Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ten Things Christians Should Be Talking About, But Aren't, Part II

We continue with the second half of Ten Things Christians Should Be Talking About, But Aren't. Read the first half here.

6.      Context of Scripture
Knowledge of the Bible can actually be counterproductive if it is not accurate. Parts of the Bible can be easy to misinterpret—and many churches teach their own interpretations apart from what God says.
Where Christians, both true Christians and those who claim to be, fall short is in looking into what a passage truly says. This involves looking at the passage as a whole, not just reading one verse and deciding its meaning. (And, in the case of some religions/denominations, building their entire faith around that.) It means looking at the historical context—who it was written to, why it was written, and who the author is. Commonly, James’ teachings are interpreted to be teaching a works or partial-works salvation, while ignoring that His audience was professing Christians. It involves cross-referencing by comparing scripture with scripture. James says faith alone won’t save us (speaking of a professed faith), but comparing that to the words of Paul, Jesus, Peter and others tells us that it is faith alone that saves—hence, James must be referring to something different.
The born-again love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 as if it was God just throwing it out there for us to be encouraged by. In reality, the verse comes in the midst of a letter telling Israel their captivity will last seventy years, in contrast to a false prophet claiming it would be two years. Christians look at the verse like Hannaniah, the false prophet. “God is going to work in my plan to bring me what I want to do and be. And it’ll be soon.” Completely wrong. As the following verses tell us, God will move when the people become right with Him, and He most definitely has a plan for them. But that is HIS plan and it will happen when and how HE wants it done.
When we ignore what a passage is referencing, we are in danger of at least misleading Christians, if not leading others and even ourselves to damnation. Context is crucial, and cannot be ignored by God’s people.

7.      Old Testament (especially the Law)
There are various excuses Christians give as to why they ignore the Old Testament. Some believe it is no longer relevant. Some believe it’s not useful for the church age. Some even believe it is all made up, just a long story with symbolism. None of these are true.

From the beginning, yes, even a literal six-day creation, the Old Testament teaches us the history of God’s people through whom came Jesus Christ. The New Testament is very clear on its relevance.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." –Romans 15:4
The Old Testament is there to teach us. What did the people do right? Imitate it. What did they do wrong? Stay away from it. How did God behave? He still behaves that way now (I realize I pushed wrath, but God was quite merciful to Israel).
It goes beyond that. There are around 2500 prophecies in the Bible, the vast majority being in the Old Testament. The Old Testament gives the Bible validity, as 2000 of those prophecies were fulfilled, centuries after being prophesied. There are hundreds of quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament—a number of which were said by Jesus Himself. If Jesus and the New Testament writers found the Old Testament important, we should too.
The Old Testament law seems to be particularly ignored. “We’re not under the law.” True, Christians aren’t, but the lost are.
"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man…But now we are delivered from the law…" –Romans 7:1-3, 6a
Until we are dead with Christ in salvation, we remain under the law.
"Moreover by [the law] is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." –Psalm 19:11
The law warns us by telling us what is acceptable and what is sin. Without the warning from our “schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24), there would be nothing to show us our sin and the need for One who can expunge them.
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." –Romans 3:20
The law shows us that we are sinful. Because no one can follow the law, it shows us that we need One who can.
“But Jesus destroyed the law.” Show me that in the Bible. You can’t. It’s not there. You will find the literal opposite:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." –Matthew 5:17-18
Jesus is a fulfillment of the law, and is the only One who could be.
The law also points to Christ. Particularly-picked-upon Leviticus explains five sacrifices, each a symbol of a different way in which Christ was the ultimate sacrifice. It also tells us how we must sacrifice ourselves.
Don’t miss the importance of the Old Testament, nor the law. They are in scripture and they serve a purpose. Study it, learn it, and speak about it.

