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Why the Focus on Weaknesses and Difficuties?

We have become obsessed in the church today with our weakness and our struggles in life. Yes, we are weak and powerless without Christ. But we are more than conquerors in Christ.

In our attempt to ‘be real’ as the church we overemphasize our weaknesses, our hurts, our flaws, how life is so overwhelmingly hard. But have we not been made new in Jesus? Have we not been given victory?

Why do we preach as if life controls us. Did not the apostle Paul speak of his victories in the midst of one of the most difficult lives a Christian has faced? Paul claimed that our power comes through our weaknesses and that our power comes through our trials and hardships. Notice he doesn’t say these occur in spite of our weaknesses or our trials, but literally through them.

We need to stop solely seeing ourselves as powerless floats being tossed wherever the ocean of life wants to take us. Paul told us to put on armor and pick up a sword. These are words for warriors, not prisoners and weaklings.

We live in times that need a church triumphant, not wimpy Christians who are constantly whining. We must confess our fallen condition, our weakness, our failures our utter worthlessness without Christ. But we must also confess our power and victory in Christ.

The Resurrection Can Cause Trouble

The Resurrection of Jesus caused many problems for many people.

     Guards and their superiors
     People who cried for His crucifixion
     Citizens of Jerusalem suffering under the oppression of Rome

His resurrection still causes problems for people today.
His resurrection 100% establishes His identity and His message. Because He is who He is and His message is true, everyone must make a decision of what they will do about this truth.

We have only one of three options.

  • Reject the resurrection and His message
  • Believe it occurred but ignore what it means to us – essentially do nothing or very little about it
  • Accept, believe it and act on it

There are natural results to every decision.
Choosing one of the first two options places us outside of the salvation of God.
Choosing the third provides us salvation.
However, choosing the third means dying to ourselves and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.
This goes 100% against our nature.

Good People Don’t Go To Heaven

Good people don’t go to heaven. Saved people go to heaven.

There are no good people. Romans 3:11-12 says, ““There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.” Someone may respond by saying, well, it’s a relative term. People who are good , relative to others go to heaven. There’s a certain level of goodness that gets you into heaven.

Nope. Any “goodness” we have is a derived goodness. It is derived from God, through His Son, Jesus. He makes us ‘good’. It is true that some people are more moral than others, more kind than others, more caring then others, and so on and so on. However, even this goodness is derived form God, a gift from God. This relative level of morality, kindness and compassion is given by God, even to unbelievers. However, when someone agrees to act by faith and accept Jesus to be their Savior and Lord, His goodness begins to develop and work in us.

We think by being good by our definition of good, God is compelled, even required to let us into heaven. “If that person didn’t make it into heaven no one will.” Heaven is God’s reward for those who submit to Him. Heaven is holy an NO unclean thing can enter there. So how do we get in? Through Jesus. He forgives us and He takes the full wrath of God and the full punishment of sin on Himself.

There is another extreme people often take when considering this. ‘All I have to do is believe in Jesus.’ What exactly do we mean when we say that? Believe He exists? Believe He did live on earth some 2000 years ago? Believe He did die on a cross, for the sins of the world?

The belief must be something beyond all of those things. It must be a surrender to Him as our only hope and as our Lord – which means absolute authority – so we must surrender to His authority in our lives. Are we really doing that? Is He really the authority in our lives?

“I thought we weren’t saved by our works.” We’re not, but we are saved unto good works. Can one honestly say they have surrendered to Jesus as Lord and continue in a willful life of sin and disobedience to Him? That’s not believing in Jesus. That is simply an acknowledgement of his existence. Its not even an acknowledgement of who He really is.

Keep Your Beliefs to Yourself

In Finland, officially a Christian nation, a member of parliament, Päivi Räsänen, is being charged and prosecuted for objecting to homosexuality on social media and radio. The prosecutor goes to lengths to make a clear distinction between Ms. Räsänen’s freedom to believe what she wants but not to express it however she wants.

