Yet Still Stinking

Dear readers,

We live in a day and age where false doctrine and heresy becomes more and more rampant within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In any and every way possible, the evil one seeks to undermine the Scriptures with the oldest question in all of history spoken to the minds of people of all walks of life, but particularly to those who claim the name of Christ.

“Yea, has God really said?”

sinlessperfection

In this excellent video by Pastor John MacArthur, he deals with the false teaching propagated by many in mainline evangelical denominations and by those who in the Charismatic movements. This message entitled, “Spiritually Living, Yet Still Stinking” he deals with the false teaching of sinless perfectionism and that we can live a fully sanctified life before being redeemed from this corrupt flesh. This form of Arminianism was taught and spread by false teachers such as Charles G. Finney, who is considered the father of modern-day revivalism.

From MacArthur’s message found in the video below:

It was J.C. Ryle in his marvelous epic book written in 1879 by the title of Holiness who said, “Sudden instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see anywhere in the Bible.” And the reason J.C. Ryle didn’t see them is because they’re not there. That was an utterly unbiblical concept. He knew what all accurate theologians know, that justification and sanctification are inseparable. They both come at the instant of salvation. Justification is immediate and sanctification is progressive, but they cannot be separated. And sanctification is not some experience subsequent to salvation.

Paul claimed to be the chiefest of all sinners, and 1 John is clear that if anybody says he or she is not a sinner, then they are calling God a liar.  We will never achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, we can give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that one day He is coming back and He will change our corruptible bodies into that which is incorruptible. What a glorious day that will be.

We Are Christians First, Americans Second

There is a video floating around in social media where a preacher by the name of Tatsuo Akamine was arrested for “disturbing the peace.” The officer eventually arrested him and took him away. I am writing, not to give an exhaustive thought on the whole situation, but to present a lost theology that I think applies here and in many other contexts within our American culture.

First, it is best to watch the video to get some background.

Also, if you want to tap into my brain as to what sparked me to write about this, please read Tony Miano’s article about what both the preacher and the officer did wrong. It is very enlightening, and it will further assist where I am coming from in this article. (Tony Miano is a  preacher with 20 years of law enforcement experience as well as several run-ins with the law in other countries)

Let’s kick start this with a thought from Charles Spurgeon from “Lectures to my Students.”

I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.

Obviously, this portion of LTMS would be fitting if the preacher, Tatsuo, was yielding to arrest without giving any resistance. But it is a great point to ponder should we have to be persecuted for righteousness sake.

I had a brother in Christ who came and helped us during an outreach for Cheyenne Frontier Days 2014 here in Cheyenne, Wyoming that talked about all the times he was arrested and set free. That’s right! He has been arrested multiple times, held in confinement, but no charges were ever made against him! Why? This is what he says (not exact words).

“Our law system, unfortunately, is designed for you to plead ‘not guilty’ so that you can pay court fees, lawyer fees, and so on. Although I could easily challenge the law, I don’t. Why? When I go to court, and they hear about what I did, when they ask me if I would like to plead guilty or not, I always say, ‘Guilty your honor.’ That shocks the judge and officer every time. They are expecting me to say ‘not guilty’ and evoke amendments and rights, but I don’t have time for that. When they ask me ‘why’, if I am allowed to give an explanation, I just kindly tell them,’If preaching the gospel is a crime, then I am guilty as charged.’ This way, they can see that I am being unlawfully held. But if they charge me with something, it actually has to be illegal, or they have to find some way to dig up a law that says it’s illegal. They haven’t done it yet, and I continue preaching and handing out tracts and talking to people until one day it actually becomes illegal.”

This is a great point to consider. I have often felt this way when discussing the subject of preaching the gospel. Sure, we don’t have any right to be dishonoring to the Lord and belligerent. And we do have rights as Americans. But we are Christians first, Americans second. We are to yield to detainment even if it is unjust at times, and we know it.

