DISCIPLESHIP DISCIPLINE

One of the hardest things for Christians to maintain is DISCIPLESHIP…. Christians have a tendency to separate their lives into “time for God” and “time for me”…. even Christians who have made Jesus Lord over their lives stray away from such “Lordship” (sometimes without even realizing it) because the pull of the flesh and the “me” is so strong.

Lordship…. the Greek talks about “bond slaves” to Christ… implies no rights whatsoever….. it must ALL be about Christ and not about “me”…. you can have your plans and “serve” God in the machinery of the Church (or by personal witnessing) “when convenient” but that is NOT discipleship.

But you say that is incredible ! …. you mean to tell me, I must be serving day and night doing the work of God and nothing else ? ….. what about “work”, “family” and “recreation” ….. I have to work…. I have family responsibilities…. and I need recreation…. how unreasonable can God be ?

Aaah, my friend, therein lies the real challenge to the ‘self’…… don’t you not think that God knows you need these things ?…… even bond slaves have ‘off time’ to sleep rest and recover ? …… did not Christ call His disciples to come away and rest a while (Mark 6:31) ?

and yet…. and yet…  it is SOO easy …. after having a God sanctioned ‘rest period’ to PROLONG the fleshly indulgence….. a little MORE rest….. a little MORE recreation… a few MORE things that I want or need to do….. more…. money, work, family time, recreation time…. whatever….

Friends…. the ONLY way …. to keep the “living sacrifice” on the altar is to bind it with cords (Psalm 118:27, Romans 12:1)…. in real life this is achieved by the DISCIPLINE of prayer and Bible study (NOT reading a short passage and rattling of a few items of prayer)…. but by spending quality time with God ….. why is this ‘discipline’ ?…. I mean don’t you love God and want to spend time with Him ? ….. believe me, it’s discipline, when a packed schedule of ‘important’ activities awaits…..  as God blesses a Christian their schedule can easily become so ‘incredibly packed with stuff to do’ that whatever time they used to spend with God gets compromised….. and gradually all their ‘good resolutions’ to get deeper with God begin to fade….. the cords stretch and pop and the ‘living’ sacrifice is off the alter again and galloping off somewhere else.

A good test of our condition is this …. are we aware of God’s involvement at all times… in our business…. in our recreation…. in our ‘day to day’ activities…… are we listening for Him to tell us…. ‘enough now, I want you to do this or that’….. this may seem a bit ‘robotic’ to some….. but if God is sharing our day-to-day lives (a constant companion with whom we interact continually…. which is what it actually means , by ‘living in God’s presence’)… AND He is also our Lord and Master….. then we need to take the cue from Him….. and the problem with humans is that either they get a little too cozy with ‘friend’ concept or they get a little too cozy with the Master concept….. meaning they don’t recognize His cue to get back to work OR they don’t recognize His cue to stop working and relax respectively…

In the first case the sacrifice gallops off…. and in the second case the sacrifice dies (victim of self-imposed (rather than God ordained) asceticism…. but the fact is ruining your mental or physical health thinking you are doing ‘God’s will’ serves no beneficial purpose whatsoever unless God has specifically instructed you to do this and He will give you an extra portion of Grace if such is the case…… God NEVER tells people to do what He does not equip them for…..

So if you are dedicated to God …. be wary of being too ‘comfortable’ or of being ‘too overworked’ ….. how do you know if you are overworked ?….. here are the signs that God has NOT called you to ‘overwork’….. you are irritable and miserable…. you think that others don’t work hard enough and you have to do all the work….. you think that your hard work and self-sacrifice entitles you to something (you must be somebody special to God more than all “those happy, lazy Christians who do very little and are always enjoying themselves”)…..  check yourself …. these are clear signs that God has NOT told you to work so hard….. God may have “overworked” the Apostle Paul BUT He gave Him GRACE for it….. meaning, Paul’s spiritual character was not compromised but was enhanced….. Paul may have been stressed emotionally, physically and mentally but He had joy, peace, love and humility…… God gave Him all He needed for the task…. today there are so many examples of ‘stressed’ people who purport to be ‘fully dedicated to God and overworked in His service’….. and yet they have little tolerance for others who do not think like them…. little or no love for the ‘hardened sinners’ they are trying to ‘convert’….. it’s a sure sign that God is not the originator of that ‘overwork’….. they may think they are doing it for God….. they may even think that He ‘called’ them to do it…. but the evidence (personal spiritual character) suggests otherwise.

