I admit it. I love Apple. I try to use what they make because for a long time they were truly best in class. That is sadly no longer the case.
I have been using Spotify ever since it came out in the US. It has it's issues but it is by far a superior product when it comes to music consumption. Sure it's 10 buxs a month but it is totally worth it.
For 10 buxs I get unlimited music. It's just like iTunes but all the songs are turned on and work. There are no 90 second previews, just full tracks.
I used to think that iTunes Match was a good solution. The only problem is it does not work very well. It's slow. iTunes will often hang and fail to load songs. To see what songs are being downloaded you have to leave the iTunes app and go over to the iTunes store app. I have no clue why someone thought this was a good idea.
So after thinking long and hard about a very serious icon move, iTunes and my massive music library has been moved out of the iPhone dock and replaced by Spotify.
Good bye iTunes. You have served me well for many years but you have been replaced. I have tried to be loyal but cannot remain faithful to you. You have fallen behind. I hope you are reborn soon.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
12:19 AM - Its late and I can't sleep. This is nothing new for me. In fact it is what often happens. I deal with depression on a regular basis. It an overwhelming cloud that has darkened my life.
I wish I could be like my cats. Carefree and happy. They sleep and eat and get love from my wife and I. But alas I'm not a cat and have to deal with the shackles of depression in other ways.
Meds? Been there. Done that. Did they help? Perhaps. I've not killed myself yet. But I did gain large amounts of weight in the process.
In reality my depression is better than it has been in the past. That's due to having a fantastic therapist that helped me learn how bipolar disorder has affected my life.
I'm in a better place mentally nowadays than I used to be. I do have hope in Jesus Christ. In fact that is the reason I am alive today. It's hope in a savior that works my deepest moments of depression into an event for my good.
Yet that still does not cause the depression to pass... Perhaps blogging about things will help to add some clarity to my life and help me better reflect on how to get better and actually engage on life and not sleep through it.
I wish I could be like my cats. Carefree and happy. They sleep and eat and get love from my wife and I. But alas I'm not a cat and have to deal with the shackles of depression in other ways.
Meds? Been there. Done that. Did they help? Perhaps. I've not killed myself yet. But I did gain large amounts of weight in the process.
In reality my depression is better than it has been in the past. That's due to having a fantastic therapist that helped me learn how bipolar disorder has affected my life.
I'm in a better place mentally nowadays than I used to be. I do have hope in Jesus Christ. In fact that is the reason I am alive today. It's hope in a savior that works my deepest moments of depression into an event for my good.
Yet that still does not cause the depression to pass... Perhaps blogging about things will help to add some clarity to my life and help me better reflect on how to get better and actually engage on life and not sleep through it.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
So I've been challenged. My brother has been asking me to run with him. He has been very encouraging and I've decide to take on the challenge. I'm not sure how well I will do. I might never go past this blog post but I figure it can't hurt to document my attempt.
Wish me luck!
Wish me luck!
Monday, July 23, 2012
If in this life only we have hoped in Christ we are of all people most to be pitied. I was studying Corinthians last night with some friends. We were talking about perspective. It's good to have perspective in life. It helps to keep things in focus. It was a good night. We spent alot of time talking about the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection is a pivotal event in the Christian faith. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our faith is in vain. If Christ has not been raised there is no forgiveness of sins. If there is no life after this one, we as Christians are to be pitied most. This helps me to think about my life. Am I living a life that is worthy of being pitied if there is no resurrection? Why would Paul say that we are to be pitied? It is because following Christ requires sacrifice. It requires me dying to myself on a day to day basis. It requires me trusting and hoping in Christ. It requires me surrendering my life and will over to that of God. If there is no resurrection...My faith has been in vain. I have been a fool. If there is no resurrection I should have spent my days going after pleasure. I should have spent my days living for my self. Christ and his resurrection is what the whole of my faith rest on. It's so amazing that my Faith hinges on one thing. Yet the other amazing thing it the resurrection is a public event. It was not some private party. It was not hidden in the back of a room. It was an event for the world to witness. Once again God has made his power know to the world. He dose not hide himself. The only question is what do I do about it? I live life a life of being thankful. I live for Christ who given me life. I live to deny myself and my will. That's not to say this is easy. I struggle everyday with this. How do I live? Am I doing the right thing? Am I killing myself? Am I in God's word? Am I seeking his will or am I seeking my own. So often this leads me to a place of despair. I feel hopeless...I feel lost. I see what a large task it is to follow Christ. I see how sinful and wicked I am. Then I remember the cross. I know that my sins are forgiven. I know that my salvation is brought about not by my works but by the decree of God, the work of Christ as my priest, and the groaning of the spirit. And that moves me forward...That starts another day for. So perspective. If Christ did not die and I am still in my sins. What a sad life I have lived. I praise God that there is a resurrection. I rejoice that I will one day walk with my God.
So...Who wants to live a life where you are tired? Who wants to live a life of suffering? Anyone want to live a life for others and not for yourself? There was a statement made by my pastor this morning that hit me. He was talking about our life now and how when we die, we need to die tired. We need to die spent. If we die in comfort and ease, we missed something. I agree. It's so true. It's odd, I struggle so much with trying to live a life of faith. Paul tells us that we are Justified (Made right before God) on the basis of our faith, and our faith alone. This is true. There is nothing that I can add to my salvation. It is a gift from God. I can do nothing for it, I cannot earn it, I can not work for it. Yet James tells us that if we have no works, our faith is a dead faith and dose us no good. This is also true. So often I feel tired, I feel lost, I feel depressed, I feel sad, I know that I am not living the life I should. I'm spending time going after things that do not matter. I should be spening more time on others. I feel so worthless before my God. And I am... Yet there is a great truth that helps to get me back. It is that my salvation rest not in me and my actions, but rest with God and him alone. He has ordained it, Christ has secured it, and the Spirit is given as a promise of my salvation. Things don't get better than that. This is what I have to turn my mind to so often. When trials come and life gets hard (this usually starts the moment I get up and ends when I go to sleep) I need to remember that my God is good. I need to recall that this life is a vapor. My time here short. My real life is hidden in Christ.
Psalm 123 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. So our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Wow…WE keep looking, we keep trusting, we keep holding our hands out in need. And we wait. We can’t rush God. We need to wait. How often I forget this. How often I take my eyes off him. I get lazy, I get tired, I start trusting in other things. I need to keep my eyes upon God. How long? Until mercy is given. He is my salvation. He is my rock! Why do I turn to other things? Being a follower of Christ is sometimes so simple, yet other times so hard. My own life needs to follow the pattern of this Psalms more. It starts with lifting our eyes to God. It starts by going to him. Trusting in him. Looking to him. And once we turn we see God. We see him enthroned in the heavens. We see him as King. We see his glory. We know that he is in control. And the we try and relate to him. We try and find things that gives us pictures of how he provides. The same way that a servant must wait for the hand of the master to provide…We must wait on God. Servants were not well respected. They were often mistreated and had no means of protecting themselves. The only thing that they could do was wait for the master to protect them. And so we call out. We denounce our own resources to protect ourselves. We cry out that we cannot do it. We ask for him to shield and protect us. What more could we want? We have God taking our life under his gaurd. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. And it ends with a plee. A cry for help. It ends with us confessing the weight that is upon our souls. And we wait. We wait for mercy…
His grace is enough. I love the verse about wrestling with the sinners heart. My prayer for today is that I remember God and his faithfulness. That I meditate on his grace being enough. I pray today for grace. For not only is it enough, it is everything. It is by grace that I live. It is by grace that I move. It is by grace that he saves me. It is his grace that lets me serve him. Grace...It is truly is amazing! Great is your faithfulness oh God You wrestle with the sinner's heart You lead us by still waters and to mercy And nothing can keep us apart Pre Chorus: So remember your people Remember your children Remember your promise Oh God Chorus: Your grace is enough Your grace is enough Your grace is enough for me Verse 2: Great is your love and justice God You use the weak to lead the strong You lead us in the song of your salvation And all your people sing along Chorus 2: Your Grace is enough Heaven reaching down to us Your Grace is enough for me God, I see your grace is enough I'm covered in your love Your grace is enough for me For me
1 Timothy 4:7-10 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Train...Exercise. Work at. Learn. That is what we are supposed to be working on. Not training ourselves for work, or play, or life. It is godliness that we are supposed to be training for. I'm not always sure how to do that. The best way I know of is to be in the Word of God. The more time that I spend in the word, the more I grow. It dose not happen overnight, but gains are made. For me the idea of training is a good one. I have never been in shape. I spent the majority of my life (so far at least) overweight and unhealthy. God has been good to me and has been putting that part of my life in order. I used to weight close to 270. I'm around 195 now. I used to get out of breath walking up stairs. I can run miles now. What has changed? How has this happened? One word. Training. I had to train myself to eat right, to exercise, to diet, to have self-control. I had to work at. I had to do it day after day after day. So it is with the Christian life. We are called to be godly. We do not get there overnight. Our salvation has taken place. There is no longer no condemnation for us that are in Christ. But there is still a need to be godly. That happens with training. That happens by working at it. That happens by taking little steps. For me some of the steps that I have been trying to take are getting my eyes off of myself. I need to stop looking at me. I need to love God and love others. That means I need to be praying and serving others. I need to be trying to figure out how I can serve. I need to train myself so this is the natural action of who I am. There is more of this I want to look at later. I like the idea of training. It hits home with me. Perhaps I will do a study of this verse later. I'm in the book of James right now. Perhaps after I finish that I will move over to Timothy.
