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alan's blog 2015
The Murderous God of the Bible? Pt. 2
Continued from Part 1...
Now one could say, well, what about stories in the Bible where it appears justice was “swift,” so how could you say, God does not want to destroy lives rashly. Jesus is the express image of God and we get an exact picture of God by looking at Jesus. (Hebrews 1:3) There is an example in Jesus ministry (Luke 9:51-56) where the disciples were angry that a certain city did not receive them or their message and they asked the Lord if He wanted them to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Jesus’ response is telling. Jesus told them they did not know what “manner of spirit” they were of! Wow! I thought God wanted immediate retribution to all “disobedient” people? No, this is a picture some have taken from the Scripture because they pull Scripture out of context and forget that hundreds of years flank stories. If anything, God truly is and continues to be as the Scripture reveals, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy (Psalm 145:8).
What does that example show us? It shows us that Elijah’s response to those seeking him was not the heart of God! There were other attitudes motivating Elijah’s actions. Then why did God honor Elijah’s call for fire? The way Elijah’s phrased the question really left God no other option, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men” (2 Kings 1:12). God was not dealing with nations around Elijah in this instance, He was dealing with His own people who KNEW the law and were in open rebellion to it. The Lord, based on the law, was justified in wiping out the whole nation of Israel for their lawlessness but in this case we saw 102 guys get licked up by fire. Is God murderous for honoring his prophet’s question? Not based on the definition of murder. Think about it, what hindered God from wiping these military men out BEFORE coming into contact with Elijah? Absolutely nothing and yet God spared judgment up until their encounter with Elijah. It was only after they approached God’s man and in such a way as to mock Elijah’s God that the Lord passed judgment. Notice the third band of military men approached Elijah with a way different tone after seeing the first two bands wiped out. They approached God with humility and their lives were spared (2 Kings 1:13). What’s going on here? This is an example like so many examples in the Old Testament where we neither know the thoughts and intents of the hearts of those who are killed. Based on the law, the killing of ALL men by God or His chosen agent is morally justified because ALL men have sinned and the wages of that sin is death (Romans 3:23), but God does not mete out judgment on a whim. Therefore, Elijah’s story shows us that the death of those 102 military men was justified in that God knew something about their hearts that we are not informed about.
Obviously Jesus showed us that Elijah was not operating by the Lord’s standard when judging the wicked but was Elijah justified in calling judgment on guilty men? He sure was and God was justified in answering. Again, this went against God’s heart, but judgment day comes to all and in the case of the third fifty of military men, mercy was shown them because they asked for it.
I think most Biblically literate and rational people can see justification in killing human beings who are guilty of breaking God’s law, notwithstanding the laws of the land. However, people stumble over stories like Ananias and Sapphira because of this age of Grace that Jesus ushered in with His death, burial and resurrection that it just seems out of place that the Lord would strike down two of His “own” for telling a fib.
Of course, there is much more to Ananias and Sapphira than what we are told in the Scripture, otherwise the Lord would have been unjust in killing them. The story as told in Acts 5 only tells us they died, but does not say the Lord killed them. Now I think it’s safe and fair to say the Lord had something to do with it as it seems quite curious that after being caught in their lie to God (which is against God’s commandment of not lying) that they both die. The question then becomes, is God guilty of murder in this instance? It seems so “unjust” that for what many would consider a “white” lie that such a severe punishment was meted out.
There’s so much to say here, but again we are using human understanding to extrapolate what was going on in the heart. Notice that before the flood, the Lord revealed that the earth was not only filled with wickedness and violence but the thoughts of men were only always evil (Genesis 6:5). This is where the Judge (God) is in a better position to make a judgment call. In other words, we only see that Ananias and Sapphira lied, but we do not see the thoughts and intents of their heart. Apparently, the Word of God sliced right through the thoughts and intents of their hearts and the end result was a seemingly swift penalty (Hebrews 4:12). However, if the Lord treated Ananias and Sapphira in the same fashion as His pattern throughout recorded history then we could safely say that this apparent “swift” justice may not have been so swift. In other words, Ananias and Sapphira were conspiring. There was wickedness happening way before the actual lie and God only knows all the other sin in their life that was hearkening death to their doorstep. One may argue, well, if they were “born-again” then their sins were forgiven, but then that is a big “if.”
The point is, you do not know the ins and outs of what lead up to judgment being passed right then and right there and neither do I, but we do not impugn God with murder when murder itself violates His own Word. God is not going to say, “Do not murder” and then turn around and violate it. The Bible says that God upholds “all things by the Word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). This means that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God lying would mean that everything would explode. The Scripture also teaches that God has subjected Himself to His very own Word, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (Psalm 138:2). This simply means if God says something, He will not violate His own Word just because He is God. You may lie. You may say one thing and do another, but God does not. He means what He says and says what He means (1 Timothy 2:13). God does no evil nor is He tempted by it (James 1:13) and there is no darkness in Him, or variableness, or shadow of turning (1 John 1:5). All this is to say that if there appears to be some sort of discrepancy in how God dealt with a particular human or thousands of humans and His own laws, then we is simply do not see the full picture. God has not murdered anyone, at any time, ever, in human history; nor will He.
Now did He kill people? Yes. Did He tell others to kill people? Yes. But every example will show either a direct repercussion for law breaking and whatever gaps one may feel exist between the killing and the reason for it mean nothing except that we were not made aware of the “court” of law that either required judgment or indicated that the killing was just. Someone might say, well, you are just “covering” for God. Ha! NO! First, God does not need a defender. He literally can do whatever He wants according to His own Word, so that not even God acts arbitrarily, He acts in accordance with His righteousness. This righteousness may not be understand by some because they do not accept God’s moral authority, but His righteousness trumps any so called “injustice” you may perceive in a Bible story.
About the only area I think a person may have an argument would be when the Scriptures inform us that the Lord commanded His people to wipe out whole groups of people, including the children. These types of stories might give one pause because there does not seem to be any law violations happening to warrant such a sentence and therefore it would appear God is a “murderer.” Well again, we have to go back to what defines murder? Murder always involves some LAW being broken. Although one could argue that the children of these people groups did not break any laws, one cannot argue the standards by which the Lord operates.
Let me explain. Go back to the flood. Were there any children killed in that event? Yes, probably millions. What laws did they break? None! But technically no written laws even existed and yet God still judged their wickedness. The point is, just because God did not reveal the exact nature of laws broken, the violence and wickedness needed recompense. Laws in heaven were being broken regardless if those laws were written in stone at the time. Let’s say for a moment God chose to spare the human race at the time and not bring the flood. What do you supposed would have happened to those once “innocent” children? Well, the obvious answer is (without outside intervention) that they would have grown up to be as wicked or more than their predecessors. In fact, human nature has shown that men tend toward greater wickedness generation to generation, not more holiness… again, without intervention. You see, in those days, no one could be “born-again” and therefore experience a transformation that would turn the wickedness of those societies around. There was no “cure” at the time for the wickedness pent up in the heart of man and so the only way to deal with the wickedness was to put a stop to it. One could say that it was not “fair” that the antediluvian kids did not get the chance to be guilty of their own sin before being destroyed in the flood but then you would have missed the point. There was no chance these kids would have been any better than their parents, in fact, God was having mercy on them and future generations by wiping them out when He did so as to spare them the agony they would one day perpetrate on one another.
Continue to Part 3.
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
The Murderous God of the Bible? Pt. 1
I was recently bantering with someone about a particular post on Facebook addressing Islamic Terrorism. The person was not defending terroristic behavior but made it a point to include an anti-Bible website that supposedly showed how the God of the Bible condoned murder and so the grander point appeared to be, “Who are we as Christians to condemn the actions of Militant Islamists when it appears our own God is a murderous thug?”
This website pointed to dozens of examples where either God killed people and/or instructed the children of Israel to kill people and/or stood by while those speaking in His name killed others, including women and children, or how God killed people for “stupid” reasons as in the case of the 42 youths that were mauled by a bear after mocking Elisha (2 Kings 2:23-24). Most of the website’s examples came from the Old Testament, particularly in the days of the Law of Moses. The website also included one New Testament example where Peter supposedly killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts Chapter 5. I really had to laugh at that one as it really showed such a lack of understanding of Scripture that it was embarrassing. Apparently, however, the author has a bone to pick with the God of the Bible and Christianity, so any attack will do no matter how ignorant or disingenuous.
Does the person hosting the content on the Website have a point? Is the God of the Bible the same sadistic murderous thug that apparently constitutes Allah? Is there any real difference or is it all the same and therefore no one really has any moral authority to condemn Islamic butchery when the Judeo-Christian Scriptures paint such a “murderous” picture?
Wow, where do I start? It’s tough writing these things because you could go in a million directions yet you want to stay on topic, so I guess the first order of business would be to discuss a little bit about the difference between killing people and murdering people. Even in secular culture, it is recognized that killing a person is not the same as murdering a person. In other words, there is context surrounding the actions that gives each term definition. Example, if someone was threatening my life and, in self-defense, I ended up killing the aggressor, then the courts of law would acquit me. Although I “killed” someone, I certainly did not “murder” someone. The website seems to make no distinction and basically insinuates, all death, by any person or “God” is a murder regardless of the circumstances surrounding the case. Whenever we are judging any action of another we must always use the reasonable person standard and not just make blanket statements about all situations.
Think about it like this, a jury of reasonable people, after hearing all the facts and being shown evidence of intent will then weigh those facts against the outcome to determine if a person is guilty of murder or voluntary/involuntary man slaughter or self-defense. There are different classifications to “killing” because not all killing qualifies as murder. Murder is very distinct, it is defined as, “the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority” and it comes in the first and second degree. (http://dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1303#ixzz3tnfCrz3v) In other words, someone could be charged with murder in the second degree if they killed in the “heat of passion” and it was not premeditated. Now I do not claim to be a legal expert but the point is that based on common law under the auspices of reasonable people recognize that not all killing is murder even though all murder is killing. This understanding of the difference between how a human life is taken makes all the difference in the world when someone is going to impugn God as a murderous thug on par with ISIS.
