Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Many Call God a "Bully" Because Of His Judgments On Earth and Mankind, But Why?

  The Reason why people get upset with God calling the shots, is simply because we tend to believe that man is the measure of all things.

   Recently, I was talking with a young man who didn't think it was fair that God would punish people who believed in other religions. Tonight, I talked with a woman who hinted out the idea that God was a bully, simply because God killed the firstborn sons in the Egyptian families during the night of the Passover.

   I keep mulling statements like these over and over again in my mind. I try to make sense of them and see what the people who make such statements are trying to say. But I fail to understand what they mean.

  The reason is simple. My starting point is different than theirs. Their starting point is based upon a belief system that says, 'man is the measure of all things'. That means, that out of all living beings that exist, man is the highest and gets to call the shots. If a person thinks that man is the measure of all things (the standard), if God is thrown in the picture, then God is subject to man. God is not all-powerful and certainly is unloving. This idea creates a weak God.

   Either God is the standard for everything or man is. If God doesn't exist, then man has to be at the top of the pole. But, what if God does exist? What if He is who He says He is in His word? Then man is not the measure of all things, and God is not a bully.

   It is hard to believe that people really do believe that 'man is the measure of all things', but many really do believe this lie. Their eyes are blinded to the true and living God. That is the reason we bring the light of the Gospel to them. Where there is light, the darkness disappears.

Sadly, our culture believes and teaches that man is the measure of all things. It teaches us that we evolved over billions of years and we finally reached the point of full humanity by the process of natural selection. Evolution is a theory which is made upon other theories. People don't even have to take a course in evolution to learn it. It is a commonly believed in fallacy that many have fallen prey to.

  We either start with the truth of who God is, or, we based our lives on the crumbling philosophies of the world. If we understand who God is, then we can rest in the fact that evolution is not true, and that there is a higher being whom we can turn to in repentance and faith. We all have to decide what our starting point will be. Whatever we choose to believe in will affect our eternal welfare.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why So Many False Converts In The Church Harms The Gospel Message

Ever wonder why non-believers complain about hypocrites being in the church and using that as an excuse to not respond to the Gospel?

I have.

As I thought about this recently, I have a little insight. Although we all understand that no one can come to God by his or her own will, but the person can only come if God is drawing him or her to Himself, God can still create a searching heart in someone. He will do this in order for the person to search Him out and put his or her trust in the Savior.

I think people really are looking for reality. At least, some are. But what happens when a non-believer meets a professing Christian living in sin? The professing Christian is demonstrating a false Gospel.

Take, for example, a professing Christian who has loose morals. Let's say that he or she proudly talks about how God is all-loving and all-forgiving. The person may even make references to Christ or give God credit for doing a miracle in their life or answering prayer. But what if the person is still living in sin, and not concerned about dealing with his or her own sin?

Living in sin, while professing to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior is an oxymoron. Jesus did not die to allow us to stay in sin. He died so that we could be free from sin. We don't have to sleep around anymore. We don't have to try to manipulate others to get what we want. We don't have to take things that don't belong to us. God will help us with our anger problem. But if people profess Christ while continuing in sin, without even blinking an eye at their sin, something is seriously wrong.

That is a false Gospel. There is no reality in it. It basically says that Jesus is not powerful enough to help people out of their sin and all the ramifications that their sin brings to their lives. Who would want that kind of a Savior? A Savior who is truly God does not leave people in their sins, and at the same time give them a free pass to heaven. It is a powerless Gospel. It is a false Gospel. It misleads people because it misrepresents salvation and the Savior.

The Bible says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The true Gospel is the only one that provides remedy for our sins. If we try to tell people about a Savior from sin, while we are still operating in our fleshly desires, people will not see God for who He is. They will see an idol who may or may not be able to take care of them. This idol may or may not be able to remedy their sin problem and this false god will not provide true forgiveness for sins. A new heart and the power of the Holy Spirit are not given to people who believe this erroneous Gospel.

