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Living in the Days of Noah

Have you ever wondered what it was like living in the days of Noah? By the end of this article, you may discover that you don’t have to wonder as much as you may think.

The Days of Noah

Let’s first take a look at what the Bible says the days of Noah were like in Gen 6:5-8

5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. KJV

So we see that God observed that man’s wickedness was great upon the earth. By great, it is meant that man’s wickedness multiplied. Man committed increasingly more sin, more and more acts of wickedness. Society was not getting better, not becoming more and more righteous and godly.

Instead, society was becoming more lawless and crime-ridden, and sin became ubiquitous. Lawlessness and crime, immorality, and corruption were increasing more and more every year, instead of decreasing. The man’s wickedness had swept the earth; swept every place where man was. (How much like today!)

However, great wickedness does not only mean that sin multiplied, it also means that sin became even more extreme and terrible. Sin became: more mean and vile, more immoral and perverse, more fleshly and carnal.

Since Adam’s fall into sin, man had become exceedingly sinful and more and more bold in his sin. Man was now committing great wickedness upon the earth, and God saw man’s great wickedness. However, God observed something else about man as well.

He observed that every imagination and thought of man was evil—evil continuously—evil all the time. In other words, God saw that man was very depraved. Evil was a culture—a way of life.

Understand that this does not mean that man never does anything good. Total depravity means that man has a sinful nature; therefore, he fails and sins. Man cannot keep from sinning and doing wicked things. No matter how much man tries not to fail and sin, he will still find himself failing and sinning ever so often. [cf. Romans 7:18-19]

But the point is, in God’s eyes, man’s heart was evil, and notice that it was only evil; that is, it was corrupted and contaminated and short of perfection. Anything less than perfection is evil because it stands opposed to God and His perfection.

In verse 6, we see that God grieved over man and that He had ever created man. So, one may ask, how could God ever regret that He had made man?

Because man was condemning himself, cutting himself off and separating himself from God forever, and dooming himself to spend eternity in hell apart from God. This was not the purpose for which God had made man and it grieved Him greatly. Therefore, God regretted that He had ever made man.

In verse 7, we see that God Judged man. This is because man had aroused the holiness and wrath of God against sin. God is love and in His love, He reaches out to man. But God is also just and holy and His holiness has to act Living in the Days of Noah - Judgement Genesis 6:7just as His love acts. God’s holiness has to strike out against injustices and immoralities and against all wickedness—to protect His name.

Being perfect, God has to correct all the injustices and wrongs of the earth. Consequently, He had to judge and condemn man for his wickedness. This grieved God to the depths of His heart.

Nevertheless, God judged and condemned man to be destroyed, wiped off the face of the earth—both man and land animals because the whole creation was corrupted. The Hebrew word translated as destroy is descriptive: it means to blot out completely.

We see in verse 8 that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. We will come back to this later.

Are we Living in the Days of Noah?

Well, let’s look at this. In the US, the country has become increasingly secular and sacrilegious. The population has condoned a plethora of ungodly practices and doctrines. It has legally embraced abortion and same-sex marriage. There has been an assault on the Scriptures to discredit and disregard them. There has been an attack on the freedom of religion to bend toward the secular way of thinking. There is corruption within the church including homosexuality, and child pornography, and pedophilia.

The government is corrupt and dysfunctional with a leader who lives in an alternative reality, and who thinks only of himself instead of the country and has placed the country on a path of division and confusion and death. As a result, the country is ideologically split politically and morally.

There is civil unrest because of the increasingly apparent social injustice, inequality, and the failure to correct it. Citizens are shooting and killing each other, looting and destroying property.

The citizens are confused and in denial. The country is in the midst of a deadly pandemic and yet, many refuse to follow simple and easy preventative measures that would protect others and themselves. They want to continue on with life as though the pandemic doesn’t exist. They say, “This is America” “we have freedom of choice” “stop taking away our freedoms.” “The masks are uncomfortable” Really? Aren’t we talking about life or death? Is lying in a casket freedom? Is a ventilator more comfortable than a mask?

Citizens are having house parties and other large gatherings, and people who are dying from the virus are in denial stating that “the virus is a hoax!”

They don’t care about the truth, or about science, they just want to have their way.

Even countries in Europe are protesting against restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. This denial is world-wide.

This is rebellion—plain and simple!

Does it make sense to sacrifice life for financial stability? Can we spend money from the grave? But this is what happens when a nation turns away from God. He leaves us with our own dysfunctional, depraved minds that are totally irrational and illogical (Romans 1:28).

Nevertheless, people want to have their own way, in spite of the consequences. It happened with Biblical Israel, during Christ’s time on earth, and it is happening today. We are certainly walking (living) in the days of Noah.Living in the Days of Noah - Are we living in the last days of Noah?

This behavior: the refusal to follow instructions, to listen to reason, this total illogical reasoning, not to mention the blind ear to sound Biblical doctrine, is evidence of the last days we are living in. Jesus prophesied about it regarding His second coming in Matt 24:37-39

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  NIVLiving in the Days of Noah - The Flood came and took them all away

When will Christ return? No one knows but His return finds its equivalent in Noah’s day. Jesus will return when the world is living as it was living in Noah’s day: living sensual lives, eating, drinking, marrying, divorcing, and remarrying over and over and refusing to heed Noah’s message of repentance, righteousness, and coming judgment.

Notice the words up to the day Noah entered into the ark.” While Noah was building the ark, he preached the righteousness of God and the coming judgment. The people had the testimony of Noah’s life and his belief in God’s Word as a warning, a warning that man was responsible to live righteously and that judgment was coming. They saw Noah building the ark. But even though they observed the ark, they rejected Noah’s message and testimony. They went on living in worldliness, in their eating and drinking, and in pursuing their own lustful desires, and they did so right up until the very day that “Noah entered into the ark.”
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, their world was shattered.

They “knew nothing,” which means this: they did not expect the coming judgment. They did not believe the fact, the word, and the message. They were close-minded; they did not bother too much about listening and studying the matter. Therefore, they were willfully ignorant of the truth. They simply did not want to know the Word of God and they suffered the consequences, ” the flood came and took them all away.”

When will Christ return? He will return just as He came in Noah’s day: at a shocking time. Just as they “knew not” that the end was coming, so He will return when the world knows not.

In verse 8, we see God’s grace: “but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” This is the first time grace or favor is mentioned in the Bible.

What does that mean? It means that Noah believed in God and His promises. As a result, God poured out His grace and favor upon Noah.

God had mercy upon Noah and chose Noah to be the individual to be saved through the coming judgment. Noah’s faith in the promise of Godhis faith in the coming Savior—saved him. Noah was saved “by grace through faith” in the coming Savior (Ephes. 2:8-9). Noah found grace because he believed God, believed God’s promise of salvation through the promised seed,
the coming Savior.

Noah chose not to live as the world was living, he chose to be righteous instead, and he chose the narrow way.

Any and every individual can be saved just as Noah was…by the grace of God through faith in the promised seed, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ if they chose to. [cf. Eph 2:8-9]

Living in the Days of Noah - Jesus our Ark
JESUS IS OUR ARK!! He will save us from the flood of judgement to come. HALLELUJAH!

Are we living in the days of Noah? We certainly are, but we have the same choice that Noah had: to trust and believe God, to accept His Son as Lord and Savior, and live righteously. Jesus is our ark!!

The Bottom line: He will return when people are living just as they were living in the days of Noah: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” His coming is certain and assured.

So let us be obedient and ready!

I encourage you to leave any comments, questions, or concerns below. You will receive a response.

Blessings!!

 

 

 

Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

There is a question that is asked by many. Christians ask this question in order to get a deeper understanding of God and how he operates. On the other hand, this question is asked by skeptics and atheists to substantiate their non-beliefs. That question is, why does God allow evil to exist?

What is Evil?

Evil is a force that is in opposition to God and His work of righteousness in the world. Additionally, the word is used for any disturbance to the proper order of the universe, such as disease.

In the Scriptures, it is represented as moral and physical. We will cover the subject under these headings. Many of the evils that men encounter have not been intended by those who suffer them. Disease, individual and national calamity, drought, scarcity of food (famine), may not always be charged to the account of intentional wrong. Often, the innocent suffer with, and even for, the guilty. In such cases, only physical evil is evident. Even when the suffering has been occasioned by sin or dereliction of duty, whether the wrong is active or passive, many, perhaps the majority of those who are injured, are not accountable in any way for the ills which fall upon them.

Moral Evil – This term refers to the wrongs committed to our fellowman, where the executor is responsible for the action. The immorality may be present even when the action is not physically committed. As the Scripture reads in Matt 24:48, “But if that evil servant shall say in his heart…,” whether he shall smite his fellow-servants or not, the moral evil is present.

Jesus also made this point in Mark 7:21-23

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

The last six commandments of the Ten Commandments apply here (Ex 20:12-17). For one to dishonor one’s parents, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to bear false witness, and to covet are moral evils.

The fact of the matter is, words and deeds are established in the heart before the world sees or hears them, both good and evil. As Jesus said in Matt 12:34-36:

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

The point: for the deeds we do and the words we speak, we are responsible.

Physical Evil – Often, the bad is physical; it can be occasioned by the sins for which the people of the nation were responsible, or it may occur, not as an act of vengeance, but from accident or negligence or other causes unknown. Very often, the evil is a corrective, to cause individuals to forsake the wrong and accept the right.

