The Bible is filled with untrue statements.

tattered bibleThe Bible is filled with statements that just are not true. I was reading in Romans today and it said this:
(5:3) we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

I don’t know about you but tribulation – for just a teeny example, think of a flat tire on a rainy day – does not cause me to break into my happy dance.

Or how about this one also in Romans:
(8:28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, …

We know that? Really? If I know that then why do I freak out when things I don’t like come into my life?

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I need to be reminded

Ugly as SinIn 2 Kings 23 King Josiah cleans Judah of its idolatry. I was struck by how perverted God’s people had become – prostitutes set up shop in God’s temple, the people burning their own children as sacrifices and other flagrant awful sins. Some of this had been going on for centuries.

But Josiah changes all that. The book of the Law is read. He relentlessly attacks and destroys the false gods. “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25) But even though the repentance was genuine they did not all live happily ever after. Continue reading

What are you full of?

Crying out to GodOne day a broken hearted woman went to church to pray. Unfortunately she chose a church where the priest was out of touch with God. Since fervent and intense prayer was not something he was accustomed to when he saw her passionately imploring the Lord to answer her prayers, he assumed she must be drunk and rebuked her for coming to church like that.

Jesus said what we fill our heart with is what will inevitably come out our mouth. Because this priest’s heart was cold toward God his default setting was judgment, not mercy. He immediately assumed the worst rather than defaulting to the best. But love “always looks for the best”. (1 Corinthians 13:7 MSG)

What we fill our heart with colors how we see others and how we see the world. If we think the world is against us, that no one likes us, that people are judging us we react in ways that cause that to happen. If we are always attune to the negative, always quick with criticism, always assuming the worst we make it harder for people to approach us, to love us. Continue reading

Good news / Bad news about forgiveness

wild oatsI found a great message of encouragement but also a sobering warning – and I need both – in 1 Kings 21:25-29

(There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.) When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

Ahab was unsurpassed in his evil yet, when he humbled himself before the Lord God spared him the full consequences of his sin. What a word to encourage the one who thinks he has wandered too far. Even Ahab was not beyond the grace of God. When he sincerely humbled himself he caught the eye and captured the mercy of God. But there is more … Continue reading

How to reap a harvest

power in a seedWhen we sow a seed of sin it promises pleasure and it delivers. There is immediate gratification or we would not be tempted by it. But that short-lived rush of reward is followed by a long term harvest of guilt, insecurity and often pain, not only for us but for countless others as the waves of sin’s impact spread. Once we start the wave we lose control of how big or far reaching it will be. Sometimes we can do nothing but stand back and watch in horror as it builds into a tsunami of destruction rolling over our loved ones and even innocent bystanders. Continue reading

Mormons & Muslims on the same page

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Is that you Gabriel?Galatians 1:8
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

Mohammad declared an angel appeared to him and revealed the Koran. Joseph Smith proclaimed the Book of Mormon was shown to him by an angel. Others make similar claims to divine inspiration and revelation.

Today another “gospel”, not a new one, just a revived one, is slithering into the Body of Christ. The “good news” that God is only a one dimensional God of love. He has no anger, wrath or justice within Him, in spite of the Bible’s many clear declarations (Old and New Testament) to the contrary.

The vilest wretch of a human and the most precious saint will both ultimately live forever in an eternal reward. And that is how God shows Himself to be both a God of love and justice.  Obviously this is not how the lie is sold but the idea of universalism is another gospel, certainly not one taught by Jesus or Paul. Continue reading

Is sex before marriage a sin?

I was asked this question via a FaceBook chat.  I anticipated after my answer they would sign-off with a quick “thanks” or try to justify why my answer did not apply.  I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out they were sincerely desiring to know what God had to say about the issue and were willing to follow His instructions.  Here is what I told them.

The Bible is very clear on that issue.  In fact, it is probably one of the most clearly answered questions in all of Scripture.  Typically “fornication” is the term used to refer to sex before marriage whereas “adultery” refers to sex after marriage with anyone other than your spouse.  The Greek word the King James Version translates “fornication” actually includes many forms of sexual immorality (incest, prostitution, harlotry, etc) and so is often simply translated “sexual immorality”, so as not to limit its meaning to fornication.  The Bible is clear that sex before marriage, and all sexual immorality, is a sin and warns of harsh penalties for those involved in it.

