Who is, and who is not, a Christian?

In recent days I have been assaulted with various claims by people who believe themselves to be Christians, who…I might add…are in error in that belief.

“Those are strong words, Dave.”

Yes, they are, because the Scriptures are very black and white…there’s none of this practicing homosexuals can be Christians nonsense in the Scriptures. There’s none of this I can say “f**k” and still be a Christian nonsense. There’s more, but let’s not jump off the top of the building, we need to work our way to the top from the bottom.

Let me start out by reflectively saying that I do not hate anyone, but I do hate. What I hate is what God hates – that means, first and foremost, I hate lies in the form of false ideologies and, in particular, false teachings and false doctrines – whether they be of a religious nature (for example: “once saved, always saved” nonsense doctrine) or of a worldly nature (for example: “evolutionary theory has been demonstrated as a fact” nonsense when the facts to not support the theory like evolutionist’s portray it).

This is why, false ideologies lead to false teachings, and false teachings lead to false doctrines – and false doctrines take people to hell. We are going to examine numerous false ideologies – myths – within people’s minds concerning Christianity and what it means to be a Christian (if you think that I miss something, let me know and we will add it)…because false doctrines have only one purpose, born of demonic origins within the minds of people – to separate people from God. My motivation is two-fold; Scriptural truth for the sake of truth itself, and making the effort to give people that truth so that they can, as Paul says, “examine yourselves to see whether or not you are really in the Faith” (II Cor. 13:5).

Simply because, if you claim to be a Christian, but don’t pass the test of examination, then you are deceiving yourself into thinking that you are OK with God when you really are outside the ark of safety. How do people deceive themselves? James says it quite nicely…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

We shall observe just how true his words are as we continue. We need to begin from the beginning, from the foundation, as Paul puts it, there is no “foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Notice that he didn’t say the gospel, which some erroneous interpret his words here to mean. No, he said that the foundation that was laid was “Jesus Christ” Himself, and there is a reason for this – because we are told in Scripture that Jesus is the “truth” and the “light” and that if we are in Him, we walk in the Light… but if we do not walk in Him, then we walk in darkness, “and the darkness has blinded their eyes” (I John 2:11), meaning that they can’t even see or understand the truth.

Therefore, in order to understand who is and who is not a Christian according to the Scriptures, we first must look at how a person can become a Christian. What do the Scriptures tell us about what a Christian is? We will go by the numbers:

A Christian is someone who has received salvation from the sins of their past sinful lifestyle by receiving Christ as their Savior.

How does one “get saved?” This is perhaps one of the most important questions, and one that satan has fought to twist through false teachings since the Reformation. It is falsely taught all over this country today that one gets saved the moment they come to faith in Christ – but this is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures, it is wholly part of the false doctrines of Calvinism. In order to get saved according to the Scriptures, one must first come to faith in Christ, that is the first “step” if you will…

 

John 3:15-16
15 that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Those versions of the Scriptures that read John 3:16 as “shall not perish” violate numerous grammatical points, and is a gross mistranslation of the Greek text (which you can find detailed in my other posts so I will not detail it here). Jesus says clearly and plainly, that believing does NOT save anyone, it is only one step in the process of decision-making to come to God on His terms. Anyone who tries to come to God on his own terms will wake up one day in eternal flames. God is the sovereign, He makes the rules and we either come to Him on His terms, or we choose the alternative. That is black and white, if that offends you, then so be it.

Jesus says, “may have eternal life” and “should not perish” because faith is only one prerequisite to coming to God…

 

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

 

After one comes to saving faith in Christ, he must then count the cost of walking with Christ and choose to repent from his past sinful lifestyle (“saving faith” does not mean that they are saved because they have chosen to believe, it means that there is a difference between living faith, and dead faith, which James explains in his letter – faith that is not made living by walking in obedience to what one claims to believe, is dead faith; and dead faith can’t save anyone – Jam. 2:14-26). God will not forgive and save someone if they do not first repent (choose to turn away) from practicing the sinful things that they used to practice – because there’s no reason to…

 

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Luke 13:3
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

 

Now, the false doctrines of Calvinism and others, tells people that you don’t have to do anything in order to get saved but believe in Jesus – yet we can clearly see in the above passages that repentance is another prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness. Peter, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 3:19, clearly gives the indication that unless one repents, even though he may believe in Jesus, he cannot have his sins blotted out. This is also his intended meaning here…

 

Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter states explicitly that unless one repents, as one of the prerequisites, then he will not be forgiven of his sins – as well as introducing here another prerequisite to receiving salvation, being water baptized into Christ. This point Calvinists and others also chide against because they give ear to doctrines of demons and seducing spirits, as Paul tells us people would do in the last days (I Tim. 4:1). I will assume the reader has never read this before, so I will detail it here because of its great importance. We see that water baptism into Christ is how the Scriptures teach us to be saved, which is in direct contradiction as to what the ignorant and unstable in the Scriptures teach…

 

Acts 18:24-26
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

 

Apollos was a man who thought of himself as a Christian…he believed in Christ, he was also competent in the Scriptures, the Spirit tells us. He taught in the synagogue the things concerning Jesus accurately – that is, that Jesus was the Messiah…BUT, there’s that key little phrase that the Spirit had Luke write into the paragraph that upon first glance really doesn’t make much sense. Luke writes that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John,” meaning that Apollos had not yet been baptized into Christ.

“So what?” you might ask. This is where cultural understanding cuts most Americans off from getting the full understanding and grasp of the NT Scriptures…every Redemptive Covenant has a God-given ceremonial rite of entry, EVERY Redemptive Covenant. The New Covenant is a Redemptive Covenant, and no one enters into that covenant unless they enter it by the way that God has decreed. The way of entry into the Old Covenant was circumcision, and the way of entry into the New Covenant, by God’s decree, is water baptism. Period. That is what the Scriptures teach, therefore that is the truth on the matter.

“Where does the Scriptures teach that water baptism is how we enter into Christ? And what does entering into Christ have to do with salvation?” Good questions, I’m glad you asked…

 

Isaiah 42:6
I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

Isaiah 49:8
Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered You; in a day of salvation I have helped You; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,”

 

Both of these passages are part of Messianic Prophecies (I’ll let you read the whole prophesies on your own if you so wish) where God the Father is speaking to God the Son as the coming Messiah, and is telling Him that He will make Him a living covenant. God is speaking concerning the New Covenant, and He is telling you and I that He has made Jesus Christ the Living embodiment of the New Covenant – Jesus IS the Living New Covenant.

This has dramatic impact upon how we are to read and interpret the NT Scriptures, because as I have stated many times before, the New Testament is NOT a testament at all, it is a covenant – to be precise, it is an Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) Covenant, fashioned after ANE covenants and under the authoritative legal standing of ANE covenant principles of operation. As the living New Covenant, pretty much every word that Jesus ever spoke was covenant stipulation. This also has a direct impact upon our current discussion…

 

Romans 6:3
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have entered into Christ.

 

No one comes to be “in Christ” simply because they believe in Him, there is only one way to enter into Christ according to the Scriptures, and that is through the God-ordained ceremonial rite of entry of water baptism. This is why Peter said in Acts 2:38 above that one must not only repent in order to have their sins forgiven, but that they must also be water baptized in the name of Jesus, because to be water baptized in Jesus’ name is to be water baptized into Jesus. Christ Himself tells us that water baptism is necessary in order to receive salvation from sin…

 

John 3:5
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

When Jesus uses the phrase, “born of water” he is not referencing physical birth as Calvinism and other false doctrines teach (in which they make the same ridiculous mistake that Nicodemus made and which Jesus chided him for), He was referencing water baptism. This can be clearly observed in light of the other passages on water baptism and entering into Christ when we apply the principles of Biblical interpretation to the study, taking clear passages to illuminate John 3:5 where Jesus speaks in a figurative manner. He says that unless one is baptized – thereby entering into Christ the Living New Covenant – a man cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Why?

Because the Kingdom of God is a covenant kingdom, and no one enters the kingdom of God unless they are in covenant with God. Therefore, no one can receive salvation from their sins and enter into the kingdom of God unless they enter into Christ through water baptism. This is how people get saved today under the auspices of the New Covenant, according to the Scriptures – and not according to the false teachings of men who wish to be teachers of God’s Word who neither know the Scriptures nor God Himself…

 

Jeremiah 2:8
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know Me; the shepherds transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

 

In this respect, little has changed since the days of Jeremiah.

In concluding this portion of the discussion, one gets saved by first coming to faith in Christ (because if one does not believe in Christ, then one will not repent or get baptized), then counting the cost of following Christ, called being a disciple of Christ, and then receives water baptism into Christ where salvation is meted out to him (see the earlier post on Salvation and Eternal Life, where we address that salvation from sin is part of the six elements of the atonement in Christ). Salvation is found only “in Christ,” therefore, unless one is abiding in Christ, he does not have salvation – no matter what he believes…

 

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

 

Next…

Some Myths about who and what a Christian is:

 

1.  Some people think that because they got saved 5, 10, 20 years ago, that they are still Christians today.

This plays into the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved” nonsense.

Nope, this is not what the Scriptures teach. The word “Christian” means “Christ-like” or “follower of Christ,” both terms employed in the understanding that a Christian is one who is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple? The word means one who follows the teaching and lifestyle of another, a prominent teacher or Rabbi, for example. Therefore, a Christian is one who DOES, not one who DID something years ago.

A Christian is one who is following the teachings in their everyday lives which Christ taught, and which the apostles handed down to us in the NT Scriptures. It matters not if you “got saved” 30 years ago if you are not actively following after God today in obedience to Him and His Word…if you make a practice of lying, then you are not a Christian. If you make it a practice to close your heart off from your spouse, withholding your affections for no valid reason, then you are not a Christian. If you practice speeding down the road breaking the speed limit after understanding that the Scriptures tell us to obey the laws of the land, then you are not a Christian.

If you make it a daily practice to say cuss words, then you are not a Christian. If you don’t make it a practice to love on people, helping them when you have the opportunity to do so, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to practice daily putting your flesh upon the cross so that you can walk in the Spirit, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to engage God in personal relationship on an on-going lifestyle, then you are not a Christian. A person is not a Christian because they got saved in the past, a person is a Christian if, and only if, they are currently walking in obedience to God in Christ according to “the way of God” as we observed in Acts 18 above with Apollos.

Harsh words? Jesus said that unless you are willing to give up all that you have or hold dear, all of your passions and dreams, all of your desires and the distractions that you love to participate in, then you cannot be His disciple…

 

Luke 14:27-33
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.

 

Why does Jesus say that anyone who does not renounce all that he has, “cannot be My disciple?” It’s because if you let anything come between you and Him, then that distraction will prevent you from being ABLE to follow Him in what He has called us to do. I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am playing video games…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am sitting on the couch watching hours of TV or episode after episode of something on Netflix…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am engaging in various species of entertainment. I can’t follow after Christ if I love my wife more than I love the Lord, and spend most of my time trying to please her rather than trying to please Him. She can’t get me into heaven, only I can do that.

 

2.  Some people think that they are Christians simply because they believe in Jesus or God.

Nope, this is one of the biggest lies floating around the church landscape today…”Oh, I believe in God, so I am a Christian.” Sorry, that’s not how it works. You can believe all you want to that you are a car, and go stand in your garage for hours at a time – but you are delusional! I can believe that I can walk through walls or fly, but the facts of reality demonstrate something very different. No one is a Christian simply because they believe in God, and James says that the demon believe in God, but their belief does not give them amnesty from what they have done and continue to do. Again, listen to James’ words…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

It reads a little differently in the Greek…”But be obedient to what the Word tells you to do, not just listening to what is said, failing to practice what you hear – because this is how you deceive yourselves.” What does he mean? In order to answer this, we need to look at some other passages…

 

Hebrews 4:12
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
And because of this, we also give thanks to God continually, that you received the Word of God that you heard from us and accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which is active in those who consistently believe.

 

The Word of God is living and active in the lives of those who believe and walk in obedience to (practice as a lifestyle) what the Word of God demands from us. It does no good to only listen to what the Word has to say if you do not practice what it tells you to do in obedience to God – because that is what being a Christ follower is all about. To follow Christ you MUST obey what He tells you to do – if you do not walk in obedience to Him, then you are not following Him, and you are NOT a Christian, no matter what you choose to believe.

