Why are Christians and Churches Caving in to Lies?

This guy pretty much says it all.  Not much need for me to add more.  I will, however add that I believe that the reason so many churches are caving in to the pressures of society and beginning to accept and participate in things like gay marriage is because it’s far easier to do that than to begin preaching Biblically.

They hear the cries of ‘foul’ from the culture saying “why do you only condemn homosexuality and not the rampant divorce rates and sexual immorality within the Church?  Why do you not deal with gluttony and covetousness??”  And these churches are seeing that they have a point, and instead of turning to Scripture and the preaching of the Truth on these things, they are giving in because they think, “If we start preaching from the Bible (against these things), we are going to scare off over half of our members.  We won’t have a youth group anymore because we know that most of them are sleeping around, and they would leave.  We have a lot of people who are getting divorced for far less that Biblical reasons and who are co-inhabiting with their significant other outside of marriage, so if we begin to preach that these things are wrong, we will lose a lot of our members.”

The sad reality is, they reveal that they don’t believe the Bible and they don’t trust God to take care of them for standing up for the Truth.  They are more afraid of losing numbers and money, so they begin preaching the false gospel of acceptance.  After all, we all struggle with sin and Jesus said not to judge, right?  They show their lack of knowledge of Scripture in failing to see that we are to make proper judgments about sin among those who name themselves believers.

We are, of course, supposed to speak the Truth in love and with gentleness and humility, but if we truly love God and others, we won’t allow them to continue to do things that grieve the heart of God and hurt themselves and others.  We are to encourage one another to love and good works, which is one of the main purposes of the Church.  The Church is for believers, not the world.  We are to go out into the world and change the world, not let the world’s philosophies come in and change the Church.  I pray God’s grace and mercy upon these churches who are caving to the demands of society and that He will continue to bring people out of these sinful lifestyles and into a glorious and freeing relationship with Him!

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Sin is Like AIDS (Another way to Explain the Gospel)

I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that Adam’s one sin ruined us all and made us all sinners.  It doesn’t seem fair does it?  I mean, one person ruled the fate of all mankind just by eating a piece of fruit?

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the sin committed by Adam was much worse than just eating a piece of fruit.  He wanted to be like God, which is why he gave in to the Serpent’s lie when he told them that they would be like God if they ate the fruit.  Adam was also supposed to be the protector of his wife and he just stood by as she was being tricked and then he took of the fruit himself.  Have you ever noticed that their eyes were not opened until after Adam ate of the fruit, even though he ate after Eve did?  Just something to think about.

I believe that God has helped me to see a better way to understand what happened in Eden and what is happening now with an illustration.  When Adam took on the disease of sin by taking of that fruit, he took on a disease that would spread to all of his offspring.

We are facing a disease today that is very similar to the disease of sin.  AIDS is a result of sexual immorality and generally is contracted when sexual immorality takes place.  The disease is often spread to the sexual partner, and in most if not all cases, to the offspring.  Now wait a minute, that baby didn’t have sex outside of marriage did it?  And yet it contracted AIDS because of it’s father’s choice.  That is just like us.  We may not have been there in the garden of Eden to choose to disobey God, but the disease of sin was spread to us because of the nature of what sin is.

AdamSin

We are all born with the disease called sin, and are hopelessly and terminally ill with it.  For some people, its symptoms are very mild and it does not show itself very often.  For others, the symptoms are very strong.  The point is, the symptoms of sin are different for everyone and the severity of the symptoms is different, but the fact of the matter is, we are ALL, every single person on this earth, born with the terminal disease of sin and without hope of a cure on our own.  And if we are not cured of it, we will die of it.  The only way to be cured of it is by a miracle.

The only person who can do any kind of real miracle, especially of this magnitude is God.  Why would God help us when we have chosen to consistently turn our backs on Him?  Because He is full of grace.  He came down to earth as a man who had no earthly father to pass the disease of sin on to Him because God is His Father.  He was born without the disease of sin, lived His life completely perfectly without the disease of sin, and yet died as a result of the effects of the disease of sin in everyone else even though He didn’t ever show a single symptom of the disease of sin.

Christ has died

Then He rose from the dead so that He can save those who have died because of the disease of sin.  He holds the only cure for this awful fatal disease and offers this cure for anyone who wants it.  The problem is, most people don’t realize their need for the cure.  Many think they don’t even have a disease that needs curing, or don’t think they have the disease badly enough to need a cure.  Now, we all know that the first step to being cured of a disease is acknowledging that we have a disease that needs to be cured, that we need help.  But most people are too blind to see that.

