Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pelagian Revisited

I know I have covered this already in another blog, but I think this subject is important to review because I am seeing posts on Facebook from people promoting this doctrine and no many are refuting it, yet, I know there are a lot of people who do not believe in this doctrine.
   I found a web page describing it, and I will post what was written that describes Pelagianism and let you decide what you should think of this. If you have the mind of Christ, it will be easy to decide. If you are disturbed about what you have read here, are you going to study the Scriptures to learn how to refute this doctrine and protect the truth?


When it comes to understanding how God saves, there are three basic options. With an admittedly broad brush, we might label themPelagianism, Arminianism, and Augustinianism.  This first post deals with the first of these options, Pelagianism.
Pelagianism Described
Pelagius, a British monk living in the 4th and 5th centuries, argued that humans are fundamentally good and can choose fellowship with God in their own wisdom and strength. Pelagius denied any effect of Adam’s sin upon his descendants except that of a bad example. Consequently, he argued that the human soul is completely free to choose God or reject him; no special work of divine grace is needed to accomplish salvation. According to Pelagius, we must simply reject sin and seek God in an exercise of our own free will.
Pelagianism Rejected
The Church rejected Pelagianism at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and for good reason. The Bible affirms the doctrine of original sin, the effect of Adam’s sin upon his descendants. We are not born morally good or even neutral before God. We are born sinners, radically corrupted in our natures and justly condemned. Consider these few verses underscoring the dire depravity of the human race:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is pan open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and tthe way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
According to the Bible, we will not and indeed cannot choose God on our own. Pelagianism fails on this point, and is therefore incompatible with Scripture and historic Christian orthodoxy.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998. Print.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Is It Wrong For Christians To Smoke Cigarettes?

   I know this issue is in the hearts of many Christians today. Many have come to Christ and have had radical conversions, only to be left with struggling with addiction to cigarettes.
  Is smoking a sin? How can a person be free from such an addiction? What is it easier for some people to quit than others? What are some good reasons a Christian should quit smoking?
   Human beings are complex. The Bible explains us as being images that were created in God's likeness (image), yet we are living in a fallen state due to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The traits in us that look like God are distorted now. Every person that has been born now expresses independence from God. We call it 'self-autonomy'. We want to be God. We want to call the shots. We want to run our lives and the lives of others. We want to sit on the throne. This is the essence of our sins.
   Not only are we born in sin, but we express sin in our lives every day, because of autonomy (wanting to be God and control things). Some sins we do are passive, while others are acts of rebellion. All of our sins have been dealt with on the Cross of Jesus Christ. But while we still live in a human body, we will still be affected by sin, and will still struggle with sin, even after we come to Christ.
   Smoking is one of those sins that could be part of our lives for different reasons. For many, it started out as pride. We wanted to impress our schoolmates with how cool we were. We wanted to copy the adults and gain the respect and admiration of our teen peers. We didn't realize that, one day, we would be sorry we started smoking, because it would be very hard to break the habit. Some smoke because they believe it helps with stress. Whatever the reason, we are left with an addiction that is hard to break.
   If you are a Christian who smokes, you may wonder if God can forgive you because you light up several times a day. God can forgive any and all sins. God can also break the power of bondage over us. When you came to Christ in repentance and faith, God cleansed your heart with the blood of Jesus Christ and your sins will never be remembered any more. But then, why do we struggle with guilt? Because we know that smoking is wrong. It is not good for our health and it takes a lot of money.
  Do you want to quit smoking? How badly do you want to quit? I believe that if the reasons for quitting are strong enough for you to want to quit, you will be motivated rightly to quit. But if it is not that important to you, you most likely won't quit.
   I see a couple of reasons, although there may be more, why a person who knows Jesus Christ as Savior should quit. First, there is something about being more effective as a witness for the Lord if you don't smoke. I know a man who was a chain smoker, who wanted to evangelize those who worked for him, but felt hindered because of his smoking. He felt somewhat ineffective while he shared the Gospel with them. His desire was strong to quit, but it never happened. But one day, he woke up and had no desire to smoke anymore! He was free from smoking.
   Secondly, the smoking habit takes a lot of money. If we understand that the money we have isn't ours in the first place, we might reconsider the smoking habit. It we look at the numbers, there are a lot of things we can buy, including good food, if we don't have a smoking habit that we have to support. We will give account to God of how we spent the money he allowed us to use.
   Third, smoking is just not good for our health. We all know the statistics. Smoking is harmful and increases our risk of sicknesses. God wants us to be healthy and strong for Him so we can openly live out our lives for His glory. We can't do that if we have lung cancer or have shortness of breath due to smoking.
And the fourth reason is simply because of guilt. We feel guilty when we smoke. Eventually, we get used to it, and ignore our feelings. But deep down inside, we feel guilty. We haven't done a great crime, but we are stealing from God and harming the life He gave us to live out for His glory. We know that. That's why we have guilt.
   There is another reason too, and maybe it encompasses all the other reasons. It is that smoking is slavery. We are a slave to something else, and not to God in that area. In a sense, the cigarette is our god. So, it is also a form of idolatry. It will keep us from experiencing the wonderful things God has for us.
   I guess, the way you could look at smoking is this; Do I want to be free from the smoking addiction or am I content to stay here? I have heard that smoking stunts your growth. I wonder if it stunts our spiritual growth as well. If we are in debt to something, we usually want to get out from it. We don't want to be a servant to whoever we borrowed from. Smoking is like that. We are enslaved to the cigarette. But we can be free, I believe. God can break the habit for us. But even more, God wants our hearts. We have to have a good enough reason to want to be free from addiction. If the reason is strong enough in our hearts, we can wrestle with God and cry out to Him for deliverance. We might have to pray for days or weeks, but if we are desperate enough, God can change us. And if we are not desperate enough, we can ask God to make us desperate. Our only hope is in God to break the chains of addiction for us.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Two Different Groups of People in Hell

