Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thy Will Be Done

We continue in our journey through the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.  Today we'll look at the second half of v. 10 - "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

The first question to think about as we come to this instruction is this: Can God’s will be thwarted?

Well, it depends on what you mean. Let's look at Scripture:
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. - Psalm 115:3
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will - Ephesians 1:11
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. - Job 42:2
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. - Psalm 33:10–11
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. - Proverbs 16:4
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

The eternal purposes and decrees of God, the eternal will of God, cannot be thwarted by us, by Satan, by the nations, by anyone or anything… But, in God’s revealed moral will, in which He commands men to do certain things, well yes, that is rejected quite often. However, even that falls under His eternal sovereign will.

So why does Jesus command us to pray this way? Two reasons:

1. God does hear and answer prayer and accomplish His purposes through what we pray-

So, if we didn’t believe God was Sovereign ruler...like if we thought God could be defeated by the will of man, Satan, a tornado, or whatever…why would we pray this? Why would we pray “Thy will be done…”? Because ultimately if God could be thwarted, this prayer would be pointless. It would be more like “Well God, we hope you won’t be frustrated in this endeavor, best of luck.” But that’s blasphemous!

So, we can pray confidently for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven because God can and will use our prayers to bring that to pass!

Yes, it is true, that this may not fully happen over all the earth until Jesus comes back. But why does that keep us from praying it right now? For our homes? For our churches? For our communities? Sure, the world might not rejoice as a whole at God’s reign, but why can’t your county or your state? 

John Knox who died in 1572 used to pray “God, give me Scotland, or I die!” Why can’t we pray that about our cities, counties, and even our country? We are to pray confidently for God's will to be done knowing that it will be done and that He uses our prayers to accomplish His good purposes!

2. When we pray, we aren’t trying to change God, we are asking God to change us-

In the act of this very prayer our hearts ought to be drawn to areas in our life that are resisting God. What areas of your life wouldn’t be the same if you were in heaven right now?

Maybe your response is: Well I don’t know? How can I know? Do we understand Beloved, that God has given us a Book? Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Read the Book! The Book teaches us the will of God. And so as Believers, we want to love what God loves and we want to hate what God hates and we want God to orient our lives in such a way that we do on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, this sort of reorients our priorities doesn’t it?
  • Whose will do we want done in our church?
  • Whose will do we want done in our home?
  • Whose will do we want done in our business?
  • What about our children? What about our grandchildren?
And let's not take this prayer lightly either. What if God is calling your child to the jungles of the Amazon Rain Forest? You gonna trust Him with that? Are you going to believer that the grand purpose for God's eternal decrees is for the glory of His great name and the good of His people?

Specifically with this petition I think it ought to drive us to be better students of the Word. God is not hiding His will from us is He!? No, we can’t know the secret things of God. But we can and should and must know the things He has plainly revealed to us in His precious Word.

And how do we want His will manifest in our lives: “on earth as it is in heaven…” Don’t we see here Jesus’ concern for God’s glory? Isn’t God glorified when His children freely and joyfully submit to Him in all things? Aren't we most glad when we freely and joyfully submit to Him in all things?

And no, we are not advocating perfection but we are advocating forgetting what lies behind and pressing on towards the prize! We must continually rest ourselves in the gospel and the finished work of Jesus and as we are doing that we must pray for God’s reign to ever more manifest itself in our lives that we would be conformed into the image of His dear Son.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What if I don't Persevere to the End?

Finishing well matters. As a Southern Baptist I often hear the phrase "once saved always saved" thrown around sort of causally in various circles. While I whole heartedly do affirm that all those genuinely converted will go to heaven, I have an issue with that phrase. 

It's not that the phrase in and of itself is all that bad, but it's what it has come to mean. Now days it means "anyone who at any point in his or her life has made any sort of profession of faith, will go to heaven." If you don't believe that's the case, you must not have attended many funerals in the Bible Belt. 

