Authority vs. Empathy

October 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Question: People always use that same Bible verse when saying homosexuality is a sin. Is that the only place that addresses the topic? What is the context of it? Having memorized the 10 Commandments in Catholic school, I know they don’t address homosexuality. I don’t think homosexuality should be called sinful because I empathize with people who aren’t hurting anyone. I understand that for a gay man the thought of being with a woman is disgusting, and that, for him, being with a man feels normal. So what should a gay person do? And when gay people fall in love and have sex what do you think will happen to them?

Response: You say: “People always use that same Bible verse when saying homosexuality is a sin.” I’m not sure what people you’re referring to who always use the same verse. There tends to be a big difference between real-life face-to-face discussion and internet polemics, but I’m assuming you mean Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. I’m only assuming that because you listed some of the other things that Leviticus elsewhere prohibits, which have to do with clothing and unclean foods and tattoos and beard-grooming and so forth. As I stated before, dietary, grooming, clothing, and things having to do with hygiene and tabernacle worship were specific as to time and place and location. The moral laws – against things like lying and stealing and cheating and adultery and fornication (including homosexual activity) and bestiality and incest and dishonoring your parents and murder – were of a different nature, and are reiterated as being sinful in the New Testament. Romans 1:20-32 are especially graphic and clear on this topic, along with I Corinthians 6:9-10. Anyway, those are some, but not all, of the passages that address the topic – which was one of your questions – so I hope that helps. But I can elaborate more if you’d like.

You say: “Having memorized the 10 Commandments in Catholic school, I know they don’t address homosexuality.” Actually the 7th Commandment (prohibiting adultery) does. The Bible’s definition of adultery would include having sex with anyone outside of your own marriage, and the Bible’s definition of marriage is what people are now calling “traditional marriage.” In other words, people of opposite genders – you know, male husband and female wife (readers are free to hurl epithets such as bigot and Bible-thumper at me for saying that, but that is what the Bible teaches). Your Catholic school teachers – sorry to be critical of them when they’re not here to defend themselves – may have taught the 10 Commandments merely as a list of rules to follow, which is a common mistake, rather than as a mirror in which we can look and see how truly wicked we are, despite our smug feelings about our own goodness, so that we can then humble ourselves before our kind and loving Maker and admit we need His Son. And that is a great segue into another one of your questions!

You say: “So what should a gay person do? And when gay people fall in love and have sex what do you think will happen to them?” That question is begging me to be all “preachy,” which people typically can’t stand, especially when I’m not in their shoes, but, since you asked, I’ll tell what the Bible says about it. A gay person who truly repents and trusts and receives the Savior, is “born again” (John 3:3-7). The Bible describes this in different ways. It means an “ontological” change – a change in the essence of who you are on the inside. You get a new “heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). It makes you a “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). You no longer love sin more than God. The sinful stuff you used to love, you begin to hate. You still struggle with desires and sinful tendencies but now God’s Spirit will live in you, and will remind you of the love of Jesus who shed His blood for your soul, and you will want to please Him more than satisfy those desires and tendencies, and they will be replaced by new passions. Some people fake it for money or parental approval or whatever, but Jesus – the only One ever to get up from the dead by His Own power – certainly has the power to transform a kleptomaniac, a heroin addict, a compulsive liar, a prideful jerk, a Satan-worshiper, a womanizing sleazebag, a person who likes to have gay sex, someone who self-righteously thinks he’s a good person – even IRS agents, lawyers, and those awful Westboro fake-Baptists!

One more thing. You say: “I empathize with people who aren’t hurting anyone.” I think by this you mean that your own personal moral compass points to murderers and thieves as being “bad” because their sins hurt others, but that gay people aren’t hurting anyone by having gay sex, so your personal moral compass departs from God’s right around that point? Tell me if I’m wrong, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I hear that line of thinking a lot. It sounds good – except: all sinners – all those who break God’s moral laws – are hurting someone. They are hurting the very God who is causing their hearts to beat, Who gave them life, Who is giving us air and food and water and children and families and friends and jobs and homes and brains that could be used to glorify Him rather than defy Him, and Who proved His love by giving up His Son for the people who hated Him. I know it sounds mean, and I know that few people will want to hear it, but no one has ever been kinder to us than Jesus. If He forbids us some things, even if we don’t fully understand why, and if He promises to change us so that we don’t want those things any more anyway, and if He’s really in charge of eternity – which He demonstrated by rising from the grave – then it is perfectly reasonable and right to do what He says.