    As I read the Bible, there are always interesting things I find. I was reading today in Revelation 16, about the judgment bowls of God toward people on earth. God was punishing those who rejected Him and the angels were pouring bowls of wrath on these people. They were in so much pain. But their response was not to turn to God for help! Instead, they continued to blaspheme His name! The harder things got, the more angry they were at God. (I am not going to print this section of the Bible in order to not take up too much space. But you can read about this in Revelation 16).
   But there is another group of people who are in hell. You can read about this group in Luke chapter 16. What happened was, a rich man was a king, and was very selfish. He had a beggar who was nearby in proximity to where he lived. This rich man would give the beggar crumbs from the table. The beggar was sick and couldn't provide for himself. Instead of the rich man helping the man get well in order to help him to get back onto his feet, he only gave him leftovers from the table. I'm sure that if the rich man himself, or some close family member were sick, they would be treated immediately by using the rich man's resources. Well, the rich man died and ended up in hell. He wondered why he was there. He wanted to escape. He asked Father Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers from their fate.
   You might think that it is unfair that the rich man ended up in hell simply because he neglected the poor. But his sin went much deeper than that. His neglecting the poor was a symptom of his heart. The rich man's heart did not love God, and as a result, his heart did not love other people.
   We have an American understanding of love. We think that love is gooey feelings toward someone or something, but love isn't that at all. Love is wanting the best for someone else (the object of our love) even at the cost of loving ourselves. 1 Corinthians 13 describes love very well.
   The Bible commands us to love one another. The Bible also commands us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can't do this though until we receive a new heart. We won't receive a new heart until we are born again. When we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins, and turn to God, we receive a new heart. The rich man in Luke 16 did not repent and turn to God. Perhaps no one told him that he was a sinful person that needed to be saved from his sins. Whatever happened, he seemed surprised to be in hell. I wonder if he would have considered repenting if someone would have shared the Gospel with him. At least if he had heard, he would not have been surprised that he were there.
   Both groups were in torment. Both groups were under God's judgement. One group continued to hate God. The other group (the rich man) seemed more reasonable. My question is, are there people around us who will end up in hell because no one told them the Gospel. Will they be surprised and wonder why they weren't warned? I think we all know people who are so angry and hateful toward God, that when they end up in hell, it really won't be a surprise to them. They will be angry throughout eternity as if their anger will somehow be stronger than God's power of them and they are thinking that if they are angry enough, they will rise out of hell. But if the devil will be in torment forever and ever, with no chance of escape, certainly people will not have a chance to leave either.
   So, my thought is simple. People need to hear the Gospel message. It is our responsibility to tell them. We are not responsible for their response to the Gospel. Proclaiming the Gospel should come from the overflow of God living in us. Jesus promises He will be with us and will give us the Holy Spirit to empower us to be His witnesses. Remember that 'You have never met a mere mortal' (C.S. Lewis). Every person has a soul which will live in one of two places throughout eternity. May God fill us with His love and send us out with the precious message of the Gospel.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are You Being Targeted?

