Sunday, February 19, 2006
I'm not advocating false teaching.
I'm not advocating lack of discernment.
I'm not advocating doing away with the Berean spirit. (Test all things to see if they are so)
I'm not advocating being tossed by every wind of doctrine, as some are.
I think doctrinal statements are valuable in many cases.
I’m not advocating an ecumenical big tent that includes everyone who spouts any ol’ doctrine of demons they feel like at the time.
But there is a Political Correctness of the Theological variety that is hurting the body of Christ.
A dividing up of the body of Christ into camps who see their mission not as loving God and enjoying Him forever, and fellowshiping with others who do the same. They see their mission as sitting around in their theological hot tub with the five other people who think just like they do, and spitting mineral water at anybody that differs.
If you are one of these people, two things are happening right now in your mind: First, you know the shoe fits, and you’re wearing it. You know that "thou art the man". You know I’m referring to you.
And how do you know I’m referring to you? Because secondly, you’re getting up your defenses to justify what you have been doing. After all, you’re right, aren’t you? And all those other people just don’t get it, do they? And you are charged by God to defend the faith, and to stand for truth. And if the whole rest of Christendom goes down the toilet, not you. Right?
Even when you do see something good in that other camp, or when you learn something from them, you can’t say it out loud, can you? Why? Because of Political Correctness of the Theological Variety (PCTV).
Your group wouldn’t like it if you said you enjoyed a book written by one of "those" people. They would look upon you suspiciously, and you couldn’t have that. You couldn’t discuss some things in your blog circles, because you would be guilty-by-association. Associating with "those" people.
Now I know some of you have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. And I haven’t even mentioned any particular theological or doctrinal persuasion, have I?
That's because it’s not a doctrinal problem, it’s a heart problem. It’s a flesh problem. It’s that fleshly tendency to bite and devour one another. It’s that flesh tendency to bring down the hammer on those who don’t toe the line of your little theological hot tub group.
And it’s destructive. It wounds the body of Christ, and then shoots the wounded.
And we forget that, "the body is not one, but many." (1 Corinthians 12:14)
And we forget that, "...God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired." (1 Corinthians 12:18)
"And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you.'; or again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary." (1 Corinthians 12:21,22)
Why did God compose the body in this way? "...that there should be no division [schism] in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:25)
And so PCTV becomes similar to heresy, even if it has a correct doctrine.
Why is it similar to heresy? Because the core idea of heresy is false teaching that divides. Heresy leads to division of the body.
You may be right, but are you giving honor to the "weaker" member of the body? You may be right, but are you giving honor to the parts of the body that think you’re wrong?
By all means, be a Berean. Seek the truth. But first seek the one who is the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.
If you’re not in communion with Him, if you’re not filled with His Spirit, just lay back for a while and don’t bother splashing your truth acid on people to burn them. We’re not qualified to handle truth if we’re walking in the flesh. We can handle facts, but we can’t handle truth, unless we are walking by the Spirit.
This Political Correctness of the Theological Variety is bondage. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free." (Galatians 5:1)
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
To my Roman Catholic friends, who may not have heard the simple beautiful truth of the crucifix, the cross:
Too often the crucifix has just been a superstitious token of religion. And religion is often portrayed as a bunch of rituals to gain favor with God.
But what is the real reason that Jesus was on that cross?
Simply this: To pay for sins, as a sacrifice Lamb, so that all who believe in Him would have their sins forgiven, once and for all. And as He died on that cross, He declared, "It is finished!" The sins are paid for -- past, present and future. No more sacrifices needed. Salvation by Grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the GIFT of God.
Then He was buried, and He rose from the dead, authenticating Himself as God, the Son.
It's been said that there are really only two religions in the world:
1. One seeks to do some Works, or some Rituals, or some Sacraments, to gain favor with God, or gain salvation. This includes virtually all the religions of the world except the following:
2. True Christianity, in which salvation is entirely by Grace (unmerited favor), a free gift given by God, through Jesus Christ.
Number 1 can never work, simply because we have all broken God's laws. And He Himself said that if we have broken one law, then we have broken them all. And that's sin. And the wages of sin is death, and ultimately the Lake of Fire.
But the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
That's why He's shown on that crucifix.
