Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eyes on Jesus Please. 2

It is very troubling what is happening in our culture. It is becoming more and more difficult to avoid the appeals to the base nature of man. This was the case during the times of St Paul and his loved ones in Corinth. Two responses happen in the lives of believers. The first is to cave into temptation and excuse the self indulgence. The second is to try to run away from it and feel proud and brag about that monasticism and self piety. Neither one is the proper response for the follower of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5: 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. ESV

Both of the above responses are living for ones self. St Paul encourages us to live for Him who died for us and resurrected for us. And while living for Him we persuade others. One cannot persuade others if they are living as if Jesus did not matter. Neither can one persuade others if they refuse to dirty themselves with the presence of unbelievers. This is what the Pharisees were like. They were very self righteous men who had the activities to prove it. However, they could not be bothered with sinners. They in fact were scandalized with Jesus eating with those who were looked down on. We must be very careful not to be so captivated by our desire and ability to keep ourselves from wallowing in the muck of our culture.

It is after all about Jesus who died for our self righteousness and false piety. The sin of pride in one’s holiness nailed Jesus to the tree. God forbid we take our eyes off Jesus and place them on ourselves as though we were anything.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. †

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Doctrine of St Peter vs The SEE of St Peter.

The leadership in the Roman Catholic Church claim that St Peter was the first pope. In addition claim to hold to the most ancient confession and therefore the only true body of Christ. Those two points are debatable to say the least. However, if St Peter was indeed the rock upon which Jesus were to build His church and their confession to be the oldest why have they left the doctrine of St Peter?

2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ ESV

Here we see the introduction of his second epistle to the Christian Church. In this one short statement he says a mouthful. The faith we have is obtained by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Here is a bit of the official teaching outlined by the Council of Trent:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

Here we see the doctrine of cooperative grace whereby it is required that we not only receive grace from God but that it is required that we cooperate with this. This presents grace as a spiritual steroid with which we exercise our faith unto salvation. The teaching goes on to explain that this Justification is completed by our acts of charity. The question remains is how can that Church Body proclaim itself as the oldest and most true representation of the Christian faith when it clearly departs from that faith?

What is most terrifying is that some evangelicals will maintain that it takes more than faith to please God. This is mainly done out of fear that if people believe nothing is required of a Christian to remain one he or she will become lazy and careless in living.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father! ESV

This is a total misunderstanding of our relationship to Almighty God. We are His adopted children. As such what adopted child will see all that has been done for him or her and therefore conclude he or she can reject the parent’s love and refuse to help out around the house? Truly as sinners we will be tempted to do this however; the love of Christ constrains us to live lives that please Him. When we fail we repent and receive Our Father’s forgiveness on the account of the innocent and bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen †

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Want to Be Left Behind!

Sometime ago I was discussing the end times with some friends. The subject of the secret pre tribulation rapture came up. I stated that I no longer believed in such an occurrence and gave my reasons. One of those in attendance told me later that if I did not believe in this event then I would be left behind. That is quite troubling that a person who professes salvation by grace through faith not on the account of works would make such a statement. Be that as it may one of the sections of scripture referred to for this doctrine:

Matthew 24: 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. ESV

In the first place we see that two persons are working together one disappears and the other is left behind. How is that a secret rapture? The explanation goes I remember is that those left behind will be given strong delusions as what happened to their family, friends, neighbours and co workers. That is really stretching the imagination but we will let that go for the moment too.

The real mistake is to not realize is that it will be a blessing to be left behind when the Lord returns. What?! How can that be? Well let’s back up a bit in the section to see what I mean.

Matthew 24: 36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. ESV

Context in this case as well as in all scripture is king. We see the reference to the days of Noah the ones taken were those not saved by God and those left behind were Noah and his family. When Jesus returns to judge the living and dead those who reject the promises associated with His perfect life, death, burial and resurrection will be taken. Those of us blessed by God with trust in those promises will be left behind with Jesus for eternity. That is why I want to be Left Behind.

Even so come Lord Jesus. †

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No Shame Needed.

When one takes an unpopular position or refuses to utterly cast away those who have that position one will find him or herself with the same enemies. We have a Great Shepherd in whom we can place our trust. The psalmist writes:

Psalm 25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. ESV

The Lord, to the cross, has borne our shame. Even though we sin along side our enemies we are not going to be put to shame over it. Those who make themselves enemies of God’s children also make Him an enemy as well. Their treachery does not go unnoticed by our Lord. We can only pray that the Lord grant them true repentance and restoration. May they feel the shame they want to inflict on others so to cling to the cross for forgiveness.

Lifting one’s soul to the Lord he or she is hidden in Him. No lasting harm can befall there for He has descended to the lowest parts and into destruction for His loved ones. He will raise us up on the last day and today as well when we cast all this care upon Him.

Father, forgive them in the Name and for the sake of Jesus for they know not what they do. Amen †

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Decision Theology

When a person comes to faith in Jesus he or she perhaps could be under the emotional impression that it was a choice made by him or her. Part of this is due to the fact that when faith is created we willingly respond to the message of Jesus for us. It is very important however, that we work with that person to make sure it is understood how it is faith has come about.

John 15: 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. ESV

While presenting Himself as a Vine and those of us as His branches Jesus plainly states it is Him who chooses us. The analogy by itself would point out the lack of choice on the Christians part. In vineyard keeping the branches are not asked nor presented with an option to be part of the vine. They just are.

To drive home the point Jesus flat out states that He did the choosing. It is understandable why this is such a hammer blow to some but it is. In our society free will reign supreme. We choose which city we live in or if we wish to live in a rural area we can work to get there. Our occupation is by choice. If we desire to change occupation and further training is needed we can avail ourselves of that. Two people of their own free will can get married to each other, And the list goes on and on.

When it comes to eternal life we must be very specific as to how it is we have it. To believe one has this by choice will bring about one of two conclusions. One will think he or she is more intelligent than those who reject the Gospel. Or if one is having a difficult time with life living under the cross he or she may wonder if the proper choice has been made. The former is a self righteous Pharisee the latter a terrified sinner. Either way the eyes are off Jesus and focused clearly upon self.

Jesus presents Himself as Saviour not as one who merely aids us in saving ourselves through choices we make. Of His will He came and tabernacled with us. Out of His love for us He lived a perfect life for us. For our sins he bore them and had Himself nailed to the tree. And without our permission He rose again for our justification. As a now cancelled radio show, Issues Etc, used to proclaim:

“It is not about you, it is about Jesus for you.”

In the Name of Jesus. Amen †