   We were talking in home group last week and someone mentioned something very interesting. He said that when we come to Christ, it's like we got a target on our backs. We have become a target for the devil to throw arrows at! Are you ready?
   But what does this all imply? The devil hates God, and the devil hates people. His goal is to keep people blinded to the truth. He seems pretty successful at doing that too. But if a person becomes enlightened, and they see their need for a Savior for their sins before a holy God, and they respond to this holy God, then they become a target for the devil automatically.
   If you have come to Christ and are born again, the day you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as the payment for your sins, The angels rejoiced! There was joy in heaven. But there was one angel that didn't rejoice. In fact, there were a group of angels that were very unhappy. Ever since that time, you became a target for them to tempt you with sin, so you will fall, or at least be discouraged or not believe what God says. But, now you are born again and you have new eyes. That is good news! But, you also became involved in a spiritual battle, whether you knew it or not. You are a soldier in the Kingdom of God. God's word tells us of the spiritual weapons we will need to put on to fight in this battle. Most Christians have no idea of this. Many become casualties. Let me explain.
    Sometimes people come to Christ and really want to be forgiven and delivered from their sins. They repent and trust in Christ, but they don't understand that they are now engaged in a spiritual battle. A week later, they are discouraged about being a Christian and have doubts. A couple of weeks later, they are turned off because they don't think that God is real, simply because they fell back into sin. What happened?
    People are complex beings. Although salvation in itself is really not complex, there are many things that are complex when mixed with sinful humanity. Unless a person has someone to disciple them, they may go back into the world. They don't want to, but they think either they have failed God or God has failed them, or both. By default, we think that when we come to Christ, we will live happily ever after. This is a lie from the devil to confuse you. When we are in Christ, we have the 'joy of the Lord' in us. But there will be new problems that we didn't have before. We will have to be taught how to wear the spiritual armor of God to ward off the attacks of the Enemy of our souls. This is why it is important to know that there are no 'lone ranger' Christians. Lone ranger Christians are vulnerable to the attacks and lies of the Enemy. Let me explain further.
   When you came to Christ, you repented of your sins. But, you will still be tempted to sin. If you conclude that you won't sin anymore because Christ lives in you, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that you have to give into sin. That is not what I am saying. What I believe is that we need to bring people to Christ, but we need to stay with them, at least for a while, until they can be ready to do spiritual warfare themselves.
  Satan's biggest weapon against us is to get us to sin. Temptation is not wrong in itself. But the devil knows that when a person sins, it sets that person against God. Here's the catcher; The devil will tempt a person in areas that he or she will not see. We all see sins in our friends and family members, but it is hard for us to see the sin in our own hearts. That is why Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that we are to take the log out of our own eyes. If we don't, then it will be hypocrisy when we try to help others to see their sin.
   This is also a reason why I personally believe in homeschooling. Homeschooling gives us the unique opportunity to work with our children so that they will be equipped to go out into the world. We have to disciple our children. I wish I would have understood this better when my children were younger. I had reasons that were valid for homeschooling, but this aspect is more important. And I am not saying that everyone has to homeschool either. If there are ways to prepare your children and equip them in spiritual warfare, then go for it. What concerns me though is when parents do not choose to homeschool because they say that they don't want to overprotect their children and their children need to be a light in the world and community. Do you think an elementary age child can fight off temptations like those that he or she would see in the classroom? Would a child this age be able to stand up for what is right when other students and teachers are doing wrong? How would a child handle a situation like something that happened in our country. A teacher had Jesus' name written on a piece of paper and the students were to stomp on the papers. Would a child be ready to handle the conflict that would go on in a situation like that? Unless a child has been trained and equipped to fight in this battle, he is not ready to be in it. Our job is to train them, not to throw them into the battlefield. We are living in a time when things like this story above will be happening more and more. Are you ready? Are your children ready?
   So the bottom line is, all of us need discipleship. We need relationships. We need one another, and we need to be part of a church that teaches God's word in truth and expresses the grace of God. I am aware that there are many, many churches out there, and that many of them do not teach God's word accurately. If you are going to a church like that, then don't continue. Pray for God to lead you. Do a search. Study the word. Know what it says. You need to become grounded in the word to protect yourself from the lies of the devil.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is The Internet A Place Where Faith Grows or Is It A Place Where Folly Blossoms?

