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.

Verbal Pornography

We live in a dangerous age. Wrong is now right and fully acceptable in the eyes of a sick, sin-darkened world. What is even worse is that the church has often sought to fully endorse the Corinthian and Laodicean attitudes of this amoral society. America is no longer a post-modern society, but a society where morals are what you decide to make them.

For example, I know some who claim the name of Christ who believe that it is acceptable for homosexuals to sin all they want provided they do it behind closed doors and don’t bother anybody else. However, sin and depravity is never enough for those walking apart from God and out of the rebellion of their hearts. The sin that is acceptable today for them will never be enough until it is fully out in the open and others have been ensnared by their depravity.

To say that their sin is ok as long as it is behind closed doors is a dangerous path because once that becomes acceptable, those who prey on others will seek to get others to say that it is acceptable as long as it is behind closed doors. Before long, we have fully endorsed the rank wickedness that destroyed the Roman Empire in which not only was homosexuality accepted but so was the sale of slaves for sexual purposes (any age and gender).

What would never have been acceptable in any polite company when I was growing up in the 70’s is now fully open. It is endorsed by Hollywood by that which enters the eye gates and even Christians are laughing at the smut. We attended a church once that included times of “fellowship” when the men / women would get together for a night out which included “R” rated movies. What kind of picture does this paint for the world who cannot see Christ in us, but only more of themselves?

destroys-relationships

If they even care to check out what is going on, very few parents are complaining about the material that is being forced upon their children to read in public school settings or what is being openly displayed at the local public libraries. There was a time school plays and activities would never have been considered risqué, but those days are long gone and now we find in the news even today that middle schoolers were given a word search game as part of their class activity that was based fully on the smut entitled “50 Shades of Grey.”

Books like “50 Shades” are becoming bestsellers and turned into movies. Men and women are buying this verbal pornography by the millions and then wondering why their marriages are suffering. It continues the trend set by books like “Twilight” in which a very old 104 year old vampire man preys on a young, innocent teenage girl seeking sex. Seriously?!?!?!

No true father would permit or endorse such behavior in his own home, yet even fathers who claim the name of Christ are permitting their daughters and their wives to fawn over the characters in these books and movies.

Dear sisters in Christ, this type of reading material is no different an impact on your mind than the dangers of visual pornography is to the men and boys in your home. These words are designed and written in a way that does not bring you closer to Christ, nor to your husband. While two wrongs never make a right, you cannot complain about what your husband is watching if you are filling your heart and mind with the same kind of trash he is. You are both wrong before the Lord. It is hypocritical for you to complain that he is cheating on you with a computer screen when you are cheating on him with what you reading on the printed page.

Dear brothers in Christ, we are called to be observant in our homes. We might pride ourselves on not allowing the vulgar, sexually-charged rap music of the world to enter our homes, but we are permitting our wives and young girls to be embraced by that which is not truly a reality. This is sin before God. Their hearts and lives must be guarded jealously or you will lose them. Brothers, it is hypocritical to think that you are justified in not protecting your heart by what you watch if you do not also care what books can be found on your bookshelves. Your wife will NEVER live up to the expectations that the world creates in your heart and mind, and you also will NEVER live up to the expectations of what the world wants to offer your wife through what she reads.

frayedrope

Divorces are taking place on an ever-increasing basis within the church by those who claim the name of Christ. Husbands and wives have filled their heads with trash and then want to claim “irreconcilable differences” on their divorce papers when their spouse does not live up to the torrid expectations of the latest best-selling book on the New York Times list or the latest box-office hit from the pit of Hollywood. If you think the smut and trash of the world is harmless, then you are living life at the bottom end of a frayed rope. You are but one small strand from total destruction.

Pastors and shepherds, we must be willing to address the truth of Scripture and warn the flock of the dangers that are being faced. This does not mean that we need to ride hobbyhorses or only speak about the latest fads. However, it does mean that we must be willing to open our eyes to the wickedness that is desperately seeking to swallow our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We must call out the dangers for what they truly are. It is hypocritical to call out to the Lord to save marriages if we have not warned of the impending doom that we saw taking place in the home and ignored it.

Visual and verbal pornography is seeking to destroy our homes. There is nothing that Satan and his minions must enjoy more than to see those who are true believers being swallowed up by the millions with the filth of the world. The evil one wants to destroy your marriage.

Christian women, he wants you to think that it is acceptable for you to find a release in your life from the “mundane” that you find so tedious. The books and movies that demean your husband and marriage are just as bad and as wicked as what he may be involved with. It is not reality. God will not be mocked. Vampire love stories and sexual bondage novels are a totally depraved and warped destruction of what God has created to be holy. You are tasked with protecting your daughters as well so they can go to their wedding being pure in every way.

i still do

Christian men, you want a wholesome marriage? Stop longing after what is not reality. Stand up and be the kind of man God demands you to be. Be a true man who shows true deference to a lady. Be a godly man who points others to Christ, not detracts from the loveliness of the Savior. Be the father who protects his young boys and girls from the depravity of the world that only wants to destroy them.

Godly marriages are not based on anything Hollywood or the New York Times best-seller list has to offer. They are built day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute on sacrifice, service, and Christ-like love. Your lives will NEVER resemble Hollywood or the best-seller lists because those are far from Christ. Flee from that which will destroy you. Seek forgiveness from the Most High and learn to trust and love again in a way that others can see Christ in you the hope of glory.

God Resists the Proud

One sin that I am convinced almost every human on the planet deals with to some degree or another is the sin of pride. It may exhibit itself in different ways but the root is there just the same. Years ago, I thought of pride as arrogance, and I did not think that described me, so it was easy to feel pretty good about myself. It wasn’t until I read Irresistible to God that I was reminded just how much God hates pride and exactly how one can begin to see the proud areas of his or her life in order to change into the humble son or daughter that God requires.

First Peter 5:5 tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I don’t know about you but the thought of God resisting me makes me tremble. I can’t imagine kneeling before His throne to make my petition known just to see Him turn His face and refuse to even look at me. That’s at best. Resisting also means turning against. That is even more scary! I need God on my side so I must endeavor to become humble.

James-4-6

In Proverbs 6, you will find a list of things God hates. Pride is the first thing in that list, along with “hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations,” and several other things. If God hates it that badly, I want nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, after 40+ years, it is not easy to just be humble and get rid of all pride. I have a lot of habits and patterns that are a part of me, which I must rely on God to help uncover bit by bit. As I see my pride flare up, I do have the responsibility to kill it though. I do not want that to define my life.

If you have never considered pride as a bad thing, I encourage you to do a study and see what else God has to say about it. My prayer tonight is:

Change my heart, O God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, O God
May I be like You