8.      Sin Nature
Ask many Christians if they are good people, and they might just tell you “yes”. Such a thought, though seemingly harmless, strikes at the heart of one of the world’s greatest problems. We underestimate just how evil humans can be. I would say a majority of America, Christians included, would probably say something like, “I think people are generally good. I believe most people try to do good things, only occasionally mess up.” Society believes, wrongly, that evil actions are isolated instead of out of an evil nature.
God has something very different to say. The Bible plainly tells us that people are inherently bad. Sure, we are capable of good things, even outside of Christianity, because our God-given consciences tell us general right and wrong. But when it comes to humans as a whole—well, we are an evil lot.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…"Romans 5:12
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…" –Romans 3:23
The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and, therefore, do not meet God’s standards for righteousness.
But just how bad is our sinful condition?
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." –Romans 3:10-19
Pretty bad? Not just Romans speaks of this:
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities."Isaiah 64:6-7
God has his Himself, ready to consume us because of our sin. And “our righteousnesses”—the very best we can offer—is like filthy rags to God. The Hebrew words for “filthy rags” has the connotation of menstrual rags. Yes, that is what our very best we offer is to God.
And I think most Christians realize this. They are familiar with at least some of these verses. But when it comes to practicing this belief, they don’t do their job. When (and if) we are witnessing, we would say we’re all sinful, and in being sinful need a Savior. But for some reason, the idea of having a sin nature and being a bad person don’t equate. What we need to do is live this out constantly in our speech. No, we are not good people, not before salvation, and not after. In fact, we are quite evil in our thoughts, and, following, in our actions. What separates Christians is an “alien righteousness”, as Wretched host Todd Friel calls it. Christ took our sin upon Himself and robed us in His righteousness. When God sees us, He sees His perfect Son, not our sin. This is what Christ came to offer us—His righteousness, and not our own. Because our own would never do. Or, as the timeless saying goes, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive.”

9.      God’s Chastisement
I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but this is such an issue with Christianity today I feel it is necessary. “Ain’t no need to beat a dead horse; don’t hurt none either.” We are sometimes guilty of overlooking God’s holiness and justice as we look at His love. We are so familiar with God’s promises to us that we forget we have commandments to uphold:
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." Hebrews 12:4-13
That lays it out better than I could. There is a price for sin. Period. Now the price for sin is brought upon the lost with God’s wrath, but on the saved by His love. When does a parent discipline their child? Hopefully, when the child has done wrong. And that punishment will eventually teach the child to stop doing what is wrong. In the same way, God works with His children. When we fail Him, He punishes us, not out of anger, but out of love, so that we don’t continue to stain and harm ourselves with sin.
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." –Hebrews 10:28-31, 37-39
Those that willfully broke Moses’ law were put to death. But when we sin we trample on the very blood of Jesus that saved us by counting it useless to deliver us from sin. Jesus is coming, and we are not to draw back and become counterproductive for God’s cause and glory, but are to believe and serve Him.
Chastening is not a bad thing, it is a necessary thing. We stress God’s forgiveness for our sin, and He is so long-suffering with us, even those that are backslidden. But know that there is also a price for sin. There is chastisement on Earth, and God will call all of our actions into judgment in the end.

10.      Hot-Button Issues
Christians often refuse to get involved with—yea, hardly acknowledge—the most polarizing issues in our country. They don’t want to be involved in politics. They don’t want to offend anyone. They may even have believed the liberal garbage that “the church has no place to take a stand in ‘political’ issues.” Jesus, who Himself was a hot-button issue, would have a different stance.
I don’t believe the church should jump straight into the middle of politics. I believe that the members of the church should hold informed views, and believe, as Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers truly intended it, that the nowhere-in-the-Constitution “separation of church and state” is to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state. Don’t be scared out of taking a stand.
And there are some issues that Christians need to take a stand on. Many of these issues would not be political except for the Left’s rewriting of laws, which then helps them claim that “churches shouldn’t hold an opinion.” But for anyone that cares about the direction of our country, whether revival or a train wreck is the goal, we should care about hot-button issues. And church membership should not and must not prevent that—nor should biblical beliefs be compromised on the basis of keeping the church from influencing the government (which was never the intention). Oddly enough, many liberals too are members of churches, but fellow Leftists have no problem having their influence in government.
But before I the soapbox gets going down the hill, I will address why Christians should talk about the issues.
“News flash, American church: Jesus is against baby-killing.” Mark Harrington, Executive Director of Created Equal, has been an inspiring influence in my life, and speaks as to why abortion is not just an issue, but a gospel issue. First, a pro-life view stands in contrast to dangerous worldviews that tell us human life is invaluable, if not directly, then by the obvious results. One part of the secular worldview is Evolution, which summarized, states that humans are just the most advanced animal and our creation was an accident—which consequently gives no value to human life. But God created us in His image, standing out from all other creation. Hence, as He values us, so should we value human life.
A suction and curettage abortion at 9 weeks