I've been all over the bible lately. One book that has been getting my mind spinning is Genesis. This is the start of God's revelation to us. Now notice I did not say the beginning of all things. Simple the things that God wants us to know. The whole start of the book is amazing. There is a great story being told. But lets look at a moment at the story of the serpent. The serpent is the devil. Satan. The dragon. That's pretty easy to get to...But there is some interesting things going on here. Satan fall has been linked to the sin of pride. He wanted to be like God. He wanted to set himself up agaist the most high. He wanted to copy God is all that he dose. He is the leader of a rebellion agaist God. We know very little on the orgin of Satan or how he got started. There are some that say he was created wicked. Others say that his pride caused him to fall. One thing we do know is that we are at war with the devil. How did things get to be this way. Well...That's all found in in 3:15. In 3:15 we see God pronounce judgement on Satan. He says that he will create enmity between Satan and the woman. Hmm...This is odd. Enmity? War between Satan and the woman. Should it not be the other way around? Woman sinned. Should the war not be between God and woman? Think about it this way. Satan has caused 1/3 of the angles to fall and has brough them into war against God. Angles who are now aligned with Satan. There is no plan of redemption for these angles. They are now followers of Satan. They are at war with God. God has created a great and wonderful world. He has created man. Man who can reproduce. Who will grow. Man who has been called by God to have dominion. I'm almost sure that Satan was thinking to himself that if he could get man to fall, he would be able to enlist man in his war agaist God. Not only man, but his offspring. So Satan sets out to win the hearts of man. He tempts Eve and Adam. They are now his. Satan thinks he has won. He now has man. And we see this at first. Man hides from God. They are ashamed. They are now at war so to speak. They are not hiding from Satan. There is no need to. They need to hide from God. It was his law they broke. So here we have Satan...He has man in his grips. He is thinking that he will not only have Adam and Eve but all of humanity as well. The 1/3 of the angles are his and cannot be redeemed. Now he has humanity. But he did not see the wisdom of God. God is his wisdom had a plan for the redemption of man. He passes judgement on Satan and tells him that the war will not be between man and God. He tells him the war will be between Satan and Man. This is not what Satan had planned. Not only has Satan now lost man. He will be at war with this woman. Ahh...How his plans have been foiled. Not only did Satan fail to capture man, he will also be destroyed by man. He will be destroyed by Jesus Christ. Man fully man fully man. Wow...So back in the garden we already see election taking place. God has taken sinful man and chose to redeem him. God is saying that he will be the one who decides the terms of this war. Satan will have no say. It's amazing how clear the scriptures are when the focus is taken off of man and placed on God and his purpose. When the focus is no longer on man and back on God and his glory, things start making more sense. I tend to make fun of people like Rick Waren and their version of the gospel. But he starts out right. He says it's not about us, It's about God. Why has God chosen to save us? So the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Eph 3:10 What? We are saved to show God wisdom to the angles? Yep! That's why. God loves his glory. God loves his wisdom. God loves himself. That is why he hates pride. He is the only being that can be prideful. So my advice...Change your perspective. View this earth and salvation as God showing his glory to the angles. We are on display to the angles to show God's wisdom. We are but one small part of what he is doing. It's not about you. It's not about me. It's about God and his glory.
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Well this is an interesting passage of scripture. This is dealing with forgiveness. Something that everyone of needs help with. There has been plenty that has been written on forgiveness and many a sermon preached on it. But I want to move in a different direction. I want to focus on the king forgiving the servant. The king could be any king, but we know that it is a reference to God. That is the basis of this parable. God has forgiven us a great debt so we owe it to others to forgive. In the same way he has been kind and forgiven, that should be our model. But lets go back to the King...So here we have a king. He is really the main character of the story. It is his model that we are supposed to follow. So we should pay attention to what is going on. What is this king doing? Why is doing what he is doing? What are some of the reasons that the king actually forgives his servants? Is there a model that we need to be following? So the king calls his servants. Did you notice who the king just called? He called his servants...This is a parable about the kingdom. It is about God and his people. But there is a servant here. A servant who has been called to give account. This servant gets there and the amount that is owed is a huge debt. The idea in the parable is that it is a debt that could never be paid back. Ever. No matter how much the servant wanted to...It could not be done. So the king was going to have his wife and children and even the servant sold. And this is interesting. No argument is given that this is a hard or harsh remedy. No complaint is lobbied against the king. The servant dose the only thing that he can...He falls on his knees and and begs for mercy. He offers to repay and work off this debt. The thing that is interesting to me is that the debt is not really the issue. We so often make big deal out of the debt we owe to God, The debt of sin. We so often focus on how much we have offended God. And make no doubt...We have. His anger burns...But if we take a look here we will see something interesting. Let's take a moment to think about the king. Do you really think he needs to be paid back? Did he call his servants because he was broke and needs a few extra bucks to keep the kingdom running? The servant owed the king a sum that was so large it was unable to be payed. Ask yourself...Did the king really want to be paid back? Did he need to be paid back? So the issue is more than the debt that is owed to the king. The fact that the king dose not need the money is part of the story. It shows that God dose not need our works. He dose not depend on us one bit. It also shows that at the judgement when men are sent to hell...There will be no one able to lodge a complaint that he is unfair. No one...The selling of you to the Devil will be the right thing for him to do. So we ask...what is the kings pleasure in forgiving the debt? Why dose the king forgive? He is driven out of pity for us. He is driven by the fact that we have to come to him broken and dependent on Him and Him alone for forgiveness. His pleasure is found in our brokenness. His pleasure is found in us coming and asking for mercy. He is driven by pity for us. His forgiveness is driven by HIS pleasure. And that is key. Everything that God dose is done for God! Not for us...We get some neat goodies out of God....but all of it is driven by His pleasure. So I ask you this...If God is driven by his pleasure, should we not learn what his pleasure is? Should we not spend our time thinking on God and pleasing him? He dose not need to be paid back...He just wants you broken. He wants you humble. He just wants you to have to fully depend on Him. That means I have some news for you...Life is not about you. You exist for one reason...It was God's pleasure. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you are a great and wonderful servant in his kingdom. He was about to sell you and your family off. He was about to send you out of his kingdom. He was about to get rid of you without even a second thought. So repent...Cry for mercy. Cry for mercy while God can be found. Claim the only source that can pay your debt. Christ...God himself. He came to pay your debt...
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Give me justice against my adversary. 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?
Take notice in verse one. There are a few key words you need to see. This parable is given for a reason. Jesus tells us this parable to keep us praying. He tells us this parable so that we do not lose heart. In those statements are things we need to see. If we are to always be praying, that means that there will be times, beloved, that we will stop. If he tells us this so that we do not lose heart, there will be times when we lost heart. If right now you have lost heart and are not praying, this parable is for you.
Let us take a look now at who the players in this parable are. There are three. It might take a moment but look carefully. There is the judge, the woman, and her adversary. In this case we are told that the judge dose not fear God or man. So this is a judge who sits and judges as he sees fit. This s a judge who thinks he is the law. He fears no one, nor dose he respect anyone. He dose not have to answer to anyone. He is strong and will make judgement based on his will and his will alone. He will not be told how to judge. He dose not care about this widow.
The widow is the least of society. She is weak. She no longer has the protection of her husband. In fact often times you find that a widow in this society had no rights to her husbands estate. So this is a woman whose only hope is the judge. He is the only one who can take care of this problem.
