Saturday, July 17, 2010

WANTED - Righteous Raiment, Purified Gold and Sanctified Salve


Nehemiah was a cup bearer to the king of Persia; many of his countrymen had moved back to Israel after their seventy year captivity in Babylon finally ended. The prophet Daniel was long dead, but his writings were preserved for posterity and Nehemiah had every hope that one day, all the Jews would return home, that the people would return to God in righteousness, and that the LORD God would bless them once again.


Every day passed by with hopeful expectation in Nehemiah's heart as he attended to affairs at court in the foreign land in which he served. He knew that there was coming a time when his cousins would visit him at the palace or at his own residence and report joyously on the tremendous progress in Jerusalem, the City of Peace.

Finally the day came; perhaps Nehemiah was gazing out a window when he saw the sight he longed for: a caravan with his cousins at the lead, heading towards his home. Maybe he dashed out with undignified eagerness, and ran like a little boy with gleeful expectation. As he came upon his brethren, he breathlessly called out,

"What news from Jerusalem?" His eyes large and bright with brilliant hope. Yet a sudden, thin chill crawled over his spine when he saw the downcast expressions, and dim furtive glances exchanged between the travelers. One of them, his cousin Hanani, finally spoke, his voice barely above a whisper:

"The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire."

Nehemiah was certain he hadn't heard the man right, but as he looked from one dejected expression to another, and another, the words echoed through his mind, and like a spear of ice, shot through his heart. Blankly he stared as the men in dusty garb shuffled passed him.

In an unseeing daze the royal cup bearer made his way back to his residence; he could hardly refer to it as his home. Yet the one place in the world he did think of as home was still in ruins! Ashes, smoke, crumbling stone, bereft of any beauty or integrity, Jerusalem was just as desolate, if not more so, than when Nebuchadnezzar, Emperor of Babylon had finished his destructive work!

Entering his dwelling, he went to his bed chambers and silently sat down on a chair by a window that faced the west. He looked out and stared intently on the horizon and thought on his beloved Jerusalem.

Would there ever be hope for him and his people? Would the land of his fathers ever know the blessedness of God's favor? Would Jerusalem know nothing but desolation and ruin? When and where would there ever come a chance for Israel to regain her former prosperity under the loving guidance of YHWH and fulfill the glorious purpose He planned for her? Would she thwart the glory of God forever?

Sitting there and thinking such desperate thoughts, I can see tears form in this man's eyes as his heart was rent and he agonized over the ruin of his beloved city. Those tears then spilled down his cheeks as he gasped in a rasping, choking sob that overtook him.

Falling to his knees with a shriek of anguished sorrow, he clutched at his robes; he tore them with violent grief to shreds! Heaving with sobs, he fell further onto his face, and there this godly man cried out to God on behalf of his people:

NEH 1: 5-11
I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.

We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

This godly man, burdened with the deplorable condition of his people that was rightly reflected in the condition of their city Jerusalem, confessed -

"I . . . wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven". These were prayers very much like the one that Daniel prayed, over one hundred and fifty years prior (DAN 9: 3-20).

Hundreds of years later, the LORD Jesus Christ, at His ascension, told His disciples to "tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high" and "ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (LUKE 24:49ACTS 1:8).

The Great Commission set off like a nuclear blast as these apostles and disciples brought the message of Jesus to lost souls far and wide, making such an impact that its effects could be felt for generations afterwards! What did they have other than the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit that indwelt consecrated hearts and lives, set apart wholly for God Almighty? THAT WAS ALL THEY NEEDED IN THEIR DAY!

WHY DO WE BELIEVE WE NEED MORE TODAY IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE IN REACHING THIS LOST WORLD?

Thousands of years later, the history of the church has been a series of ebbs and flows, waxing and waning in power, holiness, consecration, obedience, integrity in both doctrine and daily living. Every so often the Spirit of the LORD would breathe upon the body of Christ, and infuse her with greater spiritual vitality and revival.

Then, beginning in the mid 1800's, in the time of Modernism, there were those so-called leaders in the church that began to adopt 'liberal views' (a euphemism for unbelief) which was nothing more than a spirit of Gnosticism, dressed up in Western religious robes: a denial of the divinity of Christ, a denial of His virgin birth, a denial of His atoning blood sacrifice, a denial of His physical resurrection from the dead, a denial of the Holy and Inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures . . . essentially it reduced what was a spiritual reality in JESUS, in which the very Spirit of God moved and breathed over the body of Christ, to a mere 'Christianized' intellectual philosophy that parroted Gnostic, pagan and secular views!