Think about it this way. There was NO LAW against murder prior to God giving Moses the law concerning murder and therefore, murder took place quite regularly before God placed a penalty on it. The first son in the Good Book, Cain, murdered his own brother, Abel, and you will notice God did not take Cain’s life in return. In fact, he protected his life from any would-be avenger. Did this mean God condoned Cain’s action, well of course not; in fact, Cain’s punishment was banishment and a curse upon his labors (Genesis 4).
This is a very telling story. The very first murder in the Bible and the Lord did not do to Cain what he required Israel to do to a proven murderer under the law! What’s the deal? How is it in one case the Lord could spare the life of a murderer and in another case kill tens of thousands of people for simply looking into the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6:19-20)? The biggest difference is the fact that, after the Lord gave the law to the Israel, lawbreaking often resulted in immediate and sometimes prolonged death sentences. Is God a murderer for enforcing the Law or for using others to enforce the Law?
Well, let’s go back to Cain and Abel and the results of that first murder. A mere four generations later, Cain’s great-great-great grandson killed someone. It is unclear whether the killing was justified (self-defense) or not as Lamech claimed the other person “hurt” him but what was clear was that Lamech rationalized his action and claimed immunity from reprisal (Genesis 4:23-24). This pattern of murder and violence that Cain started continued for HUNDREDS of years (approx. 1100) while God “allowed” it to take place. It finally got to a place where wickedness FILLED the earth and mankind’s only thought was EVIL continually (Genesis 6:5). Here is a very sad portion of Scripture, the Lord said, “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6). Can you imagine? In 1100 years’ time, man had so thoroughly been corrupted by sin that the Lord said HE would kill everyone off with no intent of ever starting over (thankfully Noah found grace). He had had enough. The earth was so filled with violence that it came time to put a stop to it. No more letting man do whatever he saw was right in his own eyes, it was time to kill the violent, murderous, wicked population of the earth by flooding the earth (Genesis 6).
Unless God is a schizoid, we have a dichotomy. Wickedness and violence filled the earth and so God was going to “fix” it with more “violence.” Ha! We are at a crossroads here, either we accept the fact that God is a bit off His rocker and condemns violence while also embracing it, OR God was and is just to take human life in certain circumstances. In other words, murdering humans is not the same things as killing humans. There is the obvious “Christianese” answer one can give here and that is God is God and He can do whatever He wants, but I prefer the concept that God is a rational and reasonable being who does NOT (I repeat, does NOT) indiscriminately take life without just cause. In other words, we did not see the “trial” in heaven, but no doubt the enemy was on the witness stand accusing the world before God, saying, “Look at this world you’ve made and the people you have created. They are the antithesis of Your divine nature and they have broken your laws!” We must understand that just because God had mercy on man for hundreds of years before bringing the flood, a day of reckoning had to come otherwise God could be accused of being unjust (Hence the accuser constantly accuses). Justice DEMANDS payment and in the antediluvian world, payday was coming. Is God unjust for requiring payment for the violence perpetrated by people on one another throughout the world? Of course not! No rational human being in our day would say it is unjust to punish the evil doer. Apparently people struggle with God meting out justice and have therefore accused Him of being a murderous thug — as we would describe someone who takes a life with intent and malice aforethought and having no legal authority to do so.
A rational person would have to say that the flood was actually the opposite of murder. Did God take life? Yes. But was there malice? No. In fact, grief and sorrow filled His heart because of all the wickedness and justice needing to be served. Was there legal authority to take those lives? Absolutely! He is the law giver and His righteousness was being violated in epic proportions in the antediluvian world. People have a skewed view of God and see Him as this vengeful Being who wants to punish sin at the drop of a hat when actually His actions would prove otherwise.
Continue to Part 2.
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Wimpy Jesus Syndrome (Part 3 of 3)
(Continued from Part 2)
Everyone else has come out of the closet; it is time for believers to come out of the closet! Where are all the lions? Where are all watchmen? Where the heck are all the preachers taking on the issues of our day and casting down the arguments and bringing every one of those demonic thoughts captive? I’m not talking about a few preachers, as there are great preachers engaging, but I’m talking every so called preacher/pastor in pulpits across the nation. Where are their voices on social media? Where are their voices in the political arena? Why don’t they unite to dismantle every argument mounted against God’s people in some cohesive fashion? Instead whole denominations have been taken over by demonic thinking and have fully embraced any and every whim of sinful man. How pathetic.
I can hear believers now who may be reading this. “I just think we should just love people and not saying anything that may offend them.” Well, then you can’t really obey Jesus because He and His message are offensive. And what do you mean by love? Letting people go to hell because you don’t want to call a sin WRONG? Letting people go to hell because you are afraid of calling a certain line of thinking stupid? You need to go back and read Jesus while He walked the earth. Based on the response of most believers it appears most Christians think the only thing Jesus did was heal a few people and preach love thy neighbor. Oh my! Christians have interpreted that to mean, let your neighbor think and believe anything they want and certainly don’t challenge it because it wouldn’t be “nice.” Nice equals love to most believers. Tell me exactly how “Love” (God Himself) is going to “nicely” turn people away from Himself and let them go to hell for rejecting Jesus? Is there a “lovely” way of doing that? Jesus is LOVE defined, and yet He is going to have to do some hard things because Christians thought LOVE and NICE were synonymous. I’ve met NICE people in all religions and walks of life, but it sure doesn’t make their “religion” right, nor does it make their argument worth its weight in salt.
Of course, this is not to say we should be mean just to be mean. That would be stupid! But don’t let someone continue believing a lie because you are afraid they may not like you anymore. The opposite is so often true. Although the world may hate you for speaking the truth and frankly so will many Christians, at least they can respect someone who has convictions and stands for what is true. The alternative is for the world to “like” you because they think you are “nice” when in reality on the inside you disagree with what they say and do but are too much of a coward to vocalize it. (I’m guessing many are gathering the courage to vocalize their anger at me for even writing all this. Ha!)
Paul called the Galatians STUPID in chapter 3:1 (CEV). The NKJV says “foolish” Galatians. Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.” Job 18:3 and Proverbs 30:2 are two other places where the word STUPID is used in the NKJV. So, if you like “name calling.” At a bare minimum you can call someone stupid and if you think that is “unlovely” and God would never call someone stupid, well, then you are stupid. (Or you can use any of the diverse synonyms like the following: dull, dumb, foolish, futile, ill-advised, irrelevant, laughable, ludicrous, naïve, senseless, shortsighted, simple, trivial, dummy, loser, rash, thick unintelligent, brainless, dazed, deficient, dense, dim, doltish, dopey, gullible, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, imbecilic, inane, indiscreet, insensate, meaningless, mindless, moronic, nonsensical, obtuse, out to lunch, pointless, puerile, simpleminded, slow, sluggish, stolid, stupefied, thick-headed, unthinking, or witless.)
But, if stupid or its variations are not your cup of tea, at minimum you can follow Jesus and John the Baptist and call the appropriate people “brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7, 12:34, 23:33) Or you can pull a Jesus and Apostle John and call people children of the devil (John 8:44, 1 John 3:10). Or you can pull another Jesus and call someone a hypocrite as in Matthew 15:7 and a couple dozen other places including some OT prophets. You can call someone perverse (Luke 9:41) and you can call people dogs like Jesus, Paul and John all did (Mark 7:27, Philippians 3:2, Revelation 22:15). You can call someone a swine like Jesus did in Matthew 7:6 or any other synonym of the above words or any word that describes who they are (ie, theif, homosexual, murderer etc…) Now, I realize we are no longer those things in Christ, however, the words are meant to be descriptive. (Technically a Christian who steals is not a thief; they are a child of God who is acting like a dog as they resort to old ways being a new person.) Christians get incensed when they hear “name calling,” because they feel it’s so unlovely, but the point in all of it is “LOVE” in the flesh called people names and “LOVE” in the flesh only did what He saw His Father do (John 5:19). Love does not equate to never using strong or “colorful” language or what some may deem offensive language. Now, if you are just looking for a reason to be an asshole (pardon me or not) then you’ve got other issues and you’ve missed my point! The point is, we as believers need to stop being afraid of calling inane, nonsensical, stupid bologna for what it is. If something is a lie then call it a lie and show why it’s a lie! If something is bologna (baloney), then call it out! You are not being unlovely for doing so. It is time the Church stop being so timid.
Again, I refer to Jesus. Christians act like He basically whispered His message in soft, meek tones and never raised His voice, never got angry, never challenged stupid thoughts, never argued. Quite the contrary! Jesus could raise His voice with the best of them (Luke 11:43). He would preach to multitudes, that is no wimpy voice. He whipped people and drove them out of the temple on a couple of occasions (John 2:15). Jesus, you are so MEAN. Don’t you know you probably offended everyone in that temple? What kind of witness are you?! He called people names! He did all that He did IN and INSPIRED by LOVE… this love required some pretty bold actions and words. Something Christians are afraid of.
This was why the disciples couldn’t hear Him even though He prophesied His crucifixion, death and resurrection on multiple occasions. They couldn’t hear it because they didn’t see a WIMP standing before them; they saw someone who was STRONG and commanding yet meek and lowly of heart. They saw a leader, someone they could get behind in a revolution. They saw someone with not only power from heaven but boldness and authority when He proclaimed. This was someone they could get behind to overthrow the Roman government. You are not excited about a deliverer who is a wimp and yet when Jesus did actually die, they were taken aback and only later after they themselves were filled with the Holy Spirit and great boldness came upon them (Acts 1:8, 2:4) did they remember, “Oh yeah, Jesus told us He was going to die first and then come again. Duh.”
