Just Because You Say It Enough Times Doesn’t Make It True

Scripture Study:  Matthew 7:21-23

A Powerful Jesus Straight Talk Moment:

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Saying that Jesus is LORD doesn’t make it so.

Let me say one thing very clear as I begin this study in Matthew,  Neither Jesus or I am talking about a works theology of earning His grace and salvation.  In fact, there may be some reading this who’ve tried that method.

Jesus indicates on the Day of Judgment…

Clearly, these are individuals who believe they’ve done a lot…

They believe that the stuff they’ve done is going to gain them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And it’s not little stuff either…it’s preaching…teaching…blogging…engaging in spiritual warfare with demons…it’s miracles!

Jesus isn’t talking to the crowd here, He’s talking to the Church.  He’s talking to people who defend themselves with these words:

  • “In Your name we prophesied!”
  • “In Your name, we cast out demons.”
  • “In Your name, we performed miracles!”

It sure seems to me that the problem here is the statement, “In Your name.” 

Jesus uses this statement 3 times in Verse 22.

My point is that doing stuff in “the name of Jesus” makes you feel good, but if you have no real relationship with Him…if He doesn’t really know you and you don’t really love Him…it’s worse than doing nothing at all, because it leaves you in a state of deception.  In my opinion, and it’s just ‘my opinion, it’s one of the most heretical and damning teachings of the Church today.  Its certainly one of the greatest tools that our enemy, Satan, uses to deceive people who have a loose association with Jesus in the Church today:

“Let the stuff you do become more important than the Leadership of Christ.”

“Let Him just be a name you speak and not a Savior you personally love and serve.”

David Platt, in his book “Follow Me” writes this:

I have a friend – let’s call him John – whose first experience to the concept of hell was during an episode of Tom and Jerry when he was young.

During one particularly vivid scene, Tom was sent to hell for something bad he had done to Jerry.  What was intended to be a humorous cartoon scared John to death, and he later found himself at church talking with an older man about what he had seen.

The churchman looked at John and said, “Well, you don’t want to go to hell, do you?”

“No,” he responded.

John paused.  After an awkward silence, he realized he was supposed to repeat after the man, and so he hesitantly responded, “Dear Jesus…”

“I know I’m a sinner and I know Jesus died on a cross for my sins,” the man said.

John followed suit.

“I ask you to come into my heart and to save me from my sin,” the man said.  John echoed what he had heard.

“AMEN,” the man concluded.

Then the nice, old gentleman looked at John and said, “Son, you are now saved from your sins, and you don’t ever have to worry about hell again!”

Surely what that man told my friend John in the church that day was not true.  Surely this isn’t what it means to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.

And yet, this story represents the deception that has spread like wildfire across the contemporary Christian landscape:  “Just ask Jesus into your heart and repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved!”

Should it alarm us that the Bible never mentions such a prayer?  Should it concern us that nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever told to “ask Jesus into their heart” or to “invite Christ into their life”?

Yet this is exactly what many professing Christians have been encouraged to do, and they’ve been assured that as long, as they say, certain words. recite a particular prayer, and with every head bowed, every eye closed, (‘no peaky’), told to raise their hand, check a box, sign a card, or walked an aisle, they are Christians and their salvation in eternity is secure.

IT’S NOT TRUE!

We’ve taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so it looks and tastes better to the masses, and the results…are catastrophic.

According to Jesus, “Many…” scores of men and women believe they are saved when they are not.

In Matthew 7, Jesus isn’t talking to atheists and pagans.

He’s talking to people who are associated with Himself and His ministry.  They assume their eternity is safe and will be shocked one day that it’s not.  Even though they professed their belief in Jesus…even did all kinds of works in His name, they never really knew Him…and He never really knew them.

I don’t know about you but His response is heartbreaking.  It sometimes keeps me awake at night and it burdens my soul.

“I never knew you…depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible uses the word “evildoer” for “lawlessness.”

Maybe this straight talk reveals the truth of real SALVATION…and the real issue.  Remember, Jesus is using the word “EVILDOER” toward people who thought they were “good”…because they did good things.

The word Greek word “kakos” [bad, evil, wicked] reveals the inner character of a person.  The iniquity, the sin, the wickedness lives in us all.

The inner wickedness and sin cannot be cured in a name association with Jesus or by doing “good works”, that would be like putting running shoes on a corpse.

In Luke’s gospel, someone asked Jesus. “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

And here’s His answer:

The narrow door (the gate) is the only way in, and once the owner of the house shuts it, it’s too late.

Here’s the picture:  The door’s shut, but people are knocking and pleading to get in.  But, it’s too late!

And the owner’s response to all the knocking…Luke 13:25 b.

“I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from me all you evildoers.”

“We hung around you Jesus…we listened to your teaching…we ate and drank your meals.”

“Away from me…you never dealt with your sin…you never knew me…I never knew you.”

No wonder verse 28 records:

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth.”

The heartbreak is basing your life on the false hope that “Hey, Jesus is my friend”…but you never died to your sin, you never surrendered your life to His ownership, you never accepted His grace, and now it’s too late!

It all comes down to the truth:  If your heart isn’t open to understanding how much we need God’s grace, you can say a thousand prayers, be baptized over and over again, work your fingers to the bone in Church and you’ll still be lost.

