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Posts Tagged ‘Studying the Scriptures’

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom teaching, and to another the utterance of knowledge  teaching according to the same Spirit, to another faith teaching by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing teaching by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles teaching, to another prophecy teaching, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits teach, to another various kinds of tongues teachings, to another the interpretation of tongues teachings. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, TSV-Theological Standard Version)

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wflesh

Many times when I hear Galatians 5 taught, or see it used in a book on sanctification or hear expository sermons on it I hear it discussed as the “fleshly Christian vs the Spiritual Christian”. I want to tell you why I disagree with this given the context. I also want to note many people use Galatians 5 to back their position on Romans 7, which I also disagree with wholeheartedly, it is the old cut and paste method that one person can use to defend their position but others can’t use (I will discuss this in a future post).

First lets note. The warnings to the Galatians are real warnings. They aren’t generic. Paul really means that if they want to be justified by works of the law they will fall away from Christ. I know many of my Calvinistic brothers won’t like that; and will say “well they were not really saved at first”. However, given Hebrews and given Galatians these warnings Paul provide are serious and has a huge impact on the readers. To accept circumcision would make “Christ of not avail”!

Now on to reason of this post here are the verses:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

Paul talks about two different people! First those who are led by the flesh are “under the law” and are not of the Spirit! There isn’t this dual fight going on as many propose today! Paul believes those who are led by the flesh are in opposition to the Spirit. We all know the fruit of the Spirit verses but I really believe what Paul is conveying here is not a Christian but one who is under the works of the flesh and in layman terms is not a believer.

Paul says those who “practice” such things will not “inherit the kingdom of God”. Paul doesn’t say “they will not be spiritual christians but fleshly christians”. He says quite plainly that their abode will be hell! He isn’t telling them to walk by the Spirit to be better Christians but to walk by the Spirit to prove their Christianity! Once again many of my “justified by faith” brothers will want to hang me and that is fine also!

What Paul is providing us with is a salvation that works (thats for Q-Dog LOL)! Those opposed to the Spirit are not believers walking in the flesh but nonbelievers that are OF THE FLESH! Paul says something key here about the flesh:

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Now if I follow the plain reading (as many of my expository brothers say) then Paul means what he says and says what he means. That is that those who are of Christ have “crucified the flesh”! If the flesh is not crucified (I am not talking sinless perfectionism, but a real and living work of the new nature and heart given to all believers) then we are of the flesh and not of the Spirit and are deeds prove to us that we are of the flesh and as Paul says “we will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

I want to stop there; however, Paul is looking for Christian to be more Spiritual but to be Christians, the other side of that is fleshly and that my friend is where Paul says “you will not inherit the Kingdom of God”!

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Here are the verses:

20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,

Maybe this is an over allegorization but I am going to go for it anyway and then let you guys rebuke me. When I used to read this, I had no clue what it was about. I thought to my self big deal! Dude got a little tipsy, okay he got bonafide wasted but “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God” right? I am pretty sure there are many Christians who struggle with alcoholism or has a bit too much to drink or has a celebration at their home and has a bit too much to drink. And just in case you ask, no smoking cigarettes and drinking are not sins regardless of what many of my <clears throat> Baptist brethren tell you.

So after reading this I thought to myself man the punishment for telling your brothers “dudes, daddy got tore up” seemed to be a bit odd to me. Noah literally cursed his son. For saying “daddy got drunk and is naked”?!!! Man that seems cruel and unusual. That is like cutting off your kids arms because he took the cookie out of the cookie jar and he is only 2! But again I knew there was something going on, but I just went in the same ol’ Christian fashion which is “I don’t understand, and it isn’t a big deal”. Whew! Tell Ham and Canaan that!

