Distortions of Truth

Monday, June 19, 2017, 3:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1 (NASB).

To Rescue Us (vv. 1-5)

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

What is the gospel of our salvation? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Then, he was crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong, merely because people hated him, were jealous of him, were threatened by him, didn’t like what he taught, didn’t like some of the things he did, didn’t agree with what he stood for, and didn’t believe him for who he was (and is). Yet, this was all in God’s plans and purposes from the beginning of time, that he should be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

For, you see, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope of salvation, and without the promise of eternity with God. We have all sinned, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). So, Jesus, although he knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. He did all this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. For, you see, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives, to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to now become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might be rescued from the kingdom of darkness, and that we might be brought into God’s wonderful light (Jesus Christ, righteousness, and truth). Our salvation does not mean we are merely forgiven our sins so we can continue in sin without guilt. Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age, that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness.

A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There are many people who are distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are twisting God’s Word to make it say what their itching ears want to hear. These distortions of truth come in many different forms, all of which I cannot cover in such a short period of time. One of the most grievous ones, though, is what I term a “false grace gospel.” These people distort God’s grace to make it a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, thus they dilute the true gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, to make it more acceptable to the world and more agreeable to the adulterous and idolatrous church. Thus, they teach that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross.

The gospel message they end up with is no gospel at all, because it leaves its adherents still in slavery (addiction) to sin. Now, this is not to say that we will never sin, but that, as followers of Christ, sin should no longer be our master or us its slaves, for Jesus freed us from slavery to sin, if truly we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We should no longer walk (in lifestyle; habitually) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE IN OUR SINS. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).

What many of these false teachers are telling people is that all they have to do is believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and accept his forgiveness of their sins, and that now they have heaven guaranteed them, and it cannot be taken away from them, no matter how they live from this point forward. But, that is not salvation! That is just carte blanche to continue living in sin while believing that you will still go to heaven when you die. But, where is the freedom from slavery to sin in that? There isn’t any, because there is no death to sin, and no resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus. There is no new birth (being born again) of the Spirit of God, because there has been no death to the old life of living in sin and for self (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Pleasing God, Not Man (vv. 10-12)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

I hear many of these false teachers also tell their listeners that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and that he smiles on us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sin and willful rebellion against him. This is not freedom from sin! This is giving excuses for continued sin against God, and giving God’s blessings upon it, too. Oh, how wrong!

If God is pleased with us with everything we do, even when we are ignoring his Word, and going our own stubborn way, then why does scripture teach us that we need to find out what pleases him and to do it? Why does scripture teach us what does please God? Why does it say that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”? And, why does it say that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”? (See: Ro. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22.)

Jesus died on that cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to please him, and that we might become followers of God, and not of man (humans). What is the point of our salvation if all we do is try to look for loopholes in God’s Word to excuse away our sin, and to try to avoid obeying it? Isn’t that counterproductive? We can’t be servants of the Lord and slaves to sin and the flesh, too. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

So, He Left Them

Friday, June 2, 2017, 7:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 16:1-12 (ESV).

Signs of The Times (vv. 1-4)

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Sometimes, when confronted with the truth, even Christians, or those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, will avoid the truth, change the subject, or they will distract from the truth by talking about what is of little consequence. Sometimes they may do this to try to trick or to trap those who are teaching the truth, perhaps hoping to discredit them in some way so that people will not listen to them. They don’t want to be confronted with the truth, because it causes them to have to face their own lies they believe, and their own lifestyles, and they don’t want to do that, because they don’t want change.

Amazingly enough, many who call themselves Christians know how to work the stock market, they are good at predicting the outcome of elections or ball games, and/or they are good at analyzing everyday situations, and coming up with solutions, but they don’t care to nor do they know how to interpret the signs of the times. They are so busy with their own lives, in doing whatever they do every day, that they are not really paying attention to what is really going on in the world around them, and how that relates to prophecy of scripture regarding these last days. And, sometimes this is because they don’t want to face the reality of the times in which we now live, because they want to believe life will continue to go on as it has been.

The thing of it is, though, that prophecy of scripture is being fulfilled in our lifetime, right before our eyes on a daily basis, and many people, including many Christians are being deceived, and are falling for the lies, and are rejecting the truth. We do live in the era of a wicked and adulterous generation, which is consumed and immersed in self-pleasure, and in being entertained by the world of sin. And, there are many false shepherds of the people and many wolves in sheep’s clothing who are leading God’s people astray, and the people need to be warned, but they also need to heed the warnings. Yet, many are just ignoring the warnings, and are going on with their lives as though they believe nothing bad will ever happen to them.

Then Jesus told them about the “sign of Jonah,” which is described for us more thoroughly in Matthew 12:38-42. There it tells us that this is about Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection, concerning the judgment of God at the end of time, and regarding the preaching against sinful rebellion against God. This is about warning people about their sins of idolatry, unbelief, and of spiritual adultery against their Lord, and calling them to repentance, warning of divine judgment, and promising hope of eternal life to the repentant and the obedient. If we do not repent of our sins, but we continue in sinful rebellion against God, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of hell’s fires.

