The Christian, White Nationalism, and America in 2019.

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If you live in the U.S. no doubt you have heard something about the scary bogeyman nebulously known as, “White Nationalism.” As a Christian, who is ethnically diverse, but appears white, I am just now hearing about this scary bogeyman. The left is even calling, “people of color” white nationalists. This really got me wondering. So, I decided to do some digging.

Depending on whose definition you want to accept, the term, “white nationalist” generally means one of two things. It can be a racist ideology that indicates a right of white people to live in their own country, and govern themselves, without any people of color. The other version is about the same but is worded a bit more to sound like they are separatists instead of supremacists.

What is also interesting is that there is the same ideology for people who would call themselves black. It is called, “Black Nationalism” of course. They define their ideology the same way only black instead of white.

Now, as a Christian first, these things are repulsive to me. As a thinking man, they are repugnant lies, told by evil people seeking to manipulate others with fear. The notion that any sinner is inherently better than another sinner solely based on the color of their skin, or ethnicity is a lie straight from the devil to incite hatred among men.

After reading several articles from leftist web sites, I’ve concluded that everyone who is a conservative and patriotic is deemed a white nationalist. This is also true of people of color. They are being called white nationalists, and white supremacists! This is either insanity on the part of the leftists, or a divisive lie used as a bogeyman to scare people into submission.

The leftists have presupposed that everyone who is Christian, conservative, patriotic, and traditional is a white supremacist and a white nationalist. Their evidence is your opposition to them, and their leftist agendas. Anyone who stands in their way is instantly vilified.

Since they are using these labels so broadly, people can see through their crazy lies. When you try to make Candace Owens, a black woman, appear to be like Hitler, and make her out to be a white supremacist, you will cause thinking people to see that you are either insane, or a liar.

We aren’t even free of their insanity in the Church. The, “Woke Movement” questions if white people can even really be Christians. They insist that we owe our brothers and sister in Christ, who happen to be people of color, an apology, and that we need to repent of being white.

Like I said, I look white. I have a white last name. My ancestry is from mostly Eastern, and Western Europe. Some of my ancestry is from Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Nigeria according to my DNA test. I’m guessing that would be true of many of you. There is no pure white race. There is not a homogenous, “white people.” This is also true of all the other perceived colors of people. My whiteness, your blackness, brownness, and all the other shades in between are all pointless. This is true whether you are in Christ or not, but for the Christian there is no excuse to be racially/ethnically divisive. The Bible is clear on this.

Galatians three is about how one is justified to God. There were some who were making it a matter of following the Law, and Paul was clearing this up. In the process he wanted the people of the circumcision, and the gentiles to put these notions of works out of their minds, and be unified in their acceptance of justification by faith in Christ. In verse 28 of Chapter 3 Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Christians have no excuse to be at odds due to skin color. The world might be falling for this nonsense, but we have no business following the world.

If you have been finding yourself falling into the temptation to think that you are better than someone due to your skin color, or that it is acceptable to hate someone because of theirs, or even if you have been hating yourself because of your whiteness, you need to repent, and trust Jesus.

Justification by Faith and Galatians Chapter 3.

 

Are you having a difficult time with understanding justification?  Do you wonder if you have done enough to demonstrate that you are saved?  Do you question whether you are good enough, if there is enough evidence of your faith to be true?  Do you tend to be legalistic with yourself?  One of the dangers of, “navel gazing” (self-examination) is that we become self-absorbed, we lose proper perspective.  We begin to filter incoming information through a set of rules that constantly look at ourselves, and our performance, or lack thereof.

A filter is thing that removes particles from a stream, while allowing the rest of the particles to continue on to their destination.  This can be a data stream, electrical stream, light stream, basically anything that flows.  As we perceive information streaming in through our senses, we employ filters based on our cumulative view of the world (word view).  When that view is built on a solid foundation of objective truth, it will lead us to proper understandings of what has happened, is happening, and will happen.  We will filter out the untrue, and allow the truth to continue.  When our filtration system is built on a false worldview, we filter out some truth, and we look at the world and ourselves through a lie.