The Word of God can only work in our lives as we walk in obedience to it, as we practice what God tells us in His Word to do. If we are not putting the Word into action in our lives, then it cannot do what God has sent it into our lives to do. Getting back to the point, no one is saved just because they believe in God, just as no one is a Christian just because they believe in God. That is a doctrine straight from the bowels of hell.

 

3.  I am a Christian because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the pastor one day, or because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the guy on TV.

Nope…not really. I do concede that I have spoken to at least one person that said the sinner’s prayer with a TV preacher and seems to have genuinely received salvation out of that experience, but that is a rarity and I can only think that somewhere in the TV preacher’s sermon that he addressed repenting in order to get saved.

“But wait a minute…you said earlier that one must receive water baptism into Christ in order to get saved, now you are backpedaling.”

No, not quite. I had yet to get into all the details of differing scenarios…which we will now address. Some of you earlier got all bent out of shape when I stated that one must be water baptized in order to receive salvation from sin, and instantly – and ignorantly – regurgitated the same nonsense that you have learned from others…”what about the thief on the cross who was accepted by Christ, you are saying that he wasn’t really saved because he didn’t get baptized”…or…”you forgot about Cornelius and his family who was apparently saved by faith and was baptized in the Holy Spirit before they were water baptized, so you are wrong!”

No, I didn’t forget about them, I just waited until now to address the situations. First, God is holy and righteous, He will ALWAYS act in a righteous way. If God did not accept the thief on the cross just because he didn’t have the OPPORTUNITY to receive water baptism, according to His Word, then He would not have been acting in a righteous and upright way on the thief’s account. If one does not have the opportunity to receive water baptism, do you really think that God will not honor such a person’s faith? Again, He would not be righteous if He didn’t. The thief on the cross is reminiscent of death-bed conversions, where people do not have the opportunity to receive water baptism…so what I am saying is that God does not bend the rules, but He makes calculated exceptions where judgment is concerned in receiving people through faith. He is God, that is His prerogative to do so.

As for Cornelius and his family, we must look at the context of what was happening. First, the church, being up to this point strictly Jewish in nature, was refusing to take the gospel to the Gentiles (which is why God chose Paul rather than Matthias, whom we never hear about again after his ‘election’ to be the 12th apostle by Peter – Acts 1:15-26). God had to get the church’s attention, to recall to them the prophesies that the gospel would be made available to all the world, not just the Jews, under the New Covenant. And working through Cornelius was how God chose to do so.

In short, this was a unique incident in the Scriptures – no one ever received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ before Cornelius in the Scriptures (aside from the thief on the cross), and no one in the Scriptures received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ after Cornelius in the Scriptures. It may indeed have taken place, but it is not recorded. I say that because I personally know about myself receiving salvation without receiving water baptism, as well as others who have also received Christ without having been water baptized.

“Dude, you are so confused…your brain is out in left field.”

No, I just understand covenanting, and most of those reading this blog do not. Again – God will ALWAYS act in accordance with righteousness, that is, in what is RIGHT. Here is the scenario (which you can get in greater detail than what I am going to give here, in the book: The Gospel According to ANE Covenant Understanding click here),  the church of the first century understood covenant because the Middle East was the center of ANE covenanting. Covenants were a part of their daily life, so they understood like we in western civilization do not, all of the “in’s and out’s” of covenanting. Once the church became predominantly Gentile, particularly after the third century and the church spread over Europe and beyond, the knowledge and understanding of ANE covenanting – and that the New Testament is a covenant, NOT a testament – was all but lost to the church.

A little of that knowledge returned to the church after the Reformation, but it was horribly warped and distorted through Reformed ‘Covenant Theology.’ But solid introduction to ANE covenants and how they impact our understanding of the NT Scriptures did not begin in the church again until the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, and have only recently (within the last 20 years) have become widely understood in the Theological community. Sadly, however, for whatever biased reasons, the heads of pretty much every denomination in this country have not seen fit to get this pertinent information into the hands of their pastors and evangelists. One of the primary effects of covenant understanding is that covenant places boundaries upon how we are to interpret the Scriptures, and because we have not had closed boundaries since the Reformation, we have many false teachings in the church today because of it. The boundaries set by the New Covenant rectifies, clarifies, and separates the intended meaning of many passages from the many false interpretations assigned to them.

That being said, those who heard Jesus teach, and those who heard Paul preach, understood perfectly that they were addressing the gospel as the outworking of the New Covenant – and we, for the most part, do not. They understood that in order to get saved one had to be a participant in the covenant that made salvation possible – and because the Reformers didn’t have that understanding, they claimed – in great error – that all you have to go in order to get saved is to believe in Jesus. So, when it comes to today, and the vast majority of people do not understand covenant, nor that they must be in the New Covenant (that is, in Christ) in order to have salvation – being falsely taught that all they have to do is believe in Christ – God had to make a decision…

Was he going to let the lost knowledge of covenanting and how it affects our understanding of the Scriptures keep millions of people out of relationship with Him, or was He going to do the RIGHT thing and accept people based upon what they know, and not what they don’t know? So…people today can get saved if they come to faith in Christ, repent, and ask God to forgive them of their sins and come into their lives, without receiving water baptism into Christ. HOWEVER, when a person hears that the Scriptures do dictate that water baptism is necessary in order for them to enter into Christ and have eternal life, and if that person rejects that information for no other reason than because of their bias, in not seeking the truth of God’s Word but just protecting and defending their bias – that person’s standing with God as having eternal life has now become jeopardized by his unwillingness to heed the truth of God’s Word.

To put it simply,  I would not want to be standing in that man’s shoes when he stands before God on judgment day…because he was shown the truth of God’s word – “the way of God more accurately,” and he refused to listen because of his arrogance and pride in his doctrine defending without truth seeking. I will defend what I know, but only after listening to what the other person has to say (because he may have greater Light on something that I don’t yet have) and then lining it up with what the Scriptures have to say, but I am not a bias-defender above truth-seeking.

 

4.  Practicing homosexuals can be Christians, so stop saying they aren’t.

Wrong…so dead wrong that its almost laughable if it wasn’t so stinking sad. What does the Scriptures say on the subject?

 

 

Leviticus 18:22
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 1:21-32                                                                                                                 Because although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

The Scriptures tell us that practicing homosexuals (which includes lesbians) are not saved, neither can they be while they continue to practice such behavior. Is that any different from practicing lying, stealing, prostitution, murder, child molesting, or any other behavior that God condemns? No, it isn’t, so I am not picking on homosexuals – the facts are the facts.

If you practice lying to people, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice thievery, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice any kind of sin, in any way, shape, or form, then you are not a Christian… this is what the Spirit tells us through John the apostle…

 

1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:6
whoever says that he abides in Christ will walk in the same way in which He walked.

1 John 3:6-10
6 No one who abides in Christ keeps practicing sin; no one who keeps practicing sin has either seen Him or known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on practicing sin because he has been born of God.
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 

In I John 2:4 God tells us that those who claim to know God (i.e., claim to be saved) but who do not keep His commandments, is a liar and is not saved and does not know God. In the next verse He says that those who abide in Christ (i.e., have eternal life) are those who practice walking in the way that Christ walked – that is, in righteousness and holiness. In the third passage, the Spirit tells us through John that no one who is abiding in Christ practices sin…any sin…period. Whoever practices righteousness (i.e., doing what is right in God’s eyes, which is the same as saying one who does not practice sin) is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Whoever practices sin “is of the devil”…those who do not practice righteousness, nor loving on others in their time of need, are not of God – meaning that they are not saved nor do they have eternal life. In short, they are not Christians.

Now there are those out there, in their efforts to justify their sinful behavior before God, who claim that the Christian sins against the homosexual by calling him out on his sin – wrong answer. There is a judgmental way of doing that which IS WRONG…but as Paul says, “Am I now your enemy because I tell you the truth?” You may consider me your enemy because you don’t like what I am saying, but that does not mean that I consider you my enemy. The truth sets people free – lies of satan keep people bound to sin and eventually take them to hell. I do not condemn, that is not my place nor my authority. My authority is in preaching and teaching the truths of the Word of God, once I do so, the hearer has the responsibility to align his beliefs and life with the Word of God, or choose to reject it. Those who reject the Word of God reject God, and in doing so take themselves into a world of hurt and suffering, just as Paul lines out in Romans 1:18-32, which I will not post here, you can look it up for yourself.

 

5.  Homosexuals are born that way, they cannot help the way they feel.

Nope, that is neither true according to the Scriptures, nor according to science. This myth has entered into the church scene because pastors and teachers who are not saved, take the word of gay scientists over and above what the Word of God tells us. We will hit the gay gene myth here in a second, but first lets look and see what God has to say about the lie that He supposedly makes people born homosexuals…

 

Ecclesiastes 7:29
See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have chosen to go their own way.

 

That word for upright is the Hebrew word yasar, meaning straight, just, righteous in God’s eyes, which is why if an infant dies before the age of accountability, it goes straight to heaven because it has not yet come to understand the difference between right and wrong and has purposely chosen to sin. In other words, God makes all people perfect in His eyes from inception; the Scriptures do tell us that we were conceived in sin, but He is not saying that we are sinful from conception, He is saying that the flesh is sinful, not the baby.

God condemns homosexual activity, which we have already observed above, therefore…if God turns around and causes, or allows, people to be born homosexual, then He cannot be just or righteous. That’s like saying that after God made black people, He turns around and condemns them all to hell because they are black, not because of their choices. Sorry, but that is not Scriptural, God does not create some people through pro-creation to be something that He explicitly condemns – what that is, is the twisted minds of people trying to talk their way out of hell-fire while remaining in their chosen sin.

But, let’s be fair…what about people who are homosexuals who genuinely feel and believe that they were born gay (not just saying so in order to bolster their justification when it isn’t true)? Can there be any kind of truth to this scenario? There is truth, but not that people are born gay…let us look at another spiritual conception akin to this one. People who believe in reincarnation because they have vivid memories of their so-called passed lives, are being deceived through the means of possession by what the Bible calls as ‘familiar spirits’ (demons masquerading themselves for the purpose of deception). These people claim to have had these memories of their past lives early on in childhood…the most famous of cases is that of Shirley Maclain, who claims to have been reincarnated now for about 7 times, from (supposedly) a life of an Atlantean before it sank, to an American Indian princess, to prostitutes.

But the Scriptures tell us that reincarnation is a hoax, that it isn’t real…

 

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

 

Reincarnation is from eastern mysticism, but the Scriptures teach that demons masquerading as ‘familiar spirits’ impersonate those whom they have possessed in the past. When people go to seances to speak to someone who has died…they cannot actually speak to the dead, because the dead are either in heaven or in hell, they don’t float around the earth and haunt houses or any of that nonsense. Those spirits which impersonate the dead are familiar spirits – that is, demons who possessed those people and who have all of their memories…and in the case of reincarnation, pass those memories on to those whom they are now possessing, making them believe that they have been reincarnated. Why would demons do that? Because the Word of God says that men die one time, and then wait to be judged in eternity…so if they can make people believe what is in contradiction to Scripture, then they effectively nullify saving faith in that person, and chalk one more soul for hell-fire.

In the same way, some people who genuinely believe they have been born gay, may be possessed from childhood and the demon possessing them gives them those homosexual tendencies. To many this may sound odd, but it really isn’t. The gospels record children being demon possessed in the Scriptures, and we even have modern day reports of child possessions (demons possess children in South America; demon possessed boy glides backwards across floor and walks up the wall). People only choose not to believe that a child could be demon possessed because people don’t want to believe in demons – however, since man dies one time and then goes to either heaven or to hell waiting for judgment, the only spirits left here on earth are demons and angels, and angels don’t deceive people, only demons do. Demons haunt houses, demons possess people, demons make people believe that they have been reincarnated, demons make people believe that they have been abducted by aliens, etc.

“Are you saying that all people who are homosexual are demon possessed? That’s ridiculous!”

