December 7, 2007
Both Old and New Testaments tell us that we should live by faith. Some have used Eph. 2:8-9 to say that God gives us faith. If so, why doesn’t God give everyone faith. Is it really because of predestination, or election? I think not. If indeed we could receive faith from Christ, it could not rightly be called faith. Neither would it please God. God does not give anyone faith to believe. What He does give is the capacity to have faith (that is how He created us), the opportunity to have faith, and every reason to have faith (The heavens declare the glory of God.). But He cannot believe for us. If He could believe for us, then He would have the responsibility to believe for everyone. In the process, love would evaporate and mankind would essentially become robots.
The main purpose which God had in creating man in His own image was to share His love in a special relationship with creatures like Himself, creatures who can think and reason, creatures who can appreciate and respond to God’s goodness and love, creatures who have freedom of will to voluntarily choose to love Him, or to choose not to love Him. God cannot stop us from sinning unless He removes our free will, and it is our free will which is the primary ingredient in the "image of God." In the same way, God cannot be righteous for us without removing our free will, which would go against the very reason for our creation. The fact is that we are free to live righteously by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or to live sinfully in rebellion against God. And sadly, many call themselves Christians, who are still living sinfully in rebellion against God.
December 6, 2007
Whose Righteousness Anyway?, By Pastor Dean Harvey – A Transcript from his daily radio show
It is obviously Gods will that we, as individual persons, live righteously. God has instructed us on how to live righteously and has given us every resource to do so, including the power of the cross, His resurrection, and the Holy Spirit. Yes, we have all sinned. God’s command to repent and to live righteously presumes not only that we are guilty of the sins already committed, but also that we are capable of changing our mind and our ways. Therefore, we must refuse any excuses for our own sin and must reject any theological idea that would lessen or remove the responsibility we have to personally live righteously. In order to be saved, one must take full responsibility for one’s own sin. Oh, as we pray for revival, let’s pray for a revival of personal responsibility.
December 5, 2007
The Bible clearly teaches that we should live righteous, godly, and holy lives. It clearly teaches us to avoid sin, to turn from sin and repent. We are moral beings created in God’s image, and He fully expects us to live godly as He does. Consider 1 Peter 1:16, where God is quoted as saying, "BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY." This simple command refutes the common understanding that many people have. Most of the Christians I have known have believed two things which are wrong, that God could not sin, and that men cannot help sinning. However, this simple phrase tells us that we are to be holy (righteous) just like God is, and the idea is that God is holy in the same way that He expects us to be holy, by choice. We are moral beings in the image of God, and we can make the wrong choices. God exhorts us not to make the wrong (sinful) choices.
The Bible teaches that we keep His commandments. Deut. 5:10-"...to those who love Me and keep my commandments." John 5:14, "You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you." The Bible gives a clear definition of sin in 1 John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law (God’s commandments). And by contrast, those who have come to know Him "keep His commandments," 1 John 2:1-6. Additionally, 1 John 5:3 emphasizes that His commandments "are not burdensome." Not only are we to keep His commandments, we are to do His will. Matt. 7:21, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father..." And John 2:17, "he that doeth the will of God abideth (lives) forever."
The Bible teaches that we should turn from sin, stop sinning, and "sin not." Jer.26:3, "perhaps...everyone will turn from his evil way." Prov. 28:13, "...he who confesses and forsakes them (his sins) will find mercy." Isa. 1:16-17, "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your deeds from My (God’s) sight, cease to do evil, learn to do good." In John 5:14 and 8:11, Jesus said to two different people, "Go and sin no more." In 1 Cor. 15:34, Paul says, "Become sober-minded as you ought, and do not sin, for some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame." The implication of this verse is that we need to live righteous lives in order to have any positive effect in leading sinners to the knowledge of God.
December 4, 2007
The more and more I see what the church has become the more it grieves my heart for my Lord. I am truly at a point where I think the modern day church IS the problem!
Excerpts from Barnas Report:
They are also reformulating the popular notion of what the Christian life means. Traditional activity such as integrating discipline and regimen in personal faith development is becoming less popular; repeating the same weekly routines in religious events is increasingly deemed anachronistic, stifling and irrelevant; and rigidity of belief, including the notion that there are absolute moral and spiritual truths, is perceived by many young people as evidence of closed-mindedness.
"They lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith," he said.