God has given us His word, and like Him it is truth.  We on the other hand, are fallible creatures, prone to accepting lies.  Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His illumination of the Word of God for us, and to us, we still get things wrong.  This is yet another example of God’s grace towards His elect, we don’t have to get it all right, all the time, from the word go.  None of us die with all the answers in perfect comprehension.  In a sense, even the most spiritually mature Christian you know, will die with notions about God and His word that aren’t perfect.

Our works are tainted, our thoughts are tainted with sin and imperfection.  If you are relying on either of those to get some kind of assurance that you are in, then you are going to find your faith shaken on a regular basis.  Let’s look at Galatians 3 for a moment together.

Galatians 3 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Faith Brings Righteousness

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Intent of the Law

15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3 makes it clear that it is not our obedience to the law that makes us just, but rather our faith in Christ.  Do you want some assurance?  Believe in Christ and His work.  Trust Jesus alone, and don’t mix in your ability to know more than someone else, or do more.  Because neither of those things actually satisfy the law.  The law is intended to be impossible to satisfy so that you are driven humbly to your knees before Jesus with no defense left but Him crucified, resurrected, and ruling for eternity.  Repent of sin, and trust the Savior.

Easter 2019

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Easter, resurrection Sunday is quickly coming.  It has been roughly 2000 years since our Creator condescended, and deigned to don human flesh, and be born of a virgin.  Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,”(Nicene Creed) fully God, and fully man, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.  He suffered the abuse of mankind, and the just wrath of God while on the cross.  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “—(Gal 3:13)

Isaiah 53 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

The Suffering Servant

 

1 Who has believed our message?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,

And like a root out of parched ground;

He has no stately form or majesty

That we should look upon Him,

Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,

A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

And like one from whom men hide their face

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 22 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise.

For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.

 

1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?

Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;

And by night, but I have no rest.

3 Yet You are holy,

O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

4 In You our fathers trusted;

They trusted and You delivered them.

5 To You they cried out and were delivered;

In You they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,

A reproach of men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me sneer at me;

They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,

8 “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him;

Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”

9 Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;

You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.

10 Upon You I was cast from birth;

You have been my God from my mother’s womb.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near;

For there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have surrounded me;

Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

13 They open wide their mouth at me,

As a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,

And all my bones are out of joint;

My heart is like wax;

It is melted within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,

And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;

And You lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded me;

A band of evildoers has encompassed me;

They pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones.

They look, they stare at me;

18 They divide my garments among them,

And for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But You, O LORD, be not far off;

O You my help, hasten to my assistance.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword,

My only life from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth;

From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.

22 I will tell of Your name to my brethren;

In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him;

All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,

And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

25 From You comes my praise in the great assembly;

I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

26 The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;

Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.

Let your heart live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,

And all the families of the nations will worship before You.

28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S

And He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,

All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,

Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

30 Posterity will serve Him;

It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.

31 They will come and will declare His righteousness

To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

1 Corinthians 15 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection

 

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

The Order of Resurrection

 

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROWWE DIE. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

The Mystery of Resurrection

 

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

 

The Error of Pastoral Vision Casting.

visioncasting

You may have heard of, “vision casting.” Then again perhaps you haven’t. It has been around for a bit under two decades. In terms of the hip and relevant, it is pretty worn out already. The problem is that there are still Pastors using the lingo and practicing it. So, what is, “vision casting” you ask? In the best light, it simply is the practice of the Pastor/Preaching Elder coming up with a plan for the future of the local Church he shepherds and telling the Church about it. It gets more erroneous when the Pastor believes he has had some kind of extrabiblical personal revelation from God for the future of the Church and expects everyone to get on board. It reaches maximum insidiousness when the Pastor demands that all the Elders, and Church members submit to him and his plan claiming it to be from God, and if you don’t, then you are going against God!!!

