The Sinful Depravity of Man and Salvation in Christ

This topic can be controversial and can bring much debate within church circles, to be sure.  And, may I add, it is good for healthy, vigorous, level headed, respectful debate on such issues as these which are core Christian beliefs. The aim should be to dig deeper into God’s Word and find out the answers and to love one another in the process.

The controversy is not “we are sinners”. We know, that since Genesis 3, all of mankind has been plunged into sin.  Once Adam and Eve sinned, it affected the whole human race. We are their descendants, therefore we inherited their sinful natureRomans 5:12 makes this abundantly clear.  Adam sinned, therefore all have sinned, in Adam, and we all inherited the sentence of death, as well.  But what about those who have never heard?  What about those who are so far away from hearing about God, the Bible, Jesus, the Gospel, etc.?  Shouldn’t they be exempt from the Wrath of God that is coming upon the world?  What about babies and young children, etc.?  This is where the controversy exists.  How do we address these things?

Regarding babies and young children, Paul the apostle addresses this in Romans 7, in his own personal story of his life growing up as a devout law-keeping Jew.  He states that there was a time in his life when the Law of God did not affect him, while he was young. But there was a day or time in his life in which the Law of God became effective and engaged into his life and because of sin, it killed him (see Romans 7:9 – read the context of Romans 7:7-12). Thus, there is a time of innocence, clearly, in which God’s judgment is NOT engaged. Yet, there is a time in all of our lives that the LAW engages, and we are judged.  This illustrates that pre-born, infants, and young children are exempt from God’s Holy Wrath and Judgment. Unless a child only lives that long, we all tend to grow up into adulthood.  That is the focus of the rest of the passage: When sin takes hold. Our sinful nature is inherited from Adam, and we did not choose this, we inherited it.

The fact that the whole Human Race is under God’s Wrath is clearly stated in a couple of passages – 1. John 3:36 – on those outside of Christ, “the wrath of God abides on [them]” … 2. Ephesians 2:1-3 – Christians used to be, and the lost are –> sons of disobedience and children of [God’s] wrath.  So, combined with Romans 5:12 and the above verses, the human race is under the sentence of God’s Wrath and Judgment because of sin (Adam’s and their own, each individual’s sin).  One more verse seals the deal, so to speak, John 3:18 – those who are NOT believers in Christ are “condemned already”.  So, when did that condemning occur?  Did it occur when they heard the Gospel of Christ and rejected it?  The passage does not say that.  If a person is in the state of non-belief in Christ, they are condemned already.  That is what it says, that is the best rendering of that passage.  In verse 17, Christ states that He did not come to condemn, but to save. Then He reveals the condition of humans in John chapter 3, verses 18-21: 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-20 – NKJV)

So, here is the test.  If you go to some far away country and talk to someone who has never heard about Jesus Christ, His Life, His Ministry, His Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection … and point blank ask that person if he or she believes in Jesus Christ, we know what the answer will be: NO.  That person does NOT believe in Jesus Christ.  So, even before the message of the Gospel is even presented, we can predict that the person you are talking to is an “unbeliever” … thus  that person is “condemned already”  …
test completed.

We know, clearly from Jesus Christ and the rest of the New Testament documents that God, now, ONLY Saves the Lost through the preaching, teaching, sharing of the Gospel of Christ (see Acts 17:30-31).  That is the Only way He saves lost sinners, now, during the Gospel Age / the Church Age.
1 Corinthians 1:1717 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (NKJV)
…  ….
1 Corinthians 1:2121 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message [i.e. the Gospel] preached to SAVE those who believe. (NKJV ; emphasis added)
…  ….
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

Therefore, it is abundantly clear, from all the scriptures we seen above that lost sinners are already condemned.  They are not choosing to go to hell or to their final destination, the Lake of Fire of Eternal Judgment and Wrath of God.  They are not choosing to go there. If they do nothing, choose nothing, choose a new pair of socks … they are still going there. We all inherited this fate of eternal judgment the second that Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The whole human race was “condemned already” at that point

It is also abundantly clear that God ONLY Saves Lost Sinners through the Gospel.  The only “CHOICE” that RESCUES them from this fate is choosing to Repent and Trust in Christ’s Finished Work of Redemption (i.e.: His Crucifixion, Death, Burial and Resurrection – per  1 Cor. 15:1-4)  When a person chooses Christ they are Rescued and Condemned No Longer (2 Cor. 5:17; Romans 8:1) . They are no longer under God’s Just, Right, Correct, and Holy Wrath and Judgment but are placed in Christ in which dwells God’s Love, Righteousness, Mercy, Grace, Forever Forgiveness of sins, and Relationship with God, forever.  Repent and Trust in Christ and His Finished Work of Redemption and a lost sinner is saved, born again, receives Eternal Life, etc.  RESCUED!!!

