Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Monday, August 26, 2013

Continued Thoughts on Pelagianism

   While I write this, I am aware that there may really be no such word as 'Pelagianism' but this is the best way to describe what I am thinking. Nor do I want to pick on any group of people to put them down. That is not the point of why I am writing this.
   I like writing blog pages because it helps me to 'think out loud'. If I am disturbed about something, I can write it down and share it with others. As I go through Facebook messages, I do become disturbed. Many reasons for this, but, one is that I have been sheltered from the Greater Christian World until I got into evangelical forums and then, on Facebook. I am amazed to see the slander, especially on Facebook, that Christians commit against each other. I also see a lot of people put into a bad light, when I think the original intention is to expose false Bible teachers. I feel bad for some of those people because God could be drawing them to Christ, yet, they are called names and 'warned' by Christians to avoid them.
   While I know this goes on continually, I know that we are to separate the truth from the lies. We are to be discerning. We are to take things people say, and analyze them in the light of God's word. We can do that in a way that is not so destructive though, and that is what I intend to do with Pelagianism.
  I am not an expert on Pelagianism, but I have seen posts from those on Facebook concerning what they believe in. As I try to evaluate what I think it is they are trying to communicate, I see a group of people who, have certain emphasis on Biblical themes, yet there are parts missing. For instance, they are big on being 'bold' in preaching the Gospel, but, their definition of bold sounds similar to being harsh or rude. They will use examples of Jesus talking to the Scribes and Pharisees, or, John the Baptist preaching repentance to people. But Jesus talking to the Pharisees is much different than His talking to the woman at the well, or even His own disciples. Remember, some of the Pharisees actually committed the unpardonable sin. We are not talking about the run-of-the-mill, everyday, sinner here. Jesus responded differently to different sinners. All of us have sinned, but this issue is the heart. If we have hearts of rebellion against God, God will resist us. God was gracious to tax collectors and prostitutes and they were the recipients of His salvation.
   As I thought about this over the weekend, one word came to mind. It is what I think is missing in the Pelagian doctrine. Mercy. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek those who are lost. He desires mercy, not sacrifice.
   In Luke 18, we see two different people compared. One is a Pharisee and the other is a tax collector. The Pharisee was grateful that he wasn't like the tax collector or other 'sinners'. But the only thing the tax collector could do was to ask God for mercy. Remember, the Pharisees were morally exceptional, at least outwardly. Inwardly though, they were resistant to God.
   The only people who need God's mercy are sinners. Salvation is a gift from God to sinners. God delights in providing salvation for sinners, when they repent and trust in Jesus. I don't want to speculate too much, and I could be wrong, but I think Pelagians believe that people have a choice of whether they will sin or not. They believe that you can choose not to sin. Yes, there really are times when a person can outwardly choose not to sin. You can choose to not kill your next door neighbor. You can choose to not take up drinking or drugs. You can choose to not commit adultery if you are married. But your heart can be in a very different place than your decision to not sin. You might have chosen to be faithful in marriage, but struggle with porn and lustful thinking (at least in your mind). You might not be an alcoholic, but still struggle with trying to cover the pain. Maybe you compensate by overeating or by cutting. You might even take pride in the fact that you never killed someone, but, you know deep down inside there is a person that you wish were dead, or, that something bad would happen to, because the situation you find yourself in with this person is unfair. You were ripped off and want justice!
   We are only responsible for our own sins. Our sins come from our hearts. Sin is the fabric of what we are made up of. While at the same time, we have been created in God's image, sin has marred that image and God is dishonored in us because of sin. Pelagians don't believe in original sin. It makes it hard for them to look at their own hearts because the only sins they understand are the outward ones. If they could look at their own hearts, they would be asking God for mercy and help. They come down hard on other people who are sinners, much like the Pharisee in Luke 18 did to the tax collector. That is because they do not see themselves as sinners, because they believe sin is a choice they make, and since they haven't chosen to sin, they aren't sinners. But again, we go back to mercy. We all need God's mercy because we all have sinned against a Holy God. God specializes in mercy. But if we don't think we need it, then we have to ask ourselves if Jesus really died for us. If we really aren't sinners, then I guess we don't need the Cross and we can get to God because we can choose whether we sin or not. Since the choice is always ours to sin or not, then we had better always choose to not sin. Are you up to the task?

