Saturday, May 03, 2008

For Those that Devide My People

LEGALISM (Judgmental, Self-righteous, Uncaring)

How can legalism destroy our witness?

Matthew 12:1-14
Then he went over to the synagogue, and noticed there a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?” (They were, of course, hoping he would say “Yes,” so they could arrest him!) (Matthew 12:9-10, tlb)
Legalism puts rules above God. As they pointed to the man with the shriveled hand, the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking him if it was legal to heal on the Sabbath. Their Sabbath rules said that people could be helped on the Sabbath only if their lives were in danger. Jesus healed on the Sabbath several times, and none of those healings were in response to emergencies. If Jesus had waited until another day, he would have been submitting to the Pharisees’ authority, showing that their petty rules were equal to God’s law. If he healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could claim that because Jesus broke their rules, his power was not from God. But Jesus made it clear how ridiculous and petty their rules were. God is a God of people, not rules. The best time to reach out to someone is when he or she needs help.
Legalism puts rules above human needs. The Pharisees were so concerned about Jesus’ breaking one of their rules that they did not care about the man’s shriveled hand. What is your attitude toward others? If your convictions don’t allow you to help certain people, your convictions may not be in tune with God’s Word. Don’t allow dogma to blind you to human need.

Galatians 4:8-20
Before you Gentiles knew God you were slaves to so-called gods that did not even exist. And now that you have found God (or I should say, now that God has found you) how can it be that you want to go back again and become slaves once more to another poor, weak, useless religion of trying to get to heaven by obeying God’s laws? (Galatians 4:8-9, tlb)
Legalism kills joy. Have you lost your joy? Paul sensed that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism. Legalism can take away joy because (1) it makes people feel guilty rather than loved; (2) it produces self-hatred rather than humility; (3) it stresses performance over relationship; and (4) it points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us. If you feel guilty and inadequate, check your focus. Are you living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?

Colossians 2:6-23
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:23, niv)

Legalism is attractive, but destructive. To the Colossians, the discipline demanded by the false teachers seemed good, and legalism still attracts many people today. Following a long list of religious rules requires strong self-discipline and can make a person appear moral, but religious rules cannot change a person’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

For the Baptist Identity People, this is a recommended read.

I picked up a book at our Association Office after a meeting and I would recommend that everyone read this little book. It suggests the kind of Church JESUS would want us to be. It is filled with Humor and Wisdom. It is a quick read and is written by Mike Nappa titled, “Who Moved My Church”.

I Pray that this will cause you'all to search your Hearts and Repent of Your Self Righteousness.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Adrain Rogers says in his Book (The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority) that we must be in Total Surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Do you not agree with this statement? The following is written by Andrew Murray, a older Brother to John Murray.