For example, the flood was sent upon the earth because “all flesh had corrupted their way” (Gen 6:12). This evil was intended to serve as a warning to those who were to live after. The ground had already been cursed for the good of Cain (Gen 4:12). The two (2) purposes seemed to direct the treatment.

Where Did Evil Come From?

For starters, I want to introduce the point that evil existed before man was created. Take note of what the serpent said to Eve when he tempted her to partake of the forbidden fruit in Gen 3:5:

Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist - Where does evil come from?
Genesis 1 and 2. The historical account of creation. Genesis 3. The origin of evil.

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Take note of what God said in Gen 3:22:

22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

When man partook of the forbidden fruit, he gained knowledge of good and evil that existed prior. However, that is a theological topic for a future post. For this post, the focus is on post-Adam evil that is active in the world today.

To answer the question of where did evil come from, it came as the result of sin, ushered in by God’s main adversary, Satan.

When the first couple sinned, they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and entered into a world of hardship. Life became difficult and subsequent generations became more and more morally corrupt.

Because of the immorality of man (Adam), the physical earth was cursed (Gen. 3:17) and hardship fell upon all aspects of the world.

The Consequences of Evil

Because of man’s disobedience, he became destined to know both good and evil and this knowledge was to be gained through experience. Therefore, they were plagued with all sorts of negative elements referred to in the Scripture as “thorns also and Thistles.” These are the terrible results of WhyDoes God Allow Evil to Exist - The Consequences of Evildisobedience. God gave man a choice and he chose disobedience—sin.

So today, we are experiencing death, illness, hardships, adverse weather conditions: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

Hardship fell upon Adam and all of his offspring, which includes us today. The Scripture reads in Rom 5:12-13:

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Death is the great enemy.  All of the consequences mentioned above result in death. There is no escape for the young or the old.

These seeds of death are manifested by multitudes of infirmities and diseases of the mind and body, upheavals of nature, accidents, and man’s cruelties to one another in war and crimes. These all add to the process.

As strange as this may sound, this is all part of God’s great design.

How Long will Evil Prevail?

But all is not lost! God’s great design does not end with the human race powerless in death. God is allowing evil to exist but at the same time, he has made a provision. This provision is possible through Jesus, the Redeemer who has made it possible for all to be awakened from death and restored. The Scripture reads in 1 Cor. 15:21-22:

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

This provision of life through Christ is based on Jesus’ personal death and resurrection. Jesus Himself said in John 6:51:

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

This is the reason Jesus, God’s Son, was born into the world as a human—to save the world! (John 3:16, 1:14, Heb. 2:9, 14). Jesus’ resurrection overcame death. He is “the firstborn from the dead.” (Col. 1:18).

Jesus also said in John 11:25:

25 I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. NLT

HOW PRECIOUS IS THIS GIFT!

Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist - Jesus is the savior from evil
The resurrection of Christ overcame death once and for all! Jesus is our Savior!!

By fully accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, we are saved from eternal death to eternal life (salvation).

In the fullness of time, Christ will return to the earth to claim those who died in Him (the righteous) and judge the unrighteous. This is our hope, Acts 24:15 reads:

15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

So we must wait for the day of redemption when the dead is resurrected and the world is rejuvenated.

The Scriptures explain this way in Rom 8:18-26

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently). New Living Translation

In this passage, Paul addresses some key points: creation is subject to corruption. All of creation, whether minerals, plants, or animals, suffer just as men do. All of creation suffers hurt, loss, damage, deterioration, erosion, death, and decay—all creation struggles for life.

We see in verse 20 that creation did not willingly choose to be condemned to corruption. Creation was fated to vanity, futility, and frustration—by God. The world was made to be the home of man, the place where he resides. Therefore, when man sinned, his world was fated to suffer the consequences of sin along with him. Man’s world was cursed right along with him. But the creation has hope!

In verse 21, we see that the creation (the earth) shall be delivered from corruption. The creation is looking forward to redemption along with the children of God and is groaning in pain as an expectant mother’s labor pains for the new birth.

The balance of the passage further addresses the hope we have. God is Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist - How long will evil prevailallowing evil to exist but only for a time. It won’t be as long as it has been before the return of Christ as we are living in the last days.

In the meantime, while we wait, we are to serve Christ—love and obey Him.

Therefore, as the winds of adversity swirl around us, as we deal with civil unrest, pandemics, a corrupt and divided government, climate change, sickness, and death, we must keep hope alive!

For more detail on hope, please read the article, The Reason for Our Hope on this website.

Please leave any questions, comments, or concerns below.

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

God: the Source of all Things

The world we live in today is a troubled one. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has resulted in tremendous loss: loss of jobs and income, education of children as we know it, social freedoms and gatherings, and life overall has come to practically a standstill. This has caused great anxiety to much of the population. But despite all that is going on in the world that we can’t control, it’s important to remember that God is in control and He is our hope. In this article, we are going to look at God: the Source of all Things.

The Issue

Today’s society has turned further and further from God and the focus has been taken off Him onto the natural and material things. But what must be realized is the natural things (Jobs, homes, cars, clothes, jewelry, etc) would not exist without God.

To put things in perspective, God is the source and the natural-material things are resources. Nothing exists without God. This is an unequivocal fact. John 1:2-3 reads, “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

One of the greatest errors made in today’s society is the forgetting of God. But what has caused us to forget God?

Many people seldom think about God. Occasionally, the thought of God may cross their minds, but not often. God is not a major part of today’s thinking, neither of our lives. The world does not include God and our lives are not focused upon God. To most, God is way off and out of reach.

To some individuals, God may or may not (agnostics) exist. To others, God does not exist at all (atheists). Therefore, God is not a subject that dwells in their minds. As a result, God is simply rejected and denied; so, there is no need to give thought to God. God is forgotten.

The Warning

There is a clear and strong warning against this in the Scriptures. Let’s take a look in Deut 8:11-15:

11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:

12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;

13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;

14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;

The setting of the passage is Moses preaching under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit. Notice what he proclaimed to the Israelites: Beware! Be careful! Be on Guard!

We must conscientiously guard against forgetting God. Three (3) conditions will cause us to forget God.

God: The Source of all thingss
We must always remember the Lord and keep His commandments!

In verse 11, we see the encouragement to keep God’s commandments. Failing to obey God’s holy commandments will cause us to forget God. We must obey God’s commandments, by keeping our minds upon obeying them. If we neglect and ignore His commandments, we will grow cold and indifferent, soon forgetting about God. Our consciences and minds will become dull, insensitive, hard, callous, and dead to God (1 Tim. 4:1-2). The thoughts of God will before long pass from our minds. We will forget God.

On the other hand, if we obey God’s commandments, then He will be active in our hearts and lives. Our minds and thoughts will focus on God, and we will seek to fulfill His commandments. Step by step throughout the day, we will seek to please God by obeying Him. God will be alive in our hearts and thoughts. We will then not forget God.

In summary, keeping God’s holy commandments is the way to guard against forgetting God. On the other hand, failing to obey God’s holy commandments will cause a person to forget God.

In verses 12 and 13, we see what can happen with prosperity. Being prosperous, at ease, satisfied, and complacent can cause us to forget God.

God: the Source of all
OUR BLESSINGS WILL BECOME IDOLS IF WE FORGET THE SOURCE FROM WHICH THEY CAME!!

This was of great concern to Moses for the Israelites. Once they had overpowered their enemies and settled down in the Promised Land, there was the danger that their subsequent prosperity would cause them to become satisfied and comfortable. They would become cozy in Zion. Notice how Moses warns the people against becoming complacent and satisfied with their prosperity:

  • – They would have plenty of food, be full, and satisfied
  • – They would have great and fine housing, settle down and be comfortable
  • – Their wealth (gold, silver, herds, and flocks) would greatly multiply.

Our society, particularly in the US is duplicating Biblical Israel’s downfall. The relatively young United States has been blessed to become the most prosperous nation on earth—a superpower— and in the process has turned away and is continuing to turn away from God exponentially. Instead of focusing on the source (God), the focus is on the resources.

In verse 14 we see what can be the result of focusing solely on resources—pride.

Possessing pride and a sense of self-sufficiency can cause an individual and a nation to forget God. An individual or a nation can begin to feel that subsequent prosperity is due solely to knowledge, ability, and skill. We can God: The Source of all thingseasily forget that our life, health, and strength—our very existence upon this earth—are due to God. It is God who willed us to be born and who had established the laws of reproduction through which we are born.

We Christian believers must guard our hearts against becoming proud and self-sufficient, from thinking that it is we alone that has produced the prosperity. We must not forget God: everything we have comes from God. God has willed for us to prosper; therefore, the Christian produces the products and possesses the things he owns. God is the primary, ultimate source of everything we are and have; our abilities, skills, health, and possessions. Man does not live upon this earth unless God wills him to live. Consequently, there is no place for pride or self-sufficiency within the heart of man. Humility and thanksgiving is to be entrenched in our hearts.

In summary, in the midst of all our prosperity, we the people of God must guard ourselves against becoming complacent, self-satisfied, at ease, comfortable. We must not become apathetic, lethargic, indifferent, sluggish, stagnant, cold-hearted, and unresponsive to God. We must not forget God.

We also see in verse 14 as well as verse 15 God’s protection. He delivered the Israelites from Egypt and saved them out of enslavement. This He did to give them the hope of the Promised Land. However, when they forgot God, they forgot their salvation. They forgot the very purpose for which God saved them, the very reason why they were living in the Promised Land.