God Demonstrates His own Love toward us, in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)  This verse echoes the Truth that we are all CONDEMNED SINNERS under the Wrath of a Holy God, YET God providedWAY OUTthrough the One Who is the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only LIFE – Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

This is Truth, bedrock Sound and Pure Doctrine regarding the sinful depravity of mankind. There are some schools of thought and doctrinal camps that will take these solid Biblical Truths further in various directions. I did not want to go into those camps, but stay in the Simply Biblical middle ground of Doctrinal Sanity.

This Truth should URGE us onward with tremendous URGENCY to Spread the Gospel at break-neck speed, since the time is short, and shorter every second.  Once the Rapture occurs, the church’s job of sowing seeds of the Gospel, Plowing, Cultivating, and Bringing in a Harvest of Souls for Christ will be complete.  Until then, we need to be vigilant and diligent – seeking the Lord of the Harvest for more laborers and for us, personally to be the best laborers we can be, in Christ, for His Glory … so that the lost are saved … before the Wrath of God comes in full force.  We must warn them of the coming judgement before it is too late.

Pastor Andy Thomas
PastorAndy@NLFJI.org
https://NLFJI.org

 

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LIFE in Christ – LIFE in the Spirit – Romans 8:1-17

LIFE in Christ – LIFE in the Spirit
Romans 8:1-17

You can LISTEN Online to this teaching by Pastor Andy Thomas of New LIFE Fellowship – Johns Island, SC

You can listen to the message Online at: https://NLFJI.org/msgs/?DID=199
You can also download the PowerPoint Presentation along with the Bible Study Notes.

 

God Bless y’all 🙂
Pastor Andy Thomas
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
luvjcnow@yahoo.com

The Law and a Young Pharisee Romans 7:1-25 06/07/2015

The Law and a Young Pharisee

Pastor Andy’s most recent msg at New LIFE Fellowship – 06/07/2015 –
Paul the Apostle’s testimony of coming to the End of himself because of the Law of God exposing his depraved sinful nature. He was a failure in trying to keep God’s Law perfectly… and found out that ONLY through Jesus Christ could he be rescued from God’s coming Judgment because of his sin.

Romans 7:1-25 
… for more – go to :  http://goo.gl/2NQtKe

 

neh_8_2_ezra_the_priest_brought_the_law      NavBridge

 

God’s “MUCH MORE” in Christ

Pastor Andy’s most recent message (05/03/2015)
God’s “MUCH MORE” in Christ …
God, in Christ, is MUCH MORE than any SIN, our past, our shame, our (fill in the blank) . . .

Romans 5:12-21

Please, download it now at http://NewLifeFellowship.us/sermons

 

God Bless y’all

🙂

Pastor Andy Thomas
http://NewLifeFellowship.us
PastorAndy@NewLifeFellowship.us

God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE in Christ – part 2

God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE in Christ – part 2

Contrasting The World’s Love to God’s Love … no comparison, no competition, God’s LOVE wins!!!

Romans 5:6-11

Doctrinal Foundations: Romans
04/19/2015 ID #:191
Please, Go to this LINK to hear it online: http://www.newlifefellowship.us/sermons
You can view the PowerPoint and Notes, as well as Hear the Message (MP3 Audio)

If God has blessed you because of this message, please let me know and please pass this on, so that others might be Equipped in His Word (Ephesians 4:11-16)

God Bless y’all

🙂

Pastor Andy Thomas
(843) 814-1110
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
PastorAndy@NewLifeFellowship.us

Was Jesus really “a friend of sinners”?

Was Jesus really “a friend of sinners”?

We’ve all heard this “Jesus was a friend of sinners, so you, as a born-again Christian, need to befriend sinners before you share the Gospel.”  This is what I’ve been told for many, many years in churches, by nice, good church going folk.

Let’s examine this Statement or Premise a little deeper.

The implications here, seem to force Christians to get to know and befriend sinners.  This does not mean just as “hi how are you doing” kind of passing acquaintance, but something like a real friendship is implied here.  Once that is established, at some undetermined point in that relationship the Christians is to somehow, in a nice, congenial way, share the Gospel in a loving, nice and the least offensive way.  That seems to be how this Premise stands. Yes, most Christians, Evangelical Christians, have heard it this way.