So, then, what happens if I don't persevere to the end? To answer that, let's read from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon entitled Enduring to the End:

Only he who continueth till he reaches the goal may be accounted a Christian at all...Those who merely begin, and do not hold out, will not be saved. Why! If every man would be saved who began to follow Christ, who would be damned? In a country as this, the most of men have at least one religious spasm in their lives (emphasis mine). I suppose that there is not a person before me who at some time or other did not determine to be a pilgrim (Christian).
You, Mr. Pliable, were induced by a Christian friend, who had some influence with you, to go with him some short way, till you came to the Slough of Despond (a Pilgrim's Progress reference); and you thought yourself very wise when you scrambled out on that side which was nearest to your own home. And even you, Mr. Obstinate, are not always dogged; you have fits of thoughtfulness and intervals of tenderness. My hearer, how impressed you were at the prayer meeting! How excited you were at that revival service! When you heard a zealous brother preach at the theater, what an impression was produced! Ah, yes! The shop was shut up for a Sunday or two; you did not swear or get drunk for nearly a month; but you could not hold on any longer.
Now, if those who were to begin were saved, you would be secure, though you are at the present time as far from anything like religion as the darkness at midnight is from the blazing light of midday. Besides, common sense shows us, I say, that a man must hold on, or else he cannot be saved; because the very worst of men are those who begin and then give up...There are none so bad as those who once seemed to be good.
After a lengthy illustration on a young man who walked away from the church, Spurgeon goes on to say:
Do not think it is the young alone however. It is a very lamentable fact that there are, in proportion, more backslidings among the old than the young; and if you want to find a great sinner in that respect, you will find him, surely, nine times out of ten with gray hairs on his head. Have I not frequently mentioned that you do not find in Scripture many cases of young people going astray..."Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."  
 No true child of God perishes - hold that fast; but this is the badge of a true child of God, - that a man endures to the end, and if a man does not hold on, but slinks back to his old master, and once again fits on the old collar, and wears again the Satanic yoke, there is sure proof that he has never come out of the spiritual Egypt through Jesus Christ, his leader, and hath never obtained that eternal life which cannot die, because it is born of God. The true badge of the Christian is perseverance, and without it no man has proved himself to be a child of God.
There it is.  While it is true that all Christians are preserved by God and never lost, it is equally true that they all persevere to the end. We cannot tell a person is saved simply by what they say about their conversion. The most dramatic and emotional of conversion experiences may prove false if one does not persevere to the end. "Although works do not justify a man before God, they do justify a man's profession before his fellows" (CHS).

Let us recover right teaching on this grand doctrine of Believers persevering to the end! Let me encourage you Believer to continue the fight! Continue to run the race set before you. Continue on this narrow way. Continue! For he who endures to the end, shall be saved.

Spurgeon concludes:
But ye cannot persevere except by much watchfulness in the closet, much carefulness over every action, much dependence upon the strong hand of the Holy Spirit, who alone can make you stand. Walk and live as in the sight of God, knowing where your great strength lieth; and depend upon it, you shall yet sing that sweet doxology in Jude, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." A simple faith brings the soul to Christ. Christ keep the faith alive. That faith enables the believer to persevere, and so he enters heaven. May that be your lot and mine, for Christ's sake. Amen. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Your Kingdom Come

We continue in our journey through the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.  Today we'll look at the phrase Your Kingdom Come.

When we pray “Your Kingdom Come” what are we praying for?

1. A Priority RealignmentYour

We live in a ‘me’ culture. It’s all about me, what I can get out of life. We take verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and say God has a wonderful plan for my life full of college educations, a big house, and a nice retirement.

Whether we admit it or not, Christianity has become ‘me focused’. I want my type of music, my style of preaching, my sort of ministries. And when we don’t get that we move on to a church that will give it to us, or maybe we plant a church that will give us what we want. (By the way, this is why affinity base churches find 'success' in America. They are "me-churches". This is also why many churches that we might call "traditional" struggle. They are "me-churches".)

Essentially, we say “I care about God’s Kingdom as long as it lines up with MY Kingdom.”

But here in this petition we ought to have a priority realignment. An intentional refocusing of our priorities to be on God’s glory through the furthering of His Kingdom.

2. A Present Reality – Your Kingdom

A short definition for the Kingdom of God: Where God’s rule is recognized and rejoiced in. Most people are happy to talk about how the Kingdom of God as the ‘already not yet’. So, in this point we want to talk about the ‘already.’ 