In my career, I have been brought to the law before, but not for preaching the gospel. But I still applied the same biblical principles of peace, yielding to those in authority, and cordial, Christian behavior. It really helped people to see that I wasn’t the monster they wanted me to be. It made the process much smoother, and in the end, God delivered me without conviction. If He didn’t, I was still prepared to endure what I felt would be God’s will for me at the time. That’s right. I was ready to go to jail for something I didn’t do. It is a different feeling. It is a different way of thinking, knowing that I would have to prepare to praise God for going to jail. Military jail at that. But God is faithful and sovereign.

The reason I felt this way is because whether it is for the gospel or not, I feel like we forget that God’s people have endured different kinds of suffering in the Bible. Also, there are multiple Scriptures that teach us something about yielding to authority without resistance, even if we know we are in the right. I pray these Scriptures would help us to have a right attitude about how we are to approach authorities.

Ecclesiastes 10:4 “If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, Do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses.”

Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

Romans 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

1 Peter 2:23 “…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”

I know that each Scripture above has its individual contexts. I know that when it comes to the gospel, we are to obey God rather than men. I know that if the laws of the land are unjust, we are to take up the banner of Christ and speak up against it. However, don’t take what I am saying out of context. The Scriptures above indicate some kind of yielding and suffering under authority. If a ruler or authority comes against you, control your body and tongue, and yield to the authority that has been given to them. This doesn’t mean you always have to remain silent. It just means your attitude and motives need to be submissive to the authority that has been granted to them when the time comes for you to face arrest, detainment, or possibly death (if it ever comes to that). Also, another option, as Tony Miano points out in his article, is to actually stop doing whatever is causing the authority to come against you, and further inquire about the law or contact a law organization like Liberty Institute to find out more information.

One final thought. In presenting these texts, I am not saying you shouldn’t go to the law if you feel it is necessary. I am also not saying that you shouldn’t utilize some of the resources like Liberty Institute that help people who are unlawfully charged. What I am saying is that maybe it is time we start showing the world how sovereign God by showing some submission, and how we care more about souls being saved than our own rights. Some of us like to tell non-believers that we don’t have any other rights before God because we are sinners who have broken His law, and yet turn around and demanding “our rights” when law enforcement challenges us. This ought not to be so. We are to be Christians first, with the humility of Christ to guide us in our sufferings and persecutions. If we are to be hauled away by the law, go to with a humble heart that doesn’t resist. If it is not for the gospel, the same applies, because we are still ambassadors of the King.

I pray God prepare us all for the persecution that is on the horizon. I am also desperately praying for revival. Go into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 2): Joy

I have several friends who are battling depression right now so I know it is no coincidence that the next Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

It was only a few years ago that I went through a long period of depression. Prior to that time, I saw depression as a spiritual issue, and I still believe it is.  I saw another side, however, and that is that no matter how much I made myself look at the positive, it did not make me feel better inside. I fervently prayed for God to restore my joy or take me Home. Thankfully He answered that prayer by filling me once again with joy and a sense of His presence. Sure, there are still bad times but God’s grace is there, walking with me every step of the way.

joy_fruitsosp

I do not know how people who don’t have the Lord get through life because truly it is often the joy of the Lord which is my strength. If you do not have that joy right now, don’t stop asking for it and fighting to receive this important fruit. Once you receive this joy unspeakable and full of glory, you will be able to share it with others.

In closing, let me remind you that tears may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Don’t give up hope. Everything happens for a purpose to those who love God. He will complete the work He’s begun in you if you will surrender and allow Him to do so.

Incarnational Sonship

I recently had a run in with someone who posed themselves as believing a doctrine called the “Incarnational Sonship” of Christ. I soon discovered this was merely a small, insignificant theological problem compared to his views about the Trinity as a whole. Nevertheless, the actual position of the Incarnational Sonship of Christ peaked my interest because I had never heard the term before. In essence, the doctrine can be briefly summed up by saying that it is a position in which someone does not believe that Jesus was the “Son of God” from eternity. This doesn’t mean that they believe Jesus Christ is not eternal. They just believe that the Sonship began when he was “begotten.” In other words, the title of  Son of God did not become realized until Jesus’ incarnation.