First off, I do believe we should be nice, loving, kind, and friendly toward those who are outside the faith, Always.  Yes, to those we work with, our neighbors, our close family members, extended family, friends, and strangers.  The Premise is that I, as a born again Christian must “earn the right” to share the Gospel, to get a “hearing” with my new friends, etc.

It is true, that a majority of those who are going to church and have received Christ for Salvation, it was usually through a close family member and/or friend that they trusted, etc. — and it is someone, now, whom they would consider a “close friend” or “close relative”.

I wanted to see if I could find any examples of this “Premise” in the New Testament. I looked throughout the New Testament Documents and I could not find any command, principle or example of Jesus Christ or his apostles doing anything like this.  I could not find a command, a precept, a principle, nor any clear example of anyone in the New Testament doing this (become a close friend, and seek to earn the right to share the Gospel, etc…)

Let’s first think about what we mean by friend, today, in our culture in the 21st Century.  A friend is someone whom you genuinely like. You genuinely like to hang out with that person and have some shared, common interests.  You like to do things together. You like to converse with that person and just be around one another.  Again, in this loose definition we are NOT talking about heterosexual marriage (i.e.: biblical marriage) … but a simple friendship-relationship.  I know of relatives, cousins, 2nd cousins, aunts, in-laws … etc… close and extended family members that could be considered friends.  Also, we all know of and probably have some degree of friendship with those we work with or have worked with in the past.  Friendship takes the investment of time and effort but it is always rewarding.  We can see friendships in the record of Scripture, and one of the most famous is the close friendship between Jonathan and David.  But, again, is this what we are commissioned to do by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-20, and Luke 24:46-47?

Examine this, lets say (hypothetically) there is a supposed “friendship” that is composed of

  1. a person who is fully opposed, may even be hostile towards Christ, the Bible, and the things of God
    — AND —
  2. a person who is fully sold-out, fully surrendered and on-fire for Christ and Christ is the center and LORD and KING of everything in his/her life …

No matter if they both have a ton of “common interests” there will always be something that will seem to be pulling that friendship apart: –> how each person relates to Jesus Christ.
The #1 friend above will not want to talk about anything related to the Bible, Jesus, etc…  the #2 friend, that is all he/she wants to talk about all the time.
How can they, really, be friends even in the most “loose” definition?

They can be “some-what” friends or acquaintances with some common interests, such as, “fishing” or something like that, but God’s Spirit will always be compelling the Christian to share the Gospel with his “lost” friend.  This doesn’t mean that the Christian doesn’t want the non-Christian to be his/her friend, but in many cases we see the non-Christian finding excuses more and more as time goes by, to avoid the Christian, more and more… until the friendship fades.  Jesus said that those who sin and love it, are in the darkness, they don’t want to come to the light, because that light will expose that their deeds are sinful and full of darkness (see John 3:18-20).  In that kind of relationship described above, the Christian is the Light (Jesus is the Light through that Christian) and the non-believer is in the darkness and loves the darkness.

So, did Jesus commission us to befriend sinners?
If we look at the actual texts that this “concept” comes from,  Jesus is being accused of being “a friend of sinners”.

The main texts … It starts with Jesus calling of Levi (Matthew) to be one of His disciples: read Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:27-32.
Then, Jesus talks about John the Baptist in Matthew 11:16-19, Luke 7:31-35.

Luke 5:27-32: After these things Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And the scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [NKJV]

The context: Levi (Matthew) and his Friends gave Jesus a party or feast. It was a celebration focused on Levi being called by the Rabbi Jesus (that’s what most folks thought Jesus was, a Rabbi).  The Feast was for Jesus, it was to honor Jesus. Levi and his friends were friendly toward Jesus and His disciples. Levi and his friends were not enemies nor were they hostile toward Jesus, His disciples or His teachings.  They were happy about Jesus and about Levi becoming one of His disciples.

This does NOT mean that Jesus and His disciples were close friends with Levi or Levi’s many friends (tax collectors and sinners) [they just met Levi and his friends].  This DOES mean that Levi (Matthew) and his friends were fully open to Jesus and His teachings. They wanted to learn, to follow, to know Jesus and His teachings.  In essence, because of the first action by Jesus in His calling of Levi, Levi’s current friends (not any new friends) came to be followers of Jesus.  Jesus said, in their hearing, that He is the One calling sinners unto repentance.  That meant, Levi and his friends were those specific Sinners and that Jesus was calling them unto Repentance.  None of Levi’s friends got angry at Jesus when He said such a thing to them in their presence.