Today, the Word of God has been changed, corrupted, altered in a myriad of translations and paraphrases, some of which not merely border on the blasphemous, but reek of its spiritual stench! Our ONE and ONLY source for spiritual truth, guidance, inspiration, comfort, nourishment and ammunition - and the enemy has crept in and has all but stolen away our precious resource by such modern translations/paraphrases based on what's known as the Westcott and Hort text (If you don't know about this 'Gnosticized' text, please visit this page from The TRUTH Under FIRE -

HOW NEAR EASTERN RELIGION INVADED THE WEST)!

The ONE and ONLY message and commission that the LORD gave to His church, to preach and teach throughout the world is the Gospel, and here too its been changed, corrupted, altered into a secularized counterfeit of a 'wealth and prosperity gospel' that knows nothing of genuine spiritual power, but is only intent on acquiring the 'blessings' of this fallen, sinful world... physical health, fulsome wealth, lavish homes, cars, clothing lusted after by those whose 'god is their belly' -

PHIL 3:18-19
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things).

Others have turned the Gospel into a 'PEACE' plan where the salvation of souls by the preaching of Christ Jesus and Him crucified has been replaced by feeding the poor, obtaining medical assistance for those who don't have any, ensuring the health of those in third world nations, education, a call for 'social justice' (a.k.a. Socialism!) and a mandate to defend the Earth in an ecological defensive 'war'. Such so-called leaders of the church want to bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth and by their own sweat and blood create a paradise to invite the Christ (not Jesus, but the counterfeit) to rule over!

Not only so, but as a result of this, the moral and spiritual integrity of the church has been broken down; her spiritual immunity against such disease and ailments has been so compromised, that she doesn't even realize that she is sick, and blind and poor and miserably naked!! It so mirrors God's mournful words over the nation of Israel in ISAIAH 1: 4-23.
Today the church of Jesus Christ is in the same sort of condition, spiritually speaking, as Jerusalem was in the days of Jeremiah and Daniel and Nehemiah. Read the words that the LORD spoke to the church of Laodicea -

REV 3:15-19
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Now I know many of you have already heard the composite message of Dave Wilkerson's "A Call To Anguish" but please take these seven minutes and hear it again, for the 'first time':

A CALL TO ANGUISH

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to that message, but I can tell you every time I've heard it, it has stirred me and caused my eyes to well up, and yearn for God and for a move of God in this present generation.

Am I talking about a revival? A grand, sweeping revival that will overtake the nation, and people by the droves will repent and come to the LORD, and our country will be restored to her spiritual heritage and foundation?

God is the God of the Impossible, and there is no recorded prophecy any where that indicated how or where any revival would take place, but its certainly within God's sovereignty to accomplish this.

Having said that, I do believe there will be a revival within the hearts of those who truly, genuinely and earnestly yearn for and seek diligently after God in a heart of brokenness and repentance. However, and I'm just expressing my opinion but certainly founded upon scriptural basis, that the condition of this world, and of the apostate church is so far gone, and so hard of heart, that the only one's that will be affected by such a revival is the remnant, that "little flock" (LUKE 12:32) that our LORD spoke of, who truly love God and His Word, but due to the iniquity of this world, their love is growing cold.

If you find yourself growing cold, ambivalent, hardened against God, His Word, and your prayer life, or if you know someone who is becoming like this, there is every reason to pray for the return of the wayward saint to the LORD of Glory! Also to exhort one another daily, and so much the more as we see that Day approaching! Will you be a Daniel? A Nehemiah? Will you intercede for those about you, and cry out in anguished sorrow for such as these? Will you be a Jeremiah and faithfully pray and fast for the repentance of church-goers all around you, even if like Jeremiah, not one person actually does repent? Remember that God rewards faithfulness, not success!

Look all about you, and witness what the so-called church has become in these last days, and at the direction she is going in. Look at what passes for 'Christian' ministry in the pulpits, in books and in organizations and how those who claim to be believers just sit still for it. Look at what passes for "being a Christian" these days, and compare that with what it means to be a genuine Christian. For this, I would ask that you watch this video -

Paul Washer - 
EXAMINE YOURSELVES (4 mins)

Read and watch what transpired this past year at Cornerstone Festival, an outdoor 'ministry' and its supposed teaching of the Word and 'Christian' music:

APPRISING MINISTRIES: A Readers Experience At Cornerstone Festival

Why aren't Christians being more discerning about such events, and the things that these ministers and speakers support and promote as 'good'?? Could it be because the majority of the people who go to such events are not genuinely saved? Or if they are saved, the majority of them haven't been taught the primary fundamentals of the truth as found in the scriptures?

In any event saints of the Most High God, there is a tremendous work to be done in these last days prior to the LORD Jesus Christ's soon return!! Will you be a part of this great work? This is a question I ask of myself, and I am also asking you, the reader, this very same question.

