Thursday, September 24, 2015

Inherited Faith?

Sometimes I wake up with an entire blog, or article, running through my mind. In fact, probably the majority of the blogs I write begin this way. This was the case today as I woke up with this thought about inherited faith, specifically Christian and Jewish faith, so here it is...

As Christianity has perpetuated now through several generations, one may have the idea that they are a Christian by heritage. By that I mean a person thinks they are a Christian because their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc. were Christian. Somehow they think it is a family thing that is passed on and inherited, much like a race or nationality. This seems especially true today in America where we have many people who have grown up never going to church. When asked what religion they are, they say they are Christian because that's what their parents or grandparents were.

However, Christianity is a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn't come by heritage. It's not passed on like an inheritance without each individual having their own personal faith and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. In this way, the true Christian Gentiles are an example to the Jewish nation today. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." He said that salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (the Jews) jealous. (Romans 11:25, 11). Christians can be a sign to the Jewish nation that salvation does not come by heritage alone. The Jewish people themselves must each one have a personal faith in the Messiah. They, just as we, cannot rely on salvation "automatically" being passed on. 

I believe this is what God was addressing to the Jewish people through the prophet Isaiah when He said concerning the foreigners who follow Him, "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7. Even then, He was letting His people know that His salvation would be extended to all people groups. Jesus also quoted this verse in Mark 11:17.

To be clear, I do not believe in the "replacement theory" which says that the church has replaced the Jewish nation. I am not, by any means, trying to make light of the Jewish nation or culture. I do believe that the Jewish people have a very important place in God's plan and coming kingdom. I believe Christians can learn much from the Jews. I also believe that, as Christians, it is very important to teach our children the way of Christianity and to guide them in their own personal faith. We need to be sure that our children understand that they will need to accept the Lord Jesus for themselves, and grow in their own personal relationship with Him. There comes a point in time where each person, Jew or Gentile will be responsible for their own faith, and can't just rely on the "family faith."

God made families and intended for them to be the ultimate ruling authority in the earth. He has made unique people groups that are each a blessing in their own way. Quite often gifts and callings are passed down generationally and remain in family lines--skills, businesses or ministerial callings for example. Children are meant to experience a great sense of belonging through their families. However, as important as that is, no one should be overlooked or taken for granted concerning their faith. Our heavenly Father loves every one, individually, to the point where He would leave the 99 to go find the one. (Luke 15:4). May we pray for each member of our families individually and by name. May we pray for the Jewish nation to understand this as well, that each one must individually accept the Messiah, and may we pray that they know His name--Jesus.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Only Way...

If you believe that Jesus is the way, then you must also believe that He is the only way, otherwise what you believe in is not Jesus, but a false representation of Him. One can't believe in Jesus without believing the Bible. One can't believe in Jesus without believing what He said. So what did He say?

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

No one. That means He's the only way. Some people who consider themselves to be Christian, will say that you may not have to believe as I do, but as long as you believe in something then you're okay. The one who says that is not really a Christian, or at best they are a naive Christian who is on a dangerous path. That may sound harsh, but when we are faced with those who are willing to do whatever it takes--lying, deception, betrayal, murder etc.--so that their "religion" can rule, then it needs to become clear who really believes in Jesus and who doesn't. It's time that He stop being misrepresented. We need to see Him for who He really is. The world needs to see Him for who He really is. His people need to reflect Him to the world truthfully and accurately and not just according to our own opinion anymore. He is the only way.

If I've offended anyone, then good. Because the one who is offended by this message is the very one who needs to do some soul-searching, myself included. I pray all of God's people, all those who call themselves Christian, do some serious soul-searching and ask ourselves to what extent do we believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Call Him God, Daddy, Pappa or whatever, but if a person doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Him, then they will never reach Him. Not only that but they give a false sense of security to those who also believe in something false. If I don't believe that He is the only way, then I don't believe His words, I don't believe in Him, even if I say I do. If I think you can get to God some other way, then I don't really believe Jesus myself, because He said He is the only way. He didn't lie. He can't lie, He is the truth.

At the time of this writing, we are in the Feast of Trumpets period with the Day of Atonement approaching. This is, of course, a time of repentance and fasting before the Lord. I don't write this because I think I'm perfect and that we should be judgmental and intolerant of the world who disagrees with us. I write this because I see those who present themselves as Christian being tolerant of those things that hurt the heart of God--the One who died for them. They are misleading those who don't believe in Jesus by telling them that as long as they have some kind of faith in something then they are okay. It's not mean to tell someone the truth, it's love! Love for the Lord, as well as love for the person.

I encourage everyone to press in to the Lord and hope that, just as the apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, we too have times of examining our faith and presenting our hearts openly to the Lord for His truth and light to shine, clearing out all of our misconceptions.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Repost: The Gall of Bitterness

I was reading a blog I wrote and posted on the Pray For Waterford Michigan blog that I do, dated September 18, 2012. I felt it needed to be highlighted again today so here is the post:

"I woke up today thinking of this Scripture and recent revelation from the Lord and I felt it wasn't just for me today so here it is...