I will tip my eschatological hand here but I think there is a correlation between John 12:31 and Revelation 20:1-3

Is Satan still active in our world? You better believe it! But through the death of Christ, through the victory Jesus won through His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, the works of the devil have been defeated.

Beloved, the Kingdom of God is advancing RIGHT NOW! Who can stop it? Corrupt churches? Kim Jong-Un? Satan? Ha! No sir! 

Aslan is on the move.

Oh yes, there is still much work to do. There is still much sorrow, pain and suffering in this world. But know this: The Kingdom is ever growing. People in Africa, Asia, and the jungles of South America are coming to faith in Christ, recognizing and rejoicing in the rule of God.

The church in America may be suffering. She may be weak and faltering in many areas and in desperate need of Revival. But don’t miss this truth: THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS ADVANCING! Souls are coming to Christ, marriages are being restored, wrongs are being righted!

So when we say “Your Kingdom come” we are saying “God, let my priorities be refocused on You and Your Kingdom…”

And we are saying “God, break through the darkness! Save sinners for your eternal glory! Use me in this endeavor. Send me, I’ll go! Restore prodigals to their Father, bring back the lost Sheep, raise the banner of Christ over all the nations! May the Lamb that was slain receive the full reward for His suffering!”

Let those in my home, workplace, neighborhood, recognize and rejoice in your sovereign rule. 

3. A Promised Return – your Kingdom come

Yes, the Kingdom of God is advancing now, but we still wait its fulfillment. We long for Jesus’ return where He will fully and finally restore all things. It is when Jesus comes that His people will reign with Him forever perfectly recognizing and rejoicing in His Sovereign rule.

Have you heard of the word ‘Maranatha’? In 1 Corinthians 16:22 some translations use that word. It simply means “Our Lord come!”

The early church longed for the coming of Jesus. The Didache 10:5-6 says this:

“Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and gather it, the one that has been sanctified, from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the power and the glory forever. May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen.”

Revelation 22:20 says
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Are you praying for Jesus to come back?

It is at that point we will see the fullness of the Kingdom and God glorified over all the nations as every knee and every tongue bows to the Sovereign Christ and confesses that He is Lord. It is when Jesus returns that all God’s enemies, including all people who have refused to bow the knee in this life, will be vanquished in Hell continually day and night for all eternity.

“Well, if I pray for Jesus to come back it may make all this stuff I’m focused on now seem less important…” Ah ha!

Don’t get me wrong, we ought to glorify God in all of our endeavors. And it is good and right to live for His glory in the time He has given us. In our jobs, families, retirement, leisure activities…

But all of these things must be subservient to our grand desire for Jesus to come back and set all things right! So, we see this desire for restoration in this model prayer: Your Kingdom Come

We will save 'Thy will be done' for another blog post...

Our Father Who Art in Heaven

We are doing a 'series within a series' currently at Immanuel. We are taking some extra time during our journey through the Sermon on the Mount to specifically focus on the Model Prayer given to us in Matthew 6:9-13. I will attempt to blog each week about our time in this section. This week we are looking at v.9

Our Father in heaven
hallowed be Your name.
Four things we see in the section of the Model Prayer:

1. Exclusivity - Our Father.

God is God of all, but He is not the Father of all. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is preaching to His disciples (Mt. 5:1-2). Later in Matthew Jesus says " no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27).

So, it is impossible for one to know the Father apart from knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. If you are reading this and are not a follower of Jesus, God is not to be considered your Father as He is to Believers.

In fact, let me put it more bluntly: God is your Judge. For those who refuse to repent of their sin and trust the perfect and all sufficient sacrifice of Christ, the bible says:
God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; He has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.(Psalm 7:13)
For those who are not followers of Jesus, they will meet God as a righteous and Holy Judge who will destroy their soul continually day and night for all eternity in Hell.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, won't you trust His sacrifice on the cross for sinners? Won't you repent of your sin and place your faith in our only suitable, all sufficient Savior?