Douglas Wilson on Why We Must S.W.I.M.

October 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There are Christians who say that we ought not protest abortion, but rather preach the gospel. We ought not to oppose the official degradation of marriage, but rather preach the gospel. That is like training lifeguards to rescue people without any references to water. That is like watching millions of people drowning in the same ocean, and holding pep rallies on the beach.

And this brings us back to the point about story. The old stories train us to recognize scribes who speak with no authority, lifeguards who never swim out to anybody, cancer surgeons who are scared of scalpels, firemen who never jump on a truck, jet pilots who never scramble, guardians who will not guard, and gospel preachers who keep muttering peace, peace, when there is no peace.

Douglas Wilson

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Jude v. 23

Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity

February 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Professing Atheist: It’s odd that you think quoting the Bible would sway unbelievers.

Christian: You may not like it, but it’s not “odd” at all. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16), and we have seen many unbelievers swayed by its truth.

Professing Atheist: What “truth” are you referring to?

Christian: The Bible itself and Jesus Himself, Who is THE Truth (John 14:6). You’ve never met anyone who started out rejecting it, read it, and then changed his/her mind? Let me help you find a Christian church to visit.

Professing Atheist: No thanks. Been there, done that. It took me 40 years of belonging to a Charismatic church to realize it was nonsense.

Christian: You should try another church – a non-Charismatic evangelical church. If it was a typical Charismatic church, you may be like the unbelievers described in I Corinthians 14:23-25.

Professing Atheist: Those are Paul’s words, and they are not relative to me.

Christian: You mean “relevant,” but they are relevant to you, because they are not just Paul’s words, they are the Holy Spirit’s words, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God is your Creator and your Judge.

Professing Atheist: Most Christians are taught or told that the Bible is true before they ever read or have time to evaluate its claims.

Christian: That doesn’t make it odd for Christians to quote it to unbelievers. You are assuming that “most” haven’t evaluated it, but, even if that’s true, by your own admission, others have read it and have been convinced of its truth afterward.

Professing Atheist: Do you ever take into consideration that there are probably more that reject than believe?

Christian: Of course. The Bible says that many reject (Matthew 7:13-14). It doesn’t say that all reject.

Professing Atheist: The Bible is a book of claims. I reject its claims for lack of conclusive evidence.

Christian: There’s no conclusive evidence that you reject it for that reason. I reject your claim that you reject it for that reason.

Professing Atheist: You’re just playing semantic games. The fact that I said I reject it is evidence that I reject it. That’s my conclusive evidence.

Christian: That’s the point. It’s “your” evidence (Judges 17:6) so you’ve subjectively labeled it as “conclusive.” And your “evidence” is just a self-assertion. It shows that you have a double standard. You don’t reject the Bible as true. You just don’t like it (Romans 1:18).

Professing Atheist: Do you think cherry picking Bible verses will somehow convince me?

Christian: The Holy Spirit may or may not use them to convict you or convince you, but, if you think they are being used out of context, I honestly hope that you will look them up and read them in context.

Professing Atheist: I reject the Bible’s claims, but I do like reading its fictitious stories.

Christian: Try to be consistent. You were pretending earlier that you were persuaded by “conclusive” evidence. There’s no conclusive evidence that the stories in the Bible are fictitious. In fact, the definition of “fiction” is a work where the author does not claim
its truthfulness. The Bible definitely asserts its own truthfulness. And you know deep down that what it says matters.

Professing Atheist: I know it matters? Nice assumption.

Christian: That’s why you’re driven to discuss it. The fact of this conversation proves that you know it matters.

Worship in Faith

February 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

The doctrine of faith as the doorway to salvation did not originate in the New Testament.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11

However, the New Testament clearly refutes the false belief that keeping God’s law can save.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38

So, what about after salvation? We are saved through faith, but how do we please God after He saves us?

Faith is the means of salvation because God has declared that by faith will man be justified. “The just” are those whom God, by His grace, has declared righteous, and who, therefore, have a perfect standing before Him in Christ Jesus. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t – it put Habakkuk right into a spirit of worship. How I wish that modern Christians didn’t have such a tendency to surrender their brains to their feelings in worship!