Remember this scripture that the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

What Jesus is addressing in His straight talk in Matthew is the difference between those who know about Him and those who live in Him.  It’s the difference between working for Jesus to earn His favor and walking with Jesus out of an overflow of faith.

When you or I…or anyone else is “in Christ”, we haven’t “received a get out of Jail free card.”  We haven’t been redeemed because we just believe in something.  We’ve died to self and we now have Christ “IN” us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you are no different than you were before or you are no different than the rest of the world around you…

You’ve been DECEIVED and you are not a Christian.

The Barna Study Group Research, published on Agust 4, 2011 is revealing!

Almost half of all Americans claim to be “born again” Christians (I don’t know of any other kind! ).  Out of this group of “born again” Christians, researchers found that their beliefs and lifestyle weren’t indistinguishable from the rest of the world.  Many believe that “works” can earn them a place in heaven, others think that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and an ever-increasing number describe themselves as only marginally committed to Jesus.

After reading the study, I think the one thing that’s abundantly clear from these statistics:

There are a whole lot of people in the world that think they are Christian but are not!  There are a whole lot of people who think they’ve been born again, but are dangerously deceived!!

Now I understand the concept of different levels of spiritual maturity…babes in Christ versus grown-up followers, but Jesus didn’t come to make good people better, He came to raise dead people to life, and that can’t happen in someone’s life and it not be noticeable in attitudes and actions.

Here’s is an illustration I came upon in my reading this week that I think really fits here:

Imagine you and I set up a meeting for lunch at a local restaurant, and you arrive before I do.

You wait, and wait, and wait, but 30 minutes later, I still haven’t arrived.  When I finally show up, completely out of breath, I say to you, “I’m so sorry I’m late.  When I was driving over here, my car had a flat tire, and I pulled over on the side of the highway to fix it.  While I was fixing it, I accidentally stepped into the road, and a Mack truck going about 70 mph, suddenly hit me head-on.  It hurt, but I picked myself up, finished putting the spare tire on the car, and drove over here.”

If this were the I shared, you would know I was either deliberately lying or completely deceived.  

WHY?  Because if someone gets hit by a Mack truck going seventy miles per hour, that person is going to look very different than they did before.

Jesus isn’t a pussy-cat…

He’s the Lion of Judah and if you come face to face with Him, the Word of Creation, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and He reaches down into the depth of your heart, saves you from the slavery of sin and transforms you to follow Him…you are going to look different…very different!

So what happens when the Mack truck of God’s glory and forgiveness hits us?

There’s repentance and baptism and resurrection of new life by the Holy Spirit.  And, we begin to look like Jesus in this world, according to 1 John 3:1-10.

DON’T BE DECEIVED!

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CREDITS:

Sources:  Interlinear Bible; Vinne’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine.

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New American Standard (NAS); New King James Version (NKJV).

 

(The M.I.C.) Manipulator In Charge

ap_nixon_watergate_testimony_45293229-4_3

Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested inside of the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C..  This was no ordinary robbery. The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught while attempting to wiretap phones and steal secret documents.  While historians are not sure whether Nixon knew about Watergate espionage operation before it happened, rest assure, he took steps to cover it up after words, raising “hush money” for the burglars, trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime, destroying evidence and firing uncooperative staff members.  In August 1974, after his role in the Watergate conspiracy had finally come to light, the president resigned.

Throughout history, many attempts have been made to cover up incompetence, immorality and even crimes.  In the Bible, cover ups appear very early.  Adam and Eve sought to cover their nakedness and hide from God, not realizing their efforts betrayed their SIN and GUILT.

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In my study in 2 Samuel 11 this past week, one of the great cover-up attempts of all time takes place, and like so many,

IT TOO…falls disastrously!

Proverbs 24:8 (NIV):

“He who plots evil will be known as a schemer.”

DAVID’S ATTEMPT TO MANIPULATE OTHERS IN ORDER TO HIDE HIS SIN –

This SIN was due to David’s lust and arrogance.  PERIOD!

David had no desire for Bathsheba to become his wife, or even to carry on an adulterous affair with her.  His intent was but for a ‘one night stand’, and she went home.  That was that, or so it seemed.  I hope you have your bibles alongside you as we go through the events unveiled in Chapter 11.

When David heard from Bathsheba that this ‘fling’ resulted in pregnancy…the Scripture narrative reveals David’s desperate attempt to cover up his sin with Bathsheba.

As we all know, it didn’t work out and it actually made matters so much worse.  As Sir Walter Scott once said, “O, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”

DAVID’S PROBLEM –

pancakes-stackemhighDavid didn’t know how to stop what he started and decides to stack one SIN upon another.

There are many lessons to be learned from this tragic episode of David’s life, which if heeded, will keep us all from duplicating them in our own lives.

So, the KING, DAVID, tries to “legitimize” the unfortunate circumstances; He instructs his Four Star General Joab, to bring Bathsheba’s military husband home from the Ammonite Campaign, making it possible for him to enjoy the intimacies of marriage.

2 Samuel 11:7:

“When Uriah had come to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the people fared, and how the war progressed.”

David orchestrated this homecoming, so to speak, to appear as though it served one purpose–while it actually served David’s purpose of concealing his own sin.