When Jesus died on the Cross, that death was powerful enough to not only cleanse us from sin, but also it is powerful enough to set us free from living lives in sin. Jesus broke the power of sin.

So, if you see anyone who is out there telling about an all-forgiving, all-loving God that is ok with our sin, you are seeing a person who has a false Gospel. It is possible that the person is in ignorance and needs correct teaching and discipleship. Also, some have reacted against legalism and want others to make sure that they are not promoting a Gospel of works, therefore going to the other end of the spectrum, which is lawlessness.

Whatever the reason is, if we don't come to Jesus in repentance and faith, we will end up being a false convert and deceived into thinking that we are on our way to heaven when in reality, we aren't. The best way to combat this is to make sure we deal with our own sin first, then present the Gospel to others so they will know how they can be forgiven and set free from the power of sin. We want to communicate the power of God to a lost a dying world. We want to communicate a powerful Savior to a lost and dying world. We want to communicate a powerful Gospel to this world which is in utter darkness and needs to be set free.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  Romans 6:15-18

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Does Attacking People Groups Work In Representing Christ?

What is the best way to reach people with the Gospel? Many are skeptics. A lot are Catholics. Many, many are nominal Christians, at best. Some know the Gospel worded perfectly, but something is missing. Some are Muslims, while others are Jews. How do we reach them best?

According to the modern church, which professes Christianity, the best way seems to be to attack people groups, like Mormons, JWs, Catholics, and Seventh Day Adventists. But does attacking a group make the people in the group want to come to Christ?

Many are in denominations or groups because they were born into these groups. Take for example, Islam. If a person is born into an Islamic family, that person will likely stay Islam the rest of his or her life, simply because they have no reason to leave (that they are aware of) and belonging to Islam is part of their heritage. If they left Islam, they would lose part of their culture as well as their identity. So, how are they best reached for the Gospel?

The reason I am writing this is because I am on the Internet a lot and see what people are doing in order to try to 'reach' them with the Gospel. Reaching them, might be a stretch. Perhaps they have no intention of reaching these people groups with the Gospel. I don't know. I only know what I am reading.

Here is something that I believe is not right, and I doubt that it will work. There are people who stand outside a Catholic church, for example, and give out prepared tracts telling people why Catholicism is wrong. I don't know why these people don't just give out Gospel tracts to the people instead. Do you think people who come out of a Catholic church are going to eagerly read a tract telling them what is wrong with the Catholic church? Does this show kindness and respect for others?

I like what Ray Comfort does in this type of situation. He asks the question, "How do you share the Gospel with a Muslim?' or "How do you share the Gospel with a homosexual?" Whatever group he names, the answer is the same. The Gospel is the same for all.

You don't point a person to Christ by telling him or her what is wrong with their religion. You demonstrate Christ to them and declare the Gospel to them. Put yourself in their place. Let's say they never heard the Gospel before, and they come from a large denominational church. Pointing out to them the things wrong with their church will not bring them to Christ. Would you want someone coming up to you telling you the things wrong in your life? Would you listen to that person or would you become defensive because they were attacking something that is part of you?

We minister the Gospel to people. After they come to Christ, then God will help them separate the truth from the lies. This takes time. This is where we have to be careful. We try to do the work of the Holy Spirit in people's hearts. On top of that, we don't understand that God patiently works in all of our hearts, and we are not patient with people. Also, keep in mind that many professing Christians have incorrect ideas about what is right doctrine or wrong doctrine. For example, some believers do not believe in infant baptism. Others believe that infant baptism is part of a covenant. If we split hairs over this issue, we are going to end up dividing the Body of Christ. We are the division makers.

There are some professing Christians who have a very narrow understand/belief system of what makes up a true Christian, and therefore we have many who are preaching to other Christian groups and resorting to name calling and derogatory actions. Friends, this should never happen in the body of Christ. We have to agree to disagree.