Oh, I can still hear the wimpy Christian saying, “Well, abortion is not my battle. There is nothing I can do. Or this is not my battle; I’m too busy preaching the gospel.” Do you see the irony in that line of thinking, and yet I’ve had Christians say these very things. I can hear the person who says, “Well, I don’t want to preach against sin, I just want to preach Jesus.” Hello! Jesus came to save sinners and sinners have to know what sin is and therefore there has to be a standard by which behavior is judged! Do we realize that there are three types of sin, the sin of commission, the sin of omission, and the sin of faithlessness? (I outlined those pretty good in my article on “Suicide – A Biblical Perspective) If you know to do right by defending the defenseless in the womb, but sat on the sidelines, then you yourself are sinning because you knew to do right but did nothing (James 4:17). The baby in the womb is voiceless. We as believers must be their voice, period. If I were to make the analogy of a woman getting raped in a dark alley and you had the wherewithal to help her but didn’t, doesn’t that make you mildly complicit? Or maybe you were afraid for your own well being so instead you just watched and didn’t even call for help from someone who had the wherewithal. According to the Bible if you KNOW to do right and do not do it, to you it is sin! Abortion is MURDER. Period. And Christians so often want to relegate it to, “well, there’s nothing I can do” and I certainly don’t want to engage in those “nasty” politics so I’ll just hope and pray for the best. STOP. We are allowing genocide on our watch! The Gospel REQUIRES that we engage. Jesus REQUIRES that we lay down our lives for the lives of others.
So you see! It’s time to be vocal believer. It’s time to argue policy from a Godly perspective. It’s time to know what you believe and why you believe it. It’s time to call stupid laws for what they are — stupid. It’s time to stand and fight for the voiceless. It’s time to be as bold in the face of the wicked and their wickedness as never before. It’s time to stop being wimpy, weak, feckless followers of Christ and it’s time to preach the truth at the risk of being called a names, going to jail, or dying.
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Wimpy Jesus Syndrome (Part 2 of 3)
(Continued from Part 1)
Give me a ROYAL break! The righteous are as bold as a lion and the wicked flee when no one pursues, but you’d think the righteous were the wicked with all of them tucking tail and running from every “argument” that the enemy has mustered (Proverbs 28:1). The Devil is boldly proclaiming his arguments out there and the Church for the most part acts like the lovely thing to do is be silent while they spew their nonsense. Just pray brother, just pray! NO, do not JUST PRAY — pray, then preach the truth. Believers are supposed to have an answer for the hope within them. They are supposed to be PREACHING the Gospel to every creature whether they want to hear it or not, whether the truth is pleasing to the hearer or not, whether the person you are sharing said they hate God or not. I understand the truism, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and the Catholic saint who apparently coined the phrase, “Preach the gospel always, If necessary, use words,” but I am afraid Christians have mistaken the intent of those words with a reason to not combat the arguments of the world. REMEMBER using truth filled words is how wrong thinking is brought down.
Spiritual warfare is engaged in with WORDS. The sword of the spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). There is no other means to engage the enemy. Words are the weapons the Lord has given us to pull down strongholds and release the captive mind. It’s through the message preached that people come to the knowledge of God, no other way! Now certainly a miracle aids the message as the disciples prayed. Certainly having a life that mirrors your preaching is helpful. Certainly being a caring person is helpful, but ultimately it boils down to words to get the job done. This engagement of words is NOT us shouting into the heavens at principalities even though in our personal lives we may command of the enemy and he must listen, but in another person’s life, only the truth can set them free. Remember Jesus said that God’s Word was truth and that the words that He spoke to us are spirit and they are life (John 17:17, John 6:63). An argument based on God’s knowledge is the weapon God has given us to combat the enemy’s lies. The words of the enemy are the lies upon which Satan builds his strongholds. The Words of God is the truth we use to destroy those arguments.
So where does all this bring us? This brings us to the multitude of arguments mounted against the church concerning the killing of innocent babies in the womb, concerning financial issues we face as a nation, concerning social welfare, concerning gay “marriage,” concerning immigration… uh, I mean “illegal immigration,” concerning judging people, concerning every issue we face. Most Christians would not have a clue where to begin on any of these issues. If truth does not orient your thinking, then of course you are going to get your butt whipped by the enemy, but if your thinking has been brought into the obedience of Christ then it’s easy for you to differentiate between right and wrong. Unbelievable to most Christians is the fact that the Bible does give us answers and principles to guide our lives and government policy. In fact, everything that pertains to life and godliness, the Bible addresses (2 Peter 1:3). Problem with much Christian thinking is they want to apply individual responsibility to the masses and government’s responsibilities to the individual. However, on issues that the Bible does not specifically address; we have principle; we have the Holy Spirit to address individual cases; we have wisdom, which is available to those who ask and we have common sense. Reason, when grounded in Biblical thought, is a powerful tool, God is the one who encouraged us to come reason with Him and yet to the natural man, His method of forgiving sin seems so unreasonable — the just dying for the unjust?! (Isaiah 1:18) The sum total is that the Word of God is to guide our arguments. Where there is no specific word; we use principle and wisdom to dismantle the enemies lies.
My goal in this article is NOT to address each issue but to make the case that the issues need to be addressed and that it is not wrong to address them, nor is it hateful to counter ungodly arguments, nor is it unloving to call a stupid argument for what it is. So many Christians think it is somehow wrong to call a spade a spade. God has not called us to be nice, He’s called us to walk in love and sometimes the love walk has some pretty stern things to say. I am not advocating calling people names just for the sake of name calling but I am advocating calling something for what it is. Whether it is sin or just stupid, it needs to be rightly identified.
Some Christians are afraid of “arguing” the devil’s talking points because they don’t want to offend the person who would hear it. Well, there is nothing more offensive to God than seeing a person go to hell because you were afraid of offending them with a message. Satan has blinded the minds of the unbeliever and the strongholds he has built in their minds are not coming down without Christians wielding their sword (2 Corinthians 4:4, 10:4, Hebrews 4:12). For the unbeliever, they first need to know what sin is so that they can know they are sinner. This Christian thinking that we only preach the “GRACE” of God in every situation is false. The message of grace comes AFTER someone recognizes they are a sinner. Most people are offended by the notion that you would suggest they need the Jesus because they believe they are a pretty good person (Proverbs 20:6). Granted, there are people who already recognize they are sinners, so by all means, start with the message of the cross and God’s grace for that person, but if they are proclaiming their goodness and incensed that you would insinuate they are in any way a sinner, then you better break out the LAW and smack their pride upside the head. You better tear down the “argument” Satan has erected in their mind concerning their self-righteousness. There is NO ONE RIGHTEOUS, outside of Christ; therefore you are approaching the person who proclaims their own goodness wrong if you immediately start with forgiveness (Romans 3:10, 2:23). Forgiveness from what? Sin? What’s that? Who defines what qualifies as sin? Who are you to tell someone what God considers sin, or right or wrong? You bigot you! Do you see how offensive Christ is if at first you don’t show people first how depraved their thinking is and how utterly hopeless they are?
Whether we begin destroying strongholds before someone gets saved or not, we must certainly teach Christians correct Biblical thinking on the issues of life. How do I know Christians need this? Because we were told to not go preach the gospel and we were also told to teach them to observe what Jesus said. (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:20). The preaching comes first and the teaching comes second (although in reality they go hand in hand, Jesus taught his disciples even while they heard Him preach to the crowds). Problem is, so many Christians are Biblically illiterate and have bought into the arguments of the world. Some even defend them. Case in point, the believer who defends abortion and the “pro-choice” movement is either a brand new believer or has remained untaught because there is not a single instance where the slaughter of babies in the womb is justifiable. Yep, even for rape. Yep, even for incest. You and I don’t get to choose which babies die. Again, it is not my objective in this article to argue every nuance of the debate, but we certainly need to have an argument for life, period.
Why aren’t Christians taught about the important social issues of our day? Because most pastors refuse to touch anything political in nature or taboo with a 10 foot stick and therefore the ones they are to be teaching the Word of God remain ignorant and unprepared to defend their faith and tear down the lies of the enemy. It’s a disgrace and we preachers are to blame! So many hide behind 501(c)3 status and refuse to engage in anything that is a hot topic because they do not want to offend a person in their congregation that may hold to a particular political world view. Unfortunately, their world view won’t ever change if preachers are afraid to tackle the issues because while the devil is preaching his lies with every medium known to man, preachers have stayed in their pulpits and refuse to engage in the “debate/argument” taking place in the world. If Jesus were alive today, He would be using social media to get his message out. How do I know that? Well, he told his disciples to declare on the housetops the things heard in private (Matthew 10:27). This type of declaration is our modern day media dissemination. In Jesus day, this is how the word got out; in our day, declaration takes on many physical and digital forms.
The Devil, using every media available to him, is attacking Christians and Christ while the preachers hide behind their pulpits. Preachers ought to not only preach on Sunday, they ought to preach every day! Using every tool available to them and not only should they preach, they should combat the “arguments” of the enemy and the strongholds of lies about issues that he has erected with “arguments” of their own. They should be equipping the saints to engage! I’m surprised at how many Christians basically treat politics as a pariah. As if they are above it and shouldn’t go near it! News flash! Although Jesus didn’t come to set up His Kingdom in a physical manner the first time, He is coming again, where there will be no politics but instead a Theocracy! For now, the US is set up as a democratic republic where we get to elect officials to “rule” the land and so if the devil is putting demon inspired people in office because the believers refuse to engage, then this the fault of no one but believers that righteousness is loses ground while Satan continues to build his strongholds.
(Continue to Part 3)
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Wimpy Jesus Syndrome (Part 1 of 3)
I think it’s time to dispel the notion in Christianity that Christians should be silent about social issues. As Christians we are well aware that there is a battle taking place in the Spirit realm between good and evil. In fact, the Scripture informs us that this battle is not against people, but against spiritual powers. (Ephesians 6:12) While this is true, this does not mean that the battle does not cross over into the natural realm. Think about it. The enemy holds sway over this world and is inspiring and influencing people (1 John 5:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4) in an attempt to get people to do what he wants. The battle comes in the form of thoughts and ideas. He cannot physically force someone to do something wrong; he can only impart lies and disseminate deceit to accomplish his purposes. The problem is I think many Christians have bought into the lie that the way we combat lies and deceit is through prayer. Why do I say that? Mainly because the lack of physical action in the way many combat demonic ideas. So many want to relegate all “spiritual” warfare to the prayer “closet,” and I want to blow the snot out of that line of thinking. Not blow the snot out of praying, just destroy the notion that this is the way the battle is won.