The only people who were hostile toward Jesus and his disciples were the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were the ones asking the questions, seeking to undermine Jesus’ ministry and authority.  I’ve been at gatherings in which the non-religious “friends” were quite hostile toward me, the Bible, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ, etc.  Really everyone except the Christians, were pretty hostile.  But, in the case of Jesus Christ and Levi, and Levi’s friends … Levi and his friends were NOT hostile toward Jesus Christ. Only the Scribe and Pharisees were.

In Matthew 11:16-19: Jesus described how wonderful John the Baptist was and the sad state of affairs of those who opposed him and  of those who also were opposing Jesus.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”  [NKJV]

Notice that the well-known, public accusations and rumors about Jesus were not just that he was a “friend of sinners”… notice the full accusation…
“Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
The Full Accusation: Jesus was a man controlled by gluttony and He was a drunkard, as well as being a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Again, in context in all the passages regarding Jesus being a “friend of sinners” … it is really a nasty accusation, NOT something for us to get warm fuzzies about inside our tummies.

As we examine this, just a wee bit deeper, let’s look at what is actually happening.

It seems that if Jesus is invited to a feast or a party or get-together or wedding, whatever it is… He attends.  We see this throughout the Four Gospels.  Starting in Cana of Galilee, at the Wedding, the beginning of His ministry and miracles (John 2).  Jesus is not shy, He attends a supper with a Pharisee, hangs out with tax collectors, goes to a wedding He is invited to.  Notice, He is NOT crashing any parties.  He is going ONLY when invited.  He does not try to find a way to get invited to parties.  But, when He is invited, He goes.

He is our example. So, if someone invites you to some event, party, celebration, etc., as God leads you, prayerfully, consider attending.  Use Godly, Biblically-based wisdom, of course, but if God is leading you to go, then obey Him. God may use you in some way to open the way for the Gospel, now or in the future, etc.  It may not happen at this specific event, but it may open the way or doors for some future conversation that can lead to a complete Gospel presentation with one or more people who are there at that event.

It does NOT mean that you have to become best buddies with everyone or anyone at that party or celebration.  It DOES mean that you are on a mission, the Great Commission and you should seek to be nice, friendly, loving and kind to those you meet.  Prayerfully, as you converse with folks, seek God as you chat with folks. Your aim should be to lovingly direct the conversations toward God and/or the things of God, as possible, in a gentle way, being intentional.  Again, you are on a Gospel Mission (all the time), your whole life is the Gospel Mission until God takes you home.  So, use these opportunities as Open Doors from God for the Gospel as He leads you.  It DOES NOT mean that you have to find a pulpit and start Preaching Hell, Fire, and Brimstone … but you should look for opportunities for further points of contact with folks to discuss Jesus, if you can’t fully do so that evening or at that event, etc.  If you have a card leave it with them and/or  get their phone number, email or other contact info, if they are willing.  Seek to build bridges for the Gospel. Again, I am not suggesting that you have to “earn the right to share the Gospel” … you already have the right and the Great Commission from Jesus Christ. All you are seeking is to work out the Logistics of doing the Great Commission toward real people who may not know that they are sinners, bound to sin and going on their way to the Lake of Fire, living under the Wrath of God, etc.

Be in prayer before the event, on the way to the event, and have many other folks pray for you and for the people you are going to be with, as well.  It may be that you may just mention that you are a part of a church, or looking for a church (as the case may be) or something that relates to something in the Bible and then see how they react. Remember, we are called to be “fishers of men/humans” … so cast it out and wait and see if there is nibble.  If there is a nibble, then pull it in a bit … or change your bait and try again. It is an interactive process and finding out what works with different folks.  Sometimes you just have to use a lure with no bait. The lure might be something God is doing in your life or has done in your life, that relates to some struggle they just mentioned in your conversation. Be gentle, loving, kind, considerate, listen a lot, but remember to be proactive and intentional, as well.  And, be Prayerful while you are there at the event.  Enjoy yourself … be filled with God’s Spirit and abound with the Fruit of His Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Remember it is the Kindness of the LORD that leads us to Repentance (Romans 2:4).