The way we reach people with the Gospel is not by telling them what is wrong with the church they are part of (or whatever the group that they are in is). We lovingly, minister the Gospel to all. We teach people what God says about our sin. We teach people who God is and what He is like. We teach people that they are accountable to God, and we teach people what God has done to take care of our sin problem.

The way to reach people is not by attacking them or putting them down. The Bible says that others will know we are Christians by our love, not by our arrogance. Whenever we point out the wrong in others, we are being arrogant (I am not saying we should not stand up for the truth, especially when it is being challenged or violated). It would be a whole other topic for another day to talk about standing up for the truth. But I am afraid that we have not put our pride away, and that we, at times, are trying to do God's work in a person's heart. Instead of presenting the truth to the person, and leaving the work of the heart to God, we try to reach the person or group by attacking them and eventually humiliating them. Somehow, we feel like this is our responsibility. That is sad.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

God Is Not A Religion

I think it is interesting that many people think of God as just one of many religions. Many think that because there are so many religions in the world, no one can know which one is right, if there is only one that is right.

A few of the religions are Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Do we have to take those and try to figure out which one is the right one? Do all of them have a road that leads to heaven? What if there is something that can lead us to God, but it is not a religion? Would we be open to it?

God is not a religion. He is a supernatural being. He is the One who created us. Today people believe that man is the measure of all things. In other words, man is the highest being that exists. We got that way  because through the evolution process, we gradually became what we are today. We didn't stay like monkeys. We developed into highly intelligent beings that can make all kinds of decisions and create many things.

I saw something the other days indicating that man was on the upward progress of things. It made a statement of how bad we used to be, with wars, fighting, etc. and they showed pictures of how mankind was making progress toward peace, indicating that man is continuing to become better perfected through the continual process of evolution. I guess whoever did the video isn't seeing the whole picture though. If you look around the world today, it is not getting more and more peaceful and civilized. It is beginning to crumble because of the corruption of our sin. We are again going toward the type of beings we were in Genesis 6 when people were so corrupt that God destroyed the earth.

Man is not becoming better. Civilizations are not getting better. If we are not careful, our civilization will crumble right under our feet.

But, man wants to think he is the top of the pack. In spite of that, many are trying to find peace and fulfillment through a religion. But, the outcome is always the same. Religion doesn't change a person's heart. It just gives people something constructive to do while they think they are earning a way to get to heaven, if heaven really does exist.

If man thinks he is at the top of the pole, then there is no God over him. Because God has set eternity in our hearts, there is something deep down in us that wants more than just what is offered by mankind. But we can't quite figure out what that is. Religions are devised. Sometimes, authority is abused in these religions, and people want to stay away from anything 'religious'. Manipulation comes into play (think about Jehovah's Witnesses banging on your door). Leaders of religious groups tell people that they can't leave their group, and if they do, or if they try, there will be serious consequences. Some leaders end up getting arrested for fraudulent activity, while others are never caught, but people are victimized because of their actions.

So, when you talk to people about the Gospel and they accuse you of shoving religion down their throats, the reasons above could be the reason why they are opposing you and falsely accusing you. I recently had such a discussion with a group of people on the Internet. Someone put out a post that had to do with Planned Parenthood. A few people commented. I mentioned that the post and the problems that were being brought about because of abortion was really a heart issue. Well, I was suddenly accused of pushing religion down the throats of the people. Interesting how just making a statement ends up being an action of 'shoving God down our throats'.

Anyway, the point is, religion is dead works. It is a group with a set of religious beliefs and probably beliefs in a higher power of some sort and how we are to relate to this higher power. Some religions use the Bible. Many use it out of context to fit their belief system, and possibly to take advantage of other people who are in ignorance. Even nominal Christianity is dead. It is like a person belongs to a group with other people who hold a religious belief, but that belief system does not change their heart or give them the power to live a life that glorifies God. Religion keeps us in bondage to ourselves. It does not set us free to love God and to know Him more.