So will you? What work am I referring to?

The kind of work that will exhort and admonish the wayward saints, who too closely resemble the world, to return and don the white raiment of righteousness which the LORD offers, and leave behind any endeavor of self-righteousness by dead works, intellectual pursuits, quasi-spiritual exercises and meditative practices.

The kind of work that will exhort, reprove and rebuke the wayward saints, who live impure lives, corrupted as gold is cankered by baser elements and return to the LORD who offers to purify their lives, as gold tested in the fire, purged from ungodliness and such things that led to their downfall to begin with.

The kind of work that will bring you along side of these wayward saints, who for all their blindness cannot see and recognize their own wretched spiritual condition, and that you may lead them back to the Savior, who alone possesses the salve that can heal them of their blindness, that sort of spiritual condition that sin produces in rank deception, for sin itself deceives (see REV 3:18)! Righteous raiment, purified gold, sanctified salve! This is the great need of the church today!

The LORD Jesus Himself, in addressing the church of Laodicea, had left off from admonishing the church as a whole, and turns to implore any individual within its ranks to come out and meet the LORD at the door:

REV 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me

The needs of this world are desperate! Salvation is still available through the LORD Jesus Christ! The Holy Judgment has yet to begin, and souls that are perishing may still be reached!

Yet there are abundant perils out there in the guise of 'church' but are inwardly the habitation of demonic influences, deception, false religious security and a pseudo-Gospel, all of which is preparation for a one world system (the whore of Babylon) that is gaining momentum in its establishment.

REV 18:2
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Will we the church take the Great Commission seriously? Will we labor in prayer for the backslidden and the masses of church-goers who have believed a false gospel and are being seduced by Emergent philosophy? Will we intercede and fast for a church that's been infiltrated and devestated as much, if not more so, than the Jerusalem in Nehemiah's day? Will we stand fast in the faith ourselves, and walk in the Spirit as a consecrated vessel suitable for the Master's use? A true saint who resembles their LORD by their life and their words? Will we march in the ranks of His spiritual army in total obedience?

I WANT THIS FOR MYSELF! I LONG TO HONOR GOD! I LONG TO SERVE HIM IN HOLINESS AND IN PLEASING HIM IN ALL THINGS. THAT MY LIFE WILL BE SO FILLED TO OVERFLOWING WITH GOD'S SPIRIT THAT THOSE AROUND ME WILL STAND CONVICTED OF THEIR SIN WITHOUT MY EVEN UTTERING A SINGLE WORD, AND YET HAVE THESE SAME SOULS YEARN FOR THAT LOVE, PEACE AND JOY THAT WILL BE APPARENT IN ME!

May I close with these words from the old hymn that rightly discerns the need of spiritual saints who will war a good warfare in the deliverance of souls ensnared by the enemy of the church, Satan:

Listen to it here, by Phil Keagy -
RISE UP O MEN OF GOD

Rise up O men of God, Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength,
To serve the King of Kings, To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up O men of God, His Kingdom tarries long,
Bring in the day of brotherhood,
And end the night of wrong, And end the night of wrong.

Rise up O men of God, The Church for you doth wait.
Send forth to serve the needs of men
In Christ our strength is great, In Christ our strength is great.

Lift high the Cross of Christ, Tread where His feet have trod,
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up O men of God, Rise up O men of God.

Rise up O men of God, Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength,
To serve the King of Kings, To serve the King of Kings.


Victory in Christ Jesus is not obtained in a vacuum (the mere absence of sin through abstaining) but in the vitality of Jesus Christ (indwelling the believer and transforming a heart that wills to do Gods command and not one's own desires).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts From A.W. Tozer - Saints Often Walk Alone


Excerpts from Man, the Dwelling Place of God



~~ GREETINGS SAINTS: The following by Tozer was especially meaningful to me for many reasons (which I will prayerfully share with you another time in the not too distant future). It was such a blessing, I had to share it with you. Be blessed in the knowledge of the LORD!


James J. Fire ~~


In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation) that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.


Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.


Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There alone, with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.


Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone, the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.


The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest....


There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.


Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and, 'Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"


Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may, and probably does, arise from the presence of friendly people.


Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook him, and fled."


The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone.


The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.


The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.


He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.


It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum (ultimate truth).


Two things remain to be said.


One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.



The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world he is all the more able to help it....


The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.

