Monthly Archives: June 2015

Judgment Day

In light of the Supreme Court ruling this morning basically legalizing homosexual marriage,  you may be wondering if the title of this blog is appropriate. Many are celebrating the decision and many are not. I choose to celebrate people none the less. They are made in God’s image and they are a treasure, though marred by the fall of man recorded in the Bible. All of us are flawed, myself at the top of the” broken and earthen jar” list. People sometimes drive me crazy and disappoint me, but I sometimes let myself and others down too, so I choose to love individuals unconditionally and will fight to preach the truth that all men are created equal because God says that they are. In the eyes of the law they are equal – but of course we are not all the same and not all “things” are the same or equal either.

But why choose a provocative title? Am I trying to satisfy the wrath of those who believe in the Bible, like I do? No, though I understand it. I chose it because my job every day is to look into the Scriptures and draw out treasures both old and new and then share those treasures. The Bible has witnessed many a day like today. Many so called saviors have arisen who claimed that they loved their country, and that their dictatorial stance was only temporary and would lead to more freedom eventually.

Whenever they drastically changed a law they would claim that they were actually purifying the nation. When all of the less desirables were dealt with, the country they were dismantling would be whole again. History has a way of making deja vu seem boring – after all some memories would be better off being kept in the past where they belong. Today we are told that we are evolving for the common good. We are told it is a good thing to sue someone who won’t bake you a cake when you demand it just because you are willing to pay for it. We are told that some need to sacrifice their freedoms for the “greater” good.

The Same Old Sin-Thing is Boring
Today is a repeat. It is not boring unless you consider the fact that we have seen a series of laws be thrown out even though they were passed legally by a majority vote. And, we have seen more strident judges making up new laws, although their job is to rule on the constitutionality of laws and not to make incursions into the legislative branches business. But that being said, the legislatures would probably go the same way anyway, eventually, “for the good of the country,  you know!”

But all this is blather. Meaningless chit chat. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans really, now that it is. We have crossed a big line today. What I also mean is that talk is cheap when it comes from those who will soon turn to dust, but who will face judgment before they do enter their final state.  The will meet Him – the Judge – God.

Warnings Are Mercy in Disguise
We have been as a nation meeting Him all along.  He is no absentee landlord. He has sent messengers from headquarters to warn us and counsel us. “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord.” That guy ,Isaiah, came a long time ago and told us what God wanted. I am pretty sure his own people’s nasty king Manasseh took him out. He probably told people it was for the good of the nation, that Isaiah was just too exclusive and harsh and narrow minded. Jesus told about the prophets of Israel as though they really were coming from headquarters and that they were beaten and such as reps of the real and merciful Landlord. Then the Chief runs out of messengers and sends His own Son to warn people, and the people think that if they kill the Son they can keep the remote branch office for themselves. So they actually kill him. Mercy in disguise was not recognized properly. It was not appreciated properly.  But it was also ironic that supposedly “religious” people were the ones who loaded the gun, and cocked it, and handed it to the Romans to pull the trigger that killed Jesus. They were religious in name only. Real religious people are by nature merciful and compassionate. See the book of James for that score.

Jesus was talking about Himself in the story about the killing of the son and his messengers. (Mark 12) It was a prophecy. Jesus, mercifully told the people of His day to turn around and be reconciled to God – He warned that if they didn’t change their mind they would perish – judgment would happen. Turn or burn. They thought if we kill Him, that judgement will be done away with and we will be free from this ‘too tight for us to wear’ morality straight jacket kingdom. It didn’t work. He rose from the dead. They all died in their sins and sealed their fate. They enjoyed their so called freedom of sin for a season but now they are wishing for drops of water to cool their tongues from the flames of judgment.

Jesus ascended gloriously to the right hand of His Father and left a small group to keep up the work, and they were given a portion of His own Spirit for power and understanding – so they could continue to fight the fight for real freedom, for real peace, for real equality, but also for eternity. To keep on warning is the job of every Christian. Our very witness is proof that the true owner of this planet is coming again to reclaim it for Himself and to deal with those who would defile it.

A Terribly Tragic Day
This day is tragic because it is a huge step towards attempting to legalize the continued degradation of the human condition. It is a day of death, not of life. It is temporal, but it is still tragic. Most of all it is that way because it means judgment has fallen even more poignantly than ever before this day. We have come to a point that is outlined definitely in the very scary, but very good chapter of the letter to the Romans that one of God’s messengers wrote 2000 years ago. He wrote it to a church in the capital.  Rome was massively moving towards a free for all society. They were falling headfirst into a moral morass. Paul wanted to warn the whole world that true righteousness was not found in wrecking the law that resides on the pages of Holy Writ by passing laws written on cheap paper.  He appealed to whatever was left in the human conscience and wrote a treaty on law, culture, the human condition, and most importantly on the answer, the true answer, for real freedom and hope. In order to get there he had to warn first about the problem. So…

HE TOLD THEM IT WAS JUDGMENT DAY
I will quote him here: “for this reason God gave them up” it says in Romans 1:26. First, let me say this – it actually reads “the God gave them up.” There is only one lawgiver and His name is Jehovah. That was the name God was known by only  to men who were in relationship to Him. He has other names, one is Judge. He is Judge because He always does the right thing. He is Judge because He is the Creator. He made us and owns us and has always done right by us. He also will eventually give us what we want. If we want to be “free” of Him, He somehow allows that. By definition that is not what we would think a “righteous” judge would do. WE would think He would stop it immediately. But a judge is not a cop. A judge is to rule on law. Eventually all will be brought to justice when the Son’s angels will police everyone up – and deliver all to be judged- by what we have done in the body for good or for evil.

