Discipleship, works of the flesh and confusion about kingdoms

My friend Steve visits this blog and occasionally shares a comment or two regarding topics being addressed.
We share a concern about the increasing politicisation of “evangelicals” and how it compromises Christian witness.

Recently he has written about his experience of seeing someone, whose views he had respected, take  a detour down an increasingly extreme political path.

See Steve’s blog post here:

https://cross-purposes.blogspot.com/2018/06/why-delete-link.html

What Steve describes matches my own experience of seeing professing believers stray into partisan-political territory and before long into beliefs that have little relationship to reality and NOTHING in common with the truth of Jesus Christ.

 

Steve writes:

It’s a breaking-point, for me, when people choose to assert a “reality” contrary to the one God created and sustains, in which rational people believe and live.

I’ve lost count of how many friendships I’ve lost through those friends becoming increasingly politicised, and justifying that increasingly political partisanship with questionable use of biblical references. While they may have thought their interpretation of scripture supported the direction political ideology was taking them, they paid no attention to the very ungodly attitudes and behaviour they adopted as a result.

It became increasingly noticeable to me around the time of the election of Obama as president, and the blatant Obama-hatred that dates back to that time continues today. (Steve’s blog post gives an example that he has seen from one “evangelical”).

[His]claim that violent pro-Obama riots are rampant, and created to bring about a “leftist” dictatorship, doesn’t seem to match up with any reality this side of Breitbart or World Net Daily’s headlines.

I think there’s no coincidence in the fact that Obama was the first non-white president; that his name was unusual, even to the extent of having the middle name Hussein (Saddam references anyone?). I recall one of those lost friends insisted on highlighting the HUSSEIN every time he referred to Obama. And of course Obama’s dad was a foreigner, a black man, a one time Muslim. All guaranteed to add fuel to the fire.

I don’t recall any other president being subjected to so much abuse and hatred, especially from those claiming to be followers of Christ. All along I’ve suggested that with Donald Trump, God gave the American evangelical community the president who most closely reflects the attitudes* they’ve displayed in their antagonism to Obama. Effectively the Trump adoration prominent among “evangelicals” is just a natural progression of the problem that began with the hostility towards the previous president, a hostility some still retain (confirmed by the example given in Steve’s article). It’s a problem originating from confusion and ignorance leading to misguided priorities and allegiances; creating a hybrid of patriotism and religion that is mistaken for Christian commitment and a distorted understanding of the Kingdom of God.

 

* Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

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Grace and Purifying Yourself (Recommended article from Jeff Weddle)

Please follow the link to the full article at the end of this excerpt.

It is just one of many posts from Jeff that I could have re-blogged recently.

Note that after I re-blogged this, Jeff has made a small amendment to the beginning of his second paragraph. It now starts:

“The Bible never says sin is OK to do.  ‘Should we sin that grace may abound? In no way.’”

anti-itch meditation

People who emphasize grace do so while de-emphasizing human responsibility. For some reason, because of grace, people assume everything is OK to do.

The Bible does not say this. “Should we sin that grace may abound? In no way.” Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Grace changes you. But grace’s change is not automatic. We are told not to take the grace of God in vain–to take grace to no profit, to have it do you no positive good.

That would be dumb.

If grace is as great as everyone keeps saying it is, why is our obedience to God so pathetic?

Because we’re not learning grace the way the Bible teaches it. We think grace means my sin is OK, change isn’t necessary, good works might even be opposed to grace! “If it’s grace…

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Salvation Is Hard

A few days ago I posted some thoughts on my blog under the title Practicality vs Airy Fairy.

Those thoughts were inspired by the contrast I’d seen between the very practical content of Jeff’s  recent series of articles on his Anti-itch Meditation blog about Justification, and an article sent to me by a friend that seemed to be all “head in the clouds” with little practical meaning; an article written by a very respected Christian identity.

This current article on Jeff’s site continues the practical and challenging line of his justification writings.

anti-itch meditation

Many years ago I was talking to an older guy about fixing a broken something or other. He was a handyman type, knew how to fix everything. I’m a waste of space at fixing things.

He was telling me how simple it was to do this repair. To emphasize how simple it was he said, “It’s as easy as getting saved.”

I was stunned by his statement. I remember laughing and saying something like, “Hm, I never thought getting saved was all that easy.” He was then stunned by my statement!