 But knowing God is a different story. We were made to have a relationship with God, not a membership in a religious group. No matter how well we keep the standard of the doctrines of the religious group, we can never please God on our own. We have to have a Savior from sin. We need a new heart. Religion can't do that. Religion cannot give us the power to say 'no' to sin and 'yes' to righteousness. Only a right relationship with God, through His Son Jesus Christ, can provide us with the way to know God.

There is only one way to heaven. There is no religion that is right. Only God is right. He has revealed Himself to us through His word. We can debate about the Scriptures all we want to, but they either truly are God's word or they aren't. People argue about the Bible not being authentic. I would like to know if they have actually sat down and studied what it says, or if it is just wishful thinking on their parts because they do not like what it says.

Either Jesus really spoke the words of life or He didn't. What kind of harm can it do if we actually read what the Scriptures say and let it apply to our hearts? If a person is so convinced that the Bible is a fraud, then why is he reluctant to actually sit down and look at what it says?

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." It is either true or false. If it is true, then we need to listen to the rest of what Jesus says. If it is not true, then we can still be free to read the Scriptures and at least know what we are talking about if we are trying to disprove the Bible as being God's word.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How Would You Respond If A Shooter Came Into Your Church Building On Sunday Morning?

I had often wondered if this would ever happen in our church, or in any church today in America. What would we do if someone came in unnoticed, carrying a gun, and during the message demands all those who truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to stand up to be shot? What would you do? What would I do?

   Something like this took place this week in the state of Oregon, only it was not a Sunday morning church meeting. The shooter demanded answers from the students he was planning to shoot. If they were 'Christians', he informed them that that was good because they would go to be with the Lord in a few seconds. Then he shot them. Others who had some type of religion got shot in the foot.

  I'm sure those students were totally taken by surprise. While this is a tragic event, and we hope that it is not a continuing trend, something interesting is coming out of it.

   Today, there are many professing Christians who are on the fence, so to speak. I would say, probably a majority of professing Christians think it is o.k. to continue living in sin. They would tell you that they believe in Jesus Christ and are ready for heaven if they die, while they sleep around and live deceitful lives. We are not talking about professing Christians who are struggling with sin. We are talking about Christians who embrace sin, and at the same time, say they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. What's missing?

   In the case of those in the above paragraph, they are missing the point of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died for our sins, and rose again the 3rd day, and that whoever puts his or her trust in Him, will be saved. To believe or trust in Jesus means that a person would have to repent of their sin. They would have to turn to God, and God would be the center of their lives, not themselves anymore. They would have to realize that sin is our enemy, not our friend. It is a trick of the devil to keep us away from God, and it is the lie of the devil to keep us under God's wrath and in darkness.

    But consider this; There are churches filled with professing Christians who say it is o.k. to have an abortion. At the abortion clinics, many there profess to believe in Jesus Christ. Even the workers pray for those who are going to be going through the procedure, and the workers encourage them to go through with the abortion because that is what God wants. Many who go for an abortion complain to the sidewalk counselors and say that they are not allowed to 'judge' them.

    But here is my question; Let's say, a church thinks abortions are a good idea. They may even take a stand for it or have people in their congregation who are influential. What if a shooter came into their midst and asked them to raise their hands if they were true believers in Jesus Christ, with the intention of shooting them?

   I think the shooting incident earlier in the week will do two things at the same time. I think it will define who truly is a Christian and who isn't. Those who love sin and hold onto sin will either repent at the last minute and stand up for their faith in Christ, or they will back off and continue in sin. Those who know the Lord will be more prepared for this kind of event, although we hope that it doesn't happen again.

   I have seen many people on Facebook openly making a profession of faith since the shooting incident. This is good. Those who genuinely don't have faith and have no intention of turning to the Lord will not make a bold stand.

   I would find it interesting to see how these false Christians will respond to actions like the shooting incident. I wonder if this will cause some of them to wake up and take a stand for Christ, or, if it will cause them to try to make their false pretenses even stronger. Either way, the dividing line will be more clear. And that is a good thing.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Reason Why Sin Is So Successful And False Gospels Are Prevalent Today

I was reminded of the present condition of our country in the spiritual realm, a couple of days ago, when I was interacting with some young people about the Gospel.

