The Gospel

Do you truly believe in God, or are you full of bologna?

bolognaLove and obeying God and belief are all united. When a person who is saved says, “I believe in God,” it means something totally different than when a false convert says, “I believe in God.”  The actual believer means that they love God and their highest goal is to obey Him in love. That’s actual belief.

On the other hand, the false convert says he believes in God, but doesn’t actually have Christ inside his heart reigning supreme. The false convert doesn’t actually want to obey the Bible simply because his love for Christ is the highest authority in his heart.

So true believers and false converts both say, “I believe in God.” The difference is that if you actually search deep into their motivations and desires and hearts, you will find that only the true believer actually believes and loves and obeys God because he knows God and is forever indwelt the Holy Spirit. Therefore the true believer will persevere until the end, and always grow stronger from persecution and struggles and failures and weaknesses.

Meanwhile, the false convert doesn’t actually believe or love or obey God from a heart forever ruled by Christ. That’s why under persecution and struggle and failures and weaknesses, the false convert falls away and recants his belief in Christ and the Bible, and abandons the truth, and eventually seeks out a lifestyle that makes sense to him – like the world and sin.

It’s something else, you know, when you meet those people who say, “I believe in God too” or“yeah, I’m a Christian too.” And inevitably they follow up with the self-exposing words, “but I don’t go to church” or “but I don’t read the Bible” or “but I don’t pray.” I’m like, “Really? You’re a Christian who doesn’t follow Christ?” That must be some new form of Christian that the devil invented.

When a person claims to be a Christian, yet lives a sinful lifestyle that is totally void of any actual fruit and love and obedience and belief in God and His Word, and his life is characterized by the world, worldly lusts, worldly desires, worldly motives…. then, chances are that person is full of bologna.

Follow up with a few statements from the Bible, and see if their attention suddenly drops. Quote Christ a few times, and see if they suddenly lose their interest in the conversation . Ask them their testimony and see if they even have one. Ask them the Gospel and see if they even know it. Ask them who Christ is and see if they say God. It usually doesn’t take long to discern that they desperately need a full-on Gospel presentation and that their wild lifestyle isn’t merely circumstantial, but rather a direct result of their choices and desires to follow sin instead of Christ.

There is a reason people don’t know the Bible, and it is usually because they have spent their whole lifetime choosing to read anything else, and the Bible is the least important thing to them. Be discerning people, there are lots of false converts out there, and instead of teaming up with them, we should be evangelizing them and avoiding their misdirection. We need to be discerning and test our friends, family, loved ones and peers. We shouldn’t be naive, but rather we should be diligent and wise and prayerful and sober-minded.

If people are complicating the Bible, and complicating their lives and missing church and missing Bible study and missing fellowship and missing accountability and missing enthusiasm to obey Him, then it’s likely not just a coincidence, but rather a giant redflag about them.

People who don’t actually like something or love something, over-complicate matters and make excuses and miss meetings and have a hard time showing genuine enthusiasm. Contrastly, when people do actually like something or love something, then they make it simple and take responsibility and show up early and get excited to participate and even seek out additional related things.

Like, a person who wants to go to the store might say, “It’s just a block away, we’ll be there and back in no time. Let’s go.” See, easy. There’s like 1 step involved and plenty of enthusiasm and simplicity.

But, a person who doesn’t want to go to the store might say, “It’s dark and dangerous outside, and it’s raining, and the store is all the way down the street, and we have to put on our shoes, get dressed and find our raincoats, and find my wallet and keys, and then get into the car, and maybe dirty up the floorboards, and maybe stop and get gas, and then hope that they aren’t closed, and…”  See, difficult. Complicated. Lots of steps involved. No enthusiasm. No simplicity.

