Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Go Find The Ones in Lo-debar

   In 2 Samuel 9, David asks a question. He wants to know if there is anyone left of the house of Saul that he can show kindness to, for Jonathan's sake. David and Jonathan had made a covenant before Jonathan and Saul were killed. 1 Samuel 20 describes this covenant. Promises were made in this covenant that included, but not to his knowledge, Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was living in poverty while much was actually provided for him.
  Lo-debar means 'without pasture'. It was near Gilead, which was a rocky place. Not convenient for having animals to live. Lo-debar was similar to a slum area of Samaria. It was on the other side of the Jordan River, the side which the Israelites entered from as they were going to the Promised Land, which was on the other side of the River. Those living in Lo-debar were living outside of the promises. People lived in obscurity there. It was a good place to hide.
  When David realized that Mephibosheth was living, he pursued him. He told Mephibosheth to not be afraid. Perhaps Mephibosheth did not believe David when David encountered him. David made sure that what was lost to Mephibosheth's family was restored, but he also said that Mephibosheth will eat at the King's table every day.
   It could be that David was a pursuer because he had been pursued. God pursues those who are broken. He is near those who are suffering. We give away those things that God has given to us.
  Mephibosheth was an outcast. There are outcasts in our churches. Do we move toward them or do we ignore them. What does God want us to do?
  Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He pursues us. We need to move toward those who are in 'Lo-debar' in our churches.
  James warns us about being biased. He rebukes those who favor the rich, but ignore the weak and poor. God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom of God.
  So, take notice of those in your churches who are in 'Lo-debar'. They will appreciate your service to them now, and throughout all eternity.
  Listen to 'Loving The Ones in Lo-debar' online. Message given by Keith Collins. http://www.metrolife.org/sermons/sermon/loving-the-ones-in-lo-debar

Who Gave You Permission?

  Who gave you permission to do what you are doing? In this note, I am thinking of something specific. When I was a kid, whenever we wanted to do something or have something, we had to ask permission first. Either our parents said, 'yes' or they said, 'no'. It was as simple as that. Of course, it wasn't easy receiving a 'no' answer. We didn't have permission for a lot of things we wanted to do.
  So I ask this question today, in the 21st Century, 'Who gave you permission to do what you are doing?' I was looking at a letter written by a woman who was asking, or rather justifying her reasons for having an abortion. She pointed out all the reasons why she 'needed' to have an abortion. One of them was that she didn't know how her husband would respond, if he found out. You see, she is pregnant by a man other than her husband, and she has been separated from her husband for a long time. Also, the man who got her pregnant already has children, and can't afford to take care of any more. There were a host of other reasons why she felt the need to have her baby aborted.
   But there is something deeper here, than just wanting an abortion. Why did she get pregnant in the first place? Obviously, because she had a relationship with a man. But the question remains, and this is for all of us, not just this woman, where did she get permission to have a sexual relationship with a man who she wasn't married to?
  People used to call this, 'the new morality', but down through the centuries, this activity has taken place as well. For example, my ancestors came from Austria/Germany, and they were known to have children out of wedlock. I was studying Hitler's ancestry and realized that he came from this same type of situation. A mom who had a relationship with a man who she wasn't married to. It seemed to be common for that era, in that area of the world.