In framing the case the state prosecutor said, “Understanding deeds as sin is derogatory”. Really? This view makes offending someone a greater evil than disobeying God. The prosecutor went on to say that sexual identity is the ‘core of humanity’. No, being the image of God and a reflection of his glory is not the core of who we are, but rather our sexual identity is.

Oddly enough the prosecutor stumbles onto, quite accidentally I’m sure, to some truth when they say, “When one judges deeds, the whole person is judged. Actions cannot be separated from identity because actions are part of identity.” This is indeed true and ironically contradicts the prosecutor’s own case. Our actions are a part of our identity. They display what is going on in our heart, our soul. A sinful heart will produce wicked fruit.

The incredible irony is that in order to prosecute this case the state has judged Ms. Räsänen’s actions when she expressed her beliefs as wrong, thereby contradicting its position that to judge someone’s actions is wrong.

This censorship of the expression of one’s beliefs is a challenge for Christians. The Bible clearly teaches us to speak the truth, to proclaim what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. God has made the distinction between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness clear, evident and frankly, easy to understand. He then commands us to share this news. Some will say, but we are to speak in love. Well of course we are. In love for the captive, the sinner, we are motivated to warn them of their rebellion and impending doom. In love for Christ and His body, we are to guard and protect the holiness of His church.

It is not love to ignore the condition and destiny of the disobedient captive. If I see someone standing in the middle of the road and a dump truck is speeding toward them I have to really hate that person or be sinfully indifferent if I do not warn them, either because I am afraid of offending them or just don’t care.

Finally let us consider the persecution of the believer seen in this story. Sure, you may say, well this happened in Finland, not here. Remember, Finland is officially a Christian nation. How far are we really, from seeing much the same right where we are? Maybe it doesn’t come in the form of a state prosecuting us. Maybe it comes as an employer firing us or a bank or a store not doing business with us. Are we really that far away? Are we prepared for it? Are we ready and willing?


Is it misinformation to say Jesus raised from the dead?

Much is being made of “misinformation” these days. The question that begs to be asked is, who gets to decide what is misinformation? Is it misinformation to say Jesus raised from the dead? An awful lot of people don’t believe Jesus raised from the dead. Does that make it misinformation? Is it misinformation to say Jesus is Lord (which means He is absolute authority, above any government or any rule or system, etc)? Is it misinformation to say that a human in the womb has been fearfully and wonderfully made by God? Is it misinformation to declare that marriage is to be between one man and one woman? Is it misinformation to state that there is only one God and it is He who is revealed in the Bible and by His Son, Jesus?

All of those statements above are thought to be false by a large part of the world. Does that mean they are misinformation? What is the criteria for something to be labeled misinformation? Is it because it disagrees with mainstream belief or perhaps mainstream agenda? Is it because it may stir up strong feelings or disagreement? Do we not think that the words of the Bible, the Words of Jesus will not cause strong feelings, disagreement and even division? Jesus Himself said that they indeed would do just that.

Who gets to decide what is misinformation? Is there or will there be a misinformation council or Czar? As we allow a select group of people to determine what is misinformation what will be the affect? As we continue to allow voices to be shut down because some group, even the majority perhaps, disagree are we prepared for it to be our voice next? Is this church prepared to be told what they are and are not allowed to say? Are we prepared to speak the truth even when it is unpopular? Would we be willing to speak boldly about Christ if it is banned or cancelled, if there is a real, measurable cost for doing so? Paul was, Peter was, Stephen was – will we?

The Church Better get Serious

Change is coming. It has been coming, gradually at times, more rapid at others. Often subtle, like a thief in the night, you wake in the morning and discover something has been taken from you; sometimes head on like a charge against the walls. Our enemy is becoming emboldened, often no longer even denying or hiding their evil desires; becoming increasingly violent. Change is coming.