No doubt prayer emboldens us just like the disciples prayed after they suffered persecution in the book of Acts but also notice the reason they prayed for boldness; so that they could PREACH, and this is where most of the Body of Christ has missed it (Acts 4:23-31). Praying in Church or the privacy of your home is fine, but only if it means that the prayer is emboldening you to preach the truth. It is PREACHING the truth and ONLY preaching the truth that causes spiritual battles to be won — although it is true that sometimes this truth is directed solely towards spiritual characters, but let us not confuse those occasions with the primary way lies and deceit are demolished. The weapon that God has given the Church to do battle is His Word (Ephesians 6:17). That truth does ZERO good in the battle for the souls of men if it stays pent up in our hearts. No doubt the word is to indwell us richly, but not so that it can stay there, but so that it can come out and teach and admonish others (warn, reprimand, advise or urge earnestly – that is what admonish means - Colossians 3:16)!
Paul told us in Second Corinthians where the battle rages in people and how we will overcome the high places that Satan has erected (through lies and deceit) in the minds of believers and non-believers alike (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Yep, you heard me. Many believers are being ruled by the enemy even though they have been born-again by the King. The born again experience does not automatically equal right thinking and this is the whole reason we work to renew our minds with the Word of God (Romans 12:2). The Word of God is to orient our thinking, not the thought patterns of this world.
Alan, are you saying that there is RIGHT thinking about things and WRONG thinking about things? ABSOLUTELY, but if you talked to a lot of Christians, you would think that all thinking is equal and deserves the same weight. So many Christians have bought the lie that to “not preach” at someone is the loving way to do things and to hold our peace is the right thing to do in every situation. This notion ought to be flatly rejected! Are there times where the Holy Spirit would have you refrain from preaching! SURE! But if the Church is ever going to break down the strongholds Satan has erected in the minds of people, then it’s going to take BOLD proclamation of the truth, even when people do not like or agree with it. Look how 2 Corinthians 10 reads:
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 - Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Notice he says that they do not war according to the flesh. This simply means that they are not going to go somewhere where people are thinking like the devil, or acting like the devil or believing like the devil and start killing them off with human weapons. All that would do is put an end to the wicked person’s life and send them to hell. Now obviously this method deals with the wicked fleshly effects of ungodliness, but it does nothing for the demonic thoughts holding the person in darkness. Physical weapons are not how the strongholds built in people’s minds come down. The stronghold comes down by casting down arguments and high thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. In other words, there are thought patterns that try to usurp or at least put themselves on par with God’s thoughts as given to us through the Scripture. The reality is God’s thoughts are ALWAYS higher. (Isaiah 55:9) This does not mean that God’s thoughts cannot be known, it just means we should recognize when thoughts in this world do not match His that they should be rejected.
The way Paul combated strongholds was by bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ. Most Christians have only applied this Scripture to themselves personally (and there is certainly application), however, the context is Paul dealing with the thoughts of OTHERS, not his own.
Think about it, prior to Paul becoming a Christian and Christ informing his beliefs, Paul related to the world the way the stronghold as held by Satan ordered him. If you think unbelievers and immature believers are going to cast down arguments and things that exalt themselves against God’s knowledge, you have another thing coming. It takes someone who HAS God’s knowledge, given to them through the Word, to come into stronghold ridden lines of thinking and ungodly thought patterns to begin to dismantle those strongholds with the truth. These strongholds do not come down through prayer, they come down by taking every thought (as spewed by the unbeliever) into captivity, binding it up, casting it down and bringing that thought into the obedience of Christ. Notice how this worked in Paul’s life. The stronghold’s in his mind encouraged him to kill and persecute Christians and he thought he was doing God a favor. (Sound familiar to today?) But how did Jesus deal with a situation that the early church shied away from? Jesus did not appear to Paul and pull out a sword and strike him down, no instead, Jesus took out His Sword (His Word) and cast down the thoughts in Paul’s mind that had exalted themselves against the knowledge of God. Jesus asks him, “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus brought the thoughts that killing and persecuting His people was somehow pleasing to God right to the obedience of Christ. He then says to him, “It’s hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:4-5, 26:14). Simply meaning, it is hard to fight against the words of the wise.
This is exactly the way we win spiritual battles. This is exactly the formula for engaging in the cultural battle that our nation is faced with. It isn’t hiding in our prayer closets’ hoping Jesus comes back soon. It isn’t praying that somehow the demonic thoughts ordering people’s lives will somehow magically come down, but instead it is exactly as Paul wrote and exactly how Jesus dealt with Paul. It is approaching every issue we face as believers and as a society and comparing our thinking about that issue with what God says about the issue. Let me reiterate, this is not a call to stop praying (Jesus emulated that, taught that, and prayed for specific situations and people), but it is a call to start preaching boldly as a result of our prayer. How retarded would it have been for the disciples to have prayed in Acts for God to take note of the unbeliever’s threats and ask for boldness to preach and then for them sit idly by while the devil continues his reign of terror by convincing the world that Jesus is not the way or that this other ungodly thing is okay.
This is how we are to deal with the issue of abortion, gay “marriage” (if you can even call it that) and any other social issue facing a nation. If you do not have the “knowledge of God” about these issues then how in the world will you bring thoughts captive that exalt themselves to challenge God’s thoughts? The Church has been so beaten with words and backed into a proverbial corner that I’m embarrassed sometimes by how weak God’s people are. Where the hell are all the bold preachers of God’s word, not “boldly” proclaiming in the “safety” of their sanctuaries, but boldly proclaiming it in society where the Devil is arguing his points left and right? Christians sit there stupefied with no argument to counter the devil’s and no real will to even come up with one for fear of being called a name — hater, bigot, xenophobe, Islamaphobe, RWNJ, ad infinitum.
(Continue to Part 2)
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
What's In A Name
This thought about how important names and words really are to our reality has been rolling around in my heart. Think about it, how would we identify things without names? How would we locate things and understand their place inrelation to other things? Looking something or someone up would be early impossible without the names, pronouns and adjectives that we prescribe to persons, places and things. Imagine you had a car for sale and you ere trying to describe what it was but a name had never been assigned to it. Obviously you could use adjectives like four doors, white, big, truck base, xtended rear compartment, four-wheel drive, but because names are so important to identity it is much easier just to say, Ford Expedition. Because ord decided to name a particular model of its vehicle lines “Expedition,” it automatically conjures up some of the adjectives I used above without being forced to use the adjectives. Obviously there are some adjectives we cannot get away from if we were going to sell that particular vehicle because eople would want to know exterior/interior colors, its features and other important specifications, but much of that is included simply in the name “Ford Expedition.”
Names are critical to understanding our world and our place in this world. What if I said, Delorean? Many could not immediately describe its shape and the other unique features of a Delorean, however, you do have an image in your mind, primarily based on an old movie – at least that would be my guess. You may have even attached persons to the name “Delorean” because of your interaction with the “Back to the Future” series. I like how in the book of Acts an Angel came to a man named Cornelius and gave him clear instructions, using identifiers.
Acts 10:1-6 reads, “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
Notice all the identifiers concerning Cornelius and his experience. This is not just any old centurion, but a God-fearing one from a place called Caesarea. Imagine if we did not name cities and states? Where are you from? Well, I am from the northwestern part of the country that is on the continent that rests in the northern hemisphere, about 250 miles below the country that goes all the way to the north pole but three quarters the way above the country that partly encircles a warm gulf and approximately 300 miles from that one big ocean to the west of said continent. Oh my! We need a name for that place! The name provides all that information (if you are familiar with geography) without any real description. Saying, “I’m from Boise, Idaho,” says a whole lot more with much less description because the name carries in it a multitude of descriptors and identifies the location within this world.
Now think about this Angel’s assignment. He came with instructions from the Lord after, no doubt, the Lord first identified the man to whom he was being sent. Not just any old Cornelius, but the God-fearing one, who lives in Caesarea, gives generously to people and is the centurion of the Italian Regiment. Go to that man and give him the message. So, the Angel, being a servant of the Lord, follows the orders and appears to Cornelius in a vision and describes a man who will tell him what to do. You see, Cornelius was walking in all the light he had as a Gentile. He acknowledged there was a God, doing his best to “fear this unknown God” and he gave generously to others, thinking this God would be pleased with generosity. Cornelius was right! He walked in the knowledge he had but more specific light needed to be shared in order for this God-fearing man to know God personally and God saw to it that the appointment took place.
--- Let me take a rabbit trail real quick. This answers the question about, ‘what about those who have not heard?’ Christians and even sinners sometimes stumble over this; thinking that there is no way God could send someone to hell for not believing in Jesus if they have not heard of Him. (I take issue with the language of God “sending” people to hell, but that is another discussion.) However, here you have a perfect example of someone who had never heard of Jesus yet God made sure He did hear about Jesus because Cornelius walked in the light he had. This is how God works. Every person who has been born has been born in a “preappointed” time and at a particular place that they might seek God and find him (Acts 17:26-27). So, all those born pre-Christ’s death, burial and resurrection were born at the right time where the knowledge available to them about God would be enough to ensure that they could find Him, and specifically, trust in the Messiah who would come. Those born in our day, maybe in a remote place, far from any “gospel” preaching is in no less a position to know God than the person inundated with the truth via multi-media. (Granted the opportunity to trust Christ may be more accessible to the inundated person, but the first person is by no means without opportunity.) God will make SURE someone is sent to the person (or that they are sent to someone) who walks in the light they have and sincerely wants to know God, PERIOD! EVERY SINGLE TIME! This is the reality throughout history and this is God’s promise to everyone who seeks God with all their heart – THEY WILL FIND HIM (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Luke 11:10)! There will not be a single on judgment day who will be able to say, “Well, I just did not know about Christ, so it’s not fair and I am excused” (Romans 1:18-20). (Now, back to the story of Cornelius.)
Notice the Angel directed Cornelius to send men to Joppa and ask for Simon, and not just any Simon, but Simon Peter and that this Simon Peter would be staying at another Simon’s house who is a tanner and whose house is by the sea. All these names are significant to locating the right Simon at the right place! Look at how impossible the task of the Angel and Cornelius would have been if Simon did not have a name and the place he was staying was not owned by someone else with a name, at a particular, named, location.
