What makes a dog a dog? Was it by the fact that its genetic DNA made it a dog, or was it like a man, who tried hard to enter doghood and emulated all the mannerisms of man’s best friend, barking, walking on all fours and eating dog food from the dog dish? We cannot be silly and assume such a man becomes a dog by trying so doggon hard that he just transitions into a state of becoming canine! This is plain, yet many well intentioned religious people try harder to become a Christian by doing Christian things, giving, abstaining from what they know is sin and immoral, they try harder to be better but until they surrender and let God through Faith in Christ change their DNA from external religiousity to inward loyalty and a new heart they can try all they want but should just rather beg God to transform them by His power not their mere effort.
Surrender is yes active in the sense we do in a way do somwthing, we surrender and give up and acknowlege our sins we have stacked against us before God. Yet it is non active in the sense you must perform a good work to gain God’s attention to save your soul and bring about rebirth. What it says is “For all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved”
Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Even if one is mute God hears the inward cries of a person’s heart and when we see our need for saving from the mess we all are apart from Christ, after all “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves but a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8)
This is God’s ordained method to transform the old man into a new one, the sinner into the “not guilty” and then he deposits the righteous laws of God in our hearts at that moment and we become “New Creations”
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
True teachers of God’s word are to butterflies as false teachers are to moths.
Moths form cacoons and butterflies emerge from chrysalises- there are other differences as well. Yet we know it is easy for an untrained eye to mistake one from the other. Moths are not always dole or homely looking. In fact some are very appealing, so is also sometimes the case with counterfeit Christianity. Some moths are plain and ugly like the Westboro Baptist Moth, yet the Osteen moth and other types like it are appealing and very bright and colorful.
Never judge a book by its cover nor a bug by its color nor a preacher by how appealing his message may seem.
You want to know what a born again butterfly looks like in comparison to the mere moths sitting in pews and pulpits? The consult your Biblical butterfly guide, scripture.
Matthew 7:20-23 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“People need to stop looking at the moths if they want to learn about butterflies”
Are you a Vampire still?
John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
People who are entangled in the chains of sin and darkness love the light just as much as vampires enjoy sitting on a sunny beach in mid summer. Jesus came as the light of the world and came to free us all from the darkness of our souls. Some will accept this and embrace it, yet others will flee from it like an insect when the lights in a room come on.
Before I knew Christ on a personal level, before his love reached the deepest parts of my soul, I tried to not think of God as often as I could avoid it because I knew how I was living and the implications of my sin. God however captured my heart and purified my soul from the disease and sickness.
1 Thessalonians 5:7-9 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God saved all of us who are now his children and he continues to save. I was in a way like a vampire feeding my insatiable lust for sin like a vampire feeds insatiably on blood. But the true antidote for such a disease is the Blood, the blood of Christ to purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
I’m beginning to realize that at the heart of all sin is a spirit of unbelief, and distrust in what God says. Why do we ignore his warnings? Why do we fail to hope in his promises? Why do we end up thinking we know better then he does? It is because we do not believe Him but trust our own intuition and senses more than what he actually knows. This is pride and unbelief. These are the things I despise most about my own self.
1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
This is why faith is so valuable! Is it not? It is believing God and acting accordingly! Faith is the root of God honoring obedience I believe, how can we obey Him if we do not trust Him? Faith first and obedience follows. Faith is the the truck the pulls the U Haul of all the good and righteous acts of obedience to God and love for others.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are saved by “grace” through “faith” as a prerequisite, then we as a RESULT “do good works” which God “prepared in advance”
Well what good works?
Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commands”
Here we see “love” comes before “obey”
Colossians 1:3-5 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel
These earlier believer’s faith in Christ motivated them to love! Their love as Paul says “spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven”
3.) Godly Desire
2 Thessalonians 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
“Every desire for goodness” I think another distinguishing mark of a born again Christian is an exchange of desires, now not that I’m important but from experience I can say when I came to Christ I had a desire to do what pleased God and reach those who did not know Him. As a church goer and a lost so called, “Christian” I really had very little desire to do anything beyond my own personal benefit or little world. I did not do what God’s word said because I wanted God’s will as much as just his blessings and prosperity. I on occasion did what the Bible said but purely for what was in it for me. “You do this and you’ll be blessed and do not do this and you will not be punished”- a really self centered view.
I remember when I first came to Christ, my ambition was as large as my ego. (The Lord had to take the sand paper to my pride quite a bit over the years I will admit.)
But my hearts desire was, and still is changing the world for Christ.
These Thessalonians believers in the same way possessed a “desire for goodness”
I think a true Christian should never lose their desire to keep growing in love and faith and holiness! So often I look at myself and am dissatisfied with how lacking I am in some of these spiritual qualities! We can only keep pressing ahead to become more like Christ our ultimate example.
