salvation (5)

This Week’s Question: What are the underlying sins behind prejudice, discrimination, and isms like racism, sexism, and chauvinism?

 

Sin, in the Old Testament, was defined by the law (a series of dos and don’ts), and Israelites could not decide which rule, law, or command they adhered to. James reports, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).” Therefore, one had to follow God’s entire law to be deemed righteous. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, acknowledged He did not come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17-20), but to fulfill it; and in doing so He established a new covenant by which mankind will be judged: Romans 14:23 teaches, “… for whatever is not from faith is sin.” This New Testament standard differs from the Old Testament in which sin was defined discreetly. Today, those who lack faith in the Godhead, Scripture, or God’s commandment to love – commit one (or more), of the following sins: lust, pride, or fear, which is the basis for this post.

 

I John 2:16-17 describes sin generally, “For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” John, in this passage, identifies three carnal sins: (1) Lust of the flesh; (2) Lust of the eyes; and (3) Pride. The motive behind lust is envy and one commits lust of the eyes when he/she covets (or desires) what does not belong to them. It may be money, power, possessions, or people (like another’s husband or wife). Whenever that which is coveted is dwelt upon (rather than relegating it to a fleeting thought), a sin is committed. Lust's inherent danger is it entices us to act immorally. Therefore, the commission of a lustful act (whether robbery, infidelity, or surrendering to a vice), is the sin John calls lust of the flesh. Unfortunately, strife (which is defined Biblically as “a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts”), regularly accompanies envy in The Bible. James addresses the envy/strife tandem by saying, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:14-16).” Having a lustful heart, whether it is followed by action or not, is condemned by God.

 

The third sin espoused by John is pride of life which is defined Biblically as “an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights.” Pride, in my opinion, is America’s greatest sin, and is a sin many must answer to when he/she comes before God’s judgment. Pride is the spirit that credits Christopher Columbus with discovering an inhabited land that resulted in Native Americans being decimated on their own soil. Pride is the spirit that initiated the slave-trade and relegates African-Americans to second-class citizenship, despite the fact that America’s foundation was built on the backs of this disenfranchised people! And pride is a pervasive spirit behind trumpism, nationalism, racism, sexism and every other ism that plagues Americans from all walks of life, and others around the world!

 

James 2:6 castigates a person who gives favorable treatment to a rich person because he/she is well dressed and accessorized (James 2:1-3)! James’ argument is the rich are the ones who oppress, sue, and blaspheme God’s Name. So the question is why do people of humble means cater to tormentors? The answer in one word is lust. The poor lust for the crumbs that can be thrown their way, while minimizing the pain inflicted upon them by the rich and powerful. This scenario may explain why poor whites, en masse, do not stand with African-Americans in their fight for civil rights – gains that, rightfully, would benefit them also! Poor whites, despite their poverty, acquiesce because they still command better jobs, better education, better healthcare, better housing, better prospects for rising above their station, etc., than their African-American counterparts. So the sin of lust is a primary motivator for kowtowing to the rich, but another is pride.

 

James 2:2-3 also describes that perpetrator treating a poor person with disdain, while verse 6 unequivocally states that he/she has contempt for that person. This scenario parallels the attitudes of white nationalists, other hate groups, and seems to be of the same ilk behind white privilege. Pride enables “privileged whites” to believe they are superior to non-whites (vis-à-vis, African-Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants), and condone inhumane treatment towards these, whom they consider, “pariahs.” Therefore, many rallied to the “make America great again,” campaign slogan, to bolster their power, whether real or perceived! The problem is even that slogan has a prideful undertone! In fact, it sounds very much like the attitude of King Nebuchadnezzar before God changed his heart to that of a beast (Daniel 4:30ff). It is interesting that before Nebuchadnezzar’s transformation, Daniel warned him by saying, “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity (Daniel 4:27).” That same prideful spirit also caused the death of King Herod in Acts 12:21-23. Hopefully, this knowledge will be a wake-up call for anyone with a prideful heart who wants to do God’s will because “… God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

The sad reality is even poor whites may be tormented by the rich and powerful, but they, too, are tooled with an arsenal that includes torment, and use it against non-whites. The senseless Treyvon Martin killing, the inhumane treatment of border immigrants, and the steady proliferation of white nationalism are further evidences of sin cloaked in white pride and coupled with fear! John 4:18 teaches “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” To reiterate what was said in an earlier post, the sin of fear is a motive behind the inhumane treatment immigrants experience today; it is also a motive behind the hostility and rage African-Americans experienced during slavery which persists today; and is a motive behind the annihilation of America’s indigenous population. It has been projected that whites will become a minority, in America, which is contributing to the unfounded fear some whites in this nation are experiencing.