Monday, July 12, 2010

SMOKE SIGNAL - Emergent Authors & Their Errors


The following SMOKE SIGNAL in this posting FROM the MIND of FIRE is a concise, accurate and well written article by Diana King, a Sister in the LORD who produced it for the sake of Church Book Store employees that worked under her management.
Having read it, I asked if I could reproduce it here for my blog, and she was quite willing for me to do so.
And so, without further ado, here it is!
John Eldredge (pictured left)and Rick Warren (right) Emergent Authors and Errors Within the Movement:

~ By Diana King

These two authors have a huge following but have ties to emergent church teaching. If you’re not familiar with the term, “emergent church”, I am including a definition for it.
Here are just a few errors in the emergent church movement (in bold print are statements made by ECM leaders in regular type are answers):

The world is radically changing and the church must radically change with it.
Emergents believe postmodernity represents a dramatic break with the past and that only an extreme transformation in the church can keep the church relevant and effective in this environment. What is needed, they say, is not just a change in methodology; we need a new kind of Christian.

Since the Church has been a culture bound for so long we must reexamine and question every belief and practice in the Church, finding new ways to define and express these.
Visiting Emergent blogs, one will find that absolutely any doctrine or moral standard can be questioned. It seems at times that Emergents are engaging in a complete reinvention of Christianity accompanied by a radical redefinition of Christian terms.

We have no foundation for any beliefs, therefore we cannot know absolute truth.
Critics of the Emergent Church movement insist that Emergents misrepresent epistemological foundationalism (the belief that we do possess some knowledge that serves as a basis for further knowledge) as requiring “bombproof certainty”, something contemporary foundationalists insist that the do not hold to. What contemporary foundationalists do believe is that we can possess real knowledge that is so certain it requires extraordinary evidence to refute it.

D.A. Carson points out that emergent post-foundationalism is based upon yet another of their false antitheses, saying “In effect the antithesis demands that we be God, with all of God’s omniscience, or else forever be condemned to knowing nothing objective for sure.”

Additionally, emergents fail to consider the scriptural teaching of faith as something God-given which does possess supernaturally certain knowledge (MATT 21:21; EPH 2:8; HEB 11:1). Emergents do not seem to realize that critiquing secular foundationalism is not the same as critiquing Evangelical foundationalism.

In A New Kind of Christian, Brian McLaren’s fictional altar ego, Neo, says even Scripture is neither authoritative (in a ‘modern’ sense) nor a foundation for faith.

Since we cannot know absolute truth, we can only experience what is “true” for our communities.

Postmodern philosophers and theologians insist that truth is only known and validated within communities (“There are no ‘Meta-narratives’ [narratives, or ideas or concepts that reach beyond local applications; thus in a sense, truths that are universal and, or absolute] only local narratives”). While this implies that truth is culturally relative and that true cross-cultural communications is impossible (those outside a community must first join a community before they can understand the community’s ideas), postmodern authors communicate to people of various communities simultaneously, apparently expecting them to all equally understand the intent.

Since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about doctrine.
Emergents see orthodoxy as “generous”, that is, inclusive of many beliefs that Christians have historically thought to be aberrant or heretical. Many leading emergents echo McLaren’s refusal to assert Christianity’s superiority to other world religions.

Since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about moral standards.
Absolute stands on issues such as homosexuality are viewed as obsolete. Activities such as drinking, clubbing, watching sexually explicit movies and using profanities are seen by some emergents as opportunities to show those who are not part of the Christian community that postmodern Christians do not think they are better than them through any sense of moral superiority.

Since we cannot know absolute truth, dogmatic preaching must give way to a dialogue between people of all beliefs.
Emergent Christians do not posture themselves before the world as though they were the light and the world were in darkness. Instead of “preaching” to the “lost” they join in “conversation” with people of various beliefs. Conservative Evangelicals seem not to be truly welcome to contribute their distinctive content to this conversation since they represent the old, rotting corpse of “modernism”.

Since propositional truth is uncertain, spiritual feeling and social action make up the only reliable substance of Christianity.
Emergents consider propositional truth a “modern” (and thus outmoded) fascination. Postmoderns think and communicate in narratives. Since the pursuit of truth is portrayed as a never ending journey with no solid starting point, they consider the only legitimate measuring rods of Christianity to be experience and good works. Without a solid footing in revealed truth, however, emergents have no firm foundation for knowing which experiences are valid and which works are good (something they don’t seem to notice).

To capture a sacred feeling we should reconnect with ancient worship forms.
Trappings such as burning candles and events such as silent retreats are popular in the movement. Embracing these premodern forms further breaks their connection with “modern” Christianity.

Since sublime feeling is experienced through outward forms, we should utilize art forms in our worship.
Many participants in the movement see appreciating art for art’s sake as a spiritual experience.
Through conversation with them, “outsiders” will become part of our community, and then be able to understand and believe what we teach.