Then we have the adversary. We do not know much about what this widows problem with the adversary is. We only know that there is a problem. This adversary is causing problems. Problems that justice must deal with. But there is a problem. We have an unjust judge. So if anything there are two people who are adversaries to this women. The judge and the actual adversary themselves. What is this woman to do?
In verse 3 we see what this woman dose. She keeps coming to the judge. She keeps asking. She keeps pleading for justice to be done. She is a woman who wants her case to be know. She keeps pleading. Why? To make her case know. To get justice. She knows that she has been wronged. She knows that if the case is heard many times that the judge will give her justice.
In verses 4-5 we see that the judge finally acts. He acts not out of kindness and love but out of selfish motives. He acts because he is bothered and beat down. He acts because he has been shamed. Others have seen this widow time and time again. Perhaps this judges reputation is now at stake and he must act. Perhaps his friends are asking when he will take care of this woman. Perhaps he was just tired. But he finally acts. But the act is still one that is not done because of justice, but because of selfish motive.
Now we get to the good stuff. We have seen how a judge who cares not for justice acts, lets take a look at how our God who loves justice acts. In verses 6-8 we see God’s elect crying out for justice. They are crying out day and night. Now I’m convinced that these are not prayers of want and need. These are not prayers about about health and wealth. These are not prayers about things. These are cries. These are struggles. These are matters of justice. These are prayers dealing with how others have treated us. These are where we have been wrong and have lost our rights and been mistreated. These are prayers where we need a judge to take care of the adversary.
I would also think that these are prayers of struggles. Where do we face an adversary? In our sins. In our struggles against the great adversary. This is when we need our judge to act.
It’s interesting to note that the prayers here are cries. They are cries that go out day and night. Do you see that? Day and Night! They do not end. Are our prayers like this? That is how broken God wants us. He wants us crying out to him. He wants us to not stop. We must be crying out day and night. This is what he wants. He wants a people who desire his justice and look to him and him alone for it.
But back to justice. What makes our God give justice? Is it that he tires of us? Is it that his reputation is on the line? No...It is something much better than that. It is something that we can place far more hope in. Our God judges because justice is part of who he is. He loves justice. It is part of who he is. So he acts not out of want or desire, he acts out of character. His justice flows out of his very nature. And what a great hope that is. What a great hope we have in God’s justice.
But he ends this with a word of caution. He ends with a question. Notice what he asks at the end of verse 8. He ask will the Son of Man find faith. And beloved, we need to be asking ourselves this same question. Will he find faith in you? Do you believe that God justice will come? Do you trust his judgement? Will the Son of Man find faith?
This parable is given to those of you who might be struggling in faith. Are you? Don’t lose hope, keep praying. Do you doubt? Look at what a unjust judge dose. We have a just judge. Don’t lose heart. God will judge. There in no question about that. The question is what will the judgement on you be? Have faith. Pray without ceasing. God will give justice to his people.
Genesis 18:27 - Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Genesis 32:10 - I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Exodus 4:10 - But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." Psalm 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 1 Kings 3:7 - And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. Job 42:5-6 - I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Isaiah 6:5 - And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" John 1:26-27 - 26 John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." Luke 5:8 - But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 - I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. And my good friend Piper has this to say: What then is poverty of spirit? It is a sense of powerlessness in ourselves. It is a sense of spiritual bankruptcy and helplessness before God. It is a sense of moral uncleanness before God. It is a sense of personal unworthiness before God. It is a sense that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, it will have to be all of God and all of grace. The reason I say it is a SENSE of powerlessness and a SENSE of bankruptcy and a SENSE of uncleanness and a SENSE of unworthiness, is that, objectively speaking, everybody is poor in spirit. Everybody, whether they sense it or not, is powerless without God and bankrupt and helpless and unclean and unworthy before God. But not everybody is "blessed". When Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," he does not mean everybody. He means those who feel it. That is why it is so appropriate to take the first and second beatitudes together. "Blessed are those who mourn," clarifies the subjective side of being poor in spirit. Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn. Blessed are the people who feel keenly their inadequacies and their guilt and their failures and their helplessness and their unworthiness and their emptiness -- who don't try to hide these things under a cloak of self-sufficiency, but who are honest about them and grieved and driven to the grace of God. It would help me to see some verses where we are shown to be stong in spirit. I still hold to my point that being poor in spirit has to do with seeing our utter hopelessness with out God. By always being poor we have to keep comming back to him for handout. That is why we end up being rich. We never reach a point where we are rich aside from Christ. We have a God that gives to us richly. We are blessed because of that. But the moment I think of myself as rich, I stop comming to God and asking. I must remain poor. There is a blessing in being poor in spirit. That blessing is that I have to keep asking God for grace. What could make me more rich than that. I think this is an I am weak but he is strong thing.
It's interesting how we can both read the same passage and see something so different. It seems that the teaching here really is about being poor in spirit. In fact...I think that the whole picture of that is painted shows that only the poor in spirit will be in the kingdom. I think that the text starts off with Jesus telling us what the keys to being blessed are. He is laying out a new way of thinking. He is not giving us a user manual that details every rule we must follow, but he is giving us principles for who is blessed. And he is giving us principles that are life changing. He places the focus not on any specific action, there is no do this or do that here, but he places them on attitudes. And I think that it will become clear that these attitudes lead to a very different type of life. If we really think that Jesus knows what he is talking about and we adjust the inner life, the outside life will follow. There is also a patter that links all the Beatitudes together. There is a progression of thought. The poor in spirit (v. 3) are those who have the right attitude about sin. They know that they are poor in spirit. When we see our poorness of spirit we mourn (v. 4). Morning leads to meekness(v. 5). That leads to a hunger and thirst for righteousness (v. 6)...What dose that hunger look like? It shows itself in mercy(v.7), purity of heart(v. 8), and a peaceful spirit(v. 9). A person who has those can be hated by the world for the sake of righteous and be persecuted yet they know their reward is great in heaven.(v.10-12) And if we live according to what Jesus teaches we will be the salt of the earth (v.13) and the light of the world (v.14) And the purpose of it all? So that men might see our good works and give GLORY to the Father in heaven (v.16) Let's dig into why you must be poor in spirit. You cannot get into the kingdom based on your own doing. It's not going to happen. God has a standard for us to meet. We are to be perfect. (Matt. 5:48) That is a hard standard to get too. The sooner we get to the point where we know that we cannot meet this standard, we start looking for the one who can help us get their. Proverbs 16:5 tells us that "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished." He dose not look kindly on those who are arrogant. The only way to have a right relationship with Christ is to come with nothing to offer. We must come to him poor and needy. I don't think he is teaching us that to we have to be poor in a physical sense. It's spiritual poverty. It's only those who come to God begging that are blessed. It is only that man that knows he has no resources that will be in the kingdom. This is a theme that is found throughout scripture. Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. God calls that are poor in spirit. So in that sense the poor in spirit are ONLY people that will be in the kingdom. The people who are rich in spirit are not the ones that God wants. In another sermon that I was reading about the beatitudes, the preacher used the example of Luke 18:10-13 to shed even more light on this. 10"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." V.14 shows us who is exalted...The one who humbles himself. The one who is poor in spirit. and there are many more examples of this...It seems like almost everywhere you look, you see the starting point for being blessed is being poor. But then we have to ask ourselves...What is the point of it all? What do we get out of it? We get the kingdom of heaven. And what is the larger purpose of it all? Is it me and the blessing I get? Nope...We see in v. 16 the point of it all...So that men will give glory to God. So it goes back to the idea that apart from Christ...I have nothing to offer. Nothing good, nothing nice, nothing of any worth. So I have to come begging. I have to come poor. I have to come to the only person who can give. I have to be poor in spirit to gain the kingdom. Even Romans 8 tells us that we share with HIS glory. It's not a glory that we have on our own. It dose not come from us. It is His and we will share it...but once again it is the idea that apart from God there is nothing good in is. Nothing that is worth saving. That's what I see when I read it. I would be interested in hearing more about your thoughts and knowing why you think we do have purpose and worth aside from God and his glory.
