Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Judging

A lot of people think that Jesus' commandment against improper judgment (in Matthew 7:1) is actually forbidding us to question other people's salvation no matter what they do. That is not true.

In the first place, people who say that are taking His words out of context. The context is hypocrisy, not judgment. How can we condemn a person as evil if we do the same thing? It doesn't matter if no one sees it--God sees it; and that should make us tremble in humility. But we can and should discern who is on our side, and who is against us.

Jesus said, "Beware false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:15) If someone says to you, "Beware of the Dog"; what are you going to do? If you believe that they have good reason to say this, then you would be very watchful to be sure that the dog does not catch you unaware. We know Jesus had a good reason to say this (or do we?), and therefore we must also be very careful, watching with the best of our ability to make sure that these "wolves" do not catch us unaware.

How will we know what is a wolf and what is a real sheep? Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes [from] thorns, or figs [from] thistles?"--No--"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit [that is to say, every evil tree] is hewn down and cast into the fire [Rev. 20:15]" (vv. 16-19). Now what does He mean by evil fruit?

Well, what did Jesus say was the reason that anyone who will go to Hell will be there? "This is the condemnation: that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that [will be judged by God as] evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-20) So then people who would rather pretend that they are righteous or justified in their iniquity, instead of turning away from their sins to the One Who can save them from their sins--those people are deliberately going to Hell, and we should not follow them nor align ourselves with them.

As Paul commanded us, "Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers:for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial [another name for satan]? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the Temple of God with idols ? For ye are the Temple of God; as God hath said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' 'Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,' saith the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters,'saith the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:4)

Any attempt to include unbelievers as part of our Christian ministering crew requires us to de-emphasize the Gospel in order to close ranks. That not only is dangerous for the sheep, but it also prevents the births of new sheep. Wolves will often catch the pregnant sheep for two reasons: they can't run as quickly to get away, and they make a bigger meal. To bear fruit in Christ takes time, and if satan can stop people from becoming new converts, then he has won their souls for all eternity. It is very important to be able to tell who is really on your side and who is just out to get you, so that we can defend the pregnant sheep and nurture the other sheep until they are ready to bring forth fruit. I believe that's called "spiritual warfare"!!

A lot of people also define judging as condemning a person. The reasoning is that if the person is guilty, then we want them to be punished. But that is not the position I hold. If God were to punish everyone who deserved it, who would get to Heaven? Nobody; and since I'm going, I certainly am not going to stand in somebody else's way. They may exclude themselves, and I may recognize that they have, but I will certainly not encourage them to do so. That's satan's job, not mine.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Faith Plus Works--OR--Faith Without Works?

This is a rather ongoing debate amongst different institutions that call themselves Christian--and, yes, I am implying that not all of them are. If you look at the works that spring from some of their beliefs, I'm sure you would agree.

Some say that we can't get to Heaven without our own good works. They say that God would be allowing untold wickedness to enter His Kingdom unpunished, if that were the case.

My question to them is, "Was it really unpunished?" Did not Jesus suffer the punishment for all of our sins--past, present, and future? God Himself has paid for the wickedness of those He calls His own; that is the Good News that we preach to mankind!! If you have to preserve yourself, how can you be sure you will get to Heaven?

"Ah," some say, "but you can't be sure: to be sure that you will get to Heaven means that you most definitely will not." Nothing could be further from the truth. The Apostle John said, "These thing have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..."(I John 5:13) St. John is promising us that if we believe on Jesus as our Savior, we can be sure that we will get to Heaven. Jesus said the same thing: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Now what is so significant about believing that Jesus will save you? "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" So then, one must believe on Christ in order to ask Him for salvation from sin and it's awful consequences. [Because many believe that He will save them, but they don't ask because they don't want to escape. They are under the delusion that it would not be right for them to escape while others perish (the others chose to perish; it's not like God didn't offer them salvation, too) or that it will be "no fun" to be in Heaven amongst all those "goody-two-shoes," having to follow God's rules. I don't understand how burning in Hell can be more fun than praising the Lord, and I don't see how sin can ultimately bring more pleasure than righteousness. I have sinned many a time. I like doing right a whole lot better!!!]