The postmodern approach is not to try to persuade people to believe, it is to try to befriend people into joining. This is commonly expressed as Robert Webber does when he says, “People in a postmodern world are not persuaded to faith by reason as much as they are moved by faith by participation in God’s earthly community.” There is a false antithesis in such statements however. We do not have to choose between a purely cerebral attempt to talk others into believing correctly on the one hand and offering an open, unqualified invitation to our group on the other. The Bible teaches us to proclaim the gospel message with reliance upon the Holy Spirit to empower, illuminate and convict (1 COR 2:10-16; 1 THESS 1:9. When such proclamation is absent, as it is in the Emerging Church movement, there is no prophetic voice coming from the church calling sinners to repent and believe the Gospel (ACTS 2:38; 16:30-32).

All are welcome to join the “conversation” as long as they behave in a kind and open minded manner.
Emerging believers reject any posture which hints at exclusivism. Dogmatic Evangelicals, however, are not treated as kindly in the conversation as others are (something that many emergents admit).

The ultimate goal is to make the world a better place.
The Emerging Church movement envisions a utopia in which the oppressed of the world are free, the poor are no longer impoverished and the environment is clean. This paradise is achieved through social activism. Many emergent leaders think it is selfish folly to love for the return of Christ Jesus.

The accomplishing of all the above is seen by those in the movement as evidence that the Church is emerging to reach the culture, adapting to it. Critics of the movement see these things as signs that the Church is submerging into the culture, being absorbed by it.

From SOUTHERN VIEW CHAPEL - Learing Truth, Living Truth, we have the following:

Links on John Eldredge and his books – Wild at Heart and Captivating

THINK ON THESE THINGS Articles: WILD AT HEART - Pt 1

THINK ON THESE THINGS Articles: WILD AT HEART - Pt 2

Rick Warren and his book – The Purpose Driven Life.

THINK ON THESE THINGS Articles: The Purpose Driven Life - An Evaluation: Pt 1

Saturday, July 10, 2010

EPHESIANS: Aliens No More - One In Christ

We now continue in our study of the book of Ephesians, and will conclude chapter two. Last time we ended at vs. 10, and so we will pick it up at vs. 11 and on to the end (vs.22).

There is a lot of controversy today in our government and our nation regarding illegal aliens, and there is a push for amnesty among these; that with a stroke of a pen, some 18 million illegals could become citizens without due process. Without touching this extremely hot topic, I simply use it to illustrate a point:

We were once strangers, aliens as it were to God; truly alienated from God, separated from the Almighty by our sin (ISAIAH 59:2). Yet we have become citizens of His glorious kingdom, indeed - born into the family of God and forming an entirely new race, a new nation and a new life unto eternity! And this was conducted not with some legal contrivance and the stroke of a pen, but rather by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our LORD! Not with ink on some legal document, but by the blood of the Lamb on a Cross!

And everyone and any one who desires to come to God may do so, freely, through His Son Jesus Christ. Repentance and giving over the rights to one's own life, surrendering them and oneself over to the LORD and receiving by grace His gift of salvation is all that's required.

Back in the book of Acts, the LORD led Peter to travel to the house of one Cornelius the Centurion, a man who prayed and fasted before God, and apparently one whose prayers were heard! Peter, once he arrived, understood what the LORD was doing and began to preach the Gospel, and upon completion, the Centurion and those in the house with him were touched by God and were saved!

It was the beginning of a new phase in the church, one in which Gentiles were being saved and brought into salvation without having been converts or adherents to Judaism. This was such a controversy in their day, that they had to have a council (ACTS Ch. 15) to determine just how these Gentile believers were to be dealt with.

The conclusion was that these were legitimate saints, and fellow-heirs who obtained salvation in Jesus Christ; even Peter states as much in rather eloquent terms:

ACTS 15:7-9, 11
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Notice how cleverly Peter puts that last part: For centuries Jews believed they had the 'inside track' with God, and that the Gentiles were nothing more than 'kindling for the fires of hell'. Yet here Peter elevates the Gentiles and their means of salvation through Jesus Christ, apart from the Mosaic Law, and the Old Covenant and how the Jews can be saved "even as they"!

Here in the latter half of chapter 2 in Ephesians, "the apostle to the Gentiles", Paul speaks on the equality and 'oneness' of Jews and Gentiles in one body, that is, the body of Christ!

EPH 2:11-12
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Back in the book of Genesis, the LORD gave the commandment to all the Earth's people, after the flood of Noah, to "go forth and replenish the Earth." Yet, they didn't 'go forth', they rallied together and built a city and a tower, and engaged in religious practices not ordained of God. That city was called Babel (See GEN. 11).