2. Intimacy - Our Father

Jesus refers to God as Father over 40x in the gospel of Matthew

Think on this glorious thought: What ought we to call God? Master? King? Ruler? Sovereign?

All of those titles are certainly appropriate and should be used at various times no doubt. However, Jesus says to come to God and call Him ‘Father’. He is our Father because He has created us and He has redeemed us through the work of Christ.

Believers have the privilege, honor, and duty of going to their heavenly Father in prayer.

I don’t think the term needs to be stretched to lose the reverence. There is ‘authority’ wrapped up in that word Father isn’t there? But, it is a valid interpretation to understand Father as One who loves us, is kind and affectionate towards us, and who delights over His children…

It reminds us that although God is transcendent and high above us, He can be known through the person and work of God the Son. It is through Christ that we come to know God as Father.

There is something distinctly Trinitarian about Christian prayer. We can pray to God the Son and God the Spirit. However, when we come to God the Father we do so because we have been redeemed by God the Son and that has been applied to our hearts by God the Spirit. We serve a Triune God.  One Being eternally existing in three distinct Persons. 

3. Other Worldliness - Our Father in Heaven.

Lest we forget that God is not just some benevolent grandfather doting over us, Jesus reminds us that our Father is in heaven.

It reminds us that in a sense to pray is to enter another world. Our minds and our hearts ought to be lifted out of just where we are now in time and space and set on the things above and the glory of God…

Our hearts and minds ought to be drawn to the fact that God is our Father but He is our Father who is the infinitely sovereign God of the universe. There ought to accompany prayer a holy reverence, awe, and fear of God.

That yes, we approach Him as Father, but He is our Father who meticulously orders every nanosecond of history for His own eternal glory. Who is the Supreme ruler and holy King of all things seen and unseen. Who alone is God and there is no other. Who will not give His glory to another….


You may go to God confidently, but don’t do so casually. He is our Father, in heaven. This doesn’t mean He is not omnipresent. But it is to remind us of His transcendent glory and inimitable majesty.

4. Consecration - Hallowed be Thy Name

Hallowed. There is a word you don’t use often. Here we have the idea of consecration.

May God’s Name be set apart in our minds and hearts as holy. May I think of and speak of God in a way that actually reflects who He is.

Notice, this is a petition. It’s not a statement. It’s not: Your name is hallowed. It’s “let your name be hallowed.” It implies that there are still areas of our lives and minds and hearts where God’s name is not hallowed as it should be. 

  • For God to be honored in our thoughts, words, and actions,
  • For His Word to be prized and cherished
  • For God to be set apart in our hearts as having the highest honor and supremely holy…what would these things look like in our lives?

Reverence. When we say ‘hallowed be your name’, it’s not just that we want God to have a good reputation. God cannot be any less glorious than He is. When we say ‘hallowed be your name’ we are saying in the words of Craig Blomberg:
“All that God stands for should be treated as holy and honored because of his utter perfection and goodness.”
So, we aren’t actually asking anything to be changed about God in this petition. Rather, we are asking for God to change us. And specifically to change us to evermore enjoy God and glorify Him forever. May I think of and speak of God in a way that actually reflects who He is.

John Calvin puts it this way: “We ought to lose sight of ourselves, and seek the glory of God…It is of unspeakable advantage to us that God reigns, and that He receives the honor which is due to Him: but no man has sufficiently earnest desire to promote the glory of God, unless (so to speak) he forgets himself, and raises his mind to seek God’s exalted greatness.”

I wonder if you would be willing to say that you are actively seeking God’s exalted greatness? Are you seeking to give God the glory due His name with your life? With your plans? With your desires? With your thoughts? With your hopes? With your words? With your actions?

Is this petition a regular one in your prayers? That God would be glorified in you and through you?

Consider Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
This gives us some perspective doesn’t it? Salvation actually isn’t ultimately about you. Your holiness isn’t ultimately about you. Prayer even isn’t ultimately about you. In fact, nothing is ultimately about you at all is it? We could boil down this fact that the chief end of all things is the glory of God!