Webster’s definition for “A MANIPULATOR IN CHARGE” (Manipulation):  One who “manages or influences skillfully, especially in an unfair manner; to manipulate people’s feelings.”

So David PRETENDED that he was interested in the General, the Military, and the progress of the war.

BUT the real reason for getting Uriah back was to make it possible for him to enjoy the intimacies of marriage.  Thus it would be possible to attach the paternity question of the child to him.

MANIPULATORS PROFESS (to Honor) – verses 8-13.

After reading these verses, we see David scheming by suggesting Uriah get cleaned up from his return from the front lines of war.  Soldiers didn’t wear combat boots in the day, but sandals.

[8] David said to Uriah,  “Go down to your house and wash your feet…”

Yeah, Uriah.  Go home and enjoy your R&R and here, take this sack of groceries home, maybe a few candles too and have a romantic evening with your wife.

But Uriah wanted no part of the comforts offered by the king.  His argument was, how could he be allowed the comforts of home and a conjugal visit while his friends in combat were deprived of them?

[11] Uriah said to David,  “The ark and Israel and Judah live in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As you live and as my soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

Since this scheme wasn’t working, David decided he was going to need to convince (“manipulate”) Uriah another way.

How many times have we tried to manipulate others, in coming around to our way of thinking by presenting another plan?

David’s thinking was, I’m going to ‘buddy’ up to Uriah.

What do ‘buddies’ do?  Well, in this case, they get drunk together.  But this wasn’t friendship.  It was David resorting to another scheme to induce Uriah to go home to his wife (v. 12-13).

Uriah is presented as a faithful and pious soldier who had more respect for the law of God when he was drunk than his king did when he was sober.

So David’s deceptive plot of pretense of coming home and professing to be his buddy didn’t work.

COVER-UPS Began Early in Our History.

Adam and Eve tried to COVER-UP with leaves, but their efforts only betrayed their guilt.  This cover-up by David’s manipulation is like so many others, failing completely!

How David, the “Apple of God’s Eye” (Psalm 17:8), has fallen from the man he once was.  And if you’re thinking to yourself, how could this happen to a man who had God’s call, who was anointed by the King of kings…we are ALL vulnerable to SIN!  What we do with our actions…do we cover them up, or do we CONFESS OUR SIN?  (1 John 1:9-10).

MANIPULATORS PANIC (when it doesn’t go their way).

david-gives-the-letter-to-uriah-grenico-17th-cen-11x11

Verses 14-17:

[14] In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.  [15] And he wrote in the letter,  “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die.”  [16] So when Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah opposite where he knew the enemy’s most valiant men were.  [17] And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David fell, Uriah the Hittite died also.

When your plans do go as expected, do you ever PANIC?  

DAVID is getting desperate at this point of the story.  When Uriah refuses to sleep with his wife, David panics.  Once David began his efforts to cover up his SIN, each step taken from that point lead in deeper and deeper into sin!

FIRST, he LUSTED, then he committed ADULTERY, then DECEIT, and finally MURDER.

Our day has had its share of highly placed people who made matters worse as they looked to cover up their wrongdoing.

THE PLOT THICKENS

To show how calloused David had become and how noble Uriah was, David sent a letter that plotted the Hittites death by Uriah himself (verses 14 & 15).:

[14] In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.

[15] And he wrote in the letter,  “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die.”

I find it amazing how we can get so caught up in our own deceptions, that we want to recruit others into our tangled web.  The DECEIT and DECEPTION woven in our plans must bring more people to join in the conspiracy.  We want to spread our guilt and shame around so that the weight of our SIN is more distributed.

David’s plan was to put Uriah in the front of an intense battle, then withdraw so he would be killed.  While General Joab had no qualms about accomplishing David’s goal, he amended his plan as having too great of risk both to himself and David.  The king’s plan would have been too obvious to everyone and would have made many of those who fought that day under Joab’s command to doubt his commitment to them.

So Joab led an attack against a part of the city where he knew the resistance was the greatest.  In the heat of the battle, Joab lost several men [wasn’t in the “plan’], including Uriah (vv. 16-17).

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MANIPULATORS PLANS (place others in danger) – (vv. 18-25)

Mission Accomplished.  Uriah is dead!

Joab knew that he had to let the king know that his objective had been accomplished– without revealing to anyone else that the TWO OF THEM murdered Uriah in such a way as just another casualty of war.

Another Cover-up, perhaps?

Joab didn’t exactly follow the instructions of the Commander-In-Chief’s letter.  The collateral damage to the troops wasn’t suppose to happen.

The king’s desires had come to fruition…to a point.  But now, how can one possibly report this fiasco in a way that doesn’t make Joab look like a fool (at best), or a murderer (at worst)?

So the messenger was told that after David raised his objections, he was to reveal to him that “your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also”  (vv.18-21). 

The news of Uriah’s death calmed the king and in the message that was sent back to Joab, David covered the treachery with insincerity in tone:

Oh well, “the sword devours one as well as another” (v. 27).

MANIPULATORS PUNISHED (in God’s timing) – (vv. 26-27):

[26] When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for Uriah.  [27] And when the mourning was past, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.  But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.

David, though he had broken at least three of the Ten Commandments God had given Israel for the purpose of relating to God and to fellow-man–he had COVETED another man’s wife, committed ADULTERY, and MURDERED.  And yet, who can judge the judge; who can question the actions of the king?