Let’s start with the least problematic. This version of vision casting may just be a slight problem with terminology, and authority. The Preaching Elder might have gotten an idea of some direction he’d like to see the Church move in, and then employs the vision casting nomenclature unaware of how the rest of the world might interpret what he is saying. He might lack the contextual knowledge of Churches that practice vision casting, and not realize that he shouldn’t be talking like them. The Preaching Elder is not the boss Elder. His voice doesn’t trump the other Elders. The New Testament is pretty clear that the Church is to be led by the Elders. They discus, and eventually come to an agreement on any plans for future works they would like the Church to be involved with. The Preaching Elder is also held accountable by the other Elders, and the Church.

The Pastor who has heard from God… I always get a bit skeptical when someone tells me they heard from God unless they qualify that with a, “from His word.” Usually they don’t. Most of the time they go into how God spoke to them and laid it on their heart that (bruh, insert cool story here.) So, we are supposed to accept your extrabiblical personal revelation as originating with God and fall in line. This group of Pastors probably means well, and they truly believe they have heard from God somehow. The problem is, this sets up a condition where the Pastor can abuse his position and the flock. He could pretty much make up anything he wants and try to market it to the Church as long as he says it is from God. That is why there should be no room for extrabiblical personal revelations in the Church since we have the canon of scripture.

Finally, the next category is, “Who are you to touch the Lord’s anointed!?” If a Pastor were to have God speak to him, and reveal new words to him, we would be obligated to rewrite our Bibles and add what God said to the end of it. Since we are not ready to do that, and with good reason, we shouldn’t listen to these men, and (ahem cough) women pastors. They act as though they are wielding the authority of God because they had a vision from Him on how to grow the Church, and if you go against them, you are going against God. These guys are seriously angry when you don’t get behind them and their vision. They get vindictive because you are the bad guy questioning them, and doubting their vision, and their relationship with God. When you cross this guy, you’ll see the ugly come out. They can behave extremely unchristian in the name of Christ, very disturbing.

So, with these three types in mind, evaluate what you have heard from the pulpit. If the man is like the first kind, just consider what he has said and demonstrate some grace. If he is like the second, then it is appropriate to be concerned. You may sit, listen, and continue to examine what is coming from the pulpit for a while to determine when, and how to offer correction in love. Church discipline may even become necessary. If you are listening to the third example, call them to repent, and if you can, subject them to Church discipline. I doubt however that will be possible. In a Church like that they usually already have entrenched control. You will probably have to leave and find a new Church that believes and preaches the Bible.

The work of Christians is the great commission. We are to preach the gospel to all the world, and we are to make disciples of all men. We are to take offerings from the Church to accomplish this goal, as well as to support the Preaching Elder, and other Elders in the Church as they serve. We don’t need a vision from God to be cast from the pulpit down to us small, lesser, creatures to blindly obey. God has spoken in His word, and we have all the revelation we need 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The great commission isn’t about filling seats and the offering plate, it isn’t about a 16,000 square foot house, or $6000 sneakers. It is about Christ Jesus, the God-man, whose body was broken for us, and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins.

Atheist…

DSCN3335

If you say you are an atheist, and that it means you have no beliefs about god, do you believe the statement you just made? If so, that is a belief. Regardless of what you are insisting, you have made a statement about God. Guess what? That is a theological belief. So you have a religious belief. Which by the way is not what the word, “atheist” actually means. It does not mean to have no beliefs. The English word, “atheist” comes from the French, “athéiste” which comes from the Greek, “atheos.” Theos is Greek for god. Adding the prefix, “a” to the word, “theos” changes its meaning to, without god, or no god.

To Live is Christ.