Although this sounds strange to the ears, and would merit anyone espousing this doctrine having to reinterpret the many Scriptures that affirm the eternal Sonship of Christ, I believe it is possible to hold this position and be truly born again (I’m making room for grace). Moreover, I recognize that theological ignorance or semantical misunderstanding can play a role as to why someone would choose to believe this doctrine, even after being confronted with the insurmountable truth that Christ was always the Son of God before time began.

Surprisingly, John MacArthur once held to this doctrine (other advocates were Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Finis J. Dake, & Walter Martin). Thankfully he no longer believes it, but I figure posting his article here would be fitting. After all, why write about something when someone else credible has done the work, right? It is my hope that in revealing this doctrine we all become more aware of the various kinds of Christological teachings, even the ones the skate on thin ice.

http://www.gty.org/resources/Articles/A235/Reexamining-the-Eternal-Sonship-of-Christ

 

I also stumbled across a gem of a post that explained this theology in contrast to the Eternal Sonship of God. After researching this doctrine, I found this contrast helpful.

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

Jesus was always the Son of God. He is the Eternal Son. “Son of God” is Who He Is. His Sonship directly relates to His Deity.

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

Before the incarnation, Jesus was the Eternal Logos, not the Son. “Son of God” is What He Became. His Sonship directly relates to His incarnation, and has no bearing on His essential Deity.

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

Christ’s Sonship is essential to His true identity and cannot be divorced from the person that He is. “Son of God” is who He is in His being of beings.

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

Being the Logos is essential to His inherent unchanging identity.”Son of God” is merely a title and role that He assumed, a relationship He was born into.

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

“Son of God” means equal with God, indicating likeness or sameness of being.

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

“Son of God” as an attribute of assumed humanity speaks of subservience, being less than God. [A debatable point]

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

God the Father has always been God the Father.

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

God has always been God. Prior to the incarnation He was “father” in a metaphorical sense as Creator. With the Incarnation He became a Father in the literal sense. Relationship does not involve a change in Person.

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

The Father-Son relationship has eternally existed in the Godhead. Before the Incarnation the Son was ever in the Father’s bosom.

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

Before the incarnation there was no Father-Son relationship in the Godhead. This does not imply there was no Triune relationship between persons (God, Logos and Holy Spirit), merely that we have no other term but “God” to represent the 1st Person of the Trinity. The Logos was ever in God’s bosom.

 

ETERNAL SONSHIP:

The Father sent His own Son into this world (see John 3:16-17; Galatians 4:4; etc.).

INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP:

God sent His own Logos — the One who was born Son — in Person into this world. Once again, a change in relationship does not equate to a change in Person

Taken from bro.ralph@gmail.com

 

Because of my recent experience, here is a warning/exhortation. If you come into contact with someone that believes that Christ was not eternally the “Son of God,” take a breath and don’t be quick to label them as a heretic. Find out if they believe whether Jesus eternally existed with the Father before the world was made. If they deny that Jesus, as the 2nd person of the Trinity, did not exist with the Father before time began, and/or they believe that Jesus and the Father are not one essence yet two distinct persons (not “manifestations” like some Oneness Pentecostals like to say), then it is safe to expose it as heresy. If, after pleading with them and correcting them on their position, they remain resolute, warn them about their dangerous position, that you will be obligated to warn others concerning them (especially if they are a teacher/leader), and that they will be marked as a heretic. You want to give space for them to admit openly that they are willing to at least consider the essential doctrine of Christ and His eternal essence.