But after reading something over at Smulo Space, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me an aha moment. So again this will be in usual fashion for me during the last few weeks and that is confession for you so that you don’t make the mistakes I made! Okay here we go. Ted Haggard was one of the most popular evangelical leaders in the U.S. He was James Dobson’s poster boy for evangelicalism! He had one of the biggest churches in the United States of America and was an adviser for President Bush. He stood arm in arm with Focus on the Family, and was well on his way to being on front of many Christian Magazines. He was sort of like Olsteen with a mean streak! For the most part I liked the dude’s ministry. Charismatic yet Conservative, Sort of Fundamental but yet fun! But then out of the sky BAAAAAMMMMMM! He was caught in a scandal! A huge scandal one that involved homosexuality (that he was against vocally) and adultery (didn’t I tell you he was down with FOTF) and it hit national news (listen to me carefully never covet the national spotlight and never ever let it define you, if so they will crush you like the planet Mars hitting a grape!). His stock fell faster than Enron’s, no it was more like Milli Vanilli after the “Blame it on the, blame it on it, blame it on it <record skips>” fiasco!

And guess what the community of grace! Paaaauuusssee! We are a community of grace aren’t we! If anyone is to be the most gracious for the whole world to see, shouldn’t it be us? Like, our foundation is Grace isn’t it (Ephesians 2)?! Wait, wait, “God so loved that He gave”, has anything been more gracious than that? Okay let me try this “you were dead in trespasses and sins BUT God made you alive”, oh, oh, I know, how about this one “while we were yet enemies Christ died”! I have at least 500 more but I will digress for time and space sake! Dude the only reason I am alive, you are alive, you are a Christian, you have eyesight, you can breath, you don’t have Downs, you weren’t born a crack baby, you don’t have AIDS is because of GRACE! Okay I am done with that one.

So what did the church do for Mr. Haggard! We joined in the public scorning with the media is what we did. We became “Rearview Mirror Prophets”! You know the ones who knew everything about everything but didn’t decide to express it until it already happened! Get outta of here! We joined the media in exposing him, oh yeah back the verses, exposing his nakedness!

Let me explain. It wasn’t about Noah’s nakedness, it was about Ham’s wickedness! What was his wickedness? The fact that he saw his father, vulnerable, in a shameful predicament, full of sin, he had fallen! The great Noah who God used to save humanity was now in a cave drunk and naked (after seeing that many people drown I probably would have needed a drink or two also, pregnant women, elderly, little babies, they all drowned, I probably would have tried to find some soil on the boat to plant something)! And instead of covering his father, he runs to expose his sin! To expose his shame, to make a public announcement (don’t forget they are the only ones around) about this old drunk fool! So that is why I believe he was cursed! Not because of what he did but why he did it! He didn’t go ask for help from Shem to cover his father, he wanted to show everyone the folly of his dad! A man God just used as a picture of the redemption of Jesus Christ!

You know what though? Ham does not have the living God indwelling him in the person of the Holy Spirit. The third person in the living Trinity taking up residence in his life! The problem with that is that we do! But just like Ham, we expose the shame, the embarrassment, we make a public announcement of others failures! The problem is I can’t understand for the life of me why! Why do we do that. Why are we so quick to run and tell others about the brother caught in sin, instead of doing what Paul commands the Galatians in chapter 6 of the epistle with the same name:

6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

You see we as believers have an opportunity to be Shems and Japheths in the Christian Community. It is a proven fact that many will fall, many will engage in gross sins, but when that arises what should we do? We should be a place of refuge and safety. We should cover our brothers and sisters short comings! Why? Because this is the nature of Christ. “Blessed is the man, who’s sin is not counted against him”. But not only that we love to have our sins covered. We love for Jesus to not expose us, for Him to give us an opportunity to get it right! It is evident by the fact we don’t confess all of our faults.

I close with this. The Church should look like Shem and Japheht, when the opportunity arose for them to feel good about themselves and laugh at their fathers nakedness, like their brother (who just so happened to be extended grace by allowing to escape the wrath of God) they did not. They were like God who covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness (remember Paul says “be imitators of God”). They were the Old Testament example of a grace and covering sin! Yes many Christians are in the spotlight, many of them are weak and immature. Some of them become Christians after living publicly lewd lifestyles and yes many of them are on TBN and Daystar! But they are our brothers and sisters, when the opportunity arises let us be like Shem and Japheth and let us rebuke all who have the wicked intentions of Ham!

