February 1, 2008

Chinese Watches


I learned an interesting lesson during my recent trip to China. Its easy to see plenty of things counterfeit in China. As one walks through the markets of merchandise one is bombarded with "counterfeit". When your white Caucasian male from the United States in China, it almost seems one is attacked with people trying to sell you something counterfeit. They neither hide the fact they are selling you something counterfeit - as a matter of fact they proudly proclaim they have the "best" counterfeit goods in all of the marketplace.

Well during my last visit we went to one of the local markets - the "Ladies Market" in Hong Kong. This market is called the Ladies Market because it sells mostly clothing and handbags of all sorts. But you will find all sorts of other goods there as well. While purveying the sites and sounds I noticed several nice watches on display there. Many were Rolex and Omega and several high priced brands I had never heard of, but apparently these were of the latest fashions. On the outside the watches look impeccable - at least to an untrained eye such as mine. The face of the watch and its hands all look very authentic. However, the real difference lies beneath in the watches internal workings. Inside is a cheap copy of parts and shoddy construction and quality. One of my co-workers who lives in Hong Kong said you'll be lucky if the watch would last a month. At first the watch will work just fine, but over time as its introduced to the normal everyday stresses and wear and tear it weakens and begins to lose time and accuracy. Eventually the watch stops working all together and is worthless. Indeed the outside looks great, but its just the empty shell of a worthless Hong Kong watch parts.

The Lord really used this as an example to me as to what's occurring in our churches today. The counterfeit watch reminded me of when Jesus confronted the Pharisees and called them "White washed tombs" - full of dead men's bones in the inside (spiritual death), but appeared to be holy on their outsides. The watch analogy is much the same way. How often are people looking for a church or doctrine that has the appearance of being a fine or expensive "watch"? For all intent and purposes it looks like a church and has the appearances of being a fine reputable church. However, just as with the watch the difference comes down to cost. As with the counterfeit watch it will cost you very little to own an expensive looking watch, so is the churches of today - it will cost you very little. To own the authentic version of the counterfeit watch many of these watches can run into the thousands of dollars. But what you will get is a highly precise time piece that will probably last you a lifetime if properly taken care of (btw - I am not advocating buying expensive Rolex's here but just using this as part of my analogy!). The real watch has been made by a highly skilled and crafted watchmaker and he has taken a great deal of time and effort to put together this time piece.

Today many churches are much like the counterfeit watch. On the outside they look very impressive - with their digital surround sound, high tech light shows and wonderful music. They will have men who look just right and speak with such great skill. However, just as with the counterfeit watch we see that when we open it up and begin to examine the doctrines these churches are promoting, we see a church full of weak and broken doctrines. The church no longer desires holiness, but rather promotes a counterfeit doctrine that allows men and women to remain weak and feeble in sin. They preach a doctrine that looks like godliness, but lacks any power to truly overcome sin in their lives. Instead we hear people say "I am still a sinner and I sin in word thought and deed everyday"! Indeed, such doctrine is counterfeit - Why? Because it cost very little! Jesus has told us that when we follow him, it will come at a great cost. The world will hate us. Why? Because we will tell men to repent from their sins and turn and love God with all of their hearts. Men will rebel (even those who claim to be his followers) and will persecute and even try to kill you in order to stop you from preaching this message!

Through this analogy I have learned that anything of great value will cost you a lot - even everything you have. The authentic gospel of Jesus Christ will cost a person everything. It will cost them family, friends, money, self-interest, everything! But in return we get a gospel that that provides us with something eternally worth while, of great value! We get Jesus! We get a intimate relationship with our God and Creator! But in order to receive this authentic relationship we must be willing to forsake our sins, repent and love God from the depths of our hearts. But in the end it is truly worth it all!

January 28, 2008

The Nature of Repentance

I thought I would pass along a recent article written by a fellow believer and preacher - Mike Desario. I have featured Mike on my blog in my video section, whereby I promote several of Mike's video sermons - of which I highly recommend. Mike recently sent this out to emphasize the importance of understanding the true nature of repentance. I agree with Mike here that this is one of the biggest misconceptions in most churches today. It would seem many pastors today are misleading their congregants that repentance has more to do with confession and has nothing to do with forsaking your sins and having a changed heart. I think Mike makes a valid point with the examples he uses here to explain the Nature of Repentance. I hope this blesses you as it did me.

The Nature of Repentance

The present day preachers & teachers have no concept of Biblical Repentance and Faith. You only have to ask ONE simple question to find out where they stand on this issue. (Provided you, yourself understand repentance and faith, having come to Salvation in the proper manner.) It’s important to recognize at this point that you are being lead by the Spirit of Truth, NOT the spirit of error in these matters. Otherwise you will never be able to discern the difference between True and False Repentance and Dead Faith.

Ask the Following Question, in the EXACT Terminology, with NO further explanation: “Does a person have to stop sinning to receive Jesus?”

If the person you are asking immediately presumes that you are asking: “Does a person have to stop sinning and then get saved!” They have NO CONCEPT of Biblical Repentance! And here’s Why:

1) What Happens in Repentance? They have NO IDEA! So they immediately assume you are saying that a person has to become perfect BEFORE they are saved. But this is NOT the issue at all! A PROCESS MUST be taking place in the Salvation experience that involves a STOPPING of sin!

2) Therefore the FOREGONE conclusion in their mind is not STOPPING sin, but CONFESSING it. Because NO ONE can stop BEFORE they are saved! And they can only struggle with it afterward. So a person is saved, ‘In their sins!’ (which is a wrong assumption from the start).

3) Asking another or different question makes no difference either, but only gives them the opportunity to mold words and make it sound as though they are agreeing that sin must be forsaken. Remember: When they speak of forsaking sin, they mean ‘over time’, ‘Gradually’or as you allow God to Change your desires. The design is that this happens in repentance.
The Biblical Characteristics of True Repentance: (as taught by early church and Apostles) 2Cor7:10-11 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

For True Repentance to have Taken Place the following MUST have Occurred:

1) Season of Deep felt Godly Sorrow for sin. (Invoked by Spirit of Truth working, John 16:8)
2) A Crisis of Conviction that Cuts to the heart! (Sin already being forsaken!)
3) A Zeal to CLEAR oneself of all Wrong Doing against God. (make restitution if necessary)
4) Indignation and Fear that leads to Vehement Desire to STOP Sinning!
5) Vindication and Finally PURITY of heart!

Every incident of repentance in scripture follows this process. (DON’T Let anyone tell you it doesn’t, and they will MOST certainly try!) The Sin STOPS HERE, The Old Man DIES here, The Flesh is Crucified HERE! NOT Afterwards. The desires and conduct are CHANGED here. (Or never will be!)

OBEDIENCE to God follows in NEWNESS of Life and all things new! (Rom6:4-6, 2Cor5:17) If you have NOT Experienced this and have NO IDEA what it means, you are NOT BORN of the SPIRIT!!! You may indeed have ‘RECEIVED’ Christ, and ‘Believed’ on His Name (repeated some words) BUT the Devils ALSO Believe! (James2:19) If a Person is SAVED by What he DOES and NOT by Faith Alone! (as James affirms, JS 2:24) The what he DOES PART, STARTS with This REPENTANCE!

I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds! Acts26:20