Yes, that would be ridiculous, and that is why that’s not what I am saying. Some people who have had such homosexual tendencies since childhood may well be possessed since childhood, but the Scriptures tell us that for the most part (that is, apart from those who are being deceived into believing that they were born gay), the homosexual lifestyle is a chosen lifestyle, from one or another reason. I know a man who was straight until one of his friends asked him to go to a gay bar with him because he didn’t want to go alone – in my book, it would have been a great mistake to go with him, you are just walking into the snakes den. But he went because this guy was his friend.

But, during the course of the night, this guy was raped by a homosexual, and from that very night began having supernatural experiences from demonic sources. He could see the demon, it would manifest itself to him and talk to him. It would tell him that he now belonged to the demon, and that he would do with him whatever he liked. Ever since that night, this guy had strong homosexual urges – so what happened? From all that we have covered from above, and some new information I am about to give you, this poor guy became demon possessed because the guy that raped him was possessed by the same demon. The Scriptures tell us that two people who have sex, as a spiritual principle, become one person – that is, one life lived in two individuals.

This is one reason why God commands that we not have sex until we are married, and that we only have sex with our husband or wife, because we will become one with them when we consummate the marriage relationship. Every time a person has sex with someone, they break that supernatural tie to the one before, which tears one’s soul. So, after a man has had so many sex partners, and his soul has been torn several times, he becomes numb to things…he comes to the place where he doesn’t feel anything for anyone anymore, and it only gets worse and worse. Pretty soon, he (or she) is unable to form any spiritual attachment to anyone, and it only gets worse from there.

So, if a man is possessed by a demon, and he has sex with another person (straight or homosexual, it doesn’t matter, demons aren’t discriminant), he becomes one life with that person because of the spiritual principle, and now the demon possessing him has access to the person he is now one with. What does this have to do with a person who believes he was born homosexual? I am just showing that in many cases – not all cases – demon possession plays a key factor in homosexual activity…in fact, any activity that goes against Scripture. The demon possessed person will not love on you, to the contrary, they make those whom they possess do anything that they can do that is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach.

How would a child get demon possessed? How indeed…how did the children that Jesus cast demons out of get possessed? I can’t answer that, all I can do is show that it is possible today through the activities of their parents when they were infants (or older). If the parents played D&D or played with Ouiji boards, or dabbled in witchcraft (which is on the rise and has been for the last 30 years), then the child in the house was an easy target for possession. Parents do stupid things sometimes that allow demonic activity into their homes…doing drugs, games, sexual perversions, having sex outside of marriage… anything that is strictly forbidden in Scripture, when one participates in it, can lead to demon possession.

I used to work in law enforcement for 25 years, in the county jail in California, and many times we had possessed people coming in that there was no doubt that they were possessed. The courts would label them as crazy and assign them to mental facilities, because the world does not want to believe that demons are real – because if they concede to demons, then the next step is to conceding to the Bible which tells us all about them. Anyway, let’s not get off track…

 

What marks a person as a Christian or not, is not so much what they believe as it is, in the short, what they do. You can believe, but if you do not align your behavior and life according to what God tells you to do – and stop doing what He tells you to stop doing – then you are not a Christian. Remember, the word means Christ-follower, or Christlike…you are not Christlike if you are practicing lying, stealing, being mean to people, using cuss words every paragraph (or worse), etc.

Too many people today in the church are walking the fuzzy road of their own making, and not following Christ according “to the way of God.” Jesus said there are two roads, the broad road which leads to destruction that many, many take…and the narrow road, which few find and walk. Far too many people are choosing to believe what the world says over and above what the Scriptures say. When a person who was at one time “born again” now chooses to believe that they don’t have to do everything that God tells them to do…when they choose to believe that homosexuals are born that way (even when science decries the nonsense that such behavior is directly attributable to genetic factors), even for the sake of their ailing conscience because one of their children chooses to be gay (and I can sympathize, but I would not ever compromise)…then such people are choosing lies over the truth, which takes them right back to Paul’s words in Romans 1:18-32.

When we reject the truth of God’s Word, and choose to accept the lies of the world, then we are, in fact, rejecting the God who spoke and wrote that Word. When we reject the light of the truth, all that remains for such people is the deception of the darkness which now darkens their minds and keeps them blinded from the truth.

You cannot reject truth and expect to hold truth, that is psychotic – yet that is exactly what many today who call themselves Christians, but are not, do.

But being a Christian is far more…one can have faith, repent, enter into Christ through water baptism and gain eternal life…and then never take that eternal life to its purpose…

 

John 17:3
And this is the purpose of eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

 

Christ does not give us eternal life as just a “get out of hell free” card, there is a purpose for giving people eternal life, and that is so that we have what we need in order to be able to enter into the presence of God and engage Him in personal relationship. If we fail to engage Him in personal relationship, then we are not Christians – because that is what Christianity is all about. What does engaging God in personal relationship look like? It is spending time with Him in prayer (intercessory) and in quiet time, where you share your soul with Him; and in personal times of worship at home.

Far too many people go to church on Sunday morning, maybe Sunday night, and that is the extent of their “relationship” with God. Sorry, that is not a relationship with God, that is simply being religious or playing church for social reasons. Christianity is all about relationship with God, not about religion…and because of false teachings, many believe that they are in relationship with God just because they got saved, or because they go to church, or because they pray and turn to God whenever they have some great catastrophe happen to them or someone they love. Again, sorry, but that is not a relationship with God…that is using God as your own personal cosmic Santa Claus, and that doesn’t cut it when it comes to eternal life.

In closing, what makes a person a Christian, is this:

A person is a Christian who has been saved from his past sins and is currently walking in a committed, personal relationship with God. He is one who is walking in obedience to God, not practicing lying, stealing, watching dirty movies, cussing, “getting some” whenever they can, practicing homosexual behavior, murdering people, etc. On the other hand, the Christian is the person who practices doing what God tells us to do, in loving on others when we see them in need, whether they are Christians or not. The Christian is one who has an intimate, personal, love relationship with God, who talks to God on a daily basis and makes Him a part of everything in their lives…who worships God at home and doesn’t wait until Sunday to do so. A Christian is a disciple of Christ, studying His word to renew his mind from worldly passions, to Godly passions…the Christian is the one who lives to please God, first and foremost.

People who claim to be Christians, but who spend most of their time doing anything and everything other than spending time in God’s Word, other than spending time with God Himself in prayer, other than making love to God in personal worship, are only kidding themselves. What takes a person from eternal life present, to the consummation of eternal life in heaven, is only that personal relationship with Him. That is what the fullness of the Word of God teaches.

 

What do you think?

Blessings!

 

 

 

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Spiritual Power and walking in the Spirit

SPIRITUAL POWER and Walking in the Spirit

Psalms 105:4
Seek Yahweh and be strengthened; seek His presence continually!

Psalms 28:7
Yahweh is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.

In Psalms 105:4 we read the Spirit of God telling us through the writer, that we receive spiritual strength by seeking the presence of God, that when we enter into His presence, we receive such spiritual strength. In Psalm 28:7 we read David through the Spirit telling his audience that Yahweh is the strength of His people (we also read the same thing in other passages throughout Psalms).

Therefore, when we need spiritual strength (that which we need in order to do something spiritual), the only source of that strength is the presence of God – this is why the Spirit tells us to “seek His presence continually.” How do we seek the presence of God? That is, how do we enter into His presence? According to the Scriptures, we enter into the presence of God through praise, worship, and prayer…hence all of the examples and admonitions in the NT to pray continually…

Psalms 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Psalms 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

Luke 5:16
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1
And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Acts 2:42
And they devoted themselves to . . . prayers.
Acts 6:4
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

I Thessalonians 5:17
pray without ceasing,

234 verses in the Bible addressing prayer by term; 119 verses in the NT alone (just over half). There are:
43 verses in the NT that address “eternal life” by term…
41 verses using the search term “salvation”…
55 verses for the search term “saved”…
53 for the search term “righteous”…

A good portion of Scripture is dedicated to addressing prayer, double that for other terms that we would consider very important subjects in the Bible…there is a reason for that! In Job we read the question…

Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?

When we pray we are seeking God – whether on behalf of another/others or on our own behalf. When we pray, those who have been born of God (born of the Spirit of God) enter into the spirit – that is, when we who are His children pray, we enter into His presence. When we enter into His presence, just as Psa. 105:4 states, we receive spiritual strength from Him in order to live the way He wants us to live. In answer to the question above, we receive power to walk in the spirit – to crucify the flesh…to put to death the things of the flesh…to mortify the flesh with its lusts and passions.

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

We receive power from God in order to live a holy, sanctified life; a life of walking in righteousness, filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Walking in the spirit means to live in the spirit. If you spend most of your time in two different places, which one is the one that you live in? It is the one that you spend the majority of your time in – the one that you make into your home, your dwelling place. Therefore, one is living (walking) in the spirit rather than the flesh, when he spends most of his time (and makes his home/dwelling place) in the spirit rather than the flesh. It is only by tapping into God’s power through prayer that one can put to death the deeds of the body (walk in the spirit) and remain abiding in Christ and become His…

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When we spend adequate time in prayer, we are spending time in the secret place of God:

Psalms 91:1-9
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…Because you have made Yahweh your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge –

Most commentators and theologians that I have read agree that “the secret place of the Most High” reads in the original Hebrew as meaning what verse 9 affirms – that the secret place is the Most High, and the only way to enter therein is through prayer.

Those who live in the flesh focus their minds upon worldly, fleshly pursuits; while those who live in the spirit are those who focus their minds upon spiritual pursuits…but what are spiritual pursuits?

Spiritual pursuits are things like striving to walk in holiness and sanctification, striving to walk in righteousness, striving to love on others and to rid themselves of those things within them that are not pleasing in God’s eyes. Spiritual pursuits would also include being a man or woman of prayer and spending every moment that they can in fellowship and communion with God, whether in prayer, worship, or just talking with God.

Other spiritual pursuits include seeking the truth of God’s Word in honest sincerity…seeking to evangelize the lost and to teach others how to walk with God according to His way…making time to praise and worship God, not just letting everything else come before and then complain that you didn’t have the time for “that.”

A spiritual pursuit is anything that either (1) enlarges the Kingdom of God, or (2) builds one up spiritually or (3) builds others up spiritually, or most importantly, (4) brings one closer to God in an intimate personal love relationship with Him.

How does this work?

I am only surmising since I have searched and to date have not discovered any passages that come right out and give us detailed information on the subject, but as near as I can discern, when we enter into God’s presence and remain for a certain amount of time, we become saturated by His presence.

Remember Moses, when he came down from the mountain top after spending 40 days and night in God’s immediate presence? His face glowed from being in God’s presence…just like one of those glow-in-the-dark items you can find in stores. The more time one spends in God’s presence, the more of His presence he becomes saturated by – the more of His power he becomes inundated with.

Psalms 90:8
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Psalms 4:6
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”

Psalms 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,

Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

This is why we are told 119 times in the NT to pray, to pray continually, to constantly be in prayer and in an attitude of prayer. We enter into God’s presence when we are in prayer, and when we stop praying…we leave God’s immediate life-changing presence. The more we want to change, the more we need to spend time in prayer. The more we want to effect the world around us, the more we need to spend time in prayer.

One cannot walk in the spirit if he does not spend adequate time in prayer, receiving from God’s presence the power to do so. One cannot crucify the flesh, put the flesh to death along with its lusts and passions, without spending adequate time in God’s presence in prayer. As Jesus said… “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is not equal to the task” (Mat. 26:41). In other words, the spirit of the man wants to do spiritual things, but the flesh is in opposition to the spirit, just as Paul tells us here…

Galatians 5:16 – 17
But I say, walk in the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

In prayer we enter into the spirit, we enter into God’s presence and receive power so that we can, among other things, walk away from temptation – which is why Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray, so that you may not enter into temptation…” (Mat. 26:41).

When temptation comes against us, if we would only discipline ourselves to turn away from it and begin to pray immediately, then we would not be so prone to enter into that temptation and partake of it. Temptation always has something to do with the flesh, and when we enter into the spirit through prayer – entering into God’s very presence in the spirit – we receive power to walk away from that temptation, effectively putting the deeds of the flesh to death.