Jesus teaches us to pray in such a way that we have the chief end of God’s glory on our minds and hearts. So, we may desire Aunt Sally’s surgery to go well, and for a job interview to go well, or for a promotion to happen, or that we’d make a good grade on a test. But we put all of these things in subservience to the glory of God. What we want chiefly is that God’s name would be hallowed

Oh God, would you lead me in paths of righteousness for the sake of your great and glorious name!?

Let me bring you glory in thought and deed. May your name be consecrated in my life so that my life might be consecrated before a lost and dying world.

I do wonder how many of us would put ourselves in this camp?

It is very easy to focus on ourselves. It is very easy to think God is the means to some other end. Like, the purpose of knowing God is just that we’d get salvation or heaven or some temporal blessing here on earth.

But God is not the means to some other end. God is the end. God is the goal, the prize, the destination. In the words of Augustine:
 “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee…”

My goal is that you will grow to prize the privilege of prayer. I hope that your prayers will ever increase in their Kingdom focus. Check back as we continue to walk through the Model Prayer together...

The audio for this sermon can be accessed HERE

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Should Pastors Quit Preaching Doctrine?

Sometimes Facebook can be hazardous to your health.

Like when you come across that certain post from someone seen as a Christian leader and it is so off base that you almost choke on your chips and salsa.

This happened to me last night. Normally, I don't take the time to respond to such foolishness but it seems to me that there are a lot of people who buy into this line of thinking and perhaps the church will be served if I offer a few comments. First, here's the post in it's exact 'copy and paste' form:
Sitting here this Sunday morning and the one thing on my mind is the Oregon tragedy. And the one who caused it. It breaks my heart on two counts. One, for all the families who lost someone they loved, and two, that hatred for organized religion is what drove him to that point. There is always a cause and effect for most everything and I begin to wonder what happened?? How was he hurt by the church? Because that kind of hatred doesn't come for nothing. I wonder this one thing.....if Pastor's quit teaching doctrines and trying to regulate people's lives by a list of do's and don't"s and simply started teaching these simple things- love for Jesus and conforming ourselves to Him. Becoming like Him. A person who loves, not condemns or judges. Who sees everyone as Christ does. Whether we've chosen the path of Believer or not, we are all loved by Him. It hurts my heart the damage the church has done and continues to do by laying down our rules and regulations and not focusing on what truly matters. Being like Him. Do we need revival? Yes, but in our hearts, not our churches......
Where does one begin!?

Again, this person is seen as a Christian leader and so there are some things that are simply inexcusable. Let's take first that phrase "organized religion." I'm going to defer to my friend Matthew Woodside who had a great little post about this a while back:
A word from the Chaplain: 
Every so often the popular phrase, "Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship," resurfaces. It's seen on memes, tweets, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and billboards. It's also said by pastors, teachers and by conference speakers.
That statement is false. It's false biblically, it's false sociologically, it's false on every level. While the statement sounds good, it's no less false. It's false because it's incomplete and it's disingenuous. 
Christianity is a religion. It's the ONLY true religion. By every definition of the word, Christianity is a religion: it has doctrine, it has a sacred text, it has ordinances of worship, it has guidelines for its people, it's people meet to observe it's tenets. It most definitely is a religion. 
But it's a religion unlike anything else. It presents a true God not a false one. It presents a divinely inspired text, not a text of mere human authorship. 
But more than anything, Christianity sets itself apart in that God died for man. Allah did not die for Muslims, the myriad of gods didn't die for the Hindu, and Buddha gave not his life for his devotees. But the fundamental difference in Christianity is that God in the person of Jesus Christ died for man. 
It's only when you do realize that Christianity is most definitely a religion, that the fact that man now can have a relationship with God is made plain. The God of the universe is thus knowable, relatable, and approachable not because of our external acts, but based on His own act of giving His own Son. 
When people say Christianity is not a religion, they think they are elevating the personal aspect of God's character. But, they are doing the opposite. If you really want to understand the personal and relatable nature of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ, place the truth of the gospel against all other religions of the world and creations of man. Then you would grasp that seeing Christianity as a religion, the only true religion, is not only right, but true.

The only thing I'll add to that is not only is Christianity a religion, it is an organized religion. It is organized by a Holy God in His infallible, inerrant, all sufficient word. To blame the tragedy in Oregon on the idea that 'organized religion' is bad, is despicable. It's false coming from any camp, but it is especially heinous coming from one who says 'they' are a Christian.