 

In conclusion, it can be proven that lust, pride, and fear are the sins behind other forms of discrimination like sexism, chauvinism, and homophobia. However, while John effectively described the sin, he also outlined the antidote for overcoming the sin. In I John 4:18 he states, “…But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Love for one’s fellow- man or woman is the perfect antidote for overcoming the sin that so easily besets us: It draws Christ’s Disciples closer to God; It aligns our priorities with God’s priorities; It helps us to see others differently because we understand that we are all in this fight together; and It prepares a home in Gloryland that outshines the sun for Saints who overcome the destructive sins of lust, pride, and fear. James’ summation is this: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” The truth of the matter is love trumps hate!

 

Next Week’s Question: James 2:5 teaches that God has chosen the poor of this world? Why has He done so?

 

Read more…

A simple, successful ministry flow outline

9570816487?profile=originalRecently I was trying to think through the most simple way to represent what happens in successful ministry. What is the fewest number of things that need to happen for the basic ministry process to be complete?

Here’s are the seven elements I have so far:

Living and loving like Jesus

Followers of Jesus must live like Jesus, showing God’s love to others and doing the work of the Kingdom of God. This is the great commandment, and is foundational for everything else.

Inviting people to follow Jesus

Those who are following Jesus then invite others to follow him. This is the great commission.

Starting new believers in the faith

 New believers must be established in the faith through baptism and through community with other believers.

Growing as disciples while making disciples

All believers are both being discipled and discipling others. In this way, new believers grow, and those who have been in the faith longer also continue to grow.

Gathering in groups

Believers have always gathered together for encouragement, worship, and prayer. This is the commandment given in Hebrews 10.

Developing leaders for ministry

We need leaders to serve the church. Just as disciples develop other disciples, leaders develop other leaders.

Sending leaders to plant new churches

Some of those leaders then go on to reach out beyond the church and develop new communities of faith in new places, bringing Jesus to the next neighborhood and next people group.

I’d welcome your thoughts on this simple ministry flow. Is there anything I’m forgetting? Anything essential to the church that doesn’t fit under one of these categories?

*This post was first published on loganleadership.com.

 

Read more…

This Week’s Question: Since prejudice was systemically built into the moral fabric of America, do you think Americans who tacitly or actively profited from that model (past, present, and future), will be damned eternally?

 

There should be little disagreement between true Disciples of Christ that those who were, are, or will be controlled by prejudice, and therefore discriminates against his/her brother or sister will be damned eternally, if he/she does not repent and experience transformation before death! Their discrimination may be based upon physical, mental, social, ethnic, or a host of other arbitrary characteristics. Discrimination, regardless of the motive, violates God’s moral code! But what about those who support prejudicial acts but does not participate? Or one who neither supports nor participates but still profits from discrimination? What destiny should they expect under God’s judgment?

 

Let’s confirm the presupposition above by dissecting I John 4:17-21. Verse 17 teaches, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” This verse confirms what Peter discovered when visiting Cornelius in Acts 10:34-35: God does not discriminate among people groups, and that pattern must be adhered to when we come under God’s judgment. John’s affirmation is the righteous, in God’s eyes, must personify Jesus when he says, “as He [Jesus] is, so are we.” According to John 3:16 God sent Jesus into the world, to save the world He loved, which confirms God does not discriminate since recipients of salvation are open-ended. A tactic, historically used by those who discriminate, is fearmongering which justifies their discriminatory actions. Mr. Trump uses that tactic today, and we saw it effectively used by Mr. Nixon and other world, national, and local leaders.