Judgment Equals “Gave Them Up”
When it says in Romans that the Judge, God, “gave them up,” what Paul is saying is that the guilty guy is not being sent to a reformatory, but is being consigned and locked into the exact state that they were attempting to force everyone else to become – rebels against a holy Judge. God’s judgment was “so be it then!” First to unbridled passions in Romans 1:26. People kept and keep going on in sin.  Sin is never satisfied; when it is out of the barn it is mowing down everything in sight. Being “given up to” passions without controls means God consigned someone He loves, that He has an interest in, to get what they want.  The Judge, God then gives them over to a “debased mind” in verse 28. This is so critical. When the mind is given over to be in a debased state, it cannot guard the heart and the rest of the person is absolutely compromised. In verse 22 we find out that a futile thinker leads certainly to having a darkened heart. Without a heart there is no mercy, no compassion – brutality will follow. There is no doubt where the culture is headed – certain ruinous barbarism.  Rome was the same way – moral debasement then great cruelty.

The 1900’s Were No Accident
I skipped over one – one state that we passed many moons ago in our nation. It is the state of impurity in Romans 1:24. We lost our purity it seems in the last century. It came like a flood in the music of the 1950’s and went crazy in the 1960’s. It started much earlier in the church – somewhere in the 1940’s when the church went for impure doctrine – abandoning the pure gospel for another that was no gospel. By the time the 50’s hit there was no guard for the heart of the country. The American church was already sick in the head – impure doctrine leads to a state of impurity and degradation. Satan’s scheme worked maybe because he knows God’s words better than we do – he used it against us. He went after the church and then the culture was easy pickings.

Legalized abortion followed in the 70’s and now we are in 2015 and we have legalized homosexual marriage by court mandated/sanctioned lawmaking. It had to happen. I want to throw up. I am ashamed to be an American now. It is my shame too – I am a sinner, a lawbreaker, a moral failure, a sinner of the first degree. I have known Jesus since I was eight years old and still I have been guilty of breaking His laws. I, in some ways, am worse than those who know not the law and break it in some level of ignorance. But I am also redeemed from the curse of my law breaking. I have found freedom – and I don’t mean perfection yet. But I will one day be perfected in My King who already is  perfect.

Chapter two of Romans consigns the so-called moral man to being branded a sinner/lawbreaker, as well as the sexually immoral and more outward sinner of chapter one. The warning of Romans two is that there will be tribulations and distress for every man being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek, for God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:9-11)

The Really Big Question
So where do we go from here? It is time to preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow because there may not be too many of them left. Romans 3 preaches that “all are under sin – none is righteous, no, not one.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one….the way of peace they have not known, there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The really big question is what to do now, sinner! If the whole world, including me, is accountable, what do we do? How do we get back? The answer is tragic today – as a nation we do not. We have crossed a line. Our hope is for one person at a time, here and there to repent. Peter preached that sermon on Pentecost – some fifty days after Jesus was killed – repent! Change your mind is the meaning of that word in the Greek where it was penned first. Only when the gospel is preached is their enough light available to enlighten a mind that is dark and a heart that is black with the night of death. We need to be made right – righteous as the Bible says it.

Answer
Paul said it under inspiration of God Himself this way in Romans 3:21-26

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Be Emboldened Dear Christian
This is not a day to give up on people, but to give up on politics. I don’t mean that we should stop talking about changing the laws, or throwing out the bums from congress, or arresting the criminals (even if they work of the government) – for a fitting and reasoned cultural response as American citizens read Randy Thomasson’s article here.

What I am saying is that a “cultural” response is not the real focus of evangelical Christians and can not be – the Ameri-Titanicus is going down – we must rescue “possible” survivors. We must preach the gospel to people who can be saved but maybe eternally lost. The culture is lost but we may, and we will, be able to pick up willing people out of the ocean and put them on the Ark with us by proclaiming the gospel that is powerful to save!

We must also renounce sin – anything that is distracting us and snaring us must go. We must have a humble and broken spirit about the great loss that today’s decision portends. We must weep and pray and fast and weep some more. Then we must get up and let God’s Word be a fire in us – we must steel our souls by the Word and be washed by the water of the Word, and get ready to fight for souls. WE must pray for courage! We are going to need it.

We must come together in our local churches and band together with those who are like minded. We are going to need to be one as Jesus commanded us to be – in love. We are going to need to abide in His love by keeping His commandment to love one another in reality by His grace.

It is time to move on with the work that we have been fitted to do by the generous gift of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into our hearts that happened when we were saved. It is time to get back to Bible reading, and Biblical meditation, and Biblical living and Biblical preaching. It is time to be the church of Acts.