The more time in prayer that we put under our belt, the stronger we become in spirit, just like the longer you hold a glow-in-the-dark product near a light source, the longer and brighter it will glow. But also just like that product, we need to spend time with God in His presence on a continual basis, otherwise that power diminishes. Just like a pale with a small hole in the bottom, we need to continually fill our tanks because it dissipates with time…we need to continually fill up on God’s presence and power in order to keep from losing so much of Him that we no longer have the power to do anything spiritual.

This is what the Scripture shows by using the term “full of the Spirit” in the following passage…

Acts 6:5
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

One point that we need to see here, is that Stephen was not an apostle (because some today think that only apostles had certain powers granted to them by God, and that normal people don’t have such abilities), he was just an ordinary believer like you and I, only he apparently spent a lot of time in prayer. He was full of the Spirit, full of faith, and he went around doing miracles because of it…

Acts 6:8
And Stephen, full of loving-kindness and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Through prayer – entering into God’s presence for power – we can rid ourselves of things that can only be accomplished through prayer…

Mark 9:29
And He said to them, “It is only by praying that you can have power to cause this kind to go out.”

Granted, here Jesus was specifically addressing a situation which involved a demon, yet we do not observe anywhere in the Scriptures where men spent a lot of time in prayer in order to cast demons out of someone. In every case where we do observe this event (accomplished by men), such as Paul, the demon is cast out with a single command and the demon obeys and departs from their victim.

Therefore, I think it reasonable to assume that Jesus here meant not just the possibility of a person so demon possessed that the believer getting ready to cast it out must be “prayed up” and full of God’s power and Spirit to do the job, but that Jesus may have also been indirectly touching upon other issues within people’s lives – especially after taking into consideration the information which we have already examined. Without spending time in prayer, we have not the spiritual power to even punch our way out of a wet paper bag…

The main point herein, is that we receive power from God to live and walk in the spirit, by spending adequate time with Him – in His presence – through prayer. The more we pray, the more time we spend in God’s presence through prayer, the more power we have in order to perform spiritually…the more spiritual power we have enabling us to seek after spiritual pursuits.
A person cannot walk in the spirit without spending time in prayer. A person cannot put to death the deeds of the flesh without spending time in prayer. A person cannot crucify his flesh unless he spends time in prayer. Therefore, a person cannot remain abiding in Christ – wherein dwells eternal life – unless he spends adequate time in prayer on a continual basis.

People under the auspices of false teachings will not like to hear that, because they are taught that they are in Christ simply because they believe in Him – but that is not what the Scriptures teach us. God, through Christ, has made the way…but we are the ones who must walk in that way, God does not cause Christ to walk in that way for us.

Saved does not mean “heaven bound,” it means that our past sins have been dealt with so that we can enter into the spirit, into God’s presence, for relationship…which involves prayer. If we do not spend quality time with God in prayer, then we do not have a relationship with God – it is as simple as that.

If one does not spend time with God in prayer on a continuous basis, then not only does he not have a relationship with God, but he will never make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven. God has given us the key and expects those who really desire Him to use that key…God gives no one a free ticket to heaven, if He did then He would be defeating the very purpose for creating mankind in the first place.

That purpose was for intimate, personal, love relationship…God does not get that from us by giving us a free ticket to heaven. The way has been paved, but no one walks down that path on anyone else’s legs…you have to use your own legs and your own effort, strengthened by spending time with God in prayer.

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What is “spiritual death?”

The concept of spiritual death entered the Biblical scene in the second act, and in addressing spiritual death, we need to carefully distinguish between it and physical death, particularly in passages within the Old Testament – confusion of those passages in the past has led to false teachings. In the Scriptures, spiritual life and death are of a different nature than that of physical life and death, because the natures of the flesh and spirit are as different as night and day. Physical life is…physical life, so, too, with physical death – the life that animates the body is gone, and that animating force is the human spirit within it…

James 2:26
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Adam didn’t die physically when he partook of the fruit of the tree, he died spiritually, which is why his body didn’t just “drop dead” within moments after taking the first bite. The definition of “spiritual death,” also called by Paul as being dead in sin and transgressions, is what this article is all about. Taking the totality of the Scriptures into consideration on this subject, we learn that spiritual life and death are firmly grounded in the concept of personal relationship with God. Union with God is spiritual life, separation from God is spiritual death:

Deuteronomy 30:20
loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Isaiah 59:2
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Besides Deut. 30:20, which tells us that God “is your life,” we also have other passages in the Scriptures teaching the same, only couched in Messianic terms, telling us that spiritual (or eternal) life is “in Christ” . . .

John 1:4
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

II Tim. 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

We also read where Jesus, like God, is said to actually be life…

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.”

I John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

And then we have Colossians 3:4 which tells us specifically, that Christ is our life…

Colossians 3:4
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

We also find more passages in the OT which support the idea that God (Jesus) is our life, and that union with Him in one fashion or another, gives us life…

Psalms 36:9
For with You is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Psalms 91:14-16
14 Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.
15 When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

In the passage above, we find the insinuation that “he” who holds fast to God, is in personal relationship with God…he loves God, he calls upon God, and in the context of the entire Psalm, he lives “in God.” He makes God his home – where he spends a certain portion of his time in or with…he places his trust in God and walks with God, meaning that he walks in loving obedience to Him. Because of this relationship, God responds by telling us that He will deliver such a person and be with him in his trials, that He will answer him when he calls upon Him.

God says that He will rescue him, honor him, protect him, and finally He will give him physical life (abundant life) and then, salvation (intending spiritual life in eternity with God). All because this person chooses to love God and spend time with Him in order to come to know God’s name…meaning that he comes to know God’s covenant name to His covenant people through personal experience. A person does not come to know God’s blessings or protection, unless they are walking with Him in covenant relationship, and saying that one “knows My name” is to insinuate that such a person is walking in covenant relationship with God, and so experiences God first-hand…not just His promises and blessings, but comes to experience and know God personally.

In the OT God was our life, according to the Scriptures…in the NT, as we have already witnessed, Jesus Christ is said to be our life. As the following passages indicate, the only way that one has eternal life today, is if one possesses Christ, and the only way one can possess Christ is by walking in covenant relationship with God…

I John 5:11-12
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I John 3:23-24
23 And this is God’s commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.
24 Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He will abide in him; and by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

The only way to have the Son, is to abide in Him, because as he abides in God/Christ, He/They remain abiding in him. If Christ is in you, then you have Him…because you walk in obedience to God’s commandments of the New Covenant – the Law of Christ…

John 14:23
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home within him.”

Spiritual life is union with God, where our lives become so intertwined and interwoven within each other, that we essentially become one unit in many ways…which is what Paul means here when he says that we begin to conform to the image of Christ:

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.

This does not mean that God causes those in Christ to be conformed into His image, it means that God desires and has foreordained that those who are in Christ are to engage Him in relationship so that they will become more and more like Him…just like two good friends, and spouses, over the years take on certain of each other’s characteristics. This is what growing the Fruit of the Spirit is all about.
Bringing this even closer to home, God has said that He will give the promise of life to those who engage Him in an intimate, personal relationship and come to know Him personally, and who come to love Him not just in obedience, but because they fall in love with Him…

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.

Separation from God is spiritual death…
Isaiah 59:2 says it quite clearly – sin separates us from God…

Isaiah 59:2
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

God will not remain walking with a person who engages in willful sin, so when that happens, such a person finds himself no longer in relationship with God. This is spiritual death, and why God told Adam that in the day he ate of the Tree, he would die:

Genesis 2:17
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

But spiritual death is not like physical death – once a person dies spiritually, it is not the end…not yet, anyway. A person who is spiritually dead can come back to God and become alive again in the spirit, but if he does not, and he dies physically while still in rebellion (sin) against God – then that is the final end.

If one dies physically while still in sin, then he will go into an eternal state of existence called “the second death” . . .

Revelation 2:11
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

Revelation 20:14
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The “second death” is life within the eternal confines of the Lake of Fire, that was not originally intended for mankind but for satan and his angels – but all who follow satan in rebellion against God will spend eternity in that place. Spiritual life and death is all about relationship, which is Christ’s point in His parable about the Prodigal Son…

Luke 15:11-32
And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need…But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger?…And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate…It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

In context to this passage, Jesus was talking about what was lost and found…a lost sheep that was found, a lost coin that was found…and a lost son that was found. The only difference between the three stories in His teaching on this subject, is that in the Prodigal Jesus gives it a more life and death emphasis when it came to people. A lost sheep or coin does not have eternal consequences, but a lost person does – because those who are lost, which Jesus emphasizes in His parable, are those who are separated from the life of God. In other words, those who are lost, are spiritually dead, they are separated from God and the life of God…

Ephesians 4:18
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

In Jesus’ parable, the boy’s father, an allegory for the Father (God), says of him, “My son was dead” because he left the Father – he separated himself from the Father. Then, when the son returned home again, the Father says, “My son is alive again,” because he returned to the Father and the life that is in and with the Father. Jesus makes the link between the Prodigal Son and the first two stories He told, by adding the phrase, “he was lost, and is found,” intimating that the ‘lost’ are also the spiritually dead, just as the ‘alive’ are also the spiritually alive…

Luke 15:24
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:32
It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.

While the son was in a state of absence from the Father of Life, the Father looked upon him as being dead to him relationally. That is the state of spiritual death, where a person is dead in relation to God. But when the son came back to the Father, no longer living in rebellion and separation from Him, the Father looked upon him as coming alive again. Separation from God is spiritual death, relationship (union) with God is spiritual life. Spiritual death is what Paul refers to in the following passages…

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:5
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

Colossians 2:13
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

When a person is living in sin, rebellion, and trespasses upon the rights of his Creator, then he is spiritually dead – relationally speaking, he is dead because he is not walking in personal relationship with God the Father. That is why Paul says in Eph. 4:18 that those who are walking in sinful rebellion against God are “alienated from the life of God.” He doesn’t mean that they are just separated from God, he means that they are separated from the life that being in union with God brings…spiritual, abundant life. Jesus ratifies this notion in the following passages:

Matthew 8:22
And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Luke 9:60
And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

God says in one place, that He has no pleasure in “the death of anyone” . . .

Ezekiel 18:32
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

Yet He says in another place that He apparently does have pleasure in the deaths of some people…

Psalms 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

Obviously, when God says that He has no pleasure in people dying, He is referring to them dying in their sins – that is, dying while they are separated from Him, dying while abiding in spiritual death. Yet He takes great pleasure in the deaths of those who are walking in relationship with Him, those who are in union with Him, and walking in spiritual life…because now their trials are over – they have remained faithful to Him in love and obedience, and now they are finally home with Him forever…

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Contrary to the teachings floating around within certain Reformed branches of theology, being spiritually dead does not mean that a person is so totally depraved that he cannot come to God on his own volition…there is no evidence of this anywhere in Scripture. Spiritual death does not mean that a person’s spirit is somehow dead, so that he cannot think of God in any way, shape, or form – and totally given over to sinful inclinations. It only refers to the fact that one is not walking in relationship with God, the origin of spiritual life. There is only a relationship “to” God, or “with” God…and only a relationship with God imputes the life of God to an individual.

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The Bible

The Bible is also called the “Word of God” [1] and “the Scriptures,” [2] but they all mean the same thing – the written account of God’s creative purpose and dealings with mankind since the creation of the world, where God intervenes in the history of the human race.

We are told that the Scriptures originate from God, by His Spirit, through the hands of chosen vessels – men of God…

II Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

II Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first of all, that no word of Scripture gives way to private individual interpretation, because no teaching ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Because the Bible has its origin from God by His Spirit, and God does not and cannot lie because He Himself is truth, this makes His Word true and a manifestation of truth…

Psalms 18:30
This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.

Therefore we hold that the Bible is inerrant, infallible…that is, in its form as it was originally given to man from God, it is free from error and contains only aspects of truth and reality.