This example, among others, illustrates the importance that names give to our individual identity. Names speak volumes about persons and things and give meaning to our existence. Apply this knowledge to the Name above all names! Yeshua, Jesus! It means something in the universe. This is why God gave Jesus the name, Yeshua. It means, the Lord is Salvation. Applying a name to His flesh form allows us to identify God. Who is God? God is Jesus? Who is Jesus? He is Salvation! And not just any old Yeshua, but Jesus of Nazareth; Jesus, born of the virgin; Jesus, born in Bethlehem of David; Jesus who would be called “Immanuel.” You see all these things identify for us who Salvation is. There were several people in the Old Testament named Yeshua, but there was only ONE, Yeshua of Bethlehem and Nazareth and eventually Galilee. There was only ONE, Yeshua, born of the Virgin. This Jesus means something. It is at THIS name that every knee bows. It is at this name that every tongue will confess that He is Lord to the Father’s glory. It is at this name hell trembles and heaven stands at attention. Hell recognizes this name and heaven reveres it! It is this name that people must call upon to be saved! And not Jesus (hay-soos) from some Latin American country but Jesus as learned about from the Bible - Son of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of peace, Everlasting Father, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,Yeshua!
This name identifies Him as Lord of all and it is through this name we find our place in this world. As a “Christian,” you have been born into His family and have taken on His identity. I am no longer just Alan, or just Alan Church, but now, I am Alan Church, son of the Most High, forgiven, washed, righteous, whole, healed, free, cleansed, pure, holy, blessed, healthy, rich, strong, wise, fruitful, called, anointed, empowered, favored, alive, joyful, loving, kind, gracious, peaceful, patient, good, gentle, temperate and every other adjective that describes the amazing work that Christ accomplished in me when He raised me from the dead, in Him! His name means something and because it means something and I am in Him, I therefore mean something to Him and I am no longer simply and vainly an oxygen consumer, but I have found my place in this world. I am no longer without significance. I am no longer lost and indescript. I have found my identity in the most precious name.
Only one life will soon be past, only what is done in, for, and with Christ will last.
Suicide: A Biblical Perspective - Part 2
Please read Part 1 first, continued from part 1
Now, I would agree that suicide is a sin and if someone does it, that their last act on earth was a sin. Where I disagree is that self-murder is a hell-fire offense. Here is the sad reality! Unless someone got born-again the MOMENT before they take their last breath, then I would be so bold to say that there is NOT a single believer who ever lived and died who did not die with some sin in their life. How can I say that? You have to understand God’s explanation of what constitutes sin. There are the sins that everyone agrees are sins which we affectionately call sins of “commission.” In other words, you knew something was wrong and you did it anyway. Everyone is aware of those sins and those are primarily the ones that people end up first John 1:9-ing (1 John 1:9). Why do people confess these sins to the God? Because they know they committed them. Their heart was telling them NOT to do it the whole time they were doing it!
The problem is, the Bible does not solely teach about sins of commission but also sins of “omission.” These are sins we commit by NOT doing what we know we are supposed to do. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When was the last time you confessed the times you knew to do something good but did not do it? Yeah, that is what I thought. Most people do not even categorize not doing something good as sin in their life and therefore justify it as not sin. Too bad the Lord does not agree with you.
Lastly, there are sins which are committed when we do ANYTHING outside of faith. WOW! That is a doozy! Check out this Scripture in Romans 14:23 which says, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” Oh my! We are screwed! The Lord says that whenever we do something outside of a position of faith (in other words, we know something is what God wants us to do or not do and therefore we act or do not act on that word, knowing His will, then it would be sin to us.) The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing the word of God whether written or spoken (Romans 10:17). If you are not exercising faith in what you do, you are sinning against God. Sucks, I know, but this is how God sees sin, not me! I would cut out the last two ones and just call the sins of commission sin and the other ones I would be prone to let slide, but we do not get to make the rules.
Therefore, I said all that to say, NO ONE has died after having been born-again who has ZERO unconfessed sin in their life. Primarily this is because no one knows every instance where they have blown it in order to even be able to confess it. The good news is, Jesus Christ and His blood has washed all our sin away! The sins of commission are gone! The sins of omission are gone! The sins of unbelief and doubt are gone! This removal of all sin took place at the cross and it was activated in a person’s life when they confessed Jesus as the Lord of their life. It is finished the same moment that someone identifies with the cross.
Although I would agree that when the Holy Spirit reveals something to you that grieved Him that you should immediately tell the Lord you are sorry, confess it, forsake it and move on for the sake of your OWN conscience and faith, I would not agree that someone dying with any amount of unconfessed sin in their life sends them to hell, even if their final act WAS sin, as in the case of suicide. (1 John 1:9) Jesus took care of the hell problem when you gave your life to Him. If it is true that any unconfessed sin in a believer’s life results in a hell sentence, then not a single person has made it to heaven and we know that is not the case because we saw Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Father (Matthew 17)! Many people with MUCH unconfessed sin are in the presence of God right now! Why? Because they had covenant with God through their faith in the coming Savior, or, as in our day, post cross, faith in the Savior who came! Jesus is His name and His life was the final sacrifice for all sin, for all time, past, present and the sins you are more than likely going to commit tomorrow. (Hebrews 10:12, in fact, just read the whole book of Hebrews, this is the THEME!)
So this brings me back to Adam and Eve. Did they commit suicide? Well, if we are going to be fair, we would have to say yes. They were told not to do something and if they did, that it would kill them. Well, you know the rest of the story. That’s exactly what they did. You cannot argue that this is somehow different than the person who cuts their wrists or jumps off a bridge, it is the same selfish act of sin that plunged humanity into death, whether it took 900 years to kill the body or a second to pull a trigger, both are sin and both are covered at the cross. Suicide is not THE sin that sends people to hell.
We have record of at least two people who were in covenant with God who committed suicide and most Bible scholars (even the ones who preach suicide as a hell offense) would agree that their acts did not damn them to hell. The first I can think of is King Saul who was injured badly in a battle and fell on his own sword to kill himself so he would not be tortured by his enemies. Right after this, his armor bearer committed suicide by falling on his own sword as well (1 Samuel 31:4). Someone may say, well that does not prove that he did not go to hell, but you would be wrong because Samuel was called up from the dead by a medium the day before and Samuel told Saul that he and his sons would die the next day and that they would be joining him (1 Samuel 28:19). No Bible scholar would say that the priest, Samuel, was in HELL! Therefore, if Saul and his sons would be joining Samuel, then they would be joining him in Paradise (aka, Abraham’s Bosom) which was separated from hell by a great gulf which no one could cross (Luke 16).
Another record we have of someone committing suicide that had covenant with God was Samson. Samson was used as a judge by the Lord but Samson was a rebellious guy and lost his way and was captured by his enemies. Samson’s final act was to push against the pillars that supported the temple of the Philistines causing the place to come crashing down on his enemies and himself. Samson killed himself. Now, one might say that there is no indication here that Samson went to Paradise after this act and although I cannot point to Scripture that is as evident as the case of King Saul, I can point out two logical facts. First, I am doubtful that the Holy Spirit would inspire the writer of Hebrews to include Samson in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11:32 if he went to hell for killing himself. Second, it would make zero sense for the Holy Spirit to come upon Samson to do the physically impossible task of pushing over the pillars only to send him to hell right after helping him to kill himself and all those enemies.
There are a couple other suicides mentioned in the Bible and one was of Ahithophel who killed himself because Absolom didn't take his advice and then of course Judas hanged himself (2 Samuel 17:23, Matthew 27:5). Ahithophel was in covenant with God as an Israelite however he was a dirt bag. If we are consistent, unless he rejected the coming messiah, then he went to Paradise. Now Judas, unfortunately went to hell as per Jesus words. Jesus said, woe to the person by whom he was betrayed and then he said, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). That's a pretty clear indication that Judas went to hell, however, he didn't go because of hanging himself, he went because He rejected Jesus which is the ONLY SIN that a person cannot be forgiven of.
The last point I want to make is in relation to THE sin that sends people to hell. There is only ONE and it is the only “unpardonable” sin and the only reason God cannot pardon this sin is because there is no sacrifice for this sin. This is the sin of rejecting Jesus. This is the only sin that the Holy Spirit is in the business of convicting the world of as per Jesus words in John 16:9. The myriad of sins people commit do not send them to hell as all sin is dealt with for ALL TIME, however, there is the most heinous of all sins that there is NO forgiveness for and that is the sin of rejecting God’s gift of eternal life by accepting His only begotten Son. There are many Scriptures and proofs I could go into to prove that this SIN and ONLY this sin is what sends people to hell, but for the sake of this teaching on suicide, I believe this will suffice.
So, after saying all this, I hope you are comforted in the knowledge that if you have had a loved one who gave into the temptation to commit murder (of self) that if they were a born-again believer in Jesus Christ that they are shouting the victory in the glorious presence of God as you read. Be comforted, and if you have yet to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, DO IT NOW!
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Suicide: A Biblical Perspective - Part 1
Did Adam and Eve commit suicide? I want to challenge some notions about self-murder that have been propped up by the Church but that I believe are unscriptural. Sometimes things are taught from the pulpit to scare people into NOT doing particular things and no doubt “fear” has a place in saving some from the fires of hell; however, when it comes to threatening people with hell fire if they commit suicide, I believe we have deviated from the truth and are using fear inappropriately (Jude 1:23, Hebrews 10:31).
There is only ONE thing to fear and that is facing God having rejected His sacrifice for your sin. Jesus Himself taught “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28) and it is also written that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). I would not want to face the Father without the Son in my corner. Judgment day is going to be a real scary time for a lot of people, but not for the same reasons that many think. For the born-again believer in Jesus Christ, judgment day is going to be GOOD, a time of loss and reward (depends on the quality of your work), but there is no fear in judgment for the believer because God’s perfect love IN US (In Christ) casts out fear (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:13, 1 John 4:18).
We are, in fact, told to come boldly to the throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:16) People think judgment day for the believer is going to be scary. It is not! BUT, judgment day will be extremely fearful for the unbeliever and again, not because of their sins, but because of their SIN. (Note: by “Believer” I am speaking of one as outlined in the Word of God, not just the person who believes in God or that Jesus is God. That is not enough, demons admitted that Jesus was God when He walked the earth, that did not save them and the Scripture teaches that demons believe there is one God and tremble, but this does not save them (James 2:19)).