Jesus, after he told them about how they would be given the sign of Jonah, left them and departed (Matt. 16:4). Yet, it is not that he never had another conversation with them, but that he had said all he needed to say, and so he left. We would do well to follow his example. We need to know when to just walk away from a conversation, so that we don’t waste “time in useless discussions with perverse opponents who will not see the truth.” Jesus, “as it were, despaired of their improvement, and left them in righteous anger at their obduracy. “A man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse; knowing that such a one is perverted and sinneth, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:10, 11) (quoting from Pulpit Commentary on v. 4).

Definitions: Perverse – (of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences (Google). Obdurate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action (Google).

Watch and Beware (vv. 5-12)

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Jesus, then, warned his followers concerning the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who were these? They were teachers of the law, some of them were rulers of the people (on the Sanhedrin), and they were religious leaders in the temple. They wielded an enormous influence and power over the people, so Jesus had to warn his followers against them, and against their lifestyles, their hypocrisy, and their teaching (See also Matthew 23). Just as leaven (yeast) works its way through a whole batch of dough, so can sinful behaviors and attitudes, immorality, false teaching, hypocrisy, gossip, and the like, permeate the lives and minds of Christ’s followers, his church. This is why we need to be made aware of these things, and of those who are leading God’s people astray, so that we reject the lies, and hold to the truth.

So, as ministers of our God, we need to be exposing the lies, and the fruitless deeds of darkness, and we need to be telling the people the truth, which is in contrast to the lies, so that they can reject the lies and follow the truth. We need to confront sin in sinful humans, warn of divine judgment, call for repentance and obedience to Christ and to his Word, and promise eternal life with God to the repentant and to the obedient. We need to tell them that Jesus Christ did not die merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

We also need to tell them that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, CREATED TO BE LIKE GOD IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. God’s grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God, but his grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” TO UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY PASSIONS, AND TO LIVE SELF-CONTROLLED, UPRIGHT AND GODLY LIVES WHILE WE WAIT FOR CHRIST’S RETURN (Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Your Word Exalted

Monday, November 7, 2016, 6:51 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give God the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 138 (ESV).

With my Whole Heart (vv. 1-3)

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

The heart of a person is his (or her) soul, spirit, emotion, mind, will and/or core (center). It is who we are, what we think, what we feel, what we choose, and what we believe. In our hearts we feel compassion, sympathy, kindness, concern and affection for others. In our hearts we can also demonstrate courage, fortitude and resolution, or we may feel worrisome or fearful. We may, as well, be heartbroken. Or, we may have wicked hearts bent on destruction, murder, wickedness, adultery, deceit, and the like.

So, if we give thanks to God and worship him with our whole hearts, then that means we thank him, praise him, and we worship him with our entire being – with all our mind, emotion, passion, conviction, determination, steadfastness and courage, i.e. with NO half-hearted devotion.

“Before the gods” we sing his praise for all that he is and for all that he has done. So, what does that mean? Who are “the gods”? They can be people in high up positions like kings and rulers, or they can be false gods of the people. So, what is the purpose of this? I picture this a lot like Daniel who, after the law was made that the people could not pray to any other god other than the king, or be thrown into a lions’ den, went home, and with windows open, got down on his knees three times a day and prayed to the One True God. This has to do with unashamed devotion to God/Jesus Christ, to where we will stand strong in our faith and in our determination to speak the truth of God’s Holy Word, even in the face of all strong opposition. It is where we will honor God’s Word as holy, even in the face of those who dishonor it and/or who threaten to persecute us if we continue in his Word.

For example, there is a global scheme in play right now to discredit the gospel, as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles. The New World Order “Beast” is making a case to prove that evangelical Christianity is “religious extremism,” to be equated with terrorism, i.e. with hate crimes against humanity. If we, for example, teach against sins which the Bible spells out as sin, but which the world has embraced as the new normal, then we are tagged as bigoted, intolerant and as hatemongers. If we teach that Jesus is the only way to God the Father, then we are bigoted, prideful, and intolerant of other religions. If we teach that we must repent of sins and obey Jesus Christ and his teachings, then we are disunifiers and narrow-minded bigots.

The plot is to bring the whole world under a one-world government (totalitarian) and a one-world (all-inclusive) religion. And, the plan is to shame (or force) the world into compromise, and into doing away with all which divides us as the people of the world, so that we can all join hands with one another in unity under the Beast. This one-world government is being formed before our very eyes under the guise of “climate change.” The agreement has been signed (ratified) in Paris, and from what I understand, their first meeting will be on the 15th of this month, at which time they will determine their “rule book” for the nations to follow (Google CMA1 or Paris Agreement 2016, or in combination with New World Order).

