February 4, 2015

Christian Manifesto VI: Sound Doctrine

I believe in the proclamation, teaching or preaching of sound Christian doctrine.

“You will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:6

As G.K. Chesterton once said:
“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

We are in a really bad situation in this country and in the world today. The ever shifting sands of cultural opinion has led to societal confusion and moral inconsistency. In worst-case scenarios it has led to horrible morals or a complete lack of them. We are a confused and gullible generation just as the last few have been. The Church which needs to be the moral and wise lamp post for society has caved into cultural mores and become just like the indecisive culture.

All this to say that the church should’ve been standing firm in logic, wisdom and above all….doctrine. Once the Church cut adrift from Scripture, old heresies and moral vacillation set it. With no basis for truth and morality the church strayed just like the society that surrounded it. Now all that is a left is a handful of biblically literate and biblically obedient churches to hold the line as the entirety of western civilization becomes more uncivilized and morally debased. The true Church has now become the rather small moral and ostracized anchor for such an unwieldy postmodern monstrosity. A society that doesn’t even take the Church serious because it has vacillated too much or contradicted its teachings with its actions.

Heresies arise because of bad teaching or failure to teach. Proper doctrine and theology should always back church preaching and teaching. Proper doctrine and theology is formulated from a proper understanding of Scripture. In the passage above Paul tells Timothy to be trained in the words of faith and the good doctrine that he has followed up to the time of the writing of the letter. These words of faith and doctrine we have are contained in the Bible. Paul will later go on to exhort Timothy to…

1 Timothy 4:6-7 ~ “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

1 Timothy 4:11 ~ “Command and teach these things.”

1 Timothy 4:13-16 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul is telling Timothy (and us) to stand firm in our faith and not to be swayed by surrounding cultural and societal anomalies. By dedication or efforts to pursue sound doctrine, teaching and preaching we are spending time immersed in correct thinking. What we are not doing is going out in the world having our thinking impaired or totally derailed. Paul is emphatic. In verse 13 in the Greek he uses the direct article “the” to preface the nouns. We are to be devoted to, “the reading, the preaching and the teaching.” Reading, preaching and teaching what? The Word. The Gospel. The truths of God. It is in these three that the nucleus or core of the faith are sustained. Once we understand and take to heart these things we have the basis for our salvation and God’s purposes. This is the focus of the early Christian faith (see Declaration 5). It is here we see what amounts to a piece of discipleship.  That is why we have things today like the Apostles Creed, Athanasian Creed, Chalcedonian Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Confession of Faith, etc that are still adhered to.

When this nucleus given to us by Paul begins to dissolve or soften, so does the faith. This is what we see in society that have given way in doctrine to things like the divinity or Christ, the inerrancy and accuracy of Scripture and other core doctrines. We see an ever-shifting morass of doctrinal error and relativistic truth. To me this is just insane. Drifts from doctrine lead to false teaching sects that become incompatible and hostile to the true faith that has survived intact since the time of Christ. In time it devolves into outright heresy. Why would it need to change now?

I have been routinely told that being dogmatic about doctrine is harsh and unloving. To passively allow error and not speak truth into the situation is foolishness. A failure to act in these situations knowing something is wrong or theologically unsound is the equivalent of moral apathy or complete ambivalence. It is the moral / theological equivalent of watching a murder unfold and saying nothing knowing you can stop it. We are told that by being “caustic” or “abrasive” in this type of an approach we are being unloving. We need to be loving and not be confrontational with the rogue agents in the Church. Really? What is more unloving, allowing someone to pursue errant theology that condemns and damns them (and others) or correcting their errant philosophies and saving them from the fact that they are not as biblical as they thought they were?

Sorry folks, I’ll err on the side of caution here and rebuke 100 times over rather than let some damn themselves. I’d rather be perceived as harsh and help save someone with a harsh truth rather then be polite to them and damn them to Hell. To me, being unloving is not telling someone they are wrong when it is a potential error, especially in aa primary doctrinal salvation-based issue. If I hated them I would remain silent. My rebuke shows my love. Many members within churches have this one completely backwards. I rebuke you because I love you, not because I don’t.

We must remain vigilant to even the slightest hint of tolerating false belief. True doctrine that is based in Scripture leads to godliness and holiness. That is the true test of what is proper biblical teaching. What passes itself off as Christian teaching most times in the culture is actually destroying society morally. This should tell you all it needs to tell you about the source of the truth.

Finally, we need to tell the truth no matter how we are received or perceived.

2 Timothy 4: 2 "...Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

February 1, 2015

Christian Manifesto V: The Primacy of The Gospel

Declaration V: The Gospel of Jesus Christ Is Primary

Romans 8:1-4 ~ Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do, because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful man as a sin offering.  He condemned sin in sinful man that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in those who do not walk according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ~ “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

The church is not a business but it certainly has matters to deal with. The church does not have a business mission statement but it most certainly has a mission for and from God. Some would see it otherwise but the most important thing in Christianity is the Gospel. It isn't the newest business fad incorporated into the way we "do church".

We need to keep the most important thing…the most important thing. Some will opt to put music or worship first but Christianity without its message of redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ isn’t even a valid religion. We can only fulfill Romans 8:1-4 as regenerate sinners. Only regenerate sinners, born of the Spirit from above, by the power of the Gospel, can be and do what God expects from us.

The Gospel must come first. Every Christian must first be Gospel-oriented and Gospel-driven. We must preach the Gospel, plant churches, train others to witness, engage in ministry and missions and do so via mercy and grace.
“Whatever subject I preach, I do not stop until I reach the Savior, the Lord Jesus, for in Him are all things.  I take my text and make a beeline toward the cross.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
As they say in Star Trek, this is the prime directive. This is numero uno when it comes to living out our faith. It is why God came into the world and then left the world and left his church here on terra firma. We must spread the Good News. We must be dogmatic about this point. This is hardcore doctrine. On this the entire Christian faith sinks of swims. This is thee distinctive feature of Christianity that no other religion can claim. In the Gospel we move from just a critique of knowledge into the realm of physical reality about Jesus Christ. It is a historical narrative through which God Himself fulfils promise of faith.

When we adhere to the precepts of the Gospel it requires a manifestation of certain behaviors that act as indicators of where a believe stands in relation to the faith and what they believe about the Gospel. According to Martin Luther, one of the behaviors that should be observable is (1) repentance, or turning to God, and this turn concerns the entire life of the believer. (2) That divine mercy can only be received in faith as a free gift. (3) The true treasure of the church is the gospel of the grace and glory of God in the crucified and risen Christ, which should be openly exhibited, freely offered, and plainly explained for the sake of those that are willing to repent.

The Gospel needs no additions to dress it up either. We don’t need to decorate the Gospel with frills.  We need not embellish its story; it needs no human emotion nor sensation. It is not improved by flamboyant personality or razor-sharp oratory skill.  A person need only teach or preach the gospel. 

Romans 1:16 ~ “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
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