When Delusion Governs: Living under authorities void of understanding.

“Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.” – Jeremiah 5:4

In Jeremiah chapter 5, the prophet is broken in heart because the people of Jerusalem are not just living in outright sin and perversion, but also because they are seemingly detached from intelligent sense and rationale.  The description of men in Romans 1:22; “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” has characterized men in every age of history who remain intellectually detached from God’s revealed truth. To add to the tragedy even more is that the problem is not just man’s detachment from the eternal and divine truths, but the next result is that such men (and women) lose capability to process reason, thought, and understanding.

While these descriptions of mankind left to himself, and apart from Christ, are sad, tragic, and dangerous in an infinite number of ways; the end result is that those who know the Lord, wind up living under the authority and control of people who, (to borrow from C.S. Lewis) are on par with a man who thinks himself to be a poached egg.  As Adrian Rogers said one time, there is a small degree of insanity in every person who does not know the Lord.  Sometimes that element of natural insanity grows from a small degree to an outright doctorate in people who truly lose their grip on perspective, but glutton themselves on power.

This intellectual inability has shown itself in a very public way in recent days from people who portend themselves to be leaders and statesmen. Our former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recently revealed Mount Everest sized ignorance with some remarks she made concerning the cultural conflicts over abortion in this world.  She stated – “Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper, laws have to be backed up with resources and political will … And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,”   Now speaking of her ignorance is not to be construed as as insult, as much as it is to express true pity for her.  While we could spend time talking about the issue of abortion, my point for using this quote is to reveal she truly has no understanding of “deep seated religious beliefs.”  She does not understand what they are, or where they come from.  What’s worse is that the mass of society has the same way of thinking that she does. She has the idea that “deep seated religious beliefs” are nothing more than traditional preferences; they are individual choices that can be chosen, changed, or modified based upon the winds of popular culture, and the mood of modern day society.  Of course there are people whose religious “beliefs” are just those very things.  What she stated is that she clearly has no concept of Biblical Christianity.

Jesus said in John 7:16; “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.”  People who understand Christianity understand that we do not “choose” what to believe, we are told what to believe.  Our deep seated belief is that God is right, God is always right, and God will always be right, and whatever He has told us about abortion, government, society, church, doctrine, and morality is what we will continue to hold on to.  The Bible is not our book of best advice, inspiration for our morale, or wisdom to help us accomplish our will;  the Bible is the non-negotiating directives given to all mankind on what to believe and how to behave, and no one who understands that will be able to “change their deep seated religious beliefs.”

Now that being said, people who grow in the Lord very often put down errors, and pick up truth along the way as they grow; but they do so through the Word of God, not through the mood of culture.  Our prayer should be that Mrs. Clinton will come to the place of understanding this fact.

Another incident of rationale deficiency in among our leaders came from the White House press secretary just a few days ago.  From the second Gulf War through to the War on Terror, our United States troops rescued a region of the middle east from the control of terrorist organizations like the Taliban, and Al Quaeda. In recent months, the terror group ISIS has been running roughshod through that region of the middle east.  In some kind of attempt to stop them, the U.S. government formed a strategy to keep ISIS from gaining back that lost ground.  Just last week, ISIS marched through the city of Ramadi, which is 70 miles from Baghdad, and regained a city and region where 1,300 U.S. soldiers lost their lives.  After capturing northern cities in Iraq, and regaining strategic ground, and moving toward the capital where we still have American assets, White House press secretary Josh Earnest still stands and states that “The US strategy is an overall success.” While the nuances of war, the fog of battle, and the details discussed in smoke-filled planning rooms, are often extremely complicated, and not available for John Q. Public; in no real sense of the word or thought, can losing ground sanely be called success. If it is a success, then the wrong team is succeeding and our White House press secretary is rooting for the wrong side.

The primary point is this – When men lose their sense of sanity they become their own god, and demand to frame their own reality, design their own truth, write their own dictionary, think that everyone lives in their world, and must bow to their reign. This is the kind of authority that the Christians in this country are living under and left alone it is going to get worse.  From the abandonment of protecting the freedom of religion, to Presidential candidates calling on people to change their religious beliefs, to leaders attempting tell us what is not before our very eyes, the culture of our government is exactly what happens when men are left to themselves apart from Jesus Christ.  The original name for this culture and this kind of intellect was “Babylon.”  We know that circumstantially it is going to get worse, but ultimately that means it is about to get better, and I praise God that Jesus is the only One who can provide changes worth making.