 

John challenges that strategy by exclaiming in I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Fear should be easily recognized as a motive behind the manufactured immigrant crisis facing America today, which has led to the inhumane treatment of immigrants. Fear also motivated the hostility and rage African-Americans endured during slavery which persists today. And fear also motivated the displacement and annihilation of Native Americans on their native soil. John linked fear to torment, and torment is the common thread that links these groups together. The great commandment teaches us to love God and our fellow man, but John argues that anyone who discriminates does not love authentically, and affirms that truth in verses 19-21: “We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” The net of this discussion is those whose actions reflect their prejudices are doomed to eternal destruction, but what about those who sit tacitly by while others do the dirty work?

 

Dr. King addresses that group in a quotes which says, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” John also speaks to that group in I John 3:15-18, which was cited in our last post. He writes, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” John, in this passage, equates those who are not moved by atrocities and remain tacit -- to murderers; and John categorically affirms that no murderer will receive eternal life. God’s Word unequivocally affirms that it is not okay to sit idly by, attribute blame to others, and wash our hands as if we played no part in this world’s denial of rights to others, due to our lack of participation! Anyone who believes he/she is standing up for Jesus, must also stand up for the rights of brothers and sisters who are discriminated against, even when their characteristics differ!

 

Finally, what about those who neither participates in nor condones discrimination, but still benefits from it? A popular saying is, “Love is what love does,” and John affirms the substance of that quote. Therefore, it is not sufficient to tell someone we love him or her, without also addressing their pressing needs, especially when it is within our power to do so! The question can be raised, where did John obtain his insight on this matter? The answer is straight from Jesus! Beginning in Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus teaches, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” When the righteous declared they had no recollection of ministering to Jesus in that way, Jesus replied in verse 40, "... ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” It is clear from Jesus’ teaching, the righteous are not those who love by words, but those who demonstrate his/her love with kind deeds.

In the same discourse Jesus castigates those who did not participate in prejudicial actions, but also did not fight for the needs of those who suffered when He said in verses 41-43, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’” Social ministry is not an optional service for Christ’s followers to choose to participate in or not. It is the very essence of our faith, and Disciples must actively address societal wrongs. Those who were sidelined in the Matthew 25 passage also had no recollection of seeing Jesus in need and not ministering to Him. Jesus cleared up that mystery in verses 45 and 46 when he says, “... ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

According to Scripture, injustice should not be left for others to fight! It does not matter whether a person participates in prejudicial actions, remains sidelined while it occurs, or merely benefits from it. If he/she is not actively using his/her time, talent, and resources to fight for justice, when it is within his/her power to do so, that person will be forsaken by Jesus and sentenced to eternal damnation!

Next Week’s Question: What are the underlying sins behind prejudice, discrimination, and isms like racism, sexism, and chauvinism?

Read more…

Can a person's lifestyle condemn them?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. (Romans 5:18-19 ESV)


For-a-Friend_Romans_5_18-19.jpg

Can a person's lifestyle condemn them?

Simple Answer: No! 

In God's eyes, it is not behavior that condemns a person.

Condemnation is the judgment declared by God for the trespass of one man, Adam. The rest of us were born condemned; God established that as well. Condemnation is not, and cannot be, the result of personal sin, bad choices, disagreeable lifestyles, or immoral behavior any more than one can decide whether or not to be born.

Justification, on the other hand, is declared by God to be the righteousness available to us because of the righteous deeds of another man, Jesus Christ, who was not "born of Adam," and, therefore, was not born condemned. Justification is not, and cannot be, the result of moral behavior, good choices (except one*), decent living, loving others, judging others, or hating sin.

* What is the one "good choice?" God declared a simple solution to go from condemnation to justification; believe in His only Son, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. That's it; choose to believe, which means to trust Him for your soul's salvation. Humbly turn the responsibility over to Him and rest in Him.

Adam did what he did on his own free will, and yet we all are paying the price. In him, we were all born condemned. No one is better than anyone else or has any advantage. This is death, which is separation from God.

Christ also did what He did on His own free will, and now we can all share in His Sonship. In Him, we can be born again to justification. No one is disqualified because of what they did or did not do; anyone can be saved. This is life, the new life, which is reconciliation to God.

