That Was Easy!…Or Was It?- Part 3

June 4, 2010 at 10:22 am (Uncategorized)

Well this last post was over a month ago. I’m not sure what I was thinking in waiting so long. I became distracted with other things or procrastinated. Regardless of the reason why, here I am to complete this 3 part series.

To recap the last 2 posts, I say: Read them. 🙂 I’ve been dealing w/ some non biblical approaches to Salvation and how some treat it as easy believism although they’ll vehemently deny it. The last post had a very good example to show this and we saw there were many Scripture references pulled out of context to fit the agenda of the author.

This final post will be one that shows a biblical approach to Salvation/Evangelism. It is vastly different and more in depth than what we’ve seen so far. It engages the person we’re speaking with more so than reviewing some trifold tract and getting them to admit a few things, to then pray a prayer and magically pronounce them saved. So let’s begin looking at this Biblical approach. But before we begin I want to make sure I preface this w/ the disclaimer that what is said here is just one way of working toward sharing the Gospel w/ the lost, but the one way I’ve seen that holds most closely to the Scriptures. In many of the points discussed below, I could go into greater depth, but I am trying to be brief for the sake of this post & this series.

One cannot begin sharing the Gospel with a complete stranger w/out first speaking to them about their own person/secular life. I think, if at all possible, one of the most important things that can be done in working toward sharing the Gospel w/ others is to build relationships w/ people. You build a relationship w/ a person, know them on a personal level, and you’ll eventually earn their trust enough to begin to share with them the truth of Scripture, and they’ll be more apt to listen. I must confess though, that as I write, I’m convicted of my own failures in this vital area of the Christian life. Obviously one thing you’ll find out in conversation is, if and where they might go to or have gone to church. We need to find out where people are spiritually. So many people either think they’re saved or they’re good enough, or hope they’re good enough when they die to go to Heaven. I know in the past how many I’ve spoken w/ who think this way. I’ve got so many family members who think this and I realize from personal experience that unless I build a relationship with them, I won’t have much influence on them for the sake of Christ. Now before I be accused of saying it is in our own power to win the lost, ultimately my effectiveness in sharing the Gospel is NOT my own. It is the Holy Spirit working through us. Let me make that clear, that’s it’s the Holy Spirit who touches the hearts of men, who takes out the heart of stone and puts in the heart of flesh. It’s the Holy Spirit that grants faith & repentance, and opens the eyes of the blind, & raises the dead to life.

A good question to ask someone is, “What do you think is a person’s greatest spiritual need” Obviously if they answer a relationship w/ Christ, it’s a pretty good indication they’re a believer, but if they give anything else we need to press ahead to some “tests.” Jumping into the Scriptures we need to dive head first right into the Ten Commandments. Let’s go right to the Law, b/c we know everyone is guilty of breaking at least one of these, and I’m certain that we’ve broken all of them. When one admits they’ve told a lie, that makes them a liar. When one admits they’ve stolen anything, it makes them a thief. What about when that same person admits they’ve lusted after someone other than their spouse? Now they’ve committed adultery. So they’re a lying, thieving, adulterer. Plus, if that weren’t bad enough, James tells us that when we’ve stumbled in one area of the law, we’re guilty of breaking all of them! So w/ that said we’re guilty, and in deserving of Hell. Though, not all will say that they’re guilty of Hell. Some will still think they’re good enough for Heaven! But what about what Matthew 7:22-23 tell us? This is where we hammer it down and drive full speed into the I John “tests,” of what a true Christian is/is not. Some good references are I John 1:5-10, I John 2:3-5, I John 2:15, I John 2:19, I John 3:14-15. Running through these Scriptures should help one see whether or not they’re in the faith.

What about Grace? We cannot go through the Gospel w/ someone w/out explaining the meaning of Grace. We need to make clear that salvation is a result of God’s Grace, and that Heaven is a free gift that’s not earned or deserved. (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). We can’t earn our way into Heaven b/c we’ve all broken God’s law ( Matthew 5:48) & b/c we’re all dead in our sins (Ephesians 2) and need to be made alive beforehand.

What about God? He’s the creator of everything! ….Including us! (Psalms 24:1). He is also just & merciful. (Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 2:4). Our sin has separated us from God and there’s nothing we can do to change that fact. He can’t overlook our sin, it’s gotta be paid for. So either Christ has paid for it on the Cross, or we’ll pay for it when we die. Those are the only 2 options. It’s either or & not a combo of the two. I must say those who espouse to universal atonement combine the two and say that Christ died for everyone to be saved and it’s up to us to decide. But when this line of logic is followed to it’s conclusion, our salvation then rests at our feet, instead of Christ’s. Therefore the teaching of limited atonement, or effectual calling, is Scriptural. Christ did not die for a possibility, but he accomplished something definitive on the Cross.

Since we’re speaking of Christ let’s continue on. Christ is to be our substitute. But to qualify for this He had to be a man but He also had to be perfect. Christ died to redeem mankind. If Christ died for our sins, where our sins were laid on Him on the Cross, then we can say that He exchanged His life for ours. He died for all man kind but He did not die to save every man. He died for those He came to save, for His sheep. He gave His life for His church. We need to understand that if we repent and believe the Gospel, then we can proclaim Romans 5:8, that while I was still a sinner Christ died for me!!!! He exchanged His life for mine!!!!