This is verse telling us not to fear. We are being told that things are ok. That the kingdom will be ours. This is interesting. So my question becomes...In what ways do I fear not getting the kingdom. What is the fear that I am fearing? I think that Jesus is telling us that God is good and he gives us good gifts. He is telling us not to fear. Our God is a God who loves to gives gifts. Once again we have a verse that shows the very nature of God. It goes right to something he finds pleasure in. He finds pleasure in giving us the kingdom. It's a verse about what God likes to do. It is not telling us he will...It is not telling us he might, or he could, or he wont...It is telling us it is HIS PLEASURE that motivates him. This shows that God is not acting out of something he has to do. He is acting in total freedom. He is acting according to his will and only his will. While we get something from it...The bottom line is the kingdom is ours simple because it pleases God. This kingdom is ours by birthright. We are Sons of God. We have all the rights of the first born male child. We are heirs with Christ. This is a glorious truth. We get the kingdom. Notice that he says GIVE. We do not earn it. We do not work for it. It is given to us. It is given because of His pleasure.
Matthew 5:3 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So I want to spend some more time working on what Jesus is getting at when he tells us to be poor in spirit. The best way to do this is look at some other uses of the word poor.
Luke 16:19-20 19"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The word poor that is used here is the same word that Jesus uses in Matthew 5:3. In Luke we see that Lazarus was poor. He had nothing. It is interesting to see how it is contrasted to being rich. The rich man has much and feast everyday. The poor man longs for simply some scraps from the rich mans table. Lazarus has no means to sustain himself. He is poor.
Jesus uses it in the same sense but he is talking about spiritual poverty. He is telling us that those who are in spiritual poverty are blessed. He is telling us that those who lack their own spiritual resources are blessed. What dose this mean?
Probably the best way to do this is to look at the Biblical teaching of Pride and Humility. The Bible compares and contrast the proud and the humble. In James 4:6 it says that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The same thing is said in 1 Peter 5:5 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
But why is this so important? What is Jesus getting at? I am convinced that he is telling us that the Kingdom of Heaven will not be populated with proud boastful people who think that they have earned their way there. The Kingdom will be full of people who know that they do not deserve to be there. When Jesus tells us that the blessed are the poor in spirit he is not telling us anything new. This is not something that the Jews would have never heard. It is a simple statement about who the people of God are. The people of God are poor is spirit.
Poor in spirit is an absence of obsession with yourself. The person who is poor in spirit dose not announce his poorness.
Being poor in spirit has to do with our relationship TO God. It is how we view ourselves in relationship TO God. When I think of myself in the presence of God, what do I think about? I think of myself as poor. I know that I am nothing in comparison to God. I know that I have nothing to offer. God and his very greatness drive me to poorness of spirit. He is great and I am not. He is the rich man and I am just hungry for the scraps off his table. When I think rightly about myself and rightly about God...I know that there is no reason why God should take notice of me at all. Nothing. No reason to notice me or bless me. He is greater than me. I am man and He is God. I am unfit for his presence. I am spiritually poor. I am but a beggar at the table of God.
Here is the other thing I want to address. The sermon on the mount dose not tell us how to do these things. It dose not tell us how to work our way into heaven. If we could actually do these things we would have a reason for boasting. We could stand before God and claim that we have followed the sermon on the mount. But going back to the first thing that is said blessed are the poor in spirit. We are poor. We cannot do any of these things. That is the starting point. We can do none of these.
It is only by coming as a beggar to Gods great table that we are blessed. We come with nothing to offer. We have nothing to give. But there is a blessing. We are blessed because we have the kingdom.
I am also convinced that this is not only the starting point to entering the kingdom, it is also where we must stay to grow. It is by being broken and poor that we are blessed. God makes his strength perfect in our weakness. As we stay poor we grow.
"Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort" - willard
Grace...Grace is the very substance that enables and produces effort.
Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We see here that Grace is what saves us. Grace is what brings the kingdom upon us, not our works or acts or rightness. This is a gift of God. We are the very workmanship of God. We have been created in Christ for good works. And these good works? There is good news. They have already been prepared for us. That is Grace! Grace dose everything. Even enable our effort.
Romans 4:4-5 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness
And what happens to the person who works? What do you get paid for your effort? What is your wage? Well...You don't get paid a thing. You go deeper into debt. What about the person who dose not work? The person who puts forth no effort? The person who simple trust God? They get righteousness.
John 6:29 29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
Here we see who does work. It is the work of God. And what dose God do? He creates faith in us.
That is some exciting stuff. So yea grace...bring it on. I'll take all I can get. I want all I can get. It is grace that produces the effort.
So I have been reading Willard. He is wrong. He rewrites the sermon on the mount so we do not have to face our sin and poorness in spirit. He rewrites the sermon. He should call us to press on hard towards the goal, but he takes the hard teaching of Jesus and makes it a kingdom that comes even to fat people. He should stick with the message of Jesus and teach that the kingdom comes to those who are poor in spirit.
So for all you emerging people that are interested in a conversation...Lets get on started and be driven back to the source of all truth. The Word of God and Christ!
I can see how it is tempting to make the sermon refer to simple the availability of the kingdom. No one likes to face their poverty. I don't like to see how fall short I fall of being a kingdom person. This is a searching and convicting sermon from our Lord. It cuts right to the core of my being. It exposes me as being sinful. If I could avoid the impact of this on my life, I would. If I could escape the conviction, I would try. But it is by being broken over our sin, that we are blessed.
I would like to read the sermon on the mount and think that Jesus is saying
"Blessed are the physically repulsive
Blessed are those who smell bad
The twisted, misshapen, deformed,
The too big, too little, too loud,
The bald, the fat, the old"
But Jesus has more important thing to do than play doctor Phil. He had more important things to teach on that ugly people being in the kingdom. He is not simply teaching on physical things, he is teaching us what life in the kingdom looks like. If the only thing in the way of me and the kingdom of heaven was 20 pounds, that would be great.
It's odd that we would see Jesus call us to repent in Matthew 3:17 because the kingdom is at hand and then launch into teaching that smelly people who have fat bald heads can be in the kingdom. And don't get me wrong, the kingdom will be full of all sorts of people who do not meet worldly standards.
But we have a much deeper problem than not having worldly wealth. I have offended a holy God and that offense goes far past being fat. It goes far past not having any money in my bank account. It is not because I am bald or old.
My offense is that I have not lived up to his standard.
That is why He starts off by calling us to repent. He says in Matthew 3:17 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He calls us to a higher standard. He calls us to holiness. He calls us to blessing. Jesus is about to teach on what the life of a kingdom person looks like.
The first thing we will see is our poverty. We will see that we cannot live the way He calls us to. Spurgeon is so wise when he comments that Jesus did not start with "Blessed are the rich in grace." Jesus starts where the law leaves off. The best the law can ever do for us is show us our spiritual poverty.
But let us assume for a moment that Jesus is teaching that all sorts of people can be in the kingdom...Let's see how well each of the beatitudes holds up.
Poor in Spirit. Ok. I can see that. The kingdom comes to the spiritual zeros. That is a Biblical teaching. We come with nothing to offer. So far I'm on board.
Mourn...If it is simply mourning as in being sad that bad things have happened, it breaks apart. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Here we see that worldly grief dose nothing for us. So while there are people in the world that mourn, if it is not godly sorrow and grief, it will produce death.
Meek. We see in scripture that this is a call to do something. Look at Ephesians 4:1-21I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. And we see the same thing in Colossians 3:12 when we are told to Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness... These are not people of the world. These are kingdom people. This is not physical hunger. This is not physical thirst. This is a deep longing for Christ. Look at what Paul says in Philippians 3:12-1412 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He presses on. He keeps going. He has a hunger for righteousness. Who outside the kingdom hungers for these things?
Merciful...Mercy is acting and taking care of others. God is the source of mercy. Daniel 9:9 tells us that 9To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him. And the idea that even the people who show mercy can be in the kingdom...Its non-sense. Look at what God tells us about those who do not show mercy. Romans 1:29-31 says 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. So ask yourself...Dose the kingdom come to people who dont show mercy?
The pure in heart. This goes right back in the Pharisees. The pharisees could not keep the law of Moses so they made new laws they could keep. There will always be people trying to earn their way into heaven. Even the pharisees would have know Gods standard. Psalm 51:6 says that Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. God wants us to have a pure heart. How can we be pure in heart? Proverbs 20:9 9 Who can say, "I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin"? Job ask Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is only one person who can do that. That is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a blessing that he gives us because we are person in the kingdom. We are also told that the pure in heart will see God. Not some of the pure in heart who get into the kingdom, but the pure in heart will see God. And were do we find these people? In the kingdom.