He is Risen

But for those who do acknowledge that they have a terminal disease that they have no hope of curing themselves and who ask God to cure them of that disease, He answers and gives them the cure.  He sees them as healthy as Jesus, who lived without sin and who died as a result of sin and rose from the dead.  God gives them the hope that they will also rise from the dead one day to live forever without the awful disease of sin.

The sad reality is, the world would rather flaunt their symptoms and try to force everyone to believe that they aren’t sick or that it’s ok to be sick since everyone is sick rather than seeking the cure for their sickness.  And they will die of their disease and be forever separated from the Holy and Righteous God Who has the only cure for the disease of sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Without Christ, no one is cured of sin.  Just like with AIDS, no matter how healthily you choose to live or what good choices you make, it cannot be cured but by the miracle that God provided through Jesus Christ.

I realize that this is not a perfect way to explain the Gospel, but I believe that the essential message of the Gospel is included and that this is another way to explain the Gospel to others in a way that can help them understand the seriousness of sin and the amazing Grace of God.  Be encouraged!  There is hope!  Grace, love and peace!

How is Jesus Greater than Adam if All are not Saved?

Romans 5:18-19 can seem like a tricky passage.  (18 Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.) When one is reading it, it seems to have contradicting ideas if not read carefully and with context in mind.  As always, context is king.  In this passage Jesus and Adam are contrasted as types of each other and each one’s actions bear a consequence, one good and one bad (this is a major understatement). 🙂

 

AdamandChrist*cheesy photo perhaps, but this is the picture that Scripture seem to paint.

 

The passage from verses 12-21 of chapter 5 (just to gain a bit of context) begins by stating that sin came into the world and therefore death followed, because of one man, Adam.  The entire human race, every single person who would live after Adam is counted as having sinned with him.  The one command God gave was broken, and even though there was no law given, sin and death still reigned because death is the result of sin and everyone dies.  There is no escape from physical death for anyone.  So even though people may not have been disobeying direct commands of God before the law was given, they were still sinning, just not in the sense of disobeying a direct command like Adam did.

 

Then comes Christ.  Christ’s act of a lifetime of perfect obedience and an obedience that led to His death, and of course, His resurrection, brought about not only a reversal of the curse to restore people to their original created state, but to give them God’s righteousness and a share of His eternal glory (Hebrews 2:10-11).  John MacArthur, in his commentary on Romans, makes a good point.  He says, “It might be said that Adam’s sinful act, devastating as it was, had but a one-dimensional effect-it brought death to everyone.  But the effect of Christ’s redemptive act has facets beyond measure, because He not only restores man to spiritual life but gives him the very life of God.”

He also says later, “Jesus Christ broke the power of sin and death, but the converse is not true.  Sin and death cannot break the power of Jesus Christ.  The condemnation of Adam’s sin is reversible, the redemption of Jesus Christ is not.  The effect of Adam’s act is permanent ONLY if not nullified by Christ (emphasis added).  The effect of Christ’s act, however, is permanent for believing individuals and not subject to reversal or nullification.  We have the great assurance that once we are in Jesus Christ, we are in Him forever.”

One last brilliant quote from MacArthur and I’ll move on.  “It was the one sin by the one man at the one time that brought God’s judgment and its resulting condemnation.  But the gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ is not like that.  God’s judgment on Adam and his posterity arose from but one transgression.  On the other hand, however, the free gift arose not simply because of that single transgression but from MANY transgressions, and its result is not simply RESTORATION but JUSTIFICATION (capitalized emphases added).

 

Why then are verses 18-19 so tricky?  (18 Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.)

At first glance, verse 18 seems to be suggesting that all will be saved and verse 19 seems to suggest that not everyone was made a sinner by using the word “many.” But as I said earlier, context is king.  Paul, and the rest of Scripture have already established that all are sinners.  And we know that not all will be saved by the plethora of Scriptures that tell us that those who do not receive the gift of salvation will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will receive everlasting punishment.  I could give an exhaustive list of Scriptures to back that point up, but I feel that that is unnecessary.

Therefore, we must conclude that when verse 18 says “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men,” it means that justification and life are made available to all men, not that all receive that justification and life.  John Calvin explains it quite well.  He says, “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.”