God’s Word commands all men to repent. That does not mean all men will. Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of behavior. We are commanded to not only repent of our sins, but to place our faith in Christ alone as the means for salvation. However , both repentance & faith are gifts from God. In our lost, dead condition repentance & faith are not possible until we’re regenerated by God Himself.

If God uses us to share the Gospel with someone and they do profess repentance & faith it’s always a good thing, an important thing to follow up w/ prayer. Not that a prayer will save the person or “secure the deal” but to recognize & thank the Lord for what He’s done, and will do, and as a new believer to give them a chance to pray & confess their sins & self righteousness, and seek His forgiveness. (but this will inevitably come if they’ve come to faith in Christ)

This post, nor this series, is by any means an exhaustive study on the subject. I’m sure much more and much better things could be said. My goal has been to share my thoughts that it might be a help to all those who read it. I do hope though that through this it will cause you to dig deeper into the Scriptures and study the Scriptures for yourself, and not just take, hook, line & sinker, what you’ve been taught by some man about the Scriptures. If there’s one important thing the Lord has shown me, among other things, it’s that it’s so vitally important to study the Scriptures for yourself, and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself, and The Word to you, to conform you more to His image.

Soli Deo Gloria

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That Was Easy!…Or Was It? –Part 2

April 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized)

1. Realize that God loves you
God loves you and has a plan for your life
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

The statement, “God loves you and has a plan for your life” is a true statement. However, God’s love for every human being is not the same. This is evident when we look at John 10. Christ laid down His life for His sheep. Ephesians 5 tells us He gave His life for His church. Romans 9 tells us that He made some vessels for honorable use and some for dishonorable…some for glory and some for destruction.

Yes it is also true that God loves the world as John 3:16 says, and even the lost. There are Scriptures such as Psalm 5:5, that tell us God hates workers of iniquity. How can God love someone yet hate them at the same time? Scripture teaches it.

We must also address the context in which this is written. When we look at the entirety of the tract, we see that what is meant by this “God loves you and has a plan for your life”, that God loves us so much He is just waiting for us to pray and receive Him as our Savior. It’s as if He is just standing at the door of our heart and pleading with us to let us in. Imagine God, our creator, begging His creation to let him into their lives. Is this really what Scripture teaches?!…This is not the God of the Scriptures as we have already seen and will continue to see as we move through this.

God does have a plan for our lives. He is Sovereign, and all things were created by Him & for Him. As one preacher has put it, “there is not one maverick molecule in this universe” (I hope I’ve quoted correctly). As Jeremiah 10:23 says, I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” All throughout Scripture we see His Sovereignty either directly or indirectly. He has created all things, and He has control over all things, including us.

2. The Bible says that all men are sinners
Our sins have separated us from God
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
God made man in his own image. He gave man the ability to choose right from wrong. We choose to sin. Our sins separate us from God.

The statement “that all men are sinners” and the verse, Romans 3:23 is accurate, as I said in my previous post. Our sins have separated us from God. It is also true that He did make us in his own image, and that He did give us the ability to choose right from wrong, and that we even choose to sin. All of them are true. So you ask, “What is the problem with this?” I’m so glad you asked!

Let’s use an illustration. Let’s take some verses and pull them out of context and away from their true meaning in order to fit our need to promote and defend the prosperity gospel. Malachi 3:10 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (New American Standard Bible). Deuteronomy 8:18 – “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (New American Standard Bible). John 10: 10 – “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Now I’ve just given scriptural backing to uphold the idea of the prosperity gospel. We know that Scripture doesn’t teach this yet we’ve taken a few verses and brought them together to try and prove our point. But when we exegete Scripture correctly and we understand passages and verses in their context, and compare Scripture with Scripture, then we clearly understand that the prosperity gospel has no Scriptural foundation.

The way that these statements are put together give the idea that we’re all sinners and we’re not so bad in our sinful condition that we cannot choose to do good. I agree that many lost people do good things but Scripture doesn’t teach that we’re just “bent” toward sin as these statements give credence to. The foundation of what separates us from God is NOT our actions, our sins, but the very fact that we’re sinners. We’re not sinners b/c we sin, but we sin b/c we’re sinners.

We’re all born depraved. Scripture teaches that we’re all DEAD spiritually. We can do nothing but sin! Scripture teaches that unless we’re born again we cannot even see the kingdom of God, much less enter in. We are all wicked, and deserve Hell and it’s only by God’s Grace that He chooses any of us. We cannot, I repeat, we cannot come to God on our own. In our lost, sinful, dead, condition we cannot “place our faith in Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior.” Even the faith we have is a gift from Him! He must regenerate us first before we can ever make this decision to follow Him. He must make us alive, give us new life, take out the heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh.

3. God’s word also says that sin must be paid for
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
Wages mean payment. The payment for our sin is death & hell, separation from God forever. If we continue in our sin, we shall die without Christ and be without God forever.