Andrew Murray
"And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine and all that I have"- 1Ki_20:1-4
What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender; and what Ahab gave was what was asked of him-absolute surrender. I want to use these words: "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have," as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but we need to hear it very definitely - the condition of God’s blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and to the blessing God will bestow.
Absolute surrender - let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often, and you have heard them numberless times. But in Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ’s Church, and what the great need of the Church and of believers is; and there was in our company a godly worker who has much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
"Absolute surrender to God is the one thing."
The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in the workers with whom he’ had to deal, he finds that if they are sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.
And now, I desire by God’s grace to give to you this message - that your God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!
Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.
God Expects Your Surrender
Yes, it has its foundation in the very nature of God God cannot do otherwise. Who is God? He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness, and throughout the universe there is nothing good but what God works, God has created the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the flowers, and the trees, and the grass; and are they not all absolutely surrendered to God? Do they not allow God to work in them just what He pleases? When God clothes the lily with its beauty, is it not yielded up, surrendered, given over to God as He works in it its beauty? And God’s redeemed children, oh, can you think that God can work His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? God cannot do it. God is life, and love, and blessing, and power, and infinite beauty, and God delights to communicate Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him; but ah! this one lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.
You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly. This coat is absolutely given up to me to, cover my body. This building is entirely given up to religious services. And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received by regeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given up to Him? God cannot. The Temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one condition - absolute surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us..
God not only claims it, but God will work it Himself.
God Accomplishes Your Surrender
I am sure there is many a heart that says: "Ah, but that absolute surrender implies so much!" Someone says: "Oh, I have passed through so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up, because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony."
Alas! alas! that God’s children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: "It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure"? And that is what we should seek for - to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.
Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful and the Friend of God, and that it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
Did not God say to Pharaoh: "For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power"?
And if God said that of him, will not God say it far more of every child of His?
Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: "Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything" - I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: "My God, I am willing that Thou shouldst make me willing." If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.
God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you to get hold of Him entirely. And He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself? Yes, blessed be God, He can do it, and He will do it.
God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring it to Him.
God Accepts Your Surrender
God works it in the secret of our heart, God urges us by the hidden power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring and to yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you come and bring God that absolute surrender, it may, as far as your feelings or your consciousness go, be a thing of great imperfection, and you may doubt and hesitate and say:
"Is it absolute?"
But, oh, remember there was once a man to whom Christ had said:
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
And his heart was afraid, and he cried out:
"Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief."
That was a faith that triumphed over the Devil, and the evil spirit was cast out. And if you come and say: "Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God," even though it be with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: "I do not feel the power, I do not feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance," it will succeed. Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Ghost will work.
Have you never yet learned the lesson that the Holy Ghost works with mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. We read that He, "through the eternal Spirit," offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed! Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and trembling, in faith in the hidden work of God’s Spirit do not fear, but yield yourself.
And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be in the faith that God does now accept of it. That is the great point, and that is what we so often miss - that believers should be thus occupied with God in this matter of surrender. I pray you, be occupied with God. We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God shall be clearer to us, God shall have the right place, and be "all in all." And if we are to have that through life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves, and look up to God. Let each believe - while I, a poor worm on earth and a trembling child of God, full of failure and sin and fear, bow here, and no one knows what passes through my heart, and while I in simplicity say, O God, I accept Thy terms; I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others, I have accepted Thy terms of absolute surrender - while your heart says that in deep silence, remember there is a God present that takes note of it, and writes it down in His book, and there is a God present who at that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him..
God not only claims it, and works it, and accepts it when I bring it, but God maintains it.
God Maintains Your Surrender
That is the great difficulty with many. People say: "I have often been stirred at a meeting, or at a convention, and I have consecrated myself to God, but it has passed away. I know it may last for a week or for a month, but away it fades, and after a time it is all gone."
But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Will you believe that?
In this matter of surrender there are two: God and I - I a worm, God the everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to trust yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?
Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above.
