MY CALLING

For years I thought that being in the ministry meant being paid or financially supported in some way. This is a westernized idea. Not a Christian truth.

Being in ministry should be about obeying God and doing that which God called us to do. If God called you, the calling is not revoked just because you no longer hold a salaried position or paid for your service.

Many Pastors would be shocked to learn that the apostle Paul elected to pay his own way rather than  use his right to receive support. I no longer desire a paid ministry position, yet I am just as called today as I was 30 or 40 years ago. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.

I do not need a paid position to fulfill my calling. I simply need obedience to God. In my journey with the Lord, I have learned the joy of sharing my gift freely, while I trust in God to provide for me in my occupation as a flooring contractor.

I pray that I will have stored up treasure in Heaven when I stand before God.

Too often ministry becomes a career and ceases to be a calling. Burnout doesn’t come from obeying our calling. It comes from forsaking our calling in favor of a salary. There is nothing wrong with being paid a salary as a minister, but obedience to God’s  call on our life is not dependent on it. We do what God has called us to do because we love God and find joy in obeying his will for our life.

I teach because I love Jesus, & because I love the truth of the gospel l, & most of all,  because God loves people. Knowing that I am giving people that which God gifted me to do because he loves them, gives me joy and strength.

God has called us because he loves people, and when we co-labor with God and trust him, we find joy in his service and provision for our life.  

 

THE POWER TO GET WEALTH

But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. ~ Deuteronomy 8:18

Deuteronomy 8:18 is one of the most often quoted texts by prosperity preachers who cite it as if it is “a spiritual promise” from God for personal wealth and riches. Yet these words were spoken to the corporate nation of Israel, and not to any single individual. God’s intent for Israel was to make them a great nation above all other nations so that His Name would be glorified. God never promised wealth and riches for every individual in Israel.

The laws given to Israel reflect the fact that the nation would be comprised of individuals across all economic classes. Israel’s laws under Moses made numerous distinctions between the rich and the poor.

There were laws addressing creditors, loans, debts, bribes etc. Consider the following:

If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. ~ Exodus 22:25

You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. ~ Leviticus 19:15

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 23:22

If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. ~ Leviticus 25:35

The promise of wealth which God gave to Israel was national and was dependent on Israel’s loyalty to God and obedience to the law. The wealth of the nation would enable Israel to have a Sabbatical year at the end of every 7th year.

At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord‘s release. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release; Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. ~ Deuteronomy 15:1-11

Notice the distinction in the verses above between the prosperity of the nation and fact that the poor will never cease out of the land. God’s promise was to increase the well fare and well being of the nation so that Israel could take care of their own and lend to many nations rather than being indebted to other nations.

The power to get wealth in Deuteronomy 8:18 is national, and not individual, for there would always be poor among them. Consider that when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus, their firstborn to God, they gave an offering which was commanded in the law: a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons (Luke 2:24). This offering was one which the poor were to bring.

But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. ~ Leviticus 12:5-8

The phrase “if she be not able” is a reference to her economical status. Other translations provide clarity where the KJV is not so clear. For example, the Amplified Bible says, If she cannot afford a lamb then she shall take two turtledoves or young pigeons, one as a burnt offering, the other as a sin offering; the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

Joseph and Mary were both chosen by God. Joseph was a just man (Matthew 1:19) and Mary was a virgin who was favored of the Lord (Luke 1:30). Yet they were poor and not wealthy.

When Deuteronomy 8:18 mentioned above is taken out of its contextual setting, and used as a promise that God intends to make every individual Christian materially wealthy, error soon follows.

The apostle Paul, addressing the issue of riches says the following:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. ~1 Timothy 6:6-11

I recently watched as a prosperity preacher refused to read 1 Timothy 6:10 which says, the love of money is the root of all evil.” His justification for refusing to read this text was his claim that this verse had kept those in the congregation, broke. His exact quote was, “No I’m not going to verse 10. Verse 10 has kept you broke.”

This text which he claims had kept the people broke is part of Paul’s warning to Timothy regarding those who make material riches their pursuit rather than the true riches in Christ. Paul tells Timothy to flee the pursuit of material riches and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness instead. Does this mean that being rich in this world is bad or evil? Absolutely not, but equating earthly riches to godliness is contrary to the doctrine of God.