I always ask myself when I’m dealing with a person who claims to be a believer, which one of these people do they become when I am talking to them about God. Which person are they when extra events are introduced into the conversation. What about Bible study, and fellowship groups, and opportunities to serve, and evangelizing strangers? Are they at least trying to find way to obey and serve Christ, or are they making things complicated and trying to increase the number of steps involved? My question is, what are their actual desires about God and the Bible and belief and obedience and love? Because those things come in a cluster. If you love, you also obey, and also believe. So without all of those, then a person isn’t really believing at all. They are just saying they believe They’re lying to themselves and others.

If I told you I believe that my house was on fire, but I just sat in the house calmly and didn’t do anything about it, then it would be hard to convince you that I am telling you the truth.

But, if I told you that my house was on fire and I jumped up and ran outside fast as lightning, then WOW! You’d really be convinced that I believed that.

Same concept applies with actual saving belief in God. If a person actually believes, then God’s Word, the Bible, won’t be a table decoration. The person who actually believes because he is filled with the Holy Spirit and ruled by Christ, knows God and is highlyconcerned with Him and obeying Him and learning about Him. Anyone who is actually saved knows exactly what I am talking about. True Christians are hyper-aware of their sin and they have a genuine desire to please God, because they know that the Almighty GOD is reigning and orchestrating every single detail of life!

True Christians KNOW that the all powerful God is able to answer prayer and control everything in the universe and they are aware and conscious of Him and therefore, because they actually know that to some extent, they are overwhelmed by that truth and are forever changed by that heart-piercing reality. You can’t meet God and then be the same afterwards. It’s impossible to be transformed, given the Holy Spirit, born again, and then like… I don’t know… somehow forget God is right here watching and listening to everything you do. That’s not something that you can walk away from the same as you were before.

It is the most important and supernatural and extraordinary thing that has ever happened in your life. It’s more important than your wedding, the birth of your children, your graduation, your first kiss, anything. There is nothing more amazing then having your eyes opened to the truth of God and your own depravity, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, and loving and believing in God for the first time. It is the single most important and radical thing that has ever happened. So, how can a person say they “believe in God” and yet have nothing to say in terms of a testimony or the Gospel or some change in their heart or anything?

It’s just crazy what some people will accept in a profession of faith. How many people are out there who call themselves Christian, and yet are the farthest thing from it? Too many. And many have even been baptized! They have never admitted their helplessness or repented of their sins or believed in Christ with saving faith or understood the Gospel or submitted and committed their lives to God. They have never truly loved God or believed in Him, and they will walk away from God as easily as they supposedly chose Him.  They call themselves Christians and believers, for all the wrong reasons.  They are Hellbound and in desperate need of the true Gospel. Be discerning, brothers and sisters. There are many false converts out there saying, “I believe in God” and claiming to be Christians.

Advertisements

In Jesus Name

jesus in your heart

“You know, you could say to a guy, “Well I wanna go to Chicago” and you could say, “Well there’s no way to Chicago, you can go any way you want. Just start off in any direction.”  Well, that isn’t true. If you’re going to go to Chicago there’s a direction. And the same thing is true in terms of God. If you’re gonna go to God, God says, “Here’s the way.”  It isn’t that God is trying to be unkind or unfair or narrow-minded or picky – it’s just that He wants to tell the truth.  You know, I could say, “Well, I’d like to tell anybody just do what you want, you’ll be alright.”  But that isn’t the truth, so you don’t do a guy a favor to tell him that.” – John MacArthur, 1979

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). 

Let us pay extra close attention to the definite article “the.” Jesus did not say, “I am A way, and A truth, and A life; there are many ways to the Father.” Rather Jesus said something exact, and He gave very articulate and precise directions. He said, in exclusion to all other ways, that He is THE way, and THE truth, and THE life; no one come to the Father but through HIM.

This is as profound and exact as the statement, “In Jesus’s name.”  Too many people think that “in Jesus’s name” is some sort of superstitious incantation that they can rattle off at the end of their requests and sentences and that it somehow gives supernatural power to their words. That’s not what “in Jesus’s name” means. If you are going to be “in Jesus’s name,” then you have to be in His way, in His truth, and in His life. To be “in Jesus’s name” means to be under His authority and in His family and in His will and obedient to Him.