   I was very saddened because I could tell that these young adults did not have a clue of what the Gospel was, nor did they know anything about the 'fear of the Lord'. They mocked God and laughed at the Scriptural points I was making. They truly did not fear God in any way, shape, or form. What went wrong? When did it go wrong?

   What went wrong had been what was going on wrong since the middle of the 19th century. The church somehow lost its hold on the Gospel message and the main focus of the church was diminished. It is hard to say when things happened, or whether things happened suddenly or over a long period of time. Or both.

  For example, according to what I learned in Biblical counseling, during the mid 1800s, the church began refusing to help those who were disturbed mentally. Eventually, the world created psychology and psychiatry because of that. Those who needed help in the world, never got it from the church. The church has always been the institution for helping people who needed counsel until that point.

   During this time period, the church was made up of rich people, middle class people, and the poor. Many who were poor got sick. Those who were wealthy and able to take better care of their bodies rejected those who were sick by saying that the cause of their sickness was due to sin in their lives. No wonder the church has gotten a bad name. Those who were poor were the ones who were sick more often then those who were able to buy good, nourishing food and have proper medicine when needed.

   During the turn of the century, the beginning of the 20th century, according to Ray Comfort, the church began watering down the message of the Gospel. This was probably done in order to allow the number of church members to grow. The message of the Gospel, in it's hardness to receive, was being renovated to accommodate those in the world and bring them in.

   Today, we have a rash of preachers trying to make the Scriptures applicable and practical for everyone to have and use for whatever the need may be. That way, everyone can use the Scriptures, not just those who know the Lord. We can have our best lives now. We can be winners in this life. Basically, what we can do is form God into an idol, and if we learn how to push the right buttons, God will give us what we want.

   Is it any wonder that people think the Bible is a book of fairy tales? There is no conviction of sin, nor is there any power from God in many of the false gospels we have being taught to us today.

   There are two big errors today in modern Christian thinking. One is, that a person can believe in Jesus, have all their sins forgiven, and do whatever they want to do. Could this be a reaction to the traditional, legalistic professing Christians we have today? The other error is that of believing we are really able to be good enough to receive eternal life. All we have to do is be intentional and we can do it. I think this is the message that the Pope tried to bring to us. The big problem with this is really simple to understand. None of us is capable of being good enough before God. We are all way too selfish. We all have some good points here and there and we focus on those, but we forget how far away from God we really are, and how sinful and selfish we are.

   In order for people to see the Gospel, and ultimately want to respond to God, there must be both a demonstration of the Gospel and a declaration of the Gospel. Those who preach the Gospel need to be effected by the Gospel themselves. Many do have a demonstration of the Gospel, but never give a declaration of it, while others seem to be declaring it, but their lives show very little, if any, evidence of a powerful God who has saved them.

 So, it begins with us being changed by God's power, and then declaring to others what God has done for us. That opens the door for sharing the Gospel. When we are all sharing the Gospel, the effects of that action will change the hearts of many, and I believe it would even change the spiritual landscape of our country. We can only give away what we have received? And if we have received from God spiritually, we should be giving that away to others.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16 ESV

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What Does It Mean To 'Leave Everything Behind'?

  I'm trying to come up with a clear cut way to help people understand what the true meaning of repentance is, and what it means to leave everything behind. We know that repentance isn't just saying a prayer asking God to forgive you of your sins, although that action could be involved in the act of repentance. We have seen many, many people asking God to forgive them of their sins, yet, they turn around and continue to practice these same sins. These people sadly are 'happily on their way to hell'.

  Another thing we have tried to avoid is to make repentance sound like a work that a person has to do in order to receive salvation. From what the Bible says, we also know that repentance is necessary, if a person is to truly be converted.

   Repentance basically means to have a change of mind. We have to be careful here, because we know that having a change of mind does not necessarily result in having a change in our hearts. We can believe all the facts of the Bible as being true, yet still miss heaven.