Rogue Church: When Good Churches Go Bad.
It is a startling thing when a church of all things compromises with society’s values rather than listens to the word of God, we see this happening in our day with denominations like the Methodist church and certain circles in the Presbyterian denomination which has for a large part has embraced ordination of homosexual clergy.
This is an age old problem though, and should not surprise us too much though. In Revelations Jesus rebuked a church for it’s compromise with sin and sinful people when he said this:
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelations 2:18-29.
This Jezebel figure not only led people into sexual sin but idolatry. We have seen some churches compromise on issues of purity as well as doctrine! We all have probably seen it happen where someone who ought to turn people to Christ, the only solution, bend under pressure or willful compromise on the doctrine that Christ is the only way to be made right with God. A polluted and watered down message is just as deadly as flat out heresy, the only difference is it is sometimes harder to spot half truths than whole lies.
Paul had the same issue to confront when he wrote his first letter of Corinthians, he addressed everything from quarrels, disputes, and lawsuits in the church to an individual involved in incest! Paul did not have the professing follower of Christ ordained, no, rather he had him kicked out of the church to avoid further contamination.
Paul writes in his absence addressing the issue by saying in (1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ) “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Basically, non believers acting this way is one thing, but a professing Christian doing this with unrepentant attitude should be removed from the flock. Serious quarantining you might call it, why should any of the other believers get led astray and infected because of one man?
From the sounds of it, this was playing out in both Corinth and later Thyatira. And get this, Jesus rebuked Thyatira by saying, “You tolerate that woman Jezebel”
Far cry from the, “tolerance” motto. We should as The Church follow our cues from God’s word, not denominational preferences, or what “we think would be best,” and most definitely not take our ideas of how to run the church from the world.
A Christian who uses the same methods as the world is not much hope for a good impression on those he is trying to win over to Christ. A joyless Christian is no better. Christ followers should give the world something to envy, not something they desperately want to dismiss.
Enough people will do that on their own without our help. There is a time to call out sin, but we must be careful to not go around with angry faces and the same old hammer, pounding on closed doors. Some people will reject the gospel, the greatest gift a man can have, to their loss. We should not be angry at them but feel sorry for them.
The Undead In The Pews.
We all know people who call themselves followers of Christ on Sunday and live however they want Monday through Saturday. I’m not pointing any fingers but I will use my past life as an illustration. I have been a church goer all my life, but before I committed to following Jesus as Savior and Lord, I was a religious zombie and a stinking decomposing corpse that filled the aroma with my own stench and sin. There is “nothing new under the sun” as Ecclesiastes would say and there have always been necrotic Christians.
Revelations 3 says
1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
See verse 3 where it says“But if you don’t wake up,” the key words are “if you don’t” we all get tired in our faith at times and backslide but what becomes of someone who at one time had a “reputation of being alive” but then defects and slides down the tunnel of sin into oblivion, never to return from the black hole of the soul that sucks them inside. The slip over the event horizon into an unrepentant state and never to return, sucked into a blackhole of a hardened heart. Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace because at one time I was that kind of person but I was saved from the throws of spiritual death. However, unfortunately some aren’t so fortunate but commit the sins Jude speaks of.
Jude 1:12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea,foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
“twice dead” can imply these people were never alive in Christ to begin with and are able to fool enough people in pretense to make them think otherwise, and finally when they do utterly backslide, reputiate and recant, they have in a way died a second time. -Hebrews 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
Yes, indeed, one can be active in the church and even have a appearance of faithfulness. They may even share their faith, sing in the quire, be quite involved in the church ministry but truly be still “dead in their sins and trespasses”-Ephesians 2.
It’s strikes fear into my heart even as I contemplate this. Jesus taught a story of a man who left for a time and left his household servants in charge of his estate. He narrates it like this in Luke 12:
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” 42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
Basically the evil servant got tired after while with his responsibilities and grew careless, he began to think to himself in verse 45- “‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
How dreadful that must have been for the evil servant who abandoned his position and resorted to lawlessness. As it is said”The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19
Saved or not Saved, that is the question.
The problem with many of the churches today is false teachings, beliefs, and inability to discern between true followers and false ones. Of course this creates an issue for many who are coming to Christ and possible inclined to an interest in Christ. Why is this? The reason is it turns people away to see someone saying one thing and then living the opposite, and will cause not only confusion but resentment most of the time. It would be terrible if some hungry lost soul came in earnestly seeking the God who was drawing them to Himself only to see the behavior of some and then turn away in disgust.