This understanding of the SIN that I am referencing must be understood in order to understand God’s treatment of suicide. The Church has wrongly taught that people who commit suicide get a one way ticket to hell and they use the combination of the following Scriptures to “prove” that. After I show you their “proof,” I will show you why that proof is a misrepresentation of the Scripture and why suicide is not THE sin that sends people to hell. For in truth, there is ONE and only ONE sin that will result in hell-fire. You may already know what that is. So what Scriptures has the Church wrongly used to fear people into not committing the sin of suicide? Here they are.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The Church has then combined this Scripture with 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 which says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” And there you have it! That is the deadly, do not commit suicide or God will destroy you combination that the Church has wrongly used to fear people into avoiding that sin.
Now, let me get a little technical and explain to you why the combination of the Scriptures above do not constitute a hell sentence for suicide, so please bear with me.
First, many times when the Bible uses the Word ‘you,’ it is speaking of the spirit of a person and not their physical body. You are not a body. You are a spirit; you possess a soul and YOU just happen to live in an earth suit (body) (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Notice a particular occasion where Paul turned a man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his SPIRIT might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:5). The Word makes a clear distinction between the body and spirit. Even the Scripture above that people have used to say people who commit suicide go to hell clearly states that we are to glorify God in our body AND our spirit which belong to Him. One reason the Lord frowns upon suicide is because the person who does it is calling the shots with something that does not belong to them. This is why the Lord does not like sexual immorality, because we are taking something that belongs to HIM and defiling it. Our bodies belong to the Lord and therefore we do not have the right to kill it.
In this same passage (1 Corinthians 6:19) the Word says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in US. The Holy Spirit is in our bodies and calls it His temple simply because we live in our bodies too. In other words, when Jesus said that He would send that Holy Spirit to live and abide with US forever, He did not mean that when we died, our spirits would go to heaven and the poor old Holy Spirit would stay in our bodies, buried in some grave somewhere and therefore “leave” us (John 14:16). Do you see the distinction? The Holy Spirit is not sitting in believer’s graves everywhere waiting until we join our bodies again at the resurrection. No, He stays with us (our spirits) forever! If our bodies die, guess who still lives and abides in us? The Holy Spirit! I would agree it will be the power of Holy Spirit that resurrects all those dead bodies when Jesus returns, but He is not living in those bodies while we are absent. How do I know our spirit is “absent” when the body dies, because 1 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” When a person dies, no matter HOW they die, their spirit leaves their body and the believer is immediately present with the Lord and the unbeliever is immediately in torment.
Second, when you read 1 Corinthians 3 which reads that if anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy. You have to understand a couple things. First, the word defile is a Greek word that means: to corrupt, to destroy and its definitions are as follows: 1. in the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or "destroyed" when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties, 2. to lead away a Christian church from that state of knowledge and holiness in which it ought to abide, 3. to be destroyed, to perish, 4. in an ethical sense, to corrupt, deprave.
Can you see there is not a believer alive who has not in some way “defiled” their temple if in fact this verse even refers to the physical body of a person. However, for the sake of argument, let us say that the Holy Spirit is referring to someone “destroying” a physical body and therefore getting “destroyed.” You cannot have it both ways. If He is referring to someone destroying their physical body then He is also referring to God destroying that person’s physical body. NOT, if someone destroys their physical body then God is going to destroy their spirit in hell! Do you see that?
In reality, the temple that the Holy Spirit is referencing here is the temple of the body of believers that the Church at Corinth constituted. In other words, you have to read the context to understand what the Holy Spirit even means by “temple” here. This is not the same temple as the temple in 1 Corinthians 6:19. How do I know that? Context! People take stuff out of context all the time and try to make it say something that it does not! If you read the context of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is talking about an individual committing sexual immorality and therefore sinning against his OWN body and then he calls our bodies the Holy Spirit’s temple because the Holy Spirit is in US (our spirits.) This is in stark contrast to 1 Corinthians 3, where Paul is talking to the church as a whole and not an individual, which is clearly seen in the verses before 18-20. He tells the Corinthians to take heed how they build on the foundation and how they work in God’s field (which the Church is), and that each person’s work (in the field, on the building) will be tried by fire some day and that people will either receive reward for the job they did or suffer loss for the work they did. Either way Paul is warning the body of believers to be careful about corrupting God’s temple. He then says, don’t you guys know that you (the church) are the temple of God and if anyone “corrupts, defiles, destroys” the temple of God, God will “corrupt, defile, destroy” him. It’s the same Greek word here. I think the best translation would be that if anyone “corrupts” the temple of God, then God will destroy him. All the Holy Spirit is saying, God is not going to put up with people getting into the church to destroy what He is building. He will give people space to repent, but if someone is going to mess with what He is building, then He’s going to see to it that their flesh is destroyed which is a small price to pay compared to a hell sentence.
Remember I quoted 1 Corinthians 5:5 above which said, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Well, if you keep reading, Paul writes in verse 6 and 7, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” You see, this guy was involved in some pretty serious sexual immorality and not only was he sinning against his own body, but he was corrupting the Church and instead of the Church removing the guy, they were glorying in his perversion. Unfortunately this guy was one of several early church believers who experienced the destruction that is referenced when someone is “defiling” the temple of God.
Hope that was not too technical, but we have to learn to rightly divide the Word of God. Can you see how these verses do not belong together in teaching that a person who commits self-murder is going to hell? It has nothing to do with either suicide or hell.
Continue to part 2.
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
I hate death. Death and all its ugly manifestations. Death should die. When will be delivered from death? The good news for the believer and future generations of people is that death will ultimately be swallowed up in victory, but until then, it REALLY sucks. On the other hand, because of the effects of sin in the earth, death many times becomes a mercy. Could you imagine living forever in worn out, diseased, pain ridden bodies, FOREVER? Yeah, me neither, but that would be the reality of man if God had allowed Adam to partake of the tree of life after having died spiritually. (Genesis 3:22) There is a time coming in the 7 year tribulation period where people will want to die because of the torment but death will escape them. Not sure what that is going to look like but if it is so bad you feel like your only escape is death and even that eludes you, well, that just plain stinks, yet that will be the reality for millions. (Revelation 9:6)
So as much as I hate physical death, I am ultimately thankful that it is an escape into a better and more glorious reality, however, the knowledge of that reality does not remove the sting we feel when loved ones leave us behind. My father recently succumbed to death and it really ticks me off that he left us behind and there are no words to describe the anger I presently feel. When my mother died at the age of 16, I remember being irate at God because my understanding of the Bible was very minimal and I assumed it was His fault that she died. Add another 20 years to my life, many years of Bible study and I view my father’s death in a completely different light. In my mom’s case, I was angry at God but in my dad’s case, my anger is directed squarely at him and the devil.
Death in part sucks because it generally initiates a grieving process that no one enjoys experiencing. I do not believe the varying emotions that grief elicits were something that God intended for man to experience. If that were true, then death was something He intended for man to experience and there is no death in Him, therefore, grief was never something man was built to endure. The same is true of the grief that the Lord experiences. I believe that grief was caused by us. We are told in Ephesians to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine the Holy Spirit grieving as we do? Grief is not something to necessarily shy away from if you have experienced some sort of loss but it is a natural response to a sorrowful event. God’s response to our rebellion is often a sense of loss. Ephesians 4:25-31 reads,
“Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin” do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
It is unbelievable to think about but we can actually cause God to grieve like we do. Our grief is usually initiated by some loss and God’s grief is usually initiated by some loss in our lives generally caused by some rebellion. The context in Ephesians is one of sin and evil speaking. It is one where we are admonished to be kind, tender hearted, and forgiving toward one another. It is one where we are to never let the sun go down on our anger towards sin and its ugly effects. Think about that. Maybe that is why God hates sin so much. No so much because of the offense towards Him but because of what sin does to those whom He loves. When we sin, whether by commission, omission, or lack of faith, we are giving place to the enemy to come in and wreak havoc in our lives and it is this theft of life, death, and destruction that grieves the Holy Spirit. God has taken care of sin and many of the negative repercussions of sin have been mitigated by how much we will let the resurrection power of Jesus work in us, but ultimately, until death is swallowed up in victory, it is going to keep on in its destructive ways.
You see, not all death and sickness and disease and pain are related to a specific sin and yet all death is inextricably linked to sin. In other words, because all men sin, all men die and sometimes it is a particular sin that causes an innocent (by action) person to die and sometimes it is general sin in the earth that causes death. (I am thinking of babies who are murdered in their mother’s wombs. It was not the sin of the baby that brought death but the sin of the world and primarily the sin of the mother that brought it. Perchance the baby is allowed to live, well, no doubt in the future their own sin will cause problems and measures of death in their own life.) The reality is, even the most “righteous” acting person in the earth is in a perpetual state of death. He/she may live longer because of righteous living, but in the end, every person succumbs to it. We only have record of two individuals in human history that did not pass through death’s doors to get to the other side, but I personally believe Enoch and Elijah will be the two witnesses that experience death in the middle of the tribulation. (That’s another topic.) Aside from these two giants of faith, death is a present reality and until Jesus resurrects us victorious over death, we are going to experience it and the emotional gamut grief encompasses.
The good news for the believer is that we need not mourn in our loss as the world mourns. The world mourns without hope but we grieve the loss with the glorious hope of an ultimate victory over death. (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:54) Sometimes people have overlooked Scriptures like Psalm 116:15 where the Psalmist reminds us, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” It is not precious to the Lord because He loves death but because many times it means the suffering of the person has ended; it means He gets to welcome them into His Father’s house; it means He gets to ever be with His people whom He paid a dear price for with His own blood. This is what is precious to the Lord. Death itself is an enemy of the cross and again, the Lord is ultimately going to deal death a final blow and death will be no more. Can you imagine that day? No more sorrow. No more suffering loss physically and emotionally. No more tears and the pain that grief causes. That is a glorious hope for the believer and this hope (the precious promise of God) is meant to act as an anchor to our tumultuous souls as we are tossed about in oceans of grief. (Hebrews 6:19)
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Christ’s Clear Communication
Each year, I make it a point to read through the Bible. If you are not in the habit, it is a great habit to get into as you will glean new things every time you go through the Scriptures. One thing this habit will do for the believer is provide a birds eye perspective of the whole of Scripture. This framework enables a person to rightly divide the word and judge the things people say, whether they are based on the Scripture and godly principle or is just coming from their own mind. I have a much easier time recognizing things that are God and things that are not God based on years of reading. I encourage you to get going in the Word today if you have been slacking, and not just in the New Testament but in the Old as well. Do not be fooled into thinking that because you are under the new covenant that the Old Testament Scriptures are less valuable. The Old Testament provides context and understanding to New Testament reality that would otherwise be missed if we gloss over what appears to be tough reading in the Old Testament.