But people are so defiant and ignorant, and they are so deluded, that we have this epidemic on our hands where millions of people think they are Christians and it’s all based on a few words and superstitions and misdirection. The only way to God is through Jesus, and that means the exact same thing as “in Jesus’s name” or “in Jesus’s family” or “in Jesus’s way” or “in Jesus’s truth” or “in Jesus’s life.” They all mean that you are following Him and that you have faith in Him and that you are obedient to Him. You cannot get to God by being foolish and self-controlling and going some way other than Jesus.

If you are going to be in Jesus in any way, then you must have faith, you must obey Him, you must follow Him down His path that He chooses, and you must leave your self-will aside and totally submit to Him. That’s what it looks like when Christ saves a person. He doesn’t save people and leave them in some other way. The saved are in His way. He doesn’t save people and leave them in sin and lies. The saved are in the truth. He doesn’t save people and leave them in death. The saved are in life. He doesn’t save people and leave them the same. The saved are completely transformed, inside and then out.

And speaking of the outside transformation, Jesus Christ has full authority to lead you wherever He chooses! You are no longer your own! If you are Christ’s, then you have been bought with a price and you are now His. If He leads you through hardship and struggle and tribulation, then you follow Him. If you are His, and if you are “in His name” then you are going to be obedient to Him. We should not hesitate for one second, and we should allow Him to command us as easily as sheep are controlled by the shepherd.

John 10:3 says, “he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
John 10:4 says, “he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him.” 
John 10:9 says, “if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.”
John 10:14 says, “I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.”

That’s it. There’s no question about the Lord/servant, Master/slave, Shepherd/sheep relationship and intimate correspondence between Christ and His that He has bought and given His Holy Spirit to lead them into obedience to His Word which is written out in the Holy Bible.

If you don’t have this obedience driven relationship with Christ that is clearly described in scripture as a shepherd/sheep relationship, then what are you waiting for? Asking Christ into your heart means nothing if He doesn’t enter in it. How do you know if He entered into your heart? This intimate relationship of obedience, this intimate knowing of Christ, as He said, “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father” displays Christ-likeness and holiness and purity just as Christ’s intimate relationship with God displays God-likeness and holiness and purity. Your love for Christ and your relentless desire to serve Him should look like His love and relentless desire to serve God.

If you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, which all saved people are, then you have a full-time, forever kindred and relationship with Him that catapults you to actually live “in Jesus’s name” with everything that Jesus represents and loves becoming everything that you represent and love. Pray for THAT. Pray for Him. Pray to actually be saved and that you would actually go through Christ, which means submission to Him in obedience and love. Pray “in Jesus’s name” by actually conforming to who He is, just as He conformed to the Father, and just as sheep conform and follow their Shepherd wherever He may go with no more regard to your own way. Because that’s what the Holy Spirit inside you does to you! The Holy Spirit’s presence within a person is not an idea, it’s a life-transforming reality! If this has not been the reality of your life, and you think you are a Christian, then you are mistaken. Pray to Him and Pledge your allegiance to Christ, the only way to God.

You cannot have saving faith without truth, and you cannot have faith in the truth without conforming to it.

I’m very scared for those who believe they are “good people,” yet they have no empowerment from the Holy Spirit and they have no transformation and hey have no commitment to obedience, and they are not following Christ at all and they have no intimate relationship with Him and they are not overwhelmed with a sense of urgency to follow Christ.  The reason they don’t have all of those things  is because they don’t have the Spirit of God inside them. 

The number of deluded people going to Hell is high! They have been lied to, and they lie to themselves, and they believe all the wrong things. If we love these people, we must do something and we must say something. And we need to make it as clear as possible and fully biblical.

