Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beyond the Bible

The evangelist D.L. Moody said, “One of three persons wrote the Bible: Good men, but they couldn’t have penned it, for they would have lied when they recorded it was God’s Word. Bad men would not have written it, not with all the condemnation that is in it concerning their life-styles. Therefore, the only one who could have written it is God.” The words, “The Lord said”; “The Lord spake’”; The word of the Lord came”; and other such expressions are used 3,808 times in the Old Testament alone.

The Bible is God’s final Word to mankind; there ain’t no more! Eastern oriental religion, which governs many of today’s cults, is now creeping into Christianity. More and more, you hear the expressions among professing Christians, “I feel,” “I think,” etc. No longer is it, as the beloved old evangelist used to say, “The Bible says.” These religious pagans believe that salvation, purity, and communion with God can be achieved apart from the scriptures. They make feeling the source of knowing God. But, when one has gone beyond the Bible, they have gone beyond the truth. (John 17:17,b)

Their primary belief is that God is known through the senses, not the scriptures. A good illustration of this was when Jacob went by feeling, rather than the word, thereby being deceived. They attempt to by-pass the Bible for great experiences. It’s a short-cut, but one that always leaves them coming up short. You can always spot them; they have a tendency to rarely talk of the Bible.

How you ‘feel’ does not validate the religion to which you happen to belong.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Those Dark Times

“And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and…all hope…was then taken away. Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said…I believe God…” While visiting an adult Sunday School class, I was asked during the participation time my definition for faith; my reply was simply, “Trusting God in the dark.” It seems God chose to teach the apostle this from his conversion. For we are told, “…he was three days without sight.”

All men and women of faith experience what St. John of the Cross termed, “The Dark Night of the Soul.” When God made promise to Abraham that He would perform the impossible in his life, we are told, “…and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.”

Oh, beloved saint, you can trust God in the dark! It is said, after Jesus experienced the darkest time in the history of mankind that “…very early in the morning…at the rising of the sun,” He rose again. And I guarantee you dear child of God, after the darkness is past, you to will rise to a “…morning without clouds.”

You who are sitting in darkness will soon hear the words, "Let there be light." And there will be light!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's New?

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Most people do not take the time to analyze this gem of a text. They major on a new present and future for the one who is in Christ. But as blessed as these truths are, there is a third truth just as precious. And that is this: He says we also have a new past, one that is blameless and spotless. God doesn’t patch up the old life; He gives a completely new one. It’s as new as the present and future one; how about that!

Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are taught to testify, “I am an addict, but have been clean for x amount of years.” I’ve noticed many of these keep falling out of bed. Why? Simply because they sleep too close to where they got in. I think it much more beneficial for one who desires to live a victorious life to say, “I am in Christ, and now I have nothing in my past to shame me.” A Christian’s past has been wiped clean (Heb.8:12). As the gospel song says, “What sins are you talking about?”

No child of God need be hindered by their past; they now have a new identity in Christ, a “new man,” if you please. When a harlot on the street shouted out to the newly converted Augustine, “Augustine, it is I,” his reply was, “I know, but it is not I.” Again, as another song puts it, “I am not the man I used to be.”

If God buried your sin in the depth of the sea, don’t go looking for deep-sea diving equipment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Other God

The scriptures speak of “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel.” These are all associated with the other god; the one who fell from his lofty position because he wanted to be like “…the most high.” He is now referred to as “…the god of this world.”

This miniature god, from his fall, has attempted to emulate the one and only “True God.” Therefore, he also has son, a spirit, and a pseudo-gospel he passes off as legitimate. “The mystery of godliness: [is] God was manifest in the flesh.” “The mystery of iniquity,” is that Satan will be manifest in the flesh.

It’s argued that since John wrote there would come many anti-christs (plural), and that even in his day there were many, this proves there will not be a personification of one person indwelt by Satan himself. But they make two mistakes: First, John himself says in the context, “…anti-christ (singular) shall come.” (Jn.2:18). And secondly, Jesus said that there would come “many” Christs’. But this does not rule out he was the personification of the one true Christ.

When the devil tempted our first parents, he promised them that if they lived their lives according to his rules, that they would be “…as gods.” That is, each would have a spark of deity in them; but contrary to this lying promise, they became totally depraved.

And so we see the first false religion instituted, from henceforth it would no longer be, God plus man; but man plus God. In the Garden, man became his own god. You might say, “A new age started in the Old Testament.” Or as the wise man said, “…there is no new thing under the sun.”