They rejected the commandment of the LORD, thus refusing to choose to follow His ways; so God Himself chose someone for Himself, a man from the land of the Chaldees, from the city of Ur (modern day Iraq). His name was Abram ("father of many") and his name eventually was changed to Abraham ("father of many nations").

Note: the name change included the 'ha' sound, and in order to pronounce this sound, you need to exhale your breath, and this is significant because in the Jewish language, the letters required symbolize "spirit" or "breath". Once the promises of God began to get realized in the life of Abram, his name was changed, and by the Spirit of the LORD involved in his life, these promises came about! The same could be said of Sarai: when the 'ha' sound was added to her name, she became known as 'Sarah'.

Being the father of many nations, we now understand from a New Testament perspective, that among others, he is the father of the nation of Israel, and as well as this, the father of all those who believe God by faith alone, apart from the Law, ritual, religious practices, etc. that is, the church (AND it should be duly noted that Abraham and the faith he displayed was more than four hundred years before the Mosaic Law; see GAL. 3:16-18) .

During the history of Israel however, before the church was actualized, any one who desired to approach the one and true God, Creator of heaven and earth, had to do so by becoming a proselyte of Israel, that is, they had to become circumcised and adopt Judaism, following the Law.

As Paul indicated here in these verses, the uncircumcised Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise (vs. 12)

By stating that these were called uncircumcision by those of the circumcision, and further stating (referring to circumcision) "made by hands" (vs.11) reveals the externalism of such practices, that may OR MAY NOT indicate any real spirituality of the practitioner. Remember Paul's words in Romans:

ROM 2:29
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

THAT is a Jew after God's own heart! Yet still, this included only the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Apart from a conversion to Judaism, the Gentiles had "no hope" and were "without God in the world" (vs.11).

Beyond the Mosaic Covenant that entailed the Law, the Tabernacle/Temple and personal conduct, diet, civic and religious duties, there was yet another covenant that was promised to Israel, a new covenant as spoken by Jeremiah the prophet:

JER 31:31-33
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Upon the LORD Jesus' triumphant arrival into Jerusalem, riding upon the donkey as prophesied (ZECH 9:9) He could hear the celebrating shouts of joy as people exclaimed "Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David (a Messianic title!)" and yet He wasn't rejoicing Himself in their apparent welcome, rather He wept for He knew that the nation would reject Him, and crucify Him.

MATT 23:37
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

So the fulfillment of the New Covenant as spoken by Jeremiah would not be realized in the nation of Israel AT THAT TIME, but will be, for the Word of God cannot be broken. Rather, because of Israel's initial rejection of her Messiah, a door, great and effectual, has been opened wide, bringing a cascade of brilliant, gleaming Light of Hope for the Gentile nations, as the LORD Himself proclaimed:

MATT 21:42-43
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Here in the book of Ephesians, Paul has already pronounced the glorious treasures of Jesus Christ bestowed upon the Gentiles, and how they are now "fellow citizens with the saints and with the household of God" (vs. 19). Paul, a "Hebrew of Hebrews" regularly refers to these Gentiles (which Jews commonly referred to as 'dogs' as opposed to God's own people who were classified as 'sheep'; Gentiles were also referred to as 'goats') as brethren; something that we shouldn't overlook in its significance.

Essentially the thrust of the second half of this chapter focuses on the unity we have in Christ, and that as the church, there are no remaining distinctions between Jews and Gentiles spiritually speaking and in regards to our right standing before God.

EPH 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

One could fill every shelf of every library on the face of the planet with commentary on this one verse, and never exhaust the full meaning contained therein!
Two other verses regarding unity in the church, with no Jewish and Gentile distinctions (among others) are:

GAL 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

COL 3:11
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Plato, nearly three hundred years prior to Christ Jesus, once made a fascinating statement that revealed true insight:
"It may be possible for Deity to forgive sin, but I cannot see how."

Plato understood the paradox of a Deity Who on the one hand is a God of absolute holiness, and on the other, a God of love and compassion. How could these dichotomies be resolved without God violating one or the other of these two primary attributes? If He executes His justice according to His holiness and condemns sinners to hell, where is His love? If He overlooks such sin and accepts sinners as they are, bringing them into heaven, then where is His Holiness? How can both of these primary attributes be satisfactorily satisfied while rescuing the sinner from his plight of perdition?

Answer: Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the God-man whose heart while human, was perfectly sinless; while God entirely, yet still a man. He is the Blessed Bridge by which we sinful humans can meet a Holy God face to face and not be destroyed by the brilliance of His Holiness!