He made this offer because He "so loved the world." He "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4)

Don't reject Him because of what arrogant people say and do. Accept His pure love, motivation, mercy and grace because of what He has said and done for you.

Trust Him for the salvation of your soul. It's your choice to accept His offer. You'll be glad you did.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)


Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭ESV)

Think about it...

If you are already condemned at birth, how do you earn condemnation? Can you become more condemned? If you have a sin nature because you were born in sin, how do you earn that sin nature from the sins you personally commit?

It would be like earning a heart after you are born; it's there because you were born with it. You deserve a beating heart because it's a part of who you are. Likewise, you cannot do anything righteous because that is NOT who you are. That is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.

Think about it some more...

Absolutely, you are responsible for your own sin. But in Romans 5:12, "All sinned" is not separate or new information than 5:18; the point Paul is making is that sin came into the world and was spread to all people through one man, Adam. Another way to say the same thing is condemnation came into the world and was imputed to all people through one man, Adam.

What then would be the difference between sinning before one is saved and after one is saved? Do both condemn a person? No, absolutely not if one is justified in Christ. Does it condemn a person who is not justified? No, absolutely not, because they are already condemned.

No one earns salvation. Can anyone reduce their sinning enough so that God would say, "Okay, that's good enough. You're saved." Likewise, can one increase their sin enough to become condemned? What if a person born in Adam never sinned? Hypothetical, yes, but they would still be just as condemned.

Besides, lost and saved alike both sin. Those don't change your status of saved or lost. Both condemnation and justification are on God's terms, not ours. If God declares it in His word, it must be so. Christ already paid the full price for everyone's sins because "He is the propitiation for our sins, but not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). And He, in Christ, is "reconciling the world to Himself, not counting man's trespassing against them" (2 Cor 5:19).

Now THAT'S Good News!‬‬

Read more at www.RevelationsForLife.com
Read more…

God's great rescue mission

My life did not flash before my eyes. I was too concerned about how - or if - I was going to make it back tothe beach. Our family trip that day was not supposed to end with me drowning ina riptide.

It was our first day on the beach with our rented boogie boards, and I was the first one in the water.Wanting to catch the waves where they were breaking, I headed away from theshore. By the time I realized they were breaking too far out, the water was overmy head. On the board from the waist up, I started kicking to get back to thebeach. After a couple of minutes I had not made any progress. In fact, I wasfarther away from the beach and farther down the shoreline. The board wasstrapped to my wrist so I let it trail behind me and began to swim. I swamuntil I was exhausted and swallowing water, but I was even farther from shore.No matter what I did or how hard I worked, I could not save myself.

Seeing I was in trouble, my husband grabbed another board, left the safety of the beach and came to myrescue. My three children watched from shore. I could hear the youngest cryingfor me. When Waynereached me, he calmed me down and talked me through riding out the riptide sowe could get back to the beach. Moments later I was reunited with my family.

Just like me in the riptide, spiritually we are “lost” and can do nothing to save ourselves. Our sin has separated usfrom God. “Sin” is disobeying God, or choosing our own way over God’s way. Sinfirst entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, breaking theirintimate relationship with Him. Everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). This sinbreaks our relationship with God bringing with it the consequence of spiritualdeath (Romans 6:23). This means we are “lost,” separated from God and unable tomend the relationship ourselves. There is a gulf between God and us we cannotcross.

But God loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. He does not want us to perish and spendeternity separated from Him. God responded to our predicament. Since we couldnot save ourselves, God came to our rescue. We celebrate the anniversary ofthis great rescue mission every twenty-fifth of December. Christmas reminds usthat God loves us and sent His Son to save us from our sins. Would you like tolearn more about God’s love for you and His plan for your life?

Find out how to have a relationship with Jesus now.

If you want to find out more about Christianity and how to know God then check out the 12-session Biblestudy “God’s Truth Revealed.” This study takes you on a journey through theBible to show you why you need God and how you can know Him.


This story was excerpted from "God's Truth Revealed" by Kathy Howard

Read more…