If we forget God, we are forgetting the guidance and protection of God. We will forget that it was God who led us through our wilderness wanderings, through all the terrible trials and difficulties of our wilderness. We will God: the Source of all Thingsforget that He protected us from situations equal to our venomous snakes and scorpions.

If we forget God, we will lose the guidance and protection of God. We will be left all alone upon this earth, leaving us only to what we can personally do for ourselves and what others are willing to do. In facing the trials and tribulations of life such as accident, diseases, financial difficulties, job or business problems, relationship difficulties, family and school problems—any problem or trial of life—the only help available will be the aid of flesh, only what we or some other person can do to help us. We will have lost the guidance and protection of God—if we forget Him.

If we forget God, we will forget His provision. It is God who provides the necessities of life: water to drink and food to eat. But, if we forget God, we lose God’s day-by-day provision, lose the assurance of having Him look after us. We will have no guarantee of the necessities of life. We must keep in mind that God had given the Israelites water gushing from a rock and manna to eat day-by-day out in the desert. They had no excuse for forgetting God.

Let’s look at verses 16-17:

16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;

17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.

In verse 16, we see one of the reasons God provides for us: to humble us. If we forget God, we will forget the humbling experiences. We forget that God tests us to make us stronger and to make things go smoother for us.

In verse 17 we see that if we forget God, we will forget humility and we develop a sense of self-sufficiency that leads us to believe that we did it all on our own.

The fact of the matter is, pride and a sense of self-sufficiency will lead an individual and a nation to forget God (Prov. 16:18); therefore, we must unquestionably guard against these two terrible sins, sins that cut the heart of God ever so deeply. Nothing can sink us faster spiritually than pride.

The Solution

God the Source of all Things
Always remember!!

But Moses not only shed light on the problem but he also passionately shared the solution in verse 18:

18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

This is the first of three (3) actions that will protect us from forgetting God.

Remember the source of all things: “the Lord thy God.” We must always remember that it is God who gives us the ability to work and produce. Our ability is due to God, not to us. But even more, there is another fact that we must grasp: God fulfills His covenant, the gift of the promised land. It is of essential importance to remember this.

Remember the past blessings. By focusing on past blessings, God is being recognized for what He has done in the past and keeps the focus on Him.

The Promised Land during the time of Moses was an earthy one (the land of Canaan). For us, it is a Spiritual one (eternal life in heaven), and no individual can enter or possess the Promised Land apart from God. The Promised Land is a precious gift of God and not the creation of man. Only God can yield the Promised Land to an individual. God and God alone is the source of all things. Focusing on this fact should keep an individual from forgetting God.

Verses 19 and 20 contain the second action that will protect us from forgetting God

19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

The second action is, consider the judgment of God. We must not forget God nor engage in false worship lest the judgment of God falls upon us. If we forget God, His judgment will fall upon us, destroying us just like it did the nations and peoples before us ( Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.).

The third action is recognize the sovereignty of God. No one recognized this better than David who wrote in  Ps. 103:19, “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.”

God is the ultimate ruler and is in control of all things at all times. We must recognize Him for who He is.

Conclusion

I am going to repeat something I wrote earlier: Our society, particularly in the US is duplicating Biblical Israel’s downfall. We are walking after other gods (vs. 19). We may not bow down and worship with statues as Israel did, but we do have our idols (jobs, careers, cars, houses, spouses, education/academic degrees, etc.). However, these are resources that we would not have without our source—God.

As the nation turns from God, it relies on the government. But the government doesn’t recognize God as it should and has become divided and dysfunctional; paralyzed to help the people as intended. This is apparent from the very top of the government to the lower echelons.

Another Scriptural warning is found in Rom 1:28-31

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

When God is removed from the mind and heart, He turns us over to our

God: the Source of all things
Turned over to our own resources the only result is self-destruction!

natural, depraved minds to do things that should not be done. The results are below.

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

We are witnessing Scripture unfold before us!

Today the nation is highly divided and the atmosphere is toxic and saturated with uncertainty and mistrust. Rebellion and civil unrest headline the news. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear end to the downward spiral. It is common knowledge that superpowers are not destroyed from without, but from within.

The United States has gone from the awe of the world as a superpower to a nation of immense vulnerability. The world is watching and is viewing the US with a mix of shock, vexation, and, most of all, bafflement. This is because she is duplicating Biblical Israel’s drastic downfall.

It is imperative for us, as Christians, to remember our source especially during these difficult times. Our resources may be threatened but our source is firmly in control and we are to focus on Him.

King Solomon was the wisest king that has ever lived. In his essay on life, he

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concluded with the best advice ever. In Eccl 12:13 it reads:

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Remember what Jesus said in Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

First, seek God above all and these things,” the resources, will be granted to us.

So be encouraged my brothers and sisters—TRUST GOD!

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Amen!

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, and concerns below.

Blessings!

The Lights of the World!

Recently, I posted an article that addressed being a disciple of Christ, which explains what being a disciple means precisely. For more detail, please read the article, What is a Follower of Jesus Christ, on this website. This article (the one you are reading) elaborates on a specific characteristic of a disciple. This quality holds the authenticity of disciples, which are being the lights of the world.

What are the Lights of the World?

The lights of the world in the Scriptures are symbolic. Light and darkness are in contrast to each other, and the Scriptures portray the world as dark, sinful, and evil. Because of this sinful state, the world is condemned. Jesus said in John 3:19-20:

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Here we have the contrast between light and darkness, darkness being evil, and hating the light.

Most evil, which is committed in darkness, and the one who is committing the evil, hates the light and will not come into the light because of his evil, sinful deeds that will be exposed.

Jesus continues in verse 21:

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Here we have the other side of the contrast, he that doeth truth.” Truth represents righteousness—doing what is right; the person that does right will come into the light so that his deeds may be known.

Later in the book of John, Jesus states His position in this contrast. In John 8:12, He said,…” I am the light of the world…”

Jesus is the righteous light that came to this dark, condemned world to save it. John 3:17 reads:

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

This verse is why we call Jesus our Lord and Savior; He saves us from the world of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).

When an individual accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, a transformation from darkness to light takes place.  Jesus confirmed this in John 12:46

 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. NIV

Those who genuinely believe in Jesus have left Satan’s dark kingdom and influence and have entered the light of God’s kingdom. This transformation is what the born again experience encompasses.

However, many individuals in the church behave as though they continue to remain in darkness. Jesus died so that we might transform from the darkness. If one’s life is not changing, then they may not have genuinely begun to follow the light.

Some individuals attempt to—profess Christ and Christianity yet live without really following Him. For more on this, please read the article, Christianity Without Christ on this website.

But let us look at those who are genuinely following Jesus. We have already seen in John 12:46, where Jesus acknowledges that those who believe in Him will not stay in darkness. Let’s look at another acknowledgment in Matt 5:14-16:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.The Lights of the World!

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Because Christians no longer walk in the darkness of the world, they “are the light of the world” as Christ is. Light makes a difference in its surroundings, and it cannot be hidden just as a city on a hill cannot be hidden. As we live for Christ, our lights are to shine in the world and glorify the Father. It should be evident that we are followers of Christ.

The reality of the matter is that even though we’re walking in the light, our lights can get dusty and cloudy. This dust comes from the issues and problems of living in the world. These issue include the corruption, the politics, the crime, the civil unrest, the uncertainty, and of course, the pestilence (e.g., the coronavirus). These things can dim our lights to a glimmer (if we let them).

However, we cannot let our light become dimmed; we must allow our lights to continue to pierce the darkness, no matter how much darkness is around us. The greater the darkness, the brighter the light.

We have Scriptural encouragement and instruction on this in Phil 2:14-15:

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:The Lights of the World!

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

We are not to murmur, complain, and dispute as the ungodly does. When we do, it makes a poor representation of Christ. We are to be imitators of Christ and walk in love (Eph. 5:1). When we do, we become blameless and pure.” That does not mean that we will be perfect but above the criticism of the unbelievers.

We are to be comforters, carrying our lights with kind words to encourage and not discourage. We are to point sinners to the Saviour, and the spiritually weary to a divine resting-place.

The result is we will be held “blameless and harmless”
as children of God in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation” with our lights shining in the world.

The purpose of this article is to encourage readers to press on in spite of the circumstances we’re living under.

So let us remember what the encouraging Scripture says in Gal 6:9

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will The Lights of the World!reap a harvest if we do not give up. NIV

Remember, we cannot reap a harvest if we give up laboring in the field!

Amen.

Please feel free to leave any comments, questions, and concerns below. You will receive a response.

Blessings!

 

 

 

The Coming Apostasy

The Bible is a very popular book. It has continuously been on the best-seller list. According to statistics from Wycliffe International, Gideon’s International, and the International Bible Society, the number of new Bibles that are sold, given away, or otherwise distributed in the United States alone is about 168,000 per day. Additionally, according to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed. Yet, it is highly controversial for some. Some question its authenticity. However, one of the attributes of Scripture that proves its authenticity is prophesy. Approximately sixty percent of Biblical prophecy is already fulfilled. The featured prophecy in this article is: The Coming Apostasy.

What is Apostasy?

According to Nelson’s Bible dictionary, apostasy is a falling away from the faith. Apostasy is defined generally as the determined, willful rejection of Christ and His teachings by a Christian believer (Heb 10:26-29; John 15:22). This issue is different from false belief, or error, which is the result of ignorance.