So this statement is correct, that God’s Word does in fact say that our sin must be paid for. And yes the word “wages” does in fact mean payment, and that payment is death & hell, and we will be separated from God. It is also correct to say that if we continue in our sin we will die without Christ and be without God forever. All of these statements are true in and of themselves however when put together, like the other points listed here, they give a faulty big picture. However, the whole reason we “continue in our sin” is b/c we’re sinners and have never been regenerated and repented and believed the Gospel. Our sin must be paid for and will be paid for. The question is “Who?”…Who will pay for our sin? Will we or will Christ? We must be regenerated, and if we’re regenerated by God, we will repent and believe the Gospel, being given faith to trust in Christ. If we don’t then we will pay for our sin in Hell. Our sin cannot be doubly paid for. If we say Christ died for the sins of every human being, then you’re saying He died for those who have died and gone to Hell, yet if they’ve died and gone to Hell and you say their sins were paid for by Christ, then they’re paying double for their sins, and Scripture does not teach that.

“If we continue in sin…” This statement is implying some sort of moral reform. It is true if we do continue in our sin we will die and go to Hell but it’s not our actions that send us to Hell, it is the fact that we’re sinners. Like I said before, we’re not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we’re sinners. The whole point we continue in our sin is because we were never believers to begin with. When you place an emphasis on the actions, it turns into legalism. If I’ve acknowledged these things, and prayed the prayer to accept Jesus as Savior, and IF I turn from the sins I have been doing then I’m good. I’m saved and going to Heaven.

The whole reason we won’t continue in our sin as Christians, is because our sins have been paid for. We’ve been regenerated by Christ, and we’ve repented and believed the Gospel, having been given faith to trust in Christ.

4. The good news is that Christ paid for our sins
All our sins were laid on Christ on the cross. He paid our sin debt for us. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, and He arose from the dead. He is alive forevermore.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Only a true Christian can say that Christ paid for his sins. We cannot tell a lost man, that Jesus Christ paid for his sins because we do not know that. All the sins of every human being were NOT, and I repeat NOT laid upon Christ on the Cross. Nowhere in Scripture do we see this. In this point we must remain at the Cross and stay there. What did Christ accomplish on the Cross? Did He accomplish paying for sins or just pay for the opportunity for us to come to Him? If we say that Jesus Christ paid for the sins of every single human being, then what about those who have died and gone to Hell? Did Jesus Christ pay for their sins? We cannot honestly look at Scripture and say that Christ died for every man, and it’s up to man to decide…as if Jesus’ blood has to be applied, as some put it. Nowhere in Scripture is this idea given. Christ died for His sheep, He gave His life for His church. He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world. Romans 8:28-31 clearly tells us this along w/ Ephesians 1. I know we see it all throughout Scripture. Let’s look at Paul in Acts 9 & then in Galatians 1. We see very clearly that he, in and of himself did not choose Christ but rather Christ chose him. Scripture tells us that Christ paid our ransom. If he paid our ransom, there is not a chance in this world that those he paid the ransom for will end up in Hell. I am going to stop there for now b/c I could go on.

Let’s then look at the verse used here. Romans 5:8 if looked at in its context will clearly show it’s spoken to believers and not to both believers & unbelievers. The verse says that, “…God commendeth his love toward us…” Paul is writing to the Roman believers and telling them that while we were still sinners, Christ died for them! Think about the implications of that statement! He is saying that while we were still sinners, Christ paid for our sins, died for us on the Cross! …On the Cross…no doubt way before many of them had been born, I’m sure, or way before many of them had the chance to reach that so called, mythical “age of accountability.”

The heart of the matter is that Christ has His elect, His sheep, His church, whatever term you want to use, they’re all good. He gave His life for them. He did not die for those in Hell. Jesus didn’t teach this and neither is it taught anywhere in Scripture.

5. We must personally pray & receive Christ by Faith as our Savior
The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Again this verse is completely taken out of context. It is not written to unbelievers! It is written to the believers in Rome. If we understand it within it’s context we see that as Christians, if we call on the name of the Lord, we will have reassurance, it will give confirmation that we are indeed saved. We must read on to verse 14, that says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?…” Salvation occurs in the heart before it ever crosses the lips! Also, Matthew 12:34, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The change happens in our hearts before it’s ever voiced from out of the lips. The heart of stone is removed, the heart of flesh put in, and we speak and proclaim it by crying out to the Lord! Let’s look at one more. 2 Corinthians 4:13 says, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we speak,” We again see that belief happens before the mouth speaks about it.

Nowhere in the context of Romans 9-11, or anywhere else in the bible do we see this idea that “we MUST personally pray & receive Christ by Faith as Savior.” Even the faith that we have to believe in Him is a gift from Him, and the only way we can be given this is if we’ve been given the gift of repentance first. Paul didn’t follow these steps listed in this tract when he came to faith. We don’t see it in Acts 9 where we read of his conversion. To give another example, we also don’t see it w/ the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 & we certainly don’t see it in any of Christ’s teachings.

As I close with this post, probably my longest post on record, I am reminded to remind those reading this that as we study Scripture we must continue to exegete correctly and keep Scripture in it’s context. We must always remain at the Cross, and deviate no where else. The whole reason for our very existence is for God’s Glory. This study is by no means exhaustive and I pray that as you read, it encourages you to dive into Scripture even deeper. Please don’t take my word for it, but study Scripture for yourself, so that you may be always ready to give an answer. The 3rd Part to this will follow shortly.