True Belief Desk Reference

stronger

This article is intended to be a quick desk reference for checking yourself to see if you have true #belief.  Some of the ideas and concepts actually require much more exposition, and this of course is not exhaustive, however that was the goal.   There is more to be said and added to this desk reference, and perhaps that is just what I’ll do in the future.  Please use this, bookmark it, and remind yourself and others that the Bible does indeed present a standard of true belief.  

What does it mean to believe? What is genuine belief in Christ? How does a person know if their belief is true belief or merely an empty, confused, hellbound profession?
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6).

True belief is the result of a heart change (Ez 36:26); a change of will; a transformed volition (2 Cor 5:17). True belief is indivisibly coupled with love (1 John 4:16), truth, the Holy Spirit and joy (Acts 13:52), and submissive obedience to Christ alone and above all (Rom 2:7-9). True belief reads the Bible and knows God’s words are serious and true (John 8:31; Acts 17:11) and His commands are to be followed and obeyed (John 3:36). True belief is never-ending (Luke 8:15). True belief seeks God, teaching from the men of God, and fellowship with His Church (John 7:18; Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:6-7; 1 John 4:20-21). True belief seeks peace, and serves and submits to his fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, the Church (1 Peter 2:13; Col 3:23-25), because true belief is not rebellious or selfish. True belief is hungry to learn about Christ (1 Pet 2:2). True belief seeks holiness and purity (1 Pet 1:14–16). True belief results in repentance (2 Cor 7:10). True belief hates and confesses sin (1 John 1:9)! True belief prays to God (Matt 6:9), knowing without a doubt that He is, and enjoys fellowship with Father and Christ (1 Cor 1:9; Rom 8:15)! True belief yearns for the Jesus’s return (1 John 3:2-3; Titus 2:11-13 )! True belief suffers for Him (1 John 3:13; 1 John 5:13; 1 Pet 4:4; 1 Pet 2:20)!

You know you have true belief when you continue to deepen in your faith when trials test you (Rom 5:3). You have true belief when you never stop loving Christ, and you cannot live as a continuous slave to sin (Rom 6:16-18). True belief in Christ never again is sold-out to sin, it never returns to that state of bondage (Rom 6:6). True belief cannot be temporary. True belief struggles in love for Christ forevermore, perhaps not perfectly, but endlessly. True belief is sold-out to Christ, and Him alone (John 14:6Luke 16:13; Matt 12:30), permanently.  True belief inevitably results in action, outward works and righteousness that are a manifestation of the inward belief (James 2:17-18).

Remember, without true belief a person is not saved. A person is not a Christian, or a true follower of Christ, without true belief. We must truly believe in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension as historical fact. The Biblical account is not a fable or spiritual metaphor. The Biblical account is something that actually happened. True belief is the only saving belief; and doubt, skepticism, and agnosticism are just forms of disbelief. The Biblical definition of salvation requires true belief in Christ.

“It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. ” – John MacArthur

October 20th, 2013 – Birthday Love.

Gift of FaithThanks to God alone I’m one year older. The Lord is with me and He strengthens me, so that through me His work might be accomplished, and that all might hear I was rescued out of the devil’s mouth! The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be all the glory!

After a year at Grace church, I have received so much mercy and graciousness, it is truly remarkable! I cannot thank my friends here enough for all the love they have shown me! Coming to Grace was by far the best decision, and every day I am reminded how powerful God’s sovereign providence is over all the tiniest details in life! He is in total control.

The Lordship of Christ, being transformed by Him, loving Him and seeking the purest, deepest possible relationship with Him is undoubtedly the most dominating and absorbing motivation in my life. I can’t get enough of Him, His Word, His people and His glory! I thank God for every second that He keeps me breathing, and when that day comes that I’m no longer here on this earth, if no one ever knows anything else about be ever, let it be known that God showed His love to me, saved me from sin, baptized me with His Holy Spirit, and gave me the eternal gift of true faith. I am forever His, and He shall forever be the greatest love of my heart.