It is very wise to heed and to read  Matthew 20:10 – 13 ….. and contemplate this parable in the light of your own feelings about other people…. about God…. about other churches… etc.

Beware of ‘exclusivity’ and ‘narrow Biblical interpretations’ ….. God’s free gift of salvation to the human race through Jesus Christ ….. is not limited to particular ‘doctrines’ and ‘viewpoints’……  God is far from satisfied with people who may have the ‘correct’ doctrine but do not manifest ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22 – 23) in their interaction with others of different ideas….

If you have totally surrendered to Jesus Christ may this document guide you as you seek to work in the Lord’s harvest.

 

MORE MILLENNIAL MATTERS

Happy New Year to all my readers !

As a new year starts it is fitting that we consider prophecy, one of the most misunderstood topics in the Bible.

Today we are considering Isaiah 61: 5 – 6, “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord ; men shall call you the Ministers of our God; ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”

This passage is a real problem for those who do not believe in a future Millennium or for those who believe that we are currently in the Millennium at this time.

The passage clearly delineates between Israel and Gentiles….. those who do not believe in a future earthly millennial reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem also believe that (1) the church has replaced the nation of Israel and (2) all passages that speak to future events of universal peace and knowledge of God are fulfilled in the ‘eternal state’ (these tenets are basic to the Amillennialist interpretation).

The reason why this passage is such a problem for Amillennialists is that  (1) it has never been fulfilled and (2) it cannot possibly refer to the ‘eternal state’.

In the eternal state EVERYBODY is on an equal plane…. all ‘saved’.. all ‘sanctified’…. all ‘holy’….. the sinners, the heathen, the God haters have all been removed from the scene…. but this passage makes a distinction between Israel and Gentiles (or Christians and non-Christians for those who believe that Christians are ‘Israel’) so this passage CANNOT be fulfilled in the ‘eternal state’.

The only other possible options are:

(1) The passage refers to a future time on this present World (the ‘premil’ viewpoint)

(2) The passage has been abrogated and the prophecy will never be fulfilled…. it was a Jewish blessing that has been forfeited (however if you choose to take that view I will be able to bring some other scripture your way which IRREFUTABLY shows that the nation of Israel has NOT been ‘swallowed up’ by the church and in the future the nation will accept their Messiah (a time of national repentance)…. in any case the context in which the passage occurs gives NO support to the idea that this passage has been forfeited because of sin but rather supports the idea that inspite of their great sin, God has taken them back and forgiven them and healed them…. the book of Isaiah both predicts judgement on sin and comforts the contrite  with promises of forgiveness, cleansing and national restoration.

(3) The prophecy has already been fulfilled (for those who take to that idea I have many other passages in the same Isaiah that show the impossibility of such a notion…. passages that have never, ever been fulfilled on this earth and cannot possibly fit with the ‘eternal state’

People need to understand that the idea of a Millennial Kingdom of Christ upon this Earth….. is NOT ‘some made up story by heretics’…..  it is written there in the scripture in such plain English and in so many of the Prophets that one has to ‘make up creative stories’ to get around the reality of it.

TOTAL TRUTH

As we read and study the Word of God….. we encounter passages that may be hard to understand…. and while seeking for answers, we discuss the word with others…. or do some research online… and it’s not long before we encounter all sorts of doctrines that others have formulated to ‘explain’ the issues we are mulling over.

And so it was with me….. trained in Physics from a young age and with a father who was an avid Astronomer …… I had to reconcile my Bible with scientific facts….. and it seemed to me that what is called the ‘Gap theory’ was a plausible solution….. I was particularly influenced at that time by the book, ‘The Invisible War’ by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

So for many years this was what I believed and taught….. then I encountered some New Earth Creationists and thought they were nuts (scientifically speaking of course)…. but as I did further research  it became clear that if I accepted that DEATH was a result of SIN (and I really knew this to be true) then the fossil record could not possibly be as old as the scientific community believe it to be…… after meeting Dr.  Russell Humphreys in person (he actually has a solution to the ‘distant starlight’ problem) and  finding him to be a man of academic integrity as well as a devoted and humble man of God….. I changed my beliefs on the origins of the material Universe (much to the dismay of some of my scientific colleagues)…… so what is the point of my story….. simply this….