In all of its history, the Bible has been demonstrated true over and over again, through Biblical Archeology and even through the passages that touch upon the nature of the world and cosmos that the various sciences have only discovered within the last 100 years or so. However, translations of the original Scriptures are not infallible nor inerrant, nor does it mean that a man’s interpretation or commentary on the Scriptures is infallible:

I Timothy 1:7
desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

I Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit explicitly says, that in latter times some will fall away from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

II Timothy 3:7
always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

II Peter 3:15-16
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Because of the importance of the Scriptures and what they teach, and because, as the passage in II Peter above demonstrates, we need to study the Scriptures for ourselves as they require studying in today’s culture and age, so that we can know what they actually teach us. In the Book of Acts, we find the Bereans were noteworthy in that they did just that – they studied the Scriptures for themselves to make sure that what Paul and the other evangelists were telling them was the truth…

Acts 17:11
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Although the following passage deals mostly with ministers of the Gospel, it should also be applied to each of us individually…because how do you know if the pastor you sit under and listen to knows what he is talking about?

II Timothy 2:15
Make every studious effort to do your best to cause yourself to stand in God as acceptable, an irreproachable worker correctly handling the Word of Truth.

Matthew 22:29
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

We also need to understand and recognize, that just because someone sounds good or has a solid grasp on one subject, that they have a solid grasp on all Biblical subjects. We have a prime example of this written down for us in Acts…

Acts 18:24-26
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos was a Jew born in Alexandria in Egypt, most likely his ancestors were carried there when Alexander the Great conquered Israel and practiced Hellenism (the carrying away of people from their homelands and planting them in other conquered lands within the empire; this strategy kept uprisings from taking place). So Apollos had heard of Jesus and the gospel and had accepted it, and evidently had been baptized by John, so he was in Jerusalem at least while John was still alive, either before or immediately after Jesus came into the spotlight.

Apollos had been accurately taught concerning the things of Jesus, that He was the Messiah, His mission in coming to earth, His ministry, and so forth. However, just because He knew about Jesus, didn’t mean that he had the whole story down correctly. Priscilla and Aquila, friends of Paul the Apostle, heard Apollos speaking and went and pulled him aside somewhere and they had to “explained to him the way of God more accurately.” So he evidently had some things correct, but not all of it – and we see the same thing happening today in churches all over this country. Some have the things of Jesus down correctly and accurately teach them, but they do not have “the way of God” accurate.

What’s the difference? The way of God is the complete story, not just a paragraph of the story. Apollos had only a portion of the “way of God” down, but a portion is not the whole story, it is only a portion. When we only have half of the truth, and the other half that we teach is wrong…then that makes the whole thing wrong. A little lie added to a true story to embellish it, makes the entire truth into a lie. When Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside and explained the whole “way of God” to him, he evidently accepted it and became a man of God just under rank of Paul.

The Word of God is not just another book, God worked in history to bring all of these historical writings together into one place and preserved them so that we could have what we need in order to be taught in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Being “God-breathed,” the Scriptures come to life in the believer’s life by the working of the Spirit of God within us in the different ways that He does. Sometimes you will read a verse and it just “jumps out at you” and you have a deeper understanding of it than you ever had before, even though you read it a number of times already before!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

I Peter 1:23
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Through the work of the Spirit of God, the Word of God is alive and active in the believer, it works in our lives and abides within us when we get enough of it in us for it to work and live. This is one reason why we need to read and study the Word of God as much as we can, so that it can get down inside of us and do its work…but that work takes place mostly when we put it into practice, which is why Jesus tells us:

Matthew 4:4
But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

One of the reasons why we need to have the Scriptures implanted within our minds, is because it is also a weapon (both defensive and offensive) against the things of darkness, not just demonic powers, but against the darkness of false teachings…

Ephesians 6:17
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,

We also need to be careful that we don’t add our own things to the Scriptures, because when we do that, we can nullify the effectiveness of God’s Word not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of those around us…

Matthew 15:6
he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

If we are not careful in handling the distractions of this life – whether they be normal everyday activities that we must do, like cooking and working…or whether they are the things that we do for “entertainment,” they can become the little termites that each away at our spiritual homes until it is completely destroyed…

Mark 4:19
but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.

We touched briefly upon the fact that the Bible has been demonstrated not only historically, but also scientifically in the things of nature that it touches (because it is not a science book, it does not explain everything concerning nature), that it is 100% accurate in all that it addresses and states. One of these proofs is unique to Scripture, and that is in the realm of the prophetic.

Not only cities of antiquity, but peoples and even specific individuals are found addressed in Biblical prophecy, and everything that was foretold in those prophecies has come to pass. No other “prophetic entity” has a 100% perfect rack record like the Bible has, therefore it is trustworthy as being demonstrated to be written from God, and not just men. For example, God pronounces doom upon several OT cities and peoples, such as the cities of Tyre, Babylon, and Ashkelon with its inhabitants of the Philistines – and they have all perished and have been destroyed, just as God foretold.

Individuals like Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar were foretold would do things before they were even born, Cyrus over a hundred years before he was born…and of course, the Messianic prophecies concerning Jesus Christ…

I 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,

Here Paul is basically telling the Corinthian church that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead in resurrection power on the third day after His death and burial – just as the prophecies concerning the Messiah foretold. Because the Scriptures contain the truth of all that matters, it is a source of encouragement to those in covenant relationship with God in Christ…

Romans 15:4
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So all in all, the Bible is an important tool in the life of the believer in Christ. It is true and without error or fault, and has been demonstrated as such now for over 100 years through various means. The believer can also test the veracity of the Scriptures by putting into practice those things taught to him in the Scriptures, such as giving monetarily to the cause of God and watching that gifting come back to him two-fold…or by taking authority over disease and healing someone, or taking authority and power over the powers of darkness, etc. God says…

Psalms 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

II Corinthians 9:6
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

The point here we are making, is that because what the Scriptures tells us is true, we can put it to the test and see that everything that we are told therein is true, and therefore trustworthy. In a very real way, putting our faith and trust in the Scriptures is the same as putting our faith and trust in God, from whom the Scriptures came. After all, we need to be like the

I Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

 

     [1] Luke 11:28 “But Jesus said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’

     [2] I Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

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Prayer…

We have touched upon the power of prayer briefly in my last post, but here I want to go a little deeper and get a little more definition and practical application going. I want to start out by looking at a question asked in the book of Job…

Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?’

So, the question we are dealing with here specifically, is – how do we profit, or benefit, from spending time with God in prayer? We find part of this answer (and the main one that we are addressing in this post today), here…

Psalms 105:4
Seek the LORD and be empowered; seek His presence continually!

We find in other passages (particularly in Psalms) that God is our strength, but God had put things together so that we have to go seeking after Him for that strength, otherwise we would not be motivated to spend time with Him. Some will take argument with that statement…but when we do a scientific examination on this subject and question people about their prayer life, we find that even though people claim to love God, that love is not enough to motivate them to pray.

This brings us to an overwhelming observation; Jesus said…

John 14:12
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

What are the “works” that Jesus was doing? He was healing people, casting demons out of people, opening blind eyes and unstopping deaf ears, He was raising the dead and teaching people “the way of God.” So, if He said that those who believe will be doing the same things, why don’t we see these things taking place around us like they did in the book of Acts?

Part of the reason is that many people today believe a lie – they believe the Calvinistic stand that miracles ceases when John the Apostle died. They believe that God does not work through men today in the same way that He did in the gospel age, and most of them came to that conclusion because they didn’t see miracles taking place in their age. I can’t see air, either…but I am not dull enough to choose not to believe it just because I can’t see it.

If Jesus said that  believers would do these things, and we have thousands of people who claim to be believers, yet we see precious few (if any) of those believers performing miracles…then either Jesus lied, or there is more to the story. I do not believe that Jesus is a liar, so that only leaves one other explanation…there is more to the story than what we currently understand. The answer to this problem is…prayer.

Christians today – in America, anyway – seem to fail in their understanding of exactly what prayer is, what it does, and how it operates within the spiritual sphere of things. Just as the Psalmist states, we receive spiritual power from God by being in His presence in prayer. If we fail to spend adequate time in His presence through prayer, then we are powerless, inept, and impotent so as to do anything spiritual. What I mean is this…

If you don’t spend enough time in God’s presence through prayer:

You won’t be able to walk in the Spirit.

You won’t be able to walk in righteousness or holiness.

You won’t be able to crucify the flesh with its lusts and passions.

You won’t be able to walk in sanctification in your daily life.

You won’t be able to raise the dead or cast demons out of people.

You won’t be able to heal anyone, or to even love on certain people.

You won’t be able to change and be the person God wants you to be.

You will never be free from the addictions and hang-ups that you have in your life.

Because people in the past few decades have not known or understood the power of prayer, they have tried to do these things (and more) on their own…through having others pray for them, through programs and Christian self-help books and videos, etc. And when none of these things work (for none of them are empowered by the Spirit of God), then the person . . . in desperate frustration . . . turns to cling to one of the most dastardly tactics in false doctrine that satan has ever successfully implanted within the church. They begin to cling to the “grace is all and all” doctrine.

People in the Church who I call “grace-mongers” teach that grace is the all-in-all of God’s plan for salvation…they are playing right into satan’s hands when they do so. Grace does not cover everything, grace is not limitless, grace does have boundaries – and they are the boundaries which God has set, not man. If grace had no boundaries, then Paul could not have written that some of the Galatians had “fallen from grace.”

These people – who have tried everything (but themselves praying) – now come to believe that it has nothing to do with them. They come to believe that grace will take them home into the consummation of eternal life in heaven…and if they don’t wake up from this fantasy world, one day they will wake up in hell. God gave us prayer so that we could come to Him and spend time with Him in His presence. He gave us prayer so that we could spend time in His presence and receive the power and strength that we need in order to do all the spiritual things that we must do in order to walk with Him.

Grace does not cover our failure to walk in the Spirit, for Paul is adamant that if we fail to walk in the Spirit, being led by God’s Spirit, then we are not God’s children (Rom. 8:1-14). Grace does not cover our failure to walk in holiness and sanctification, and the Scriptures demonstrate that if we fail in this area, that we will end up in hell (Heb. 12:14). Grace does not cover our failure to strive to walk in obedience to God – it will cover our mistakes, but it will not cover a blatant disregard to even try to walk in that obedience…thinking that grace will cover it (I John 3:10).

Grace does NOT negate, nor take the place of, nor can it produce in us the things that only PRAYER can. The doctrine of over-extensive grace that these “grace-mongers” preach and teach effectively cause you to slip on the rocks and fall off of the narrow path, the only path that leads to heaven. This is how basic prayer is…

…you can’t even get saved – even by grace and faith – until you PRAY.

…you don’t have an intimate and personal relationship with God unless you are praying.

Prayer is much more than just intercession for others and praying for yourself. Prayer is communicating with God, spending time with Him just talking about things (and there are plenty of things that we can talk to God about – just as there are plenty of things that we can intercede for). There is no end to “prayer fodder”…that is, things that we can pray and talk to God about.

The main point of this blog entry, is that if you are not spending adequate time in prayer, in God’s presence, then you will never be able to do anything spiritual for God (and walking in obedience is a spiritual thing), just as Paul addresses here…

Galatians 5:16-17
16 But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the flesh wars against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

Yes…you cannot do the spiritual things that you want to do if you are walking in the flesh, and you cannot stop walking in the flesh and begin to walk in the Spirit if you are not spending enough time in God’s presence in prayer so as to be empowered to do so.

It is as easy as that – yet so many people fail to understand this spiritual principle. Prayer equals receiving spiritual power, and because we have thousands of “Christians” who don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day in prayer…we have thousands of powerless, impotent, basically WORTHLESS servants of Christ walking all around this country (and others), that can’t even spiritually punch their way out of a wet paper bag.

Thus the reason for all of the admonitions in the NT to pray…pray without ceasing…pray constantly…abound in prayer. And all of the examples of prayer in the NT…where Jesus went up for all night on a regular basis for prayer…where the disciples gathered together for prayer…where the ministers and early church fathers consecrated themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.

And with that we open another can of worms here in the States…impotent preachers who don’t spend enough time in God’s presence in prayer to even be able to preach their way out of a wet paper bag. It does not matter how much a pastor studies the Word of God, if he does not spend enough adequate time with God in His presence through prayer, then his preaching will be dry and full of flesh rather than living a full of the Spirit. A preacher who preaches out of the flesh does nothing but slowly kills his congregation.