The thing that has stood out to me for the last few weeks as I read is how detailed God can be in His communication with man. We are so impressed with ourselves under the New Covenant when we get a “word” from God for ourselves or another person. I had to laugh at myself as this has been my thinking for a long time and a new reality recently dawned on me as I was reading. Chapter after chapter in the Torah is nothing but GOD speaking as He clearly outlines His expectations of Moses and the children of Israel, from the laws that govern offerings and civil life, to exactly how the tabernacle should be set up and exactly how the priests are to approach Him.
I am blown away by how detailed God is in His communication and by the sheer volume of what He said. We read right over this and do not really let the impact of what is happening there hit us. Think about that. We get a “word” from God and are excited and yet God was happy to communicate with Moses in conversation, made up of sentences and the taking of multiple breaths as He continued speaking in prolonged direction and instruction.
I was thinking about my own life. When was the last time that I heard God speak so specifically to me? Of course, we do have an advantage in that the Bible has been written and we can read God’s Words so there is no need for constant repetition to every believer on how we ought to live this life. However, regarding my own life and the call of God, I cannot recall if there was ever a time that God spoke to me in such detail. Do not get me wrong, He speaks to me through His written Word quite often and He has given me various direction at different points in my life, but as far as having a prolonged “conversation” where such detail was given on how I ought to do something, I am not sure I have ever experienced that. I have ministered to others and have received leadings this way and that for words to speak over their life, but just the volume of instruction and specificity really blows my mind in the Old Testament.
We are under a better covenant based on better promises so certainly we can have better communication with God than Moses had. Right? I am not exactly sure how to get there though. Should I be expecting that type of detailed communication? Seriously, would I want to hear such detail about how to go about my day or complete a project? Maybe part of the reason I do not expect such specificity in instruction is the fact that I know the written Word is always available to me and maybe another part of the reason is the fact that I have adopted a mentality that I am led. In other words, I am not waiting to be led, I just know I am.
As an example, the prophet Samuel said to Saul after he anointed him king “And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.” (1 Samuel 10:7) This has been something that I have lived by. I know that the Spirit of God has come upon me. I know I have an unction of the Holy One. I know that I am a son of God being led by the Spirit of God and that the Spirit has given me the mind of Christ so that I should do as the “occasion demands” for God is with me. I am tempted many times to under-spiritualize life because of crazy people who say God told them this or that or is talking to them all the time about this and that and their life is a disaster. If God is speaking to them that much then they must not be following His instructions. I have yet to meet one of these so called “spiritual” people who is doing anything of significance with God. Is that what spirituality looks like? Weird? Kind of got that far away look in their eye? Can never really be grounded in a human conversation because they are always “somewhere” else? I do not know. I know some of the prophets of the Old Testament were lambasted because they acted really weird sometimes and yet they were hearing from God. Surely weird and hearing from God are not mutually exclusive. Certainly we can hear clear instruction and yet be the most “normal” people to engage with.
I also think we can go too far in under-spiritual direction for fear of being weird and maybe God is more interested in giving as much detailed instruction as He gave to Moses and I am just not listening for one reason or another. I personally do not think that God cares which shirt I wear tomorrow but at the same time would it hurt if I asked? I mean, just for the sake of conversation. We ask our spouses seemingly “unimportant” questions all the time because that is what people in relationship do. So what about God? Maybe I should be asking more “stupid” seemingly unimportant questions and expect a response. What about you? When was the last time God spoke to you something so clear, so detailed, so precise, that you knew exactly what to do? I do not mean a general directive, but a precise, detailed instruction. I am thinking I need to step it up… those old testament folks are putting us new testament folks to shame.
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Fatalism - Hardly A Christian Virtue
There is no room in a follower of Jesus to harbor a fatalistic attitude. This attitude is defined by a well known phrase, “Que Sera, Sera” meaning, “Whatever will be, will be.” A believer must never adopt such a defeatist mentality, especially when Jesus went to such great pains to put the believer in a position of authority and power, not so we can sit idly by. On the contrary, the believer is called to resist the devil at every turn. Every time he sticks his ugly head up to destroy men’s lives, hinder the gospel, or cause division among men, the Church uses every weapon in her arsenal to fight back. The weapons are not carnal, but they certainly affect the carnal; the battle is not against flesh, but if flesh gets in the way then the flesh must give. The gospel is to have universal impact, reaching into mankind’s spiritual, economic, cultural, national, governmental, and familial realms. You would not know this by the attitude of so many believers.
If a reading of the Bible generates a fatalistic attitude towards the world, civil governments and human society, then this person has sorely missed the all encompassing nature of the Gospel. God has called every believer to reign in life through Christ. A person would be hard pressed to find a king, who understood kingship, adopting a “Que sera, sera” attitude. A king knows that if something is not to his taste or liking that it is within the realm of his authority to change it. Many people have heard the wise saying, “The only thing for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Yet, those who claim to be the best of good men (Christians) often times are the first to shout “Que Sera, Sera.” After all, the Bible prophesies that evil will wax worse and men’s love will grow cold. The Bible indicates that the world is headed toward total destruction before Jesus “makes it all better” so who are we to get in the way of that?
The fatalistic argument is usually couched in spiritual sounding words such as the ones that recently came to me, “…at this point where we're at, the times are all around us that Jesus is coming back soon (Mathew 24) so there are new priorities and mandates that The Lord is putting on us. The things that are coming are coming whether we want them to or not. So I would say that instead of focusing on debt and politics, focus on what The Lord is requiring of you in this time were in. It's a unique and exciting season to be a part of, so for me, I'm seeking Gods heart, I want to be focused on what he's focused on. It says in Mathew 24 that nations will rise against nations, that’s absolute. That's not something we can petition or deter. But the enemy would love it if that was the only thing on people’s minds. All I'm saying is 100 years ago, I would be standing on this with you, I would be petitioning, praying for my husband out at war retrieving our freedom, however, as of now, in this time, there is a different mandate on the body of Christ, it's to retrieve the lost as quickly as possible and to flood the world with true encounters of God like never seen before... In the bible it says in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” something else the church has lacked considerably on. Now it’s our turn to bring in the harvest. We have to get our priorities straight.”
Sounds good doesn’t it? No responsibility for the believer to influence or be involved in government because we are supposed to be “reaching the lost.” No responsibility for believers to be waged in any battle against evil because the return of Christ is so close and nation will rise against nation anyway, “Que Sera, Sera,” so who are we to get in the way of evil? Notice how this person says, 100 years ago they would agree that Christians should be working to impact government and all levels of society, but seems how Jesus is so close to His return, we just neglect those “trivial” social responsibilities and focus more on “preaching the gospel.”
Unfortunately this type of thinking is not isolated. Generation after generation has read the Bible and each generation determines they are the last. They have read “nation will rise against nation” as Japanese slaughtered Filipinos, Chinese, and other Asian peoples; Germans rose against various races; Russians systematically exterminated millions; Cambodian dictators “cleansed” the world of inferior nations and the list goes on, “Que Sera, Sera.” (Mark 13:8) These are things that apparently are beyond “petition or deter”ance. After all, the mandate of the Church is not to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” it is to “preach the gospel;” not to be involved in any way to love people by preserving people but to “preach.”(Matthew 22:39, Mark 16:15) Here is the problem with this line of thinking. Jesus ABSOLUTELY disagrees. One could argue that Jesus did not come the first time and wage any physical war on despots to liberate the captives, yet He disarmed the supreme despot when He disarmed principalities and powers and He led captivity captive. (Colossians 2:15, Ephesians 4:8) One could argue that He did not get involved in “overthrowing” kings like Herod who thought infanticide was okay, and yet He came to destroy the works of the devil, render him powerless, and overthrew his authority. (1 John 3:8) The reason the enemy exercises so much authority and wrecks so much havoc in the world is precisely because people have taken Jesus spiritual example and tried to apply it to their own life. The job of “defeating” the ultimate tyrant is done and now the Church is responsible to enforce that victory.
Satan influences people just as the Lord is working to influence us to expand His Kingdom reign and dominion in the earth. The reason it appears that in every generation Satan accomplishes so much is because in every generation believers take on a fatalistic attitude and say things like, “we shouldn’t concern ourselves with genocidal maniacs, oppressive dictators and the like, but instead we should be preaching the gospel.” The funny thing is, it is impossible for the Church to preach the gospel places she refuses to go and she refuses to go into all the world (all the world includes where people are, and people make up societies, cultures, and governments), so what gives? One could make the case that the gospel is going into the whole world like never before and we can certainly see the impact. As bad as ISIS, Bashar Assad and Boko Haram are, they still do not compare in genocidal numbers put up by some of the past demons of Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler and the more recent Sadam Hussein. Maybe these past maniacs got away with more destruction because good men were more reticent to insert themselves into the fray because of “Que Sera, Sera” attitudes. It is unfortunate that it took the bombing of Pearl Harbor in order for “Christian” America to step up to the plate and “fight” the demons controlling Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. Christians have so taken Scriptures like, “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” out of context that so often the Church, instead of leading the charge into battle, is the last one into the fray.
Something the Church has failed to realize is that they are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. If the light refuses to involve itself in dark affairs and the salt refuses to work to preserve the earth, namely, the people of the earth, then evil can run rampant. So many after WWII said, “Never again.” In other words, never again would the world stand idly by as a despot like Hitler systematically exterminated millions of people and yet, here we are again, history is actually repeating itself right before our eyes and getting involved in any way besides “preaching the gospel” is considered a distraction. Ironic that the same people who say these things are not buying one way tickets to Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan to go “preach the gospel” to ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban. These Christians want to go “preach the gospel” alright, but only if it means they can come home on the next flight to the comforts of America, where they do not want to be distracted by the civil affairs of government that afford them said comforts. Ironic, is it not?