I am changed unmistakably, because He loved me and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins. I have new desires, a new heart, and a new volition to seek Him and His glory over all things unto death. That is not normal human behavior! That is the supernatural work done only by the Word of God, His Holy Spirit and His Son! An impossible to mistake recreation that can never be undone. I will forever be His, and He shall forever be my Lord.

All I did was pick up the Bible, read it, and believe every Word of it! That means acting on what I read and actually walking in that faith! After believing that He was real, that Christ is God, that everything the Bible said He did was true, and that receiving His Word as objective truth was my priority, the only thing left was to keep reading and studying and – with my faith in Him – actually do what the Bible instructed! That’s the difference! It’s hard to explain real belief to unbelieving people, but my testimony is that true belief was the difference between reading with obvious doubts (manifested in my actions) and reading in full-fledged willingness to obey! Then, I started with Mark 12:30 and to this day that is where I start every morning — completely emptying myself and placing all of my love, strength, heart, will, soul, mind, and life in Him! If you just do that, Mark 12:30, I mean really do that beyond anything you ever gave to this world, and trust in Christ, then you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about! Life is not life without Jesus Christ’s love!

May the Lord be glorified first and foremost; not just my birthday but my deathday and everyday in-between!

 

 

Stranger Danger? When, If Ever, Should We Avoid Evangelism?

stranger danger

“They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).

It seems to be historically accurate to assume that the men who God used the most all flew right into the face of human reason and natural logic.  Moses and the Exodus, Noah and the Arc, David and Goliath, Lydia and the Gospel, Joseph becoming ruler of Egypt, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, etc… And one thing that stands true as a theme in every story is that if you were to ask their peers the question, “should they try” or “should they press onward” or “should they risk everything,” then the majority vote would recommend, with loads of reasonable and logical advice, “No.”

We wonder sometimes if we can tell who is capable of receiving the Gospel in advance? We’ve met people who won’t even try to give the Gospel to persons they feel are hostile, or that they are uncomfortable with — not even one hopeful attempt.  They logically disqualify people before they ever even open their mouths to give the Word of God a chance by quoting Matthew 7:6, “don’t cast your pearls before the swine” or “don’t give that which is holy to the dogs.”  They say things like “I know people like that…it’s a waste of time” or “if they won’t __________, then they won’t embrace the Gospel” or in some rare instances, “I’ve already tried evangelizing that person before, it’s a lost cause.”

I know there are fine lines between bold and stupid, but as far as I can tell the people who God used most would have ALL been pronounced “stupid” by any logical or reasonable thinking.   Which leads me to personally believe that we don’t do enough for the cause of evangelism–especially in our own cities or home towns.  What if the arguments that avoid evangelizing, or write-off potential candidates for Christ as “casting pearls before swine” are horribly wrong?

I did a bit of research and found some interesting quotes from my pastor, John MacArthur.  Here is what he had to say about the issue in a few different blogs and sermons:

1. “the vast majority of the evangelism opportunities you will have will be initiated by you. You’re the one who will need to steer the conversation to biblical truth and eternal matters. We can’t wait on the spiritually lost to become inquisitive about God’s Word; we need to actively look for ways to inject it wherever and whenever we’re able….Jesus didn’t wait for the Samaritan woman at the well to ask Him how she could be saved—she wasn’t even aware of her spiritual needs. But He took the initiative, confronted her sin, and offered her mercy and salvation.”

2. “Do you have the passion that inspired John Knox to plead, “Give me Scotland or I die”? Is your attitude that of George Whitefield, who prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul”? Do you, like Henry Martyn, mourn when you see others trapped in false religion and cry out, “I cannot endure existence if Jesus is to be so dishonored”?