It is time to act.

God be with us.

Suddenly

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 
Acts 2:2

The Word αφνω in the original language of the New Testament, or aphno in our alphabet is the word “suddenly” in the ESV, the KJV, NASB, NIV, and even in the paraphrase NLT. I suppose we should stick to suddenly.

The Greek Lexicon of Louw & Nida gives this definition of ‘aphno’ – “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’.

There had been a promise made a long time ago. That can be found in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and Joel.

Jeremiah Foretold It
The weeping prophet who cried out in Jeremiah 9:1 “oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” found solace in a future day when the Lord would do something “new.”

Listen to his voice repeating the revelation of the Spirit of God regarding the very days that we are privileged to live in:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

You might say “wait a minute with that interpretation dear brother! Where does it say the Holy Spirit in this text?” You would be right to ask it. But notice what it does say. “I will write it on their hearts.” It says, “and no longer shall each one teach his neighbor…for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” How does this happen according to the revelation of the greatest prophet who ever lived? Jesus said in John’s gospel chapter fifteen,  “but when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

He called the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth.” We have all heard that but have you ever made the connection that God’s Word – titled “my law” in Jeremiah had to be written on the hearts of every believer and the one person in God who could write this on each and every one of us had to be the promised Holy Spirit? That is a sweet truth. God did send the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. God does send the Spirit to every believer who by faith comes to salvation and is made a new creation in Christ.

Joel’s Prophecy is Different
Joel says simply this”

28  “And it shall come to pass afterward,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

29  Even on the male and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Joel says it will result (the Holy Spirit being poured out) in prophecy, dreams and visions. He says all flesh as in all kinds of people without distinction between the nations. This matches Jesus’ command to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.

But wait a minute again. These happened hundreds of years before the “suddenly” in Acts 2.  Isn’t hundreds of years a long time? Not with God it isn’t. With God time is not necessarily linear – “one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” So in God’s timetable it was only half a day later when the promise came true.

You could also look at this way. From the time Jesus commanded in Acts 1 for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem it was even more “suddenly.” Jesus stayed around for 40 days giving many convincing proofs of His resurrection bodily. Then He ascended to heaven to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Pentecost was 50 days from Passover. So fifty minus forty equals ten. Ten days from the promise in Acts 1:8 to the fulfillment in Acts 2:2. That is suddenly. This suddenly changed the lives of the believers. Not just the apostles but the believers in the “whole house” heard the sound and the church was founded in one sudden moment of explosive power and wonder and signs and dreams and visions and prophecy. The New Testament was written because of the coming of the Holy Spirit and people, thousands of people go saved and added to the “number” there in Jerusalem. Then they started to be persecuted and Stephen was martyred and then others and then the gospel began to spread as it has even to this very day. So intense is this work of God’s Spirit in this age of grace that fits into an age that is also called the eon of the dominion of the Enemy…that he must be turning into a schizophrenic personality. On the one hand he has many bamboozled into believing his lies and at the same time many are turning to Christ and being filled by the Holy Spirit of God.

For them, indeed for us when we get born from above as Jesus described it in John 3 that same suddenly happens all over again. It does not stop with conversion. Suddenly we find ourselves in places and all of a sudden the Spirit of God works. We can’t stop praying or reading or witnessing or doing our jobs with excellence or dreaming of what it would be like if we could leverage more of our gifts for His precious and mighty kingdom.

Suddenly He re-fills us. Suddenly peace comes. Assurance returns. Joy bubbles up. Life is put back into perspective. It is almost like the wind. We don’t see it coming. It is almost like a fire – it consumes our fears and our shame and lifts up the soul on wings as eagles.

suddenly…

ready????
What about the sinner. This suddenly ultimately applies to you more than anyone. Here is the definition at the top of this post. “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’ from Louw & Nida. I have been talking about the event of the promise and not the rest of the definition….the “state.” For the unbeliever the status of no Holy Spirit to the condition of having the Spirit of God is instantaneous. One moment dead in trespasses and sins. The next you have God – you have Jesus – all because you have been baptized into the Holy Spirit. “Extremely short” is a massive understatement  as these states are infinitely closed together. Suddenly you know your sins forgiven. Suddenly you have the power to be transformed, to understand, to see, to be alive. Oh sinner…you can by simple faith in Christ, turn from your sins to the Savior and suddenly you will be made new. Suddenly He makes all things new. Suddenly al the promises of God are for you Yes and Amen! Suddenly the plant bursts forth a flower and then just as suddenly the flower becomes fruit. Won’t you come sinner to the cross and be made new this very moment? Please ask if you need more explanation or want to talk or pray with us who have undergone this great event…We WOULD LOVE IT!!!!

OH GOD…again ALLOW YOUR Holy Spirit to fill us with your presence and use us in the work we have all been commissioned to do…to witness to the truth – the powerful gospel. We will change and others will for the first time be introduced to “suddenly there came from heaven…” and all will be blessed and His name will be glorified, the mighty, beautiful and awesome name of the Mercy on High – our blessed Savior and soon coming King Jesus!

Selah