The answer comes in the final verse of the chapter in words that suggest that no one stands above the law of God.  What seemed to David a final ending to what would have been a very sticky situation was but the beginning of problems because (verse 27) set in motion events that would trouble David till his death [David was trying to legitimize his SIN, making Uriah a casualty of war, making Bathsheba a widow. He now can marry this woman and raise the child as his own, which of course it is].

Sin has a sneaky way of compounding itself!

Before you know it, you’re more deeply involved in it than you ever thought you’d be.

Temptations and Manipulation Are Cousins!

You cannot control the course of your destiny once you allow yourself to begin to flirt with SIN.  It will capture you.  It will ensnare you.  And ultimately, it will destroy you.

David once killed GIANTS.  Now the GIANT is killing him.

Uriah is a reminder to us today: God doesn’t always deliver the RIGHTEOUS from the hand of the wicked immediately, or even in this lifetime.

DANIEL’S THREE FRIENDS –

Daniel’s three friends told the king that THEIR GOD was able to deliver them.  They didn’t presume that He would or that He must.  And God did deliver them!  [See Daniel 3:17, 18; 19-28]

God Is Able
God Is Able

I think Christians look upon this DELIVERANCE as the rule, rather than the exception.  But when Uriah faithfully serves his king (DAVID), he loses his life.

God is not obliged to ‘bail us out of trouble’ or keep us from trials and tribulations just because we TRUST in Him.

In the Old Testament, as in the New, God sometimes delivers His people from the hands of wicked people, but often He doesn’t.

Their “deliverance” comes with the Messiah, the LORD JESUS CHRIST.  

Uriah, like ALL of the Old Testament saints, died without receiving his full reward, and that is because God wanted him to wait.  Uriah, like many saints, was not delivered from the hands of the WICKED–THE MANIPULATORS.  [READ Hebrews 11:13-16; 37-40] 

 


CREDITS:

Watergate Scandal Facts & Summary @ HISTORY.com

Photos:  Google Search Images.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

“UNCHECKMATED”

A Famous Chess Game
A Famous Chess Game

 A Defeat in Progress–

The Fausts’  famous painting hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Faust is seated at a table engaged in a competitive game of chess.  And at first glance, looks like Faust is losing.

His opponent in the chess game is Satan.  The devil sits there grinning smugly, thinking the VICTORY is in hand.  He is pointing at the chessboard with an evil, gloating look on his face.

As you look at the painting, you can almost hear the devil shouting:

“Checkmate!  Games over!  I win!”

An international famous chess player was admiring the painting when all of a sudden, he lunged forward exclaiming:

“Wait a minute!  Look! Faust has another move and that move will give him VICTORY.”

THE TEXT from Acts 26:16-18: “Another Move!”

[16]  But arise and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you.  [17] Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you–  [18] To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.  (Amplified Bible)

JESUS HAS GIVEN US PURPOSE:

I remember years ago, when I was asked to give an account of how and when I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior before a small group.  How inadequate I first felt.  It wasn’t that I feared standing in front of people to speak, but I thought my story wasn’t….exciting enough.  I hadn’t been driving down a road, when a lightning bolt struck the pavement in front of the car; pulling to the shoulder; hearing the audible voice of God saying,  “Mel, I have a specific purpose and objectives in mind for you.”

But in saying that, when we accept JESUS out of obedience…for He chose you, you didn’t choose Him; you accepted the calling… out of obedience.  The obedience doesn’t stop there at conversion.  It’s ongoing!

The Apostle Paul’s Testimony in Acts 26–

We find Paul stating his God-given purpose through his testimony to the whole Jewish Legal council.  Also, to three of the highest political officials in Palestine:  FELIX, FESTUS, and AGRIPPA.  All three hear the GOSPEL MESSAGE because Paul was arrested and imprisoned on false charges.

PAUL’S TESTIMONY:

He was blinded by an arrogant sense of his own importance.

Thought he was on a mission for God.

Though he was defending God…he had gone on the offensive; to wipe out as many Christians as possible.

He was chasing them down everywhere, arresting them, sentencing them to prison, even torturing them if needed.

If they (the Christians) refused to renounce their faith, like Stephen, Paul saw to it that they died as a heretic.  Saul, as he was known to the world, quickly became infamous among the Way (what believers were known as before the term “Christians” was applied).  Would Paul’s INFAMY put him in CHECKMATE after his obedience to God’s calling?

BUT SOMEONE SAW PAUL’S POTENTIAL–  JESUS!

Paul’s testimony– that JESUS turned on the lights for him–blinding him on the Road to Damascus.  Now, his eyesight was “20/20” regarding spiritual matters.

3 OBJECTIVES TO CONSIDER:

THE FIRST OBJECTIVE we are to meet is to accomplish the purpose; to move out of a “checkmated” position. 

JESUS has given each one of us in the church assembly, the BODY OF CHRIST this command:  GO AND TELL!  (verse 17)–

“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles”

“I AM SENDING YOU”:

God has placed you and I to penetrate our community with the good news.

We are a sent people–

In fact, the smaller number in attendance at the church I attend, with various age differences, different occupations–we are all given the same responsibility; penetrate the world, our community, with the Gospel.