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2

Dear Lord, the basis for our worship is Your Word. We fear You, Lord. Your Word has convicted us where we stand – and we admit it. We want a revival – not of wordly “success” – but Your work. Even if not right now, but in the midst of years – in Your time. We trust You – we even trust Your wrath. We call on You to remember mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of Who You are. Keep Your promises, O God. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive)

April 28, 2014 at 11:03 am | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last time we examined:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will see:

2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

This may sound contradictory, because in the previous lesson I said that the Commandments were freeing, and now I’m saying they’re restrictive, but we have to remember that God’s laws are not just for Christians. They are for everyone – even the people that don’t love Him and the people who don’t want to know Him. The Ten Commandments do not have the power to stop anyone from breaking them, but they do remind sinners that there are rules – and that there are consequences for breaking those rules.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 1:18

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:32

Sinners break God’s law, but they break it less when it is there to restrain them. This purpose is sometimes called the “restraining” purpose of the Commandments, because, if they are upheld by society, they help to restrain unbelievers from hindering the Gospel.

Most crimes occur under the influence of the flesh or the devil, but some crimes are deterred because of the threat of punishment, and there must be clear commands against wrong-doing if punishment is to be prescribed for the breaking of those commands. If a society bases it’s laws on the Ten Commandments, that society will not be holy, because society is made up of sinners. But that society will have a government where it is safer to preach the Gospel.

Next time we will look at the reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments.

Outer Darkness and Inner Darkness

February 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Exodus | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

Exodus 10:3

There was never any doubt about Pharaoh’s humility from Heaven’s perspective. It would come to pass. The question from Moses’s perspective was, “Would it be the easy way or the hard way?” The demand that they be allowed to “serve” was the same as a demand that they be allowed to “worship.”

Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

Exodus 10:4-5

This locust plague would be even worse than the plague of hail: these locusts would be animated. They affected the Egyptians only, and they exposed the false goddess Isis.

And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

Exodus 10:6-7

Pharaoh’s servants asked a pretty bold question to someone who was supposed to be a supreme ruler, but times were desperate. They saw what Pharaoh could not – or would not – see.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Exodus 10:21-23

The plague of darkness affected the Egyptians only. It exposed the false god Re – the so-called sun god. This was the worst plague yet. It was total darkness – darkness that was palpable, debilitating, and depressing. It didn’t just affect the quality of life in Egypt – it put life at a standstill. Liberal scholars will claim that it was really an eclipse or a sandstorm, but this was truly a supernatural phenomenon, and it illustrated that a hardened heart is a darkened heart.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:21-25

Overcoming Shame

November 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Mark, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16 (emphasis added)

The Apostle Paul made a point of stating that he was not ashamed of the Gospel. Why would the Holy Spirit have him say this? Why would you go out of your way to tell someone that you are not ashamed? No one says, I am not ashamed to dunk a basketball, to score a touchdown, or to hit a home run. No one would be ashamed to say that he is the most popular person in his group of friends. He might be humble about it, but he wouldn’t be ashamed. But for some reason there is a tendency to be ashamed when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul realized this, and they wanted us to know that it is a tendency which must be overcome.

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Mark 8:38

Here are three things which might make you ashamed of the Gospel:

1. You don’t know it.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15.

There’s a word for people who talk about things they don’t know anything about: agnostic. Agnostic is from the ancient Greek language, and it means without (a) knowledge (gnostic). When it comes to the existence of God, many people proudly proclaim themselves “agnostic,” when they would be better off using the Latin form, “ignoramus.” If you claim to be a Christian, don’t be a Gospel ignoramus. Learn it. Study it. Think about it. Live it. Then you won’t be ashamed to talk about it.

2. You don’t love it.

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

II Timothy 2:8-10.

If I showed up at a social function with really bad breath, and someone was kind enough to give me a mint, I would try to thank them for it. I might even mention it to my wife or a friend afterwards, but I’m afraid it would raise my esteem for the person only slightly. However, if the doctor told me my heart was about to stop working, and without a new one I would die, and then someone gave me his heart so I could live, I don’t think I could stop extolling the praises of that person. Why not? Because such an act of self-sacrificial giving would make me love him.

You can see the practicality of this principle at work all the time. Nobody has to twist your arm to talk about your children or your grandchildren, or that game-winning home run you hit way back in high school, or that blockbuster movie you saw last weekend. We talk about who or what we love. It just comes naturally. We need to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the ways to love it more is to remember the price of your forgiveness and how bad you and I needed that forgiveness. It’s the greatest story ever told, and, through it, you can have a new heart and everlasting life.