The only spark in fallen man is the spark of Hell.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Handing it Over

In Psl. 31 David says, “Into thine hand I commit…” He believed that any and all things placed into God’s hands were eternally secure. That one could be assured whatever or whoever was placed in those nailed-scarred Omnipotent hands, was safe! He knew no man was able to pluck out what he had placed in them!

We see that not only did David practice this truth, but also taught it. In Psl. 37 he encourages God’s people to, Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”

Here we have a Divine trilogy: a one time committal, past; a daily trust, present; and he will bring it to pass; future. We see this illustrated in the latter part of John 4. The father had committed his son to Jesus (past). He went his way trusting Him (present); and the next day he found his son had been restored. At the very hour he had committed him to Christ, God had brought it to pass (future).

It is not saying, “I trusted” that wins the day; but, “I am trusting.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wolf, Wolf

Over fifty years ago when I began preaching, there was a series of books entitled Simple Sermons. Most of us novice preacher boys preached everything contained in them. One message I remember was named, “If I Were the Devil.” I’m sure after I preached it some who heard it went away saying, “What did he mean, if?”

Seriously, what would be some of your tactical deceptions if you were out to discredit and destroy certain doctrines of the Bible? Well, I believe one effective tool Satan uses in diluting a truth until it loses its potency, is by constantly setting off the alarm bell. You know the old story of the shepherd boy crying “Wolf, Wolf,” when there was no wolf. Then crying “Wolf” when there was one; but no one took him seriously when it was factual, because of his false warnings.

I personally believe this to be true concerning prophetic truth. Many prophetic Bible teachers in past years have so gone to seed on this precious doctrine that there are few any longer who will listen or heed the fact of Christ’s coming again. It has become no more than a novelty teaching, or a passing fictional interest to them. We need to get away from all the speculation preacher’s are peddling about His coming. We need rather to get back to sound, solid, Bible teaching on the fact of His return. Christ is coming again, signs or no signs!

His coming may not be Immediate, but I guarantee it’s imminent!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Woe or Whoa?

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil..." In this fifth chapter of Isaiah there are six “Woes.” The old Nazarene preacher, Uncle Buddy Robinson, used to say, “When God says Woe, you’d better stop. I thoroughly agree, whether it be Woe or whoa, it will be to anyone's advantage to come to a complete halt!

Our text was written some seven hundred and fifty years before Christ; yet you’d think it was penned yesterday. Here we find that reversal of morality in a nation is no new thing. God’s people of old had destroyed all decent distinctions. They gave new definitions to sins. They used God’s vocabulary, but not His dictionary. They did not follow Isaac’s example, “he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.”

Whenever you find one perverting the scriptures, you will discover one who has no problem accepting and promoting any and all types of perversion.

"...that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Before you can get a kindergarten child to say that a white piece of paper and a black one is the same; and before you can get them to admit a dill pickle and a chocolate bar taste alike, you must first educate them to say and believe such lies.

And so it is with our beloved nation. This tripe must first be channeled through our institutions of learning, the news media, and pulpits of our country, before it is ingrained in our character. So watch what you're being fed!

Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the Lord God of judgment? (Mal.2:17)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's in a Day?.

“As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” After searching a few commentaries for comments on our text, I’ve come to agree with the old Georgia preacher when he said, “De Bible sho do shed a lot of light on dem commentaries!”

Aren’t you glad it does not say, “As thy strength, so shall thy days be?” If this had been the case, I’d have been finished a long time ago. God knew that in our fallen state there would be both good days and bad days. Therefore He promises strength, especially for the latter.

Someone has said, “Life would not be so bad if it were not so daily.” But it is, and that is no doubt why Jesus spoke so much about the daily Christian life. His philosophy was “one day at a time.” Joseph Parker wrote, “God never communicates surplus power, He promises no strength beyond the day in which it is required.”

The Lord is the strength of my life. (Psl.27:1)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meeting in the Middle

I have lived long enough to observe, and read enough to learn, that present generations and previous ones, have always had their difficulties accepting the other. The older generation invariable believes the younger group arriving on the scene comes far short of its own. That wisdom, no doubt, will die with them; and therefore youth is wasted on the young. While on the other hand, the young contemporaries feel new is always better, and that anything from the past is outdated, archaic, and obsolete. Therefore, there will always remain this great chasm between the two. That is, until a bridge-builder shows up.