Friday, August 23, 2013

What is Missing in Pelagianism?

  I'm trying to figure out what my problem is in that there are Christians, especially in the evangelical circles that I'm in, that seem to be missing something. I could never figure out what that something was until now, at least in part.
  I know that there are different degrees and convictions Christians have as far as their methods go in evangelism and ministry, and I know that none of us has the full picture, but what is it that seems to be missing.
  One thing I figured out, was that this group that I don't understand is made up of Pelgian believers. By Pelagian, I mean that they hold to the doctrine of Pelagius, an opposer of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Pelagians do not have the same doctrine of sin as the Reformed Calvinist does. Pelagians believe that people are not born with sinful hearts. People choose to sin verses people being born in sin, being slaves to sin. This matters greatly for if people choose to sin, then they can choose to not sin as well. Whether we sin or not, it is totally our choice. 
   Another thing I have noticed in these people is a lack of understanding God's love. I'm sure they believe it exists, because it is in the Bible, but they will not teach on it, primarily because if God loves us, then we can do whatever we want and still go to heaven. What does the Bible say? Should we sin more so we can receive more of God's grace? God forbid.
   There also is a lack of understanding of the incarnation of Christ. The Bible tells us that 'He (Jesus) became sin, who knew no sin...', yet, I think I hear these people making sure that God and sin are always separated. Yes, I agree, God cannot be where sin is. It is impossible and He has no choice but to punish it. That is exactly why He sent His Son to die for us. Not only did He die for us, He became sin (the most repulsive thing to God) for us. He didn't just go near sin, He became it. 
   God went through a lot of trouble and sacrifice to send His only Son to us so that we could be forgiven and set free from sin. It's not like God resenting saving us, nor is it hard for God to save us. What we forget so easily is that God delights to save us. He is glorified in our salvation. There is a reference to God as being called, 'The Hound of Heaven' as He goes after us to find us and save us. Oh, that's right, this is Calvinism at its finest. You won't hear that from Pelagian preachers. They will tell you that God hates your sin, and imply that God hates you as well, unless you repent (notice how much emphasis is put on what 'you' do). 
   Here is a verse that Pelagians might not be familiar with:

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
  I listened to one of the preachers who critiqued Casting Crown's song, 'Jesus Friend of Sinners'. I love the song, although it is not 100% doctrinally correct, I'm sure. I found this message interesting as the preacher explained things from a limited perspective rather than seeing the whole picture. For example, he believes that a Christian should just preach open air. No object lessons needed. Jesus never used them. But if you read the Scriptures, Jesus always used object lessons. This man talked about the word 'boldness' meaning harshness. He went on to use Jesus' communication with the Scribes and Pharisees as an example of how we should communicate with people. He further used this example of indicating that Jesus wasn't a friend of sinners because of the way Jesus treated the Pharisees. The preacher missed the boat. There is a big difference in the way Jesus treated the Pharisees and the way He treated everyone else. In fact, the religious leaders of Jesus' day are going to be judged worse than Tyre and Sidon. But Jesus continued to serve the everyday people, up until He was crucified by them. 
  The verses in James where James says to the people he is addressing, 'Do not be friends with the world. Whoever is a friend of the world is the enemy of God'. This is easy to understand. But this preacher explained that this type of friendship is the same type of friendship that Jesus had with sinners (according to Casting Crowns). Jesus really was a friend of sinners. At the same time, He never participated in their sins, nor were they His closest friends. 
   I have a variety of relationships with people at different levels. Some people I am very close to. Others are more of acquaintance type relationships. I can be friends with sinful people, but I am not going to participate in their sinful activities. People in the world build relationships with others because it benefits them. But, in the kingdom of God, there is a bigger picture of friendships. We develop friendships with people because we are going to bring Christ to them. If we have any other goal than that one, we need to check our hearts and let God show us our motives. We are not our own anymore. But God has given us new hearts, and new desires, and new goals. 
    Yes, Jesus was a friend of sinners. Yes, God loves us and wants us to be saved. Yes, we are to hate sin and not participate in it thinking its ok to, because God is all-forgiving. 
   Finally, there is a verse in the song that says, '...the sword is not ours to wield...'. We are to use the sword as a weapon in our spiritual warfare against the devil, the flesh, and the world. If we are not careful, we can do great harm by using the word of God against people. The sword is a powerful weapon and it is ours to use properly. We have no right bullying people around with the word of God. But, they believe that they have the right to do this. They come down hard on people. Do they not realize that they are the outcast? They were the lost cause? When they see that woman wearing a short skirt and outright call her a bad name, does that represent God well? (This actually happened on a college campus).
   It's like a vicious cycle. Any of us can fall into it if we are not careful. Pelagians do not see themselves as people deliberately sinning, so they are not going to check for pride in their hearts because they don't think its there. That means they can pick the specks out of people's eyes, but totally deny any logs in their own eyes. How sad that is. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Balloon