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. ~ 1 Timothy 6:3-5

Paul follows the words above by saying “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Our pursuit should be godliness with contentment. Paul goes on to instruct Timothy as to what he should teach those who are rich.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. ~1 Timothy 6:17-19

Notice that Paul does not tell Timothy that God promises to make every believer rich, but gives sound instructions for how those who are rich in this world should live godly. They are to:

  • not be proud
  • not trust in their riches
  • be rich in good works with regards to helping others

By doing these things they store up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. In other words, they are using their wealth for godly purposes and storing up treasures in Heaven (godly deeds) rather than storing up material treasures on earth that will eventually be of no value.

Consider the words of James:

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. ~ James 1:9-11

Wealth and riches are temporary, and can not be taken with you. Every billionaire will leave this world when they die as empty handed as the poorest among the poor. This is why the “pursuit” of wealth is vanity, for by this pursuit many “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” ~ 1 Timothy 6:9.

When wealth is obtained honestly by a good work ethic, it is a blessing from God.

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. ~ Ecclesiastes 5:19

Enjoying the fruits of our labor is a gift from God. Yet too many Christians are being programmed to believe that God wants them to obtain a rich status by their giving. When our giving is motivated by the desire to get, rather than the joy of helping others, our giving is no longer motivated by love.

The apostle Paul says, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:3.

The pursuit of riches corrupts even the motives of our giving.

The tragedy of the prosperity gospel is it’s amplification of certain Biblical texts at the expense of other texts which would bring about a balanced scriptural view. Consider the following from the book of Proverbs:

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. ~ Proverbs 30:5-9

The Bible has much to say about wealth and riches. Sometimes it is a blessing from God, and sometimes it is a curse. If our hearts are not pursing godliness, it will certainly be a curse rather than a blessing.

Remember the words of James, “let the rich rejoice in that he is made low.” To be made low is a reference to humility. The rich are instructed to rejoice in humility because earthly riches are temporal and have no eternal value. Thus Paul instructs Timothy to teach the rich in this world to use their wealth in a manner that glorifies God, and not in the pursuit of lavishing possessions upon themselves so they can parade around telling everyone how blessed they are.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ~ Hebrews 13:5

THE GOSPEL GIVES SIGHT TO THE BLIND AND BLINDS THOSE WHO REFUSE TO SEE

From the gospel of John we read how the Jewish leaders persecuted Jesus and sought to slay him because he had done such things as healing on the Sabbath and claiming that God was his Father.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. ~ John 5:16-18

His life was in the Father’s hand and no one could take it from him prematurely. Yet John tells us that at one point later in his ministry he chose to leave Judea because he knew that the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. ~ John 7:1 

At that time there was a real unrest among the Jews because of him and it had become public knowledge that the religious leaders wanted to kill him. They tried on numerous occasions to arrest him but, could not because his time had not yet come.

Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. ~ John 7:30

These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. ~ John 8:20

On more than one occasion they tried to stone him for declaring that God is his Father.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. ~ John 8:59

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. ~ John 10:31

The confrontation between Jesus and the religious authorities, who wanted to silence him, became so intense that they would stop at nothing in their efforts to destroy him. The Jewish leaders were so adamant in their opposition of Jesus, that they agreed together to expel from the Synagogue anyone who confessed or believed that Jesus is the Messiah (John 9:22). They publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could come and arrest Him (John 11:57).

They were so obsessed in their desire to destroy him that they eventually decided to kill Lazarus also because many people had believed in Jesus because of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

The religious authorities did not know him nor did they know God who had sent him. The truth in Jesus angered them so much they chose to harden their hearts against God rather than to believe that Jesus was sent by God.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. ~ John 12:37-41

In John 9:1-6 Jesus had healed a man that had been born blind and because it was done on the Sabbath there quite a backlash from the Pharisees. It was already enough that they hated Jesus but the fact that he had done this miracle on the Sabbath only incited their hate even more. They were so against Jesus that they refused to believe the man’s testimony and expelled him from the Synagogue for testifying that it was Jesus who had given him his sight.

When Jesus heard how the man had been treated He sought and found the man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man responded by saying, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?” Jesus then said to him, “You have both seen him, and it is he that talks with thee.” The man then replied, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Jesus.

Jesus then made this incredible statement, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind” ~ John 9:39 (TNLT).|

When some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this they asked him, “Are we blind also?” In response to their question, Jesus said to them, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” ~ John 9:41

They claimed to see, but refused to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and they refused to believe the works which he did in his Father’s name.

Consider how then how serious their rejection of Jesus really was.

DO YOU NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?