If provided an opportunity, follow up and find out if there is any change or a willingness for further discussion. If, for whatever reason, they are unwilling to discuss the issue with you, and remain staunch concerning their heretical position, then the removal of the right hand of fellowship is sadly in order. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk with them in future contexts, pray for them, or perhaps further assist them with good works (if they care to have you in their company) that may open their hearts to the true gospel. It just means you can no longer consider them a brother or sister, or among those who are truly born again. However, if they are a teacher, leader, or just a strong advocate of their heresies, one of the options is avoidance.

Some Scripture concerning the handling of heretics: Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10; 1 John 1:7-11.

One final thought. It is one thing to contend against a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Oneness Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, etc. that are openly affirming their denomination and what they believe (whether ignorantly or with knowledge), but it is quite another when you have someone that marches among the ranks of Christianity who are posing to have a biblical view of the essentials of the faith and are found wanting. Also, it is important to reserve heretical judgment toward someone until we are absolutely sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, they are believing historical heresies.  Always verify and ask for clarity. We are to treat all people with respect, but we must fear God and sin enough to speak the truth to others that may hold to damnably erroneous views of Christ. Let love lead our motive, truth organize our thoughts, the gospel guide our passions.

Zimzum?

From Wikipedia — “The Tzimtzum (Hebrew צמצום ṣimṣūm “contraction/constriction/condensation”) is a term used in the Lurianic Kabbalah teaching of Isaac Luria, to explain his new doctrine that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which finite and seemingly independent realms could exist.”

Rob & Kristin Bell – The Heresy of Zimzum

Yes, folks, the same Rob Bell who does not believe in a literal hell has produced another book that Oprah and her syncophants will love to read. His latest drivel is based on teachings directly from the heresy known as Kabbalah which has followers including Madonna, Ivana Trump, Demi Moore, and Mick Jagger.

robandoprah

However, this was not what caught my attention. It was what takes place at the 29 minute mark of the video found at the above link. For your further disgust, Oprah also speaks to Rob about when she thinks the Church apostate church will open up to fully embrace and accept homosexuality. The answer will not surprise you. If you can manage to watch the video all the way to the end, otherwise, simply forward the video to around the 29 minute mark.

Quote read by Kristin from the book —

“Marriage – gay and straight – is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, devotion, and sacrifice.”

And listen to this jewel from the lips of this diligent Bible teacher depraved heretic –

“The church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.”

Yet, what is even sadder than what Rob & Kristin Bell are promoting is the fact that many within evangelical circles are buying their books thinking it is great theology. May God have mercy and grant forgiveness for pastors who have failed in their work as shepherds and on congregations for believing and following every whim of doctrine.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1): Love

For a couple weeks now, I have been planning to write a series on the fruit of the Spirit. As I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 and thinking about what I would write, I found it fitting that I start this week with the first fruit mentioned, which is Love.

There is so much I could say on this topic, as there are different types of love which we show to different people; however, I would like to focus on the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.

love_on_the_beach

These two really go hand in hand. John tells us in 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

One of the most popular passages of Scripture which talks about love is 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

It can be easy to “sacrifice” in the name of “love” and, yet, real love is giving of ourselves on behalf of others–loving them in tangible ways. We need to know our friends and family so well that we know what will bless them. They will be able to tell if our actions are token or if they come from the heart.

The-Greatest-of-These-is-Love-Regardless

Not everyone is easy to love but Jesus went so far as to tell us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Love is not an option. Jesus gave us the greatest example of love, and we are to follow that example: “Greater love has no man (or woman) than this, that he (or she) lay down his (or her) life for a friend.”

Truly, friend, if you don’t have Love, you don’t have anything. Everyone wants to receive love but we also need to be willing to give it: to those we like and to those we don’t.

It bothers me that many never know how much they are loved. Once a person dies, people line up to share how much that person means to them but the person being talked about never hears the kind words that are spoken. How much more important is it to tell our friends and loved ones how much they mean to us now, while we are still walking this road of life together. If you’re not used to saying, “I love you,” it can be really hard at first but I encourage you to begin to tell people. As you do, it will be easier, and you may find yourself loving more deeply and better able to genuinely serve because it is no longer about yourself but about those you love.