  The Bible is very clear on relationships. We are not to have sexual relationships out of marriage. If we are married and have a relationship with a person who were aren't married to, that is called, 'adultery'. If we aren't married, and we have a sexual relationship with someone, that is called, 'fornication'. But these sins are a form of immorality. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 ESV. Jesus said that if you look at a woman with lust (He was talking to men, but the principle applies to both men and women), you have committed adultery with her in your heart. This is serious! We don't realize how much credit we are earning for God to punish us for our sin as we freely live this kind of lifestyle. Our sins are piling up each time we lust and flirt with people!
   The Bible also has a lot of things to say about marriage. It gives direction and instruction to both men and women. God blesses the marriage relationship and we must keep it pure.
   When I was a teenager (40 some years ago), we were taught that it was wrong to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. When a woman got pregnant outside of wedlock, she was labeled as a 'bad girl' and many times you didn't see her until after the baby was born and given up for adoption. My point here is that during that time period, people knew the difference between right and wrong. Today, we don't. If our daughters want to have a sexual relationship with a man, we think it is ok, as long as she doesn't get pregnant or end up with an STD. But that is exactly the point. We think it is ok to sin, as long as we don't get caught! Why have we forgotten about God? Why do we think its ok to sleep around and do our own thing? Where did the 'fear of God' go? The Bible says, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:17) We are becoming a people who are forgetting God. What will we do? http://www.icr.org/article/4051/
   Abortion is a symptom of a very deep problem. The questions asked above is 'Who gave you permission?' No one has permission to sleep around. Men, you don't have permission to read Playboy and be a 'girl watcher'. God has a very good plan for sex in the lives of people, but we have taken this gift and misused it. We have taken liberties to do things with our bodies, that we don't have permission to do. Period. Women, when your boyfriend gives you this talk about how he loves you and you are obligated to share your body with him, get rid of him! He doesn't fear God, and you don't want a man who is not God fearing. 
   Yes, abortion is murder, and two wrongs don't make a right. You might think you are hiding your wrong actions from your parents or those you look up to, but you are not hiding from God. He sees your sin. One day, He will punish all sin, whether it be lying, hating, stealing, murdering, or immorality. You don't have to live in sin anymore. You don't have to believe the lies of the devil either. If you truly want to change, and be changed by God's power, He will give you the ability to repent and turn to Him. He will help you say, 'no' to sin. He will help you live for Him. That is why Jesus died on the Cross; to pay for your sin and mine. The question is, 'what will you do with that?' Will you repent and trust in Jesus, or will you continue to live in sin? The choice is yours. Remember, God wants to help you to not live in sin. But you will not receive that kind of help until you turn to Him. 
   For more info on this, please go to: http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com  or http://test4gp.wordpress.com   . Send questions or email to: RUgood@mail.com 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Who Should We Credit With This?"