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What would you think if you walked into a local church and they were singing a song with these lyrics on the screen above:

 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…….. Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am! Wretched man that I am!

That would really get you prepared for the “ministry of the word” wouldn’t it? No! Not at all. The problem is this is the mantra of many Christians. “Oh wretched man that I am”. Here is what Charles Leiter says in his book “Justification And Regeneration”

It is highly significant that this view of Romans 7 has led to the “wretched man” concept of the Christian life, where “wretchedness”and spirituality are almost equated, and the more holy we become, the more “wretched” we are. In the words of one writer: “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teaching of Scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life.”  A. W. Pink, “The Christian in Romans pg 149.

He then goes on to say:

In other words, the man of Romans 7 is not just battling with sin but utterly defeated by it, in stark contrast with Paul’s description of all true Christians in Romans 6 and Romans 7:1-6.

I agree with Mr. Leiter on this. If Paul’s statement in Romans 7 is the “normal Christian experience” then it doesn’t seem like we have much to do when it comes to conqueing sin in our lives. We are just a product of the old sin nature destined to be defeated and powerless to sin remember what Paul says “not the ability to carry it out”.

In steps the power of the New Covenant. I think many today have an over fixation on Justification while ignoring the completion of Christ’s work which includes Regeneration. Justification is what Jesus did, Regeneration is what Jesus is doing through the Spirit. Justification is our positional sanctification while Regeneration is our own going walk towards Christ likeness and away from sin the sin we were slaves to (Romans 6, Ephesians 2, Titus 3).

I think my Anabaptist brothers have this right. You see today Christianity is more about what Jesus did than what He is doing. We look back being “cross centered” while forgetting to move forward being “resurrection centered”. Jesus both died and raised and we are to be raised to a “newness of life”. The “wretched man” is one who has the law and has died do to that law and has no power but to look at sin and keep dying; however the Christian is a Spiritual man, who has the mind of Christ and a new power (Holy Spirit) to be a slave to Christ not to be victim to the old sinful nature. Listen the “can’t do what I want to do” dude is a dead man walking. We are not of the flesh but of the Spirit (Romans 8).

I close with this. If you are a Christian you sinned because you wanted to, not because you have to. We are free from sin’s power. We were formerly chained to it, loved it, lived to please the sinful nature. But that man was buried and has died. Our new life is with Christ in the “heavenly places”. We have now become a slave to righteousness (Romans 6). The New Covenant brings with it a New Heart which has a new disposition against sin. Not only that we not only have a new law (The Law of Christ, 1 Corinthians 9; Romans 7:4-6). We have the authority in the spirit, a power to obey it (Hebrews 8).

So the next time you hear someone quoting this, say  to them “no, no that is a deafeated man, a hopeless man, a dead man”, if you are in Christ you have a New Heart, a new power, under a New Covenant and you have a new Master. Our song says “power, power, wonder working power, in the blood of the Lamb”!

 

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We interrupt this program to bring you a Public Service Announcement! This just in….. Paul the Apostle does not agree with must of us who proclaim others are preaching a “false” gospel. Let me repeat that Apostle Paul does not agree.

Okay seriously. We have to be careful on two fronts. The first is the word heretic. I have been called to the table on this one. The second one is the term a “false Gospel”. Mr. Alan Knox does a great job describing what Paul means about heresy in this post (which convicted me by the way). I want to focus on the false Gospel one. Here is the text (I will be brief I promise)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

There is a context here. Paul is dealing with a select group of individual. This Judaizers have crept in and are spying out the freedom of the Gentiles. They are saying “unless one be circumcised, there is no way that God will accept them”. This isn’t the message passed down to Paul from Christ Himself. Jesus has obliterated the Old Covenant and all of the laws that go along with it (NCT) and the way to God is faith (which Paul makes clear in chapter 3 was always God unfolding plan by Abraham the father of the Jews being saved before circumcision).