I know in my own adventures with folks, sometimes it isn’t at the event, it is after the event in a one-to-one situation in which we can talk a little more freely without peer pressure being involved.  That is when things are easier to talk about the Gospel, sin, God’s Wrath, Salvation, the Bible, etc. It is in the “bucket” moments, not when the fish is struggling on the line, that the fish is really yours.  So… Remember to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16)

If a person comes to Faith in Jesus Christ, fully Repentant, etc… then real, deep, close friendship can happen since the CORE of our Interests are wrapped up in Jesus Christ.

So, the sinner becoming a “saint” in Christ, that is our Goal, not Friendships.

Friendships, in Christ, are one of the after-effects or fruits of Salvation in Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior.

 

May God Bless you Richly….

 

Pastor Andy Thomas
luvjcnow@yahoo.com
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
twitter: @SimplyBiblical
f/b: http://facebook.com/NLFSC
f/b: http://facebook.com/SimplyBiblical

Our “Greater Joshua” is Conquering …

Our Greater “Joshua” …

Just like Joshua, son of Nun, who was Moses’ assistant, who then became the leader of the nation of Israel to lead them into the conquering of the land of Canaan … so it is with our Greater “Joshua” –> Yeshua or Yahshua (Jesus Christ), the Messiah of Israel, our LORD and Savior – we must allow Him to CONQUER our land, our LIVES … He Must Become our King, our God, our Master, our LORD, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Satisfaction, our LIFE. Is He the Reason for you LIFE, the very REASON you LIVE. Is JESUS your LIFE?

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, WHO IS OUR LIFE, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

There are amazing parallels between the nation of Israel, Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior, and the Church, the Body of Christ. When Joshua conquered the land, of course as just a human, he was a leader of a team of tribes and each tribe was to conquer various areas of the land. In our case, being in Christ as Born Again disciples of Jesus Christ, we are not conquering our “land”, but we are “allowing” Christ to do this SANCTIFICATION OPERATION. It is cooperative, in the sense, the we must Submit and Surrender and Desire Christ to make us like Himself (that is goal – see Romans 8:29-30).  Thus, the parallel of Joshua and the nation of Israel, with their various tribes, conquering the land of Canaan so that it would become their OWN LAND … that process is a PARALLEL, symbolically, of what CHRIST is AIMING at for our lives: so that we would be COMPLETELY OWNED BY HIM in every way in every area of our lives.  AND … that HE, JESUS CHRIST, would become OUR LIFE, in every way and in every area of our lives.

Yes, this is a Burden of Love on the Part of our Savior.  He went to the Cross to Secure this in our Lives.  So, we echo that promise that the apostle Paul said to a very faithful, “on-fire for Jesus” local church family in Philippi  —

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

 (also see 1 Corinthians 10:1-22)

 

Until Christ returns… keep the faith (Jude 1:3) …
In Christ’s Love and Truth,
Pastor Andy Thomas
athomas@NewLifeFellowship.us
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
http://SimplyBiblical.WordPress.com
http://www.facebook.com/NLFSC
http://www.facebook.com/SimplyBiblical

 

Where are all the Protestants (part 2)

Where Are All the Protestants (part 2)

Now-a-days… I have heard responses like the following:
— What’s the deal about “Protestants”?
— Is that even something to be concerned about, anymore?

Those lines of thought concern me, greatly.

Oh, how disconnected we are from our recent past.

For Generations, we were connected, somewhat, with our Great Protestant Christian Heritage, until around the 1960’s and then things have gone from bad to worse, in my humble opinion.

Why is the concept of “SOLA SCRIPTURA” (Scripture ONLY – The Bible Alone) so very important in this day and age?  Or should we just believe anything?

Again, the problem with most folks who are good “church goers”, that attend normal, protestant, evangelical, Bible-believing churches is that they have no clue, at all, how the history of the Protestant Reformation relates to them personally.  Yes, today, most “Christians”, most nice, good church going folks “must” have everything relate to them, or they just tune out immediately.

I think You know what I am talking about here, don’t you?

Here is an answer, without the Protestant Reformation there would be NO United States of America.

YES, that’s right.

Yes, the founders of the USA were almost all Protestants, Bible Believing, Bible-Only, Christians.

At least 95% or more were.  Their philosophy of forming the USA was based upon the Preaching from the Pulpit by fire-breathing, Gospel preaching, Bible Teachers/Pastors.

The driving force of George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Matther, and so many others, was the fuel to the fire of the American Revolution.

That’s the most important, as it relates to Americans in their own lives today (at least that is how folks think, “how does this affect me, personally”).