Being pro-life is also a gospel issue, Harrington says, because it gives the church legitimacy. Who takes seriously the German church in the 1930s and ‘40s while they turned a blind eye to Nazi practices? Or the Argentine churches in the 1970s while the Dirty War claimed thousands of lives? In the same manner, who will take America’s churches seriously if they don’t stand up for the group who can’t stand up for themselves?
We know the biblical truth. We are commanded not to murder.
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." –Luke 18:16
The Bible speaks of John the Baptist by saying Elizabeth conceived a son (Luke 1:36) and bare a son (Luke 1:57). He was her son from the beginning. What’s more, the baby leapt in her womb when he was near Jesus in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:44, 47). Job 3:16 uses this terminology to describe the preborn: "Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light."
I could go on, but this point isn’t solely about abortion. Anyone informed and with an unseared conscience would be against this barbarism. When we know there is something so wrong in our nation, we have to speak up. We must be willing to get involved, because God cares. Don’t let liberals make this political; this is a case of basic moral truth.
Unfortunately, as much as abortion has been an issue is now gay marriage. This seems to catch even more Christians in a trap, as people who don’t even believe the Bible use Jesus’ command to “judge not” on them. As if somehow sharing God’s truth is casting judgment on someone. We don’t need to judge: God already is. But the recent push by the Pride Police to take away churches’ exempt status if they weigh in on a biblical commandment has some people, including pastors, scared. Even worse, there are self-proclaimed Christians who are actually condoning gay marriage, either feeling the alternative would be judging or, even more baseless, that the Bible too condones it.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."Romans 1:18-27
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."I Corinthians 6:9-10
"And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." –Genesis 2:22-24
"And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." –Matthew 19:4-6
Not a very good view of homosexuality from God, is it? No, nowhere does the Bible condone homosexuality. And for greater clarification, none of these verses are in the Old Testament law. Furthermore, God designed marriage between a man and a woman before the law, and Jesus, who “never talked about homosexuality”, reinforces that. Who needs to call out homosexuality when the true design is so clear?
Homosexuality should not be the issue for Christians, because many of us are guilty of sexual sins as well, and all are guilty of sin. But it should be an issue. Realize what else the Bible says in Romans chapter one:
"Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." –Romans 1:32
Not only are those guilty of the sin worthy of death, but those who find it fine are as well. If we aren’t willing to call out sin (and all of it is repulsive before God), we condone it. We cannot allow, without a fight, our country to go the way of destruction by destroying what God has designed and ordained. We have to be willing to stand in opposition to what is popular, even if liberal “tolerance” is, ironically, shoved down our throats. God commands this instead:
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." –Ephesians 5:11-14
We are not to condone, not even to ignore, but to expose. And if it was spoken of in scripture, it should be spoken of by us. These issues are far from the only prevalent issues we should be speaking about, but abortion and sexuality are at the forefront, as these are often what Progressives leverage in societal change. Striking at the heart of the biblical family strikes at the heart of society. Societal change and values begin in the home.

There is a great danger in Christianity today in that we are unwilling to address issues we believe are difficult, or will not be well-received by the world. Look at Jesus. He wasn’t exactly the most popular teacher. In fact, they killed Him for what He taught. But He spoke what was necessary, and the Bible speaks what is necessary. We just have to have the boldness to do so and the lives to back it up. Only then can we truly be effective for God, instead of worrying whose toes we might step on.
The world is full of people that need to be offended with the truth God has given us. Will we cower in fear, or share it? I have heard the saying that if Jesus were walking the Earth today, He wouldn’t recognize the things He said. I find that painfully true. Jesus didn’t cut corners or back down: why do we? Rightly divide the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15), and be sharing it, whether it is easy and fun or not.

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