I won’t expound much here, but these gentleman that Paul refers to, are men who are maliciously pushing people back under the Old Covenant. They are disguising themselves as brothers but once they get in they were causing schisms in the Church by forcing the Galatians to be circumcised and simultaneously teaching them that Paul’s gospel was false and that the Apostles in Jerusalem has never endorsed such a liberal view of God.

So this isn’t error, or misinterpretation, this clear maliciousness. The Jerusalem Council has already taken place, the Apostles have already agreed with Paul, James standing up and running down what the Church expects of the gentile converts (Acts 15) but these men undermine Paul and the other Apostles by maliciously (I want to reiterate that) teaching a gospel contrary to the one handed down to Paul which in turn means they are undermining the Trinity! This is why Paul says let them be accursed. For our brothers and sister who are in error, but teach that Christ is the only way to God, but may manipulate the facts a little because of error not malice, we have to be more gracious. When I first came to know the Lord I was very confused. And God saw my confusion and over the last 14 years I have been a work in progress. Lets measure others with the same grace.

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I know, I know, I know. I was to stop writing and I really will. I just wanted to share something that was on my heart. I received a beautiful admonishment/exhortation yesterday and today and it was the same story by two different people on two different issues but it was the same end.

It really has to do with what Jesus spoke here:

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you

I really want to focus on the second half of the clause “and with the measure you use it will be measured to you”. Often I spend time judging others. I really do. I mean salvifically and even there maturity. I sometimes turn my nose up at those who are weaker in the scripture and because of this weakness have some issues that they need to work on. I really want to come from this two fold. I honestly want to openly repent just due to the fact that I measure with a measure that I myself would not like to be held to. Secondly I believe if I am to measure anything it should start with Christ and the cross and work my way from there.

In my practice I rarely give people the benefit of the doubt and for the most part that is because I love truth. I am thankful that Jesus is gracious because if truth is the standard and Christ is the truth I am a million miles away chained to a submarine. Jesus seems to be much more gracious than I am and He doesn’t just know the truth He is the truth. I look at people who don’t know what I know and I treat them as a bunch of static facts not like human beings, not to mention for the most part I don’t have the time (and sometime the desire) to really seek them out. I speak about something they have said that was wrong and instead of immediately praying I assess their theological astuteness. That is wrong. I am starting to be convicted and the Lord is moving my heart more towards loving people and not so much what they believe and don’t believe. Much of that has to do with a few people like Alan Knox, Lawrence D (it is funny that he says I helped him, if he only knew), and now Jeoffery Thompson, not to mention just the growth of grace in Tyris’ life has been unmeasurable. I am not abstaning from truth or the convictions I have, nor will I shrink away from the whole counsel of God but that whole counsel also consists of unmeasurable grace, love and patience, not just theological facts.

I think theological truth is way too important today. Truth is critical but so are people, I actually believe the two our married.  It is funny that I would rather spend time (would, in the fact that God is moving me towards Grace and patience at a rapid rate) talking about a theological truth versus praying and finding ways to meet the needs of individuals. Jesus just seems to be a real relational God, and again He is the truth. My heart breaks for my own ignorance and blindness that I would search the scriptures and read them and in them find exactly what I was looking for not what was there. People are so important in God’s economy that He sent His Son to redeem and God the Son agreed to lay down His life and become a convicted criminal and sinner (though only vicariously) for this redemption.

Jesus spends a great deal of time with the broken, the mistaken, the hurting, the marginalized, and the ostracized. He spends a great deal eating, touching and talking, and very little time judging. He understood the world already stood condemned due to their ignorance and their slavery to sin and came to do something about it.