But then, is it not a work to call upon the Name of the Lord? I don't see how: you are asking somebody else to clean up your mess; that's working?

Some will say, as the others have predicted, "Well, let's live it up! Let us sin that grace may abound!!" Have these people truly repented? Do they understand that Jesus came to "destroy the works of the Devil" (I John 3:8b) and that those who still want to perpetrate the works of the devil are still the enemies of God and children of the devil (I John 3:8a and John 8:44)? You get saved because your own sin has hurt you and you don't want to continue unto the fullness of your reward. If you enjoy sin, why get saved?

So then if you are truly saved, there are sins in your life that you will abandon as time goes on. These are the fruits of the Spirit, which show that you have the spirit of Christ indwelling you and therefore that you are indeed Christ's and no longer under condemnation (Rom. 8:1-13).

If you don't give up those sins, prepare to live a very miserable life. I have heard several testimonies that the most miserable person in the world--is the Christian who won't repent. The Holy Spirit backs up the conscience of a person who has received Christ. If that person continues in iniquity, he will soon find it hard to even be awake. He will sustain rebukes at every turn, he will have his prayers thrown back to him, he will not be allowed to rest, until he repents.

People who have not grown up in church all their lives seem to realize this, and that's why Christianity is such a sharp break for them. They know that they will not be allowed to sin "freely", and unless they really want to escape their sins, they will not come to Christ at all (cf. John 3:18-20).

If Babies Go to Heaven When They Die, Why Is Abortion So Wrong?

I honestly could not believe my ears a few years ago when someone asked that question. His denomination teaches that a baby must be baptized in order to go to Heaven. Thus the main reason his church places so much energy into stopping abortions is to save the souls of the unborn.

Now that is a noble goal--until you consider that if Jesus death and resurrection was not enough, how can a ritual performed by a sinful man be?

I believe that all who die as babies, whether their parents believe or not, will go to Heaven. I believe I have Scripture to support this belief. The most often used passage is the one in II Samuel 12, where, as a result of David's adultery and murder, the child produced by the adultery was sentenced to death. David had been praying and fasting for seven days since the proclamation, begging for God's mercy; but when God rejected his request, David got up, washed himself, and ate. His servants were astonished: "Don't you care that your son just died and that your prayer was not answered?" (paraphrasing, of course) His answer: "while the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, 'Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me that the child may live?' But now that he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (direct quotation of II Sam. 12:22-23).

Notice, God would have been gracious to David, not to his son, to spare the child's life. Notice also, that David was confident that when he died he would see his son again. We know that as a man after God's own Heart, David went to Heaven; thus his child must have been there, too.

I would also point out that God never judges a person without giving them a chance to repent. He does not give everyone the same kind of chance (Matt. 11:21-24), but He does give everybody a good chance (Rom. 1:18-32). A baby has not had a chance to even manifest a sinful nature from which he could repent, let alone understood how to actually repent. To repent is to turn your heart away from your sins (Job 33:27-28); just what has a baby done yet?

Of course, everybody who still clings to that teaching points to the Original Sin, which condemns us all (Rom. 5:13-14); but they neglect the rest of the passage: "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (v.15; emphasis added)!! God is dishing out His grace to as many as will receive it. I have never seen a baby able to resist anything. The grace of God is not excepted.

But why then do we make such a big deal about abortion? "Lo, children are an heritage from the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward" (Psalm 127:3). If people are willing to reject this one of God's blessing for them, what other blessings won't they reject? When you start rebelling against God in one area of your life, you find it easier to do in other areas. Then you lose all the blessings that you would have had--but then you want to blame God because your life was miserable?! We as a society could benefit greatly from the children that we have murder--if we would have but let them live. The economic benefits to this country if it had a greater consumer population and workforce paying into taxes and Social Security and untold numbers of geniuses whom God could have used to help us cure some of the diseases we face--don't begin to tell the story of what we have done to ourselves as a result of this national sin.

The babies are fine. We have only hurt ourselves.