The Kind of Faith that Saves: “Easy Believism” verses “Lordship Salvation.”

Romans 10:9-10 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

While I am no Calvinist, John Calvin once said, “Faith alone saves, but the kind of faith that saves is not alone.”  Now make no mistake about it.  Jesus saves.  Jesus alone saves. That’s not just true, that’s the truest of the true. But He saves those who have “Faith” in Him.  The great danger of our day, and any day for that matter is the issue of what kind of faith does He receive in order to save.  When He said, “He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live;” what kind of believing was He talking about?

For many years now there has been a battle between two competing philosophies that have given labels to each other, and those labels have stuck.  There is a theological belief that has been labeled as the “Lordship Salvation” theory that accuses the preachers of such as proclaiming a faith plus works salvation.  John MacArthur wrote his famous book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” back in the late 80’s as an attempt to “clarify” the gospel in contrast to the theology of the other “camp” of preachers – those whose teachings have been labeled “Easy Believism.” One of the modern figureheads of that theology was Charles Ryrie, who wrote his book, “So Great Salvation” in response to the “Lordship Salvation” controversy.

While there are extreme teachings that arise from people in both camps, ultimately they are trying to answer the question of “what constitutes saving faith.”

Those in the “Lordship Salvation” theology teach, (if I may oversimplify) that Saving Faith is submission to Jesus as Lord.  Those in the other camp teach that Saving Faith is the willful acceptance of Jesus as Savior; and then after one is saved, they can grow into submitting to Him as Lord.  While some think that this is just a minor difference of opinion, others will label their respective opponents as teaching a false gospel, and leading people straight to hell.  The zeal, and passion for their position is not lacking at all upon either side.

What is important is that one must understand what the Bible says, and let the Bible say it.  There are some facts that every believer must believe.

1.) Not every kind of faith is saving faith.  Just because someone has “faith” does not mean that they are born again.  The Apostle Paul warned of those who “believed in vain.”  He spoke of having “shipwrecked faith.” James tells us of “dead faith.” Of course we are told that some people’s faith do not even rise to the level of demonic faith.  The devils believe and tremble, and there are many who “believe” that don’t even get nervous.  Yes, “faith alone saves”, but not every KIND of faith saves.

2.) Jesus is the LORD who saves, not the Savior who happens to be Lord. – In the verse of our heading we see that there is a “confession” that Jesus is Lord in order for the salvation transaction to happen.  Confession apart from a willingness to submit, does not rise to the level of Biblical confession.  A cursory search of the New Testament will find that Jesus is called LORD far more times than He is called Savior.  Now He is our Savior.  He is our only Savior.  But He is the Lord who Saves.  Adrian Rogers used to say, “There’s no such thing as having a Savior, but not having a Lord.”

3.) Faith that saves is a faith that works.  In other words saving faith is a faith that has within it, repentance of sin, trust in Jesus as Savior, a genuine desire to obey, and a change of mind, heart, and will.   All of those “nuances” are not individual requirements to be saved, but rather they are individual characteristics of the kind of faith that does save.  The greatest illustration that I have ever seen that pictures the scriptural demands for salvation is the picture of the old-fashioned wagon wheel.  Imagine an old-fashioned wagon wheel with different spokes moving from the center hub to the larger wheel.  On each spoke imagine a different necessity for the new birth.  Imagine on one spoke, “Repentance of sins;”  on the next spoke over; “Trust in Christ;” and on the next spoke, “Believing that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day;” on the next spoke “Calling upon the Lord for Salvation;” and on the next spoke “Following Jesus as Lord.”  Now with a good view of each spoke connecting the hub to the wheel, turn the wheel, and see which one moves first.

Of course that’s silly preacher, they all move at the same time. – Yep.  Faith that saves is the kind of faith that contains within it, “repentance, trust, a willingness to obey, an eagerness to surrender, and confession of Christ” all wrapped up in one mustard seed of Biblical saving faith.

