Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dealing With Those Who Do Wrong

"Brethern, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Galatians 6:1

Paul leaves no doubt that some Christians will get caught up in sin with this verse. Truly spiritual men will recognize their susceptibility to temptation themselves. As a result, their method of dealing with him will not be from a position of superiority, but in humility.

He instructs Timothy about the same thing in II Timothy 2:24-26. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

The previous verses deal with both doctrinal error and physical sin. As a servant of God, we are not to be pugnacious. I remember those who used to brag of being fighting fundamentalists. Paul specifically forbids such an attitude.

When I was in High School, Dad bought an old donkey named Jenny. Jenny was some what slow moving, but amazingly careful to protect us kids. Other mounts would charge through gates and around corners and I had had my knee banged very badly by a horse cutting too close to a tree at a run. The knee still causes me trouble.

Whenever she thought there was danger of a leg or pack hitting something, Jenny would stop and very carefully work her way through, making sure that no contact was made, even when it caused her pain.

This is the meaning of the word gentle when Paul says a man of God must be gentle unto all men. We must go out of our way to prevent hurt to others, even if it causes ourselves to suffer distress to do so. To thrust them out of the church immediately, or publicly rebuke or humiliate them, rather than trying to restore them is deliberate disobedience to God's command. Many times those who err are hotly condemned, even though God forbids such an approach.

The goal is to teach them the proper way, patiently and meekly instructing them. Not in pride attacking them or offending them by our way of handling the situation. Many times Church discipline is used as a way of getting rid of those who have done wrong either as a way to prove our adherence to the scripture, or to demonstrate our power. It is wrong in either case.

To obey God in this matter is to give a possibility that they may repent, and escape Satans trap.
To disobey will almost certainly drive them more deeply into his power, as I have observed on several occasions.

This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:15-17. "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not heart thee, then take with tee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

The goal is not to get the person out, but rather to bring him more closely in. If the person refuses to listen then it is deliberate sin and I Timothy 5:20 tells us, "Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear."

Scripturally, The authority to put a person out rests in the church, not in the pastor, and in I Corinthians 5:4-5, this is clearly expressed. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus conerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

It is fairly easy to give thanks when things we think are good happen. It is more difficult when things we percieve as bad happen. In fact, we usually find ourselves complaining instead. Nevertheless, the verse commands us to give thanks in everything, good or bad.

Remembering Romans 8:28 makes it far easier. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Though the things may be bad, they will result in good things. God will cause them to do so for his children.

For example. I couldn't see the good when my wife left, but it resulted in a much closer relationship with God, and a much stronger level of confidence, in myself, and in God. When one loses a job, it is difficult to give thanks, but the result was better hours, and more money when it happened to me.

There are a couple of conditions in Romans 8:28. "To them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This clearly indicates that the promise does not apply to those who do not love God, or those who are not called of him.

Obedience to God indicates our love and disobedience demonstrates a lack of love according to John 14:23-24. "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'if a man love me, he will keep my words: ... He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:' ..."

Romans 8:29-30 makes it clear that God knew who would recieve him and predestinated and called them. Those who have not recieved Christ have no claim on this promise.

An unthankful attitude is typical of those who rebel against God as Romans 1:21 tells us, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful." Unthankfulnes is an attribute of the wicked as II Timothy 3:2 makes very clear.

If you wish to please God you must learn to give thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Subject as the Church is to Christ

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

"Shes my wife and she has to do what I say." I wonder how many times I've heard comments like this, often accompanied with a quote of the first sentence above. "She is to treat me as her Lord, because verse 33 says she is to reverence her husband."

It is not hard to understand why many women rebel against such an attitude. Even many who appear to go along are frustrated with the way they are treated. we ought to look more closely at this passage to understand what it actually says.

The husband's relationship to his wife is be the same as Christ's is to the Church. He is the saviour of the body. Christ died for us, (the Church), while we were his enemies. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,"(Romans 5:10).

Husbands are to love their wives the same way. Ephesians 5:24 instructs "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it;" Most husbands do not appear to be willing to go that far in todays society.

Many husbands accuse their wife of not submitting because she doesn't do everything he says. Note that the wife is to be in subjection to her husband like the Church is to Christ. Many times, even a rebellious wife is still more in subjection than the husband is to Christ.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. A husband who does not go to church has no right to complain of a wife who doesn't do what he tells her, because she is bing subject to him in the same way he is to the Lord. That is what the verse says. If he expects her to obey him, he needs to obey God.

Christ is the example. How often is he bossy, or abusive when we do not do his will? Every demanding husband is stepping beyond his authority, and is in sin.

Some teach that the woman is to worship her husband, using Ephesians 5:33 as their basis. The Bible is very clear that we are to worsip no one but God. That idea is idolatry. The Greek word translated reverence, 'phobeo', is a form of the word we get phobia from and means 'to fear, to be in awe of', i.e. to have respect for. It does not imply worship.