Here are just a few Scriptures – and there are many, many more – that address the issue:
(Acts 15:201 Corinthians 5:16:9, 131810:82 Corinthians 12:21Galatians 5:19Ephesians 5:3Colossians 3:51 Thessalonians 4:3Jude 7Revelation 21:8).

The Bible teaches self-control and complete abstinence before marriage and a one-man, one-woman relationship after marriage both physically and in the area of the thought life.

How to identify a Christian

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We have developed lots of ways to let the world know we believe in Jesus. Bumper stickers proclaim our faith. Scripture passages on checks, greeting cards and refrigerator magnets; profile descriptions on Facebook; jewelry with crosses, a fish and WWJD all tell the world we are followers of Jesus. Jesus said there would be another way they would know but this seems a little strange to me.  Let me explain.

Jesus says the identification badge that will convince the world that we are His followers is our love for one another.  Notice He didn’t say it would be how we love the lost – though certainly other passages say we need to love, pray for and bless them. He said they would know we are His disciples by how we treat other believers.  I find that strange but actually quite a relief.

It should be much easier to love other believers than it is to love unbelievers.  After all, some of “those people” are actually enemies of the cross.  Some might actually hate or despise us for our faith. Some would ridicule or reject any expressions of love.  How nice that all we have to do is love one another to demonstrate we are followers of Jesus.  That should be easy.  Right?

Unfortunately the evidence is that we often don’t even do an excellent job of loving, forgiving, caring for and ministering to each other.  From the very start of the church we “bite and devour one another” (Galatians 5:15), “there is jealousy and quarreling among” us (1 Corinthians 3:3) and we are experts at “passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13).  We say we love everyone but the most basic sign we are His followers is that we simply love other Christians.  Let’s at least start there.

Is there something you can do today to demonstrate to the world that you are His disciple?
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1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

Jesus and Paul disagree?

1 Corinthians 5:3
For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
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It seems one Scripture many people know and enjoy quoting is Jesus saying “judge not that you be not judged”. This is a handy one to bring up when confronted with sin in our lives. So is Paul disobeying this command of Jesus when he says “I have already passed judgment” on this man?

Most who quote Matthew 7:1, “judge not”, aren’t aware that 14 verses later Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets”. How can I do that if I do not make some judgment about who is speaking truth and who is speaking lies? Clearly Jesus was not saying close your eyes to all evil, all false teaching, swallow whatever comes your way with no discernment. So what was He referring to?

In short, there are things I can know and things I cannot know. I can know a man who is openly engaged in immorality is living in sin because God’s Word tells me such behavior is sin. I can know a man teaching things contrary to Scripture is a false prophet. What I cannot know, and therefore am not to judge, are the motives of his heart.

To point out evil and call it evil is not judging. In fact, it is following the example of Jesus, Paul, Peter and others. In fact, it is following what we are often commanded to do in Scripture – “overcome evil with good”. It is “good” to warn someone of something in their life that will destroy them. It would be unloving and evil to see symptoms of a deadly disease in someone’s life and not warn them. The disease would only kill the body. How much more unloving to not warn them of a disease that will destroy their soul?
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Just a few of many passages that command us to judge actions: Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17,18; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 6:1; Titus 3:10,11; Leviticus 19:17

New and Improved Jesus

Galatians 5:4, 10, 12
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
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Paul is really in attack mode here. You have been severed from Christ, fallen from grace! “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” All this just because they are trying to get folks to keep the law?

Paul clearly condemns sin but never uses such harsh words to assault adulterers, homosexuals or murderers. What is the big deal? Folks who are into the law teach Jesus is the means for salvation, they just add a couple of provisos. Jesus PLUS. Certainly, if Jesus is good, then Jesus PLUS has to be better or, as advertisers say it, “new and improved”. The new and improved Jesus.

Oops, I think that may be the problem. Keeping the law as an element of salvation is me trying to improve upon God’s work. It is me saying “Thanks, Jesus, for that cross thing. It gave me a good start but I’ll take it from here. Your death and resurrection was nice but not enough.”. What an insult to God!

Jesus plus anything else, no matter how good the anything, is to fall from grace and crawl back under bondage to our old sin nature.
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Galatians 2:19,21
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. … for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”