Second, let's consider the phrase "that kind of hatred doesn't come from nothing." Actually, that's true. But the conclusion is wrong. Anyone who shoots people in cold blood has a problem first and foremost with God. Of course, this is not to imply that there might not have been mental issues as well. The point is, the above post is taking the blame off of this person and his hatred toward God and fellow man and placing it on 'organized religion.' More could be said there but let's get to the meat of the issue.

"I wonder this one thing.....if Pastor's quit teaching doctrines..." That right there is where I almost choked on my chips and salsa. Before I comment let me just quote a few verses:

Titus 1:9 - [A pastor] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Romans 16:17 - I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

2 Timothy 4:3 - For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions
The problem is, an exhortation to quit teaching doctrine doesn't come from the Good Shepherd but from the mind of the Serpent. I am NOT saying this person is Satan. I am saying this person is influenced by his wiles. To say "Pastors need to quit teaching doctrines" can't be said without detecting a not so subtle wolf howl even if the person is wrapped in sheep's clothing.

The very thing the church needs most in our day is instruction in sound doctrine. Doctrine is simply teaching. In fact, to teach someone to 'quit teaching doctrine' is doctrine. A healthy church has Christ as her cornerstone and is built on the doctrine of the Prophets and the Apostles (see Eph. 2:20).

Currently at our church we are walking through the Model Prayer together in Matthew 6:9-13. This prayer is dripping with wonderful and glorious doctrine! God loves sound doctrine because He is the one who has given it to us. And so we must preach, and teach, and heed the full counsel of God’s Word if we want His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let's move on.

"if Pastor's quit teaching doctrines and trying to regulate people's lives by a list of do's and don't"s and simply started teaching these simple things- love for Jesus and conforming ourselves to Him. Becoming like Him. A person who loves, not condemns or judges. Who sees everyone as Christ does."

Ok, so 'teaching love for Jesus and conforming ourselves to Him' is doctrine. Also, teaching people to love Jesus and conform ourselves to Him is a list of do's and don'ts. But here's the deal: You don't teach people to become like Jesus, and love like Jesus, and conform to the image of Jesus, if you don't teach the Jesus of the Bible. Which, I think is the main issue going on with this person.

The Jesus of the Bible is the perfect God-Man. He is the 2nd Person of the Trinity. He is God in the flesh sent to rescue us from our sin by taking the wrath of God for us on the cross and rising again from the grave the third day in victory. Here's some truths about the Jesus of the Bible (meaning Jesus while He walked on earth as recorded for us in the 4 gospel accounts). The Jesus of the Bible hated sin. The Jesus of the Bible confronted people with their sin. The Jesus of the Bible loved people enough to show them that the only way to the Father was through Him meaning they must renounce themselves, take up their instrument of death, and follow Him. The Jesus of the Bible told people to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He told people that they couldn't follow Him unless they hated their own father and mother! The Jesus of the Bible actually talked some people out of following Him!

We've got a big problem in the United States when it comes to love and the Bible. We want to define love in whatever way we think it is, instead of defining it as Scripture does. Many, including this person, think love = nice, not hurting feelings, thinking positive thoughts toward others. But the Bible defines love as something that actually seeks the highest good of another person. What kind of love is it to tell someone 'be like Jesus' but not teach them anything about what that means? What Jesus hates? What Jesus loves? What Jesus told us to do?

It is certainly true that Jesus is the Judge. But it is also true that we are to go throughout the world and to teach (or we could say 'indoctrinate') the world the things Jesus taught us. We are to communicate to the world what the Judge has spoken. And too often the word 'judge' is used as though Christians are not allowed to 'discriminate'. This of course is foolish. The word 'discriminate' simply means to differentiate between choices. We discriminate when we choose McDonalds over Subway.