It’s like the three men sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room.  One of them picks up a magazine, and reads a little article that says, “Smoking will kill you.”  He nods his head, and says, “man that’s right, I believe that.”  Then he steps outside and lights up a cigarette like the magazine was wasted paper.  The second man picks up the same article, reads it and says, “I believe that, I’d better quit.” He puts his cigarettes in the trash, decides never to smoke again, – until he gets out of the doctor’s office, and forgets all about what he read.  He stops at the gas station buys a box, and acts like he never even read it.  Then there is the third man who reads the article, and is cut to the heart.  He says, “I believe that.  It’s true.  I’ve been hurting myself.”  He asks to keep the magazine, throws away his cigarettes, tells the doctor he wants to quit, and he takes every action necessary to not smoke again.  Which one of those men actually believed the article on smoking?  The third one of course.  The first two had an intellectual acknowledgment, but the third one got it in the heart.

Remember what Paul said in Romans 10:10, – “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” – Intellectual faith never saves.  Heart faith never fails to save.  Yet heart faith contains within it everything the Lord calls us to; repentance, trust and a desire to be obedient. No one is saved by works.  No one is saved by dead faith.  No one is saved by an intellectual easy believism.  Yet anyone can be saved who will place the kind of faith that saves in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the Christ that is the object of that kind of faith, that produces changes worth making.

 

Why Baltimore is Burning

“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;”                                                                                                                                                            2 Peter 2:10-12

 

Proverbs 13:10 is a clear and concise statement that serves as the ultimate and final answer for all conflict on planet earth.  “Only by pride cometh contention.”  Whether directly, indirectly, or many layers down, the ultimate source of all tension and trouble is pride, which is the root and fruit of all sin.  James the brother of Jesus expounded on this in James 4:1. Where there is sin, there is pride, and where there is pride, eventually and ultimately there will always be trouble.  The world has only one problem.  Not many problems, just one.  It may have a cacophony of symptoms, but there is only one real problem, and of course that problem is sin.  All sickness is a result, directly or indirectly, of sin. All sorrow and suffering is a result, directly or indirectly of sin.  All insanity of mind, is a result, directly or indirectly of sin.

While the city of Baltimore riots without reason, there is a reason for the rioting, and it is found in the heart, nature, will, and imagination of men.

In second Peter 2, the Apostle speaks first about false teachers and false prophets, but he also speaks about the people who “follow their pernicious ways.”  His description of these people are less than flattering, and amazingly frightening.   They “walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness”, they “despise government”, they are “presumptuous”, “self-willed,” “not afraid to speak evil of dignities”, and “natural brute beasts.”  In short they are the “flesh without a filter”, “men without masks” and utter wickedness in living color.  As Peter paints his picture of people who have embraced false teachings, and phony leaders, he describes in minute detail the spirit of an insane people who are beyond the capability to reason or think.  Light is not light to them it is heat.

In recent days we have heard from many different community leaders, law enforcement officers, lawyers, journalists, so called religious leaders and television pundits covering a wide spectrum of opinions and thoughts about what has happened in one of our nations dearest cities.  One of the common explanations that keeps on recurring and echoing from time to time and person to person, is that these issues are not “black” and “white” issues, but these are “character” and “heart” issues.  (Which of course is the truth.)  Some of have even driven the nail a little closer to home saying that this is what happens when people follow after liberal leaders, and drink the poisoned kool-aid of socialistic entitlement policies.  While all of the verbiage is couched in “legal ease”and “political speak” it has been “false teaching” and “false thinking” that have fertilized the fallen human heart nurturing it to grow into “brute beasts” that “despise government” and are “presumptuous”, “self-willed” and not afraid to “speak evil against dignities.”   Authority is evil in the eyes, hearts, and minds, of many of those who have no more sanity than to throw rocks, start fires, burn their own grocery stores, destroy their own support structures, cuss at police officers who are “standing there”, and then rant, rave, and rage at society because their neighborhood is poor and dangerous. It is on par with cutting off your own arm, and then throwing a fit at the doctor because you’re bleeding.

When an injustice occurs in one of our social institutions, such as the police, something needs to be said.  If it is found out that Freddie Gay has died as a result of malfeasance or malevolence on the part of the police, there should be clear and convincing actions taken to hold the guilty parties accountable.  If they are guilty, something should be said and justice should be done; but nothing should be destroyed.

Failures in the system are not now, have never been, and never will be, a license to come unglued and exercise depravity to the fullest.