   Maybe another way to help us understand repentance would be the act of 'leaving everything behind'. Although that is not in itself the act of repentance, I would think repentance involves leaving everything behind.

   Of course, we don't want to make that into a form of a good work that can enable us to achieve heaven. Some people are very pious and have taken a vow of poverty. It is hard to say whether a person who has done this action really understands repentance. There may be valid reasons for taking a vow of poverty, but earning salvation is not one of them.

   So, with that in mind, here is an example of what came to my mind this morning, concerning leaving everything behind:
   Think of a woman who grew up in a rich home. Her parents had wealth. She had plenty of clothes, food, toys, music, cars, etc. She never lacked or wanted for anything while she was growing up. Any medical care she needed, was available to her. She is indeed very blessed.
   When she is in her early 20s, she meets a man, and they fall in love. They decide, over a period of time, that they want to marry. There is a big problem though. The man makes very little money. It would be very little for them to live on, let alone when they have children.
   But they really love each other. Should this woman marry this man, knowing that she will never have the goods that she had growing up? Or, should she stay with her family until she is old, and have anything her heart would desire? If she marries this man, she will leave behind all the possibilities of having wealth and everything that goes with being rich. She will not have money to buy nice clothing anymore. She will not have money to buy a new car (or even a good used one) if her car breaks down. They might never even live in a house. What about medical care? Would she be able to continue to pay for the medical prescriptions she desperately needs?
   Will she leave her wealth behind for this man, or, will she choose to stay with her family, and live off the provisions she had all her life?

   I know this is a made up story and there are a lot of unfinished details that can be added. The point is simple though. We have to leave the world's goods behind us in order to receive the Pearl of Great Price. We don't 'stop sinning' so that we can go to heaven one day. But, we leave our lives of sin, whatever those sins are, to be part of another kingdom. We can't live a lifestyle of sleeping around and believe in our hearts that God is ok with that. If that is how we live our lives, we have to let that go in order to receive the kingdom of God.

   What about good things though? There are even good things we have to leave behind. Why? Because they are idols to us, even though we might not think so. Remember when Jesus was explaining how hard it was for rich people to enter the kingdom of God? Those who have wealth and material blessings will have a harder time letting go of their wealth than those who are poor. When you have something, it is hard to give it up. Whatever you give it up for, must be of highest importance.

    Jesus continued to explain that there is no one who has left house, wife, parents, children or brothers, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more, in this life, and in the life to come , eternal life (see Luke 18:28-30).

  In John chapter 8, we read about the woman who was caught in adultery. She was brought to Jesus by some self-righteous people in order to try to trick Jesus. They wanted to see how He would work through this one. And they found out. They brought the woman to Jesus because she was caught in the act of adultery and according to their law, she needed to be stoned to death. After they brought the woman to Jesus, He wrote in the sand, then, He asked the people there to throw the first stone, if they were without sin. No one was able to do that, so eventually, they all left. When the accusers were all gone, Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were. He also told her that He doesn't condemn her, but listen to the very last words He spoke to her: "Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin". He was telling her to repent. Some versions say 'Go and sin no more'.

   What was the woman required to leave behind? Her life of sin. What are we required to leave behind? Our lives of sin. We leave our lives of sin behind, and we walk in the newness of life.

   Repentance isn't saying that you believe in Jesus, but you can do whatever you want. Repentance involves letting go, or leaving behind, our sins, and our idols. We must let go of anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.

  Finally, what are we feeding on and holding onto? In Isaiah, we read about where the Israelites were feeding upon ashes and in their right hand, they were holding onto a lie. God was dealing with the Israelites about their idolatry. They were being fed the lies of the Enemy of their souls, and they were holding onto those lies, in their right hand. We are no different today. We hold onto many things that we think will make us happy and successful. Do we realize though, that these things get in the way of our relationship with God?

"He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”  Isaiah 44:20 ESV