Let’s not allow youthful pride, or senior stubbornness keep us from picking up hammer and nails. We both have a lot to contribute to one another, if we are willing to build from each side and meet in the middle!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Life Worth Living

Many Christians follow the Epicurean philosophy: “Let us eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die.” They indulge, but they don’t enjoy, in spite of the fact we are told God gave us all things richly to enjoy. Why, then, the emptiness when they are full? the hunger pains after eating? and the sorrow after elation? It is because they have left God out of their lives. Like the man in Ecclesiastes who had it all but found life was not worth living without God.

To de-thrown Christ is to lose the key of life. All knowledge, mirth, and wealth leave a restless soul, apart from Him. Life is valueless without Jesus Christ; for we are told He is our life. Every blessing becomes boresome, if He is absent. We become cynical, pessimistic, and even fatalistic. Jesus is the Spice of Life, and without this Divine Ingredient, life is bland.

The wise man put God out of his life and lived only for the things “under the sun,” leaving him severely depressed. It’s beholding the One over the sun that makes life, and all that’s in it, an enjoyment. When we look into the mirror, we need to see the Christ’s image. If not, you’ll experience the vanity of an unyielded life.

They lose nothing who gain Christ.
(Samuel Rutherford)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Patience and the Eternal

“God waited...” Isaiah tells us what to do at a time like this: “And therefore will the Lord wait...blessed are all they that wait for him.” Waiting on a waiting God. This is not an easy thing for we who are eternally impatient time-checkers to wait on an eternal, timeless God. One of whom it is said, a day in His sight is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. God is never in a hurry—we are. It is well to remember, if we have eternity on our side, we can afford to wait.

There is no Big Ben in Heaven, everything is measured by eternity. God’s clock has no hands and His calendar has no days. Therefore, settle it; our eternal God is going to take His good old time, and nothing or no one is going to hurry Him up. If we will but patiently wait for Him to accomplish our deepest desires, we will find, “He [makes] everything beautiful in his time.”

To lengthen my patience is the best way to shorten my trouble. (Puritan saying)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What Wheel Chair?

He was wounded in Vietnam, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Upon discharge, he entered college, where he met his wife to be. They were both gloriously saved, while still attending school. His wife told me the first time that they talked was in the campus cafeteria. She said they had chatted for more than an hour before she realized he was in a wheel chair! Would to God we could be oblivious to the wheel chair each of our brethren occupies. We all are cripples in some area of our lives; salvation doesn’t change every deficiency. Mephibosheth sat at the King’s table, but he was still lame.

Some of us need to leave the lab and get a real life. If we continue dissecting our family and friends, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out there will soon be nothing left. And you know where that leaves the technician. In all intimate relationships, only God can handle an up close and personal one. We are not good at handling defects; that is, unless it is found in us. In this case we become amateur cosmetologists.

And so my friends let us back off, so to speak, and appreciate the whole picture, leaving the details to God. It is good to allow Him to decide where the touch ups are needed in another’s life. If we do it, I guarantee you; we’ll make a mess of the entire picture.

Remember, if we are to enjoy the forest, we can’t afford to get too close to the trees.

Friday, February 13, 2009

False Fear

“They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.” This record is as old as the Bible, but it is as new as today. These ancient people have kin among us in our age. There is at this present time, a generation of professing Christians who say they fear the one true God, but serve another.

Something is tragically wrong when a person can divorce their fear of God from their obedience to God. We are told in the Scriptures to “...fear the Lord...and obey his voice...” It is plain to see, these ancients, along with their modern day contemporaries, have a counterfeit fear. Notice that all the wrong lies in the fear itself. If you’re wrong on the fear, then you’re wrong on everything else.

You can always spot a person with a false fear of God. Yes, they pay Him outward respect, and give Him formal recognition, but that is as far as it goes. This kind of fear is skin courtesy. There is no beating heart behind it. It’s hollow—not holy. These kinds of people give God a passing nod on their way to do something they feel is better.

The Irish have a good saying for a person when they speak without their heart being in it, “He speaks from the teeth out.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do Christian's Sin?

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

I need not go to a Greek scholar to find the meaning of this text, as I have repeatedly told you, and will continue to do so; the Bible interprets itself (A.V. 1611). The word “cannot” in scriptures does not mean the thing does not or might not occur; but that its occurrence is wholly against the nature of things. For example, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” But it can, and often does. And what about, “As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.” Well, they could if they wanted to. Compare other passages such as: Lk.11:17; 14:20; John 7:7; Acts 4:16, 20; 1Cor. 10:21.