  I see posts on Facebook that are quotes, really good quotes sometimes. But sometimes, they don't have an author. Maybe the poster didn't know who the author was or maybe the author is anonymous. Whatever the reason, we wonder who quoted that. Sometimes I ask, 'Who is the author of the quote?' Who do we credit the quote with?
    Sometimes someone will do something nice for us, but we don't know who that person is. We don't know who to thank. We don't know who should get the credit or recognition for their heroic act. We wish we could thank them and recognize them, but we don't know who they are. Perhaps they want to remain anonymous.
   In evangelism circles, I see two groups of people. There are the servers, and there are the proclaimers. The proclaimers tell us that without hearing the word, people will not be saved. The servers tell us that people will know us by our fruits, especially love and serving. Actually, both groups are right in a sense. They just might not be complete.
  Saint Francis of Assisi supposedly said one time, 'Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.'. That sounds like an oxymoron though, because you really can't preach without using words, can you?
  Sometimes, the way we live our lives out can send a wonderful message. I believe most of the Christian brothers and sisters I know would excel in serving and being compassionate. The Bible talks about us being a living epistle. Someone also said, 'You might be the only Bible people will ever read'.
  It is important to understand that we really do need to be bearing the fruit of the Gospel in our lives. If we don't have good spiritual fruit developing, we need to take a long, hard look at our hearts and ask God to search our hearts and root out sin. Jesus said, 'By their fruits you will know them'. Also, if we abide in Christ, we will bear fruit. So this is most important.
   But what if we do bear good fruit, and we love and serve as many people as we can. We can have compassionate hearts and even represent God well. But what if we do all that, yet never proclaim the Gospel to people? What if people see your good works, yet they don't know why you have the ability to produce those works? Who will they give the credit to? You? Your church? Your religion?
  I think the problem I see in most of my circles of friends is this; I hear a lot of the word 'evangelism' or even 'witnessing' used, but it really only means serving people, possibly in the name of Christ if His name is even mentioned. Like I already said, we excel in serving. But as we serve in His power, do the recipient's know who is really behind the heart of the servant? Are we helping these people by explaining the Gospel to them? Are our evangelism or missions opportunities providing us with the possibility of proclaiming the Gospel, or are they just providing us with places to serve with the hopes that the recipients will 'catch on' to what we believe in somehow?
  Yes, we need to serve. Jesus set the example and we are to follow. But we also need to use words in ministering the Gospel to people. Building houses and sharing food is not proclaiming the Gospel, as necessary as those things are. We tell the Gospel with our mouths. We serve with our hands and hearts. Maybe we can do both serving and proclaiming. When that happens, those being served will know who gets the credit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