As verses 32 and 33 tell us, Paul is primarily teaching about the Church's relationship to Christ, but we are to apply these things in our daily life as well.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead or Alive?

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Death is the proper reward for sin. That is not a pleasant thought, especially when Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." All of us deserve death.

Adam sinned, in Genesis 3, opening the door for sin to enter the world, and thus giving death power in the world. Romans 5;12 describes it thus, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." While Adam made us susceptible, we die because of our sin, not because of his sin.

Many people believe that death is the end of all things. Hebrews 9:27 warns us, "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement." We are all subject to death, and we all will be judged after that death.

II Corinthians 5:10 states, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may recieve the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Not only death, but judgement is based on what we have done.

Fortunately, Romans 6:23 doesn't stop with death, or there would be no hope for any of us. It continues "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." A gift is something you recieve without any cost to yourself. You do not have to earn a gift.

Nearly everyone is familiar with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perrish, but have everlasting life. Romans 5:8 explains it. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Christ did not die for us when we got our lives straightened out, but while we were still sinners. We were given it as a gift. It is true that there is no free lunch. Sin still costs death, but Christ paid our penalty for us.

I John 5:13 tells us "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. We can be certain about our destination!

Are you eternally alive? Have you recieved that Gift?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's Your Treasure?

Are you shocked by the sudden decline in the Economy?

I was interested by an article in Money and Markets. Larry Edelson Speaks of the G-20 possibly Considering a program to redo the entire world currency. It would be an extension of what FDR did when he took office after the great Depression.

It is exciting to me because it is another step toward the one world gocvernment described in Daniel and Revelation. What is described, while not the actual world government, is significant as it is the first time that this has been seriouslly discussed that I am aware of.

Coupled with another article on the efforts of radical Moslems to take control of the Mideast, It is easy to see how things could easily turn into the Government described in the Bible. I will make no predictions, but intend to watch very closely what happens in the next few months.

I can only imagine the stress those who do not know the Lord experience in a time like this. If your future depends on your savings and investments, you find yourself much like the very wealthy relative I had. Everytime the stock market moved against his position, he would get violently ill.

The Stock Market has dropped more than 40% in the last year. Those who have made their wealth their security, have laid up their treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.

Matthew 6:19-21 instructs "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Procuring and keeping money is the primary focus of many people today, and they are missing the greatest rewards possible in the pursuit of the dollar. "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch." (Proverbs 11:28) The current economy emphasizes the transitory nature of riches. The efforts to make every possible penny is the primary cause of our present crisis, and as Proverbs 11:24 tells us. "there is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty."

Charity giving is down by a large percentage because people do not understand that 'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given willhe repay him again." (Proverbs 19:17) You better lend it to the Lord, its a better investment than anything else, especially right now.

This is the ideal time to follow the advice in Matthew 6:31-34. "Therefore take no thought,saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink?, or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these thinggs shall be added unto you. Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's not My Fault

"If we say that we have no sin, we decieve ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (I John 1:8)

It is human nature to deny guilt. We do not like to admit wrong doing. A little child will deny any guilt even when it is obvious he was the only possible culprit. Bill Clinton denied sexual sin right to the last moment. Former New Mexico House speaker Manny Aragon continued to deny any wrong doing in a corruption scandal until all his co-conspirators confessed or were convicted and agreed to testify to his involvement.

As long as we deny guilt, we can excuse a lack of effort to rectify the problem. This is one reason why people would rather blame George Bush for the econonic situation than admit they contributed to the problem. Bush could only sign or veto the bills presented. Financial bills must be supmitted by the House of Representatives, and approved by both the House and the Senate before he can take any action. Congress must take responsibility for the economic situation.

Bailing out the banks will accomplish nothing if they do not accept that their lending practices have been a major part of the problem, because they will continue to do the same thing.

Consumers will need to recognize that the banks could not have loaned them the money unless they took it, so their actions were crucial to the problem developing. Clearly all are guilty of causing the problem, and it will never be completely resolved until all accept their responsibility.

Every situation where there were problems in a marriage has involved one or both parties denying that they contributed to the problem. Until they acknowledged their responsibility, no resolution was attained. They made no effort to rectify their harmful actions, demanding that their mate make all changes.

Alcoholics and drug addicts refuse help and counseling until they acknowledge that there is a problem. They don't have a problem. As more than one has said, the ones complaining have a problem with me. It's gotten so that when I hear "he has a problem with me", I wonder what they're doing to cause the problem.

As long as we deny any sin, we will not seek reconciliation with God. We convince ourselves that we are good enough. We don't see any need for change on our part.