None of us live at the church, though you may complain you feel like at times.  Most of us don’t work at the church; we live and work among the people outside the church walls.  That’s just where God wants us to be.  He wants us living out there, moving about, meeting people, being involved in their lives and shining God’s Light around our own lives.  Does that sound just to “poetic” for you to grasp and understand?

THE “CHURCH” IS MORE THAN A LIGHTHOUSE:

As some of you know, I sang in a men’s Gospel trio in Southern California in the late 70’s.  One of my favorite Gospel Hymns to sing out in the community was, The Lighthouse.  The lyrics refer to Jesus as the Lighthouse, and that is certainly true.  But since we are Christ’s Ambassadors, we are to represent the “Lighthouse.”  The last verse of the song contains a powerful thought:

THE LIGHTHOUSE

Everybody that lives about us

Says tear that Lighthouse down.

The big ships don’t sail  this way anymore

There’s no use of it standing round

Then my mind goes back to that stormy night

When just in time I saw  the light

Yes, the light from that old Lighthouse

That stands up there on the hill.

Please understand, this idea is often a mistake in the body of Christ–the Christian Assembly.  We sometimes believe that the CHURCH BUILDING is our Lighthouse and not the Light living inside of us.

It is time for the church to start  “wiggling”–MOVING OUT!

I came across a story this past week, of an E.M.T. (emergency medical technician):

Bill Stelianessis was called to a nursing home for a routine transport.  While there, he encountered four residents enjoying the warm day, relaxing in lounge chairs, all staring up at the sky.  When he looked up to see what they were looking at, he saw a flock of large birds flying by.  Then one resident spoke up:  “Margaret,” she teased, “for goodness sake, wiggle or something.  Those buzzards are getting closer!”

We are going to have to move folks.  We are supposed to be “living lighthouses”–guiding, directing, and warning others.  We do not ask people to come here to the “building”, for most won’t come.  We are to go where they are, and show them the LIGHT.

Moving Lighthouses
Moving Lighthouses

A SECOND OBJECTIVE–ANOTHER MOVE we are to meet, to accomplish the purpose of Jesus has given us– “…to open eyes…” (verse 18).

God wants spiritually blinded eyes to be opened:  “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said,  ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’  made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”  (2 Corinthians 4:4-6 NIV).

It is God who created LIGHT in the beginning.  HE SPOKE.  IT HAPPENED!

He has a method in mind.  It’s you and me.  We are PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT in communicating the TRUTH–God’s Word.

Our Responsibility–

To LIVE and SPEAK words of truth, so that when people’s eyes are opened, there is something to believe.

Holy spirit never opens the eyes of the heart until there is GOSPEL TRUTH in the mind to believe.  We do not SAVE people, and I think most of us already know that.  But on the other hand, Scripture indicates His only plan includes our communication–God doesn’t do it without us.

3042052_b6efc7004cTHE THIRD OBJECTIVE TO CONSIDER IS “TURN THEM” INTO VICTORY (Verse 19):

“To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness…

I remember when I was living in darkness…the “darkness of sin.”   Before being saved, I use to think life couldn’t be any better.  And those who did…I thought they were more than a bit “nutty.”  I thought that DARKNESS was light and LIGHT was darkness.

Are We Hiding the Light in a Paper Sack?

TWO CLASSMATES from Washington State University were discussing their frustrations of dorm life.  High up on their list was the difficulty of keeping others from eating ice cream stored in the dorm’s refrigerator.

“I’ve solved that one,” one of them said.  “I just wrap my ice cream in a brown paper bag and label it ‘TOFU’.”

It’s possible that the devil has done the same thing.  Wrapped up the light (THE TRUTH) in a brown paper bag and called it “TOFU”–as a result, no one is going near it!

SATAN’S POWER OVER PEOPLE:

His power is simply based on DECEPTION.  He does so by working hard to keep people away from the TRUTH.  So he bends and twists the TRUTH (God’s Word), keeping people at bay and off-balanced.  He did that with us…unsuccessfully.

I certainly remember why and how he FAILED.  It was because of one small, unattractive looking pastor, living out the truth every time he came to the place where I was employed.  Because eventually, after his repeated visits, the opportunity arose… to SHARE the Gospel TRUTH with my wife and I in the living room of our home.

Paul’s Example to Us All.

Paul wasn’t concerned about his own condition, as much as he was about the condition of those who stood before him.  While he was standing in chains, he was more concerned about the spiritual chains around the necks of Festus and Agrippa.

WE ARE CHOSEN AND ENTRUSTED WITH A MISSION:

Encouragement Presented.  BE A MOVING LIGHTHOUSE!

Those of us who were called–called out of the tunnel of darkness, into His marvelous Light are entrusted with a MISSION:

To remove whatever obstacles that prevent others from rejoicing in the brilliance of God’s unconditional acceptance.  We are to GUIDE, DIRECT, SHOW THE LIGHT.

Are the people living in the DARKNESS simply because you are not sharing your light?  Have we become CHECKMATED?

WE STILL HAVE A MOVE ON THE “CHESSBOARD”:

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and]  do superabundantly far over and above all that we [dare] to ask or think  [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]–  To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen (so be it) – (Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP).

I see VICTORY in these two verses and the victory is in bringing others to Christ Jesus–letting the Holy Spirit do the convincing while we verbalize the “good news”!.