There has been much debate as to whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. The short “technical” answer is no, because one could not possibly be baptized if they called on the Lord while in the throes of death as was the cause with the thief on the cross.

However, I think we miss the real meaning of baptism when we argue away its importance because of we single out thief on the cross.

Way too many Christians have never been baptized, and unfortunately, some feel no urgency to be baptized. We have people who claim to follow Jesus who have never been baptized 6 months, a year, or even two years after conversion. This is not good!

In the Bible, baptism was part of the conversion experience, even though there are rare exceptions such as the thief on the cross. That the thief on the cross was never baptized is not a valid excuse for a person to put off being baptized for months or even years.

If you are reading this and you claim to be a Christian, but you have never been baptized, make it you priority to do so as soon as possible. All throughout the book of Acts, baptism held a place of great importance and was the first act of obedience for those who received the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Lord Jesus commanded it, and the apostles in the book of Acts made it a priority, then who are you not to obey?

Consider the words of the apostle Peter:

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. 1 Peter 3:18-22

The Amplified Bible translates verse 21 (in bold print in the text above) as follows:

Corresponding to that [rescue through the flood], baptism [which is an expression of a believer’s new life in Christ] now saves you, not by removing dirt from the body, but by an appeal to God for a good (clear) conscience, [demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

The ESV says, Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Baptism is a command of God for all who believe in Jesus, and when anyone who claims to be a Christian delays, or makes excuses, rather than just obeying the Lord and following his command, something wrong with their understanding of what it means to be a Christian. When the gospel is rightly appropriated, there is repentance of sin which is a turning away for the old life, and obedience to the command to be baptized which identifies you with the new life you receive in Christ Jesus – a life that is marked by obedience and surrender to the Savior.

If you haven’t been baptized, and you claim to be a Christian, or a follower of Jesus Christ, make it your priority to be baptized as soon as possible.

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. ~ Acts 22:16 

SUPER ABUNDANT GRACE

Some within the hyper grace movement have attempted to defend their position by claiming that the apostle Paul describes grace as “hyper”. In taking this position, they often reference Romans 5:20

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. ~ Romans 5:20

When Paul speaks of grace abounding, his intention is not that of the modern day “hyper grace” message, which promotes a view of grace abounding with doctrinal error. The apostle John tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth, and of his fullness (grace and truth) we have received grace upon grace.

The grace of God does not abound with error. It abounds with truth!

The actual meaning of “abound” is “super abundant”, and Paul is making a clear distinction about God’s grace being super abundant in contrast to the effects of sin on humanity. Regardless of how many sinners need forgiveness God’s abundant grace is able to reach all sinners with salvation. God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus, never runs dry.

Paul is not teaching that God’s grace absolves Christians of any responsibility to live godly and walk in obedience. The very fact that God in his grace has reached out to save us from our sins, ought to teach us that God doesn’t want us to live in sin.

Paul clarifies his position regarding the abundant grace of God just two verses later by saying,What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ~ Romans 6:1-2

A popular text that is often quoted by those who embrace “hyper grace” teachings is found in Romans 6:14 where the idea of servitude and obedience are sometimes read into the word “law”.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” ~ Romans 6:14

The call to obedience and godly living is not law. It is instead the very freedom that the grace of God has purchased for us through the blood of Christ. Because of Christ, we are not under “the law” but under grace.

Notice that Paul says, “the law” rather than law. The idea that Christians have no law to live by is error. When Paul declares that we are not under “the law” he is referring to the Law of Moses as was given to the children of Israel.

When the New Testament speaks of our not being under the law, because of our union with Christ, it is referring to the law covenant which separated Israel from all other nations. It is not referring to one being a “free willy” (doing as one pleases with no regard for the consequences that may occur). As those that have been saved by grace, we have a mandate upon our lives to live godly and holy.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ~ Titus 2:11-15

Consider the following from the text above:

  • Saving grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and wordily lusts.
  • Saving grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly.
  • Saving grace teaches us to do these is anticipation of the coming of Christ.
  • Jesus gave himself for us to purify us to be zealous for good works.
  • These things about grace are to be instructed with all authority.

It is unfortunate that there are people who take a truth like grace and read their own thoughts into a text while ignoring other texts which disqualify such notions. Attempting to qualify the errors within the hyper grace movement by claiming that Paul referred to grace as “super abundant” is a far stretch from the truth.