We Gentiles are that other "nation" spoken of by the LORD, we are those "other sheep" as spoken of in -

JOHN 10:16
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

And as the Apostle Paul elaborates on this same truth:

ROM 11:11
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

We Gentiles were "far off" and how far we were! Left only with creation to testify of the truth that there is indeed a Creator, and our (God given) conscience to guide us, but with no revelation of Truth, no revelation of the nature of God, no revelation that would guide us into a right relationship with our Maker.
Spiritually blind and ignorant, we Gentiles would stumble in darkness, not knowing where we were or where we were going, yet by God's grace and infinitely wise plan in accordance with His foreknowledge, He saw fit to use the rejection by Israel of her Messianic destiny as the means by which a venue would open up and grant us Gentiles welcome into the kingdom!
ASTOUNDING!!

Jew and Gentile are now the recipients of righteousness, together partaking of that salvation granted by Jesus Christ, Y'shua ha Meschiach, and forming a new entity: not Israel, not the Gentile nations, but a holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people, a royal priesthood . . .

1 PETER 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

The body of Christ, the church, the ekklesia (called out [from the world] assembly):

EPH 2:14-15
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Saint, if saint you are, you are not one who is merely reformed by religion and all of its accompanying ritualistic practices, nor are you one who through intellectual pursuit changed your perspective in life by a mere 'Christian philosophy or enlightenment' - just as we were members of the fallen human race via Adam, the first man, we are now members of a new race, via "the Last Adam" (1 COR. 15:44-54), that is, Jesus Christ because of the spiritual rebirth (JOHN 3:3-5; 1 PET. 1:23; 2 COR. 5:17).

This is in all actuality the qualifiable truth of the matter. You are a member of a new race of people, the progeny of Jesus Christ the Head of the church! Saint, you are a "new man [or woman]" with a citizenship that holds no jurisdiction anywhere on this planet.
We are truly aliens whose beliefs and practices in accordance with the Holy Scriptures may one day be considered illegal here in America, just as it is in most parts of this world! Indeed, we can in a spiritual sense be considered 'illegal aliens'!
Our citizenship is in heaven (PHIL 3:20 - note: in KJV the word "conversation" means "citizenship") and we ourselves are ambassadors (2 COR 5:20), representatives of that culture that is Christ Jesus - His ways, His commandments, His character, His motivations, His ideals, His Order and Government. We truly are in this world, but not of this world any more than our LORD Jesus is "of this world" (see JOHN 17:16).

Far be it then that citizens of heaven, ambassadors of Christ, should follow after, mimic, and practice the ways of this world. It would be a shame upon Christ if we were to "go native" and forsake that heavenly culture in favor of the sinful culture this world is inundated with and obey the course of this world (EPH 2: 2) rather than the LORD Jesus Himself. Yet for so much of the church today, here in America, that is precisely what we are seeing!

Is there a need all across this nation to call every saint to repentance, and return to the LORD Jesus with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength? Obviously - but it will only happen if (perhaps until?) as we the church, get serious in our lives with the LORD with serious repentance . . .

Getting back to the text in our study:

We are one body, established in unity by the LORD Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit which creates in us a living temple for Him to dwell in. There is no need to engage in organizations, councils, dialogues, pledges, or rallies in order to come up with some artificial form of unity; we are already one in Christ Jesus!
This is why I am mystified by those churches that insist on people 'becoming members' of a church; if people are truly saved, born of God's Spirit, they already are members of the church, the body of Christ!

Speaking further on vs. 15, the LORD Jesus ". . . abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances . . ."

This abolishing is also spoken of in

2 COR 3:13 
And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

The same word "abolish" is used in:

2 TIM 1:19 
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

The Greek word for "abolish" is katargeo and it means "to be rendered entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig., - to destroy (5x), do away (3x), abolish (3x), cumber (1x), loose (1x), cease (1x), fall (1x), deliver (1x). to become (make) of no (none, without) effect, being (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

Katargeo as a verb means lit. "to reduce to inactivity and is translated 'abolish' in EPH 2:15; 2 TIM 1:10; and 2 COR 3:13. In this and similar words not loss of being is implied but loss of well being. The barren tree cumbering the ground, making it useless for the purpose of its existence (LUKE 13:7); the unbelief of the Jews could not 'make of none effect' the faithfulness of God (ROM 3:3); the preaching of the gospel could not 'make of none effect' the moral enactments of the Law (ROM 3:31); the Law could not make the promise of 'none effect' (ROM 4:14; GAL 3:17); the effect of the identification of the believer with Christ in His death is to render inactive his body in regard to sin (ROM 6:6).

The effect of the Law was inactivated by the LORD Jesus as He offered Himself up on the Cross; those of us who come under the grace of God would not face the Judgment of God or its ruinous consequences. Our sins were already judged at the Cross where our precious Savior suffered the penalty of all of them, for us . . . for you . . . for me.