God used those faithful men as powerful tools to bring salvation to dying people. Each of them had a clear and vivid understanding of what is at stake in the gospel — it’s an issue of life or death, an eternity in heaven or hell. Do you realize that your unbelieving family members, your co-workers, and your neighbors will spend forever suffering in torment away from the presence of God if they don’t embrace Christ? That realization should drive you to your knees to plead, not only with them to believe the gospel, but with God to save their souls.”

3. “Paul was far more concerned with seeing sinners embrace Christ than he was with the exercise of his liberty. Thus he was willing to set aside his freedom for the sake of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).”

4. “Jesus would have failed personal evangelism class in almost every Bible college and seminary I know. Matthew 19:16-22 describes a young man who looked like the hottest evangelistic prospect the Lord had encountered so far. He was ripe. He was eager. There was no way he would get away without receiving eternal life.

But he did. Instead of getting him to make a decision, in a sense Jesus chased him off. He failed to draw the net. He failed to sign the young man up. Should we allow our ideas of evangelism to indict Jesus? I think we need to allow His example to critique contemporary evangelism. Christ’s confrontation of this young man gives us much-needed insight into reaching the lost.”

5. “Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth” (John 17:3-4). Reconciling man to God is the greatest way to glorify God. That’s the reason Christ came (Luke 19:10). Believers are an extension of the ministry of God the Father and Son in receiving glory by the salvation of lost sinners: ” As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). “As” conveys intention. As the Father sent the Son into the unredeemed world, so the Son has sent believers. We have no different mission in the world than the incarnate Jesus Christ.”

6. “Jesus’ point is that certain truths and blessings of our faith are not to be shared with people who are totally antagonistic to the things of God. Such people are spiritual dogs and swine, who have no appreciation for that which is holy and righteous. They will take that which is holy, the pearls (the rarest and most valuable of jewels; see Matt. 13:45–46) of God’s Word, as foolishness and as an insult.

A wild animal whose primary concern is scavenging for food will hardly appreciate being thrown a pearl. He will resent its not being something to eat and possibly attack the one who throws it.

Dogs and swine represent those who, because of their great perversity and ungodliness, refuse to have anything to do with the holy and precious things of God except to trample them under their feet, and turn and tear God’s people to pieces.

There will be times when the gospel we present is absolutely rejected and ridiculed and we make the judgment to turn away and speak no more, deciding that we should “shake off the dust of [our] feet” (Matt. 10:14) and begin ministering somewhere else. There will be times when those to whom we witness will resist the gospel and blaspheme God, and we may speak words of judgment. Like Paul, we must then say, in effect, “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).”

 
Here are 2 Scriptures that explain some discernment we should have in evangelizing.

1. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

2. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

It seems to follow, that if there is care needed when giving certain Biblical truths to “brethren,” then there should also be much care placed upon what truth we choose to share with the mission field.

We cannot forget Christ and the rest who died in order to advance God’s Kingdom, so obviously danger in and of itself should not be a deterrent.  Remember Paul was no stranger to putting his life on the line every day, “Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31).
Here are 2 final passages to consider:

1.  “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.  For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Cor 9:16-23).

2.  “But in whatever respect anyone else is bold—I speak in foolishness—I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?  If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands” (2 Cor 11:21-33).

Go to the Mission Field Every Day!

The mission field is our next door neighbors, the cashiers at the grocery stores, the beggars on the corners, joggers, classmates, mailmen, people at the gym, our coworkers, our families, salesmen who confront us, our doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, and anyone we engage in conversation. We can’t sit back waiting for people to come to us, like some evangelistic opportunist. Those opportunities are great when they occur, but we have to intentionally seek and make opportunities too. And we don’t have to go to a foreign land to fulfill our lives in Christ and evangelize, in fact that’s secondary to sharing the Gospel wherever you are at right now. Listen to the conversation John MacArthur had with a church group leader in 1971,

“Well,” I said, “you probably go down the street and share your faith? Right?” He said, “No.” He said, “we’ve [their church group] been in existence two and a half years and we’ve never told anybody.” He says, “We don’t feel we’re called to that.” He says, “We feel we’re still an infant church and the infant church never went out and evangelized.” I said, “How long have you been a Christian?” “Fifteen years.” I said, “My friend, you’re not an infant believer.” Plus I’m not too sure that’s legitimate anyway. But the idea was they had been called and chosen to sit with each other, and sing songs every day. My friend you were chosen to go. The world isn’t about to come, you have to go. The Bible doesn’t say, “Hey, all you in the world, come to the Church.”