The other “Affect” has been the Massive Expansion of the Biblically-based, church-based, Missionary Movement of the Gospel, from the 1600’s and onward.  We are recipients of that movement and most churches, today, hopefully, are still supporting the continuation of that movement.   The Greatest, Biblically-Based, Gospel Missionary Movements in all of History were spawned by the Protestant Reformation, and in particular by Great Britain and the USA. The Cause to Spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to Translate the Bible into all of those heart-languages of the people receiving Christ… that was, and still is, the Hallmark of the Protestant Reformation.

Our Republican form of constitutionally-based, representative government, is ,also, fully dependent upon that same Protestant Reformation.  Powerful effects, indeed.

The United States of America, today, is a Republic, that is slightly democratic in operation, mostly because of the Biblical, Protestant, Christian Heritage of our founders. Our founders rejected the idea of a pure Democracy, by the way.  The ideal of the individual & the family, as being the bedrock of society, and that Government was to be restricted for the purpose of protecting the individual from Government Tyranny, and that individual had God-given, natural rights … and that Government was to support and protect those rights, can ONLY be found from the pages of the Bible. Those concepts and ideas are Protestant, Christian, and Biblical ideas.  Those biblically-based ideas were preached from many pulpits for many years which bore fruit to a Revolution, a new nation was born, which became the Greatest Missionary-Sending Nation in all of history, since Christ.

The effects of the restriction of Government and the ability to promote individual rights seems to be the “natural” progression of the Gospel taking root in any society.

Other Fruit: The Gospel Mission, the Biblically-based, Protestant, Evangelical Mission always eventuates to individual rights, and economic abundance and freedom.  A system of capitalism, that was based upon the Bible, include much of the book of Proverbs. The ideas of economic fairness (just weights), diligence, not defrauding one’s neighbor, dealing honestly in trade, and so forth, all biblical concepts. In fact, the ability to increase wealth in an honest and fair way, allowed more people to move out of poverty into more abundance.  Also, this allowed more people to help the genuine poor.  This “Gospel” affect seems to take hold and grow in areas of the world in which the Bible is embraced as the Word of God, etc.

One of the Brightest Lights of the Protestant Reformation is Jonathan Edwards.

Some quick facts regarding Jonathan Edwards:

Born in East Windsor, Connecticut in 1703 to a Christian family, and his father was a pastor of local church.  Educated at Yale, starting before the age of 13.

He was, at one time, a pastor to a “frontier” missionary church to Housatonic Indians in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Jonathan was deeply involved in fostering the First Great Awakening of the Early American Colonies

Eventually he had the honor of being the President of College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758.

And, by the way, Jonathan Edwards was the grandfather of Aaron Burr, the 3rd Vice President of the United States.

Jonathan Edwards, to most Bible Students and those who know their Christian History, is a very bright, bright light, for Protestant Reformation thinking and preaching of God’s Holy Word.  I highly encourage you to read some of his works and read the many biographies of this puritan theologian.

One of his many contributions was his continued ability to foster the continued Protest against the Churches of Rome (Roman Catholic church) and of the England (Anglican/Episcopal).  The State Churches of Rome and England were many times the Target of his preaching.

The “Romish” heresies is what he referred to regarding the false teachings and false religious practices and traditions of Rome. To a lesser extent, the English state church (Anglican, Episcopal church) was also a target.  He exposed the many heresies, false teachings, and unbiblical-pagan rituals, celebrations, etc… Why you may wonder, why would he do this.  Because he loved the congregations and people who were under his shepherding care.  He did not placate to them, but taught them and WARNED them, with much patience.  Yes, he, as well as many other Protestant Reformation leaders/preachers exposed those unbiblical beliefs and practices and provided the Biblical solutions that would bring GLORY to CHRIST.

He wanted Christians, born again, disciples of Jesus Christ to follow the Bible, ALONE.

SOLA SCRIPTURA was the Loud Cry of the Protest Reformation, and Jonathan Edwards continued as a “force of Biblical Excellence”.

But these ideas, teachings, and warnings/admonitions are all but silent from our present-day pulpits.

Most church-goers have no idea the “fight”, the blood that was spilled, the cost of life, the persecution that occurred by the Roman Catholic and English churches against the Protestants.  Just for believing the Bible is enough, to be saved in Christ and to live the Christian life… obeying the Bible, alone … that idea would sometimes get a person thrown in prison, or worse (back in Europe, etc.)  But, thank God, for men and women of courage who stood up and proclaimed the truth of God’s Word and took the pains to translate the Bible into so many languages.  That courage needs to be stirred up again for the final push of the Great Commission to the ends of the earth.  We need some more “Jonathan Edwards” in our day and age to stir up another Great Awakening and a Grand Call to Repentance, Surrender, and Obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today, instead of the MEAT of God’s Word being served, it is pudding and rollercoaster rides. No substance to live upon. Fun and Games and “Feeling Good” is the main focus in many churches of today.