If God allows the sun to shine upon you moment by moment, without intermission, will not God let His life shine upon you every moment? And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that trust.
A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us, praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.
Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his ninetieth birthday, told of all God’s goodness to him - I mean George Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness, and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace to maintain a good conscience before God day by day; the other was, that he was a lover of God’s Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every day in His Word, and prayer - that is a life of absolute surrender..
Such a life has two sides - on the one side, absolute surrender to work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He wants to do.
First, to do what God wants you to do.
Give up yourselves absolutely to the will of God. You know something of that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord God: "By Thy grace I desire to do Thy will in everything, every moment of every day." Say: "Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Thy glory, not a movement of my temper but for Thy glory, not an affection of love or hate in my heart but for Thy glory, and according to Thy blessed will."
Someone says: "Do you think that possible?"
I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear hath not heard, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him. God has prepared unheard-of-things, blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They are divine blessings. Oh, say now:
"I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants."
It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.
And, on the other side, come and say: "I give myself absolutely to God, to let Him work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, as He has promised to do."
Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we cannot understand, but that God’s Word has revealed, and He wants to work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, and unbounded trust.
God Blesses When You Surrender
This absolute surrender to God will wonderfully bless.
What Ahab said to his enemy, King Ben-hadad - "My lord, O king, according to thy word I am thine, and all that I have" - shall we not say to our God and loving Father? If we do say it, God’s blessing will come upon us. God wants us to be separate from the world; we are called to come out from the world that hates God. Come out for God, and say: "Lord, anything for Thee." If you say that with prayer, and speak that into God’s ear, He will accept it, and He will teach you what it means.s.
I say again, God will bless you. You have been praying for blessing. But do remember, there must be absolute surrender. At every tea-table you see it. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it is empty, and given up for the tea. But put ink, or vinegar, or wine into it, and will they pour the tea into the vessel? And can God fill you, can God bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He cannot. Let us believe God has wonderful blessings for us, if we will but stand up for God, and say, be it with a trembling will, yet with a believing heart:
"O God, I accept Thy demands. I am thine and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to Thee by divine grace."
You may not have such strong and clear feelings of deliverances as you would desire to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will, self-confidence, and self-effort. Bow humbly before him in the confession of that, and ask him to break the heart and to bring you into the dust before Him. Then, as you bow before Him, just accept God’s teaching that in your flesh "there dwelleth no good thing," and that nothing will help you except another life which must come in. You must deny self once for all. Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.
When was Peter delivered? When was the change accomplished? The change began with Peter weeping, and the Holy Ghost came down and filled his heart.
God the Father loves to give us the power of the Spirit. We have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. We come to God confessing that, and praising God for it, and yet confessing how we have grieved the Spirit. And then we bow our knees to the Father to ask that He would strengthen us with all might by the Spirit in the inner man, and that He would fill us with His mighty power. And as the Spirit reveals Christ to us, Christ comes to live in our hearts forever, and the self-life is cast out.
Let us bow before God in humility, and in that humility confess before Him the state of the whole Church. No words can tell the sad state of the Church of Christ on earth. I wish I had words to speak what I sometimes feel about it. just think of the Christians around you. I do not speak of nominal Christians, or of professing Christians, but I speak of hundreds and thousands of honest, earnest Christians who are not living a life in the power of God or to His glory. So little power, so little devotion or consecration to God, so little perception of the truth that a Christian is a man utterly surrendered to God’s will! Oh, we want to confess the sins of God’s people around us, and to humble ourselves. We are members of that sickly body, and the sickliness of the body will hinder us, and break us down, unless we come to God, and in confession separate ourselves from partnership with worldliness, with coldness toward each other, unless we give up ourselves to be entirely and wholly for God.
How much Christian work is being done in the spirit of the flesh and in the power of self! How much work, day by day, in which human energy - our will and our thoughts about the work - is continually manifested, and in which there is but little of waiting upon God, and upon the power of the Holy Ghost! Let us make confession. But as we confess the state of the Church and the feebleness and sinfulness of work for God among us, let us come back to ourselves. Who is there who truly longs to be delivered from the power of the self-life, who truly acknowledges that it is the power of self and the flesh, and who is willing to cast all at the feet of Christ? There is deliverance.
I heard of one who had been an earnest Christian, and who spoke about the "cruel" thought of separation and death. But you do not think that, do you? What are we to think of separation and death? This: death was the path to glory for Christ. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross. The cross was the birthplace of His everlasting glory. Do you love Christ? Do you long to be in Christ, and not like Him? Let death be to you the most desirable thing on earth - death to self, and fellowship with Christ. Separation - do you think it a hard thing to be called to be entirely free from the world, and by that separation to be united to God and His love, by separation to become prepared for living and walking with God every day? Surely one ought to say:
"Anything to bring me to separation, to death, for a life of full fellowship with God and Christ."
Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life; and then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ - Christ crucified and risen and living in glory - into your heart.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Preach the Full Gospel.