Soli deo Gloria!

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That Was Easy! …or was it really?

April 12, 2010 at 5:58 pm (Faith, Free Will, God's Glory, Repentance, Uncategorized) (, )

It seems I go through spurts on my blog where I may write several posts and then it turns dry for a while.  Or I wait until I’ve got something serious or something that I’ve been thinking about a while before I write. I guess  I really need to start writing more often.  I’m know it will be good for me, and for anyone who might read.  Ok, now onto the post….

I work in an office, in  a cubicle and have my desk decorated with a myriad of personal affects.  One of the more insignificant, yet fun ones is an “Easy Button.”  I was at Staples awhile back and thought it’d be fun to get and have on my desk.  You know have some fun during a stressful day at work.  It’s been sitting on my desk for at least a couple years and every now and then I hit it, to hear it say “That was easy!”

Even before the Lord moved my family and I away from the church/school we were at, He began showing me the easy believism I was being taught was a false gospel.  Although all those who were doing the teaching would tell you that’s not what they believe, nor what they teach, if you look at Scripture and compare it w/ what was being taught, that’s exactly what it was, and to my knowledge that’s what still is being taught,

Numbers is everything.  Creating supposed converts equals higher numbers.  Bringing bus loads of kids and sometimes adults to church, to share the “gospel” with them only to take them through a tract, to get them to pray a prayer at the end and declare them saved and then baptized either that week or the next is the goal.  Of all the years spent doing this, I wonder how many of these kids grew up to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and were active in church.  Better yet, I wonder how many of them God actually saved, and how many of them have a false assurance?  I would venture to say the latter is higher, that most have a false assurance of Salvation.   This is exactly what we’re taught, and that’s because it’s all man centered.  Man has a “free-will” and in his dead, sinful, condemned condition, he can somehow make a decision to “accept Christ as personal Savior”?  I think not! That’s not what Scripture teaches, but this is a topic for another discussion although it does relate to the topic at hand.

The gospel is not to just give mental assent to 5 “truths” and then pray a prayer “accepting Him as your personal Savior.”   I say 5 “truths” because  although each of the statements is backed up with a Scripture verse they are totally taken out of context.  See there is some  truth in them but the big picture is a false view of the Gospel contained in the Scriptures.

The tract reads:

1. Realize that God loves you
God loves you and has a plan for your life
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
2. The Bible says that all men are sinners
Our sins have separated us from God
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23
God made man in his own image. He gave man the ability to choose right from wrong.  We choose to sin.  Our sins separate us from God.
3. God’s word also says that sin must be paid for
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
Wages mean payment. The payment for our sin is death & hell, separation from God forever.  If we continue in our sin, we shall die without Christ and be without God forever.
4. The good news is that Christ paid for our sins
All our sins were laid on Christ on the cross. He paid our sin debt for us.  The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, and He arose from the dead.  He is alive forevermore.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8
5. We must personally pray & receive Christ by Faith as our Savior
The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”   Romans 10:13

Then there is:

Let’s review for a moment
Realize that God loves you……John 3:16
All men are sinners…..Romans 3:23
Sin must be paid for….Romans 6:23
Christ paid for our sins….Romans 5:8
We must personally pray and receive Christ as our Savior…Romans 10:13
Pray and Receive Christ as your Savior
Lord, I know that I am a sinner. If I died today, I would not go to Heaven. Forgiven my sin, come into my life and be my Savior. Help me live for You from this day forward. In Jesus name, Amen.
The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”   Romans 10:13
New Life
Everlasting life begins when we receive Christ as our Savior
Let us help you in your new life as a Christian
Study the Bible with us and build your life on a solid foundation

Now I’ve quoted the tract verbatim in it’s entirety as to the meat of it.  I did that so as to understand the context in which it is all written. There are so many things I could go into regarding this topic and the information contained in the  tract so I may not hit them all.  We’ll see.  So as you can see there is some truth but not all of it.  All but one of the verses is either taken out of context,  The only verse that does not do this is Romans 3:23,  “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

One cannot simply acknowledge these 5 things, pray the prayer and be saved.  Despite what anyone who believes this may tell you, their actions speak  louder than their words. They speak out of both sides of their mouths.  Many times people are coerced into the prayer.  I’ve spoken with people who give mental assent to the fact that  they’re sinners, dead in their sin, they know who Jesus Christ is and what He came to do, and they’ve been told what Scripture says about coming to faith in Christ, yet there’s no change in their heart.  I know someone that’s prayed the prayer and has been living an unchanged life for all their life since.  Just because someone gives mental assent to these things, and prays the prayer does NOT make them anymore saved than the man who flat out rejects. The quest for larger and larger numbers has fueled this easy believism. Not all large churches act in such a manner, but I’ve been a part of one that was wholeheartedly, full force, gung ho for producing more and more #’s.  They’d say they weren’t but then in Sunday school they’d talk about the numbers, and at church services the pastor would talk about how full the place is, and how every service is that way.  They’d brag on their #’s on the busses and how many “bus kids” they get to come in.  It is  all about the #’s and this fuels easy believism to build up the #’s higher and higher, faster and faster.   Because we all know that the measure of the success of a ministry is in the #’s right?! …NO! ….