Therefore…PRAY!!!

If it is hard to get started, then get together with others and have group prayer…get your prayer life primed in that group and then go home, shut your bedroom door, and begin praying on your own. When you pray, you enter into the very presence of God…the word for “seek” (darash) in the passage (Seek Yahweh and be empowered…) means to earnestly inquire from God through prayer and worship.

Begin to build your prayer life with God. To pray constantly means to pray several times a day…I started training myself to pray every hour on the hour, and chose different subjects to pray about for each time. I only started out praying 10-15 minutes at a time, but that adds up to over an hour a day…and pretty soon you will be praying for three hours a day and not even realizing it!

Blessings!

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Righteousness and Holiness

Righteousness and holiness…opposite (but complimentary) sides of the same coin.

Righteousness speaks of doing what is right in God’s eyes – walking in obedience to what He wants us to do.
Holiness speaks of keeping one’s self unspotted by sin and the world – walking in obedience to what God does not want us to do; in other words, the daily striving to keep one’s self pure (1 John 3:3   “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself because He is pure.”)

However, to practice holiness takes us into greater and greater measures of the spiritual, because to be holy does not just mean to be “set apart,” but to be set apart unto God, it speaks of a complete consecration of the whole man, mind, body, and soul. It means that we do not just live this life separating ourselves from sin, it means that the whole person dedicates his/her life to walking in obedience to God in every way humanly possible…just like Jesus did.

After all, this is part of the purpose of God in delivering us from our sins and sin nature…

Luke 1:68-75
68   Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people
69   and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
70   as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old,
71   that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
72   to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
73   the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74   that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
75   in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

Our enemies are sin and satan, and (praise God) BOTH are defeated in the life of the believer who aligns themselves with God in His Covenant. There is no refuge from either enemy outside of the New Covenant. Furthermore, we were not delivered from these enemies just to “rest in the work of Christ,” no, we were delivered to “serve Him without fear” of those defeated enemies. If one is walking in obedience to God (serving Him), then one has no fear of his shortfalls and momentary slippages into sin, because all such happenings are taken care of (I John 1:7).

We are told that we are to serve God “in holiness and righteousness” without fear of the occasional “missing the mark.” Holiness – to serve God by keeping yourself from sinful and worldly things that keep us distracted from what God does want us to do…serve Him by doing what is right in His eyes (righteousness). Why? As some without spiritual insight like to claim, why do we need to do anything?

Ephesians 4:20-24
20   But that is not the way you learned Christ!
21   assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22   to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
23   and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24   and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Why? Because the goal in this life is to be more like Christ, to be created after the likeness of God, which is only done so by practicing righteousness and holiness…by practicing doing what is right in God’s eyes, and by practicing TOTAL and COMPLETE CONSECRATION to God in holiness.

Granted, how do we do this in today’s world? It is hard, for one must “take up his own cross” in order to follow Jesus…the standard is the same today as it was the day Jesus spoke those words. It is harder today, only because we have become an “I want it now” generation…a modern generation with all kinds and sorts of worldly distractions calling our name, fighting fiercely for our attention…because even if your Waverunner isn’t sinful in and of itself, satan is using it to keep you from following Christ, no matter what you might argue or think.

1 John 3:10
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Hebrews 12:14
Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness – without which no one will see the Lord.

If we do not practice righteousness and holiness…

It is reported that the great revivalists Smith Wigglesworth and James Dunn both had encounters with Jesus right before their ministries took off in fire…that while praying for the infilling of the Spirit and for the gifts of the Spirit in operation in their ministries, the Lord said to them, “Stop praying for that, and pray to be more like Me.”

What was He saying? Jesus Christ modeled the fullness of human practice of righteousness and holiness…He was fully and completely consecrated to God in purity and walked in obedience to God, in the power of the Spirit, manifesting all the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus was HOLY, and what He told these two great men of God was to be like Him…practice holiness.

“Separate yourself from your sins, wholly consecrate yourself to God, to do what He wants you to do rather than the things that YOU want to do…THEN you will be a vessel of great usefulness to the Master.”

My First pastor had a great saying…”The world today has not seen what God can do through a man completely consecrated unto Him.”
That saying is true.

However, in a modern world where practicing righteousness and holiness is lain aside because “we don’t have to”…where does that leave us?

Blessings!

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UPDATE: What does “walking in the spirit” mean (and how to do it)?

Romans 8:3-4
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but who walk according to the Spirit.

In the passage above Paul uses the terminology “walk according to the Spirit” but in Gal. 5:16 he uses the terminology “walk in the Spirit”…

Galatians 5:16
But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

But what exactly does walking in the spirit mean? According to the Greek words and grammar, and the intended meaning behind them, let us examine the next passage…

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

To make a long story short (if you want some details let me know and I will add them, I am just short on time today), a better translation of the Greek grammar here gives us the following…

For those who live according to the flesh, devote their minds to pursuing the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit, devote their minds to pursuing the things of the Spirit.

So…what are the things of the Spirit that the believer needs to pursue? The short answer is – anything that emanates from, or leads to, the spiritual. A short list would be

(1)  Striving to walk in holiness.

(2)  Striving to walk in obedience to God.

(3)  Striving to spend as much time with God in prayer that we can.

(4)  For those who can, fasting with prayer for specific spiritual things.

The list goes on, but basically anything that either builds you up, or builds someone else up spiritually, or builds up the Kingdom of God, is a spiritual pursuit. We are either striving to do worldly, fleshly things (whether sinful in and of themselves or not), or we are striving to do spiritual things (reading your Bible, praying, evangelizing, etc.).

According to Paul in Rom. chapter 8, those who walk in the flesh cannot please God, saved or not, that is not the point. The saved person will go to hell just as the unsaved person will if they are not walking in sanctification – which is exactly what Paul talks about when he says “walking in the Spirit” (look up above again to Gal. 5:16).

Jesus says the same thin only in different words:

Luke 9:23
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Luke 14:27
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Why does Jesus say that unless we crucify our flesh/desires of the flesh that we cannot be His disciples? Because if we do not crucify the flesh with its desires and lusts, we will not want to follow Him – because the flesh wars against the spirit in order to keep us from doing the spiritual things that we might desire to do…

Galatians 5:17
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

A better (and less confusing) translation of this verse says…

Because the flesh wars against the Spirit, and fights against the spirit in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

This is why Paul continues in this same chapter to say that only those who crucify their flesh (along with its lusts and passions) can become one of Christ’s…

Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So we have covered what walking in the Spirit means (to reiterate, it means that we live our lives in the pursuit of spiritual things, especially working daily on being holy – that is, practicing sanctification…keeping ourselves free from sin as much as possible), but if you are like me, telling you what it means and that you must do it…really doesn’t help me much unless you give me instructions on HOW to do it.

There is only one way for us to walk in the Spirit and please God…to walk in holiness and sanctification…to crucify the flesh and its lusts and passions which get in between us and the spiritual things that we want to do…and that is prayer.

Prayer has fallen along the way-side in this modern world, and that is a shame…because we cannot be what God wants us to be in this world without it…we cannot do what He wants us to do without prayer – it is as simple as that. Here is how it works…

Psalms 105:4
Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!

The verse reads a little differently in the Hebrew…

Seek Yahweh and be strengthened; seek His presence continually.

The ONLY way for us to receive the spiritual strength or power that enables us to perform spiritually, is through seeking God’s presence…that is, by coming into His presence. I have used this analogy before, but it is the closest thing that I can think of to illustrate this spiritual principle.

Think of yourself as a spiritual glow-in-the-dark item…just like the glow-in-the-dark toys we used to get as children. You take that toy and hold it up to a light-bulb which “powers” it up to glow…then when you turn out the light or go into a dark room, the toy would glow that eerie green color.

You are a spirit temporarily dwelling within a physical body of flesh, and the ONLY light source of energy to a spirit is the Father of Spirits – God, Yahweh. When we come into His presence and spend an adequate amount of time there, we soak in the Light of His presence…

Psalms 90:8
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

Psalms 4:6
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O LORD!”

Psalms 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk in the light of Your face, O LORD,

Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Remember Moses when he came down off the mountain top after spending 40 days and nights in God’s immediate presence? How his face glowed so brightly that he had to cover his head with a “gunny sack” until the brightness faded? When we spend time in God’s presence, we can become saturated by His presence, power, and Spirit…giving us the spiritual power that we need to dominate the flesh, rather than allowing the flesh to continually dominate over us.

How do we enter into God’s presence? According to the Scriptures, we enter into God’s presence through praise, worship, and especially prayer…

Psalms 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

While thanksgiving is a form of worship, the Hebrew here reads a little differently than this translation…

Come before His presence with song and shout praise to Him.

Psalms 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

We have the idea of entering into God’s presence through prayer through Psalm 105:4 and others using the word “seek” in reference to His presence, for prayer is always the context of such seeking. We do not see any Biblical reference to seeking God in any other context or in any other way.

When we pray, or sing praise or worship songs to God, we enter into the spiritual realm, we enter into His presence. In the passages below, we “draw near” to God’s throne of grace, where God sits – we are drawing near into His presence…where we find help (power – in this case) in the time of need…

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 10:19-22
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

We have confident entrance into the Holy of Holies – the presence of God – because when Jesus died upon the cross and He uttered the words, “It is finished,” the atonement for sin was made and the veil in the temple separating men from the presence of God was torn into two pieces (Mat. 27:51). We enter today by the “new and living way” (of the Spirit – Rom. 7:6)  so that we can enter into God’s presence for life.

Here is the catchy part…praying is a spiritual endeavor, and speaking from experience, it is not easy (at first) to spend time praying. Here is my suggestion – get with some Christian friends or people from church, and set a regular time of prayer and come together for group prayer. Begin by everyone giving things to pray about, and then just all come together in a huddle and begin praying about those things.

It is easier to pray when you commit yourself to others to come together…and as many times a week that you can do so, do it! Soon, you will have the strength to pray on your own, and the more you pray the more power you accumulate. Remember that glow-in-the-dark illustration I gave earlier? That toy did not retain its glowing power for very long, and neither do we retain that power of God for long.

It is like a bucket for water with a small hole in the bottom…we need to constantly pray in order to first get that bucket full, and then to keep it full!!! As an example, all I can give you is my own experience…I try to pray for at least one hour a day, and at that rate it took me just about a month before I had the strength to snort at temptation and walk away – just like that!

A month may seem like a long time, but the more time we spend in God’s presence in prayer, the stronger we get…and there is no other way in order to receive that spiritual strength in order to walk in the Spirit. That is God’s way, and He does it for a reason…but we cannot get into those right now.

Remember all of the exhortations to pray…

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Ephesians 6:18
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
pray without ceasing,

…and the examples of such prayer by Jesus and others…

Matthew 14:23
And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone,

Luke 5:16
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1
And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Acts 6:4
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

By not emboldening other words I am not dismissing them in the texts above, my point is to show the importance of prayer. If we spent today as much time as Jesus, His disciples, and others did…we would be walking in the same power that they did.

Recall that Stephen (Acts 6) was not an Apostle…he was just like you and me…and he performed miracles and signs of power. Even Jesus Himself was giving us an example – He was God in the flesh…but He laid His powers of deity down to walk in this life just as a man. the miracles and power that He displayed was an example of what we can also do if we fill ourselves up with God’s power through prayer.

Don’t believe me? Read John 14-15 and mark where Jesus tells us that we can do the same miracles that He did as long as we are walking and abiding in Him…and then remember that Romans 8 begins with those who are abiding in Christ – who walk in the Spirit, not the flesh.

There are your two motivations for praying as much as you can in order to receive spiritual power…(1) to perform in the supernatural, and (2) just to enter into God’s presence where there is fullness of joy and spiritual pleasures!

Psalms 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Blessings!

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A close look at Matthew 7:21-13

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Many who teach on this passage come from the Calvinistic persuasion and so teach that those Jesus addresses in verses 22-23 were never truly saved, but only those who thought they were saved – because of the false doctrine from Calvin of Unconditional Eternal Security. Many others teach on this passage do not understand covenant or covenanting, nor the principles by which ANE (Ancient Near East) covenants operated by.