“HELL NO!” ~ (Part Two)

“HELL NO!”

In Part One, “I’m A Basically Good Person”, of the study in Luke 13:19-31, we left at discussing the message that Jesus imparts in the parable:  “There are two and only two eternal destinies, HEAVEN and HELL!”  The truth discussed begins on how HEAVEN is pictured in the parable, if it really was a parable.  If it is a parable, it is the only one in the Bible that specifically gives identities: The rich man and Lazarus.  But the Bible makes it very plain; there also is a place of eternal judgement called HELL! After my wife and I came to know our Lord and Savior in August of 1972, Dianne was struggling with the concept of an actual place of hell.  Here religious exposure had told her there wasn’t such a place; God wouldn’t have such a place designated for a place for His children; for all people our God’s children.  As the truth became real to her, the idea of people she knew in life; friends and family, who were not saved, could go to such a place for eternity.  Reality began to set in and it was hard to know and understand the truths presented to her.  Acceptance came after a while and she could finally sleep soundly, praise God! One of the first Scriptural references, revealing the second of two eternal destinies, after both being saved together in 1972, was found in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9 “To deal out retribution upon those who do not know or perceive or become acquainted with God, and who ignore and refuse to obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.    Such people will pay the penalty and suffer the punishment of everlasting ruin (destruction and perdition) and eternal exclusion and banishment from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour of which he is not aware,    And will punish him and put him with the pretenders (hypocrites); there will be weeping and grinding of teeth”  (Matthew 24:51–Amplified Bible). JESUS MAKES IT PLAIN! There is also a place of eternal torment called HELL!  Jesus uses the Greek word Hades scholars debate; Hades (and the Hebrew ~ Sheol) was the abode of all dead; separate compartments for the righteous and the wicked, or whether it refers only to the place for the wicked dead.  We can’t get dogmatic about such specifics.  One certainty that we can count on is, hell is a real place!  You don’t want to spend an eternity there!  Mark Twain said, “I’ll take Heaven for the climate and Hell for society.”   But there won’t be any society in hell.  Jesus uses awful word pictures to teach us, it isn’t going to be a fun place.  He refers to it in Matthew 25:30 as an “outer darkness” [no light at all] and “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”  Not a pretty picture!  He also cites Isaiah 66:24 in Mark 9:48.  He says, it would be better to have a millstone hung around your neck;

A “Millstone” around the neck!