As Paul says Rom 11:8 as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day."

Introductory Essay to John Owen's _Death of Death in the Death of Christ_ by: J. I. Packer article url: Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a polemical work, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel. There are many, therefore, to whom it is not likely to be of interest. Those who see no need for doctrinal exactness and have no time for theological debates which show up divisions between so-called Evangelicals may well regret its reappearance. Some may find the very sound of Owen’s thesis so shocking that they will refuse to read his book at all; so passionate a thing is prejudice, and so proud are we of our theological shibboleths. But it is hoped that this reprint will find itself readers of a different spirit. There are signs today of a new upsurge of interest in the theology of the Bible: a new readiness to test traditions, to search the Scriptures and to think through the faith. It is to those who share this readiness that Owen’s treatise is offered, in the belief that it will help us in one of the most urgent tasks facing Evangelical Christendom today—the recovery of the gospel.
This last remark may cause some raising of eyebrows, but it seems to be warranted by the facts.
There are signs today of a new upsurge of interest in the theology of the Bible: a new readiness to test traditions, to search the Scriptures and to think through the faith. It is to those who share this readiness that Owen’s treatise is offered, in the belief that it will help us in one of the most urgent tasks facing Evangelical Christendom today—the recovery of the gospel.
This last remark may cause some raising of eyebrows, but it seems to be warranted by the facts.