New faith practices that are now in vogue include pursuing spiritual diversity in conversations and relationships; embracing racial diversity and tolerance; valuing interpersonal connections above spiritual education; blending all forms of the arts and novel forms of instruction into religious events; and accepting divergent forms of spiritual community.
By Pastor Dean Harvey - A Transcript from his daily radio show "A Voice in the Wilderness"
A young businessman friend, Lars Berntson, preached in our church recently, and had a series entitled Whose Righteousness Anyway?, which, with his permission, I am going to share over the next few weeks. A true Christian has the mind of Christ about sin. That is, with the Holy Spirit's illumination, he sees sin the same way as Christ sees it. Sin is the root of the problem Christ came to solve. His illumination helps us to see how ugly sin really is. But there is a sneaky little doctrine that often causes Christians to be less vigilant about sin-the doctrine of imputed righteousness. This doctrine usually holds that God imputes (accounts, or lays to our account) Christ's righteousness to us. The result is that, no matter the kind of life we are living, no matter what sins are present in our lives, God looks at us and only sees the righteousness of Christ. In other words, this doctrine often says that God does not see us as we are, but as Christ is.
Those who hold to this doctrine are quick to point out that "our righteousness is as filthy rags." This phrase is from Isa. 64:6, and is usually applied without distinction to all men, both Christians and non-Christians. If you read this verse in its context, you will find that it is talking about those who sinned, and continued in them a long time, and it is contrasted with those mentioned in the previous verse, "Thou (God) dost meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness..." So the phrase applies to those who are living in sin, it does not apply to those "who rejoice in doing righteousness," it did not apply to righteous Jews, and it does not apply to Christians who are living up to the light they have today. But many people quote the part of a verse, "all our righteousness are as filthy rags," and apply it broadly.
Is Christ's righteousness credited to our account, no matter how we are living? Can Christ be righteous for us? Can His righteousness be transferred to us? Have you ever heard that God sees saved people through the Righteous One-Jesus Christ? That He doesn't see our sinfulness, He sees Jesus' righteousness. Does God really see us through "Jesus-colored glasses?" Are we to be righteous, or can Jesus be righteous for us? Is Christ's righteousness imputed to us in this way?."
There are two important questions which need to be asked regarding the doctrine of imputed righteousness. 1. Does God want us to be personally righteous? And 2. Can Christ be righteous for us? But in order to answer those questions, we need to look at the word "impute." Impute is a King James word, which means to charge with, to reckon, or to account to. Impute is a bookkeeping term, which has the concept of a ledger entry. The doctrine of imputed righteousness would be seen as God making a ledger entry into our lives. We are actually sinful, but God imputes, or makes a ledger entry, into our lives, of Christ's righteousness. So the Christian who has been taught this doctrine will feel secure in his Christian experience, regardless of his own personal righteousness, because he believes that God sees him through Christ's righteousness. The word is used in 2 Cor 5:19 (KJV), "...God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..." Since the word "impute" means to charge with, to reckon, or to account to, this verse teaches that those who have been reconciled to God will not be charged with sin. In the Bible, God imputes both sin and righteousness. In checking eight references for the word "impute," four of them like 2 Cor. 5:19, refer to God imputing sin. What does this mean? It means that God would charge those with sin who are sinners because they are guilty of sin, or, that God, in forgiving repentant sinners, would not charge them with sin, but rather count them righteous because they are no longer guilty, they have been forgiven. Hallelujah!
In Psalm 32:2, David says, "How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." Paul quotes this verse in Rom. 4:8. The definition of the word "impute" we often hear today is that God applies His righteousness to the account of the believer, even though they are not really righteous. This definition seems plausible, but if God will impute righteousness to the account of the believer, then how does He impute sin? Righteousness was imputed to Abraham, the father of the faithful. We learn about him in Romans 4 and James 2. Both passages should be read to shed light on the meaning of the word "impute." The reason God imputed (counted) Abraham righteous was because, having believed God for forgiveness and having begun a life of faith, he was righteous. In the same way, we too, when we recognize our need for forgiveness, forsake our sinful ways and sinful mindset, turn to the Savior for forgiveness on the basis of His shed blood on our behalf, and are justified; at that point God imputes righteousness to us. Who can be more righteous than the one who has just been forgiven of all his sins? God imputes righteousness to us because we have become righteous through our salvation experience. That is what Paul meant in 1 Cor. 1:30, "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." After He has canceled the decree against us, removed our sins.
Tomorrow Part 2........