Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brothers, We Are Sinners

It's no surprise that the philosophies and religions of the world are offended at the notion of calling people "sinners", in the true sense of that word. Man-made traditions have a too high opinion of the human condition. That's why they don't have the solution to our common problem; it's just not found in man-made traditions, it can't be "found" at all, it's a matter of revelation from God, who alone truly knows what is in a man's heart.

Not everybody who professes Christ acts like they understand these things. I've been around believers with whom I've shared a little of my sinful past as part of a testimony. I mean, I am what the Bible says I was..."by nature a child[ren] of wrath", a "sinner", "wicked". I mean, yes, I'm also a "saint", a "son" by God's adoption, because of Christ. I have no merit of my own- only what He did for me. However, when past sins are mentioned, to demonstrate what I once was, what Jesus suffered to save me from, people in the church act like I slurped a tea cup of Darjeeling and wiped my mouth with the sleeve of my shirt. They're offended! I think a lot of these types grew up in and had the benefit of a Christian upbringing-and good for them. Nothing wrong with that. However, not everybody has.

I suppose nobody needs the gory details of the past. There's a "forgetting" of past things, and a "pressing on towards the high calling of God", and thankfully we can do that. Also, some things are too offensive to mention and I never would. Barring that,why do some church people act like there's a leper in the room if I talk about what I was once, before Jesus saved me. It's as if Jesus only came to save the righteous or Church is only for the "ceremonially clean", an elite of moralistic, upright Evangelicals who disdain any talk of what Christ saved us from, i.e. real sins, real wickedness.

Our sanitized testimonies are soulless and unimpressive.We've (some of us) imported the false evaluation of human nature I mentioned in the beginning, into our mentality. I've found that there's an unwritten rule in the churches that you don't say too much about whether you were a fornicator, an adulterer, a murderer, or anything else that God actually justifies us from. See, that would be too shocking to our sensibilities and we're apparently too holy to hear about real sins, real lives, and what the true power of God's forgiveness in Christ. Why the shock? Our most revered biblical heroes were the worst offenders. Noah built an ark by faith. But his story ends in a drunken, incestuous scandal. Yet we remember him as a "preacher of righteousness". David the King...after God's heart, but a conniving murderer and adulterer. Why don't these church regurgitate their Sunday brunch when they hear these stories? Are the sins of saints past any more "acceptable" because they made their way into the biblical cannon? Is Moses' manslaughter or Paul's persecution more elevated since they are mentioned by inspiration of God? No. These people are of the same flesh and blood Adamic line as we are. They sinned and their sins are just as heinous to God.

Brothers, God is going to cast away false, hypocritical, adulterous, lying, murderous, professing Christians. He's got a Lake of Fire reserved for the condemned, for all time. He appointed the death and spilling of rivers of blood of sacrifices for thousands of years until the Messiah, his perfect, sinless, Son, had his body nailed to a crucifix, for our sins. He died for our fornication and lust, and adultery, and murder, and gossip, and a thousand other sins. Real, black, vile, repugnant sins Jesus willing took on Himself, in fact he was made SUCH so that we might be God's righteousness in Him.

Let's not pretend anymore. It insults Jesus who condescended to our level for our sins without sinning himself. We're not righteous people. We're not to think of ourselves as better than anyone else. The message of salvation is joyful, but only because of the wretchedness and vileness of our sins. We need to hear the whole Gospel.

Let's begin here: Nothing good is in us of ourselves. We are sinners vile. Christ died for us while we were vile sinners. And because of that we can talk all we want about His righteousness in us.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Spurgeon on Street Preaching

In my limited time preaching on the streets, I learned quickly that there are different styles of preaching. The street is not a place of academic debate. It's the place to be heard and to make the Gospel clear. this is definitely the place where the soul who stands and proclaims the message of Christ must hate his own life and lose it for the sake of the Gospel.

Charles Spurgeon had something to say about public proclamation too.

The New Covenant & Israel

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Here is stated God's promise to form a new covenant with Israel. The Church is not in view here. We would no more say that God made the new covenant with the church in this passage than we would say that God gave the LAW of Moses to the Church at Mount Sinai. Clearly the Lord is addressing the people who have violated the Law and are in danger of coming judgment. I want to exegete the features of this covenant to see what God has promised the nation, and what is involved in the new covenant.
First, it is a Jewish covenant. As stated above, Gentiles are not here spoken of. The object of the covenant is the "house of Israel and the house of Judah". The kingdom was still divided. This cannot be the church. It cannot be Gentile. Sounds Jewish to me.

2. The covenant was still future. God did not institute it at the time it was spoken, but only spoke of it's impending replacement of the old covenant.