Christians are actually commanded to discriminate. In the church, Paul tells us to 'judge' (1 Cor. 5:12). Outside the church we are not to cast our pearls before swine (Mt. 7:6) and to 'judge correctly' (John 7:24). There are many more passages we could look at, but the point is, it is actually sinful for a Christian not to practice discernment. For example, what person in their right mind would let a repeat level 4 sex offender teach their child's Sunday School class? That's an extreme example to show that 'everyone judges' and that this is good and right. No, we do not have the right or power to condemn any person to Hell. But we do have the obligation to preach the gospel, calling sinners to repentance and teaching the truth to people who live unrepentant lives that if they do not repent and believe the Gospel they will meet Jesus as a holy and righteous judge.

"Who sees everyone as Christ does. Whether we've chosen the path of Believer or not, we are all loved by Him. It hurts my heart the damage the church has done and continues to do by laying down our rules and regulations and not focusing on what truly matters. Being like Him."

This statment almost seems to insinuate that it's "ok" for a person to not be a Believer. Sounds very Oprah-esque. Again, to say to someone 'just be like Jesus' is a rule and regulation. In fact, to tell people 'be like Jesus' IS NOT the gospel.

What is the hope for the world? If I were to say to the masses: Here's your hope, Just go be like Jesus! That would be terrible terrible terrible news. Why? You can't be like Jesus. The gospel is the good news that Jesus lived a perfect life and then was treated as us on the Cross so that through faith we could be treated as Him by the Father. It is the truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, but on the 3rd day he rose again, all according perfectly to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

That being said, the church most definitely should, by faith, strive to be like Jesus. And of course, we do want to always be wary of imposing any sort of man made rules. However, it is absolutely absurd to suppose Christianity is a 'rule-less' religion. That's the false teaching we call 'antinomianism'. In fact, probably helpful to cite a couple of verses here:
John 14:15 - “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

1 John 5:3 - For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Yes, we could get into a healthy theological discussion on the full meaning of these verses but suffice it to say Jesus did not say "Hey, don't worry about rules guys, just love me!"

Again, let's think of the Model Prayer, (Matthew 6:10b): "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

How do we know God's will for our lives? (It's not hiding!) How do we not only pray this petition but seek to have God apply it in a tangible way to our lives? Answer: Scripture. This Facebook post reeks of one who either does not know or simply does not care about what Scripture says. Many doctrinal statements say "the Bible is our only rule for faith and practice" meaning that not even our experience or feeling is enough to guide us rightly (see Jeremiah 17:9). God's Word is our supreme authority and all sufficient rule for how to become a Christian, what a Christian looks like, and how the Christian life is lived. As Believers, we must endeavor to teach every iota of doctrine, rule, and regulation that Scripture teaches us to. Too many treat the Bible as though it's simply there for us to just turn to to feel motivated or to find a verse in case we have a trial in this life. Beloved, the Bible is God's Book. It is our final standard and sufficient to teach us all things in accordance with a life of godliness.

The church must love people. And I do think we can do a better job at this. We must not only love those like us but also those unlike us. But to love someone is to desire their highest good. In the words of Charles Spurgeon: "it is treason against the King of kings to tone down the word of the Lord." But not only is it treason against God, it is unloving to our fellow man!

"Do we need revival? Yes, but in our hearts, not our churches......" I don't even know what this means. I think it is a stab again at 'organized religion.' As though what we really need is a bunch of individuals instead of an organized church? I think it is meant to sound deep when in reality it is nonsense. What we need is a revival of hungering and thirsting for righteousness in our hearts and in our churches. We need a people whose minds are captivated by the word of God. Who are so enamored with the glory of God that they refuse to compromise the Bible's teaching in any area.

Well, if you've made it this far, congrats! It is my sincere prayer that you have been edified in this post. If you are a pastor, I exhort you to stay in the Book, and strive with all your might to teach and preach sound doctrine.

If you are not a pastor, take a moment to text, call, or email your pastor and just say "Bro _______, please continue to preach and teach sound doctrine! Thank you for doing so. I for one need it and I just want to encourage you to continue the fight!"

Without sound doctrine, the church falters. So, take up the Book and read! Seriously, if you haven't read your bible today, go do so right now! The church needs it.

Oh yeah, and beware of reading Facebook posts...Especially while munching on chips and salsa.

Soli Deo Gloria