Jude 1:4 says “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
The problem is that we have tolerated so many professing so called followers who are not necessarily saved even at all in our churches to spread heresies like a infectious disease, Paul once referred to the false teaching of certain men in his day as being like “gangrene”. Gangrene is the condition the medical world now calls “necrotizing fascititis” and in laymans terms, it’s really just when body tissue dies because the blood flow gets obstructed and then it begins to rot. They openly sinning against God masking it under the term grace, they make God’s mercy a license to sin, deliberately. they also have tolerated and even accepted the lie that there are possible other ways to God. They indeed deny “Jesus Christ our only Sovereign Lord” I have even heard some people who have called themselves Christians yet will bring into doubt the fact that “Jesus is the only way” and by doing so they strengthen a hostile world’s attempts to deny Jesus as the key to salvation. Will not the world itself say, “Oh, this person is a Christian, and they even say themselves that there might be other possible ways to God, if a person is ‘sincere enough’” Often times this will only strengthen false accusations and not build bridges. We should not be ashamed of what Jesus taught, and I admit myself it’s tempting to succumb to the onslaught of pressure, but we should not chicken out on this one. Honesty is the best means, we must admit there is a problem called sin and give the only solution their is, the cross. It’s like a man who got a extreme staph infection in his abdomen, it was antibiotic resistant staph and the only way to kill the bacteria was for the doctors to make an incision in his belly and insert bleach pads. The truth is often more painful then the problem for a brief moment, but there after brings an end to the pain. Take for example a broken nose, it hurts to begin with bad enough, and it hurts even worse when the doctor has to rebrake it, but then comes healing and the pain deminishes over time.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
The reason the church for a large part is not winning the lost is because so many in the church are the lost. Many times its hard to tell who is true and who is counterfeit.
Jesus mentions this when he said
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Indeed it is possible to do works in the name of Christ and still not belong to Christ. Because its not about your so called good works and knowledge of the Bible its all about how you use it. Its not about how long you have been in church or what you know, its about being born again and if one has truly trusted Christ as savior and Lord.
Romans 8:13-14 says “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
“By the Spirit”, it says. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not a child of God.
Its never to late as long as your alive, the answer is to repent of your sins and trust in Christ to forgive you. He is gracious and ready to forgive anyone who truly turns to him! Don’t let the fear of the cost hold you back. It is more than worth it.
Ever notice that although the rose is a magnificent flower, it has thorns. Do not just stop loving someone because of first appearances or impressions, because often times the lowly people and poor of this world are great people. God loved us enough to see past our thorns as well. Our thorns of sin, baggage and rebellion. You know what, Jesus still died for all of us despite our thorns, he wore the crown of thorns as he was nailed to a cross for every sin you and I committed. Why? because he saw our worth and didn’t treat us the way our sins deserved. Now let us extend grace to others.
Salt is a very interesting compound. Most common version we are familiar with is Sodium Chloride which is your run of the mill table salt, it acts as flavoring but not just that, it can also be used as a preservative. Even in ancient History the Roman army took a liking to salt. In ancient cultures it could even be medicinal to treat wounds. It has the ability to dry things out and its PH properties make it an unsuitable envirornment for micro organisms. One of the basic components germs need is moisture as well as proper PH, therefor salt indeed did make great medicinal treatment for wounds.
Jesus called his followers to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men..
And the Apostle Paul penned these words in Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Christians are indeed called to be salt and be a preservative in a decaying and dying society of sin, not only so, but when we share with others we are called to have conversation that is “full of grace” Are words should be true and accurate but flavored with the love of Jesus. Some Christians, even with good intentions sometimes, share Christ in the most unpalatable way. We should never change the gospel but we can improve our methods of conversing with the lost people. People more often then not “don’t care until they know you truly care” and most often friendships and rapport are very helpful.
Titus 2:10 says that we should in essence make the gospel message attractive without changing the truth. ” 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”- In essence, this verse implies, “don’t do things that would give Christ or his reputation a bad rap. Do things that glorify Jesus as much in your actions as you do with your words”
How else can we do this? We do this by showing love and respect to others but keeping the message of faith in Christ and repentance of sin the same but not blowing it with how we behave or react to opposition. It’s a powerful message when one is ridiculed, rejected and persecuted and they respond in kindness instead of angry retaliation. Another key is, we are also called to be at peace with other believers, Jesus said “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Christians will not always see eye to eye do to personality differences and what not but we are to love each other as our own selves. We are on the same team, if Joe Bob ends up making the touch down instead of you, rejoice over his success. If Jane Doe gets the promotion when you didn’t be glad for her. As scripture says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”
If you disagree with a brother or sister in the Lord, then share with them your love and acceptance regardless. If it’s not scriptural than show them scripture that shows that but still love them even if they don’t listen or are on the same page, and continue to pray for God’s best in their life. God has a way of correcting his children’s faulty thinking and we can’t always persuade them but He can, so we must pray for them to see what God is trying to show them. Ask forgiveness when necessary and be willing to quickly forgive.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.