  I was thinking about spiritual warfare today, and came up with the idea of illustrating the way the devil attacks like a blown up balloon, available to be popped.
   Balloons seem to hold a fascination for kids. You could buy an expensive toy and a balloon, and they would probably prefer the balloon. You can also attach tracts to balloons and fill them with helium, then send them off! You never know where they will end up.
   No one likes it when a balloon pops though! Ouch, that was loud!
   I believe you can put Scotch tape around a balloon and you could put a sharp object through the Scotch tape and it will not pop. You could completely surround the balloon with Scotch tape and you would have a totally secure balloon that won't pop. The problem is though, that it is impossible to completely cover a balloon with Scotch tape. There will be some exposed area, that we probably won't see.
  We are to be fully clad with the Armor of God as illustrated in Ephesians 6. If there are any places that are left uncovered, oops, pop! No, the devil will send arrows though. He will only be able to get into the places that are left unguarded. He has eyes that will be able to find those places that aren't covered. His darts come in the way of temptation to sin. Of course, the sins we will be tempted to do are not the ones which are obvious to us. They will be sins that won't be obvious to us.
   How many times have we seen a pastor fall into sin. How could this happen? It happens when we have unguarded places in our spiritual armor. That's why we are to be on guard when it comes to temptations to sin. We could fall too, and bring dishonor to God as well.
   I have to think of the story of Ahab. He was a king of Israel, but was very prideful. The day for battle came. He had his armor on, but the enemy sent his arrow to kill him. The arrow just happened to hit Ahab between the armor and the breast plate. There was one vulnerable place, and the arrow happened to land there.
   The devil will find that one vulnerable place that we don't see and isn't covered. We can pray for God to show us where we would be vulnerable. Read through Ephesians chapter six to find out about the spiritual armor we are to have on.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our Christianity is Revealed By How We Live Out Our Lives, Not By What We Know