The Coming of Apostasy

The Bible contains a prophecy of the impending apostasy in several passages. The most major of these is in 2 Tim 3:1-9 reads:

3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. NIV

This passage is from an instructional letter from the apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy. In the previous chapter, Paul is encouraging Timothy to carry out his duties because it would be even more difficult in subsequent days because of the impending apostasy.

In verse 1, we see the mention of “terrible times.” These words describe the arrival of difficult, troublesome, trying, uneasy, hard, violent, threatening, and dangerous days.

Question: do any of these words not apply today? If not, which ones?

Perhaps before COVID19, some may have been able to pick out a few. Still, with the arrival of the pandemic, It’s hard to imagine anyone not observing the above adjectives to explain our current state of existence.

The Scripture further mentions, “in the last days.” Last days is a term the Bible uses that points to a period that began with the ascension of Christ and continues to the end of the present age.  It continues up to the days right before the return of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. It is important to note that these terrible times will intensify in the last days (cf.Matt. 24 1-25, 46). The closer to Christ’s arrival, the greater the intensity.

In verses 2-4, we see godlessness. The first mark of the last days will be a The Coming Apostasygodless world. The world will be dangerous because it will be godless. As you read through, take note of how the terrible marks of the last days seem very much like a picture of today.

For starters, people “will be lovers of themselves.”
Understand that this does not refer to the standard and natural love of life and of oneself that we all should typically have. Rather it refers to selfishness and self-centeredness.

It is an inconsiderate love. This love tends to focus upon oneself and one’s pleasure and flesh instead of upon God and other people. This behavior extends to wives, husbands, parents, children, friends, and neighbors.

This love leads one to seek their desires without considering others, even if it is unwise to do so.

This love leads one to feel that everyone and everything revolve around them and to focus strictly on their pleasure and ignore the needs of even the desperate and dying.

Last but certainly not least, it leads one to put their own will before the will of God.

Self-love sets an individual up like a god and feels that nothing matters as much as the pleasure of oneself. In the last days, people will love themselves more than they love anyone else. Selfishness is one of the terrible marks of the last days.

We don’t have to look very far to witness this behavior because it is ubiquitous. It begins at the top with governments. Governments all over the world are failing to serve the citizens because the participants are more concerned with their own self-interests and political agendas.

The worldwide civil unrest has increased as citizens remain divided over their rights and agendas, which are, in no small degree, ungodly. People are looting and shooting one another to satisfy their desires and interests.

But this is what happens when God is removed from the equation. We cannot govern ourselves. When left to our own devices, we only destroy ourselves (Rom. 1:21).

The Scripture mentions “lovers of money.” According to the Scripture,

The Coming Apostasy - Lovers of Money
The Almighty Dollar!

people will love money, what it buys, and allows them to do, and they will covet more and more of it and the things it yields. Their eyes and hearts will become focused upon money instead of God. They will indulge and hoard instead of meeting the desperate needs of the poor and the lost of the world.

Bringing this to today, people now want more and more and bigger and bigger and better and better, and they will rarely be satisfied with what they have (cf. Eccl. 5:10). In the last days, people will focus more and more on material wealth than at any other time: money, real property, stocks and bonds, possessions, travel, and power.

With the arrival of COVID19, the ability to earn money has been hindered by many and has resulted in suicides. Suicide, in these cases, is the result of putting trust wholely in money and self but not in God. This behavior proves that without God, we become completely lost—we are in despair.

Money has become the new religion. It is the supreme motivation for everything we do these days. It is the reason we wake up in the morning and remains the focus until we rest at night. Some can’t sleep for thinking about money. We beg, rob, and steal for it, and without it, we are merely hopeless.

People will be “boastful.” These are people who brag and boast in what they have. They also pretend to have what they do not have or to do what they haven’t done.

Bragging can involve anything from a job to an achievement, anything to impress others. It is an individual who feels the need to push themself above others even if it involves pretension, deception, and lies.

Today the world is full of boasters and braggarts.

The Scripture says that people will be proud.” This word involves self-exaltation, conceit, and arrogance. It means to lift one’s head above another; to hold disgust for another; to compare oneself with others. Pride can be concealed in the heart as well as displayed openly.

In other words, the proud person feels that he is better than others. Again, this is a feeling within the heart. A proud person may seem quiet and humble, but within their heart, they can secretly feel better than others. A proud person can even put themself above God (Dan. 4:30).

God opposes the proud (1 pet. 5:5). In fact, He hates it. [Prov. 8:8] Therefore, pride is a sin. Prov 21:4 reads,

Haughty eyes and a proud heart,the lamp of the wicked, are sin!” NIV There is nowhere for a prideful person or nation to go but down.

Next, the Scripture says that people will be abusive.”
The King James translation uses the word blaspheme, which translated from the Greek word that means to slander, insult, rail, reviles, reproach, and to curse. Blasphemy is to be against God, generally speaking, which it is. But it is also a transgression against men. Men can blaspheme other men. Just think of the cursing and insults thrown against God and men today. Practically everyone is cursing and insulting someone: fathers, mothers, teachers, children, professionals, actors, comedians, politicians, even some professing religionists feel the need to curse occasionally to be acceptable.

Profanity is so ingrained in society that some cannot express themselves without using it.

Why is there such an excessive amount of cursing today? Because there is a loss of respect for both self and others concerning both position and authority. People behave this way when they are disturbed within—when they sense dissatisfaction, disapproval, and unacceptance within their hearts. A disturbed and dissatisfied heart causes people to blaspheme God and man, including themselves.

Next, the Scripture says that people will be disobedient to their parents,”
refusing to do what one’s parents request, rebelling against one’s parents, showing disrespect to parents, rejecting parental instruction; dishonoring parental example. This behavior is what goes on today.

If a child will not honor, respect, and obey his mother and father, then who will he respect? If a child will mistreat his parents—those who are the closest to him— those who love and care for him most, who then will he obey, who else will he mistreat?  When this behavior becomes accepted as the norm, the home, society, and civilization will crumble.

Next on the indictment is “ungrateful.” In the last days, people will be unthankful without a sense of gratitude or appreciation for what they have received. There is no giving of thanks to God or man. Many individuals will feel that the world and society or business and government owe them the good things of life. They have little if any sense of debt to others and feel little obligation to the world and society.

They take and take and forget all about the thanksgiving—the debt and contribution—they owe to God and men. They will take everything for granted.

Bringing this to today, how many people do we know are genuinely grateful for what they have? We complain more about what we don’t have, rather than being grateful for what we do have.

Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Day has merely become a day of gluttony and shopping for “Black Friday.” There is little to no consideration for the blessings from God and no appreciation for man through whom the blessings come. I have personally been criticized on Thanksgiving Day for praying too long, a whopping 1-2 minutes! If we can’t take time to give God special thanks on Thanksgiving Day, then when?

Next, people will be unholy” and given over to the most base passions, being blind to modesty, decency, purity, and righteousness.

Unholy people are ones who are mastered by their passions, seek constant gratification of the flesh, seeks his pleasure in the abnormal, feel little to no shame, and are blind to decency.

So, think of the abnormal sex that is displayed and flaunted today. You The Coming Apostasy - don’t have to think very hard!

The people will be “without love.” Natural affection will go out of the window. Instead, there will be abnormal affection and love. People will become heartless, without human emotion or love, a lack of feeling for others, and exhibit abuse of normal affection and love. People will use each other for little more than pawns for their self-use, benefit, pleasure and purposes, excitement, and stimulation.

As confirmed in Scripture, we are to be affectionate towards one another. Eph 4:31-32 reads, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” NIV

But in the end time, individuals will be so absorbed with satisfying their flesh and pleasure that they will forget God, family, friends, and everything else. They will immerse themselves in doing their own thing and so self-centered that they will have little affection for anyone or anything else.

This pathetic condition will  manifest in several ways:

⇒ There will be little affection for the normal and natural. People will turn to the abnormal and unnatural in relationships and behavior, pleasures, and sex.

⇒ Not very much affection for the home. The home will be little more than a place to change clothes and sleep.

⇒ There will be not much affection between husband and wife. A spouse will be very little more than a person to help pay the bills and to keep up a front for social acceptance. Men and women will become unfaithful and depraved.

⇒ There will be little to no affection for friends, country, and earth. Selfishness will be the law of the last days.

Are there any signs of these behaviors in action today?

There will be little regard for God and the church. God and church will be things to be squeezed in when they do not interfere with personal desires and pleasures, rest, and recreation. But this has been going on pre-pandemic.

So then, is it any wonder that God allowed a virus that even stopped worship in the church? Do you think perhaps He’s trying to tell us something?

To move on, we’ve examined the first mark of the last days, which is godlessness; we will now look at the second mark, which is a powerless religion.

Verse 5 address this state of affairs by stating, “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

In the last days, churches and temples and worship centers will be everywhere, (as they are today). Individuals will claim and profess “godliness,” but their worship will be only a “form” only an outward profession, only an appearance of godliness. They will not possess God; they will not have God or Christ in their hearts and lives. They may:

• profess Christ and God

• be baptized into the Christian faithThe Coming Apostasy - A Form of Religion

• be present at church worship services

• partake in the rituals and ceremonies

• deliver the creeds

• even sometimes talk about God

However, they will deny the very power of God. What is the power of God? It is the power to deliver men from the bondage of sin, death, and hell—all by way of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the power of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ—the power to save people from perishing and to grant them eternal life.