Read the rest of this article at:

article url:

Thursday, August 02, 2007


SPIRITUAL GIFTS (Abilities, Talents, Tools)

What is the nature and use of spiritual gifts?
BIBLE READING: Romans 12:1-8
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others. (Romans 12:4-5, tlb)
God gives us spiritual gifts so we can work together to serve him and each other. Paul uses the concept of the human body to teach how Christians should live and work together. Just as the parts of the body function under the direction of the brain, so Christians are to work together under the command and authority of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 4:1-16).
God gives us gifts so we can build up his church. To use them effectively, we must (1) realize that all gifts and abilities come from God; (2) understand that not everyone has the same gifts; (3) know who we are and what we do best; (4) dedicate our gifts to God’s service and not to our personal success; and (5) be willing to utilize our gifts wholeheartedly, not holding back anything from God’s service.
Our gifts, though different, are all useful. Our gifts differ in nature, power, and effectiveness according to God’s wisdom and graciousness, not according to our faith. “Measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (12:3) means that God will give the spiritual power necessary and appropriate to carry out each responsibility. We cannot, by our own effort or willpower, drum up more faith and thus be more effective teachers or servants. These are God’s gifts to his church, and he gives faith and power as he wills. Our role is to be faithful and to seek ways to serve others with what Christ has given us.
Christians using their gifts to serve God and each other create an exciting fellowship. Look at the list of gifts in this passage and imagine the kinds of people who would have each gift. Prophets are often bold and articulate. Servers (those in ministry) are faithful and loyal. Teachers are clear thinkers. Preachers know how to motivate others. Givers are generous and trusting. Leaders are good organizers and managers. Those who comfort others are caring people who are happy to give their time to others. It would be difficult for one person to embody all these gifts. An assertive prophet would not usually make a good counselor, and a generous giver might fail as a leader. When you identify your own gifts (and this list is far from complete), ask how you can use them to build up God’s family. At the same time, realize that your gifts can’t do the work of the church all alone. Be thankful for people whose gifts are completely different from yours. Let your strengths balance their weaknesses, and be grateful that their abilities make up for your deficiencies. Together you can build Christ’s church.
BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
KEY BIBLE VERSE: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, niv)
Spiritual gifts have a single source and a special purpose. The spiritual gifts given to each person by the Holy Spirit are special abilities that are to be used to minister to the needs of the body of believers. This chapter is not an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts (see Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4:10-11 for more examples). There are many gifts. Some people have more than one gift, and one gift is not superior to another. All spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit, and their purpose is to build up Christ’s body, the church.
Spiritual gifts have at times been divisive because of pride and jealousy. Instead of building up and unifying the Corinthian church, the issue of spiritual gifts was splitting it. Spiritual gifts had become symbols of spiritual power, causing rivalries. Some people thought they were more “spiritual” than others because of their gifts. This was a terrible misuse of spiritual gifts because their purpose is always to help the church function more effectively, not to divide it. We can be divisive if we insist on using our gift our own way without being sensitive to others. We must never use gifts as a means of manipulating others or serving our own self-interest.
Spiritual gifts ought to be humbly used in service of others. The greater gifts are those that are more beneficial to the body of Christ. Paul has already made it clear that one gift is not superior to another, but he urges the believers to discover how they can serve Christ’s body with the gifts God has given them. Your spiritual gifts are not for your own self-advancement. They were given to you for serving God and enhancing the spiritual growth of the body of believers.
BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, niv)Spiritual maturity neither denies nor overemphasizes spiritual gifts. By warning us not to “put out the Spirit’s fire,” Paul means that we should not ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Here, he mentions prophecy (5:20); in 1 Corinthians 14:39, he mentions tongues. Some spiritual gifts may be controversial, and they may cause division in a church. Rather than trying to solve the problems, some Christians just smother the gifts. This impoverishes the church. We should not stifle the Holy Spirit’s work in anyone’s life but encourage the full expression of these gifts to benefit the whole body of Christ.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Can Man Be Just a Christian?