Our hearts should go out to the people of Baltimore who are grieved by the behavior of the criminals raging in their streets. The courageous crowd of men and women who stood with their police officers, reprimanded the local thugs, and as one mother did, wrangled her own son back into submission, should be praised, and encouraged.

The primary problem in Baltimore is the primary problem with the whole world.  Lost people and lost leaders.  The only thing that changes men and women into something different from the way they were born, is the Lord Jesus.  Godless people need Gospel preachers to tell them of Christ’s forgiveness of sin, and equipping for life.  In and of himself, no man has what is needed to rightly make it in life.  With Christ in him, there is nothing in life that can keep him from rightly making it, if he follows the Lord.  God’s Word, Christ’s Grace would provide unavoidable changes worth making in the inner city of Baltimore.

 

Police Force: The righteousness of law, and the power of surrender.

Romans 13:2-4 “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same.  For he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Whatever happened to “stop or I’ll shoot.”?  In that beloved movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Burt the cop drew his gun and opened fire on a fleeing George Bailey nearing the end of the movie, just because he was running away.  Now days, Burt would first be fired, then arrested, then have his mug shot on the front page of every newspaper in the world. A full scale federal investigation would follow.  Statements would be issued from the President, to the Ambassador to Bugtussel condemning the act. Phones would start smoking from Twitter overload, and Al (not so) Sharpton, along with the Antichrist Labor Union, (ACLU), and every other “heat group” would be gathering in Bedford Falls for photo ops, and foot stompin’, sign toten’, voice raisin’ protests about police brutality.  I don’t know if there would be charges of racial profiling or not, since both men involved were Caucasian.  My guess would be that all the legal experts would come in, and figure out that Burt hated George because he was a banker with a small degree of financial success and thought he was in the top 1% of wage earners in town.  Either that, or he just got up that morning, and couldn’t wait to find the first citizen who would make the wrong move so he could use his gun.

As silly as that is, is as silly and insane as our culture has become.  There seems to be no sense of reason, or rationale when it comes to dealing with the authority and ability of the police to ensure domestic tranquility.  The mood, tension, and voice that looks upon every act of police force with slanderous speculation is what happens to any society or any people who are drunk on entitlements, driven by  self-righteousness, and drenched in self-centeredness.  “How dare any police officer at any time attempt to force me or anyone for that matter to do what I doggone well do not want to do?” I’ve learned that at this point, when a police officer draws his weapon . . . hey, just walk away he can’t do anything with it anyhow.   From Ferguson to South Carolina to Baltimore and every other city in the United States, the culture of our media and their insatiable lust for controversy has caused many people to check their minds in at the remote, and keyboard, and drink in the thought that if “police force” can be abused, it is always being abused.

Yes, there are men and women who abuse their power, and who with evil zeal exercise unnecessary force upon undeserving citizens from time to time.  It would be foolish and ignorant to say otherwise.  However, the abuses of the wicked will never change the truth of the Lord.

In Romans 13 the Bible lays down for us the attitude that we are to have for the ordinances over us, and those who enforce those ordinances.  We do not come to this passage with an opinion, we come here to get one.  It is here that we get our light for how to live not only under the force of the law, but under the abuse of the force of the law.  When the Apostle penned these words, the Emperor Nero was on the throne.  His custom was to light his drive way at night with the heads of Christians.  His policies were unjust, his administration wrote the handbook on corruption, and his forces couldn’t spell the word mercy or restraint.  Yet, the Lord said through Paul that these rulers “beareth not the sword in vain.”

Police force, is a Biblical force.  It is intended to be used.  Not abused, but used.  It is to be submitted to, surrendered to and complied with.  God’s plan is simple.  When the police say stop, we stop.  When they say you’re under arrest, then be under arrest.  The fact that this process does get abused, and is misused from time to time, and place to place does not nullify God’s plan, premise or standard of behavior.

Any culture that is not under the authority of God will always have a hard time being under the authority of man.  Furthermore, any police officer who is not under the authority of God, will not have the wisdom needed to exercise authority over men.  What every believer needs to remember is that when we submit to the officer of the law, we’re not really submitting to him, we are submitting to the LORD.

Biblically speaking, and not to oversimplify, but to oversimplify, the Lord has instructed us not to resist, and He has instructed the enforcement officer, not to bear the sword in vain. Getting those two things right is a needed change worth making.