Any enlightened Believer, even if he or she has only one Spiritual eye, knows the Bible does not contradict itself. In the very book that tells us we cannot sin, it says in chapter one that if we say we haven’t sinned we make God a liar, and show the truth is not in us. Most certainly, we can sin, but it is not our nature to do so. Paul tells us, if and when we sin, we will not continue in it.

A hog wallows in the filthy mire because it is his nature: but a sheep that falls into that sludge will make every attempt to get out. Wash, perfume, and dress a pig in the best clothes. Sit him in the parlor among all the finery. But know this; the first opportunity he has he will head back for the pig-pen (11Peter 2:22b). Why? That’s his deposition!

There is a vast difference between professing to possess something; and possessing what you profess.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Irreconcilable

“The flesh…against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other.” When will we learn these two can never be joined in harmony? What God hath put asunder, let no man join together.

The flesh will never want to go to heaven, live godly, glorify God, read the Bible, pray, and think on good things. Why then do we try incessantly to get our flesh to agree with, and to desire, what the Spirit does? We spend a lifetime thinking something is wrong with us, because in our natural state we do not feel the same way about things as the Spirit.

When we deny the flesh any say-so in spiritual matters, denying it recognition, then the guilt of it not desiring the spiritual will subside.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Horses and Things

I do not believe in shooting dead horses. The thing to do is bury it and walk away. I know people who are still taking pot shots at issues that gave up the ghost long ago. We put bulls-eyes on corpses, set up a rifle range in a grave yard, and spend our days shooting holes through something that no longer has legs to stand on.

I met a widow once who had been bitter because of her husband’s treatment of her for thirteen years. The ironic thing was that he had been dead that amount of time. Instead of moving on, there are those who prefer to spend their lives digging up corpses and dealing with the dead. You don’t have to be around them long to know who they are; they carry the stench of a mortuary. Plus, they always have in their pocket or purse, a bottle of embalming fluid.

May God help those who are living among the tombs to bury once and for all those dead issues in their lives. And when you do, don’t forget to throw away the shovel. Once you get back among the living, you will be glad you did, for you will be a new person. Or as Peter puts it, “…a lively stone.”

The Universal Gospel and Universalism

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that that believethRepent and believe the gospel…[God] commandeth all men everywhere to repent…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Christ’ s death was sufficient to save all men, but only efficient to save those who believe. The Universalists attempt to make what is true only of all repentant believers to be factual for all mankind. Rather than the Biblical teaching of conditional salvation, they make it unconditional.

They will not accept the scriptural truth of eternal punishment for those who reject Christ as God’s only way for man’s salvation. Yet it is through Jesus Christ himself that we learn most clearly the doctrine of eternal retribution. Jesus told the people of His day, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” It is impossible for anyone to misinterpret this text, unless he or she is as crooked as a cork-screw.

John 3:16 is the one proof text that causes Universalism’s house to crumble. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." By the two texts just quoted we find that as long as there is an eternal Heaven for Christ’s own, there will be an everlasting Hell for those who reject Him. And both will be consciously aware, whether it be bliss or suffering.

God’s love for mankind ends at the grave; after that, the judgment!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Perplexity or Simplicity

One characteristic of most of us is that we are experts at complicating the simple. Perplexity is most certainly a part of life, but by no means is it the whole. The rule should be simplicity, with perplexity being the exception. I’m afraid the devil has won in many of our lives by getting us to be removed from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Our Lord dealt with some of life’s most difficult problems, but you will not find Him making them complex to the point of driving Him, or those around Him, to frustration. He always used sanctified reasoning; He started with the basic fundamental premise, and then worked toward the more problematic. In other words, He never used algebra for the answer to a problem, when simple math would do.

The old-time evangelist, Vance Havner, along with his wife, was traveling by bus to a revival meeting in the hills of Tennessee. While at a rest-stop at a little country store, his wife noticed from her window an old scrub-woman hanging up her wash at the house next to the store. She commented to her husband, “Vance, look at that dear old soul; she doesn’t know the rest of the world exists.” To which he replied, “Well for goodness sakes, don’t tell her!”

Profundity can fall under the category of simplicity; it need not be perplexing.

What Do You Say?