     Why do we tip waitresses in restaurants? Because our Christianity affects our whole being, not just what we do. It is not ‘what’ we know, but it is ‘who’ we know. It is not about being ‘right’ but about being ‘made right’ with God. If we are selfish people, (and we all are) we will not be grateful to God or to others. It will reflect on our attitude about generosity and how we treat other people.
   The Bible tells us to ‘love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength’. It also tells us to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’. We justify this by saying that we express our love for our neighbor by sharing the Gospel. While that is admirable, in one respect, would we still love that neighbor and serve that neighbor with the strength God gives us in other areas?
   I think back on Nicky Cruz, a child born into a family who practiced witchcraft and violence. Somehow, in God’s mysterious ways of working, Nicky ended up in NYC and encountered David Wilkerson, who showed God’s patient love toward this man. Nicky came to know the Lord eventually and has a wonderful testimony of God’s power and grace. http://blip.tv/bibletruth-ministries/the-nicky-cruz-testimony-3683317
  I’m concerned for us today, as I read things people write on Facebook and blogs. We have people who call out ‘repentance’ on the streets. Many of these people come down hard on people who are in sin. When those people come into our church buildings, we turn them away and call them ‘false converts’ because they haven’t truly ‘repented’.
   First, do people need to repent? Yes, the Bible is very clear on this. But people who are stuck in sin can’t repent, that is, unless there is someone to walk them through the process of being freed from their sins. Until we learn to love and accept people as human beings, we won’t stick with them until they repent. We will be like the Pharisee Jesus talked about in Luke 18.
   Our love for God is demonstrated in the way we love other people. If we don’t really love other people, we can’t really say we love God. It’s as simple as that.
   So, if you really want to reach people for Christ, you really have to love God first, then you will be filled with the love of Christ, and then people will have genuine conversions.
   I will write more on this later….

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why Do Children Leave The Church When They Grow Up?

Why do kids who are raised in Christian homes miss the Gospel, so many times? Why is the percentage of children who leave the church when they become adults so high?
I will only talk about one possibility, but there are many, so the reason for children departing from the church as young adults could be from a variety of causes.
  The one possibility is that the parents don’t have the clear Gospel message themselves. This is just one possibility. So, if you have children who have strayed from the truth, yet you know you are born again and raised them in a good atmosphere, don’t take on guilt that doesn’t belong there, and don’t believe lies from the Enemy telling you that you aren’t really a Christian, for if you were, your children would be following the Lord. This could happen to the best of us, and it does. I might be mistaken on this, but I believe Jonathan Edwards had a wayward child. One of his descendants might have been Aaron Burr. If this is a situation like yours, you aren’t alone, but, I am trying to look at a problem, and zero in on one particular reason that could be the cause of children losing interest in the things of God.
  The reason I am focusing on this aspect is simply because I have listened to many people who come from Christian environments and as I listen, I don’t hear the Gospel in anything they say, nor do I see the affects of the grace of God which comes with the Gospel in a person’s life.
   If you were to go in a public setting and talk to people about the Gospel message, and you were to ask them questions about God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin, Jesus, death, eternity, etc., you would find a variety of different things that were being said. You could ask them if they consider themselves to be a good person, and they would probably say ‘yes’. They would probably admit to breaking some of the Commandments, but they would say that doesn’t make them a bad person. But some will admit to breaking them and not being a good person, but still will not see the seriousness of their sin. Many of them are quick to say that God is all forgiving and many of these people even will tell you that Jesus died for their sins, yet they are still vague in their understanding of the Gospel.
   Some people assume that because they were brought up in a church environment that they are Christians. They identify with ‘Christians’ and would even have some convictions about God and their relationship with Him. But, again, many of these people fail to bear the fruit of a genuine Christian. They have some correct head knowledge, but don’t appear to have a relationship with the true and living God, who is causing them to be convicted of sin and repent. You may even find these people using language that indicates they are trying to be good or do things to please God. You will find many of these people in our mainstream denominations.
  And lastly, there are people who would consider themselves Christians, who really don’t understand the character or nature of God. This will affect their whole understanding of the Gospel. For example, there are sayings about God that aren’t based upon Scripture, but upon someone’s clever ideas about what they think God is like. One saying goes like this; “Since God cannot be everywhere, he created grandmothers.” What is this quote saying? The author either believes God isn’t everywhere, or is trying to come up with a ‘cute’ saying that will be put on plaques in homes of grandmothers everywhere. This author either doesn’t understand God or doesn’t fear God and is trying to make money off his quote. Sadly this plaque ends up in homes of professing Christians in America today.
   Professing Christians of old have designated sin as ‘playing cards, going to movie theaters, smoking, drinking, cussing and dancing'. In other words, sin is relegated to doing certain activities. The Bible doesn’t describe sin that way though. Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, and it is expressed in our lives by our living self-centered lives, loving ourselves first, not loving others, and ignoring God. The only cure is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but He also died in order for us to be changed by God’s grace. We can become new creatures in Christ. But most professing Christians, I believe, are ignorant of that fact. Not only will they suffer, but their children will suffer too. They are professing to believe in a particular thing, but in reality they believe (trust) in something else altogether. They are false converts and their children know that something isn’t right. Either their understanding of sin is incorrect or their understanding of God is off. Possibly both.
  I think we can hide our sins for a little while, but eventually people will see them. This is why Jesus came down hard on hypocrisy. And this is one possibility why our children aren’t coming to know the Lord by the time they are adults. Do they see dad and mom struggling with sin and being honest about their struggles or do they see mom and dad putting on a front so people think they are something that they are not? Are mom and dad putting a standard up for their children to reach, but not teaching them that only with God’s power we can live a holy life pleasing to Him? Do we have expectations for our children that we can’t even reach, or do we ask our children to do things that we aren’t even doing?
   Children see through things very well. They seem to have an eye for hypocrisy. But people who don’t know the Gospel aren’t hypocrites, are they? If they call themselves Christians, then they are putting forth an image of themselves that they want others to believe about them. If they are professing Christians who think they are saved by good works, then they will believe Christians are good people. They may be doing some good things, but their sinful hearts are still going to be shining forth for others to see. If they are professing Christians who are trusting in Jesus Christ and who realize their sin and are dealing with their own sins in humility, then they are representing Christianity based upon Scriptures. Children appreciate humility. Parents might not have all the answers to their children’s questions, but they can relate to their children with honesty and humility. They can help their children work through their sin issues, because they are working through their own sin issues.
   So, this concludes one reason why children leave the church as soon as they become adults and lose interest in the things of God. There was never the interest in the first place. But, we can still remedy this dilemma. The church can really be made up of people who have repented of their sins and come to Christ. These people are ‘born again’ and are learning to live a new life in a new way. Just because there is hypocrisy, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t reality in God. The Bible says that we will find God when we search for Him with all our hearts. If we truly search for God and when we allow Him to change our hearts, I believe our children will be affected. And that is what we pray for.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