3. You don’t believe it.

This is the one that frightens me the most. I’m not saying that everyone who doesn’t evangelize the way we should is not really saved. But I am saying that if you have truly believed the Gospel unto salvation, then you have to realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best thing that has ever happened. And it is true. Jesus Himself said, “…repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) If you believe it, you must tell others who need to hear it – even if it makes you (and them) uncomfortable.

Born Which Way?

February 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If you claim to be a Christian, how do you answer this question: “Are some people born gay?” Shockingly, more and more professing Christians these days are starting to answer that question in the affirmative. How can this be? Here are some of the foolish reasons that I have heard professing Christians use to support the belief that some people are born to be homosexuals:

1. “I have a gay brother/sister/cousin/parent/child/close friend/loved one/family member, etc., and I know this person really well, and he/she is a good person, and I can promise you, he/she did not ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay.”
2. “Gay people are persecuted and ridiculed and bullied into committing suicide. Why in the world would anyone ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay?!”
3. “People like Ellen and Elton and Rosie and [insert famous gay-celebrity-of-the-week here] are all gay and they are really brave and stand up for what they believe and they give lots of money to good causes and they are very famous and talented, so if they say they – and others – are born gay, they have to be right.”

Now, these statements are indicative of the type of unbiblical, irrational thinking you would expect from non-Christians. But, if you are a Christian, presumably you believe the Bible is right even if it contradicts the opinions of the people you love or the really popular famous people or even your own “common sense” ideas. So, at the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, draconian fundamentalist, let’s actually look at what the Bible – God’s perfect, inerrant, infallible, inspired Word – has to say about homosexuality and those who practice it:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

I Corinthians 6:9, emphasis added

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Romans 1:26-27

Wow. I suppose God could place a stamp on the forehead of every child who comes forth out of his or her mother’s womb that says, “I was not created by God to be a homosexual.” But I don’t think even that would be as clear as the Verses cited above. God considers all human sexual relations – except for those between a male husband and female wife within their own marriage – to be sinful. Sexual relations outside of a real God-recognized marriage are called adultery and fornication. He considers sexual relations between people of the same gender to be sinful abominations. He created marriage and He defined it. There is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” He hates the sin of homosexuality. God cannot sin. He is not the author of sin. He has never made a human being who can or could legitimately blame God for “making” him or her a homosexual. It’s just that clear.

I am aware that there have been some people recently in the professing Christian church who would try to twist the Scriptures and claim that God is not clear about homosexuality, but you don’t have to “interpret” those Verses to get the point. You just have to read them. Any argument that says that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality is what the theologian R.C. Sproul calls “an exegesis of desperation.” It is disingenuous and it is not rational.

As human beings we have inherited a sinful nature from our forefather, Adam – the first man to sin against God (Romans 5:12). Therefore, we have a predisposition to sin – each and every one of us. So from our first moments of willful consciousness we begin doing things like lying and stealing and being greedy and being disobedient and being selfish. And some people go on to be things like extortioners and kidnappers and child molesters and arsonists and murderers and rapists and practitioners of homosexuality. In that sense only can anyone be said to have been “born gay.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

We are born with a predisposition to sin, but we “choose” every sin we commit, just like the gay person “chooses” to commit or fantasize about acts of homosexuality. It’s not an “alternative lifestyle.” It’s not a “celebration of diversity.” It’s not a “right.” It’s a choice and it’s a sin. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for those who commit it and other sins. You can be forgiven for it and set free from it, if you repent and trust in Him, believing the Gospel.

If you are a Christian, you are not doing anyone a favor by “supporting” a gay celebrity or trying to justify the sin of homosexuality. If you love gay people – and all Christians are commanded to love gay people and all sinners – then you must tell the Truth. Lying to sinners about their sin is one of the worst kinds of hatred.

I realize that you may not be used to this type of plain speaking. It probably sounds “intolerant” to you. But if you believe that some people are “born gay,” then you have no logical grounds for being critical of my intolerance. After all, if our genetic make-up is to blame for our sin, then why couldn’t Jeffrey Dahmer have been “born a serial killer?” Why couldn’t Hitler have been “born a mass murderer?” Why couldn’t Bin Laden have been “born a terrorist?” And how do you know that I wasn’t “born intolerant of gay people?” If you’re tempted to excuse or support sin, at least try to be consistent. But if we claim to be Christians, we are far better off getting our opinions from God than from a daytime TV talk-show host.