To My Jehovah's Witness Friends

  I am writing this to those of you who belong to the religious group called 'Jehovah's Witnesses'. I have  had a few friends that are Jehovah's Witnesses. Before I start, I want you to know that I am not your enemy. You do have an enemy just like I do. We all have this enemy in common. He is a trickster and will fool any person who will listen to him. He is known by many names; Lucifer, Satan and the devil are his common names. No matter what a person's religious beliefs are, they have a spiritual enemy who wants to keep them in darkness.
   The Jehovah's Witness religion began in the late 1800s, started by a man named Charles Taze Russell. In 1931, the group came under the leadership of Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and the name 'Jehovah's Witnesses' was developed. It has a strong focus on the return of Christ, and has claimed that this has already happened, but will happen in visible form at some point prior to the establishment of the millennial Kingdom that Christ will bring on earth. A big difference the Jehovah's Witnesses have from traditional Christianity is their use of 'The New World' translation of the Bible, which was developed and altered many times to fit their agenda, in the early 1900s. Verses having to do with the deity of Christ are rewritten in such a way to project Jesus as either a 'lesser' god or someone who has God-like qualities, but is not God in the flesh.
  If you are reading this as a Jehovah's Witness, I have a couple of questions and a challenge for you. I know most Jehovah's Witnesses will stop right here and basically say that they are the only true religion and they will go no further in seeking out why they believe in what they believe in. That's ok, but if you are reading this, please ponder the questions I want to ask you. I am not trying to bully you around with the knowledge that I have, but all of us need to understand the foundations of whatever it is we believe in and hold to. Many people just believe that a certain church or denomination is the only right one because that is the one they were raised in. They don't question why it is supposed to be the right one. They just seem to know that it is the right one.
   In Communist countries, many times, children are taught things that aren't true. For example, in North Korea, there is a painting in a museum that depicts a child being tortured because he stole a piece of fruit off a tree. The North Korean teachers teach the children that Christian missionaries are not to be trusted and that they are in their country to harm the people. The children are taught that the mean person in the picture who is beating the child is like the missionaries who come to that country. In other Communist countries, people are taught false things about Americans through the use of the sports sections of newspapers. For example, a headline might read, 'Miami Beats Oklahoma', and students are taught that cities in America are fighting each other. This is deception at its best. In North Korea, the children are also taught that their leader has divine qualities. One of the leaders even took the 10 Commandments and inserted his name in the places where God's name is! How horrible that is!
   Let's talk about a few things concerning the Jehovah's Witness beliefs. One of the beliefs that they hold to is the return of Christ to earth. One of their leaders prophesied that it would happen on a certain day. That day came and went. He set another date. That day came and went. This happened several times. If you are Jehovah's Witness, I know it will be hard for you to get on the Internet with a clear conscience because you are not encouraged to do this. The Governing Body doesn't want you to research the History of Jehovah's Witnesses. But, if you are a person who is sure that you are right in believing in the Jehovah's Witness doctrine, what do you have to lose? If you are right, then no amount of information that you read will change your mind. But perhaps, there are things you never learned or heard before, that will make you think.
   Islam believes that Mohammed is the true prophet. Mormons trust in Joseph Smith as having the words of life. Catholics trust in what they consider the word of God to be infallible when it is spoken by the Pope. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Governing Body holds the infallible word of God. If that is what you believe in, do you have valid reasons for believing that is true? What are your reasons for believing the Governing Body is God's perfect representation on earth? Or do you believe this because that is what you were taught as a Jehovah's Witness?
   My challenge to you is this; Would you consider reading through, maybe just the New Testament for now, using a version that is not the New World Translation. You will be amazed to see things differently. You can go to www.biblegateway.com . They have several versions to choose from to read. The versions are taken from old manuscripts of the Scriptures. There are many copies of these manuscripts and they are pretty much say the same thing. Most of the modern versions of the Bible are taken directly from these manuscripts. They have not been passed down like the telephone game. They are very close to the original writings. Please notice that all the work done through the ages, produced the Bibles we have today. They do not match the New World Translation in many places.
   Many Jehovah's Witnesses today have repented of their sins, and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. They understood what God was saying in His word about sin needing to be punished, and that Jesus took the punishment for your sins and mine. Jehovah's Witnesses are not taught this. They are taught that people are saved by doing good works. They also do not believe in hell as a real place of punishment. The Bible teaches about hell in many places. You need to think about why Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in hell, especially when it is in the Bible.
  So, how do you know the New World Translation is authentic? You probably don't because there is no reason given of why it should be. But you are expected to listen and trust in what the Governing Body is telling you without questioning them. But in reality, you need to seek God and find out what is true.
   I am writing this out of care. I am not better than you are. I have done many bad things in my life which need God's forgiveness and an atoning sacrifice to pay for my sin. Every person needs this, including the Jehovah's Witness. We can never be good enough to earn heaven or to cancel out our sins. Even when we do good works, they don't atone for our sins, and we will be judged for them. But God made a way that we could go free. He also gives us the power to break sins hold on us so we can be free.
   For more information on the Gospel here are some links:
Are You Good Enough For Heaven?
The Gospel Told Using Colors
The Good Person Test