These truths are precisely what Scripture states. But the Word of God and sound Biblical teaching will be denied. Paul also addressed this to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:3-5, which reads:

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. NIV

Bringing this Scripture to today, individuals are professing Christianity but are completely ignoring sound Biblical doctrine. They simply don’t want to hear it.

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The result is a powerless religion. It doesn’t save anybody; at best, it’s merely treading water, and you can only do so for so long, and then you go under.

This truth is a segue to the next point. In verses 6-9, we have the third mark of the last days, which is corrupt ministry.

In verse 6, we see that corrupt ministers lead gullible followers astray. The focus is on women because of the situation that was occurring in Ephesus. Some of the women in the Ephesian church were following the corrupt ministers. However, the fact of the matter is, all must be on guard against corrupt ministers.

The corrupt minister seeks people who are laden and burdened with sin and guilt, thus being easily swayed by all kinds of desires and lusts. Also, those individuals who are seeking truth and will attempt to learn from anybody who claims to have it can be trapped.

The problem, these individuals will never learn the truth because they are presented with “a form of godliness,” not true godliness. True godliness is godliness that is found in Christ alone and nowhere else.

Today we have a form of godliness; it is called popular Christianity. It professes God and Christ but denies the power. It is essentially Christianity without Christ. For more information on this movement, please read the article, Christianity Without Christ on this website.

Paul’s letter to Timothy containing this prophecy was written approximately 66-67 AD, and it is now unfolding before our very eyes and will continue to evolve and increase in implementation.

In the US, church attendance is waning, and ungodliness is on the rise. The less we depend on God, the more we look to government and look at what a mess the government is.  Again—we cannot govern ourselves, and without God, we become fools (Rom 1:22).

This apostasy is infectious among Christians. Some Christian doctrines teach that apostasy is impossible for those individuals who have truly and genuinely accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. However, there is always a

The Enemy

choice before us and, Satan, our enemy, is continually trying to pull Christians away. Some have gone astray without realizing it, and more will follow.

But we must heed the warning contained in the Scriptures. 1 Peter 5:8-9 reads:

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. NIV

The bottom line is, the coming apostasy …is here and growing! We must be on guard and stay strong.

Please leave any questions, comments, or concerns below. You will receive a response.

Blessings!

 

 

 

What is a Follower of Jesus Christ?

If someone were to ask you if you were a follower of Jesus and what made you one, what would you say? Generally, when that question is asked, there is a variety of answers. The most common one is I go to church. But there are
others: I am a good person, I give to charities, I’ve been baptized, I pray sometimes, I am a religious person, I participate in communion, etc..
While these are activities practiced by Christians, they alone do not necessarily indicate that an individual is a follower of Jesus. Not to mention; they do not answer the question. So, what is a follower of Jesus Christ?

What is a Follower of Jesus?

To be a follower of Jesus is to be a disciple of Jesus—a wholehearted supporter of Jesus. A disciple is a pupil, student, or learner and holds fast to the teachings of another. Not only does a disciple follow, but also is additionally active in spreading the doctrines of another. In the Bible, disciple is the word used most often to refer to a follower of Jesus and implies an inner circle relationship with Him.

It is a serious commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

The Characteristics of a True Follower of Jesus

A true follower of Jesus exhibits and maintains certain undeniable characteristics. Some are exterior and obvious, while others are internal.What is a follower of Jesus

First and foremost, we must born again.” Jesus said in John 3:3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” To be born again, we must confess and repent of our sins, surrender our lives to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, receive forgiveness by faith, and begin walking in the ways of Jesus. It is not just accepting Christ and living the same life, but a change to a new life born of the Spirit. For more on born again, see the article, “What Does it Mean to be a Born Again Christian” on this website.

Next, prayer—if we are following Jesus, we must be a person of prayer, following His example. Let’s look at Matt 14:23

23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

This is just one of many examples of Jesus’ motivation to pray.

Christians and Prayer
Pray diligently!

Characteristically, Jesus often spent the night in prayer. While we are not required to spend whole nights in prayer, prayer is to be a major component in our lives. It is important to spend time alone with God. A day should never go by without prayer as opposed to an occasional cry for help when faced with difficulty. Every day must begin and end with prayer. Prayer is to be a lifestyle, not a life jacket!

Next, listen—God requires our submission and obedience. However, if we don’t listen to Him, we can’t hear Him. How then can we be obedient? This is why it is imperative for us to listen to God as we read His Word and pray.

Think of the examples in the Scriptures of the Lord expressing His will to individuals.  Individuals such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, etc. heard God. Had these men not been in a genuine relationship with God and listening, they would have never known His will for their lives. We may not receive a commission as these did, but God has a purpose and plan for all of His genuine followers. In Ps. 138:8 the psalmist wrote, The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands. NIV

Here the psalmist acknowledges with confidence that the Lord has a purpose for his life and He will fulfill it because of His faithful love. This applies to all of us.

We are commanded by God to listen to Jesus. This commandment was handed down at Jesus’ transfiguration. Let’s look at this in Matt 17:5:

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

It is essential that we submit to God and His son and listen to Him as we pray and read His Word.

Next, we must believe—Just as we initially trusted Jesus as our Savior, we must continue to trust and believe as we live by faith. Scripture says in Heb 10:38, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

This Scripture is part of a passage that encourages perseverance. We are to persevere by believing in faith in spite of our difficulties and rely on Him; this pleases God. Also in Heb 11:6, it states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

We must remember that Jesus came so that we would believe in Him and be saved from our sins. As it states in John 3:16, “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.

For more on faith, see the article, “What is Faith About” on this website

Next, obedience—Following and obedience go hand and hand. You can’t truly follow someone without being obedient. Here is what Jesus said about following Him in John 8:12
I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” In order to receive the blessings of God, we must be obedient to His Son. For Jesus also said in John 5:22-24:

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

What is a follower of Jesus
If we love the Lord, we must obey Him!

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

We can’t expect to be blessed without honoring and obeying Christ. A true follower of Jesus knows this and undertakes it as an obligation.

Next, we have love—the love we are to have for Christ entails our whole being. We can’t follow Christ half-heartedly; with a heart that is half in the world and half with God.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said in Mark 12:30:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

This is a commandment that requires wholehearted love for God. Therefore, we must live a life that exhibits our love for the Lord. Consequently, we can’t allow the impure thoughts, images, and words of the world into our minds and claim to love Him simultaneously. This has become to be known as popular Christianity. For more on Popular Christianity, see the article, Popular Christianity: the danger, on this website.

Wholehearted love for Christ has an effect on what we think and watch, where we go, and what we do. We simply cannot allow impure thoughts, images, and words to dwell in our minds and profess to love Him at the same time. Wholehearted love for Christ affects what we think and all that we do. We are further encouraged in the Scriptures in 1 Cor. 10:31:

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Next, we have service—Jesus was a servant, and we as His followers should be the same. All of us can serve the Lord in some manner by serving others. Service occurs in many different forms: encouraging, caring, helping, giving, comforting, teaching, or sharing God’s Word. These are What is a follower of Jesus?manifestations of the Gifts of the Spirit. [1 Cor. 12:1-11]

Following Jesus isn’t about accepting Him and folding our hands. There is much work to be done for the kingdom and the Lord equips us to do it!

Jesus said in John 12:26:

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

In order to serve Christ, we must follow Him. In return, we are promised the presence and protection of the Father.

Next, we have suffering—As you can imagine, this one is not popular! However, Scripture instructs on this matter. Phil 1:29:

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

When following Jesus, we can expect to go through some form of suffering. We suffer financial loss, rejection, and even lose relationships because we make individuals feel awkward and we simply don’t fit in with those who love the world. However, this must not halt us from following Jesus and sharing the gospel.

After all, Scripture states that we are a peculiar people.” [1 Peter 2:9] We are not to be of the world.

Last but certainly not least, sharing—we are commanded by Jesus to share the truth with others. We find this command in Matthew 28:19:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.

This is the commandment of Jesus known as the Great Commission. Therefore, if we are going to follow Him and be His disciples, we must share the truth of God’s Word with others, despite whether they like us or not.

In a world of animosity, bitterness, hatred, and death, Christ’s followers

What is a follower of Jesus
The Great Commission

are endangering their lives to bring the gospel to individuals throughout the world. Each of us can unquestionably say something to spark the interest of at least one person we know who is not following Jesus.

These are the characteristics of a true follower of Jesus Christ. While it is not a cakewalk and can be difficult at times, it provides fulfillment knowing that we will be rewarded in due time. As the Scripture encourages us in Gal 6:9, “ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

We must keep our eyes on the prize!

Amen

Blessings!

Please leave all questions, comments, and concerns below. You will receive a response.

 

 

 

Christianity Without Christ?

Christianity without Christ? Seems like an oxymoron right? Yet, there are many who are living out this very phrase. Professing Christianity but living far from Christ.

What is Christianity Without Christ?

Christianity without Christ is a term that is part of the offspring of the postmodern movement that has crept into the church. It illuminates a lifestyle that professes Christianity yet lives a lifestyle more toward worldly beliefs than the teachings of Christ and the Scriptures. It is a progressive form of Christianity that does more to dilute Christianity rather than define it, is Christian in name only, and is the epitome of compromise.