Philippians 1:21-30

To Live Is Christ

      “21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,26so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

      27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

Paul, while in prison for preaching Christ crucified, wrote this for the Church in Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ.” Then in v.22 explains what that means, “if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me;” His life was for the glory of God.  He was living, and working to produce fruit.  We know this to mean increasing the Kingdom of God by means of the gospel of Christ, the preaching of the word of God, and the teaching of the word of God. Paul had reason to want to depart this life.  He says, “I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” Consider from 2 Corinthians 11 how he was suffering for the gospel, and how even now he is imprisoned for it.  “…in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches…”  This was from Paul after being criticized over his Apostleship by the Jewish believers who were welcoming false apostles, but were opposed to Paul due in part to his lack of eloquence.  Paul had suffered for his Lord.  Jesus was His master, and he loved Him.  For him to stay and work was fine, but you can truly understand why he would also want to be with his merciful God.  Paul instructs the Church in Philippi to, “…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” in v. 25 and explains why in v. 26, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with on mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for the, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God…” As the Church today, we should also follow Paul’s instructions to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  In our testimony to the lost, as we live it out, If it be God’s will, they will also see that we have been, “granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”  If we suffer for Christ’s sake we will share in the suffering of our brother Paul as well as our Lord Christ Jesus, and all martyrs, to this age and beyond until the return of Christ.  Maranatha! 

The Holiness of God.

The Holiness of God.

As we will be studying what God’s word has to say about His holiness, I thought I would quote some of what our elders have said on the topic of holiness in this brief preface to our study. We can learn from their wise counsel. Also, We would be remiss to do a study of holiness without first acknowledging the source. The holiness of God is not merely, or solely, an attribute of His among many others. To quote Charles Hodge, “The holiness of God is not to be conceived of as one attribute among others. It is rather a general term representing the conception of God’s consummate perfection and total glory. It is His infinite moral perfection crowning His infinite intelligence and power.” There is no other quality of God that the seraphim angels praise three times, time and again in eternity. [Isa 6:3 NASB] “And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” To know God, we must know He is holy, and we are not. “Only one attribute of God, in sacred Scripture is emphasized three times. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.” R.C. Sproul.

God, Being distinct, other than, separate, set apart, in moral perfection, transcendent in His holiness, cannot be fathomed by man. This holiness also manifests as majesty. The chasm that separates us from Him due to our sin is so great, only the cross can bear us from one sin to glory. R.C. Sproul wrote, “The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain for injustice, it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.” The only way to please the holy God, is for Him to provide what is pleasing. In Christ, He has provided righteousness for our justification. In Christ, we are separated from sin, and set apart for His use. We are consecrated to and for the glory of God. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Never did God so manifest His hatred of sin as in the death and suffering of His only begotten Son. Hereby He showed Himself unappeasable to sin, and that it was impossible for Him to be at peace with it.”

Our problem is that we are not holy. Here is a quote from R.C. Sproul, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” It is evident that we must come to the knowledge of what holiness is by contrasting our dire lack of it with its perfection in God’s being.

A.W. Tozer had this to say, “We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire God’s wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.” This is the transcendent holiness of the Creator. It is on display for us, in the natural creation, in His word, and personally in His Son.

“Without such a vision of God’s holiness, true worship is not possible. Worship is not giddy. It does not rush into God’s presence unprepared and insensitive to His majesty. It is not shallow, superficial, or flippant. Worship is life lived in the presence of an infinitely righteous and omnipresent God by one utterly aware of His holiness and consequently overwhelmed with his own unholiness… If you have never worshiped God with a broken and contrite spirit, you’ve never fully worshiped God, because that is the only appropriate response to entering the presence of Holy God.” John MacArthur.

“God’s holiness means He is separate from sin. But holiness in God also means wholeness. God’s holiness is His “God-ness.” It is His being God in all that it means for Him to be God. To meet God in His holiness, therefore, is to be altogether overwhelmed by the discovery that He is God, and not man.” Sinclair Ferguson.

“If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, holiness would be the soul to animate them. Without holiness His patience would be an indulgence to sin, His mercy a fondness, His wrath a madness, His power a tyranny, His wisdom an unworthy subtlety. Holiness gives decorum to them all.” Puritan, Stephen Charnock.