By contrast, Romans 3:10-12 tells us, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that undersatandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: There is none that doeth good, no, not one." 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Until we acknowledge our sin, we cannot and will not recieve God's forgiveness, which is the essential first step in being Christian.

According to I John 1:10, "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." In other words, we accuse him of lying, and we have no part in his promises.

This principle of personal responsibility is key in every aspect of being Christian. We cannot abdicate our responsibility, nor can any one take it for us.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What is a Christian?

"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26)

Many people are called Christians in our day. Some are like the lady who recieved her citizen ship and said she was glad to finally be a Christian. Unfortunately, being an American doesn't make you a Christian.

The word translated 'Christian', 'christianos' means 'follower of Christ'. It is sometimes defined as 'little Christs'. The idea is of conciously and actively following as closely as possible, not merely moving in a roughly parallel direction. The word translated 'disciple' means in the noun form, 'a student of'.

In Luke 14:26, we find that to be his disciples, we must be willing to place Christ above our family or our own desires and goals. Verse 27 stresses that we cannot be his disciples if we are not willing to take up our cross, while verse 33 makes it clear we must also be willing to give up our possessions. If we are not, we connot be his disciples.

From Acts 11: 26 it is clear that one must be a disciple to be called a Christian.

Jesus said, "it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master," (Matthew 10:25). The disciples goal is to be like his teacher. He describes himself thus, "my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If we are truly his disciples, that will be our attitude as well.

In Jophn 14:21, we read "he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:". Verse 24 says, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:".

To act like a Christian is to pretend to be one. To be one is a great deal different than to act like one. Are you one or are you just acting like one? Do you know what God wants us to do? Are you doing it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank God for our Leaders

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (I Timothy 2:1-2)

The election is finally over. Some are very upset about the results, while others are ecstatic. As Christians, we must put aside any rancor, regardless of our personal opinions, and focus on Pauls direction in this passage. President Obama will need these prayers as much, or more than any president in history to face the problems ahead of him. Without those prayers, he may well preside over one of the worst periods in American history. If so, it will not be his fault, but he may well get the blame.

We are to make supplications, or requests for all men. Ernest or sincere prayers are required, not the superficial and insincere prayers we so often are guilty of. Intercessions are literally praying on behalf of another. You cannot pray against one in intercessions.

Finally, whether you supported or opposed Obama, or other candidates that were elected, we are to give thanks for them. That does not mean we always agree with them, but that we are to give sincere thanks.

There is a promise accompanying these directions. Specifically, that we may experience a quiet and peaceable life, in godliness and honesty. This is God's desire, regardless of what occurs in the world around us. Obedience will be beneficial.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Study to Shew Thyself Approved

"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).

As this verse points out, If we are going to be pleasing to God, we are going to need to study. From II Timothy 3:16-17, it is clear that the subject is to be the scriptures. They provide everything we need to be perfect and throughly equipped fo every good work.

A man has no reason to be ashamed if he is properly dividing (understanding), the word of God. We find that herisies identify those who are approved and those who are not according to ! Corinthians 11:19. What we believe is critical to our relationship to God.

There are several things one can do to aid in understanding what we read. First, simply reading the entire passage repeatedly will help to establish an overall understanding, preparing for more indepth learning.

Getting the entire context helps prevent distorting understanding. Isolating small passages opens the door for misunderstanding.

Using other passages to help understand the one being studied is important, as they frequently modify our understanding of a passage.

Getting definitions of words as they were originally used clarifies what passages mean. Since the Bible was not originally written in English, It is occasionally helpful to research the exact meanings of the original language.

Observing punctuation can significantly change understanding by clarifying how the sentences were assembled. Frequently verses start in the middle of a sentence and reading the entire sentence changes the meaning.

Recognizing that, as I Corinthians 2:14 tells us, "The natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned", we understand that we must alow the Spirit to teach us. He will do so in his time. Don't try to force understanding.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Adequacy of the Scriptures

We are bombarded with the idea that we need someone elses materials to learn to function proprly as a Christian.

II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

In other words, God gave us every bit of the Bible, not just part of it. I don't have to try to determine which parts are the word of God, and which are not. It can all be depended on. This greatly simplifies knowing what I should do.

All of the Bible is beneficial for doctrine. The word doctrine means literally teaching. Many today hold that the Old Testament has no value in the New Testament Era. I Corinthians 10:11 says that, "all these things happened unto them fo ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

They were written to teach us what the truth is. They are also useful to point out things that are wrong, i.e. for reproof, and finally they give instruction, both in statements, and by example, in how to do what is right.

They are given so that Christians may be perfect, or fully developed, and throughly or completely prepared for every good work. No other material is required. No training program, no Book, no lecture program, nothing other than the Bible is neccessary.

False doctrine, heresy, and conflicts arise because we have accepted other men's ideas, rather than the scriptures as our final authority. Let's get back to the scripture.