 

Book of Romans

 

Verse 19 emphasizes the meaning of verse 18.  In most translations, even in the Young’s Literal Translation, which is a favored translation among those who teach universalism, the article ‘the’ is placed before the word ‘many.’ Most commentators conclude that ‘the many’ in verse 19 (“…the many were made sinners…” v. 19) refers to everyone, while “the many” who are “made righteous” refers only to believers.  While I believe that this is a logical conclusion and don’t disagree, I think that ‘the many’ likely refers to believers only in both instances.  I believe that “the many” refers to those mentioned in verse 17 “…who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness…”

 

It is true is it not, that all believers were made sinners as much as everyone else?  The only difference is, they will be and already have been made righteous by Christ’s act of obedience.  Everyone else is trying to make themselves righteous by relying on their own “goodness,” but we know that no one can make themselves righteous.  Only God can make one righteous through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ by His grace.

 

Many have already died (spiritually, because we already know that everyone dies physically whether they are saved or not), but many have also been made alive (spiritually) by the free gift of God by the grace of Christ (v. 15).  And not only that, but those who are made alive are not merely restored to the way humans were originally created, they are given the righteousness and glory of God!

THAT is how Jesus is greater than Adam, even though not all will be saved!  Salvation is offered to all, but is only effective to those who receive it.

JesusgreaterthanAdam  *This is true for the believer who has put on Christ’s righteousness, but not for those who remain in Adam.

 

I can’t pretend I know all about this.  Salvation seems like a simple concept, but when we look more deeply into it, it is more complicated than we think it is.  We cannot fully understand many things about God.  But as my friend Johnny Mac says, “…when we cannot understand the Lord’s ways, we must avoid the quicksand of human reason and stand in faith on the rock of God’s righteous character.” (I know I said I was done with Johnny Mac quotes, but had to throw this one in; sorry not sorry! 😉 )

Faith Cannot Save You…

There are many theories out there about what is required of people to attain salvation.  Some believe that you have to perform religious rites and rituals such as be baptized, take the Lord’s Supper, be a good person, give money to a church or other religious institution, etc, etc.  Others believe that all you have to do is have faith.  Just say you believe certain things, say a prayer, sign a card and you’re good.  These are just a few of many different thoughts on what makes one right with God.  But what if I told you that I don’t think any of these things has any sort of power to save?  No, not even faith.  Not in and of itself anyway.  I’ll explain that in a bit.

First, I want to address the idea that works and religious ceremony can save a person.  The main passage of Scripture that comes to mind for me is Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” I believe this same concept can be found in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5.  Jesus had just told Nicodemus that he had to be born again to be saved.  Nicodemus asks, “How can anyone be born when they are old?  Can they enter a second time into their mother’s womb and be born?” So Jesus essentially says, “Let me give you another hint.” Then in verse 5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water (the washing of regeneration, not physical birth nor baptism) and the Spirit (Renewal of the Holy Spirit obviously), they cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” In other words, Jesus was saying that there is no kind of work you can do to be saved.  Salvation is all the work of God.

 blog Baptism

Some believe that “washing of regeneration” refers to being baptized.  But then that would mean that baptism is a required work before salvation.  These same people use the idea of circumcision to back up their point.  In the Old Testament, God required the Jews to be circumcised as a sign of their separation as His people.  But Paul refuted the idea that circumcision saved people in Romans 4:9-17.  He made the point that Abraham was considered righteous on the basis of his faith before he was circumcised AND before there was even any law to abide by.  The law didn’t come about until Moses’ time which would have been approximately 500 years after Abraham’s time.  Just for fun, and to make my point, I am going to write out the passage below and replace the word “circumcised” with the word “baptized.”  I’ll only use 4:9-13.

Is this blessing upon the baptized, or upon the unbaptized also?  For we say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned?  While (after) he was baptized or (before he was) baptized?  Not while (after) baptized, but (before he was) baptized; and he received the sign of baptism, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had before he was baptized, that he might be the father of all who believe without being baptized, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of baptism to those who not only are of the baptism, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had before he was baptized.  For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

To sum it all up, I believe that John MacArthur made a great point that is a bit shorter.  He said, “For the Jew, Passover is a collective symbol of deliverance and circumcision is an individual symbol of justification.  For the Christian, communion is the collective corporate symbol of our relationship to Christ; baptism is the individual symbol of it.”  These things are just symbols of, not requirements for, salvation.

Now what about faith?  Faith is great.  By grace alone through faith alone can we be saved.  But did you notice which comes first?  Grace.  Grace is what truly saves, and the only kind of grace that can save is God’s grace.  Grace is what gives us faith.  Grace is a gift of God, but so is faith.  Although the picture may be a bit cheesy, the quote on the picture below is what really grabbed my attention.