thrown into the sea than going into the unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43). THE RICH MAN in Luke 16:24 If the realm of the dead (Hades), had been a “fun place”, he would want his five brothers to join him for the party.  But he doesn’t want them to: “For I have five brothers–so that he [Lazarus] may give [solemn] testimony and warn them, lest they too come into this place of torment”  (16:28). THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT Eternal punishment in hell is not pleasant.  But you cannot accept Jesus and reject hell. because He taught it plainly and frequently.  R. C. Sproul wrote (“Tabletalk” [11/90]):   The fact is, however that virtually every statement in the Bibleconcerning hell comes from the lips of Jesus Christ.  We cannottake Jesus seriously without also taking seriously what He saidregarding eternal punishment. POPULAR VIEWS NEEDING REJECTION #1.  UNIVERSALISM:  “The view that everyone will eventually be saved.”          An universalist says, “A good and loving God could not condemn anyone to hell.  There is some good in even the worst people.  God will take that into account so that no one will be condemned.” (my wife before becoming SAVED, accepted this teaching from a cult she had attended). But the universalist underestimates the awful sinfulness of the human heart and the absolute holiness of God. The rich man is not an evil man in human terms.  He wasn’t a mass murderer or a child molester.  He wasn’t deliberately hurting people.  He was just living for himself, oblivious to the poor man at the gate.  And yet here he is in a place of eternal torment! The second popular view to reject: #2.  “ANNIHILATION ISM“:  The view that “God will destroy the unrepentant sinner so he ceases to exist.”            In other words, the soul is not immortal.  God will eventually say, “That’s Enough!”  God will annihilate the person’s soul; the person will not suffer eternally. The idea sounds humane and appealing, but cannot dodge Matthew 25:46:  “Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with god into eternal life.” Jesus uses the same word “eternal” in the same verse referring to eternal punishment [Also, see Revelation 20:10, 15). The third popular view the verses in Luke 16 refute is: #3.  THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY:  “Teaches that when a believer dies, unless he has attained a state of moral perfection on earth, he goes to an intermediate place; where he suffers until all sin is purged away.  The sufferings vary according to the guilt, the impenitence of the sufferer.  Gifts and church services, prayers on behalf of the dead, Masses provided by friends and loved ones can all shorten the amount of time a person spends in Purgatory.” So while it is a hard doctrine to unravel intellectually and emotionally, we can’t say that we believe in Jesus and the Bible and at the same time reject the doctrine of eternal hell. There are two and only two eternal destinies, the basis for a person’s eternal destiny fixed on this present life.  The fact of a fixed destiny; a great chasm fixed (16:26). Abraham says to the rich man, in hell there is a great chasm fixed between those in heaven and those in hell.  None can cross from one side to the other.  Not only does this mean there is no Purgatory, it also means there isn’t a second chance after death.  The Book of Hebrews states: “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgement”  (Heb. 9:27). As someone has said, “there are no unbelievers in hell.  They just believed to late!” JESUS PICTURES THE FINAL OUTCOME Without spelling out the details of the future; resurrections of the body, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, believers being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  There is no such thing as “soul sleep”, waiting for the resurrection of our bodies at His second coming. The souls of unbelievers go immediately to a place of torment, awaiting the Great White Throne judgement; when their bodies are raised and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Before death, a person can move from spiritual death to eternal life.  But once a person dies, his eternal destiny is fixed.  He goes either to heaven or to hell.  No crossing over from one place to the other side.  There is a great chasm fixed! THE BASIS OF A “FIXED DESTINY” :  REPENTANCE AND FAITH Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.  You cannot have one without the other! Repentance is a change of mind; not just an apology.  It’s turning of the whole person from one direction to the other; from sin to God. Faith is “the practical expression of the confidence in God and His Word” — by Creflo A. Dollar. A person who has truly believed in Christ as their Savior will live a life of repentance and growth in godliness.  The fact that this rich man never showed concern for Lazarus, even though he had walked past him every day with ample evidence; his faith was an empty profession.  He never repented of his selfishness.  The rich man may have protested by saying, “How was I to know that I should take care of this poor man at my gate?”  God’s Word is a sufficient witness to lead a person to repentance. The rich man’s plea to Abraham was to send Lazarus to warn his brothers.  And Abraham’s reply was, they had what they needed to repent from Moses and the Prophets; from the Scriptures.  But the rich man protests, “that’s not enough!”  They need something more spectacular, more miraculous.  Send them a man risen from the dead, to preach to them.  Then they will repent.   But Abraham insist that Scripture is a sufficient witness. REPENTANCE IS A MORAL ISSUE Repentance is a moral issue, not an intellectual one.  The rich man had known what God’s Word says concerning the poor and the needy.  But he made a choice to ignore this hurting man on his doorstep.  He blames God in effect, that he had not been given sufficient witness; “If you had just sent…”  The fact was, he didn’t want to inconvenience his comfortable lifestyle to comfort this poor man. Invariably, when you’re sharing the gospel, a person raises an intellectual problem.  It’s not the true problem being stated.  Steven Cole gives one way to deal with this situation by asking the person, “Are you saying that if I can provide a reasonable answer to that problem, you will repent of your sins and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord?”  The answer almost always is, “Well, there are other issues, too.”  Then say, “Great, make a list and I’ll see if I can find reasonable answers.  Then will you become a Christian?” Repentance isn’t the result of having all your intellectual questions answered.  Repentance and faith in Christ hinge on the recognition that you are a sinner and you need a Savior.  We need to make it clear to people if they die without repenting of their sins and trusting in Jesus the Christ, they are fixing their eternal destiny in hell and not heaven.  OUTWARD APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING  (16:15b) What is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent in the sight of God.” In the sight of men, the rich man was successful.  Lazarus was a loser.  The rich man lived well, enjoyed the finest things available in life.  Lazarus was miserable with dogs licking his sores.  The irony here, Lazarus was eternally rich and the rich man was eternally bankrupt. A Sunday School teacher told his class the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  He asked them, “Now, which would you rather be, boys–the rich man or Lazarus?”  One boy replied, “I’d like to be the rich man while I’m living and Lazarus when I die.”  Wouldn’t we all!  But of course, it doesn’t work that way.  You can’t live for selfish pleasure in this life, disobeying God’s Word and expect to live with God in heaven when you die. But, the good news is, when you repent of your sins, living in obedience to Jesus, you will find great pleasure for a time and eternity; no matter what your earthly circumstances.  As Jesus said, in Luke 9:25,  “For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself?”  CHOICES TO MAKE  Two different destinies lie before you; a great chasm fixed between them: I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses”  (Deuteronomy 30:19). CHOOSE LIFE, to follow Jesus; that “you and your descendants may live.” 

A House of THOUGHTS—(PART I)

PULLING DOWN STRONGHOLDS

What men call “salvation” is simply the first stage of God’s plan for our lives, which is to conform us in character and power to the image of Jesus Christ. If we fail to see our relationship to God as such, we will allow too many areas within us to remain unchanged. Pulling down strongholds is the demolition and removal of these old ways of thinking so that the actual Presence of Jesus Christ can be manifest through us.  [Quotation from The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Frangipane]. 

WHAT IS A STRONGHOLD?

II Corinthians 10:3-5   “For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.  For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before god for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds.”

All successful deliverance must begin by first removing that which defends the enemy.  In speaking of spiritual warfare, the apostle Paul uses the word “strongholds” [A House of THOUGHTS] to define the spiritual fortresses where Satan and his legions hide and are protected.

Warfare is discussed at length in the Old Testament of the Bible; the New Testament’s focus is on LOVE. In 2 Chronicles 26:15, we can look at one instance of a weapon used by Uzziah in the eighth century B.C. during warfare:

“In Jerusalem he made machines invented by skillful men to be on towers and the [corner] bulwarks, with which to shoot arrows and great stones…”

According to The Bible Almanac, the “machines” used, were called CATAPULTS; any type of war machine that could throw stones or arrows. “The average range of a catapult was between 350 and 500 yards. It could throw a 8 foot javelin or a 30 pound stone.  In comparison, an enemy arrow could travel up to only 300 yards.”