This of course carries into evangelism. I’ve spoken w/ some who  ask, “How many have you led to Christ recently?” They gauge your spirituality based on the answer to this question. Our job is to preach the Gospel & make disciples.  If God is drawing someone, he’ll use the preaching of His Word to bring them to Himself.  When you turn this around and put the emphasis in the wrong place, on man, it will lead to this.  In order to get more people saved they get them to  to acknowledge these 5 things and once done, pray the prayer and call them saved.  Bam, presto, you’ve completed these things and prayed the prayer, “Now that you’re saved, here’s a Bible,  write down the date, time & place and if you’re ever in doubt of your Salvation just turn here to see this to remind yourself of what you did here today!”  ….Wait, hold the phone!!!….What YOU did? ….It’s the mantra, “You can’t do anything to save yourself, works don’t save you! But if you want to be saved you must…” “Jesus wants to save you if you let him”  “Jesus voted for you, Satan voted against you, and it’s up to you to cast the deciding vote.”  ….These are statements that I’ve heard before….Now the last time I checked, Scripture doesn’t teach anything like this! ….Yet in many churches and schools it is propounded from pulpits & lecterns as the Truth.

This easy believism is NOT  the gospel, even if the points listed above have Scripture to try and back them up (This is a topic I’ll deal with in a separate post when I break down the tract and we delve more into the Scriptures surrounding it).  The Scriptures listed are taken out of context and this painting of the Gospel, is not the one of the Scriptures, but rather a painting of another gospel. Nowhere in Scripture do we see this as an example of the Gospel being given, and someone acknowledging these 5 things, praying a  prayer and then declared saved! ….Look at the way the Gospel was given in Scripture and look at the way people came ot faith in Christ in Scripture. Paul didn’t prayer a prayer to be saved on the Damascus Road, in Acts 9, nor did the jailer in Acts 16. Christ didn’t say you needed to acknowledge 5 spiritual truths, pray a prayer, and you’re saved.

“Salvation is of the Lord!” I’ve heard said so many times, yet contradicted in the very next breath!  If you adhere to the “That Was Easy”  gospel, it ‘s all about man and his decision, and he could still be a possible child of hell.

….Yes a thousand times yes! that statement is  true, salvation is of the Lord, and nothing of man. Period.  Think about it.

Soli deo Gloria!

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Searching for Treasures in the Pool of Money

March 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

As time allows, I am continuing to study this topic of money.  Specifically in regards to tithing and giving.   My last post was an introduction to the topic and this post will serve as more of a way to help get some thoughts out and in some organizational form.   After doing some studying and reading I have come to some new conclusions.  So much of what I’ve come to understand regarding these topics has been from what I’ve been taught Scripture is saying and I’ve not ever studied it for myself, and looked at Scripture as a whole as well as certain passages within their context.  I’ve come to realize that many of the passages that I have been taught and even used myself to justify certain modern Christian practices have been pulled out of context whether blatantly or in ignorance.   In either case it’s been done.

The Old Testament speaks a great deal on tithing, and I’ve been taught through passages like Malachi 3:8-10 that tithing in the New Testament is giving at the minimum 10% to the church, and we must do at least that if not more in order to receive any blessing from God, and that if we don’t, we can expect God to get His money in some other way.  Essentially we’ll be cursed and/or miss out on some blessing if we don’t tithe 10%.

There are many things that I have recently learned, that I had never been told about before.  In the Old Testament, all forms of tithing were a tax on the people.  God required it of them through the Law.  There were 3 types of tax, or tithe: 1. Levitical, 2. Festival, 3. Poor Tithe.   Basically, the Levitical tithe paid the priests so they could live and function and do their jobs (Lev. 27); the fesitival was taken and to be eaten, the people gathered a tithe together to be taken to the Jews (Deut. 12). And then there was the poor tithe, or what we could call today the welfare tax. It was taken to be given to the poor. (Deut 14) .  All of these things were taxes on the people.  It was mandatory that they pay them. This had NOTHING to do with giving.  All total they paid about 23% in tithes, or taxes.  Today we pay our tithe every week we get a pay check..in the form of our taxes.  That is why it is Scriptural to pay your taxes.

No where in the New Testament does is speak about tithing in this form.  Giving to the work of Christ, and/or to the church is to be done, yes, but to say the New Testament gives a specific amount is false.  It is a matter of the heart.  Personally, I would love to give well above  10% to the work of the Lord, but I’m not always able to.  So much emphasis has been on pulling Old Testament verses out of context to show that the New Testament requires tithing in order to coerce the people to give.  Many people believe if not then people wouldn’t give.  Where is trusting the Lord in that?  Where is our heart in the matter of giving?  If the Lord requires an exact amount, we’re walking down the road of the Law, instead of Grace, and all we have to do is write a check each week to make sure it’s done, and can be  done w/ no worship to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.   It is ultimately a heart matter and not so much of an amount matter.  I have heard so many times in church that “giving is an act of worship”…yet in reality it’s treated like an act of the law.