In Acts 8 we read of Simon the sorcerer from Samaria. He had dazzled the people with his sorcery and then he, and the people of the city, heard the Gospel and became believers in Jesus Christ. Simon himself was amazed at the miracles and signs that Philip did. Then Peter and John came and prayed for the people to receive the Holy Spirit.

Now Simon saw that the people received the Holy Spirit when they laid their hands on them and he offered them money asking them to give him the power to do the same thing. Peter rebuked him for thinking that the gift of God could be purchased with money. He told him his heart was not right in the sight of God. He told him to repent and ask God to forgive him.

Now this is the part that I was reminded of today--Peter said in verse 23, "For I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." No longer could Simon dazzle the people with sorcery and he wanted the Holy Spirit. But his heart motives hadn't really changed. Peter could see that he was bitter. Bitterness opens the door for a counterfeit spirit that may appear to be genuine, but really isn't. If we want God to move among us in a genuine true way, the true, authentic, Holy Spirit and not just religious works or impressive signs that will dazzle people, then we need to be sure and remove all bitterness, resentments, criticisms, judgments, jealousies etc. from our heart.

The power of the Holy Spirit is motivated by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:15 tells us to watch diligently to see that no root of bitterness springs up and contaminates us. If you are in a position where people have given you opportunity to become bitter against them, or maybe against circumstances, then you have an amazing opportunity to pull out that root of bitterness that would try and spring up and get rid of it! As Rick Joyner says, don't waste your trials! When the opportunity to be resentful or critical is there, pull that thing out! As you overcome you open the door for the genuine Spirit of God to move on in!

In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus says that if we ask our Father for bread, fish or an egg, He will not give us a stone, a serpent or a scorpion. He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. He will not give us a counterfeit!

So whether you are frustrated at people, annoyed, angry, resentful, or whatever it may be, it's not worth sacrificing the presence of the Spirit to hang on to those things. And rather than letting it annoy you, look at it as an opportunity to overcome, when you do the heavens can be opened above you!"

Re-post Pray for Waterford Michigan, September 18, 2012

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

If the Lord is God...

A person can't trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation and trust in their own "good" deeds to get into heaven at the same time. You can't have it both ways. It's one or the other. In the denomination I was raised in, I was taught that Jesus died for my sins, but there was always an understanding that you had to be a good person in order to get into heaven. Many people I talk to today, still think that because they haven't murdered anyone, or been any kind of habitual criminal, that they will make it into heaven. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches.
...for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
It's not Jesus and Rose's name together that gets me into heaven, it's His name alone! It's hard to admit that you are not a good person. If I have to say I'm a resentful, stingy, angry, bitter, arrogant or lazy person, it's hard to do. Yet that's exactly what we have to do. Once we admit that we are not "good enough" to get into heaven, we are almost there. I suspect that some people avoid taking a deeper look at the subject because it is uncomfortable. However, we need to shine the light into this dim place now, before its too late. 
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
If we half-way believe in Jesus and half-way believe that being a good person will get us into heaven, then it might seem like we are on a safe path. But this is compromising and "watering down" the power of Jesus' blood. There is not one person "good enough" to get into heaven. (see Romans 3:10). Jesus is the only one who lived a perfectly holy life. Thankfully, He sacrificed Himself for our sins, but we must not only believe that He did that, but trust in Him and Him alone for our salvation. 

Why do we hesitate to trust Him completely? Why do we compromise by trying to add our own good works? I suggest its because to trust in Jesus completely, means that we are crossing a line. On the other side of this line we may have to stand up and defend Him, and our faith in Him. We may become unpopular. There may be socially awkward moments. Some could be arrested or even killed. On this side of the line, we have completely surrendered to Him. This might make us feel vulnerable or out of control. How can faith in Him be enough? Don't I need to add something to it? These are all legitimate feelings we need to address, and ask ourselves to what extent do we believe in Him? Some might ask, "What if He's not real? What if I'm wrong about Him, about heaven, Christianity and all of it?" Rather than avoiding these questions, everyone who calls themself a Christian needs to face these doubts. Face them in prayer. Face them by looking at Scripture. Face them on your knees, sincerely asking God to show you the truth. He will!

Our own good works or good lifestyle will not get us into heaven. As the writer of Hebrews said, "how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14). We know that sin brings death, but even our attempts to justify ourselves through "good" works, are dead works that will not cleanse us from sin. To say that the blood of Jesus is not enough to wash away our sin and create a new spirit within us, is like spitting in His face. He is that pure and that holy. One drop does it all. Who are we to say that it's not enough? It's time to decide who, or what, our faith is in. 
Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him..." 1 Kings 18:21
This other side of the line is not a scary place, it is a safe and joyful place--in Him who loves you more than anyone else does!