At times it appears that in our "Christian world" man is converted to a church rather than to Jesus Christ. Loyalty to a body of believers seems to have priority over allegiance to the Lord Jesus. Although each religion claims faith in the same Bible, because of certain doctrines peculiar to various denominations they separate themselves from one another. Frequently each denomination is divided into a number of sects.
Is it possible for man simply to be a "Christian"? Must he separate himself with some denominational name as Baptist Christian, Methodist Christian, etc.? God doesn't divide believers into various denominations-man does. Even with his own church choice, man is frequently at variance with his brother over some biblical understanding. Also, world Bible scholars differ in matters pertaining to Scripture understanding.
What authority does one believer have in saying, "I am right and you are wrong," or "I am more honest than you." Certainly the Bible is right, but does it necessarily follow that I am the one who has perfect understanding? Do you ever differ with members of your family over some conviction? Does it mean that you are no longer a member of that family? If there can be no unity in diversity, there is simply no possibility of unity, for we all differ in many things.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Desiring God - God centered resources from the ministry of John Piper

From the series: Romans: The Greatest Letter Ever Written
From the topic: False Teaching

Watch Out for Those Who Lead You Away from the Truth
Listen Listen to Excerpt Watch Watch Excerpt
By John Piper November 5, 2006

Romans 16:17-20
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I recall talking to a wise leader of a large missions organization about doctrinal faithfulness. He said something to this effect, “It’s crucial. And so is unity. Some people emphasize one, and some the other. Our organization is made of two kinds of people: purity boys and unity boys.” The unity boys naturally emphasize the preciousness of personal relationships and tend to neglect an emphasis on truth. The purity boys naturally emphasize the preciousness of truth and tend to neglect the nurture of personal relationships.
In fact, you could probably categorize people and churches and denominations and institutions and movements in the evangelical church today (or even in society in general) along these lines: There are those who emphasize doctrinal purity, and there are those that emphasize relational unity.
Loving People and Loving Truth
I hope you are feeling uncomfortable with that description. A good impulse inside of you would be saying right now: “Do we have to choose? Can’t it be both? Can’t you love truth and love people?” In fact, it would be an even more biblical impulse if you found yourself thinking, “I don’t even think you can love people if you don’t love truth. How can you do what is ultimately good for people if you don’t have any strong convictions about what is ultimately good?”
And yet there is no escaping the reality that people and churches and denominations and schools and even whole periods in history lean one way or the other. I think the period of history we live in is not an easy time to be a lover of truth. The most common criticism, if you stand for an important truth and imply by that stand that others should believe it, is that you are arrogant, which is the opposite of being loving (1 Corinthians 13:4), and therefore you are undermining relationships.
For many thoughtful people today the only path to peaceful relationships in a pluralistic world is the path of no truth that deserves assent from everyone. It seems on the face of it to make sense. If no one claims that what he believes deserves assent from anyone else, then we can live together in peace. Right? So peaceful pluralism and diminished truth claims go hand in hand.
But it doesn’t work like that. When there is no truth that deserves assent from everybody, the only arbiter in our competing desires is power. Where truth doesn’t define what’s right, might makes right. And where might makes right, weak people pay with their lives. When the universal claim of truth disappears, what you get is not peaceful pluralism or loving relationships; what you get is concentration camps and gulags.
Purity for the Sake of Unity
I want you to see from the Bible—and feel in your bones—the importance of being a purity boy for the sake of being a unity boy. I want you to see and feel how out of step this text is with today’s Western culture. It pictures a way of thinking and living that most of our fellow Americans would consider offensive, unloving, fundamentalistic, and out of date. It’s mainly a purity text—a text calling for vigilance in matters of truth and doctrine. But it’s not only that. In a striking way, it is a unity text. The goal of the vigilance for right teaching is to avoid Christ-belittling, self-exalting dissension.
So my hope in preaching from verses 17 and 18 is that you will be freed from any blindness or bondage to this truth-diminishing period of time in which we live. And I pray that, because of this liberty, you would know what it is to love your adversaries and that you would have fresh power from the gospel to magnify Christ in showing that love.
Let’s read again Romans 16:17-18,
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Verse 17 gives two commands that seem contradictory, but they are joined by a phrase that shows why they are not contradictory. And verse 18 gives two reasons why these two commands are so crucial. Let’s look first at the commands in verse 17.
Watch Out for Those Who Cause Divisions
The first command in verse 17 is to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles or stumbling blocks. “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles.” So it is clear from this command that Paul is concerned about unity. He wants to promote unity. Watch out for those who cause divisions. These are enemies of unity. Watch out for them. I don’t want them to have that effect on you.
Avoid Them
The second command in verse 17 is to avoid these people. The last phrase in the verse: “Avoid them.” Stay away from them. Now the reason I said these two commands sound contradictory is that the first one is driven by a passion for unity: Watch out for those who cause divisions. And the second one is, in fact, a call for division. When you spot such a division-causing person, divide from him. Avoid him.
The Dividing Line of Doctrine
What is it then between these two commands that helps us see how they are not in fact contradictory? It’s Paul’s reference to doctrine. Verse 17: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught.” The issue here is not the same as in chapter 14 where Paul is dealing with different convictions about non-essential things. There he said, in verse 5, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” There was no talk in chapter 14 about avoiding people. The whole point was to help the strong and the weak Christians live together in mutual respect and understanding.
But now here in Romans 16:17, the approach is dramatically different. Here Paul says: Avoid them. Divide from them. Why? Because they are promoting doctrine contrary to what they had been taught. Now Paul’s response to this could have been: Well, nobody has all the truth, and everybody has a piece of it, and unity is more important than truth, and so don’t divide. And we would say: That impulse would not be all bad, would it? Unity is a good thing. Paul cares about it. His first command is: “Watch out for those who cause divisions.”
Truth-Based Division for the Sake of Truth-Based Unity