Can we ever praise Him long enough or fully equitably enough for this marvelous sacrifice He made on our behalf, and for no other reason than His love for us??

Note: in vs. 14 it starts out with the word "peace" and at the end of vs. 15, it ends with the same word, "peace". He is truly the PRINCE of PEACE, and as He begins the work of salvation, there is peace, and this endures to the end, where when all is said and done, trials and burdens are finally laid down, and we face that 'final curtain' at death's door, that peace remains, steadfast and secure, ample in provision, and perpetually deep with no discernable bottom.
It has been said that "still waters run deep" and yet the water of Life is deepest of all. It is effervescent, lively and brimming over with peace beyond understanding.

The peace OF God is granted to all who have obtained peace WITH God -

ROM 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

COL 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Globalists today explain that they desire peace and not war (caveat emptor), and the only way to effect peace is through unity, thus the push to unite governments as well as religions into a unified whole, and thereby acquiring peace, and an absence of strife, contention and war.

The fallacy is that they can acheive unity; at best what they will get is uniformity by conformity, and that by coersion. The heart of man is rebellious and it will not yield willingly of its own accord. This has been proven out through every regime of oppression and terror in history. During the most oppressive times by the most horrendous of rulers, people found ways to rebel, and most died because of it; yet they'd rather die than to be slaves.

Peace can only be acquired through the Prince of Peace, and received by willing, yielded hearts that desire God and seek to be reconciled with Him. The only means of acheiving this worthiest of goals is through receiving Jesus Christ as one's LORD and Savior and by becoming His willing 'slave'. Bringing union between Creator and creature, and communion between Savior and saint is the single, entirely viable way to peace everlasting.

EPH 2:16-17
And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

Whether near (Jews) or far off (Gentiles), none could obtain and experience the peace of God without the cross of Christ and the work of atonement He accomplished there, alone.
It is the cross and the power of Jesus Christ, and His enablement for us to "die to ourselves" to all that's within us prone to hate, to envy, to have malice, strife, violence and lust and every evil that would perpetuate itself in a never ending cycle of misery and destruction, and in its place create a heart capable of loving others, even enemies, and to bless those that curse them, and to serve the thankless and minister to the hard hearted. These are the peacemakers (Jews and Gentiles in Christ; see MATT. 5:9-12, 43-46) and by their hearts and actions the reign of peace is seen in microcosm. One day such a reign will unite heaven with earth, and righteousness shall fill the earth!

EPH 2:18-19
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

God has become our Father, and as His children we find little enough difference among us that's hardly worthy of mention. We are now fellow citizens, and saints (sanctified ones) and members of His household. While there may be some distinctions among us at present, being Jews and Gentiles, these are temporary and won't amount to anything in eternity. We may as well lay aside such temporal distinctions, and be blessed in being "of the household of God"! Access to God the Father - - something that the world could never have, nor any religion obtain! Yet freely given to us by His Spirit who dwells in us, and by which we cry "Abba, Father"!

EPH 2:20-22
And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In these concluding verses, Paul employs the idea of buildings, both their foundations, the chief corner stone and the structure itself, namely the temple. The foundational aspects of the church of course, are the apostles and prophets who were led and guided by the LORD Jesus, the chief Cornerstone (cornerstones guides the masons as they lay stone, in strict accordance with that cornerstone).

By these apostles and prophets we have the Word of God conveyed, and the Word Himself delivered it to them, and this same Word instructs us in the building of this Temple and how it's to be managed, that is the church. Let not any one say that they will heed only the Word of Jesus Christ, and not any apostle or prophet, for these were authorized by none other than the LORD Jesus Himself! All of these were likewise inspired by God! Hear the words of Jesus Himself on this matter:

MATT 23:34
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,

JOHN 16:12-13
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

2 PETER 1:20
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Before the subject of the Temple was in reference to the body of the believer on an individual basis; here the Temple represents the collective body of Christ, as each member is a 'stone' built up into the structure of the church universal, that mystical body represented throughout this Earth, but also has some residence in the glories of heaven as well!

1 PETER 2:5
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (also remember MATT 16:18).

As we are these living stones "fitted together" let us not have anything between us, for any gap in the walls by way of contention or strife or grudge will only create a way for the enemy to enter into this sacred building. Only let the love of Jesus, that holy mortar fill that space between us, and grant us the security of knowing that by that same love we are safe from the destructive influences of the attacks of the enemy.

We have great cause to rejoice, no longer alienated from God, but fellow citizens and joint heirs of Christ Jesus, children of our heavenly Abba who's unfailing love will keep us in His grace and peace!

This concludes the study of chapter two. Next time, we begin with chapter three ( . . . rather profound, no?).