Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Angels and Demons

For all my Christian life I shall remember my salvation. I shall remember (for purposes of this post discussion) the two men whom God used to deliver to me the gospel of Jesus Christ by which I was saved. Reggie Parker and Jeff Lovin were roommates just down the hall from me in our college dorm. The one thing I remember vividly about those two was their consistency. They were always bold in their witness and bold in speaking the name of Jesus. No matter what. Every action, every word, every circumstance always brought them back to the bold proclamation of the gospel and name of Jesus.

Over the years I have tried to look them up. Google. Facebook. Campus Crusade for Christ. Not a hit. They don't exist. I figure God wants it that way. No glory or praise or even thanks to the servants. Or perhaps they were angels and that's why I can't find them.

Many of my posts of late deal with worship. Here's what happened this morning as God has been prompting me to worship Him and be bold in my proclamation of the gospel and His name.

It started with resistance. No particular, discernable reason. I just did not want to bow down. That was enough for the Holy Spirit to convict me of ommission. No surprise that God was speaking about that very thing during an Adrian Rogers sermon on the radio that morning. "The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."

The Spirit cried out, "Worship me!" I went into my office, closed the door, and got down on my knees. "No!", He cried. "Prostrate."

"Oh what is the difference," I wondered. He would not give in. "Prostrate." I could feel the flesh resist but my mind desire to obey. Then it hit me - hard. Humble thyself. Humble thy SELF. I went flat. And God poured in His Holy Spirit and out He flowed in audible worship - "...every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Is there a difference? Yes, if God says so.

And just before I arose, having offered myself in reasonable service on His altar, He let me know His will for that moment. "Write this down and then create a prayer list of saints I lay on your heart. Pray for them according to I Corinthians 15:34 and Ephesians 5:25-27. Then also add those whom I desire to save according to my grace and gospel."

So there you have it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Getting the Word Out

Consider this my friends who awake unto righteousness and sin not:

In Jesus' time and up to the time of John writing Revelation some 90 years later, only three ways existed for any Scripture to reach the ears of the world: 1) immediate recipients of the letters, 2) received copies of the letters, and/or 3) heard it through oral tradition. Now consider further that any one recipient possibly received that one and only one letter in his/her lifetime. Given the length of some of the letters (ie. Romans and Corinthians), it is further possible that any one recipient through the most common method of oral tradition probably received only some portion of that letter.

This may seem staggering to some folks today in this world of internet, Tweet, blogging, and the former mass media of printed material. We may tend to think that the Word of God is instantly available to anyone in the world. Sadly, this is not true for many reasons. But just as in Jesus' time, so it is today in many parts of the world. Ancient, slow, limited communication.

Suppose you were around in Jesus' time or even now in some remote place where there are no Bibles, no computers, no cell phones. Imagine right now you are stranded there for some interminable amount of time. What of God's Word will you have with you? How did it get there? Why?

Why so little?

What kind of relationship do you really have with God? Are you One with Him as Jesus prayed for you? Suppose you have just that one fragment of God's Word. Maybe you got it from a tract that contained a few verses. And that's it for the rest of your life. Would you starve to death spiritually?

Or would you thrive because you have a living, loving, passionate, free, and holy relationship with God? Could you love Him just as much without a Bible? I have a missionary friend in China who knows many people there who love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind without a shred of Scripture to lay personal claim to. How is this possible?

God says in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." That gospel is clearly spelled out in I Corinthians 15:1-4, "1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

That is the power of God. It saves men from sin. It brings the rightful glory and worship back to God and God alone.

Can you love Him and worship Him passionately with never another bit of the Bible passing your way? The gospel of Jesus Christ has thrived for two-thousand years despite the devil's best efforts to destroy the Word of God. He may be able to destroy the books but He cannot destroy our Lord Jesus because He claimed once for all men, for all sin, for all time, "It is finished." Death has no more power over Him or His adopted brothers and sisters. Sin has no more dominion over us. We are an holy kingdom of priests, saved from sin to worship and serve our living and true God in the beauty of holiness, spirit, and truth.

That truth is the Word of God. And whatever bit of it you have, hide it in your heart so that you sin not against Him. That Word is not just a book. It is the living Lord Jesus Himself, living in you, because He loved you and gave Himself for you. Jesus alone must be sufficient for you to be witnesses unto Him by any means possible.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Opinions Don't Matter

The internet and 24/7 news seem to be more opinion than factual, well-researched, newsworthy portals. That is my conviction. To many Christians, TV was (and still is) the enemy of the mind and spirit. I would add the former two items. Christian blogs and forums abound here. With them comes the abundance of opinion about any topic of interest including the very Word of God. My conviction further holds that opinion does not matter in the case of the Word of God. If anyone has anything to say about the Word of God therefore let him do the following:

1. First, search the Scriptures to see whether the things heard and read and believed are really so. Acts 17:10-12 - "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." The power of the Word of God will always bear fruit.

2. Form your thoughts and convictions in heaven. Romans 11:36 - "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." The Word of God will always glorify the LORD.

3. Study. II Timothy 2:15-16 - "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." The Word of God will always boldness. Opinion is ungodly.

Any further time I spend on Christian forums, blogs, or other writings will be initiated in this way. This is not a criticism of those things or people, though some should be admonished for I see opinion far more often then is good. For instance:

1. The work has more of a person's word than the Word of God. Such knowledge is puffed up. Paul uses this term in I Corithians 4:6, "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." As in this verse, so I usually see it on the web. "I think God means such and such because so and so person says in his book...." What matters is what God says, not what others say about Him.

This is a subtle but important point that I shall dwell on for a moment. God says in II Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." He goes on to warn us of false teachers. I see "Christian" writers labeled as false teachers all the time. While sometimes this is true, I want you to see that truly God's Word has but one and only one interpretation. Yet at the same time "... the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) Furthermore, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) When you are One with God and Jesus, you have the personal relationship whereby you hear God speak His Word to you intimately.

This is a mystery spoken of in Ephesians 1:9, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:" and Romans 16:25-26, "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:" These are the words that we are called to boldly proclaim as truth according to I Thessalonians 2:13, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

This mystery must remain untouched, this glory that we behold in One (John 17:24).