If you want to look further on the History of the Jehovah's Witnesses, here is a link you can go to:

Here are some recommended books:
10 Most Important Things You Can Say To A Jehovah's Witness
20 Questions A Jehovah's Witness Cannot Answer
The Bible vs The Watchtower
Index of Watchtower Errors
The Facts On Jehovah's Witnesses
30 Years A Watchtower Slave

Friday, May 10, 2013

What is Our Part To Play in Suffering?

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27 ESV

   I am reading through a book written by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes called, 'When God Weeps' (It's got a picture of Jesus holding a cute little lamb on the cover). Joni has some wonderful insights into suffering and we should tap into her writings in order to broaden our understanding of suffering. We who live in America, are living in a society that has been under the spell of Western Christianity, for a variety of reasons. One is a false belief that if we believe in God properly, we can reach the American Dream. Some people believe in the 'Prosperity Gospel' which believes that if we have enough faith, we can get what we want, or, we can speak things into existence that don't exist already. In other words, we can use God and His word, in a way that is similar to using a Genie bottle. When the person dies of cancer, or the baby that was born defective dies, then we are told that we didn't have enough faith and that's why the person died. We feel guilty and condemned, not only from ourselves, but from others who we are in fellowship with.
   This is why it is so important to know the Scriptures. The more we understand Scriptures, the more we will see through false teachings. We in America, or in any prosperous nation, need to understand the Scriptures thoroughly. 
   I want to write a couple of sentences from 'When God Weeps'. It follows the verse on the top off this page. Here is what Joni has to say,: "But we hem and haw. This is so ironic since so many of us fault him (God) for allowing suffering to be the world's status quo. (The quo wouldn't be so status if we got off our duffs and followed his lead.) But we shuffle along, so slow to move. Often we are disobedient, listening to pride or prejudice while refusing to do anything. Suffering then breeds and spreads like an insidious virus. It could be held at bay, halted, and eradicated in many instances, but misery foments because most often we do nothing to stop it. His hands and feet fail to alleviate suffering because we have 'lost connection with the Head." (Colossians 2:19)
  I have to wonder if we have been duped into believing things without even realizing what they are. I know society teaches us to make life as easy as possible. We are taught to take the easy way out of things. When problems are too difficult, we check out. We don't realize that working through difficulties is actually a gift from God to work in us sanctification. That concept is foreign to our thinking.
  Joni's paragraph says a lot of things. She knows that for the most part, we fault God for the suffering in the world. She points out that we are slow to move. We shuffle along. Suffering continues to spread like a virus, yet, we can do something to help stop the spread. Why is it that nothing seems to be happening? She continues and gives an answer to the question. His hands and feet (the church, the body of Christ) fail to alleviate suffering because we have 'lost connection with the Head (Christ). How did we do that? Maybe we never had a connection in the first place? That's possible. There are many people who are false converts. They call themselves Christians, but they bear no Christian fruit. They are trusting in a prayer they prayed, or a pledge card they signed to prove they are saved. They made a 'decision' to follow Jesus, but never understood why they should follow Him in the first place. I think the other reason we have lost connection with the Head is because of 'becoming weary in well-doing'. We put in and keep sowing, but the reaping doesn't seem to come. At least in our time table it doesn't. So we lose heart. God's timing is not the same as ours. We need to keep that in mind. 
   Whatever the reason is, we need to become connected, or reconnected with the Head. Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. We have to be attached to the vine in order to bear fruit. In order to serve God effectively in a way which produces eternal results, we have to abide in Christ. God wants us to develop a strong relationship with Him. If we lose our focus and become distracted, we won't bear good fruit. God intends for us to bear much fruit. This brings glory to Him.
   If your heart doesn't really care about bringing glory to God, perhaps you need to check your heart. Has God done a work there? What was your vision from God when you first came to know Him? If your heart is cold, ask God to give you a new heart. Let God be your vision. It is not easy, but it is worth it. It will cost you something. Are you willing to let go of those things that are hindering you or holding you back from selling out to God? (I have to ask myself these questions too. I am not above sinning or losing out with God). What is more important to you that you want to hang on to, that is keeping you from turning to and trusting in God? What will you have to give up in order to have the faith that God wants to give to you?
   My only last thought is that I believe we are part of the body of Christ and should be functioning as such. We don't go to 'church' just to listen to a sermon and check the box off indicating we made it to church that Sunday. We are participants in what God wants us to do. We are not spectators. God wants to use everyone who is part of the body of Christ, in His service. He wants us to minister to the homeless and the widow. He wants us to preach the Gospel to people (for more info got to Everyday Evangelism . Some of us will be called to be pastors. Some will be teachers. Others will serve people in the church and the needy in Jesus name. There was a song out years ago, and the words went like this, "I'm excited, I'm excited, I'm excited in the Lord (sung 3 times)....When you walk with the Lord, you don't get bored!" I think this is true. If a person is walking with the Lord he or she shouldn't be bored! There's a lot to do! There's a lot to live for! You weren't created to just grab all the gusto in life that you can, for 'tomorrow we die'. God created you to bring glory to His name. Even if you are in a wheel chair, or in a nursing home, God can still use you for His glory. If you want more details on that, I recommend that you read Joni's book, "When God Weeps" ! You won't be disappointed!
  If you realize that you don't have a right relationship with God, please go to The Gospel Conversation  or Are you a good person? for more information.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Many Gospels are Out There?