For more information on postmodernism, please read the article, Postmodernism and the church on this website.

It is what Paul described in his prophetic statement regarding the last days
as “a form of godliness” [2 Tim 3:5] and this prophecy is coming to fruition. This Scripture is contained in a passage regarding the coming of apostasy and it has begun.

To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Christ—a follower of Christ. A disciple is a student, learner, or pupil and adheres to the teachings of another. Not only does a disciple follow but is also active in spreading the doctrines of another. In the Bible, it is the word used most often to refer to a follower of Jesus and implies an inner circle relationship with Christ.

So by mere definition, Christianity without Christ is a hoax. [Gee, I wonder where I got that word from?!]

What Does The Bible Say about it?

The answers to life are always contained within the Scriptures. The Bible quotes what Jesus said about Christianity in John 15:1-8:

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. NIV

In this passage, Jesus used the agriculture of that time to illustrate to His disciples their position with God and what He expected of them. While our culture does not commonly engage in farming these days, the principle illustrated applies today as with all Scripture. After all, the growing and care of grapevines have not changed over time.

In verse 1, Jesus sets up the hierarchy. Nothing happens in terms of growth without a Gardner and God is the Gardner. God’s function in generating growth is clear throughout the Bible.

Jesus is next in line as the vine. The word “fruit” in the Scriptures represents results. The grapevine is a very fruitful plant; a single vine yields many grapes. Grapes symbolized Israel’s fruitfulness in the Old Testament in performing God’s work on earth. However, Israel failed miserably in this area, and with the arrival of Christ; the new chosen people of God’s were Christians that originated from Christ and was joined to him like branches are to a vine.

In verse 2, Christians, both sincere and insincere, are depicted here as the branches. The branches are all those who profess to be followers of Christ. The unification between the Vine and the branches is illustrated by the expression “in me.

The fruitful branches are true Christians who by their living alliance with Christ produce much fruit. However, this union can always be broken. This evident when the Father the Gardner “cuts off every branch . . . that bears no fruit.” Those who become inactive — those who turn from following Christ Christianity Without Christ? after pledging — will be alienated from the Vine at the trunk and utterly discarded because they are worthless and frequently contaminate the rest of the vine. Therefore, fruitless followers are of no use to God’s kingdom and are good as dead.

Fruit does not apply only to winning souls, but includes, answered prayer, joy, and love are mentioned as fruit (vss.7, 11-12). Also, the fruit of the Spirit is described in Gal 5:22-24 and 2 Peter 1:5-8 and explained as qualities of Christian character.

On the contrary, “while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Here Jesus pointed out a difference between two kinds of pruning: (1) removing what doesn’t bear fruit, and (2) refining what does.  Successful cultivators know that pruning, cutting back the branches, increases fruit-bearing. This can be painful for Christians, but the reward outweighs the pain (2 Cor. 4:17).

In verse 3, the cleansing mentioned is spiritual, removing away the pollution of sin. This verse points out that the disciples were already clean because they had accepted the Lord’s word. Therefore they were ready for fruit-bearing. Today, when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we become clean and ready for fruit-bearing. But…we must bear fruit.

In verse 4, “remain in me and I will remain in you.This verse presents an important theme in this passage and this article: Christians are to abide or remain in Jesus, the Vine. The Greek word for “abide” is verbalized here as a Christianity Without Christcommand. It additionally has a continuing emphasis; in that, the command to “abide” isn’t fulfilled in a one-time act. What abiding means for the disciples and all Christians presently is to make a perpetual, minute-by-minute determination to follow Christ. And we must not be passive. Instead, we Christians must be active because we have a lot to do.

Jesus continues by saying, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” There’s that word “remain” again. As a branch cannot produce fruit on its own, neither can Christians bear fruit on their own. As Jesus had a living reliance on the Father, so believers in Jesus must maintain
a living reliance on Him.

So, Christianity without Christ? I-don’t-think-so!

Verses 5-7 are a summary with Jesus explaining the life application of what he said previously.

In verse 8, Jesus made the point clear that His disciples are required to “bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” In order to be a Bona fide  disciple of Christ, we must bear fruit instead of removing ourselves from the vine.

This farming analogy shows how God is glorified when we come into a right relationship with Him and begin to “bear much fruit” in our lives.

Also, this passage of Scripture makes “Christianity without Christ” null and void.” There is no way we can be genuine, fruitful, God-fearing Christians without Christ.

So, this is what Scripture says about “Christianity without Christ.”

The Danger

This doctrine, Christianity without Christ, is simply an attack of Satan upon the world to move individuals away from God and Christ.

In 2015, there was a video on social media entitled, I’m a Christian, BUT … https://youtu.be/5bWHSpmXEJs?t=13 this video went viral and features young professing Christians who vocally claim that they are Christian BUT, right afterward they vocalize statements that are somewhat antagonistic to the traditional reactions that defend unambiguous Biblical doctrines. It is in essence a demonstration of being a Christian but not following Christ. In essence, what they are saying is, I‘m a Christian but I don’t follow Christ.

This is such a dangerous and toxic presentation. It presents a very threat to Christianity. It is as I mentioned earlier, “a form of godliness.” The balance of that same Scripture reads …
but denying its power.”
[2 Tim 3:5] By professing Christianity they are using Christianity Without Christgodliness as a cloak of respectability while denying God’s power over their lives by the way they live. This is simply hypocrisy.

Jesus, while addressing the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, quoted the prophet Isaiah who previously addressed it of the Israelites. In Matt 15:8-9 Jesus said: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” NIV

Jesus also said in Matt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. NIV

Let’s look at the title of this video; I’m a Christian but…. When professing Christianity there should be no “but.” That three-letter word carries a lot of weight. It used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. It practically cancels the phrase before it. Because when but is interjected, it takes the focus off of what was mentioned prior and onto what is mentioned afterward.

For example, if someone says, I love you BUT, the focus shifts from the expression of love to what is coming next and will probably dominate the balance of the conversation.

Instead, when professing Christianity the phrase should be, I’m a Christian AND a follower of Christ, I love Jesus; I do my best to obey the Lord, etc. These are some of the things that should be included in the profession of Christianity.

What is obvious in the video is the absence of conflict, conviction, and struggle with sin. A condition that is ubiquitous in today’s society and is a threat to the church. The video is most probably a reaction against the way Christians often become defensive and even dogmatic when discussing topics like premarital sex, alcohol, homosexuality, or secular music, and perhaps we should be more compassionate, loving, and understanding, but at the same time, we simply cannot leave Jesus out while still professing to be Christian. If we do, then what will be remaining is what the scriptures describe as “a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Paul warned the Corinthians about this: “different gospel.” With this different gospel, Christ is left out of the equation, except within the word “Christian” itself which, by the way, means “Christ-follower.”

This different gospel, this Christianity without Christ, has no power to actually change lives and hearts. Because it is simply too watered down with world views and what has become popular Christianity. Change and healing cannot occur when the prescription is the same as the ailment which in this case is sin.

Earlier I referred to Christianity without Christ as a hoax. So what is a hoax? A hoax is a deception, often preposterous, deliberately devised to masquerade as the truth.

It is a hoax to think that we can be Christians without obeying God and Christ; that we love God and His Son. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15.

It is a complete hoax to think that we can survive without truly following Christ and not suffer consequences.

If Christianity without Christ doesn’t usher in the great apostasy, nothing will. Therefore, we must be on guard.

Without Christ destruction will prevail

If we are the branches, the branches cannot bear the required fruit with the injection of the poisonous fertilizer containing the thinking and positions of the world (sin). Jesus said, “Such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (vs.5).

This is the danger of Christianity without Christ.

Amen.

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns below. You will receive a response.

Blessings!

 

 

 

Popular Christianity: The Danger

Please don’t be deceived by the title. This article doesn’t address how popular Christianity is, but how pop culture has affected Christianity. Some time ago, there was a book entitled: “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Can you imagine that? This article intends to take a look at the issue of popular Christianity and the consequences it bears.

What is Popular Christianity?

Simply put, it is Christianity that has been influenced more by popular interpretations, feelings, and opinions rather than the Holy Scriptures themselves.Popular Christianity: The Danger

It is one of the end products of the postmodernism movement and it has crept its way into the church. For more information on postmodernism, please read the article Postmodernism and the Church on this website.

The problem with many professing Christians today is they are yielding to the spirit of compromise.

The Consequences of Popular Christianity

The main consequence is the watering down of the true meaning of Christianity and the application of it in the lives of Christians. Many who profess themselves as Christians have little to no knowledge of what it truly means to be a Christian.

In earlier decades, there was an atmosphere of excitement in the Christian church. There was a rise in the charismatic and evangelical movements, which created an upsurge in Christian publishing and broadcasting, even new Biblical translations and study tools. Christians were excitedly hosting small Bible studies in their homes and there was enormous growth in Bible-based church congregations.  Megachurches emerged with multiple services on Sunday mornings instead of one.

Individuals were moved by a sincere craving to exalt the Lord, experienced a sincere love for the Word of God and a desire to understand it, and a transformed interest in holiness, combating the steady moral decay that had gained such a foothold in prior years.

But later arrived a period of decline, a spiritual decline. The church has gradually turned away from the true revival and instead pursued the influence of popularizing Christianity with world philosophy.

