The Falling Away

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

As I read over this, I couldn't help but think how ripe American society and culture is for this kind of thing. Think about how many TV shows, how much of the internet, how much our video games, how many people have personalities that "opposes and exalts [itself] above all that is called God...." Notice also that people exalt themselves above, not against all that is godly...these words really emphasize the absolute arrogance of people who are in opposition to everything that God stands for.

I read a "blogalogue" the other day between two Christians that were supposed to be having some sort of civil dialogue over the internet about whether Christians should accept the homosexual lifestyle. One had, over the years, come to the conclusion that we ought to endorse and bless homosexual relationships. The other opposed this viewpoint.

I left a few comments. In one comment I said it was really a wonder that we are so completely out of touch that we are unable to discern if homosexuality is okay. When the Bible clearly, in black and white, in several instances, both explicitly and implicity states that homosexuality is wrong, and we just aren't sure about that...it just blows me away. That's tantamount to saying, "You know, I'm just not sure if 2+2=4. It might be, but I'm going to have to think about this some more. It might be 5, or even 4.5, I'm just not sure." STUPID.

How have we gotten so stinkin' lost on the truth?

The truth of the matter is, we're living in a time when people just are in complete opposition to everything God stands for. In the garden, God created Adam and Eve. They were male and female; He created them for each other. Homosexuality just goes back to the very beginning of everything and denies God's original design for mankind. It's just one more instance of people opposing God.

Come Lord Jesus.


Another Good One

Forgive the lack of creativity in this blog title. I ran across a verse today and couldn't think of a good title. Oh well. Here it is:

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." 1 Thes. 5:14, 15

I haven't read 1 or 2 Thessalonians for some time. This is some good stuff. Here are some good points to think on:

1.)Be patient with all - yep, gotta work on this one.

2.)See that no one renders evil for evil - why is it a part of human nature to seek revenge rather than forgive? 1 Cor. 6 talks about not suing brethren. Check out verse 7:

"Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?"

This is a high standard. I would venture to say those who are capable of attaining to this are those who are closest to Christ's nature. Remember what they did to Him on the cross?

I had a run in with this principle recently. Got an F on that test.

3.)Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all - I thought about what Paul meant by "pursue what is good for yourselves" and I thought about how that might be misconstrued in this day and age. I've been talking recently with friends and family about the current economic crisis, and it seems to me that the problems we're having today don't necessarily come from high gas prices, mass layoffs, or the housing problem. I think there are principles underlying all these things: greed, instant self-gratification, the entitlement mentality, and the lack of sense of moral obligation.

In other words, people, in one sense have been "pursuing what is good for themselves," or at least what they perceive as being good for themselves. People come out of high school and college with the mentality that they deserve to make $30/hr, drive cars that have a $400/month payment, and live in a $300,000 house. People get these things, and then when they can't make their payments, it doesn't bother them to quit paying their bills and default on their loans. This is an indicator of a loss of moral obligation in this country.

Anyway, pursuing material things is not what Paul means here. After all, later in the chapter he says, "Abstain from every form of evil."

Good stuff.


Awesome Video

Found this strange video on YouTube. Make sure you mute or pause my playlist at the bottom of my blog.


One of My Favorites

This is one of my favorite songs. Listen closely to the lyrics. You'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and pause or mute my playlist.


Which Are You?

"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was born of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic." (Galatians 4:21-24a)

What is this symbolic of?

"For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage...." (v. 24b)

What is the covenant from Mount Sinai? That would be the law, right? Why does it give birth to bondage? It's because the law calls upon the resource of the flesh to live up to God's holy standards (see Gal. 4:23 and Ex. 19:5). We cannot live up to God's holy standards. Plain and simple. If you know anything about Old Testament worship, you can see very clearly that the law could not patch up the loss of fellowship between God and man. Just look at who was allowed into the Holiest of All--no one was. The law is an unattainable goal. Imagine spending your life trying to attain to something you can never accomplish. This is why Paul refers to the law as giving birth to bondage.

So what's the other covenant? That's the one that's outlined in Jeremiah 31:31-34. This is the one that "gives birth" to freedom. Why is that?

Why does the New Covenant bring freedom?

It's because the New Covenant is based on His promises. There is nothing more sure than God's promises. Note how many times God says, "I will" in the New Covenant. It is all based on what He does/has done for us. It has nothing to do with what we can do. Oh, praise be to our God and Father...it's all based on Him and His promises! If that doesn't make you get out of your chair and go nuts, I don't know what will.

And when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn. Because of the New Covenant, we can now all go into the Holiest of All and be with God...any time we want...all the time.

Oh how freeing is that!

Note the final verse of chapter 4:

"So then, brethren, we are NOT children of the bondwoman but of the free." (emphasis mine)

Paul is saying clearly, we are not children of the Old Covenant, but of the new.

Which are you?


Which Way to Live?

Here's another thing I was thinking about from Galatians 3:10-12

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

So "the just shall live by faith." But if you look at the last sentence Paul draws a comparison: "but the man who does [the law] shall live by them." The two are contrary to one another.

The interesting thing is, in 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says this of the law:

"But if the ministry of death, written [and] engraved on stones, was glorious...." (verse 7)

and this:

"For if the ministry of condemnation [had] glory...." (verse 9a)

He refers to the law as the ministry of condemnation and death. The law is not the ministry of life, but of condemnation and death.