Peacemakers. All you have to do is read the text and you are able to refute the absurd idea that Jesus is teaching who can be in the kingdom. In 5:9 He says that "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Notice that he says they shall. They shall be called Sons of God. Who is the kingdom for? Sons or God? Or son of the Devil? Peacemakers will be in the kingdom and will be called Sons of God. He is not talking about worldly peacemakers. He is talking about true lasting peace. James 3:17 says But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. You cant be a peacemaker unless you first deal with sin. And only the people under Gods rule can bring peace. God is the true author of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33
Persecuted for righteousness' sake. This is another hard one to get around. Who is going to be persecuted? The people living a Godly life. It is the same people who are living in blessing. The more we live for Christ, the more the world will hate us. If you do not have the inner attitude of the above beatitudes, you will not be able to be blessed in persecution. Unless we see ourselves poor in spirit, we will want to fight back when persecuted.
Revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. There is only one type of person that this can be talking about. Only one. It is a person who is in the kingdom. It is a person who is persecuted because of the King. If we have a King, we are in the Kingdom. I dont know how to read this verse any other way. God is clear about what our reward is. It is the kingdom.
So yea...I see these and see my brokenness. I see how fall short of the standard I fall. But I would not change them. I would not try and make them say things they do not. God has a perfect standard. He dose not change. He calls us to life in the kingdom. He shows us what kingdom living looks like. And we cannot meet the standard. But the glory of God is that He dose not lower his standard. He send Christ and calls me to that perfection
So I figured that if I was to be fair...I needed to jump to Luke and make sure I was reading this sermon correctly. So I'll just jump right in. The issues at hand is what is Jesus teaching. Is he teaching Christians how to live, or is he teaching who can be included in the Kingdom. I think Luke will make that really clear. So it seems like the prevailing view of this day is that Jesus is teaching the kingdom comes upon people in spite of their condition. I am told that I am to read verses like Luke 6:20 "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" as teaching that even the poor can be in the kingdom of God. Verses like "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied" as teaching that even the hungry are included in the kingdom of God. When Jesus says "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." He is teaching that the kingdom comes upon people in spite of these conditions and that even these people can be in the kingdom of God. While I agree that even these people can be in the kingdom, Jesus has something to say about the people who are not poor, hungry, and crying. He tells us "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep." Luke 6:24-25 He takes time to contrast different people. He shows us a difference between poor and rich, between hungry and full. He is laboring to show us that there is a difference between the weeping and the crying. God has always been concerned with the heart. He cares what is on the inside. Our standing in the kingdom rest on one thing. It rest on being right before God. It dose not rest on bank accounts and how many boxes of tissues we have needed to dry our weeping eyes. It rest on repentance. By taking and twisting the message to certain demographics we miss the point. We take God out of it. We all of a sudden make the kingdom open to all sorts of people. We lose sight God saving sinners. That is what the message of the cross is. God saving sinners that cannot meet his standard. He shows his love towards us in spite of our sinning. And today his teaching is just as powerful to us as those who heard his message back then. And what the Jewish people listening hear? They heard utter foolishness. But to the people that he turned to speak to, to His disciples they heard wisdom. Following Christ is not something that adds to human wisdom, it completely replaces it. So why should I let my wisdom get in the way of what Jesus teaches? One last thought for you to ponder...Jesus ends in verse 47-18 with "Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built." How can you do the beatitudes if you rewrite them so that they are not something to be done? How can God do his work in us when you take away the things that he is going to do?
James 4:11-12 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 11 says "Do not speak evil again one another." James is coming right back to some other things that he has spoken on. Go back to chapter 3. He tells us to tame the tongue. The he goes on to warn us about worldliness and now is back to yet another form of being worldly. That is speaking evil again one another. Well, what does he mean by speaking evil against one another? It certainly is not correcting those who are in doctrinal error. Look at how James talks to the people in this letter. To see this just back up to verse 4..."You adulterous people!" That is strong language...He is not opposed to correcting others and letting them know that they are wrong. In fact he spends most of his time in this letter doing just that; Correcting. So what is James getting at? Psalm 50:19-20 "You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son. Psalm 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. Romans 1:28-32 28 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. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Look at what Paul groups people who slander with. He puts them in the same group as people who are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, haters of God...It's not a good group to be a part of. This is what James is getting at; slander and talking evil against one another...The things that James speaks against people is good. He gives them truth. He is telling them. He is addressing them so they can be corrected. Speaking evil is something we are not supposed to do. We are not supposed to go around speaking and gossiping behind peoples backs. Do not...Do not do it. I don't know how you can get clearer than that But why? Why are we not to slander and gossip and speak evil towards one another? Notice the words the James uses. He says "Brothers. Don't speak against a brother, don't judge a brother." Three times he calls them brothers. We are all in the same family. We have all been adopted by God as Sons. We are all heirs with Christ. So why are we talking bad about each other? Why the gossip? Why the slander? And what are the results of speaking evil against each other? What kind of person are we if we are speaking against one another... James tells us... He says that if we speak against our bother we speak evil against the law and judge the law. This is an interesting statement and I would like to walk through what he means by this. By speaking evil against a brother, we actually speak evil against the law. When we judge a brother, we actually judge the law. When we go against the words of scripture we sit in Judgment of the law. We have decided that we know what to do. We have chosen to make our own laws. And this passage is clear. There is one lawgiver. One Judge. And it is Christ. Christ alone is able to judge. He is the only one who can give the law. It is him and him alone that will save and destroy. And this should frighten every one of us. When we gossip and slander we put ourselves above Christ. We exalt ourselves. We do exactly what James warns about a few verse up. Right before James said "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. If we Slander and Gossip we are proud arrogant people who have chosen to become Judges of the law. We will be opposed by God. Gossip and slander do not draw us near to God, but away from him. If we judge, we will be judged.
Rest. Real rest. Eternal rest. Hope. Christ. My Lord. My God. That is reason to be thankful. We have a risen and living Lord. Yet those are truths I am often having to remind myself of. I have a mind that wanders. I tend to forget who is in charge. For those who know me, I'm sure you have some kind of opinion of me. Here is my opinion of me. I spent a lot of time fighting for joy. I spend time grabbing and pushing my way through thought days where things seem hopeless. Today for some reason was one of those day. I had to keep fighting. I had to keep going. Even as I write this, I am writing to remind myself of the greatness of my God. I am trying to praise God in spite of how I feel. I have had to run to the word all day. I have had to surround myself with worship music and spend time on my knees praising. I had to keep reminding myself of Christ. There is an old hymn that I have grown very fond of. It is called "How firm a foundation." The first stanza reads "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,?Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!?What more can He say than to you He hath said,?You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled? " I love that. Now while I don't put hymns above scripture, this song is Biblical in every-way. Look at the starting point. It is the foundation that I stand on. It is based on the Word of God. That is the foundation. The next part is what is said in the Word that makes it so strong. It is the person of Christ. What more can God say to me? What more can he offer? He has given me all I need in Christ. So in my times of trials and struggles I want to flee to Jesus. I want him to be my refuge. I want to rest my weary soul upon the cross. I want to turn to His word. The only thing that needs to be done in trials in to rejoice. To rejoice that I get to tested. To have joy that my faith is being refined. One of the songs that has been on repeat today is "Raise Up The Crown (All Hail The Power of Jesus Name)." I keep going back to crowning Him Lord of all. Is he not the Lord of life? Is he not the Lord of faith? If he can secure my salvation and take away the wrath of God, surly today is not a big deal for him. So...That's my rambling for the day. I'm going to go back to a few songs. I'm going to go back to the one thing that actually offers comfort. The word of God. It works. It is sharp. It is effect. It is full of power. (Heb 4:12) If you struggle...Go to the same place. Turn off the TV, shut down your phones, turn off the computer, and run...Run to the word. Flee to Jesus. What more can be said? He is king. There are no new words of hope to be offered. There is no new thing that will work. There is only Christ. There is only the power of Jesus name. There is only the Lord of all to turn too. So sing praise. Take hope in Christ and His word. Rest in Him. Flee to the cross. Become a refuge. Become someone weak. Become someone who needs a king. Give up all hope of independence. Turn to the King of Ages. Fall at His feet. Fall and rest. Fall and worship. Fall and praise.