Whenever a doctrine is based on taking isolated words, phrases, or singling out certain texts while ignoring the volume of other scriptural texts, error quickly ensues. A good example of this is the very loose interpretation of Romans 6:14 cited above: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”. Yet if those who interpret this text as meaning complete freedom from any obligation would simply read the next verse (or even the entirety of the chapter) it wouldn’t take much to understand that they have misunderstood Paul’s intentions in verse 14. Consider verses  15 & 16

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ~ Romans 6:15-16

The entire theology of hyper grace can be refuted by these two verses, which by the way is Paul’s clarification of what he has said in verse 14. God’s super abundant grace is not super abundant in leading us into no obligation to obedience, and godliness.

On the contrary, God’s grace is superabundant in saving us from our sins and leading us into holiness by godly living and obedience to righteous.

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 6:17-23

 

THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

Recently, I heard a minister make the following statement: “If I commit the sin of adultery, I am not an adulterer. I’m a child of God who committed the sin of adultery and my heart is going to hate that. If I commit a sin of stealing, I am not a thief, I’m a child of God who committed the sin of stealing. You see, I don’t get my identity from what I do…”

This comment was made by a minister who advocates the position that all present, and future sins of believers are already forgiven in advance, which of course never need to be repented of because they are already forgiven.

I find it interesting that he said regarding adultery, “my heart is going to hate that”, yet repenting to God and seeking his forgiveness is out of the question in his theology.

When the heart is conscience of sin, we need to come to God for cleansing from sin. The apostle John tells us, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”. ~ 1 John 3:20-21

Many Christians have embraced a false doctrine about sin because they have embraced a false doctrine about grace. Grace does not eradicated us from the responsibility of repenting of our sinful conduct when we knowingly sin against God. Instead, grace gives us the power to not sin when we yield to God.

The apostle John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. 1 John 2:1-2

Jesus is our advocate with the Father when we sin, and he is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Make no mistake about it, when you as a believer knowingly sin, you need cleansing and that is why Jesus is your advocate with the Father.

Now, in view of this, consider the words of the apostle Peter, who speaking to Christians says the following:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? ~ 1 Peter 4:12-17

Peter tells believers, “let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” 

Notice that Peter uses the terms “murderer” and “thief”. The notion that if a Christian steals, commits adultery, murders, yet he isn’t a thief, adulterer, or murderer is not consistent with the sound teachings of scripture.

The popular grace doctrine that teaches Christians that they never need to repent because all their present and future sins are forgiven in advance is dangerous because it denies the real effect that sin can have on a Christian.

Sin hardens the heart and sin that goes unchecked in the life of a Christian can cause them to eventually be hardened against God. The writer of Hebrews says the following to his fellow Jewish brethren, who he referred to as “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end... ~ Hebrews 3:7-14

The notion that we, who are Christians, are already cleansed from all future sins and never need to repent again, even if we commit adultery or murder is not the doctrine of scripture.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit confronted the Corinthians for the sin of fornication in their midst.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2

If Paul inspired by the Spirit of God, reprimanded the Corinthians regarding this sin, then why do those who claim to be “grace teachers” not understand the severity of such sins in the life of a Christian? According to Paul’s letter to Titus, God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts”.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. ~ Titus 2:11-14

Paul then tells Titus, These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” ~ 15.

Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Paul later expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.

For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21

The ideology that sin is no longer an issue which Christians need to address because all “present and future sins” are already forgiven is nowhere taught in the scriptures. The teaching of scripture is that the “provision” for the cleansing of all sin has been made, but the one who lives in sin, or refuses to confess his sin, cannot be in fellowship with God.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ~ 1 John 1:6-7

Those who teach a twisted view of grace claim that the book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus forgave us once for all, therefore all sins, including present and future sins are already forgiven in advance. According to this rational, if a Christian man commits adultery, that sin is already forgiven and cleansed even while he is in the act of committing the sin.

Such is not grace teaching. Rather, it is the doctrine of demons.

The Bible teaches us that Christ’s sacrifice was once for all. This does not mean that God can’t see our sins when we sin, or that sin doesn’t affect our fellowship with God. Neither does it mean that we do not need to repent when we know we have sinned. It simply means that there is no longer any need for the continuation of sacrificial offerings which were offered for sins under the law.

Jesus’s sacrifice will cleanse us, and keep on cleaning us when we sin if we continue in faithfulness towards Christ. Jesus is a priest forever after after the order of Melchisedek  (He is both Priest and King at the right hand of God). There will never, ever, be a need for another sacrifice or another priest. Christ is sufficient forever!