Blog Faith

John MacArthur once again made a really great point in his commentary on Romans about Abraham’s faith.  He says, “It was not the greatness of Abraham’s faith that saved him but the greatness of the gracious Lord in whom he placed his faith.  Faith is never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel through which God works His redeeming grace.  Faith is simply a convicted heart reaching out to receive God’s free and unmerited gift of salvation.”  He continues, “Although faith is required for salvation, it has no power in itself to save.  It is the power of God’s redemptive grace alone, working through the atoning work of His Son on the cross, that has power to save.  Faith is NOT, as some claim, a type of work.” (emphasis added)  Can I get an AMEN??  😛

I think that some people do have “faith in faith,” in other words they think that if faith is strong enough, it will save.  But what does James say about this?  He says, “You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe-and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’- and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:19-23).

The point James is trying to make is that if your faith does not move you into action, or is not accompanied by works, it is not real faith.  It is dead faith.  Likewise, good works, by themselves are useless.  (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 which bears the idea that love is characterized by self-sacrifice, but not all self-sacrifice is an act of love.)  You cannot have one without the other.  If I say that I believe that a chair is going to hold me up if I sit in it, but I refuse to sit in it, I will never be able to prove that my faith is real, because it is likely not real.  The works fulfill the faith, but these works and this faith can only come by the grace of God, which alone can truly save.

I sincerely hope that this was encouraging to some and challenging for some.  But most importantly, I hope that the truth has been spoken in love.  I understand that I don’t always have everything right, and as always, I invite anyone who wishes to add encouragement or ask questions and converse about these things.  Grace, peace and love to all through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why do I Believe this Stuff Anyway?

Having posted several blogs on this sight, I’ve come to the realization that I have never shared my testimony.  I have not shared where I come from, why I believe what I believe or what led me to where I am today.

 

I grew up in a Christian home.  My parents are Christians and most of my family are as well.  Image

 

My parents, brothers, and my grandparents and uncle on my mom’s side.

We went to church all the time, so I grew up hearing the Gospel and memorizing Bible verses.  I remember when I made the decision to follow Jesus with all my heart.  I was six years old at the time, and my mom and I were talking in my room one night about how when Jesus comes to live your heart (that’s the best way to describe it to a young child), he washes your sin away and makes you right with God.  Baptism does not save you, it just shows the rest of the Church that you are all in; that you are identifying with them and most importantly, with Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

So that night, I prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior.  I was baptized shortly after, and then I kind of left it at that.  I was still a bratty little kid, but I do believe that I was truly saved at that time.  I did go through some times of doubt and prayed the “sinner’s prayer” a few more times for good measure when I was feeling especially bad.  

 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have a whole lot against the “sinner’s prayer” other than that it is often abused and may not be something that is actually coming from a person’s heart.  If someone does not understand their need to repent and turn from sin, they should not be forced to repeat words that they don’t mean.  Now I wouldn’t encourage throwing the prayer completely out, but I most certainly wouldn’t encourage using it as the sole means by determining someone’s salvation.  It can and often has been just empty words that someone is saying so that they can have “fire insurance” (a Get Out of Hell Free card) and continue to live however they want to.  I definitely bought into this attitude for quite some time.  I figured it didn’t matter how someone lived, including myself, as long as they had prayed the prayer of salvation, they were good to go.  I didn’t discover the danger of this way of thinking for many years.

 

As I grew into adolescence, I began to live a double life.  At home and on Sundays, I was usually a good Christian boy, except at home, I wasn’t very nice to my brothers.  I knew a lot about the Bible and memorized a ton of verses, so I definitely knew the Truth.  But at school, I tried to be one of the “cool” kids.  It didn’t work at all, and people were really confused a lot about who I really was, including myself.  Sometimes, I tried to do the Christian thing at school, but other times, I acted worse than a lot of people.  I didn’t get into a ton of trouble at school, but I certainly did not live what I believed.  Image

 

That is, until the summer after my 10th grade year when I went on my first mission trip to Mexico.  It was there that I felt like mission work was what I wanted to do with my life.  I just needed the opportunity to change the way I lived outside of home and church.  That opportunity came when my parents announced that we were going to be moving to a new school district.  At first, I hated them for it, because I was being taken out of my comfort zone, but I quickly realized that if I couldn’t handle a simple move to another school (we were still going to go to the same church and live in the same area), how was I going to handle moving to an entirely different country?

To be continued…Part 2 coming soon

For the Christi…

For the Christian, true tolerance is co-existing with unbelievers and agreeing to disagree with their beliefs and lifestyles. This can produce friendships, and we can continually pray for God to reveal Himself to them through our life. But for us to affirm their beliefs and lifestyles is showing no love to them at all, but is certainly pushing them further down the path that ends in eternal destruction.

My thought of the week from the wisdom that God has granted me.