The fortresses that Paul is talking about however, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, refers to thoughtpatterns and ideas that govern individuals and churches, as well as communities and nations. Before victory can be achieved, these “strongholds” must be pulled down and satan’s armor removed. Then the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit can be used like a catapult, to plunder the enemy’s house.

WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF A “STRONGHOLD”?

We find David hiding from King Saul in the wilderness strongholds at Horesh in I Samuel 23:14, 19.  These were physical structures as the picture above demonstrates, except David and his men were hiding in high mountainside caves, and were difficult to assault. With these images in mind, the inspired writers of the Bible adapted the word “stronghold” to define powerful, vigorously protected spiritual realities or “A House of THOUGHTS”.  A STRONGHOLD can be a source of protection for us from the devil, as pointed out clearly in Psalm 18:2;

“The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.”

Or the opposite, a stronghold can be a source of defense for the devil, where demonic or sinful activity is actually defended within us by our house of thoughts, sympathetic toward evil.

STRONGHOLD EXPOSED

The strongholds we are going to expose first are those wrong attitudes that protect and defend the old self, which in most cases become the “fortified dwellings” of demonic oppression in your life. The apostle Paul defines a stronghold as,  “arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5).  “A demonic stronghold is any type of thinking that exalts itself above the knowledge of God, thus giving the devil a secure place of influence in our thought-life”  by Francis Frangipane.

NOT TALKING HERE ABOUT “SPIRIT-POSSESSION”

I do not believe that a Christian can be possessed, for when a person is “possessed” by a demon, that demon fills their spirit the way the Holy Spirit fills the spirit of a Christian.

I DO BELIEVE however, Christians can be oppressed by demons, which can occupy un-transformed thought-systems, especially if those thoughts are defended by self-deception or false doctrines!  The thought, “I cannot have a demon because I am a Christian,” is simply untrue. A demon cannot “possess” you, but you can have a demon if you refuse to repent of your sympathetic thoughts toward sin. Your rebellion toward God provides a place for the devil in your life; OPPRESSION.

THE SPIRIT OF FEAR

Several Christians I am told, are tormented by various fears. I personally have a fear of “edges’. Not heights but “edges”. I don’t have a clue where it came from but it has manifested itself on several occasions.  Once, Dianne and I were on an outing with some friends. They decided to drive to Whidbey Island, Wa., over the Deception Pass Bridge. Other than by ferry, it is the only way to access the island. Well, they decided to stop in a parking area after crossing the bridge (my eyes were closed while crossing), and proceeded to walk out on the bridge to gaze down over the bridge into the chasm below, showing crashing waves and currents of the sea rushing through below.  My exact words to them as they got out of the car,, “NO THANKS, I’ll stay by the car. You go on ahead.”  After awhile I thought this is ridiculous. I can do this thing!  As I stepped out on the bridge, FEAR took over my body and I dropped to my knees. I turn around, while still on my knees and crawled till I reached solid ground. Was I being attack by I demon? Maybe, but I don’t think so for I don’t have a spirit of fear in my life.

CAN CHRISTIANS BE DECEIVED?

Many believers have been taught that, because of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be deceived. I can tell you right now, that belief is untrue. One reason the Spirit of Truth was sent was because we so easily fall into deception. In fact, the thought that a Christian cannot be deceived is itself a deception. Once a particular lie saturates a believer’s mind, his ideas and opinions are developed and remain in whatever state of spiritual immaturity he happens to be in.  ALL MANNER OF SPIRITS WILL ATTACK THE SOUL KNOWING THEY ARE PROTECTED BY THE ARMOR OF THAT PERSON’S OWN THOUGHTS AND DOCTRINES!

SATANIC ATTACKS

Any area of your heart or mind that is not surrendered to Jesus Christ is an area vulnerable to attack. Satan feeds upon sin. Wherever there is a habit of sin in a believer’s life, expect to find demonic activity in that given area. The sin-habit becomes the dwelling place for a spirit that is robbing a believer of power and joy, and that habitation (or habit) is a STRONGHOLD. Dealing with the devil starts by the dealing with the carnal thought systems that protect the enemy.

THERE WERE NO STRONGHOLDS, NO WRONG ATTITUDES IN CHRIST’S MIND

John 14:30 confirms this when it says,  “I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me].”  Satan had nothing in Jesus. We also want to be able to say that Satan has no secret place in our “HOUSE OF THOUGHTS”; no “temptation-buzzer” he can push that will open up the door of our soul toward sin.

WHERE DOES DELIVERANCE BEGIN?

The pulling down of strongholds begins with repentance. When Jesus sent out His disciples, “So they went out and preached that men should repent [that they should change their minds for the better–Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon].  And they drove out many demons and anointed with many who were sick and cured them.” (Mark 6:12-13).  Regarding the deliverance of spirits that attack the mind, repentance precedes deliverance, and deliverance often leads to healing in other areas.

I’ve been a Christian since August 15th, 1972 and I have already had many strongholds broken in my life [read my blog entitled, “I Took The Red Pill”and the About section].  The strongholds that I had been carrying were broken when I repented and responded to the calling of Jesus. Deliverance is often just that simple when a soul is willing.

My next blog will continue on the strongholds we harbor in “A House Made of Thoughts”.