So, if we sing praise to the Lord with our whole being before these kings and before (in the face of) their false religions and false (social) gospels, then we unashamedly exalt the name of Jesus, for who he truly is, and we exalt his Word as the supreme authority over all false teachings and over all laws of men, written to oppose God’s Word. And, we do so knowing that we could be falsely accused, falsely arrested, persecuted, abandoned, rejected and even killed for our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, because we believe in the truths to which we hold fast, and because we have Jesus Christ living within us, and we love him, and we love His Word, and we know that we are standing on the truth in the face of Satan’s lies and deceptions.

The Words of Your Mouth (vv. 4-6)

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

This brings to mind at least two New Testament passages of scripture:

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’” (Ro. 14:10-11). And, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

It appears that it was the psalmist’s conviction that when all the kings of the earth heard the Words of the Lord, from his mouth, that they would praise him and would sing of the ways of the Lord. We don’t have any such promise in scripture, as a whole, that I am aware of, though, that states that all kings on the earth will praise the Lord and sing of his ways after hearing his Words. We know, in fact, that the nations will trample on Jesus and on his servants in these last days, and will persecute the saints of God with great vigor, and that many of the people and kings of this world will never believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, and will, thus, go to hell.

Yet, I do believe a day is coming when every knee will bow and will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that will be on the day when God comes in judgment. Remember how James said that even the demons believe and they shudder. They know Jesus is the Son of God, and that he is God, and they shudder because they fear God, but not in the sense of reverential fear in which they have trusted in Jesus Christ and honor him as Lord. Well, I believe it is something like that. When God comes in judgment, even his enemies will be forced to bow the knee in submission to God, not in love, honor and respect for him as Lord of their lives, but in fearful acknowledgment that he is indeed the God he claimed to be, and that he did exactly what he said he would do. At least, this is my impression, based on my understanding of what scripture teaches.

Yet, I do believe, that through judgment on the earth, during the Tribulation, that many people will come to faith in Jesus Christ – even kings and rulers of the people, if that were possible. Prophecy of scripture teaches that people will be saved during this time. And, it could very well be that they end up believing in Jesus when they see the strength and courage of his servants, when they are faced with enormous opposition, and yet they stand firm in their faith, and in their testimonies for Jesus Christ, and they still give honor and praise to their Lord even in the face of death. When they hear the Word of God, not only taught, but lived out through His faithful servants, many will turn their hearts to Jesus Christ and make him Lord of their lives.

His Purpose for Me (vv. 7-8)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

We live in troubled times, when the gospel of Jesus Christ and its messengers are under severe attack from the enemy of our souls. Many are being severely persecuted and even put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ, and for their stand on his Word and on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Others are being persecuted in less obvious ways, or in less physical ways. They are being attacked verbally, and even from many church pulpits, because they dare to hold to the tenets of the Christian faith, and the purity of scripture, and the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles.

The gospel has slowly and subtly been pecked away at until it barely resembles the gospel taught by Jesus and his apostles. And, it continues to be diluted and altered on a daily basis to make it more palatable and acceptable to the world, as well as to people of all religions, many of whom are becoming “Jesus admirers,” but not Jesus followers. But, then the Jesus they are admiring is largely not the Jesus Christ of scripture, but one that is man-made to fit with the sinful lifestyles and multi-religious practices of the people of this world. They paint Jesus as a do-gooder who just went around smiling and making people happy all the time, but who never confronted people with their sins, or called for repentance and obedience, and who welcomed people of all faiths and lifestyles, and never spoke of hell.

Yet, even though we live in these difficult times, and we know that things are only going to get much worse, before they get better, i.e. when Jesus comes back, we can rest in our Lord, trust in his promises, take him at his Word, and be comforted by his love, care and watch over us. This does not mean he won’t allow us to suffer. He will! The Bible says we will be hated and persecuted, as was Jesus, that we will be disciplined of God, in order that we may share in his holiness, and that we are destined for trials and tribulations. So, we shouldn’t expect that life is going to be easy for us.

Yet, he will be with us, he will strengthen and keep us, he will teach us and lead us in the way we should go, and he will give us all we need to remain firm in our faith and to keep on sharing his gospel, in order that many will be saved. God has a purpose in it all, to make us holy and like Jesus Christ.

Give God the Glory / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 19 / March 10, 2014

All of creation now proclaims:
“Give God the glory; honor His name!”
Each day the stars in heav’n above
Show forth His wisdom; tell of His love.

They do not speak. They have no voice.
Yet, they declare we have a choice:
“Worship the God of heav’n above;
Believe in Jesus; trust in His love.”

God’s word is perfect, just and good,
Refreshing souls who trust in the Lord;
Makes wise the simple; radiant –
Lighting our lives with God’s righteousness.

Joy to the heart His words now speak;
Pure and enduring, now we seek.
They are more precious than our gold;
Sweeter than honey; never grow old.

Keeping the word brings great reward.
By the word Jesus speaks and He warns,
Convicting hearts of all their sin;
Forgiving all who call upon Him.

Praying You keep me, Lord, from sins.
May they not rule my life again.
Then will I walk in all Your ways,
Following Jesus all of my days.