So...I need to go back and read my own post. Why is it that often times it is easy for me to write and understand God and his provision but so hard for me to actually feel and live it? I guess you could argue that I really don't understand God and his provision but I think I do. I confess it. I love it. But trying to live it is a whole different story. I get depressed alot. I really do. I struggle almost everyday with depression. I find it hard to have joy. I find it hard to share in the excitement of others. I find it hard to get up in the morning. I find it hard to keep going. I have lost interest in things I used to like and get excited about. I find it hard to work, I find it hard to study, I find it hard to live. Piper has a book called "What to do when I don't desire God, or How to fight for joy." I feel like I am engaged in this battle all the time. My soul is tired. I feel like I can nothing. I feel like a failure. I feel like I have lost. I know there is hope. But I don't often live as if there is hope. Piper points out that joy is something has to come from God. There is nothing I can do to have it. It is a gift from him. I know one day it will come. Yet the weight of life feels so heavy sometimes. Well...actually most of the time. It's not like my life is horrid and awful. It's a good life. But for some reason it feels heavy. I really have no reason for feeling the way I feel. Yet I do. It bothers me I don't have more joy. It bothers me that I do not have more discipline in my life. So I try and turn to the things I have. I have Christ. What more do I need? I should need nothing else. Christ should produce in me joy. Yet it is not there. So I wonder if I am a Christian. That wondering last for a moment. I have hope and faith no where else but Christ. I live for him and strive to serve him. So I know I am Christian. So I look at my life and wonder what I am doing wrong. What have I not been doing? What have I done wrong? Do I really feel depressed or am I just looking for sympathan from someone? Do I just want attention? I really have no idea... All I know is that I feel like I lose the fight for joy. I feel like I let moments in life control me. I have so much to be thankful for...I try and keep my head in the Word of God. I try and surround myself with music that is full of the message of Christ. I go to Chuch so I can get the word preached to me. I have been getting involved in ministry so my life becomes about serving others and not myself... Yet the depression stays. It dose not lift. It affects me. It plays havoic with my head and heart. I have to remind myself that God is in charge. I have to work to lay aside all I feel to praise God for the depression and sadness...I work at fighting it. Yet it says. I feel like I can do so little. I feel like I am stuck. I feel like I am waiting to be delivered. But scripture tells me I have been delivered. Yet I don't feel this deliverence. I feel trapped. I fight sin. I do. I am painfully aware of the sins I face. The worry, the impatience, the lust, the hate, the lack of trust. I feel the weight. And I also know that it has been lifted. It is such a struggle. One day...One day the cloud will be lifted. I find hope in knowing that the great heros of the faith have suffered the same thing that I am. Luther struggled with it. I guess that is the great thing about it...It drives me back to the word. I have to cling tightly to it. It is my hope. It is the only place I find any comfort. So on this Thanksgiving day...I am thankful for God's word. I am thankful for his salvation. I am thankful for the cross.
I feel so confused. I feel lost. I feel as if I have no solid foundation. I feel like one being tossed by the waves of the sea. I should have joy. I should see and savior Christ in all things. But I do not. I was reading the Psalms this morning and I was draw back to an old verse. It is where David is talking about the Lord having put him in the pit. David is lost, he is down, he is in despair. And he sees God hand in it. That is what I need to keep remembering. I need to know that it is God that has placed me where I am. He has put me here. He is the one who gives joy. I ask and I fight...But I still do not have it. My days are spent in tears. I feel like a failure. I see how much I miss the mark. Sin is a term that those in archery use. It is used when they miss the target. It is used when they miss the mark. My life is so full of sin. And the weight is heavy. It’s not so much sins that I have been doing. But sin in the sense of missing the mark. It is true that Christ has paid the price. He is my God. He has made me holy. I know that. That is the only reason that I am able to keep going. That is truly my one and only hope. I have placed every single ounce of my imperfect faith in the Cross...That gives me strength to fight. That gives me hope. But the fight I fight is so weak. It is so half-hearted. It is not fought well. I miss the mark. I have been growing cold. I have been failing and falling. It’s hard to go on. It’s hard to fight. I want to be like the athlete that paul talks about. Paul talks so often in terms of sports and games and uses those as pictures of the Christian life. He pictures it in terms of training, of discipline, of running. He talks about pummeling the body into submission. He tells us to master sin. He tells us to run well. He says run to win. I started running awhile ago. I set goals. I was running. But it has stopped. My training has ended. I don’t care for it anymore. I have lost the will power to do it. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I grew tired. I stopped. I failed. In work,,,I don’t work the way I should. I don’t work unto the Lord. I work. I don’t do it well. I don’t work hard. I don’t work the way a Christian should work. It bothers me. I miss the mark. I failed. I am overweight. I have not lost weight. I have let my desires for food overcome me and drive me. I lost the battle to my body. I missed the mark. I failed. I look at the time I spend in the word. I don’t spend enough. I don’t know it the way I should. I’m not involved the way I should be. I don’t serve the way I should serve. I don’t know how to shake all this and not let it bother me. These are things that I should have victory over. I should be able to work unto the Lord. I should be able to control my desires. I should be able to be disciplined. I should be able to do things and not let my emotions control me. I should be able to live in the knowledge that Christ has done all things for me and made me more than a conquerer. Yet I feel the weight of what I should be doing and what I don’t do and it hurts. I hurts me that I fail so badly. I just want to make Christ look good and I feel like I cannot even do that. I have a heart that is full of evil and hate. I get angry. I lack a good attitude. I write blogs that do nothing but complain about how much I suck. Do you see what I am getting at? I don’t know what to change. If I did, I would. I just want to live well. I want to know that do that the right thing. I want to do things well. I want to do things with a right motive and a right heart. But I don’t. I miss the mark. Someone once told me that depression is nothing more than making one bad choice after another until you have spiraled downwards into depression. The flip side to that is...To get out of depression you need to start making right choices. I feel like I car stuck in the snow...Spinning my wheels. I get tired. I don’t care. But I know I need to get out of the snow. But I sit. I might turn the car on...Spin the wheels some more. I don’t go anywhere, so I turn on the radio for a bit. I try again. Then I don’t care. Then I’ll write about it. Then I think about it. Then I try a little more... I don’t know. Now I feel like I am rambling. I don’t have solutions. I just know that my emotions lie to me. They hold me in bondage and my feelings play with me. But I can’t do things on sheer willpower alone. And once again...I’m driven back to the cross. I driven to seek Christ. I am starting to feel and understand a little of what Jesus means when he says “Blessed are those who mourn.” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteous.” So in that there is a blessing. I have never in my life taken my sin so serious. I have never felt the burden of it so much. It has never made me mourn the way that I do. My hunger and thirst for God and Christ has never been greater. I have never had to turn so often to Him. So for that I am thankful and I guess my prayer would be that God keeps me in the pit. When you are in a pit there is but one way to look. You can only look up. That is the way out. My prayer would be that God does whatever it takes to refine me and draw out my dross. If that means several seasons of darkness...I’ll take them. I’ll struggle and fight for joy in those seasons. If it means having to learn to do battle in a hard environment...I’ll do it. If there is more to come...I say bring it on. Lord break me. Destroy me. Do whatever you need to do. If it is loss of health, or family, or wealth, or loss of dreams and desires, if it is loss of what I want to do. I’ll take it. You are God. I am not. You hold my very life in your hand. If you took your breath away I would turn back into dust. I trust you. You are God. You are good. You are my salvation and my strength.
I am but a farmer, plowing a field I plant the seeds, but cannot command they yield Only God above can make them wield He brings the son, He brings the rain He makes them sprout forth in joy and pain I am a farmer and plow I must... God has given the seed, God has given the soil God has asked me to plant, He has sent me to toil He wants me to wait, He wants me to pray So when the crops burst forth, I bring praise to His name
•05:04 pm I suck. I am a failure in all I do. I eat too much, sleep to much, sin to much, hate to much, fail to much. The only thing I do well is suck. I hate myself. In every possable way, I hate who I am. I'm getting tired of life. I'm tired of failing. I feel as if I do not change. I see myself and know that there is a monster inside of me. I cry and pray for God to change me...Yet I stay the same. Is God unfaithful? No....I am the one with the problems. The more I am in the word, the more I see my failures and my short commings and the more I hate myself. There is nothing good inside of me. This should nuture humility right? All it seems to bring on is anger and hate. It tends to drive me into depression. It tends to make things look even more hopeless. My faith is so weak. I can't even have a strong faith. I know that all that I want must come from God. Yet I feel so empty. I feel so far from where I want to be. I beg and ask for grace. Yet it is still not here....How I want this horrid little life to some how give God glory...Yet I worry that the only way my life will show the greatness of God is that he will show his wrath torwards me. He will get to show his judgement towards me. And He will be just for doing so. I will not be able to speak against him in doing so. Lord...Change my wretched life. Change it. I have such a storm brewing in my life. I feel as if every day is a battle where I fail. Teach me what to do. Teach me how to live in your grace. I need your grace. I need it so badly...