But that is not the way he responded to this situation. Instead, for the sake of unity—that is, truth-based unity—Paul calls for truth-based division. Avoid them. I don’t know how Paul could make any clearer how he relates doctrine and unity. For Paul, doctrine is the basis of unity. Without the common doctrine they had been taught, the unity would not have been Christian unity. So he is willing to call for truth-based disunity (“Avoid them.” “Divide from them.”) for the sake of truth-based unity.
In other words, when a person departs from the doctrine that the apostles had taught, Paul sees this as a greater threat to unity than the disunity caused by avoiding such people. If we say: How can that be? How can dividing from a false teacher who rises up in the church promote unity in the church? The answer is that the only unity that counts for unity in the church is rooted in a common apostolic teaching. Isolating false teachers—avoiding them—is Paul’s strategy for preserving unity that is based on true teaching.
Joy in the Truth Is Dominant
Now let’s pause here before looking at the reasons for these commands in verse 18. I want to make a clarifying comment about both of these commands and the doctrine that connects them.
First, with regard to the command to “watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught,” it is possible to go overboard on this. I hesitate even to say it, since I don’t think this is the temptation of most churches or most Christians today. But it is possible, and there are churches and people that do go overboard.
What I mean is that they become so obsessed with spotting doctrinal error that they lose their ability to rejoice in doctrinal truth. They’re like dogs that are trained so completely to sniff out drugs at the airport, that even when they’re off duty they greet everybody that way. It doesn’t make for a very welcoming atmosphere.
The book of Romans does not make this mistake. Periodically Paul warns against doctrinal or ethical error. But most of Romans is a glorious display of the work of Christ for us and in us. So let’s ask the Lord to help us get the balance right here. We must do this: “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught.” But this is not the main thing we do. Vigilance over error is necessary, but joy in the truth is dominant.
There Is a Defined Body of Doctrine
Second, with regard to the doctrine, don’t miss the obvious: There is such a thing—a body of doctrine that someone can go against. Verse 17: “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught.” There is a doctrinal standard. There is something you can depart from. Paul refers to it in several ways. In Romans 6:17, he calls it the standard of teaching: “[You] have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” In 2 Timothy 1:13-14, he calls it the pattern of sound words and the good deposit. “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” In Acts 20:27, he calls it the whole counsel of God. “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
So there is a body or standard or pattern of sound doctrine. The caution here, of course, is that we must not put every minor opinion about hundreds of Bible verses in this category so that there is no room for any disagreement at all (cf. Philippians 3:15). The pattern of sound doctrine would be a faithful summary of biblical essentials determined by how crucial they are in expressing and preserving the history of redemption, the nature and condition of man, the nature and work of Christ, the nature and word of the Holy Spirit, and the nature and work of God the Father. One of the greatest challenges in the quest for unity is deciding what belongs in this body of doctrine when Paul says, if someone departs from it, avoid him. That’s part of what the elders were working on last year in the baptism question. And which we are still working on.
Leave Room for Enemy Love
Third, with regard to the second command at the end of verse 17 (avoid them), we need to be sure we leave room for obedience to the teaching in Romans 12 that says we should “Bless those who curse you” (v. 14), and, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (v. 18), and so on.
Avoiding someone does not mean: Stop caring about him, or stop praying for him, or even stop talking to them. When Peter acted contrary to the gospel in Galatians 2, Paul did not first avoid him. He first confronted him with a view to winning him back. That kind of contact is not forbidden. What Paul commands with the words avoid them, is not no contact at all, but the kind of contact that communicates life can go on as usual between us. It can’t. If you, as a professing Christian, persist in departing from the doctrine the apostles taught, we can’t simply hang out together like we used to.
False Teachers Seem Nice
That brings us finally to verse 18 and the two reasons Paul gives for why doctrinal vigilance is so important. Verse 18: “For such persons [that is, the persons who depart from the doctrine] do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Let’s take the second one first. Verse 18b: “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” The word for flattery is simply blessing. And smooth talk doesn’t necessarily mean manifestly slippery. It just means pleasant and plausible. So the reason we must be so vigilant over biblical doctrine is that those who depart from it take simple people with them by pleasant, plausible speech that presents itself as a blessing. False teachers don’t get a following by being rough and harsh. They get a following by being nice.
Just take two examples from history: Arius (d. 336) and Socinus (d. 1604)—both of whom denied the deity of Christ. Parker Williamson describes Arius like this:
Here was a bright, energetic, attractive fellow, the kind of citizen whom any Rotary Club would welcome. Singing sea chanties in dockside pubs and teaching Bible stories to the Wednesday night faithful, this was an immensely popular man. His story reminds us that heresy does not bludgeon us into belief. We are seduced. (Parker T. Williamson, Standing Firm: Reclaiming the Chastain Faith in Times of Controversy [Lenoir, North Carolina: PLC Publications, 1996], p. 31.)
another writer describes Socinus like this:
He was a gentleman. His morals were above reproach and he distinguished himself by his unfailing courtesy. Unfailing courtesy was remarkable in an age when even the great Protestant leaders, Luther and Calvin would use vile street language when arguing with their opponents.
This means that it will seldom be popular to resist false teachers in the church because they are almost always perceived as bringing a blessing and speaking with winsome words. They are gentlemen. And Paul says the innocent are carried away. Hence he says, “Watch out for them. And avoid them.”
False Teachers Serve Their Own Appetites
The other reason why doctrinal vigilance is so crucial, Paul says, is (verse 18a) because “such persons [the false teachers] do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites”—literally their own belly. In other words, the issue in false teaching is not a simple intellectual mistake. Behind the plausible speech and the smooth gentlemanly demeanor is idolatry, and the idol is the belly—the appetite for food or sex or human approval. Behind serious false teaching, we almost always find not merely intellectual mistakes, but worldly passions enslaving the mind.
Watch Out
So I close with a pointed call to vigilance: Watch out for smooth talkers who pastor large churches, write many books, lead wide ministries, and do not manifestly prize above their earthly good the whole counsel of God.
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Monday, September 04, 2006