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Wading Into The Pool of Money

February 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm (Uncategorized)

One thing in the world of Christianity that is the “norm” is in the area of tithing.  We, most Christians, have been taught that tithing is for the New Testament Christian and is to be at the very least 10% of our income.  And most will say that 10% comes straight from our gross pay.  This is something that I have had the desire to delve further into and see what Scripture really says about it….not just what I’ve been taught.  Needless to say it’s been interesting thus far, and that’s why I am writing about it.  I am beginning to see my views on tithing shifting from what has been ingrained in me, to what I believe Scripture might be teaching.  Then again I could be completely way off base. ….Semper Reformanda!

So what I write here is no where close to being exhaustive but rather to get you to think and dig deeper into the Scriptures as I am attempting to do.

Whenever we speak about tithing being Scriptural, for the New Testament Christian, we usually refer to verses like Malachi 3:8-10, and the many instances in the Old Testament where tithing is spoken about in regard to being under the law (Nehemiah 12:44 for example) .  We see that it was mandated under the law.  I don’t think there are too many that will argue with that.  So then if tithing is under the law as the Old Testament tells us, and we know from Matthew 5:17 that Christ came to fulfill the law, then is tithing Scriptural?  …Something to think about.

As I began thinking and praying and searching the Scriptures I began to think about tithing in my own life.   I’ve always been taught that you MUST give 10% and all other giving is above and beyond that.  If we give at least the 10% then we know that God will bless us, and the reference used ….Malachi 3:8-10. The only places I’ve found where tithing is mentioned in the New Testament is in the Gospels when referring to the Scribes and Pharisees, and then in Hebrews in reference to the Old Testament Law.

So then it seems tithing becomes the check I write every 2 weeks w/out thinking about it.  It’s a seemingly routine, ritualistic,  legalistic thing that I do every week b/c I was told that Scripture commanded it.  Oh but lest I forget the other check, that is the check mark I make on my list of things to do to be a good Christian.  Where is my heart in the matter, and where is my joy in the matter.  I know I can only speak for myself and most of you reading may be doing just this and say but, “I get great joy in giving the 10th and don’t see it that way. ” That may be so and praise the Lord for it. But I know for me at times,  it is the way described above.  I will say though over the last  1 1/2 years I have experienced a whole lot more joy in my giving, since the Lord moved us to a different church family, and I praise Him for that!

Scripture teaches that we’re to be a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  God has blessed us abundantly and we should joyfully give back to Him a part of what He’s given to us.   Most, if not all of us, give from our pay checks each week, and don’t consider anything else.  What if someone purchases something  for you that you needed? They essentially gave you a sum of $ and put it toward a necessity you had.  Do you tithe 10% of that? …That’s just one small example.  Take it further and think about it.

These are some beginning thoughts on this topic and something that I need to continue to study to come to a very solid biblical conclusion about where I stand , so there may be more posts in the future on this.  Comments are definitely welcome.

Semper Reformanda!

Soli deo Gloria!

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Desiring to Desire Him More

January 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm (Uncategorized)

Just a few simple thoughts…

Do you ever have a time in your life when you feel like you’re going through a “dry spell” spiritually?  None of us desire Him, nor love Him like we should but there are times in life when we really feel it more than others.  When we feel like we’re so far from Him and wonder why in the world He continues to love us & care for us, yet He’s right there & we continue to see His hand upon our lives.  As the Scriptures say in Hebrews, “he never leaves nor forsakes us.”

Knowing that He is faithful to His Word, and never will leave us or forsake us is of great comfort and reassurance. Understanding that He is Sovereign in our lives and is bringing about everything for His Glory and our good is such a foundation to stand upon. He is our Solid Rock, our fortress, and our strength in time of need, as  the Psalms tells us.

There are periods in my life when I go through these “dry spells” so to speak and am begging God to give me more of  desire for Him, and that my love for Him would be what it ought to be.  It is during these times that He strengthens my  faith in Him and I pray that He deepens my love for Him as well.

The question is do you desire Him? Is your love for Christ, like His love for the church as Ephesians 5 tells us? If you’re desire is waning are you seeking God, begging God to give you more of a desire for Him? Where are your desires right now? Are they on things, seemingly good, yet taking your time, your eyes, and your heart away from  Him?  Is every part of your life to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ?  After all, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.   That is our goal in life, and achieving this goal is directly related to our desire for Him.  These are questions I am continually asking myself…

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Shedding The Excesses

January 13, 2010 at 10:10 am (Faith, God's Glory)

Hebrews 12:1- 2,  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It is January 13th and we are well into the new year.  With the coming of each new year comes many “new year’s resolutions.” How many of these are actually kept and have a lasting change on our lives?  More importantly though, what is our motivation for setting such resolutions?  Like so many others, my motivation in the past has been selfish.  It has always been for my benefit, for me, and for no one else.   Where is God in the whole matter?  Scripture tells us that everything we do should be to glorify God.  Our lives should be a reflection of Him, and as the Westminster Catechism points out, that the “chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  This changes everything when we view our resolutions in light of this one thing.

As I am going into this new year, I have set some resolutions to shed excesses…to shed excesses in areas of weight, debt, stuff & anything else I can think of.  I have done these things before, only to gain them back.  But before it has always been for myself and no one else.  I resolve this year with my resolutions, that they are not being done primarily for myself but for Him who ransomed me, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that as I work toward shedding excesses in these areas that my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ would be glorified.  May He be glorified in your life as well.