Marriage or Divorce?

In some ways, I hesitate to write on this topic because I’ve never been married and I worry that some may think me unqualified to share on this subject, but I am so grieved lately, as several people I know have divorced their spouse and quickly found another and, even more appalling to me, they are finding acceptance in the Church. Marriage is no longer sacred. Some people change spouses like they were socks: easy come, easy go. This really breaks my heart.

I know it is not easy living with someone day in and day out. Maybe your wife is a nag or your husband snores or doesn’t clean up after himself. Maybe you’re just tired of looking at him or her but, friends, when God created marriage, He designed it to reflect the relationship between Him and His Church. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s the problem. Just as many in the Church have left their first love, husbands and wives are doing the same thing.

marriagerings

“And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Mal. 2:13-16).

When a woman marries a man, she feels secure. She believes that he loves her and she, in turn, loves him. Over time, the “feelings” of love and emotion may wane. This is when a couple will either fall apart or begin to work on keeping their love alive. If you are led by emotion instead of by the Spirit of God, you may choose to give up the mundane for something that seems more exciting but let me remind you that sin seems pleasurable for a time, but it will end in spiritual death. Every decision you make needs to be lined up against the Word of God.

I struggle to write this because I know a lot of people who have been divorced and are on second or third marriages. Some of these people are very good friends of mine. My purpose in writing this is not to heap condemnation on those who have already gone through this. I am also not naive enough to think that everyone who becomes divorced wants the divorce. If a spouse is determined to leave, there is often nothing to do but let him or her go. I do hope, however, that someone will read this, who may be thinking about leaving his or her family, and they will remember that God gave him or her their life partner to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in good times and bad times, through sickness and health, whether wealthy or poor. There were no stipulations on those vows you made. Love is not a feeling; it is a choice. Maturity comes when you choose to love someone who maybe isn’t always easy to love or live with and yet you know God put this person in your life and you determine to bear with them anyway. You agree to let God continue the work that He’s begun in you so that your whole family can better grow in Him.

Couple holding hands

I hope you can hear my heart. My parents divorced when I was eight, so I know how painful it is when two people who once loved each other decide they can no longer live under the same roof. I am not trying to heap condemnation on anyone. That is not my job anyway. But I do beg those who are in a turbulent marriage: do not leave divorce as an option. If there really is no way you can continue to live with your spouse and you choose to move out, continue to pray for your spouse and ask God to bring reconciliation. That is His heart. I know a lady whose husband moved out to have an affair with another woman. His wife never stopped praying for him and, one day, several years later, he finally came to the place where he was willing to humble himself and repent and go back home. God’s hand is never too short, no matter how hopeless a situation seems.

It seems like there is still a lot of the “If it feels good, do it” mentality going on today, but I want to remind you that everything we do needs to be measured against the Word of God. If the Bible condemns an action, there is nothing you can say to justify it.

Don’t buy into the world’s thinking, that there are better “fish in the sea.” Begin to see your wife as the beautiful person that God put in your life to teach you how to love. Take time to look at your husband and see the man of God that he could be if he had a wife who was willing to love and encourage him in his endeavors. If you have been married a while, you may have developed some very bad habits, such as cutting each other down or being self-serving, but habits can be broken and must be if your marriage is to survive.

In case there is a single person who actually took time to read this and is still hanging in, let me encourage you to make sure that the person you marry is the one that God has for you. Once you say “I do,” you will need to go back to that assurance from time to time when things begin to get rough and your spouse turns out to be harder to live with than you ever dreamed possible when you saw him or her through eyes of love. I also believe that love does not have to wane. God can put a love in your heart which is new every morning. The key is having a servant’s heart. Instead of marrying for what you can get out of the relationship, look for the things you will be able to give. If you stay in that mode, it will go a long way in ensuring a happy marriage.