Question… are we supposed to follow church traditions, from Rome or London,
– OR – are we suppose to follow, simply follow, the Written Word of God, and obey that which applies to us, to New Covenant, born again, disciples of Jesus Christ?

Question… are we Saved by God, mostly on the basis of Christ’s work of redemption (Crucifixion, Death, Burial, Resurrection)  as well as our own “religious” efforts by following certain prescribed church rituals and “sacraments”?
 – OR –  … are we Saved by God, solely of the basis of Christ’s finished work of redemption, received by repentant trust in Him?

Question… do we have full assurance of our Salvation because of Christ’s finished work of redemption, once we are genuinely saved…?
  – OR –  … do we have to keep doing “religious works” to maintain and/or keep our salvation, which we might NOT be fully assured of in the first place?

Those were the kinds of Questions that were fighting words in Edwards’ day.  He sought to find the answers from God’s Holy Word, alone, and then teach those answers to those under his shepherding care.

ACTION:
Please read his many literary works…

The Entire Works of Jonathan Edwards are available online for free at http://edwards.yale.edu.

Another “Biographical” site for Edwards can be found at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards?show=biography

Please avail yourself of his many biblically-based literary works.
God Bless you abundantly,
Pastor Andy Thomas
luvjcnow@yahoo.com
pastorAndy@NewLifeFellowship.us
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us

Where are all the Protestants? (part 1)

Where are the Protestants?

Where have all the Protestants gone?  Where is the Protest, the Outrage, the Loud Cry of Protest?  Has the Protest been called off?  I was not aware that the Protestant Reformation completed its Protest.  Were you?  Or are you confused with this question? Do you have a clue about what I am talking about, here? Let me see if I can help the church, today, understand her Protestant Roots.  I guess that would mean, I am talking to Protestants, or today, most call them Evangelicals, or Evangelical Bible-Believers.

As the church of Laodicea rises (see Revelation 3:14-22) we see that the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) is waning and fading (i.e. churches of the Protestant Reformation)

This prophetic look at Christian History – was from Jesus Christ Himself in Revelation, chapters 1 through 3.  The whole church-age, all of Christian History, was predicted and mapped out by Jesus Christ in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.

Disclaimer – we do not hate people or any of the religious groups we are mentioning in this article.  This article attempts to critique certain belief systems, exposing them. Our main goal is to help people toward the truth of God’s Word, alone. Then they can realize true Salvation through Jesus Christ according to the Bible, alone

Jesus predicted the rise of massive waves, 10 waves of persecution that would hit the church by the Roman Empire in Revelation 2:7-11 (e.g.: the church of Smyrna).

Jesus also predicted the rise of the Roman Catholic Church – seen in 3 stages of development – in 3 successive churches:

  1. Pergamum (bad marriage) (Revelation 2:12-17) [the beginning of pagan infusion, and Nicolaitans (clergy-hierarchy)]
  2.  Thyatira (sweet smelling sacrifice) (Revelation 2:18-29) [full fledged paganism mixtures and acceptance and the fullness of clergy-hierarchy (cardinals, popes, etc.) – the Nicolaitans]
  3. Sardis (the dead church – a worldly reputation for herself – worldly powerful influence) (deadly consequences of stages #1 & #2 above – deadness – no Gospel influence, anymore)  (Revelation 3:1-6)

Jesus also Predicted the Rise of the Protestant Reformation, typified in the church of Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7-13.  The Church of Philadelphia, in that passage, perfectly fits the Protestant Reformation and her staunch stance on God and His Word.

The CRY of the Protestant Reformation can be summed up in: SOLA SCRIPTURA! => Scripture Only. The Bible Only.

The Protestants were protesting the Roman Catholic Church, and later this Protest included the Church of England, as well.  For more on this, please read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for the horrible details of how the Roman Catholic and English churches sought to destroy the Protestant Reformation with persecution, torture, imprisonment, and death.

The term “Protestant” comes from “to Protest” or “one who is Protesting”. Thus -> Protestant.
The “Reformation” part of this refers to the reforms that these individuals and groups were proposing to FIX the wrongs of the Roman Catholic (and English)  church.