“Go out on the highways and the by‑ways and compel them to come in,” Jesus said, “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Jesus said, “After the Spirit of God has come upon you, you should be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria, and the other most part of the earth.” Get out and reach the world. My friend you were chosen to go, not to come. And come ’til you’re ready to go, and then go.

So Christ elected a group of men out of the world of darkness. He saved them first, He trained them, He loved them, He called them his friends, He ordained them, sent them right back in the world where He got them, only when they went back they were ready to do something to the world they came out of. What a high calling. Every believer has been chosen for salvation, ordained to special service and you’re to be fired right back into the world again to communicate Jesus Christ. The idea is motion in the Christian life. The idea is to go.

I’m thinking of a verse in II Thessalonians 1:11. Paul says “Wherefore, also, we pray, always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” Boy, we’re called and ordained to glorify the name of Jesus Christ in the world. We’re called and ordained to let God work His perfect will through us. We’re not called to sit. We’re called to go.” – taken from “The Friends of Jesus” 1971

Link to sermon “The Friends of Jesus” by John MacArthur, 1971 ,
http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1554/the-friends-of-jesus

The Friends of Jesus

Division and Unity: Inevitable Byproducts of Truth

"If you are faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, be not surprised, nor be dismayed, if there is a "division" because of you." - Arthur Pink, "Exposition of the Gospel of John"

“If you are faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, be not surprised, nor be dismayed, if there is a “division” because of you.” – Arthur Pink, “Exposition of the Gospel of John”

“If you are faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, be not surprised, nor be dismayed, if there is a “division” because of you.”Arthur Pink, “Exposition of the Gospel of John”

This quote by Pink embraces the truths that Christ proclaimed in verses like Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” and Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

See, the Bible necessarily is intended to do as Hebrews 4:12 describes and is, ” living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  This means that it can divide anything to the smallest detail, like good and bad or right and wrong.  There are certain general rules that apply as well, like Matthew 12:33, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” 

The Bible says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14).

Then in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 it says, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

And again in 1 Cor 5:12-13, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

In Genesis 1:4, “God separated the light from the darkness” and that has been the theme ever since. Our goal is unity with light, and division from darkness!  John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 2 Corinthians 6:14 says again, “what fellowship has light with darkness?”

Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” This means that we are very distinctly separated, set-apart, and purified in our distinctions from the world. The Church is to be pure. The bride presented to Christ is to be as Song of Solomon 4:7 describes, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you” so “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27).

We allow the truth to do what it does on it’s own, and we remain sure not to disobey the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt 13).  We make decisions using accurate discernment, obedience to Scripture and in love.  Our approach should be dynamic.  We cannot just say “let everyone in” allowing divisive and evil people run wild, and yet we also cannot get to where we are pulling out tares that take with it the wheat.  It is about obedience, truth, love and wisdom.   We are presented with a level of godliness that requires we be sober-minded, paying attention and being observant. There is both unity and division that result from proclaiming the full counsel of God, and that is a double-edged truth that will always accompany the Word of God – the Gospel of Christ.

When we consider all these things together, we see that there is an automatic separation made between the ideology and worldview of born again Christians and non-believers, or even between those you use the whole Bible as their basis of understanding and those who only use selective parts of it.  A person who believes has an entirely different set of beliefs as a person who does not believe, and this creates a fundamental dispute in living and every day operations. Therefore, whether it be between believers (of God) and unbelievers (of the world), or between those who proclaim the the whole truth (the whole counsel) and those who only use parts of the Bible, there will absolutely be irreconcilable differences that very often end in division, because these matters change everything about our lifestyles, choices and behaviors.  This division breaks the dominating forces from each opposing worldview, and takes their followers with them. Which ultimately leaves the remaining parties even more pure than before the division. So, it’s not a question about the quantity, although there can be large numbers, it is actually 100% about the quality, or the purity, of the church.