Christian Discernment, or Civil Discrimination . . . What Secular Society Doesn’t Understand, and Gay Liberals Won’t Want to Admit

Judge not, that ye be not judged.” – Matthew 7:1

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?   Matthew 7:16

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” – John 7:24

Aside from the 23rd Psalm, perhaps the most quoted phrase from scripture this side of the moon is from Matthew 7:1.  In fact many people don’t even use the entire verse when it comes to their imperial theology. They have condensed what they believe to be the highest and most important religious doctrine in the known universe into a nice succinct statement resonating with righteousness in their voice, and holiness on their face when they say, “Judge not!”

I remember hearing Barles Charkley in a radio interview one time lambasting southern Christians because of their stand against homosexuality, and reciting this scripture like it is the trump card to end all forms of objection to the tidal wave of change in social standards.  For many people who know the Bible like the back of their head, (both within professed Christianity, and without it . . .) this is the one verse, phrase, thought, doctrine, opinion that is hoisted up the highest flag pole for all people to pledge allegiance to.

The problem is as theologian and scholar Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini in the Princess Bride . . . “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Another word or thought that keeps getting attached to Christians is this label of “Discrimination.”  In the recent attempts by Indiana and Arkansas to enact religious freedom protection laws, opponents began to ignorantly and maliciously try to frame the laws as “legalized discrimination.”  See previous Princess Bride quote.

One of the devils most effective tools is the linguistic bait and switch.  In other words society loves to use the Lord’s words, but their own dictionary.  Man is not at liberty to “define” the Lord’s terms, regardless of how far society digresses, eh progresses.  How is it that the Christian then can stand in their convictions without feeling the social heat, and label of being guilty of discrimination?

Know what Jesus said, and what He didn’t say. – The English language is a lazy language, in that one word can mean a multitude of things.  Specifically speaking the word, or idea of “judging” has two distinct and separate meanings.  One of them Jesus forbade.  One of them Jesus commanded.  To judge can mean either to, “render sentence, or declare final condemnation”; OR it can mean to be “discerning.”  In Matthew 7:1 – Jesus forbids rendering a sentence or final assessment upon someone as though the trial is over.  The fact is that one the trial is never over in this life, and two we are not in authority to be rendering the sentence to those guilty of crimes against the kingdom.  In fact the entire thought is a reminder to us that the Lord takes this so serious that He warns us that we become candidates for being a recipient of the verdicts that we render.  In verse 2 of Matthew 7,  He said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  We do not have the ability or the authority to properly, and righteously render a final verdict upon anyone.  It is this kind of “judgment” that the Lord forbids.

But . . .

There is another kind of “judgment” the Lord commands.  What the world calls “discrimination” Jesus calls “Discernment.”  Matthew 7:16, (in the same chapter, and in the same sermon, by the way) Jesus said here is discernment.  Speaking of false prophets Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”  Furthermore in John 7:24 Jesus gave the command TO judge.  He didn’t say “Don’t Judge” He said “don’t judge unrighteously.”  He said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  In our own simple language Jesus told us it is not a sin to call sin, sin!  It is not a sin to see sin as sin.  It is not a sin to say that sin is a sin.  It is not a sin respond to sin as a sin.

What Christians are called to do, is to be discerning.  To recognize sin, repent of it in their own life, and avoid participating in it in other’s lives.

Now what is not Christian, is for the owner of a grocery store or restaurant to deny selling food to a homosexual, in the same sense that it is not Christ-like for him to deny selling food to a drunk, adulterer, drug addict, or a brawler.  There is no example, or command, in the Bible for Christians to refuse to basic needs in life to anyone.

What is for a Christian is to discern when they should not participate in aiding and abetting a particular sin.  It is one thing for a Homosexual to go into a grocery store and buy a cake for their so-called wedding.  It is another thing altogether to demand that the baker in that grocery store cater, participate in, and endorse their so-called wedding.  It is one thing for a drunk to come into a grocery store and buy a six-pack of Pepsi’s, and it is another thing to expect the owner of that grocery store to supply his upcoming block party with alcohol.

Discernment and Discrimination are NOT synonymous.  Neither is discernment forbidden by the Lord, but on the contrary it is commanded.  The Christian cannot fall prey to letting society hijack the Words of God, and paste them in their own dictionary.  Learning what the Bible says, and does not say for every believer and unbeliever would be a magnificent change worth making.