A Prayer for Unity in the SBC by the HOLY SPIRIT.

Some Food for Thought from one of God’s most humble Servants that I have known.

Dr. John M. Frame
Prof. of Systematic Theology and Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

An Unrealistic Dream

1. That Reformed thinkers continue to have bright, fresh ideas, but that they present these ideas with humility and treat with grace and patience those who are not immediately convinced.
2. That Reformed thinkers with bright ideas discourage the rapid formation of parties to contend for those ideas.
3. That those initially opposed to those bright ideas allow some time for gentle, thoughtful discussion before declaring the bright ideas to be heresy.
4. That these opponents also discourage the rapid formation of partisan groups.
5. That those contending for various doctrinal positions accept the burden of proof, willing to bear the difficulty of serious biblical exegesis.
6. That we try much harder to guard our tongues (Jas. 3:1-12), saving the strongest language of condemnation (e.g., “denying the gospel”) for those who have been declared heretics by the judicial processes of the church.
7. That Reformed churches, ministries, and institutions be open to a wider range of opinions than they are now—within limits, of course.
8. That we honor one another as much for character and witness as we do for agreement with our theological positions.
9. That occasionally we smile and jest about our relatively minor differences, while praying, worshiping, and working together in the love of Christ.


Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-4

[They] were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:4
One of the best strategies the devil uses to distract Christians is to get them involved in fruitless theological squabbles. One of those discussions concerns signs that can accompany being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Some argue that all Christians filled with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues. Others argue that speaking in tongues is just one of the many gifts that the Spirit gives to believers.

But what is the main message of Acts 2:1-4? Our reading for today speaks of the faithful followers of Christ who stayed where he wanted them to stay and received whom he said they would receive. As a result of their obedience to the command Jesus had given them—"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised" (Acts 1:4)—they all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The question for each of us is whether we live daily in obedience to Jesus Christ: Have I received the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that I may become a powerful witness of the gospel?

We will not tire of saying that effective Christian living and ministry are impossible if believers are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? Does that filling reveal itself through your obedience?

Lord, please, forgive all my sins. Come into my life and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may become a powerful witness of your good news in this world. Amen.

Today is a ministry of The Back to God Hour

Eph 4:30 -
And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God - This is addressed to Christians, and it proves that it is possible for them to grieve the Holy Spirit. The word used here - λυπεῖτε lupeite - means properly to afflict with sorrow; to make sad or sorrowful. It is rendered to make sorry, or sorrowful, Mat_14:9; Mat_17:23; Mat_18:31; Mat_19:22; Mat_26:22, Mat_26:37; Mar_14:19; Joh_16:20; 2Co_2:2; 2Co_6:10; 2Co_7:8-9, 2Co_7:11; 1Th_4:13. It is rendered "grieved," Mar_10:22; Joh_21:17; Rom_14:15; 2Co_2:4-5; Eph_4:20; and once. "in heaviness," 1Pe_1:6. The verb does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The common meaning is, to treat others so as to cause grief. We are not to suppose that the Holy Spirit literally endures "grief, or pain," at the conduct of people. The language is such as is suited to describe what "men" endure, and is applied to him to denote that kind of conduct which is "suited" to cause grief; and the meaning here is, "do not pursue such a course as is "suited" in its own nature, to pain the benevolent heart of a holy being. Do not act toward the Holy Spirit in a manner which would produce pain in the bosom of a friend who loves you. There is a course of conduct which will drive that Spirit from the mind as if he were grieved and pained - as a course of ingratitude and sin would pain the heart of an earthly friend, and cause him to leave you." If asked what that conduct is, we may reply:
(1) Open and gross sins. They are particularly referred to here; and the meaning of Paul is. that theft, falsehood, anger, and kindred vices, would grieve the Holy Spirit and cause him to depart.
(2) anger, in all its forms. Nothing is more suited to drive away all serious and tender impressions from the mind, than the indulgence of anger.
(3) Licentious thoughts and desires. The Spirit of God is pure, and he dwells not in a soul that is filled with corrupt imaginings.
(4) Ingratitude. "We" feel ingratitude more than almost anything else; and why should we suppose that the Holy Spirit would not feel it also?
(5) neglect. The Spirit of God is grieved by that. Often he prompts us to pray; he disposes the mind to seriousness, to the perusal of the Bible, to tenderness and penitence. We neglect those favored moments of our piety, and lose those happy seasons for becoming like God.
(6) Resistance. Christians often resist the Holy Spirit. He would lead them to be dead to the world; yet they drive on their plans Of gain. He would teach them the folly of fashion and vanity; yet they deck themselves in the most frivolous apparel. He would keep them from the splendid party, the theater, and the ballroom; yet they go there. A l that is needful for a Christian to do in order to be eminent in piety, is to yield to the gentle influences which would draw him to prayer and to heaven.
Whereby ye are sealed - see the notes on 2Co_1:22.
Unto the day of redemption - see the notes on Eph_1:14.