My other issue is those who are practically immature. I again say “there is no way this person can be a Christian” when I should be saying “there is no way I should be found righteous”. It is funny that I extend myself the very grace that I withhold from others. I know I am sinner but instead of staying in my lane and pressing toward Christ, and taking hold of Christ, I take my eyes off the prize in order to condemn others by the very truth I seek solace and peace with God in. When someone was speaking to me yesterday it hit me and the Holy Spirit applied this verse to my heart in a way that stripped me bear I was naked and instead of the Holy Spirit condemening He does like does in the life of all believers He covers me with grace everlasting. I am very glad of this, because at least I know that He works in my life and really does convict of sin and and really is a guide for those who are called by God. Truth be told the measuring stick that I measure myself with is sawed in half compared to ones I measure others with.

So I came to God sorry that I have been so critical of others and so patient, kind and gentle, and forgiving of myself. I fall far short of what God calls me to do and the problem is the things I should be doing I find myself pawning off in the name of “fruit inspection”. I must confess like in AA “Hello my name is Lionel and I am sinner”. The whole counsel of God bob their head in agreement and that is the beginning of recovery of one who has enlisted himself into Critical Anonymous a place where those who measure others with an unjust measure can get help.

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The title would sound like my best game show voice. So lets try it. Lets see what God calls an abomination.

Proverbs Come on Down!!!!!!

3:28-32

28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
but the upright are in his confidence.

16:5

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.

16:16-19

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

And the Bonus Round:

Romans 1:28-32

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

So let me ask this. What does God believe is an abomination to Him? I was visiting some blogs and on their they were dogging homosexuality. I agree that it is a Sin, but is it worse than gossip, slander, arrogance, haughtiness, lying, false weights (greedy American business practices that have us about to write a 700 billion dollar check), quarrelsomeness and dissension? No it is not. Should we speak out? Yes, but let me ask what is more prominent in our nation: gossip (under the guise of something else, as a matter of fact we now have a show called “Gossip Girl” where millions of Christians flock to watch nightly) or homosexuality? As a matter of fact God calls them both an abomination (gossip is lying mostly or slander) but I have never seen anyone kicked out of a church because of it. But if my bible study methods prove correct they should be on equal footing right?

We allow these “respectable sins” to fly under the radar every Sunday, before service, after service, during small groups, and picnics. We are unreconciable, divisive, slanders, gossips, envious, coveters and the like. All the while the biggest issues facing the church is women preaching and homosexuality! Hogwash! Hogwash! Hogwash! I have seen more churches split, more Christian relationships broken and more churches destroyed by the former not the latter.

Again lets cut out the hypocrisy and start to judge ourselves more accurately. Lets stop busting the world in the head (thanks G-Dub) with those beams in our eyes. Lets start to live holy lives. Lets teach our children how to stop being so messy while we teach them to keep their clothes on, lets tell our women to stop gossipping while we tell them to be good homemakers and stay away from pulpits. Lets tell our men to be stop chasing the corner office and start discipling their families instead of letting the “pastor” do it for them. Lets tell that family that it is okay for our children to have non-believing if not wicked friends because who better to display the love of Christ to than them instead of building this hedge around them that will only grow as they become adults.

You see again lets be real. We constantly tear down bridges that lead to Gospel Ministry but then we are upset when the culture is immoral. We are like the guy who complains that he drowned to death when God sends Him everything from a row boat to a helicopter. We are to call sin, sin, but we also better be consistent at it. The world sees our hypocrisy. It is funny if you read through Acts, one thing the world never called the church in that day was “self-righteous” as a matter of fact if anyone were to be self-righteous, judgmental and the like it would have been Jesus. But He is typically labeled the drunk and friend of sinners (real sinners the vile of that day). While we sit safe and comfortable in our church buildings with boulders not stones ready to toss them at the first sign of sin.

Yes God does call homosexuality an abomination but please list the other sins He calls an abomination. If you have any of those people in your church, then you have a church of abominatees and you need to deal with or be labeled a hyprocrite. If your site is to talk against homosexaulity while simultaneously ignoring the other abominiations then hey this shoe is a perfect size for you. If you think that God hates homosexuality more than He does American greed, gossiping, lying, and being quarrelsome, you haven’t spent much time reading your bible.

There was an old song we used to sing at the church I grew up in that seems to be appropriate here: “Get right Church and lets go home”!

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