Many humans are far too DOGMATIC about stuff that is, at best, speculative…… it is only PRIDE that would cause one to believe that ‘they have all the answers’ for stuff that, in reality, no human could know for sure.

So ….. if we are genuine seekers after TRUTH….. not only must we be willing to abandon some of our ‘pet theories’ along the way…… but we must also have the WISDOM to realize that we CANNOT know everything…… it is not good for us to know everything…. and we must earnestly ask God that He would give us the TRUTH that He knows we need….. which is a far cry from knowing the ‘total truth’ about EVERYTHING under the sun.

Millennial Matters

One of my greatest problems accepting the amillennial arguments are the many passages in prophecy from Isaiah, Ezekiel and others  that indicate a marvelous future of an EARTHLY kingdom in which not only will the Jews fulfill their God given function… but Jesus Christ will be acknowledged as the supreme ruler of all the nations.

Particularly consider that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be with power and great glory…… if this ushers in the ‘new heaven and new earth’ i.e. the ‘eternal’ state as amillennialists  believe …… what do we do with all those unfulfilled prophetic passages that refer to Israel and the Jewish remnant ?….  also I do not find the concept of ‘nations’ in the ‘eternal state’ to be too convincing….. ‘nations’ is an EARTHLY concept that agrees with present world reality.

Amillennialists claim that ALL prophetic passages referring to the Jewish nation have either been already fulfilled or abrogated due to their sinful behavior….. to me that stands in contradiction to how God operates…. the sin of man is never allowed to defeat the Word of God when He proclaims something or makes a promise …..  look at Abraham as an example, God fulfilled His Word exactly even though Abraham did foolishness in listening to Sarah in the matter of Hagar and Ishmael.

The Jews have constantly rebelled against their God ordained function since the days of Moses…. and have suffered greatly for their rebellion unto this day….  but God plainly states that He WILL be glorified in them….. of necessity, the prophecy must come to pass that Christ rules not just one earthly kingdom, but the entire planet…… Isaiah 2:3 and 60:3 , Micah 4:2,  Zechariah 8:22 and 14:16,.

Nobody can tell me these passages have already been fulfilled…. and it is clear to me that they have not been ‘set-aside’ either…  because the purposes of God are not ‘set-aside’ by the behavior of man, particularly when God makes UNCONDITIONAL statements about the matter.

The Bible is written for humans to understand…. if we cannot accept an unconditional statement of God literally…. how can we ever hope to be ‘guided’ by the Bible ?…. it’s open season on creative imagination…. and a single passage could have a million fanciful ‘interpretations’ with new ones being invented all the time !

Not only that but whenever God repeats Himself through multiple prophets and across many centuries ….. we better take note…. He is serious about what He is trying to get across to us….. and clearly our errant behavior between those ‘centuries’ has not altered His pronouncement.

The facts are God intends tor Jesus Christ to be vindicated on EARTH…. where He was mocked and scoffed at His first coming…… the Jews WILL fulfill their function as a kingdom of priests and administrators of righteousness and holiness ….. not only to fulfill God’s promises to the fathers but because the sin of man must not be allowed to derail the plans and purposes of God.

Part of the defeat of Satan….. is simply that though He ‘ruined’ the Jewish nation in their calling and purpose…. though He incited the mobs to kill and mock Christ…. though, in fact, he ‘destroyed’ the human race through sin.

Jesus Christ….. as the ‘second Adam’ (if you want to use that comparison)…. UNDOES it ALL……  reigns supreme over ALL THE NATIONS of humans …… (not newly created ‘spirit bodies’ in some ‘eternal state’) …. but simple humans on a simple planet….. just as God had intended in the beginning….. where ‘the EARTH is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14)