- Being a Christian means that we are engaged in battle. We have fought battles for God's truth and God's sovereignty. The next battle is a battle for the Church. We live in a day and age where anyone can gather together and use the word church. It is time to define who can and cannot use the word church.
- I'm not going to try and redo something that has already been done well so I will repost the comments from Tim Challies. Enjoy!
- To discover what the church is, we need to go back to Scripture and, in particular, Matthew 16. In the text, where that statement is given by Jesus, all the foundational aspects of the church are given. Everything else about the church in the New Testament builds upon this verse: "I will build my church." This is the first mention of the word "church." It contains the necessary marks of the true church, either explicitly or implicitly. This has the doctrinal foundations for a biblical ecclesiology.
- A true church is known by a great confession. The great confession in this passage is Simon Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Thus the first absolute is a biblical Christology: a biblical view of Jesus Christ. There must be an understanding of the truth of Jesus Christ. It is not built on a wrong or inadequate view of Jesus Christ. Without Christ there is no gospel, no salvation. The church is an assembly of people who make the great and common confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. To say Christ is at the center of a church is simply to say that this is a church. To confess Christ is the heart and soul of the church. "I simply cannot understand people for whom Christ is not the main subject of their preaching."
- That great confession is built on a great communication. God communicated the truth of this confession to Peter. Peter was able to make this confession on behalf of the apostles on the basis of God's revelation. It did not come from a human source but from God Himself. There is no human source for this saving confession. You cannot know the saving confession without the Divine revelation. It was objective, divine, external revelation. All we know of Christ must come through us by God. "The revealed Word is everything. Absolutely everything." The foundation of the church is the Word of God because faith comes by hearing that Word. "How can church be church if it is not relentlessly Christ-centered and Bible-saturated?" The church is a gathering of people who are brought together on the foundation of God's Word. A major attack on the church today is by people within the visible church who attack the certitude of Scripture. "God has spoken plainly; they don't like what it says." Jesus never allowed people to feel that the Old Testament was anything less than clear. What was in the Scripture, people were responsible to know and understand.
- The church is marked by a great contrast. Jesus warns the disciples to "tell no one that He was the Christ." Why would He do this? He perceived that the people were going to make Him king. The people had a warped view of the Messiah and His kingdom, so they were not in a position to deal with the truth of this profession. They were looking for an earthly ruler and Jesus wanted nothing to do with that. His kingdom has no connection to any earthly kingdom. The church has no role in rearranging sinners into more acceptable lifestyles. Our mandate is to proclaim the Word of God. We are to penetrate our culture with the gospel, not to change the culture into a Christian one. "The biggest mission field in America is professed Christianity."
- The church is marked by a great conquest. It is at the cross that all the issues of sin, righteousness, judgment and imputation are made clear. The cross my be exalted in everything. The cross must prevail in conquest.
- The church is marked by a great conflict. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get behind me Satan!" The church is engaged in a relentless war for truth. You either set your mind on God's interests or you capitulate and set your mind on man's interest. Many who profess to be Christians, even today, are siding with Satan. Many who think they are aiding the gospel are actually in the way. They are hindering the work of God.
- The true church understands the great contradiction: "Whoever wishes to gain his life must lose it." Of all of the invitation statements Jesus could have said, he says this one. The great contradiction is that going after Jesus will cost a person everything. Church is not about making people feel good about themselves. It is made up of people who want to escape themselves and bring an end to themselves. This clashes so blatantly with what so many churches are offering today (see MacArthur's book Hard to Believe for more on this subject).
- The church anticipates and understand the great consumation. The church needs to recover an eschatology that looks forward primarily to glorification. The church desperately needs to look forward to this great consumation. "The great wonder of wonders in heaven is that I'll be there."
- How do you recognize a real church? You'll find a person whose proclamation is Christ, the cross and resurrection, humility and submission and obedience to God as sinners desperately in need of grace, and who are living in anticipation in the fulness of grace when they see the Savior face-to-face. No wonder that such churches are hard to find.
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Mar 5, 2006
The Company we Keep
A lot can be said about the company we keep and those who hold up as influences in our lives. As Christians we need to make sure that the people we praise and hold are heros that uphold the Gospel of Jesus to Christ. To exult and praise false teachers is something that is very dangerous.
- Mark Driscoll is a pastor who has a zeal and love for Christ. Recently he posted a blog praising Robert Schuller. Mark ends his post by saying " I would like to thank Dr. Schuller for his kindness to me and congratulate him on his half-century of ministry at the Crystal Cathedral on this, the final week of his tenure as senior pastor. " Well take a look at this Schuller to see the 1/2 century of ministry that Mark Driscoll is actually praising.
- "Classic theology has erred in its insistence that theology be 'God-centered,' not 'man-centered.'"
- – Robert Schuler, Self-Esteem—The New Reformation, 64.
- Schuller reinterprets the doctrines of the Word of God to conform with his self-esteem philosophy. His Christ is a Jesus who provides men with self-esteem. Schuller's gospel is the replacement of negative self concepts with positive ones. To Schuller, sin is merely the lack of self-esteem. To Schuller, the greatest evil is to call men sinners in a biblical fashion and thereby injure their self-esteem. Schuller is a universalist who believes that all people are the children of God. His goal is to help each person understand and enjoy this "fact."
- Schuller says he believes in salvation by grace, but what he actually believes is that salvation is being rescued from poor self-esteem. He says he believes in Hell; but his hell is the loss of self-esteem, not a place of fiery eternal torment. He says he believes in sin; but sin is not willful rebellion against God and His law, but the loss of self-esteem. He says he believes in Jesus Christ; but his positive-only, "Self-Esteem Incarnate" Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.
- Let us be careful of who we congratulate. Schuller has done nothing but undermine the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- I hope that Mark will come to understand that Schuller is not a man to be praised for his faithfulness, but a man who needs to be exposed as a false teacher and called to repent. Let us pray that Mark will have more discernment in the future.
Preaching is under attack. There are those who think that preaching is not important. They say that it has lost being revenant.
The attack today on God and his word comes from those who call themselves Christians. It comes from those who call themselves emergent. Leading the attack today is a man named Doug Pagitt. By attacking the role of God's word and doing away with preaching the emerging church finally has a way to pull the wool over eyes. Once you step away from scripture, you open yourself to all kinds of trouble.
Doug starts with a warning cry that pastors and spreachers pose a danger to the church. He tells us to re-image preaching but in the process reinvents preaching. progressional dialogue we are told is the way to understand God. We are told that progressional dialogue should be the new form of preaching. He exalts dialogue over Biblical exposition. He puts man and mans thoughts above those of God and his word.
Many in the Emergent Church say the say thing. Let's see what God's word says.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God[b] may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Progressional Dialogue? A conversation and discussion? Go ahead try and talk back to God and see what he has to say to you? He has delivered the truth once and for all and is not interested in your thoughts on the matter. He wants your obedience. Get to work!
Let me introduce you to a friend. A guy named "The Goose."
This Goose was someone that the Catholic church wanted to keep quite. They wanted to shut him up. He was imprisoned, tortured and killed for his faith and ideas. Not only was he wanted dead, there was also a want to get rid of his ideas and teachings.
This Goose was a man named John Huss. Huss in Czech means goose. But there is a question that we must ask...Why was this goose cooked? What was he teaching that got the Pope and the Church so mad at him? What could he have been teaching that got him killed?
Here were some of those radical ideas...
...that the church was made up of all the predestined believers of all ages.
During the time of Wycliffe and Huss the official position of the church
was that the true church consisted of the Pope and the cardinals his
bishops and priests and that common lay people were not real members
but only communed with the church as they received communion, which
was limited to bread.
...that the authority of the Bible was higher than the authority of the
church. That was a radical idea in his day and it was an idea derived from
Wycliffe. This particular point is principally what got him killed and it is
interesting that his words regarding the authority of Scripture were later
to be repeated almost word for word by Luther.
...that Jesus Christ Himself was the head of the church and that
reprehensible lives disqualified men from their positions of authority in
ministry. He believed that Jesus was the head of the church and that
reprobate leaders were disqualified from leading the church.
He began to preach that the church was not made up of the Pope and his cardinals but was made up of the elect of all the ages. With that Huss lost the support of his king. He spent the next two years in feverish literary activity, composing a number of treatises. The most important was The Church, which he sent to Prague to be read publicly. In it he argued that Christ alone is head of the church, that a pope "through ignorance and love of money" can make many mistakes, and that to rebel against an erring pope is to obey Christ.