We’ve grown complacent in our comfort. We, the church, build bigger and fancier facilities and put on lavish productions. We’ve done all this while the enemy, like the little foxes have been eating away at the walls and the hedge rows and destroying the vineyard. Have we noticed the yield of fruit getting smaller and smaller?

The church’s new cardinal virtues are compromise, unity and being nice. While these are all good, they are not the things the door hangs and swings on (the term cardinal comes from the Latin word for hinge). But what fellowship has light with darkness? What communion has truth with lies?

America has provided us with freedom and liberty, but we have wasted this liberty while we took it for granted. The next election will not change this course regardless of who wins. It may alter the timeline, but it is not a political answer that is needed. It is a change of values and priorities that is needed. Our political environment should reflect our values – and sadly, often they do, but not in a good way. We should take advantage of our political process to advance the gospel, but we will not do so until we, as the church take on a proper worldview, a worldview based on God and His Word.

As we remain on our present course change is coming. America will not remain the preeminent nation of the world. Some may view that as good. I do not. With our system of freedom and our influence, we have an opportunity to practice and advance the gospel as no other nation in the world does. But we are seeing the thief take this opportunity as we sit by and do very little to protect what should be our real values, found in a life following Jesus Christ.

It is only a matter of time until restrictions are placed on how we worship, how we witness, how we live as Christians. Many in the church will rationalize the changes and accept them – as long as they have their smart phones and TV. But even that will change. You may have your things, but you will use them in the way someone else says.

The Bible clearly warns us about this change. Paul says in his letter to Timothy that a time is coming when people won’t want to listen to sound teaching and doctrine but instead will fill their ears and their minds listening to people who feed their own desires and passions (from 2 Timothy 4:3). He also talks of a rebellion against God and John tells of a far reaching falling away.

Change is coming. The church should prepare for it.

Free Stuff

How is it anyone thinks its a good idea to take more from people’s paychecks in order to turn around and give them stuff, like free college education, etc, using the money you took from the paycheck? The people who think such a thing is a good idea must believe people are too stupid to manage their own money.

Some would argue a similar, more altruistic approach is to take from the wealthy and give it to the poor – the Robin Hood system. Politicians refer to this as the “Tax the Rich” solution. They need to pay their fair share (I’ve never met or heard anyone who could objectively define how much is the “fair share”).

Many would say, if you are Christian you would certainly be in favor of such a system. But is that what the Bible teaches?

If the Bible doesn’t teach this, then why would Christians be in favor of it? As Christians, our worldview is shaped by the Bible.

So what does the Bible say about this topic? Lets start with the greatest example of philanthropy, which occurs in Acts 2 and reinforced in Acts 4. At the end of Acts 2 we see a great moving of the Holy Spirit in the newly born church. The believers were in awe and were witnessing signs and wonders and people being added daily to the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit was working in their lives and they were filled with a spirit of fellowship and generosity. They sold their possessions and belongings and distributed the proceeds to anyone who had need.

They gave willingly. It was not taken from them. There was no rule or law or tax that forced them or even compelled them to give. They were exercising generosity. The result – everyone’s needs were met and people were drawn to Christ. Giving in generosity is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Where is the generosity in having money taken and then given to others? Where is the operation of the Holy Spirit in this?

The Bible speaks often about generosity and helping those in need. It is an act of love and trust, not an act of of congress. In the New Testament church it was the people who helped those in need, not the government.

The Bible also teaches us that all who are able should work for what they have and take personal responsibility to manage it well as a wise steward. The apostle Paul even said, “If anyone is unwilling to work, he should not eat.” Proverbs 10:4 says, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” As a man is repeatedly given free stuff he is robbed of something extremely valuable – his dignity.

I believe this direction from John Wesley sums it up well; in his sermon titled “The Use of Money”, Wesley said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can“. We work hard and diligent and we love our neighbor by helping those in need and those unable to work hard. When we allow the government to take over this role, we allow them to rob us of our walk in the Spirit.