  How many Gospels are out there? You might think this is a redundant question. Perhaps I will ask you an easier one then. How many true Gospels are there?
  The word Gospel basically means 'good news'. It comes from the Latin word 'evangelium' which, obviously is where we get our word for 'evangelism'. Evangelism is an activity in which the Gospel is told to other people.
 If you have done any type of evangelism work, you probably have noticed that people have many different understandings of what they think the Gospel is. The Gospel is the good news, but it is only good news because of the bad news. Many in America today have no idea what the bad news is, and that is why there is vagueness concerning what the Gospel really is.
   The bad news is that, because of God's holiness, He must punish sin. If He doesn't punish sin, He would not be God. One of His characteristics is that He is just. That's what makes the 'good news' good news. God has provided a just way for us to not have to be punished for our sins. See http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com for more information on this.
   Here is the 'gospel' that I find many believe in; Many believe that God is all-loving and all-forgiving. This is partly true, but many take this as another route to get to heaven by. They bypass the problem of sin and God's justice and believe that because God is 'all-loving' that means He skips over our sins automatically. Yes, God is love, and He provided a way of escape for us, but we have to take His way out. It doesn't automatically happen for us. We must respond.
  Another one that I am seeing more recently, is that Jesus doesn't judge us for our sins (or for anything). It kind of ties in with the 'all-loving', 'all-forgiving' gospel. Here is an article I thought was interesting. It has to do with Mother Theresa and her understanding of the issue of forgiveness. She was known to be an advocate for prisoners who were facing the death penalty. She would talk to governors and other key people and convince them to let the prisoner not be executed, no matter how brutal the murder was. She would say things like, 'Do what Jesus would do if he were in your position.' Here is a summary of what she believes that Jesus would do in this position : "She did not need to add any explanation. It is all too clear what Jesus would do. He would not kill anyone. He would not kill, no matter what the crime, no matter what the cause. He would grant clemency, demand forgiveness and command nonviolent love."  http://www.fatherjohndear.org/pdfs/mother_theresa.pdf My point isn't to put down Mother Theresa or make fun of her in any way. But this is a perfect example of a person believing things about Jesus that aren't in the Bible. What we do so many times, is to take a passage in the Bible, lets say one about God's love, and we build a doctrine on it. We don't bother to compare it with other Scriptures or passages in the Bible. Yes, Jesus came especially for us, to become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and to provide forgiveness for us, but we are taking this a step or two too far when we say that Jesus was opposed to the death penalty. If the death penalty was instituted in the Old Testament by God, and if Jesus is God, then it appears that there is a valid reason for it. If we let every prisoner go under the premise of forgiveness, there would be no order in society. Capital punishment is good because it teaches the people to fear the Lord and respect authority, as well as life, and the lives of other people. People would be more hesitant to commit crimes if there is punishment for criminal activity. This type of belief system leads people to be deceived into thinking that God will no longer judge people for their sins. In Matthew 25, Jesus explains the parable of the sheep and the goats. Once the sheep and the goats are separated, the sheep will enter heaven and the goats will be eternally punished. (Sheep and goats are symbolic of those who trust in Christ and those who don't).
  One more 'gospel' I hear is this one; 'Just believe'. Or 'you have to have faith'. Sometimes, this is expanded upon. The person explaining this will say something like, 'You are strong.' They might say, 'Your faith will get you through'. The problem with this is it doesn't explain what the object of the faith is. Sometimes, it sounds like wishful thinking. God is the object of our faith. If faith is the object of our faith, then we are in real trouble! It sounds a little like wishing upon a star! Faith is a gift from God. God does not reward us because we have worked up enough faith to get what we want. The Lord is the One who works, although He uses our faith in Him. He is pleased when we trust Him in spite of everything else that opposes our faith. But faith in our faith (or how much faith we have) will not get us anywhere. 
   So here are a couple of the gospels that are out there. You can see that they don't line up with what the Bible teaches. There is a little bit of truth in each one of these 'gospels' but other things are added to make them not true. God is not all-forgiving except for the person who repents and turns from his or her sins and completely trusts in Jesus for their salvation. If Jesus were on earth today, He would not go into the prisons and let the prisoners out as an act of showing His forgiveness toward people, and no matter how much wishful thinking we have for something, God only honors faith and trust in Him. He will work out the details of our lives and He will give us faith for each day to live for His glory, not to get things that we want. 
   So there are many gospels out there. In Paul's day, there were many gospels out there. But there is only one true and correct Gospel. The one that tells us the 'Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. And that He was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.' and 'There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' Also, 'He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who doesn't believe in the Son of God does not have eternal life, but the wrath of God abides on him.' These truths, and many more in the Scriptures, don't agree with the many gospels that are out there. Let's be like the Bereans and learn what the Scriptures say, so that when we encounter a false gospel, we will know. And we will be able to help others who are in darkness about the truth of the Gospel message.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Truth Without Grace or Grace Without Truth Equals Disaster

