Monday, August 31, 2015

Courageous Spirituality (part 3): "Acknowledge the Enemy"

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4, ESV)

One inherent characteristic of an adversary is his need to remain undetected. Even an enemy who hides in plain sight does so with the intent to remain unseen. When we acknowledge our enemy, we do not merely say he exists, but point him out with neon light. The apostle Paul in writing to the calls out the enemy of the church: Satan.

Satan is a person, “the god of this world,” not a principle or force and certainly not a polar “opposite God” but a created being who rebelled against God. “Well,” someone asks, “if Satan is not a god, why is he called one here?” Go back to John 12:31 when Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world.” Paul later echoes this in Ephesians. Notice carefully how Satan is not called “god” but “god of this age.” Satan has no attributes that make him deity, but the way the world responds to his influence is obvious. He is god-like.

Satan has a plan which is to blind the minds of unbelievers, preventing them from seeing the light of the gospel. One way he does this is by creating controversy in the church. This is one reason Paul calls him out. “But,” someone may say, “Satan does not bother me.”

Is it possible for people to be influenced by Satan without knowing it? Consider the following before you answer: 
  • “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chron. 21:1)
  • “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back [part] of the price of the land for yourself?’” (Acts 5:3)
  • “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” (1 Cor 10:19-20)
If Satan can influence people who are after God’s heart (David) or to people in the church (Ananais and Sapphira) or the Corinthians themselves, isn’t it possible that unchurched people could be influenced as well?

“Ok, it’s possible, but I’m a good person.” May I ask a few more questions?
  • Have you ever told a lie? “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (Jn 8:44)
  • Have you ever stolen anything? “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)
  • Have you ever hated anyone? 1 Jn 3:15, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:15) and “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning. . .” (Jn 8:44)
If you’ve done any of these things, and God judges you by the 10 Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? 1 Jn 5:19 “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”

Finally, Satan has a place. He is "the god of this world." He is no ruler of hell. Satan blinds the eyes of the unbelieving!

Think of it: mankind has three sets of eyes: physical eyes to see what is written in the Bible, the truth of the gospel; intellectual eyes which can discern propositional truth, know meaning; and spiritual eyes (working with the conscience) to know the significance of gospel. When eyes are closed nothing is seen. This is why Satan works to blind them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Photoblog: Mt. Mitchell Trail

My second climb up the mountain, but on a different trail.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Courageous Spirituality (part 2): "Announce God’s Unchanging Word"

“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2, 5)

The apostle Paul was accused of being self-serving, sneaky but his defense is an appeal to conscience and false accusations are betrayed. Living in truth means one is not bound to explain and defend every statement, every action; rather, it is to live openly before the Lord. When we live in obedience to His Word, we expose what is right, what is wrong and conscience will agree. This is where God does the fighting.

When it comes to the way we use our words, we preach Christ Jesus the Lord. Paul defines his ministry in 3:6 as being “of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit” in other words, he is responsible to obey God’s Spirit in delivering the message of forgiveness of sins in Christ in order for people to become the spiritual men and women God intends them to be: called out of the world into a living body of which Christ is the head. By preaching, there is a public announcement with authority. Preaching means God keeps no secrets, requires no secret knowledge, no hidden wisdom. It is the open proclamation of heavenly matters, the beginning of legislating the matters of heaven here on earth.

Again the subject of our conversation (if you will) is God’s anointed Savior of Man’s Sins. He is the one to whom all bow the knee. If anyone accuses you of having an agenda, it is must be Christ. This is why we follow our words with service to Christ (4:5). Put words and work together to amplify the Lord in the sight of others.

The bondservant of Christ serves the body of Christ for the sake of Christ. Christ makes our service to you possible; otherwise, it would never have happened. Go back to the previous chapters and think about that imagery of Moses veiling his face. Paul and team were not preaching themselves as if their faces were glowing, nor were they covering their faces so no one could see the glory faded. Instead, they proclaimed the eternal glory of Christ.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

"Atheists Don't Have No Songs"

Steve Martin contributes to the Atheist Hymnal--enjoy! (video focuses about :10):

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Courageous Spirituality (part 1): “Accept God’s Call”

2 Corinthians 3 laid the foundations for true spirituality--but what do we do once we have it? Once we obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit allowing Christ to lift the veil of spiritual blindness and He writes on our heart what is on His mind for all men to read, “now what?”

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” (2 Cor. 4:1) In other words, “we are not wearied to the point of fainting.” The source of living true spirituality comes with the courage found in God’s mercy which we receive by faith. Mercy is an attribute of God requiring a closer look because we often find God’s mercy at work when God’s people are in trouble. 
  • “And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam 24:14)
  • “When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’” (Mt 9:27)
  • “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting [me] into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim 1:11-13) 
Look carefully at what Paul has written: he had his spirituality all worked out, but after Christ transformed him he recognized the spirituality he made for himself was in ignorance. He needed the mercy, the help of God, to have true spirituality and to live it out. Once he allowed God to write spiritual values on his heart, then he understood what was on God’s mind for his life, which is why he could write in an outburst of praise, “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (1 Cor 1:3)

We don’t have to grope our way around in blind faith trying to figure out the mystery of God’s will for our lives. We can find comfort from the Father of Mercies as we grow in active faith to know what He wants us to do. This does not happen all at once, but in little steps as we have opportunity to serve through service ministries and community involvement.

True Spirituality is not wearisome--busy, yes, but not wearisome. Some people do spiritual things (good deeds) to show God their spirituality but biblical spirituality is God’s Spirit at work in you, mercifully setting you free to do everything you should. Let the Spirit be spiritual for you and manifest the fruit of His labor in you.

Courageous Spirituality accepts God’s call, connecting His mercy with His ministry.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Recent Books by Theological Liberals

“The Errancy of Inerrancy”

“New Bible Deconstructionary”

“Quarrel Majority: Schismatic Evangelicals and the Schismatic Movement”

“The ‘God is Dead’ Movement Is Alive”

“Unitarianism: A Religion for Atheists With Children”

“Declaring War On Complementerrorism”

“The Low-Down on Higher Criticism:

“Critical Mass: The World Has Enough Catholics Already”

“For I Don’t Know The Plans I Have For You: The Openness of God”

“Relativism Is Always True”

  • (ht: BN and “Off The Record”, Wheaton College, Vol 1, No 1, 2005)

Monday, August 03, 2015

We Do Not Lose Heart! Courageous Spirituality (Introduction)

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart . . . Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:1, 16 NASB)

Since nobody does it better, the Lion has the floor:

It’s been said that “fear” has two meanings. The first is “Forget Everything And Run.” That’s how it is sometimes. We see courageous people do courageous acts, but one little thing happens to us and we crumble. The second is “Face Everything And Rise.” This is courage. 

Webster defines courage as “the ability to do something frightful, difficult or dangerous.” In other words, courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. The great Phillips Brooks preached: “Oh, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

The last series of posts explored True Spirituality through 2 Corinthians 3--where true spirituality comes from and what it looks like. We even explored the question about how the world is impacted by True Spirituality. Our new series through 2 Corinthians 4 will help learn what one actually DOES with true spirituality. How do we live it out in a world that has us playing the flinching game, filled with so many “jumps?” How do we live truly spiritual lives courageously?

If God’s Spirit has written on your heart, take courage! 
Stay tuned! 

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