   I'm sure I have written on this in some other form already, or at least I have alluded to it. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others can be very beneficial for the glory of God. We can use these forms of media to communicate Truth. Truth can go around the world in a second.
  I have shared the Gospel in places that can't really be reached with the Gospel message, for a variety of different reasons. I have met Christians in other parts of the world who pray for me and for whom I get to pray and be part of their ministries. I get to share in their joys and their sorrows. I can pray for them during the difficult hours.
  I can order Bibles for people in other countries over the Internet. I can order tracts to give out to people in America and provide Bibles for them by ordering over the Internet. But best of all, I can post messages on my blogs or on Facebook that are based on Scripture. Do we realize what a privilege this is? Do we value God's word for what it is worth, or do we regard Scriptures as a 'necessary evil' so to speak? (I'm not implying that we think the Bible is evil here.) Do we look at the truth of Scriptures in a similar way as I used to look at buying clothes for the coming up school year (boring, but necessary)?
  Someone posted a message on Facebook that asked a good question. The question was, 'If you were paid to read God's word every day, would you read it more often?' If we are reading God's word because we 'have to', then we are missing something very important.
  Here is what is so important: Faith! Here's how it works: We hear God's word. When God's word is activated in us by the Holy Spirit, faith develops. We know some Scriptures on faith like, 'without faith, it is impossible to please God', or 'By grace you have been saved through faith'. But do we realize that faith is a weapon to protect us from the attacks of the devil? It is a spiritual weapon listed in Ephesians 6. Faith is not some kind of magical thing we get if we believe something hard enough. It is a supernatural working of God in our hearts. When we did deeper into the word of God, and we actually digest the word of God, many doubts are resolved and we are able to, more easily, trust in God. The devil would like nothing more than to lie to us (he does this continually) but if we know the word of God, if it becomes part of us, faith develops, and we see the lies and tricks of the Enemy of our souls much more quickly (discernment). (By the word 'know' I am not referring to memorizing Scripture, although that is fine to do if you don't trust in that itself for spiritual help).
   Finally, Facebook Twitter, and all the others can become a tool of Satan to destroy the church. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him, the day you came to know Him, you became a target for the devil to attack. The devil hates God. The devil hates you. The devil hates people. And the devil hates, with a passion, the church (the body of believers in Jesus Christ. The family of God). The devil will pound you with lies. You are going to have to know when the devil lies to you and you will have to know what God's word really says. The devil is tricky and will not give you lies that are obvious to you. They will look like the truth. It's up to you to be vigilant and study the word of God. Digest it. Live and bask in it. It is your the main defense you have against the Enemy of your soul. Not only that, but the devil is working hard, and I am sad to report, that he is being somewhat successful in dividing up the body of Christ through the Internet. There have been blogs written, newspaper articles printed, Facebook and Twitter posts, that have destroyed people. Instead of building up the body of Christ, many Christians are tearing it down. We spend so much time picking out people we don't agree with doctrinally, and plastering messages that these people are heretics or false teachers. Don't get me wrong. We need to point out wrong doctrine that can be harmful. But do we really have to spend so much time criticizing these people? Couldn't we spend that amount of time putting out the word of God and promoting God's greatness, along with spreading the Gospel? I think this is something for us all to ponder and in the future, revisit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are We Living Out Our Lives or Are We Putting On An Act?

  Are we living out our lives or are we putting on an act? Good question. I had thought about this very thing when I first came to Christ. Unfortunately, I didn't have much discipleship at the age of 17, and came to some very strange conclusions.
  My first encounter with this was when I came to Christ and wanted to share the Gospel with others. I didn't really know how to do that, but my heart was right. I shared what little I knew about the Gospel, and encountered objections I had no idea even existed.
  So, that brings me to the question of 'how should I act around these lost people that I want to share the Gospel with'? I concluded that I had to be careful of everything I said and did, for I wanted to portray whatever a Christian was supposed to look like. Should I reject a glass of wine with the family? Should I rebuke whatever comes on the television set? Should I say certain things that will make me look like a Christian? What should I do? How should this be different than my everyday life?
   The answer to the first question lies in the last question of the last paragraph. I should act just like I do every day. I don't need to put on an act. I don't need to be something I am not. The reason I found it so confusing was because I didn't realize that being a Christian was not something you put on when other people are around. It is a life to be lived alone or around other people by the power of God, controlled by the love of God. We don't have to put on an act to make ourselves look more 'Christian' when others are around.
   The Bible talks about Christians as being 'conformed to the image of Christ'. That is what the world needs to see. The Bible also talks about being controlled by the love of Christ. A mark of a true Christian is love. Not the kind of love the world has though. It is a sacrificial love. It is different from the world. That is how people are going to know we are true believers in Jesus Christ. That is the mark that separates us from everyone else.