Even when Jesus was here on earth, he experienced similar reaction. At one point, He had had many disciples. In John 6:2, it reads:
2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
However, after Jesus shared profound truths on what following Him meant, they departed from Him. Verses 60 and 66 of the same chapter reads,

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Today, too many professing Christians are also finding His teachings hard to hear and accept and are forming their own Christianity (Popular Christianity) and infiltrating the church with it.

The pop church is everywhere. It has wreaked havoc on local churches, turning them into little more than social clubs and community centers where the concentration is on an individual’s felt needs, not on the church’s function as the body of Christ in the world.

Popular Christianity is an insidious infection in the church today. Rather than attacking accepted beliefs head-on, it gives verbal acknowledgment to the truth while at the same time quietly undermining the foundations of doctrine. It is not a single movement or a visible organization but a spirit that can be found in various churches and Christian organizations.

To give an example of popular Christianity in action, let’s look at a very popular Christian female artist, Lauren Daigle. A little while ago she came under scrutiny for reluctantly sharing her views, stance, and beliefs on Christianity. During an appearance on a show, she was asked directly if she

Popular Christianity: The Danger
Lauren Daigle

felt that homosexuality was a sin. Her response was “I can’t honestly answer that,” was her response. “In a sense, I have too many people that I love that are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God.”

So how’s that for compromising Scripture? It is disappointing for any individual who professes Christianity to take such a bland view in response to a question in which the Bible’s position (on homosexuality) is Chrystal clear. [Lev. 18:22, 1 Cor.6:9-11, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Tim. 1:10] Unfortunately, homosexuality isn’t the only subject where this type of bland reaction occurs, but on a broad spectrum of issues. Pop Christianity is becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

The example that I’ve put before is a clear example of the leaning away from the clear teachings of Scripture to popular, secular opinions and views. Just because someone we love is involved in any sin does not make it any less of a sin or cancel Scripture. That is a trap and a snare.

Lauren Daigle has since stated that she considers herself an artist, not a Christian artist.

This is especially troubling for someone who has a platform that influences as many young people as Lauren does. The Scripture states …”For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”:

All we have comes from God and if He has blessed any of us Christians with a platform of influence (teachers, spiritual leaders, artists, etc.); He has given it to us so that we may fearlessly proclaim Him and His Word. Ultimately such a one is held to a higher standard and accountability. [James 3:1]

Jesus said in Luke 12:48
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:

Unfortunately, professing Christians are increasingly more concerned about being politically correct than defending and standing on God’s Word. This is slowly poising the church rendering it spiritually ineffective. There no wonder God has allowed a virus upon us that has even stopped the Popular Christianity: The Dangerattending of church services. He is trying to get our attention. For more on this, please read the article, COVID19 and God: It is time to recognize God is speaking on this website.

This leaning toward worldly views and away from God represents a fear of man as opposed to a fear of God. This tendency manifests itself in several ways:

  • Fear of losing relationships – With the arrival of Christ did the arrival of division. This division is between those that will follow Him and those that won’t. Let’s look at what He said in Matt 10:34-37

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Jesus made the point here that if an individual wants to be a disciple, a follower of Him, that individual must be willing to put the relationship with Him above all other earthy relationships even if it is a member of your “own” household. Otherwise, there can be no relationship with Him. Remember, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,” [Ex. 20:5]

  • Fear of the world’s approval – Scripture in makes it clear that we are not to seek the approval of man over God. Gal 1:10:

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Paul makes the point that we are not to be more concerned with getting approval of the world: people’s respect and adoration than approval with God. If we are, we cannot be a servant, a disciple of Christ. This addresses professing Christians who are afraid to take a firm stance on issues that are explicitly clear in Scripture (e.g. homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.). This is a fear of man’s way of thinking and disqualifies us as God’s servants.

These are manifestations of popular Christianity.  It is a poison that has affected the church in a very significant way.

The 21st-century church has become so broad and inclusive that many sound Christians avoid speaking the truth for fear of being divisive.

What else could Satan do to attempt to destroy the church that would be more effective than undermining the very Word of God, shifting the focus off of Christ, and minimizing holy living? All these things have happened slowly, steadily within the church. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians

Spiritual Warfare - Resist the Devil
The Prince of the Power of the Air

seem to be unmindful to these issues, content with a Christianity that is in vogue and highly visible.

It is no wonder that Scripture refers to Satan as “…the prince of the power of the air …
[Eph 2:2] His spirit and influence are spread throughout the air.

Before I close, let’s look at the other side of the coin to see what the fear of God looks like.

  • Fear of losing eternal rewards – Jesus made it clear that man is not the one we should fear. Matt 10:28 reads:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

This is clear as to who we should fear: not man who has no eternal power over our souls, but God who is in total control of our eternal destiny.

  • Fear of losing our influence – We must be concerned about losing the influence God has bestowed upon us. Matt 5:13 reads:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

The salt of the earth.” Salt represents among other things change; it changes the flavor of what it is applied upon. Jesus uses the metaphor to illustrate that we are to represent a change in our culture. Wherever we are placed, we are to induce a change in our surroundings, not be changed by our surroundings. Once the salt has lost its saltiness, it is simply no good and must be cast out. Once we allow ourselves to be compromised by trying to please man (the world). We are of no use to Him and His kingdom.

  • Fear of losing eternal life – Last but not least, there should be deep concern about gaining eternal life and know that if we choose to favor man (the world) over Christ because we are ashamed to openly acknowledge Him and His Word, we will pay through our eternal destiny. Jesus addresses this fate in Luke 9:26

26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Bottom line: It is better to fear God than man Prov. 29:25 reads:

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

There is so much more to Christianity than professing it. It is not a social club but hard work in this secular world that we live in. It is a commitment and a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. If we accept Christ, we become His disciple and we are to worship Him in Spirit and truth.

We must also keep in mind what Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matt 6:24Popular Christianity: The Danger

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Amen

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns below.

Blessings!

 

 

 

How to Grow in Christ

Many of us have accepted Christ, but how many of us know Christ?  True Christianity isn’t about religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ. The best way to have this relationship with Jesus is to grow in Him. Hopefully, if you don’t know already, when you have finished reading this article, you will know how to grow in Christ.

Why Should We Grow?

First, what is Christian Growth? Upon receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, we become born again with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual rebirth with the Spirit of God living in us. Just as a newborn baby in the natural is expected to grow, so it is with a spiritual rebirth. Therefore, spiritual growth is the growth of the life of God in us.

It isn’t solely about accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, but as I mentioned earlier, having a relationship with Him. The only way to maintain a relationship with Jesus is to know Him better by growing.

We are so encouraged about this in the Scriptures. 1 Peter 2:1-3 reads:

1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

When we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we cast out all evil behavior (vs. 1).

In verse 2, new Christians are depicted as newborn babes” who must crave pure spiritual milk of God’s Word in order to grow into the full experience of salvation.

In order for an individual to accept Christ initially, they must have experienced the graciousness of the Lord to begin with.

Verse 3 encourages a new converter to seek more of this graciousness through growth.

There are occasions in Scripture where there is some concern over the lack of spiritual growth.

Let’s look first at Heb 5:11-14

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Here in verse 11, the writer of Hebrews, whom I and many others believe to be Paul, chastises the Hebrew followers for their immaturity. He had much more to tell them but they wouldn’t be able to hear it because they were spiritually dull.

How to Grow in Christ
This plant cannot survive if it doesn’t grow – neither can a Christian!

He goes on in verse 12 to acknowledge that they had been saved for such a long period that they should have been teaching others. However, instead, they still needed teaching on the basic things about God’s Word requiring the milk of the Word instead of the strong, serious meat. They were like babies that needed milk and couldn’t eat solid food.

He pours it on stronger in verse 13 by stating that anyone who is on the milk of the Word is an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.

He wraps this thought up by stating that the solid food of the Word is for those who are mature through training and have the ability to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

So what we get from this passage is; we can be immature as Christians no matter how much time has passed since our conversion, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. Also, the Spirit desires to share with us the meat of the Word for us to grow.

Another example of spiritual immaturity is found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 where Paul chastises the Corinthians for their immaturity which caused divisions in the church. He mentioned that initially, he fed them the milk of the Word and not meat because they were carnal. But some time later they were still carnal and not ready for the meat of the Word. As a result, they were living like the people of the world—carnal.

People today are still professing Christ and living like the world (carnal). Why? Because they never grow, living on milk instead of meat.  The result, a carnal individual living as an enemy of God (Romans 8:7). For more detail on carnality, please read the article series, What is Carnality on this website.

Why should we grow? Growth is paramount to a Christian. We are either moving forward or falling backward.  Stagnation is fertile ground for Satan’s attacks (1 Pet. 5:8). Stagnation leads to damnation—no matter how long we profess Christ. Faith without works is dead. We must continually grow in Christ.

How do we grow in Christ?

There is a passage of Scripture that instructs us on a clear strategy for growth.

2 Peter 1:3-11

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Growing in Christ
Christian growth is a continuous process!

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The encouragement to grow couldn’t be any clearer than it is in this passage.

In verse 3, we have the motivation for growth. God has supplied us with everything we need to live a godly life. We received this when we accepted His Son as Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit indwelt us. When we fully recognize all that God has done, it should motivate us to know more, grow, and get closer to Him.

Verse 4 acknowledges the great promises allowing us to share His divine nature that enables us to escape the world’s corruption caused by carnal desires.