Therefore and Wherefore

June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am | Posted in Romans | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Romans 11:32

All have sinned and come short (Romans 3:23). All are included so that “all” can be saved. Everyone is included in those to whom we should preach the Gospel. If we say that there is no use in giving the Gospel message to some, we are denying our faith in God. It’s just as wrong to exclude the highly esteemed as it is the pariahs of society. To whom should you preach the Gospel?
-criminals?
-child molesters?
-child abusers?
-murderers?
-hard-working “honest” folks?
-your mom and dad?
-your brother and sister?
-famous people?
-CEOs?
-Sunday School teachers?
-Preachers?

No one can be excluded. Don’t deny the power of the Gospel. Don’t be ashamed.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.)

Romans 1:16

Romans Chapter 11 ends with a praise song.

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:32-36

Romans Chapter 12 begins with a “therefore.”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 (emphasis added)

I was taught that when you see a “therefore” in the Bible, you should always look and see what it’s “there for.” What has come before Chapter 12 in Romans:

1. Gentiles are sinners.

2. Jewish people are sinners.

3. Salvation is through faith.

4. God has not forgotten Israel.

5. Concern for Israel has practical applications for our lives.
a. Christians are to provoke non-Christians to jealousy.
b. Christians should be concerned for their “kinsmen.”
c. Christians should not be proud because God has chosen to save them.

6. Christians can be victorious in the battle of the flesh and sin against the Spirit.

One of my personal favorite lessons from the Book of Romans up to this point is that where sin did abound, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). That is very inspirational to me.

The “therefore” in Romans 12:1 is “there for” showing us that, now, taking into account all that we have learned in Chapters 1-11 (how to “get right” with God, and how to be concerned that others “get right” with God), we must practically apply these things, and “live right.”

The Bookends of Faith (Part 4)

January 24, 2011 at 10:24 am | Posted in The Bookends of Faith | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Bookends of Faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ: The first and last of the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John

Previously, we noted that believers on the True Vine must abide in order to bear fruit – there is responsibility involved. “Abide” means “to take up residence in” – to “remain.” Abiding is something we must do intentionally.

The first step in successfully abiding is to admit that we branches can do nothing without the Vine.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5, emphasis added

Our relationship to the True Vine is not “symbiotic.” It’s not that Jesus gets something from us and we get something from Him. He needs nothing at all from us, and we will bear no fruit on our own. We must understand our weakness and confess our need for His strength.

He is the True Vine. We are the branches. God is the Husbandman (Vinedresser.) God is the One Who prunes – or purges. All branches want to be fruitful, but few want to be pruned. Pruning involves cutting, clearing, and cleaning.

Clearing: Some branches have parts that drag them down. We have worldly concerns and interests that weigh us down.

Cleaning: Some branches have diseases or pests. We have addictions and predilections that we brought from our old life before we were saved. Even believers can get dirty in sin.

Cutting: Some branches have dead parts. These parts are sucking some of the sap away but producing very little fruit. It is is not enough just to cut away the dead part itself. Some of the living part must be cut off also. The dead part is cut away to maintain health. The living part is cut away to stimulate growth. In fact, pruning is proof of abiding.

The proofs of abiding: pruning and producing (producing fruit).

Here are some examples of producing good fruit:

1. Answered prayer

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:7

2. Deeper love for Christ

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

John 15:9

3. Deeper love for other Christians

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:12

4. Joy

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

John 15:11

Notice the progression:

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:2, emphasis added

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5, emphasis added

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

John 15:8, emphasis added

The progression is from “no fruit” to “fruit” to “more fruit” to “much fruit.” This fruit – answered prayers and deeper love in our hearts – is fruit that we enjoy – and it is good fruit. But, remember, fruit isn’t produced so that the branches themselves can consume it. It is produced for others.

Fruit produced for others is a more mature, better kind of fruit:

1. Holiness and obedience

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 6:22

2. Soulwinning

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Romans 1:13

3. A dedicated life

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Romans 15:28

4. Christian character

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

True spiritual fruit tastes good, is good (for you), and looks good.

5. Good works

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Colossians 1:10

6. Praise to God

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Hebrews 13:5

Next time, we will look at yet another proof that you are abiding.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.