First, if you have read the entries here on covenanting, you may recall that both Redemptive covenants of God (that is, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant) follow ANE covenanting principles, just as God designed them from the beginning. These redemptive covenants have what is called, “covenant law”…the covenant law of the Old Covenant was the 10 Commandments which are no longer in force today because the Old Covenant is no longer in force, being replaced by the New Covenant.

Covenant law had one purpose – it was the stated conditions for remaining in covenant relationship with God…that’s it. No one was ever saved either in the Old or today in the New Covenants by walking in obedience to covenant law…one is saved through union with God which one can only attain by first being in covenant relationship with God. Those who believe that Paul addresses people thinking themselves saved because they obeyed the Law of Moses, misunderstand that Paul is not addressing what the Scriptures teach, but what the Pharisees contorted and perverted. No where in the OT Scriptures is it taught that anyone was saved because they obeyed the covenant law (the 10 Commandments) – that belief arose during the Intertestimental Period between Malachi and Matthew, which we have no Biblical record of, but which is attested to through other historical writings.

In any event, this passage (Mat. 7:21-23) is Jesus addressing the people in the Sermon on the Mount, which when thoroughly examined, is an identical image of Moses being given the law by God and then turning around and giving the law to the Israelites. In the OT, Moses was the lawgiver…in the NT, Jesus is the lawgiver. Moses mediated the Old Covenant between God and men, and Jesus mediated the New Covenant between God and men 2,000 years ago.

Jesus stood on the mountain (just as Moses did) and delivered the covenant law to the people (just as Moses did before Him), and in Mat. 7:21-23 is part of that covenantal address. Jesus says in verse 21 that only those who walk in obedience to God will enter into heaven – and what He was talking about was obedience to the covenant law of the New Covenant, just as the Old Covenant. However, remember that they New Covenant is based upon better promises than the Old Covenant…

Hebrews 8:6
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

In verse 22 we find those who at one time were saved and walking with God in covenant relationship…because no man can cast out demons, prophecy, and do miracles in Christ’s name unless he is walking in covenant relationship with God. It is through Christ, the Living New Covenant (Isa. 42:6, 49:8), that God gives man the power and authority to do such things.

It is not about “works” which so many preachers and teachers today try to make the passage out to be addressing. Those in verse 22 WERE saved and they WERE walking with God and they DID have eternal life at one time…but since “once saved, always saved” doctrine is false teaching, those in verse 22 failed to take the next step and so in the end were cast into the Lake of Fire.

The Western Church today has a big problem, and like most cancers, it goes unnoticed almost until it is too late. Today the church is taught that one has eternal life simply because they believe (which is true); and that’s it…”once saved, always saved” is the motto spouted out by most churches in America and European countries today, but that is not what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures teach that eternal life is only a state of being, that it has a purpose – and when observed as it is in the Scriptures, eternal life can then be more accurately identified as another prerequisite to attaining heaven…

John 17:3
And this is the purpose of eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Now, in verse 23 above we see that Jesus tells those in verse 22 who are not making it into heaven, “I never knew you.” And in John 17:3 above we see that the purpose of eternal life is so that we can get to know God on a personal basis. You Bible will not read the same as the text above because I translated it directly from the Greek, and (again) if you have read any of my posts before, you may remember that I repeatedly state that most of our translations today fail to bring the Greek grammar fully into view. Above is the meaning of the Greek text (with its grammar); the word translated as “that” in most of your Bibles is hina, and means that, so that, meaning for the purpose of.

The word translated as “know” is ginosko, meaning to know either in a beginning or completed sense, depending upon how it is used in the text. It intimates that such knowledge of someone comes by way of personal fellowship with, a knowledge acquired over time through experience. The word here is in the Present Active Subjunctive verb form, meaning that one can constantly or repeatedly come to know God through personal interaction with Him, but the choice is theirs to make. Hence, “they may come to know You.” Eternal life present, then, is NOT what we have been erroneously taught that it is today in many Christian circles.

There are passages in the NT that address eternal life in two different categories: (1) as a present reality (eternal life present) and (2) as a future consummation in heaven (consummation of eternal life). No one who has eternal life present is gauranteed to reach the consummation of eternal life in heaven…only those who come to know God will, and only by walking in obedience to the covenant law of the New Covenant, therefore remaining in covenant relationship with God in order to come to know Him.

Eternal life, then, is more clearly understood as a legal term by the covenant for remaining in covenant relationship with God. One who believes has eternal life present, but as John the Baptist says in John 3:36, the believer who does not walk in obedience to Christ will never make it to the consummation of eternal life, because the wrath of God STILL remains upon him (and in the NT Scriptures, Jesus and all of the writers intend one who believes as one who not only believes but walks in obedience to what he believes, so obedience is automatically part of believing in the mindset of Jesus, Paul, James, John, Peter, Luke, and Jude)…

John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Those in Mat. 21-23 who were saved (what Jesus meant by them calling Him Lord) and who worked miracles in His name and then told to “depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness,” were those who did abide in the covenant and so had the power and authority of Christ to perform such miracles…but they missed the whole point of eternal life in that they failed to engage God in personal relationship. This is why Christ tells them, “I never knew you,” and what He means is that He never got to know them personally.  God knows about everyone who was ever born – He is God…but there is a very real difference between knowing about someone and knowing them personally, experientially.

I can read a book about your life, what you have done, your dreams and aspirations, your interests and so forth…and through that I can get to know a great deal about you, but I can never get to know you personally without spending time with you…and that is the same way with coming to know God.

Don’t be one of those people in Mat. 7:22-23….be one of those people who spend time with Him in prayer and come to know Him on a personal and intimate level, and make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb!

Blessings!

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The Most Important Thing

The more I meditate upon the Word of God and pray about what I see, for confirmation, the more I experience both exhilaration and sadness. Exhilaration at gaining a deeper insight into the mind of God toward us, and sadness at the amount of people who I am seeing leave the church for whatever personal reasons that they are doing so for. However, when all of those reasons are boiled down to where the ‘rubber meets the road,’ it all comes down to the fact that for whatever reason – be it the failure of their pastor in teaching the Word of God, or for the Christian today just playing church and not taking their walk with God seriously – the main reason they are leaving is because they don’t understand what Christianity is all about.

Jesus came to institute the New Covenant, in which we gain the atonement in Christ’s blood. The atonement in Christ gives us things that the atonement under the Old Covenant did not: The imputed righteousness of Christ, the imputed holiness of Christ, based upon these two elements of the atonement God proclaims us as justified; The combination of righteousness and holiness brings salvation from sin (the fourth element of the atonement), based upon these four elements, we have received redemption and reconciliation, for a total of six elements. All of these are given to us for one reason…because we need them in order to enter into God’s presence, in order to engage Him in personal and intimate relationship. Notice that eternal life is NOT in the atonement in Christ (much to the false teachings of Reformed Theology, which states that we have eternal life because Christ died on the cross…which is not Scriptural), we are given the elements in the atonement in Christ so that we can enter into God’s presence and engage Him in personal relationship and fellowship, for no man can approach God with sin in his life. The atonement in Christ has only ONE purpose: it is the basis for God’s forgiveness, and it cleanses us from sin…

Leviticus 5:18
He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven.

Leviticus 16:30
For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.

As long as one continues to abide in the New Covenant relationship with God, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from all sin…

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

We need to remember that eternal life is spoken of as both a present day reality as well as a future consummation. In other words, just as Jesus says, if we believe in Him and walk in obedience to Him, then we have eternal life now – but those who do not follow through with the REASON that we have been given eternal life will not see life in eternity, just as the Scriptures teach…

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So, the usual next question is this, “What is the purpose for eternal life?” I am glad that you asked, and here is the answer, straight from the mouth of Christ Himself…

John 17:1-3
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is the purpose of eternal life, so that they might come to know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

God gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to all that come to Him, but that eternal life does NOT automatically mean that those who have it will go to heaven ‘no questions asks,’ and it is foolish for people to teach and preach that nonsense because it is not Scriptural. The gift of eternal life has a purpose, and it is NOT to get you into heaven when your mortal body dies…it’s purpose is to give you access to God so that you can enter into an intimate, personal, love relationship with God.

Jesus clearly stated that “the purpose of eternal life [is] so that they MIGHT come to know You, the only true God…” The purpose for having eternal life here on earth, in this life, is so that you can come to know God on an intimate and personal basis; and that is also the reason for your existence, that is the reason why God made you in the first place. Failure to understand this purpose, and to engage God in personal and intimate relationship, is why people are leaving the church today…because they want to experience God and have not experienced Him in church.

In my mind, failing to experience God in church is the pastor’s fault. I will be so bold as to also say that any pastor WORTH HIS SALT will understand the purpose for eternal life, he will also understand how to move his congregation into inviting the presence of God to come down into his church service in worship, so that God can manifest His presence in real and tangible ways. When people experience God personally, in real and tangible ways, they move closer to Him and develop that intimate personal love relationship which He is looking for in His people…when they do not experience God in real and tangible, personal ways…

Judges 2:7-12
7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel….
10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.
12 And they abandoned the LORD….

Experiencing God and coming to know Him on an intimate and personal basis makes the difference between a living faith and a dying / dead faith. Today the world is full of churches that fail to induce the presence of God into their services…they fail to invite the presence of God to come down out of heaven and visit His people, because the secret is that God will not come unless He is invited. Worship is our invitation to God to come and walk with us, among us, to move within and among us…and when worship in church services becomes something less than what worship is in reality, then it ceases to be an invitation and becomes nothing more than noise in the ears of God.

If you live in the United States you may know my references here, and if not then I have nothing else to compare my point with. In many church “worship” services today, we have substituted contemporary Christian songs for worship songs…but most of them are NOT worship songs. “The God of Angel Armies” is great when it fulfills its purpose as a contemporary Christian song, but it is NOT a worship song, just as many other songs pastors and worship leaders are substituting true worship for. Contemporary Christian music may give us the goose-bumps…but worship is NOT about you getting goose-bumps, it is about extolling and exalting the God of all Creation.

True worship magnifies God, not what God has done for us, nor how much we love God because of what He has done. There is a difference between praise and worship, and while praise is important and has its rightful place, it is NOT to take the place of worship. Praise God for His goodness and kindness and love and works which He has done among us…but worship is not praise, worship is making love to God, it is loving on Him in song, in worship we magnify Him, we adore Him, we weep before Him, we exalt Him. Praise brings joy to our hearts…but worship…true worship brings tears of love, it causes us to fall to our knees with hands lifted to Him in just loving on Him. When we invite Him into our services, then He moves…He speaks to the congregation through prophecies and tongues and the interpretation of tongues…He heals and binds up and delivers with a might hand.

When God is present we have anything and everything that we ever need. When He is not present, because our church leaders have failed to coax us into inviting His presence to light upon us, then we have nothing…we receive nothing…and we become disenchanted with the idea that God truly exists…and we walk away from even trying any longer.

I have seen young people who were raised all their lives in church, turn around and walk away from God… as well as middle-aged and elderly folks do the same, and it all boils down to one reason. Our church leadership (for the most part) does not walk with God, and when they do not walk with God they do not receive insight from the Spirit on how to conduct church so as to draw God’s presence to us. We do not, therefore, experience the reality and power of God in a personal way in church, and so we fail to go home and invoke the presence of God into our homes, bedrooms, and prayer closets…and we shrivel up…and we die spiritually… and then we walk away from the church altogether.

I have seen people who were in church most of their lives, suddenly “come out of the closet” and announce to all that they were homosexual…why? Because their church leadership did not invoke the presence of God into their church services…these people did not experience God in a real, personal, and tangible way; and so their faith wilted and died…giving way to other things.

The most important thing, my friends, is spending intimate quiet time with God, just you and Him alone in your room (or wherever). Fall down upon your face and worship Him in word and in song…sing worship songs to Him (“I Exalt Thee,” “I Worship You,” “As the Deer pants for water,” “I Love You Lord,” “All Hail King Jesus” etc…), verbally invite Him to spend some time with you where you are. Pretty soon the tears of love for Him will flow, His presence will be manifest where you are, and you will have started on a journey of love so strong that you will feel as if you just can’t contain it. Pretty soon, you may even begin hearing the very voice of God in your spirit…

I can’t even put into words what an experience that is.