3. That brings me to the next point. The new covenant will be new in that it will not be like the Sinai Covenant. Israel broke that covenant. The blessings of it are conditioned on the obedience of the people, and it's clear they had violated from the start. The new covenant will be characterized by dissimilarity and discontinuity with the old covenant. Like a wayward wife, Israel was unfaithful to God, characterized by spiritual idolatry of the pagans around her and the breaking of her Sabbaths.

4. The New Covenant will bring the law into their hearts. This is in contrast to the old covenant written by the finger of God on stone tablets.(Exodus 24:12;  Deuteronomy 4:13)

5. Israel will be God's people. They will all know the Lord. There won't be any ignorance of God or spiritual separation. Israel will fulfill her true role as the elect nation, because of the spiritual work of God in their hearts.

6. The covenant is unilateral. God alone will fulfill the terms of the Covenant. There is no mention of any duty on the part of the people to fulfill the terms.

7. Similar to #6, the New Covenant is unconditional. Since God alone will act to perform the terms of the covenant, it's blessings come on the basis of His promises, it doesn't depend on Israel's obedience.

8. The law will be fulfilled by God putting it into people's heart. This will be based on the forgiveness of their sins, never again to be counted against them. Already we see the aspects of justification and regeneration promised in this covenant.

9. The promises of the new Covenant are comprehensive. They are all-encompassing to the people of Israel. Words like "no longer", "all" and "no more" are applied to the nation collectively. This speaks to the total blessing of all of God's remnant people.

From the least to the greatest, Israel will finally walk with God. All shall know him. This hasn't happened yet. There is still a future fulfillment of these things. Though it has begun already. And that will be for a another post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Gospel is Essential

I have heard some of the most exquisite theories about what humanity’s problem is, and what the hope for that problem involves. The world is looking for a solution because it’s undeniable that we all live in a state of chaos and trouble. Solutions abound from the divinization of the soul through evolutionary spirituality to the nihilistic termination of the soul, which says “from dust we came, and dust we will always remain”. The latter seems hesitantly committed to the void of transcendent meaning of life. I say hesitantly because it seems against nature to live meaningfully here and now, while pressing on to a state of cold existence, with nothing beyond. In this, it’s clear that people are blind to their own essential problem and the essential answer to that problem. The Word of God pierces the darkness of our mortal ignorance. We are sinners. It is that simple, definite, proposition that is the beginning of the solution to our spiritual death. It’s the only right judgement of our nature, and rightly understood it should bring us to our knees in utter helplessness to change by our own ingenuity. The Gospel is the power of God to save those who believe.

In the Gospel, we have the forgiveness of sins, the power of new life, and a reconciliation to God, where once there was only enmity and condemnation. Christ is our resurrection. Because he overcame the power of death, we can live forever in immortal bodies, that will never get sick or decay. Christ’s victory is the assurance now that the graves and tombs of the earth will eventually be emptied, and never used again. Because Jesus bore our sins, their is a cleansing, a purifying of the conscience of culpable souls, who live with condemnation. Not only is there a taking away of sins from our account against us before the Lord our Judge, but also a gift, an amazing grace of an “alien righteousness”, a perfect righteousness that is given freely to us who believe. We also die to sin. Our relationship to our old nature and old identity is changed in Christ.

Who can accomplish these things? None of us. We have , as it were, tried by every means in our own power to re-enter the original Paradise to “know good and evil” and to be like God. We have tried to achieve this supremacy in our lives, by trying to connect with secrets of the universe through mysticism, or determine our own lives as if we are gods. And these efforts are a total failure. In fact, the very best of human endevour and the very highest of human morality, the most sophisticated of human culture, the wisest of man’s learning, and the hight of human power in this world is absolute foolishness and abomination in the sight of God. What displays the glory and wisdom of God is the accomplishment of redemption from sin and death at the Cross of Jesus. A Messiah whose body was bloody and beaten and nailed to a Roman cross, who became a curse for us is essential, not just optional, if we would find salvation from our sin, and the regeneration of all things in the kingdom to come.

And now God commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day when he will judge all people by that Man whom He has appointed, even Jesus

What Hinders Your Obedience?

One important word occurs  in the account of the  calling of the disciples at the start of Jesus' ministry. I think it's the key to discipleship because it sets the right attitude for our response to the Word of God.

Mark 1:16-20:

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Do thou likewise, and thou shalt be blessed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Evangelical Errors

The peace of God is one of the supposed indicators of being in God's will. How often have you been told: "Pray about your situation, and when you sense God's peace in your heart, then you'll know it's God's will."?
The Scripture which is used is Colossians 3:15...

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.