And so the debate still rages today...Who is the head? I think you would agree that it is Jesus Christ. In spite of what the Catholic church might say, their actions show that they view the Pope as the head of the Church and kill those who claim that Christ is.
If there is one verse in the Bible that scares me and comforts me, it is this one.
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, ' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does 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.'
This is a frightening verse. I often see myself here. Look at what is going on. People are crying out "Lord, Lord." People are crying to a Savior that they thought that they had a relationship with. They thought they were saved.
Not only did they think they were saved, they had proof. They prophesied, cast out demons, and did mighty works. And our Lord has one thing to say to them. He will say 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
Yikes! Look at how deceived out hearts can grow. I so often look at this verse and wonder if I am on of those people who he will tell to leave. I spend some time there looking at my life and looking at the motives behind things. I see that I really could never argue with the Lord about my salvation. I see that I really have no hope of salvation. And in those moments I take comfort that my salvation rest not with me, but with Christ.
I trust in the saving, finished work of Jesus, on a cross, nailed there by my sins. I know that I am being guarded by the power of God by faith and I know that I will not hear "depart from me" but I will hear "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Take time to ask yourself where you are. Will you be the one thinking that you have done great things for the Lord and then be told that he has NEVER know you? Take time to ponder this.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, "Did God actually say?"
Here we have the first question ever asked by anyone. Before this there have been no questions, there is no one wondering anything. This question is designed to start Eve on path to questioning the word of God. This is the same path Satan uses today. This is still where the battle rages. Satan is telling us to sit in judgement on God's word. He is saying you have that right, you have that privilege, God cannot say something to you that is binding, it is all open to question, it is all open to human judgement. You cannot take God's word at face value. "Did God actually say?"
One thing that I have seen in the emerging church is an attack on the clarity of Scripture. There is a denial of the clarity of Scripture. There seems to be this idea that we really cannot understand scripture. It is really just nothing but paganism in disguise. It's a yearning for needs and wants to be met. It's about "feeling Jesus" but not having any knowledge of him.
In a review of Brian's Mclaren "A Generous Orthodoxy" John Frame helpfully points out "McLaren is far more eager to correct cocksureness (clarity) than to show how us how to correct doctrinal error." Mclaren says that "Let me go on record as saying that I believe sound doctrine is very, very, very important (Titus 2:1-3:11), and that bad doctrine, while not the root of all evil, is a despicable accomplice to a good bit of the evil in the world. In fact, this book is an attempt to correct what I perceive to be some bad doctrine, including bad doctrine about doctrine."
Mclaren says that doctrine is very, very, very important (3 times - count 'em). In fact his book is written to correct "bad doctrine, including bad doctrine about doctrine." And what is this very, very, very important doctrine? It's the doctrine of ambiguity that correct the bad doctrine of certainty. Mclaren calls us to set aside "false certainties." He is a theological liberal in disguise. Mclaren has a willingness to attacks those with a true and historic theology and an unwillingness to attack those who deny what the Bible says.
John Armstrong says "Certitude is often idolatrous. I have been forced to give up certainty" and "If there is a foundation in Christian theology it is not be found in Scripture. Theology must be a humble attempt to hear God never about rational approaches to text." He is basically saying that theology can never be the product of a rational approach to a text. "A humble attempt to hear God?" How are you going to hear God aside from a reasonable understanding of what God has said?
Mclaren states that "Sometime clarity is overrated and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue often stimulate more thought than clarity."
N.T Wright is also very troubling. N.T. Wright has overturned the doctrine of justification and is really saying that nothing has been clear until now. We have never understood anything. Everyone has gotten it wrong. We have not understood the nature of God until now. We messed it up. Even the apostles themselves messed it up because they understand 2nd temple Judaism. It's never been understood until now. For 2000 years the message has been wrong and now we must trust N.T. Wright to tell us what it really means.
We are seeing a giant assault and attack on the clarity of Scripture by people like Wright who say it has not been clear for 2000 years and not it is clear and people like Mclaren who say nothing is clear. This is why it is important to attack these false teachings and come back to the clarity of God's word. This is where the attack always comes from. Has God really said? You can't be certain of anything. Not theology, not morals, not salvation, not homosexuality, not anything.
And this attack come flying in the face of what is clearly taught in Scripture. We have the mind of Christ. We know how he thinks. We have the word of God. We have the scripture. We know exactly how he thinks.
What kind of god has been created by the emerging church?
1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Paul says that he has a desire for Israel to be saved. But there is a problem. They have a zeal but not according to knowledge. They cannot be saved because they do not know. They cannot be saved because they do not understand. This is a giant problem. If you do not know what you need to know you cannot be saved.
The next verses tells us what they did not know. They did not know God. They did not know his righteousness. They need to know that God is righteous and holy. This is the starting point for all of salvation. They need to know that God will punish sin and that he can have no part with the unrighteous. They also had no idea about how sinful they were. They had no idea how righteous God was and they did not understand how sinful they were and they came up with a works based system. They tried to meet God in the middle.
They did not know and understand that the righteousness God and the sinfulness of man puts man under divine wrath and judgement forever. This is what the law does, it judges man. They did not understand that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." They did not understand that Christ broke the power of the law. They had no clue. They did not know that we get the righteousness of Christ by faith and not works.
They do not know that you must "confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead." They did not know that this was for Jew or gentile. You cannot be saved unless you know these things.
But how are we to hear? How are we to know? How are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? How are they to hear without someone preaching? How are they to preach unless they are sent? How can people be saved unless God sends people?
1 John 5:13 says "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." So that you might know. So that you can have knowledge. So that you can be certain. Do we then preach and teach uncertainty? Do we teach without clarity? May it never be. No, No, No. We show up with the true, clear, certain message of the good news. "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" When we show up with the truth people rejoice.
And look at verse 17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. If we have an unclear message no one can be saved. If you cannot be clear about the basics of the gospel you have nothing to say. You can only give a message about "feeling" Jesus. When you attack the doctrines of Scripture you have a very real problem. You have to have a clear message.
If creation is clear enough to render judgement upon man, how much more so for those of us who have the written and preached revelation. We are rendered without excuse. The sinners reason allows him to grab hold of the law and the gospel well enough to be held accountable. How dare we try and blame God for our sinfulness and say that we have had the "interpretation" wrong and that the message was not clear. How dare we say that God simply delivered a myth, or story, or allegory. The problem is not due to a wrong interpretation or an unclear one, the problem is sinful minds and wills. The problem is not with God's word but with our minds.
And why dose this attack take place? Why does this "emergent cult that is blossoming within our Lord's Church rebel against authority and most particularly the Bible itself?" John 3:19 tells us "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." This is the judgement. The light has come into the world. God's word, the light, has come into this world. The scripture is light. It is clear. But "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." Why do we come up with the idea the scripture is not clear? Why do we question time and time again what the Bible says? Why? It is because what is clear is repulsive to them. They do not like what they see. They love their sin, they love darkness. The emerging church wants nothing to do with holiness. They want nothing to do with God's word so they question what has been taught. They do not want to accept what the Bible says. They want to hold on to sin. Everyone who does wicked things hates the light.
Do you trust the words of God? "Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God." The light of Scripture and theology and doctrine shines bright. The emergent church has come up with many ways to try and explain the light away. They point fingers and say that we have the wrong interpretation. Wright tells us we have been getting it wrong for 2000 years. Mclaren says we cannot get anything right cause nothing is clear. But scripture is clear and the emergent church dose not like the message and has run back into the dark and says you have the wrong interpretation, let have a conversation, let's chat.
Scripture gives it meaning to the simple. There are no hidden messages, there are no mixed messages, there are no missed messages. Scripture is light. Jesus quote the old testament many times and never once says "I wonder if this is the right interpretation? I wonder if I am getting this right?" He never once questions the meaning or interpretation or clarity of Scripture. In fact he expect people to know the Scriptures. You are required to know what the Bible means. You don't see him saying "Oh...Here is your problem, you just have the wrong interpretation, you have the wrong understanding, I'm sorry it's just not clear."
I hope that this meets your instruction to "speak clearly and passionately - and not to hold back."
Those that are at places where the word of God is not taught will tell me that I do not understand the scripture. I will be told that I really can't know. Those that are part of the emergent conversation will say that this is the wrong interpretation. They will tell me that its not clear. They will say "Did God actually say?"