There are many who think “getting saved” is easy. If you view justification by faith alone the way most do–nodding your head yes at the appropriate time of the emotional Gospel presentation–then yeah, getting saved is easy.

Easy Salvation agrees to the facts of the Gospel and you’re good to go.

What amazes me is watching Jesus Christ talk…

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Holocaust Remembrance Day: More Relevant than Ever! by Olivier Melnick

Yom HaShoah was voted by the Israeli Knesset as an official national memorial day in Israel in 1953. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion established that day as a yearly memorial for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Every year since that day, Jewish people remember the Shoah or “Catastrophe” as they perpetuate the memory of the loved ones they lost in the Holocaust. In Israel, on that day, two minutes of silent reflection is observed at 10:00 AM as a siren is heard all over the country. It isn’t unusual to even see motorists stop in the middle of the road and get out of their cars to observe that solemn moment. This year, it takes place on the 27th of Nisan which happens to start at sundown on April 11.

Full article here:
http://www.newantisemitism.com/antisemitism/holocaust-remembrance-day-more-relevant-than-ever

 

 

“Wisdom Cries Out” by Mark DuPré

This is an article my friend Steve recommended.
____________

“Wisdom is crying out to be heard, and is lifting up her voice where we are most likely to be.
This is not the conception we often have of God’s wisdom.”

 

This brings to my mind a section of scripture that to me has a lot of overlooked significance. It’s a reference I’ve highlighted several times in the past.

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved…” (2 Thess 2)

God is not hiding, or making Himself hard to find. He has made Himself known and continues to make Himself known. We need to be sure that WE want to know Him.
Do we love the truth?
Do we want to love the truth?

Mark DuPré

Wisdom Cries Out

Proverbs 8:1-5 Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?
She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors:
“To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.

Finding God’s wisdom is something we all desire. But how to get it, where to find it—these can be challenges. But before we try to figure out a repeatable formula of how to find it, it might be good to take a look at the scriptures above. Wisdom, in fact, isn’t as elusive as it seems. It’s looking to find us.

We often think that wisdom is buried, like treasure, and we have to seek it that way. Yes, it’s more valuable than…

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Theologians Diminish Grace

Another excellent and perceptive post on Jeff Weddle’s blog.

Please follow the link at the end (where it says “view original post”) and read the WHOLE article on the anti itch meditation site.

anti-itch meditation

Satan has focused a lot of his deception on the word “grace.” Grace is an abused word. It’s possible another word carries more theological baggage, but I can’t think of what that word would be.

Theology is an attempt to make the simplicity of God’s Word, something the faith of a child can grasp, and make it confusing so you feel like you need the Initiated Few.

You know when you’re walking into Confusing Theology Land when biblical words start getting adjectives stuck in front of them.

“Will” is an example. “Will” simply means a desire. God’s will is what God desires. It’s quite simple.

It remained simple until theologians became a thing. Now it’s not just “God’s will,” now it’s God’s

Decretive Will
Permissive Will
Sovereign Will
Desiderative Will
Directive Will
Perceptive Will

There could be more, it depends who you ask. Also some of the above may…

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Confusion Breeds Dependency

This is what Paul said about Jesus providing mature “ministers” of various types to serve the body of Christ:

 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”

 

However, in practice in the church today, I think the reality is more in line with the following from Jeff Weddle’s latest blog post.

 

“The Church has routinely made theology complex. We’re told the Bible is too hard for us to understand.
You would think the Church would get busy teaching people how to use the Bible. You would be wrong.

The Church wants you confused, because your confusion means their job security.”

 

The question I think we need to consider – is what can (and should) we do about it?

Below is a link to Jeff’s full article.

anti-itch meditation

The US tax code is a mess. It’s one of the more complicated things on the planet, even more than DNA at this point.

Efforts to simplify the tax code have repeatedly been shot down. Leading the resistance are accountants!

The US legal code is increasingly complicated. Lawyers don’t seem to mind.

Professional investors want you to be confused by the markets and dividends and bonds and stocks. It’s too much, just give me your money and I’ll invest for you (for a fee).

Football rules are becoming more complicates. We can’t even tell what a catch is anymore. Outcomes of games are determined more and more by referees.

“Keep It Simple, Stupid” is one of those phrases you hear in life that makes sense, yet why do so many do the exact opposite?

The more complicated a thing becomes, the more people in authority get power. Confusion breeds dependency.

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