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The Father’s Love May Be Deep, but How Shallow is Yours?

March 29, 2009 at 7:41 am (Uncategorized)

Have you ever stopped to think about how deep God’s love is for His children, and what He accomplished on the Cross for the sins of His people?  Nothing can compare.  And when He grants us faith and repentance, and we come to Him, run to Him, believe on Him who alone can save, what a most humbling and glorious thing this is.  When we see Jesus Christ for who He is and we see ourselves for who, and what we are…poor, wicked, depraved, sinners who are utterly unable and unwilling to come to God on our own because we are separated from Him, and we are dead.  We can’t do anything but sin and spit in the face of God.  But when Christ saves us, when He regenerates us and gives us new life in Him, how can we not but speak of Him?

So many people today have Jesus Christ tacked onto their life, like some good luck charm, or as something to add to their life to make it better, either here on earth or in Heaven.  Jesus Christ in many areas has become something cultural, something to do on Sundays and His name is thrown around like a father and son throw around a baseball in the yard.  His name is Holy, and is not to be taken in vain, yet so many do today who call themselves Christians.  There are those who call themselves Christians and their idea of being one is living by some set of legalistic rules, doing certain things, and going and not going certain places.

Then many of these same people,  are those that say they’re Christians, and love Jesus, and will spend alot of time in fellowship with other believers, yet never once mentioning the name of Christ, …except maybe in a prayer of blessing for the meal.  In all the conversation that takes place in the hours spent in fellowship, not once is the name of Christ spoken, nor are the things of God rarely ever spoken.  How ashamed it is to be in fellowship with other believers and yet never once speak about the things of God or speak the name of God.  It grieves my heart to be around this and to see it. (And yet I am convicted about this very thing in my own life)

How can we say that we love God, that He saved us, and changed our lives, and yet get together with other Christians and talk about everything else but God?  Is our love for God, our desire for Him, our thirst for Him that shallow that we can only speak about Him, or open His Word on Sundays and Wednesdays? If we as Christians truly understood our own depravity, the fact that we all deserve nothing but Hell, and  the Salvation that we have in Him and what He accomplished on the Cross in atoning for our sins, and that if it were not for God coming to us, and regenerating our lost, and dead souls, we would still be dead in our sins, separated from God and on our way to Hell.   Christ made us alive in Him when we were utterly unable and unwilling to come to Him.  He is the one who made us thirsty, and willing to come to Him in faith and repentance.  He alone is the One who grants faith and repentance. There is nothing good within any of us that we could come to Him on our own.  The only good in me is Christ!

How can we not but speak about Him, no matter where we are or who we are around?  My prayer is that I would be totally consumed with Christ, that my life, home, marriage and family would be totally consumed with Him.  That they all would smell of the sweet savor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Father’s Love may be deep, but how shallow is yours?  Scripture does say in Luke 6:45, “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

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Who is Able to Stand Before Him?

March 12, 2009 at 7:12 am (Faith, Free Will, God's Sovereignty, Grace, Repentance, Total Depravity, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Psalm 130:3 says, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”…Because of our sins, none of us are worthy to stand before Him, much less enter His Kingdom.  “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”  With Jesus Christ, there is forgiveness.  He is the only one who can forgive.  My heart cries out this morning with the Psalmist when he says in verses 1-2, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”

We are all born sinful.  From birth the only thing each one of us deserves is to die and go to Hell.  Scripture tells us that if we commit just one we’re guilty of all.  Just one sin is more than enough to deserve to die and go to Hell.  So why should God save us?  Why should He bless us?  Who are we that, as wicked and sinful creatures, could ever think we deserve anything from God, our Creator?  And who are we to question why God does what He does?  This is like what Romans 9 speaks about, the clay asking the Potter “Why have you molded me this way?”

If we understand Scripture correctly, we understand that we are dead in our trespasses and sins and can do nothing but sin.  There is absolutely NO good within us.  There is absolutely no hope.  None.  The only difference between a believer and a non-believer, is Christ. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  As a Christian, I did not make some choice of my own free will, but it was wholly of God.  He completely changed my life.  I can take no credit for it because I understand what Scripture says about me as a lost man, dead in my sins, with a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I was born this way, and there was nothing I could do to change it, apart from Christ choosing to do a work in me that only He could do.

But then still, as a Christian, I continue to do a battle with the flesh.  It is something we all deal with.  So why does God continue to bless us?   As sinful, wicked creatures, who from our very birth were, and still are wicked, why on earth does God continue to shower blessings upon us?   Why did He even choose to save me?  These are questions I ask all the time, because although I know that He has changed my life, and my desire is to live a holy life, I still sin.  I am still flesh and will continue to battle it until the Lord calls me home.  So why does He still bless me, and better yet, why did He save me?  One simple answer. It is all for His purpose and glory (Ephesians 1).