As part of the refinement process, unbelievers, false converts and sometimes even stubborn, sinful believers are trimmed away by the truth.  Not due to being run off in a negative way by other members (even though this sometimes happens, or they may make that argument), but due to their diametric opposition to the set of beliefs generated by the whole counsel of God. Also, the way those full-bodied beliefs produce behaviors totally foreign to those who do not abide by them can cause disagreements, divisions and misunderstandings.  Once more information is added to a person’s understanding it can dramatically alter the way a decisions are made, and if that reasoning is not understood it can cause others to disagree on levels that cause division.

Luke 12:51 says, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”  And John 7:43 says that due to Christ, “a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.” And after Christ was performing miracles, in the distinction between belief and disbelief, it says in John 9:16, “there was a division among them.” And after declaring His authority in John 10:19 it reads, “A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.”

And more specifically, Christ said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” Christ makes the clarification between the born again and the lost. Then, in the perfect manner in which He is the edgiest of all men, and after John 6:66 says, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him” Christ pushes the edge even further and asks the remaining disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.”  See, Christ only was concerned about the purity, and after already creating a division, He follows through by asking the rest of the men if they want to leave too!  Now, that is true Biblical division for the sake of purity.

Notice though, Christ never forced these men to leave, and in fact we know that Judas Iscariot was among the Disciples and was allowed to stay. This is because of the principle behind the wheat (believers) and the tares (non-believers) parable (Matt 24-43). Christ says in verses 29-30, “while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”  In this verse we see that Christ directly commands us to allow the tares (non-believers) to remain as long as they are abiding by the external rules. As long as they are not doing things that require they be removed or hurting others, then they are allowed to stick around. They are to be loved, and encouraged to pray and submit to Christ, hoping that they are moved by the Gospel and converted.

What is the difference between a false convert and a stubborn, sinful believer?  Well, there is eternal difference positionally with God, yet practically no difference in our treatment of disobedience.  We are not necessarily supposed to treat people any different than their actions insist that we must handle a situation.  If someone violates Scripture, then they are still violating no matter what their position is with God. Obviously, the difference is Heaven and Hell, so the difference is eternal!  But, we are called to love all, have mercy to all, and yet still handle all with the same set of rules and consequences. So the same thing that removes an unbeliever from our midst would be the exact same things that removes anyone else, including other believers. We are called to plead with people and strive strongest for reconciliation! But there comes a point when the line is crossed, and then we must address the situation accordingly.  Scripture is clear, and we are to maintain our obedience in all areas, regardless of what we may think is going on.

See clearly!  Essentially the goal is always unity and likemindedness.  But, unity and likemindedness go together like a handshake, and usually when people are not likeminded they divide and separate from those whom they disagree.  This is the inevitable byproduct of our understanding.  Like the Bible says if you put the bit in their mouth you control the horse (James 3:3), and if you control the helm then you control the whole boat (James 3:4). Once there is a heart change, a change of will, and a change inside the core a person, then their affections and desires are changed, and inevitably their actions are changed as well.  Divisions occur because of an irreconcilable ideological dispute, rather a believer be leaving a group of non-believers that he shouldn’t be hanging around, or whether a disgruntled non-believer leaves a group of believers. Divisions are expected, and Biblical, when they occur from truth and love.  But always, unity and likemindedness are the ultimate goal, and should be sought with genuine pleading and self-sacrificial love.   Like 1 Cor 9:22-23 says, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”  Divisions among true believers are condemned in the Bible, and like it says in Col 3:14, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”