God Knows Everything

   For some people, this would be a 'duh' title for a blog. I tend to forget that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding who God is. There are many characteristics that God has that people don't have. God never had a beginning. God is the only true Creator. God is everywhere at all times. And God knows everything, not only what has happened in the past, but what will happen in the future. This is where some people disagree. Some Christian teachers would say that God cannot know the future because it hasn't happened yet. But, remember God is in eternity, not only in time, and He is not like people in His limitations.
   If God didn't know the future, we would be in trouble. The book of Revelation wouldn't mean anything to us, neither would all the prophecies that had been made in the Bible that came to pass. But God does know everything, and we can take heart in that fact, if we know Him.
   God knows what you are thinking, right now. He knows what you will be doing in 10 years from today. He knows the day you will die. In fact, He has that all planned out already (see Psalm 139).
   God is also sovereign, and has a plan for everything that happens to those who belong to Him. He orders our steps. He works out details for us as we live out our lives for His glory.
   Be careful not to try to limit who God is because you can't understand the characteristic. I can't understand how something doesn't have a limit. I always thought of the Universe as a big giant box like place that contains God, but, God is bigger than the universe. In fact, whatever you imagine in size, God is bigger than that and outside of that object's size. In fact, I can't imagine something that doesn't have a boundary. But whether I can understand that or not, it doesn't matter. God is God, and I cannot comprehend  Him. That is ok. We still trust Him because He is trustworthy. He promises to take care of us whether we understand Him or not.
   But perhaps you don't know Him yet. Maybe you have never come to the place where you have repented of your sin and turned to Him. Here is a web site that can help you understand the Gospel: http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com   or you can go to http://test4gp.wordpress.com  . A Gospel page for children is http://thecolorfulstory.blogspot.com  .