Since there is nothing good in me, and apart from Christ, I am and can do nothing, then all the good that I have in life, everything both good and seemingly bad is all for His glory.  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  We are to glorify God with our lives, but apart from Him working in our lives we can’t even do that.  We can’t even do that unless we are one of His children, and we can’t even become one of His children until we obey God’s command to repent and believe.  But…we can’t repent and believe the Gospel, until God grants us faith and repentance.  It all goes directly back to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Soli deo Gloria!

So this morning I thank God for His Mercy upon me, and his undeserved blessings and unbelievable Grace that He has given to me.  “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,” .  My hope is only in the Lord, the Immortal Creator and Sovereign Orchestrator.

And I will also leave you with a video and some of the lyrics to this song, “Triune Praise” by Shai Linne:

VERSE 1
Praise God the Father, the Immortal Creator (1 Cor. 8:6)
For Your glory you made us (Is. 43:6), You’re the Sovereign
Orchestrator (Eph. 1:11)
All that You decree will most surely come to happen (Is. 14:24)
You’re awesome as can be and Your glory none can fathom
(Ps. 104:1)
Nothing could ever stain You, the heavens can’t contain You
(2 Chron. 6:18)
We thank You for sending Your Son to explain You (John 1:18)
Otherwise we would have remained in the dark
but You sent Your Holy Spirit to spark a change in our hearts
(Matt. 4:16-17, 2 Cor. 4:6)
According to Your eternal purpose and will
You determined to reveal Yourself to those who deserve to be killed
(Luke 10:21, Rom. 1:32)
Those of us whom You foreknew adore You
We praise You that You predestined us to be conformed to
The image of Your Son who’s the radiance of Your glory
(Romans 8:29, Heb. 1:3)
When I meditate on it, the weightiness of it fl oors me (1 Chron. 16:25,
Psalm 139:6)
So Father, we’ll praise you over and over again (Ps. 34:1)
Because You sent Your only Son to atone for our sins (Dan. 9:24,
1 John 4:9)
CHORUS
Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son,
Glory to The Spirit- Three and Yet One
One in Your essence, Three in Your Person
The same in Your nature, distinct in Your working
Oh my soul- behold the wonder of the Trinity
Blessed be the Trinity, Oh, what a mystery!
I’ll stand amazed for the rest of my days
Pouring out my heart in Triune praise

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How Awesome is the Lord Most High?

February 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm (Uncategorized)

How awesome is the Lord most High?  How much we ought to praise and to glorify Him for All that He is and all that He has done. You know I can look at my life before Christ and look at the time in my life when I came to Christ, and look at my life now and say it was nothing of myself, it was all Christ, and Christ alone.   The Lord saved me and began working in my life in a Pentecostal church, and then in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church.  So much changed in my life, and my thinking and understanding of Scripture, and now again as I look on the past year, so much has changed again.  God has led me out of the IFB movement and into a Reformed, Southern Baptist church.  It is not a matter of the IFB movement vs. Reformed, but a matter of doctrine.  My view of God has been so highly exalted, and I see things I have never seen before.  All Glory goes to God, because if not for Him opening my eyes to His Word, I would not understand it nor would I be sitting here writing.  Now I know that I am settled in knowing that Scripture clearly teaches what today is commonly called “Calvinism” or “The Doctrines of Grace.”  These doctrines are settled and clearly evident in Scripture.  Now God has allowed me to begin reading and looking at Scripture on the topics of Dispensationalism, and Covenant theology, as well as Amillenialism.  All of these issues fly in direct contradiction to the majority of IFB’rs.  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  This is my heart’s desire with my life.  So I want nothing more than to be biblical and the more I have read on these aforementioned topics the more I am beginning to see that they’re Scriptural.  That not only is “Calvinism” Scriptural but so is Covenant theology, and Amillienialism.  I don’t know enough about it to teach it per say, but the more I read Scripture the more that it makes sense. In everything God deserves all the Glory!

This all leads me to review all that I have been taught since the Lord saved me almost 9 years ago.  It leads me to wonder about all those who have taught me and preached to me completely contrary to what I am begninng to see as Scriptural.  Are they just mistaken in their understanding or are they purposely subverting the truth to suit their own agenda?  I do not know with each person, but I do know that when one’s views about the depravity of man, salvation, and regeneration are completely man-centered so will everything else.  This I believe holds true with these topics as well.

I attended an IFB school and church for several years before God graciously opened my eyes to the truth of His Word and the Doctrines of Grace.  God greatly used this time in my life to grow in Him.  But at the time it was a very difficult decision to make but made easier by the fact that I knew that’s what the Lord wanted me to do. I have complete peace about leaving that all behind, even after working for so long and coming so close to my degree.

I have been asked about what they’re teaching and preaching, and what I think of it.  It is not a matter of what I think of it, but a matter of what Scripture has to say.  Any teaching and preaching that takes away glory from God and gives it to man, and says that man somehow has a part in his salvation, and that he is not as wicked and depraved as Scripture says he is, is just plain heresy.  It is blasphemous to say that Scripture says that somehow wicked man in his fallen nature can some how choose to accept or reject Christ.  These man-centered doctrines is as Paul puts it “another gospel,” and the more I read on them the more I see that they all are intertwined with one another.

These are just some things that I have been thinking about and I pray this causes all who have read this to go and search the Scriptures, and may God be glorified in it all.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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