  I had a friend who came up with a very profound thought that goes something like this; Truth without grace = legalism, Grace without truth = lawlessness, but, Truth plus Grace = Liberty.
  We all strive for the right kind of balance, but it seems like we can never get it just right. We either have too much of one ingredient or of the other ingredient. Much of what we end up with stems from our reaction to what we see in the lives of the people we know in the church, who are called, 'Christians'.
  For example, we see people who live such an organized Christian life, that there is no life there. We hear of people proudly announcing that 'We don't drink. We are Christians', as the waitress offers the menu for Happy Hour that is going on. I have personally experienced hostility in my life, as we went to a juvenile delinquent center to minister to the teens there. I brought my electric guitar (not sure why. I didn't even know how to play it!) and I really can't remember all that we did that night, but, some people in the church had a hard time with it because of my electric guitar. Years ago, I received tract samples in the mail, as I think I researched every tract company I could find and wanted to find the best out there (I was around 17 or 18 then). I had one tract that actually said on the front, 'To Wear or Not To Wear The Bow tie'. The tract explained why it was wrong for men to wear a bow tie. I am not sure how wearing a bow tie is an indication of what is going on in our heart! This kind of thinking can cause bondage. This is legalism at its finest!
   Today, we have so much technology available to us, and it is easy to find out how people think and what they are doing. We have songs on the Christian radio station that tell us to go to the person who is hurting and tell him he is a child of the King. We now have songs telling us that we can live as kings and queens. Really, if those songs are written for Christians who are going through a difficult time in their lives, they could be somewhat helpful. But if I see a homeless man on the street going through a difficult time, do I have the freedom to tell him he is a child of the King? What if he has never heard the Gospel? I would be lying to him then.
   I gave a tract to a man who was a salesman in a store. He recognized the tract and thought highly of it. He indicated to me that everyone should read it. As I started to ask him questions, I found out that he was living with his girlfriend. What is wrong with this picture? In this case, we have grace without truth. There are so called churches with leaders who teach that it doesn't matter what we do once we are saved, because Jesus died for all our sins. It doesn't require repentance, and it doesn't cost us anything. God's love is so great for us that we can even continue in sin and His grace will forgive us instantly.
   There is a Christian musical artist who appears to believe like this. The problem is, I don't think that most Christians can separate these kinds of 'Christians' from what the Bible actually tells us. The reason I believe this is true, is because I hear what people have to say about this artist. People have a high admiration of her as they look forward to her new album coming out. They look at her as a role model for Christian women. This Christian artist started out with a fear of people thinking of her as a 'female Billy Graham' and she made sure that everyone would know that she could kiss and flirt with guys. This woman has made innuendoes of sexual liberty with men, and even though she appears to be family minded, committed adultery against her husband and demanded a divorce and married the guy she was having an affair with. How can someone do these things and still sing songs about God's holiness? Here is what I think possibly happened; When this woman was growing up, she was raised in a type of church that didn't believe in using musical instruments. I have heard what this denomination believes about musical instruments, which basically says that no one in the New Testament used musical instruments, therefore we are wrong to use them. The Old Testament days were a different time period and they were allowed back then. Do you see how by taking verses out of context, we can create our own doctrines and miss the whole point of something very important. This particular denomination is legalistic in their musical views. That brings bondage to people who are gifted musically. As you think about this whole doctrine, you can see how absurd it is. I believe this musical artist may have seen the fallacy of this way of thinking, since she was in this denomination growing up. People usually go in the opposite direction when they see something absurd like this. So, instead of adapting to legalistic thinking, she probably went into lawlessness. That's understandable, but it is just as wrong as being legalistic. Both legalism and lawlessness bring bondage.
   The only way to liberty is to have both truth and grace. We can have the truth and know it so well, but still miss the grace of God. The truth applies to all of us. We are all sinners who need to be saved from our sins. The only provision made for our sins is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We need repentance and faith to respond to the Gospel effectively. This is applied to us by God's grace working in us.
   We need to be recipients of God's grace first. When we understand the truth, we apply it to our lives by the grace of God. When we have done that adequately, we can be gracious toward others, and give them the truth of God. The grace of God will not be effective if we don't understand the truth though. This is how we can be set free. We can be free from the bondage of sin. We can have the power to live out the truth of God in our own lives. We can give away what has been given to us. Grace and truth must work together to produce the freedom we need to have in order to be free from the bondage of sin. Remember, it is more than just being forgiven of our sins. It is also being set free from the power of sin. That is what grace does with truth in our lives. We need both, not just one or the other.