Friday, August 2, 2013

Would The Devil Try To Eradicate The Human Race?

  I know this might seem like a stretch, but stick with me as I go through this thought process. Let me lay the foundation first of why I believe the devil wants all human beings eradicated. If we go back to Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 15, we can read the words God spoke to the devil right after the devil deceived Eve and tricked her into eating the forbidden fruit, plunging the whole world into the darkness and slavery of sin. "I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”" ESV
If we go to the book of Revelation, we see the end of the rule of Satan, and what becomes of him and his followers. Yes, the devil will come to an end, but, God is going to use human beings to accomplish His goal in defeating Satan. So, obviously, Satan hates human beings and would love for each one to perish. He wants to be able to rule forever, but it won't happen, because God is all supreme and has chosen to use human beings to accomplish His plan.
   This might not sound like anything that has to do with the devil directly, but, be assured, he is still at work too. My opinion is that he would like to destroy the whole human race, and one of the ways he could do that is by starving us to death. How is that being accomplished today?
   One way, of course, is to see how abortion has become a legalized method of birth control. Babies are chopped up inside of their mothers and the 'doctors' can legally get away with murder. Today, if the baby is born and lives outside of the womb, he or she cannot be killed, or the law will consider it murder, but if the baby is killed inside of the womb, somehow the law doesn't consider it murder. Same baby. Different location.
   But here's another way the devil tries to destroy the human race. We have give him a large foothold in our country, by developing philosophies that we enjoy, but violate God's character. For example, we learn early in life to pursue pleasure and to take the easy way out of problems. We also learn to use whatever situations are most convenient for us. So, when it comes to cooking, we go for food already prepared for us. I'm not saying its wrong to eat out, or to buy dinner from a deli, but we depend on it way too much. In fact, the farming industry has caught on and now we have industrialized farms, which produce tasty food with uniform characteristics nationwide, but with very little nutritional value. We assume that the farmers of these industrialized farms know what's best, and we don't think twice about what they are doing, until we watch a documentary like Food, Inc.
   Farmers are surprised when the law steps in and closes their farms down, or fines them for not complying with the laws that were made in recent years, to promote industrialized farming. Farms, as we know them (or knew them) are going to become a thing of the past if everything takes its course the way this country is going right now. If we don't have real food, we aren't going to live very long.
   Here is what I wrote on a blog this morning. I will post it here. See what you think. Do you see any correlations between this and the power behind our food industry that, unless stopped, will end up starving the people in the country, if not killing us first.
  "I think this is happening because the church hasn't been on guard for the last 50 years or so. Authorities have come in and made the rules while no one was watching. The rules that were made do not consider the future health of Americans. Today we are suffering as a result of our ignorance, but its not too late to turn the tide back again.
So far, I have heard of people who are gluten intolerant, are allergic to eggs, or cannot tolerate milk. I have to wonder why people who are gluten intolerant can go to another country and eat bread without any problems. I also wonder if people are allergic to eggs because of the food that the chickens are fed (grains?). And I have to wonder if people cannot tolerate milk today, because of what has been done to the cow supplying the milk (growth hormones, anti-biotics, grain based feed) and the process of homogenization and pasteurization. What do you think?"
  We have people in Big Ag (industrialized farming supported by the government) that will fight to keep fluoride in our water. All the things that we started off as a country doing have been completely undone. The amazing thing is, that other countries don't do these things. Other countries don't want GMO products and won't allow them. What is wrong with America? We have been apathetic and our apathy has led us to be ignorant. Now we are paying the price in hospital and medical bills, let alone grieving and suffering over things which should never have happened in the first place.
   As one of my friends said today, "We know what we know... 
We know, what we do not know, but --
we do not know, what we do not know... -- until we get the 'awakening'!!! Sometimes we go to our graves before this knowledge is exposed...
"My people perish for lack of knowledge..." Bonita Slaymaker. Very wise words.