“But whom say ye that I am?” Jesus had just asked His disciples who men thought Him to be. Then He gets personal; He wants to know who they believe Him to be. After which Peter gives that great and famous confession, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” But the world had equated Him with their past and present religious leaders, just as cults, New Agers, and the false religions of our day do.

Jesus told Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed this truth unto him. But, did not his brother Andrew first tell him of the Christ immediately after he himself had met him? Yes, he had related Christ to him, but only God can reveal Christ to us. It is Christianity that receives revelation; all other religions reject Divine revelation. They attempt to deny and distort who Christ really is. They turn light to darkness, and become slaves to deities of their own making.

Christianity is first and foremost relational. It is not knowledge by description, but knowledge by relationship. As J.I. Packer puts it, “A Christian is someone who is constantly reaching out by faith to an invisible Christ.” He is the only one who can really help when those devastating earthquakes hit in our lives.

The Father must reveal the Son to us; and only the Son can reveal the Father!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Greater Love

There is much misunderstanding over Jesus’ telling His followers that except they hated their loved ones they could not be His disciples (Lk.14:26). This comes from not allowing the Word of God (A.V.1611) to be its own interpreter. In the O.T. we are told that Leah believed she was hated by her husband Jacob, but it was not in the way she imagined. We are told Jacob “…loved Rachel also ‘more’ than Leah.” That is, his love for Rachel so far exceeded his love for Leah that it seemed as though he hated her in comparison.

If you’re going to love God with all your being, then as Abraham of old, you are going to have to visit Mt. Moriah with that loved one who holds a place in your heart equal to God. With God, those two loves cannot co-exist. One must be sacrificed. If you do not, the much loved one you spare will keep you from doing God’s Will in your life. Apparently, Adam had this problem.

God sacrificed His Beloved for you; will you do the same for Him?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

*Jesus Slept

Our Lord was not only all God, He was all Man. Because of this latter truth, He was made like us in every point (sin excluded). And one of our physical necessities in this life is sleep. And so we are told Jesus got wearied in body and had to rest. He was also tired at the end of the day and needed to sleep. I was meditating recently on what He awoke to. What kind of days did He have to face? What were the conditions around Him in which He awoke each morning?

First of all, politically Rome was in power and was a government corrupt to the core; socially, class warfare was one of the top evils of His day; morally, permissiveness prevailed; there were no “Thou shalt nots”; spiritually, among the professing religious elite, it was all externals; and personally He awoke to long days, a hurting world, very little time to Himself, and the shadow of the Cross constantly falling upon His path.

Yet He could say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” How could any Godly person find delight in such depressing surroundings? The secret is found in the words “…within my heart.” Paul experienced similar circumstances as his Master, and he had also learned from Him, no doubt, how to face these insurmountable odds. Form a prison in Rome he wrote the Philippian Church, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” It was not something going on around Paul that caused him to rejoice, but something on the inside that brought about this exceeding joy.

Remember, “Jesus rejoiced in Spirit.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Body

“Now the body is... for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.” As I have often said, “We were made for each other.” It seems our bodies are the last thing we give to God, but it’s the first thing He wants.

We are like God’s people in Joseph’s day. We’ll give our money and material things before we relinquish to our heavenly Joseph our bodies. It takes a famine in our lives sometimes before we are willing to say, “…there is not aught left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies…”

Many Christians treat God as a tenant in His own house, instead of recognizing Him as the owner (1Cor. 6:19-20). Paul literally begged believers of his day to give their bodies to God. You would think this unnecessary considering what it cost Him to redeem them; but still the begging goes on.

Nowhere is depravity better seen, than when a little muddy man refuses to yield to his Maker and Master.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

*The Heart of the Matter

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Western Christianity has come to major on petty, outward things, while ignoring and considering to be minor, weightier internal matters. We give all our attention to scraped knees and neglect the cancer within. We are more concerned with temporary relief than permanent ruin.

The people addressed in our text lived good outward lives, and were active for God. They, like many today, believed that it mattered little whether one had faith or not, just as long as their conduct was right. “An evil heart of unbelief” was accepted among them if the outside of their cup was clean. They had departed from the living God, but continued going through the motions of living for Him.

The one sin that damns the lost, and destroys a believer’s life, was not an issue with them. And so it is with many professing Christians today. They hide “an evil heart of unbelief” behind a white vest of religion. They live their daily lives with no thought or need of Christ whatsoever. They are the masters of their own ships.

The Hebrews’ “evil hearts of unbelief” soon became “hard hearts.”