But He's not there anymore. He now declares, "If anyone will come to Me, I will in no way reject them. Whoever will may come."
Come to Him. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Flee the wrath to come.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.
Providence is the teaching that God is in control. Otherwise know as the Sovereignty of God. In it’s full biblical glory, it is expressed quite clearly in Ephesians 1:11, where it says "…being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will."
And when we say God is in control, we don’t just mean that He is controlling a herd of cats that He can barely get his hands on. Or that He reacts to things by some corrective measure that barely averts tragedies sometimes, and sometimes, "Ooops, I missed that one."
That borders on blasphemy. When we say God is in control, we are saying that He has determined all things before the foundation of the world. For example, the Scripture says that he has chosen us before the foundation of the world and that even the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world.
God is never surprised. He’s never amazed. He’s never shocked. But He doesn’t just see the future, He determined it.
Now there’s a mystery there, as in so many other things about God. Clearly the Scripture doesn’t portray us as robots. We are thinking, choosing, feeling beings. We might say our mind is our thinker, our will is our chooser, and our emotions are our feeler. And we do choose. We do make decisions.
Yet God "works all things according to the counsel of His will." Before time began, He set forth history. And a thorough study of the sovereignty of God will convince you that when a car drives down a dusty road, not one speck of dust will fall back to earth, but that God determined beforehand where and how it would fall.
And here’s my concern. I see those who believe in the sovereignty of God often in a state of discontentment. I see them mouthing the truth that God is in control, then living as if every circumstance of life was cause for being upset. Knowing that God is sovereign, yet they lack the peace of God too often. Knowing that Romans 8:28 is true, yet they live as if it weren’t.
Romans 8:28 says, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Some have rightly called this verse the "soft pillow that a Christian can rest their head on." But too many are not resting on that pillow. At some level, they know it’s true, but at some level they deny it in their mind, emotions, and will.
I think there are three main reasons why one doesn’t rest in the Providence of God:
1. We forget that He is in control.
Whether it's other people (I always say you can't live someone else's life), or circumstances beyond our control, or even the weather, He is in control. The old "Serenity Prayer", which is more asssociated with secular gift stores than the church, has a lot of wisdom: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference." But if He is in control, then things are not out of control. That alone can be a comfort. Serenity.
2. We forget that He loves us.
Mainly because of Performance-based religion – deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil. We don’t spend the time communing with Him, so we don’t experience the warmth of His open arms. We don’t draw near to Him with the promise that He will draw near to us. When we do spend that time with Him, and when we are reminded through His word that we live by grace, and not performance, then we can experience His love. And not just the intellectual, "Oh yeah, I know He loves me."
3. We doubt His righteousness or goodness.
This is close to #2, forgetting that He loves us. But it extends to all the world. We have the "If I Ruled the World" complex. You know the old song, "If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring."
All I can say is it’s a good thing that neither you nor I ruled the world. I much prefer an all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful holy, righteous and good God ruling the world. And He does.
Here again, we need to spend the time in His presence and in His word, to really grasp this in our hearts.
The word is filled with the truth of the goodness of God.
Even His justice for the wicked is a reflection of His goodness and righteousness, isn’t it?
"Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God." (Romans 11:22)
Even our repentence is driven by His goodness. "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)
But we need our minds renewed by the word, to really get it. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
May I ask you a simple question? If you knew God was completely sovereign, and that He completely loves you and accepts you in Christ, and that He is completely good and righteous, wouldn’t that make a difference in your life? Wouldn’t that give you a level of rest in the Providence of God? Wouldn’t that take away some of the anxiety that may have plagued you regarding everything from a rained out picnic to a friend who just won’t be the way or live the way you know they should?
Believe me, the more you commune with this Lord of ours, the more you get to know Him, the more you will be filled with His Spirit, and the more you will have the peace of God that passes understanding, the peace of God that rests in His Providence, that rests in His Sovereignty over all.
(Sidebar: The excellent book portrayed above in the photo is A.W. Pink's best work. In glorifying God in His sovereignty for initial salvation, he does a wonderful job, and I highly recommend the book. But in my opinion, Pink is weak in understanding Grace after salvation, advocating law-based Christian living. So I would be very cautious in recommending any other of Pink's books to any but the most discerning Grace-oriented reader.)
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.