In sum, our passage in Galatians basically says you can either live by faith, or you can live by the law. But from what we see in 2 Corinthians, we can conclude that you really cannot live by the law. After all, cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.


The Law Is Not of Faith

Here's a passage I've been thinking about since I wrote my last two posts:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

The part of this passage that especially strikes me is this: "Yet the law is not of faith...."


A Warning

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8,9

Previously I wrote about some confusion regarding the Old and New Covenants. Here's a passage from Galatians that came to mind this morning as I thought about what I wrote.

Paul issues a warning to the Galatians about those who go around propagating a gospel different from his. Apparently there are those who teach things contrary to the true gospel. Galatians is all about turning toward the grace of God, and not turning back to the law. So Paul is warning the Galatians against those who pervert the grace of Christ.

These are the people who push the law in the life of the believer. Paul is telling the Galatians (and us) to watch out for these people, because they're out there.

And in this passage, Paul says it twice: let these people be accursed. Those are strong words, but the issue is critical. More on this later.


The Old and New Covenants

Recently I've run across some confusion about the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Apparently there are some folks out there that believe we as Christians are still under the Old Covenant. It's actually kind of strange, especially in light of Galatians 4:21+, but as Peter says, there are those who wrest scriptures to their own destruction. It's sad.

Now don't get me wrong; I do not advocate lawlessness. After all, one provision of the New Covenant is that God writes His law on our minds and hearts. When we truly become Christians, we love righteousness and hate wickedness, so that's not even what I'm addressing here. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, holiness ensues, right?

But there are those who vehemently argue, contrary to what the New Testament says, that we as Christians are obligated to the Old Covenant of law. The fact of the matter is, we are no longer under the law. But through an incredible amount of scripture-twisting and tapdancing, there are those that argue that we are.

Here are two passages I'd like to link together and look at closely:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth [is] Mine. (Exodus 19:5)

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:31, 32, emphasis mine)

In the first passage, the Lord is just about to deliver the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It's crucial that we watch these words very closely, because God lays out the terms of the first (Old) covenant with Israel: "...if you will indeed obey my voice...." These people's relationship with God was dependent upon their obedience: "...if...." Their being God's special treasure was dependent on their obedience to Him.

You don't have to be a theologian to know that it didn't work. Israel was already worshipping idols before Moses even came down from Sinai. The covenant was broken immediately. Remember Moses throwing down the tablets of stone? This should be an indicator to us that if the loss of fellowship between man and God was ever going to be fixed, it would have to come another way.

That's why there was the need for a New Covenant, one that was not contingent on our obedience. The Lord said in our second passage that He would make a new covenant with Israel "not according to the covenant I made with their fathers...." In other words, it would not be dependent on our obedience. Do you see those words? "...Not according...." The New Covenant was to be different.

Another way of putting it is this: our relationship with God is not dependent on what we do, but rather, it's dependent on what Jesus did for us. Anyone who contends that the Old and New Covenants are the same don't have a clue.

The Old tells us we're sinners. The New erases our sin.

The Old tells us we're filthy. The New washes us clean.

The Old tells us we need a Savior. The New provides us with a Savior.

The Old tells us we can't go in to the Holiest of All. The New allows us to go in boldly.

Now, there are two quick things I'd like to address in light of all this. People will contend, 'well, God never changes, so the law is still in place.' God does not change, but what these folks don't realize is that the way God relates to man has changed. That's what Jesus did on the cross. Remember when the veil was torn? No one but the high priest was allowed in there. Now anyone can go in under the blood of Jesus. That's a change. That's a BIG change.

Here's the other thing people will contend: there's a verse from Matthew 5 that says Jesus did not come to destroy the law and the prophets. He didn't come to destroy the law and the prophets, but He came to fulfill them. It also says that, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled. So they say, since heaven and earth are still around, the law is still in place. That is true. The law is still in place--for the lawless and sinners. Since heaven and earth have not passed away, and there are still those who need to turn to Christ (isn't that the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24?), the law is still in place. But since I have to turned to Christ by faith, the law has been fulfilled in my life. The perfect righteous life has been fulfilled by the life of Christ. The death penalty of the law has been fulfilled by Christ on the cross. Death has been defeated by the resurrection of Christ. All this has been fulfilled in me by faith. What more fulfillment is there?



Shining Like Stars

Colossians 1:27

"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

This is some really good stuff. Pastor Dave spoke today about "shining like stars" from Philippians 2:15 (NIV). He made the point that, when it comes to shining like stars in the world, it's NOT about reforming behavior from the outside in; but rather, it's all about Christ living within each of us, changing us from the inside out. It would seem to some people like splitting hairs or playing word games, but it's not. I wonder how many Christians think that we need to be better people at this or that...that we need to get ourselves cleaned up on the outside so we appear to other people to be better.

It's not about reforming outside behavior.

It's all about Christ living His life through us.

I don't want people to see a better Bill on the outside.

I want people to see Jesus coming through. THAT'S what it's all about.

THAT'S the "hope of glory."

Home Sick Today

Well today I'm home sick from church. Brooke and the girls all went to church without me...so it's quiet and lonely in the house. I'll be listening to the message on the radio.... Perhaps I'll try blogging about the message while it's on, just to do something different.