The “once for all” texts in the book of Hebrews have to do with the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice for the cleansing of sin. Those texts do not communicate the idea that all future sins have already forgiven in advance, resulting in Christians being absolved from any accountability for their future sins. Remember the author of Hebrews warns his fellow Jewish believers, whom he referred to as, holy brethren and partakers of the Heavenly calling, of allowing their hearts to become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Those who teach a twisted view of grace sometimes like to quote the text “But 
he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:17, to support their claims. However, this text is not in context of the ideology that present and future sins are already forgiven. Notice the two verse before 1 Corinthians 6:17

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbidWhat? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:15-16

Paul is not teaching that we are immune from the effects of sin because we are one spirit with the Lord in verse 17. Paul is contextually addressing the severity of fornication and the need to abstain from it because of our union with Christ. Thus, Paul says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” ~ 18.

What Paul is teaching is that when a Christian sins against his own body by fornication, he sins against Christ, because his body is a member of Christ. As Christians, our bodies belong to the Lord and we are called to glorify God with both our body and spirit. It is with this in mind that Paul proceeds by saying: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Finally, we need to remember the teaching of Paul in Romans 6. Paul begins by saying:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ~ Romans 6:1-2

Being dead to sin is a reference to our calling in Christ. In the next several verses (3- 10) Paul teaches about the power of the death and resurrection of Christ over sin, which we are called to experience by faith in our daily lives, but we must walk in fellowship with Christ.

The power of Christ’s death and resurrection becomes our victory over sin through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us yield to righteousness rather than yielding the impulses of sin in our flesh.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ~ Romans 6:11-16

Blessings…

WHEN GOD LOOKS AT YOU, DOES HE ONLY SEE JESUS?

A common misconception about grace which many Christians have embraced is the idea that God can no longer see their sins or flaws because God only sees them through Jesus.

While there are many texts which could be cited to refute this idea, we need only to look at the words which Jesus spoke to the churches in the book of the Revelation to find to find out whether or not this idea is credible.

Let’s begin with Jesus’s message to the church of Ephesus.

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ Revelation 2:2-5

Notice that Jesus knew both the good works the Ephesians were doing as well as the bad  things which were displeasing to God. Even though the Ephesians had some good works for which he commended them, Jesus reprimanded them for their wrongs.

Jesus declares that even though he knew their good works, there was something that was causing him to be against them. They had left their first love, and Jesus refers to this as a “fallen” state of which they needed to repent.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ v.5

Those who teach, and those who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus have embraced a belief about Jesus that is not consistent with the words of Jesus. Many who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus also believe that there is no need to repent when they sin because all their past, present, and future sins are forgiven. Yet Jesus tells his people in Ephesus to repent and warns of judgment if they do not.

Now lets consider the words of Jesus to the church at Pergamos.

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. ~ Revelation 2:13-15 

Again Jesus begins by acknowledging their good works, and again he exposes their sins, saying, “I have a few things against thee”.  This is not consistent with the idea that God can’t see our sins and only sees us through Jesus. Jesus points out the sins of his people and tells them to repent. One of the sins in their midst was that some of them were holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, something Jesus says he hates.

The writer of Hebrews says, 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”. ~ Hebrews 10:30-31

Notice that the text says, “the Lord will judge his people” in context to the severity of God. It does not say the Lord can no longer see his people’s sins and therefore there is no need to repent when you sin.

These words are sobering when we compare them to Jesus’s words above which were spoken to the church at Pergamos: “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”. ~ Revelation 2:13-15

Finally consider the words of Jesus to the church of Thyatira.

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. ~ Revelation 2:19-23

These too, are sobering words and agree with that which was written by the author of Hebrews (cited above). Jesus does commend those in Thyatira who have walked uprightly in verses 24-28 and promises them reward for their faithfulness.

It should be noted that in each instance (the church of Ephesus, the church of Pergamos, and the church of Thyatira), Jesus says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7,17,29).  And in each case Jesus promises reward for those who overcome.

Teaching Christians that God only sees them through Jesus and therefore can no longer see their present sins is to teach something other than what the Spirit was saying to the churches in the book of the Revelation. We serve a Holy God who is a loving Heavenly Father, and his desire is that we be pure and holy in his sight. Through Jesus and by virtue of his Spirit he has made provision for us to be pure in his sight, but we must follow him in obedience and faith, and turn from our sins with repentant hearts when we do fail.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8