If the Church refuses to get involved, who will? Christians like to argue that it is our responsibility to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” But what they fail to realize is that so much of the world is closed to the gospel because we refuse to wrestle with “flesh and blood.” North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and a host of other Islamic nations have been closed off to the “gospel” in any official manner for decades and the dictators there have subjugated their people and shut them off from freedom and we act like it is another person’s job to be involved to open those countries.
Wrestling in prayer through the declaration of faith, binding and loosing, and all other forms of Spiritual battle are not being dismissed by making these arguments, in fact, prayer will never be so earnest as when the loss of your physical life is on the line, but if the Church is simply praying, she has forgotten her calling. Prayer was never to take the place of obedience and action. Eventually, good people have to stand up and smack the devil in the face and if some man’s face gets in the way, then so be it. If decades or years of prayer have not worked on people like Kim Il Sung and now Kim Jong Il, then we have a responsibility as believers to either lay our own lives down to see that the Gospel infiltrates places like North Korea or to dispose of such leaders through war. It is sophomoric to think that God would never have a nation of people “rise” against another nation in hopes of preserving the Christless lives living in subjugation. Look at the recent example of ISIS in the Middle East. Unfortunately it took the death of thousands of our own brother’s and sister’s in the Lord and other Muslim peoples in order for the world to wake up and “fight” back. This should not be the case. Christians should be going, at the risk of their own lives, to preach the gospel in these places and if the government of those nations won’t permit our presence then we have a responsibility to “wrestle” with the spirit behind the leaders of that government and stand in the way of their destructive ways.
Christians have missed the reality that for every ruthless dictator that we let perpetrate evil upon their populations, we are partly responsible for every soul they send to hell as they carry out their genocidal tendencies. Think about the millions that Stalin killed in atheistic, communist Russia? As Christians stayed home “praying” for Stalin and the “poor” people he was slaughtering, Satan, through Stalin, sent tens of millions to hell. As Christians refused to “wrestle” with the flesh of Pol Pot, Satan, through Pol Pot, sent millions of Christless Cambodians to hell. As Christians were “praying” for and reticent to involve themselves in the affairs of our European allies, Satan, through Hitler, sent millions of Jews to hell. As Christians sing, “Que Sera, Sera” and play the “well these are just the signs of the times” card, thousands, tens of thousands, and in some cases millions of souls without Christ are sent to a devil’s hell because apparently Christians are not supposed to be involved in such “worldly” matters. Christians will “pray” against Roe v. Wade but refuse to go to law school to become judges. They will “pray” for our leaders but refuse to get their Political Science degree and run for office. They will pray for a “cultural” revolution but refuse political involvement; calling it a “distraction” and all the while tens of millions of innocent babies are slaughtered through legalized abortion; Christians could stop this if they stopped refusing to be involved. Is this what Christ intended? For fatalistic believers to let be what will be?
No doubt we are to be preaching and praying but NEVER to the exclusion of action, NEVER to the exclusion of involvement, NEVER to the exclusion of laying down our own lives. The devil loves the fact that the Church, generation after generation, relegates the governmental, political and cultural affairs of this world to the world, because while we sit by and pray, he is taking millions to hell with him and making gains in every arena of life.
The believer has a responsibility to be involved. Where? Everywhere. Any place we are not seeing God’s will being done, we have a responsibility to see His will done. Jesus did not intend for us to pray, “Your will be done” and then sit by and watch what the Father does. His will is accomplished through His body. (Luke 11:2) Resisting the devil means to actively fight against. (James 4:7) So what if the devil is in a person? Then you cast the devil out of them. And what if the person wants the devil to stay? Then you resist the person hosting that devil even to the point of killing that person and you let that spirit roam through dry places and while that spirit is looking for a new home, you attempt to fill the evil void with as much light, salt and the Gospel as possible. (Luke 11:24) Then if another reprobate person comes along to take the place of the old dictator, then you do it again, and again.
There are Scriptures like “turning the other cheek” and “don’t resist an evil person” and other great responses to evil, but those apply to individual believers in their personal life. (Matthew 5:39) If someone is attacking your child, you don’t turn the other cheek for your child; you protect your child and if necessary destroy the person attacking them. You then train up your child, telling them not to “resist an evil person” and to “turn the other cheek” and then if they are faced with the choice in the future, they can obey Jesus' Word for themselves. Until then, you and I have a moral responsibility to defend the defenseless and run to their cause. (Psalm 10:18, 82:3, Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1:17) The principles of praying for and turning the other cheek to your enemies do not apply to governments and civil authorities for they wield the sword for the purpose of promoting societies where peace and righteousness prevails, to be a terror to evil, to be God’s avenger of evil. (Romans 13:10-6) If you don’t believe that, then you will have to rebuke the Lord to His face when He comes again and destroys millions with the sword (His Word) that comes out of His mouth. There is a time for peace, and as much as it depends on you, live at peace with all men, but if the wicked refuse to live at peace with the rest of mankind, then “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” (Revelation 19:21, Romans 12:18, Matthew 5:9)
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.
Christmas - Obligatory Giving At Its Finest
For Christmas 2014, my family and I were able to go back to Idaho for a visit. My wife and boys flew and I drove. The nice thing about my drive home was that a friend (Dave Bennett) made it point to fly down to Ontario, California so that he could simply ride back to Idaho with me and I wouldn’t have to drive both ways all by myself (minus the presence of God of course.) What a gift! What a blessing for me that Dave would go so far out of his way just so that I would have company, making the trip to Idaho more enjoyable and seem quicker.
During our 14 hour journey we had some good talks about various things but one that I wanted to share in this blog was our discussion about the obligatory giving that Holidays like Christmas foster. We were both on the same page about the subject. We both love to give and make it a point in life to bless others and as a result we are both blessed in many ways. Our beef is not with giving but with so much of the giving that goes on during Christmas that is simply born out of obligation. So and so got me a gift, therefore I’m obliged to get them a gift, instead of the way it should be…I want to bless so and so with such and such out of love and I have no expectation of anything in return. This is how we do our giving the rest of the year… right? That is the attitude with which you give, right? Do you give hoping for something in return from the person to whom you gave?
The thing that is frustrating about it is that at a time of year that we are to be celebrating the most amazing gift ever, we’ve turned it into a commercial giving nightmare. Statistics, police reports and social workers like my sister all confirm domestic issues spike during what is supposed to be the “happiest” time of the year. Why is it not the happiest for so many? Maybe it’s because all this added pressure is placed on people because we’ve created a culture of obligatory giving rather than giving as a matter of purpose.
Look at this Scripture in 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 – “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
God’s not the only one that loves a cheerful giver… I love a cheerful giver. This is a person who gives because they want to give and feel no compulsion to do so. I’ve had so many people in my life sow various gifts of size and value that I have never repaid nor ever had a thought to repay because I know they didn’t give to get repaid by me… they gave out of the generosity of their own heart. The opposite is also true. I’ve sown gifts of various sizes and values to so many people and have never expected anything in return. This is the way it is supposed to be done, but we have turned Christmas into the prime obligatory giving holiday of all time. So, instead of it being a wonderful time of celebrating Jesus, we’ve turned it into a time of stress, trying to figure out how we can “bless” all these strangers/family members/friends because it’s what we are supposed to do at this time.
What if we spent the whole year blessing strangers/family/friends as we felt led throughout the year instead of stressing about it at the end of the year when we feel obliged because this is what we do during Christmas.
It’s so much more fun to give when you do it because you want to or because you feel led to instead of feeling like you have to. Now, of course I’m not saying all giving at Christmas is done out of obligation, obviously love motivates many during this time, but the level of stress of so many people during this time would illustrate that many more people are giving out of compulsion rather than a desire to do so. The level of debt people take on during the holidays would also illustrate how much of this giving is being done in the flesh rather than as a motivation of love. I guarantee the Lord isn’t leading people to give to ministries until they are in debt and have to take a few months to pay it off but families all over the US charge up their credit cards and end up owing AFTER the holidays because they feel obliged to give during Christmas. It’s really sad and I for one would rather NOT get a gift from someone during my birthday or other holiday. Any other day of the year, one thing I know is that the gift more than likely came as a result of love or a leading, which means way more to me, rather than an obligation.
How much more would get done and how much more blessed would people be if we all gave as we felt led or purposed to do throughout the year, rather than waiting for a birthday or Christmas to “give gifts.” Again, I’m not saying people don’t do that… I do. I know Dave does. I know MANY people give as they are led and purpose in their heart throughout the year, but why do we put all this pressure on ourselves during these holy times like Christmas? I think it would do all of our souls well if we just forgot about “presents” during Christmas and focused on just being with each other. There was no greater gift that Dave could have given me than the gift of his presence during a long ride home. This was a perfect example of anticipatory, thoughtful, and non-obligatory giving. I can never pay that back and even if I could, Dave would have a hard time receiving it because of this very topic. He doesn’t like obligatory giving and neither do I. What about you? What kind of unnecessary pressure do you place on yourself or family members because of Holidays like Christmas?
Free yourself today of the obligation to give, whether it be Christmas or not and let your giving begin to flow out of love and a desire to give just to give, no matter what day of the year.
I hear some people say things like, well, now you are just giving people an excuse to never give. How retarded. If someone is looking for an excuse NOT to give, they don’t need a blog from me to aid in that. This isn’t about giving people an out from giving on “special days,” it’s about reevaluating why we give and when we give. If love and leading motivates you during Christmas and Birthdays, then keep up the good work, but if your level of stress increases during these times because you feel like you HAVE to do something, then I encourage you to liberate yourself and do NOTHING! No one owes you anything and you don’t owe anyone anything… well, I guess you may owe your credit card company now because of all that obligatory giving you just did during the holidays.
Let’s rid ourselves of the obligatory giving mentality that Holidays like Christmas fosters and lets perpetuate a “pay it forward” mentality (as longs as you’re paying it forward because you want to and not because you feel like you HAVE to “pay it forward.”)
Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for or with Christ will last.