Blessings!

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Matthew Vines…a Christian? Not according to the Scriptures.

Lately Matthew Vines has been making waves, claiming to be a Christian that loves the Bible and Christianity, but as Jesus said…

Matthew 7:16-20
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Lest someone think that I am saying that he is a false prophet (as in one who foretells the future), the term prophet in the Greek can mean either one who foretells, or forthtelling…which means expounding upon something. Mr. Vines, according to the Scriptures, is not a Christian. I have no doubt that he claims to be one, but his fruit demonstrates otherwise.

In an article published on “Upworthy” (a web-based article chauffeur of supposed truth, but apparently they don’t check the articles published on their web site for factualness – otherwise Mr. Vines’ article would not be included), claiming only 6 passages of Scripture in the Bible that deal with homosexuality. Not only is he wrong on that basic tenet, but his conclusion and means of explicating the Scriptures he uses, are both out the window as far as any real and sound examination goes. Vines claims that he did “intensive study” on the issue and came to the conclusion that God does not speak against homosexual acts in Scripture, but against other sexual based misbehavior.

His first point in the article in trying to make us believe that homosexuality is not a sin in God’s eyes, is the story in Genesis 19 where God sends angels disguised as men into Sodom to pull Lot and his family out before God rains down destruction upon it. Vine’s claims that:

For centuries, this story was interpreted as God’s judgment on same-sex relations, but the only form of same-sex behavior described is a threatened gang rape.

Maybe it escapes Mr. Vines’ reading comprehension, but gang rape behavior was same-sex, homosexual behavior, while both rape and homosexual behavior are both condemned by God as punishable by death…so exactly how he thinks the fact of “gang rape” homosexual behavior is any less homosexual than a one-on-one homosexual rape encounter is any different, is beyond any sense or soundness of mind. Case in point, his first claim that the story of Sodom does not mean “God’s judgment on same-sex relations” is based upon his bias leading his mind where he wants to go, NOT where the Scriptures lead us.

His next attempt at decrying God’s judgment upon Sodom for homosexual lifestyles, is in quoting Ezekiel 16:49…might I add, out of context…

Ezekiel 16:49
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Vines tries to tell us that the sin of Sodom was “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease,” and not aiding the poor and needy. The problem with Mr. Vines’ exegesis is, however, that he breaks several hermeneutical principles of bible interpretation, especially that of Context. When we read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 we come to see that God is addressing Jerusalem, and in His address He uses the term Samaria as a figure of speech for the northern kingdom of Israel, and He uses the term Sodom as a figure of speech for the southern kingdom of Judah…which together made up the nation of Israel.

Before Mr. Vines tries to exegete any more Scripture, he really needs to first drop his homosexual-based bias and then learn Biblical Hermeneutics (and apply some common sense). God was not addressing the city of Sodom which had been destroyed now for over 1,500 years – He is addressing the sins of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which He does quite often and refers to them as sisters, among other things. In short, Mr. Vines’ second attempt at making homosexual behavior likable to God’s standard of obedience flies in the face of Scripture, biblical hermeneutics, and common sense rendering of the text he uses.

Mr. Vines next attack comes upon Leviticus 18:22, where God says…

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

He goes on to claim that…

Other things called abominations in the Old Testament include having sex during a woman’s menstrual period, eating pork, rabbit, or shell fish, and charging interest on loans, but they’re part of the Old Testament law code, which was fulfilled by Jesus.

Part of the issue here is that Mr. Vines doesn’t know part of what he is talking about, or else is he purposely deceiving those who might read his article. Christ did NOT come and fulfill the ceremonial laws of “unclean foods,” neither does He have anything to do with fulfilling sexual intercourse with a woman on her menstrual period, nor charging interest on loans. The law code which Jesus came and fulfilled was the covenant law of the Old Covenant, which is the Decalogue (the 10 Commandments). All of the other laws stemming from these were social and ceremonial laws, and nothing which Christ fulfilled.

By his inference, Mr. Vines is trying to tell us that Christ took up into Himself homosexual sins and fulfilled any law speaking against it, and I am sorry to say that he does not understand what he is claiming nor trying to make us believe. Since homosexuality is against nature as God created it, Christ would not take up into Himself and fulfill a sinful behavior so that people may go around committing homosexual acts and be forgiven when they ask, yet continuing practicing a homosexual lifestyle. It seems to me that Mr. Vines wants to eat his candy and go to heaven too, but God does not work like that, and Mr. Vines is perverting the Scriptures in his attempt to make the general public (and worse, Christians) accept his thesis.

He continues with Hebrews 8:13 where he correctly (to my great surprise) reads the verse as saying that Christ is the end of the law of the Old Testament. He is correct there, but then sadly fails to understand that when Christ came on the scene and fulfilled the old law of the Old Covenant, He also established the new law of the New Covenant, which is called the Law of Christ (which I am surprised he did not try to twist in his efforts here, but perhaps he does somewhere else that I have not read yet).

Vines goes on in another failing attempt to exegete Romans 1:26-17…

Romans 1:26-27
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were inflamed for one another, men in men committing shameless acts and receiving in themselves the natural recompense for their actions.

…he tries to make us believe that what Paul is REALLY talking about here is lust…not homosexuality, but lust. He says that “the behavior he condemns is lustful. He makes no mention of love, commitment, or faithfulness,” meaning that if a man just lusts to have sexual intercourse with another man, without loving him, or committing himself to his partner, or being faithful to his partner, then it is sin. But, if the two homosexual partners love each other, commit to each other and are faithful to each other, then God does not condemn them to hell. Exactly where he gets this from the text is anyone’s guess, but he does not get it from the text, and that is the main issue here with this failed attempt. Paul’s CLEAR implication is homosexual behavior, but Mr. Vines cannot see that because he falls victim to the first part of Paul’s full statement…

Romans 1:18-22
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Vines goes on in his attack on the Scriptures by claiming…

His description of same-sex behavior is based solely on a burst of excess and lust. In the ancient world, same-sex behavior mainly occurred between adult men and adolescent boys, between masters and their slaves, or in prostitution. Most of the men engaged in those practices were married to women, so same-sex behavior was widely seen as stemming from out of control lust and vice of excess, like gluttony and drunkenness. And while Paul labeled same sex behavior unnatural, he says in 1 Corinthians 11:14 that for men to wear their hair long also goes against nature, and most Christians interpret that as a reference to cultural conventions.

First, his claim that homosexual behavior was seen “as stemming from out of control lust and vice of excess, like gluttony and drunkenness” is no where supported in any research that I have been able to locate. This claim appears to be a fabrication…although I must also point out that this article is found on an internet source and not in a religious or science journal of any kind, which simply means that one can claim anything he wants to and does not need to supply any kind of reference material where he supposedly gleaned this information from.

Second, the link between Paul calling homosexual behavior unnatural, and men wearing long hair as unnatural, is a leap in the extreme. Homosexual acts are unnatural because God created man and woman, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve…and if He had, we would not be here to argue the point because sexual intercourse has two purposes: (1) for procreation (and no homosexual couple has ever produced a child – BECAUSE HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR IS UNNATURAL), and (2) for sexual pleasure. Homosexual acts are unnatural because God created the male organ (A) specifically for the female organ (B), NOT for the excretory system (C). That may be a bit graphic, but those are the facts.

When a male engages in a homosexual sex act with another male, he chooses to engage in an act which is as unnatural as human beings sprouting wings and flying. A man can strap on a pair of man-made wings and flap his arms and perhaps fly artificially, but that does not make the incident a natural one. When Paul addresses long hair he addresses men who might let their hair grow out down to the floor, and as he says, a woman’s hair is given to her as a covering. If she grows it out long enough, and pulls it to the front of her body, it covers her…but that really isn’t the point here. While hair may have been a cultural convention as Vines states, homosexual behavior was not. What’s more, Paul was addressing Romans, not Jews. God’s people already knew that homosexual behavior was a vile and gross act, but in Rome – in the spiritual darkness and void of God’s truth – they practiced such things, and so Paul was addressing those practices according to the revelation God had given to him. In short, Mr. Vines fails again, both in his exegesis of the Scriptures and in applying solid methods and principles of biblical interpretation.

Vines goes on to say…

In the last two likely references to same-sex behavior in the Bible, two Greek words, malakoi and arsenokoitai, are included in lists of people who will not inherit God’s kingdom. Many modern translators have rendered these terms as sweeping statements about gay people, but the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world.

First, malakoi does not specifically mean homosexual behavior, so I will not address it.
Second, the second word is arsenokoites, not arsenokoitai (which is the plural masculine form of the word). It is formed from two words; arsen (male) and koite (bed, bed-chambering), in which bed-chambering means sexual intercourse. This word specifically deals with a male who “beds” or “bed-chambers” another male: Homosexual acts. Vines is correct in repeating that those who engage in homosexual acts will not inherit God’s kingdom (and yet he appears to be living that very lifestyle…so what is he really saying), but then he goes off and makes a straight up lie to his readers when he claims that “the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world,”

If it did not, then, what was Paul talking about in Romans? I hope that people reading Mr. Vines’ articles are smart enough to see the obvious confusion in which he swims, and rejects his surmisings…but obviously my hope is thwarted, for the person who apparently posted his article claims to believe his nonsense, and also claims to be a Christian. It is sad to see people who have obviously been acquainted with church in their lives yet never come to know Christ personally, because such people go out of the church (or even worse, remain within the church) and listen so the nonsense such as what we have been discussing here. Yes, modern translators (in Vines’ words) render these terms as sweeping statements against homosexuals – because that is EXACTLY what they are.

Vines goes on…

Yes, Paul did not take a positive view of same-sex relations, but the context he was writing in is worlds apart from gay people in committed, monogamous relationships. The Bible never addresses the issues of sexual orientation or same-sex marriage, so there’s no reason why faithful Christians can’t support their gay brothers and sisters. It’s time.

First, Paul’s words are NOT “worlds apart from gay people in committed, monogamous relationships,” that is what Mr. Vines has come to believe based upon his bias for homosexuals. The homosexual sex act is not blurred, softened, nor tempered by “committed, monogamous relationships,” and to claim as such demonstrates just how far his claimed love for the Scriptures and God goes. Just as in Romans 1, men become lovers of themselves and what they want, and so set God aside, all the while claiming to put God first. The homosexual acts of a woman with another woman, or a man with another man, is what God commands is an abomination in His sight, and no committed or monogamous homosexual relationship is sanctioned by God as righteous.

Second, the bible does address sexual orientation (but definitely not same-sex marriage, because addressing homosexuality IS addressing same-sex marriage – it is an abomination and a sin in God’s eyes), and to say that it doesn’t is Mr. Vines’ bias speaking again, NOT the Scriptures. If a man’s bias is strong enough, it will cause him to see the color red as blue, and in psychology that is called schizophrenia (a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements).

Third, a person who is practicing homosexual behavior is not a Christian, for a Christian practices obedience to Christ and the Scriptures, and one who is practicing homosexual behavior is not walking in obedience to God or Christ according to the Scriptures. Therefore, no Christian has a homosexual “brother” or “sister,” Mr. Vines is out in left field with that statement.

Vines states in the beginning of his article that his slant on the Scriptures he presents to others actually changed his parent’s minds on God’s stand against homosexual behavior. I have seen this before, where a parent or parents just can’t deal with the thought of their child going to hell for the rest of eternity for their chosen lifestyle (for whatever reason), so they make friends with the sin, disregard God’s Word on the subject, and choose against the facts to believe the lie. Otherwise its just too maddening to think of your child burning for all eternity.

However, Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword, and that His teachings would set a father against a son, and a daughter against her mother…and that is what we are witnessing in these last days. The only thing I can say is this…the Rapture is coming, and when believers are taken out of this world in a moment, in the blink of an eye, that will be the last sign to those like Mr. Vines and all of the others who will be left behind to go through the Great Tribulation, that the Scriptures are correct and that God is real.

Blessings!

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