Looking at verse 5, because of what God has done, we must make every effort to respond to these promises. Faith is what puts us on the track. It is by faith that we answer God’s calling and believe in Christ as our savior. But to that faith, we must make every effort to supplement it with virtue or moral excellence. This is where growth begins.

One of the promises of God is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to overcome the world’s corruption.

To virtue or moral excellence, we must add knowledge. Think about our human relationships, the more we know about someone, the closer we get, the more solid the relationship. The more Christ-like we become, the more we know about God, the more solid the relationship.

The way we gain knowledge of God is through His Word. The Scriptures The Word of Godreveal the mind of God, how He thinks, and even some of His plans.

In verse 6, added to knowledge is temperance. Temperance is self-control which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit Gal. 5:23). Self-control is what keeps us from giving in to the temptation to sin.

To temperance, we add patience and to patience, we add godliness.

In verse 7 to godliness we add brotherly affection, and then, charity or love for everyone.

In verse 8 we see that the more we grow in the above, the more productive and useful we become in our knowledge of Jesus.

However, in verse 9 we see that if we don’t, we simply go backward, forgetting that we were even purged of our old sins.

In verse 10 we are advised that if we grow in this manner we make our calling and election sure. We must work diligently to be among those God has called and chosen. If we grow we will never fall away.

In verse 11 we have the reward. Our hard work will not be in vain but rewarded with a grand entrance to the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This is how we grow, not by accepting Christ verbally with no resulting action. It is hard work sometimes and this is an ongoing process but with the Holy Spirit empowering us we will persevere.

Bottom line: Faith is fine; it is the engine that keeps us going. But it must supplemented and lead to growth. Otherwise, it isn’t genuine.  Faith proves itself by works. Again— (James 2:26).

That is why Peter gives strong encouragement to make every effort to ADD to your faith. The more we do so, the more of heaven we can experience.Growing in Christ

We must keep growing!

Amen

Please feel free to leave any comments, questions, or concerns below.

 

 

 

Growing Through Temptation

When you think of temptation, do you regard it as a good thing or a bad Growing Through Temptationone? Probably a bad thing right? But that may not always be the case, as we will see in this article as we look at growing through temptation.

What is Temptation

Temptation is an enticement or invitation to sin against God, with the indirect promise of greater good to be derived from following the way of disobedience.

The very first temptation was in the Garden of Eden, when Growing Through Temptation - The first temptation
Satan, through the serpent, tempted Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of good and evil which God had specifically forbidden with the penalty of death. The indirect promise of greater good was that she would be like God knowing good and evil and that she would not die.

Satan lied in order to persuade Eve to sin and He has been doing it every sense.

Temptation: Good or Bad?

In this article, we’re going to take a good look at temptation. Usually, when we think about temptation it’s in the context of a negative nature, something bad, something to avoid, something with a dismal outcome. But t a closer look sheds light on the fact that temptation is not all bad.

As a matter of fact, temptation can have a positive effect. How? Well, each and every temptation is an occasion to do good; to do the right thing. Just Growing Through Temptation - Resisting Temptationbecause we are faced with temptation doesn’t mean we have to give into it. We always have a choice to give in to it or reject it. Just know that every time we overcome temptation, we become more like Jesus.

This is one of the ways we reach maturity. Every Christian has to walk a path of maturity and we must continue to grow spiritually. To be in stagnation is to be in danger, as our enemy (Satan) is sure to come calling. [1 peter 5:8] So we are either moving forward or we are falling backward.

There are several ways to grow spiritually, read the Word, listen to the Word (preaching and teaching), and doing the Word by applying it to our lives.

Also, on the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes a step toward maturity rather than an obstruction when once we realize that it is just as much an occasion to do the righteous thing, as it is to do the unrighteous thing. Temptation simply presents the choice. Every time we choose to do right
instead of doing wrong we are growing
i
n the character of Christ.

According to Gal. 5:22-23, When we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control
NLT

God develops the fruit of the Spirit in our lives by allowing us to experience circumstances in which we are tempted to express the exact opposite quality.

For example, God teaches us to love by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to us. Jesus addresses this point head-on in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-47:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

According to verse 46, Jesus stated that our reward comes by loving the ones that don’t love us. For a Christian, when faced with some unloving folks, is when the rubber hits the road because it is very tempting to not love them. It is one of the major avenues of temptation.

The thing to remember is God allows the opposite situation of each fruit to allow us a choice.

When we resist that temptation and trust God we grow. We can’t claim to be righteous if we have never been tempted to be unrighteous.

When we can love our enemies; that is a major step in reaching spiritual growth and maturity.

To possess the fruit of the Spirit is to be Christ-like.

How Temptation Works

In order to overcome and grow through temptation, it is important to know how it works.

There has been an ongoing debate to answer the question, does Satan know our thoughts. Well, he does know our thoughts as well as our desires, both the sinful and the righteous ones. Satan begins by injecting a thought in our

Spiritual Warfare - Resist the Devil
The Prince of the Power of the Air

minds to give in to an evil desire or to fulfill a righteous desire the wrong way or the wrong time. He covers the whole spectrum.

Temptation comes from within as an internal desire. This is the only way for us to be tempted. We can’t be tempted without an initial desire to begin with. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

It is very important to note that temptation always begins in the mind as a thought. Satan uses these thoughts as a trigger for temptation. This is why it is known that the mind is the battlefield. For more on that, please read the article, All about Spiritual Warfare: The Mind is the Battlefield on this website.

Have you ever had an ill-thought and wondered where in the world did that come from or something in your past that you thought was buried forever suddenly comes to the surface? Simply put, Satan is on the job! And He’s injecting those thoughts with the hope that you’ll take the bait.

Next, he attempts to place doubts in our minds about what God says about the thought or desire. For example in Gen 3:1 Satan said to Eve:

“…Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? NIV

He uses this same method today on us. For example, could God mean this disallow for someone else or at some other time? Doesn’t God desire me to be happy and content? These are examples of the thought Satan can inject into our minds. This is why it is so important to control the thoughts that we allow to dwell in our minds. We are so warned in the Scriptures, Heb 3:12:

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. NIV

If we don’t heed this warning, we ultimately proceed with the thought we’ve been toying within our minds.

What starts as an idea gets manifested into behavior. We give in to whatever got our attention in the first place. We believe Satan’s lies and fall into the trap.

James warns us about this very crisis in James 1:14:

14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. NIV

Eve’s mistake: she had a conversation with Satan. When we toy around with the wrong thoughts in our minds, we are inadvertently having a conversation with Satan. This is why we must cast “ down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 cor. 10:5).

Evil and ill thoughts will come (that’s Satan’s job) but we must allow them to pass through, not reside. We can’t stop birds from flying over our heads, but we can certainly prevent them from making a nest.

Conquering Temptation

As I mentioned in the onset, a temptation is an opportunity to grow by using the occasion to do good by overcoming the temptation. So how do we conquer temptation?

Be Ready – Whether we like it or not, the temptation is going to come. This is part of the warfare Satan uses against us. If you’re a Christian expect a war! The closer we get to God the more Satan will tempt us because we are Growing Through Temptaion - Resisting Temptationan enemy to his camp. So, they are coming and will continue to come. Scripture reads, “…But when you are tempted…” [1 Cor. 10:13 NIV] not if.

On the other hand, if you’re professing Christianity and not experiencing any temptation to do wrong, check your walk; you may be unwittingly walking in the wrong direction! Satan doesn’t need to tempt his own.

Therefore, there is no sin in being tempted. It is only a sin if we submit to it. It’s almost like owning a losing stock in that you don’t lose any money until you sell.

Also, we must understand that we individually are not the only ones being tempted. 1 Cor. 10:13 states, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” NIV

Be honest – We must be honest, recognizing, and knowing our vulnerability. Certain situations are riper for temptation than others. We all have weaknesses in different areas and we must identify them, as Satan unquestionably knows them! He knows precisely what causes us to stumble, and he is relentlessly working to get us into those situations. This is why we are warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” He is relentless and sleeping at the wheel is dangerous.

Therefore, we must self-examine and ask ourselves, when are we most tempted, where are we most tempted (home, bar, work, church, etc.), by whom (alone, co-workers, relatives, neighbors), and how do we feel when we are tempted (tired, hungry, angry, lonely)? It behooves us to identify these conditions so that we may avoid them when at all possible.

Prevention is better than cure and it’s best to prevent temptation when we can. For example, perhaps if Eve had stayed away from the tree she may have not been so easily tempted. We must stay away from situations that we know can cause us to fail. Temptations will still come but this will narrow the chances of being tempted.

Ask for God’s help – Last but certainly not least, seek God’s intervention. Growing Through Temptation - Resisting TemptationThe Scripture reads in James 4:7-8,  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…”

We simply cannot resist Satan’s schemes on our own. Satan is might, but God is all-mighty!

The remainder of  1 Cor. 10:13 reads, And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” NIV

We request God’s help through prayer. Prayer is one of the weapons of our warfare that must be used. God says in Ps 50:15, “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Pride can take us down (Prov. 16:18). So we must put pride aside and cry out for help when we need it.

Conclusion

Temptations will come and they will either help us or hurt us. For sure it is one or the other. In terms of Christian growth, we are either moving forward (growing) or we are falling backward.

Time and the Bible
The Inspired Word of God

But it is so important to grow. Here’s why; the Scripture in James 1:12 reads:

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. NLT

It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We must keep our eyes on the prize. So let’s keep growing!

AMEN.

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