What were some of the common “things” that they were Protesting (this is a very small list, but most important and common):

  1. The Roman Catholic church was no longer following God’s Word, alone, for its basis, for what it believed and what it was doing (religious practices). Thus, they were protesting the NON-Biblical methods, teachings, practices, rituals, leadership types, etc.  Anything that stemmed from NON-Biblical concepts and ideas was sought to be exposed, stopped and/or to be expelled.
  2. Paganism and Idolatry.The Protestants were keenly aware of the multitude of pagan-rooted beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, practices, rituals, etc. that the Roman Catholic church had “Christianized” in the past and the Protestants were seeking to expose them and seeking that the church would stop being involved in such things. Protestants, for the most part, other than the Lutherans (those that came out of Martin Luther’s reformation protest) rejected all or most of anything that was of the Roman Catholic church. They only wanted to follow what was in Holy Scripture, the Bible. Thus, most rejected the Roman Catholic Calendar of feast days, festivals, saints days, which included Christmas, Easter, Lent, Advent, Epiphany, etc. They did not follow any of the so-called “Holy Days” of the Roman Catholic church, or of the English Church.
  3. Praying to the saints, and to Mary … the worship of Mary and the saints, etc… The Protestant all rejected this paganistic, non-biblical practice.  This was very, very important to the Protestants. This practice, which continues today, of praying to and worshiping Mary and the saints, is part and parcel of being a Roman Catholic … and for that matter any of the Eastern Orthodox traditions, as well.  The rejection of this practice by the Protestants caused much persecution, as did all of these Points being listed here (#1 – #2 [above] through #4 to #5 [below])
  4. Leadership Corruption.  Papal (the Pope and “his office”) authority and Papal infallibility. This leadership structure and its power were completely non-biblical and needed to go. The Protestants saw the powerful, authoritarian “leadership” structure of Popes, Cardinals, Priests, etc… as parallel to what Jesus said that He hates as “Nicolaitan” in Revelation 2. The Protestants believed in the Biblical version of church leadership on the local church level, of elders and deacons … and held to the Biblical concept of the Priesthood of all believers (see 1 Peter 2:9). Absolute Power, absolutely corrupts, and that it certainly did.
  5. Roman Catholic Church (and the English church) had armies. Biblically – Christ’s Kingdom through His Church was NOT of this earth, therefore His Church did not have earthly armies, warriors.  See John 18:36-38, Ephesians 6:10-20, and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Although, there is a war, it is spiritual in nature, not physical. Protestants protested that the church had armies. Nothing like this was envisioned in Scripture for Christ’s church. 

We could list a number of other things, that we could also include in this list, that most of us, today, would agree, should be protested, as well. The problem is, that most today, do not even know God’s Word, well enough, to evaluate if a practice, ritual, tradition, or belief is Biblical or not, or if it should be accepted or rejected. In 1 John 4:1-6, God makes it very clear, that He wants us to be able to evaluate, to TEST doctrines and teachings, beliefs, traditions, and/or religious practices and see if they are God-Pleasing or not.

The Protestants took up this challenge and suffered greatly for it.
Multitudes upon multitudes were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and killed because of their stance of SOLA SCRIPTURA (the Bible ONLY).   Again, most nice, good, church going folk, today, do not have a clue about this history and how they have benefited from the bloody and costly Protestant Reformation.

So, what was the rationale, the reasoning behind most of the Protestant Reformation?
Please bear with me as I seek to explain this, or rather, let God, through His Holy Scriptures explain the basis for the Protestant Reformation.

Let’s look at a very commonly held belief as seen from within a church’s Statement of Faith, regarding the Holy Bible, Holy Scripture:

We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the inspired Word of God, fully authoritative, infallible and inerrant in their original writings, and they are complete as the Revelation of God’s will for salvation, and the supreme and final authority in all matters to which they speak.  (Scriptural basis: 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21,  Deut. 6:4-9, 11:13-19, Psalm 19:7-11;  Psalm 119:89-104, 1 Corinthians 10:8-12)

This is a very commonly held principle of belief within most churches that can trace their direct roots back to the Protestant Reformation.  In fact, there some that go on to state something like this: “… and the Word is God is the ONLY Guide by which we follow regarding everything we believe and do as a church … “  Why is this so important?  It is important because this ECHOES perfectly the LOUD and SINGULAR CRY of the Protestant Reformation: SOLA SCRIPTURA (i.e.: Scripture ONLY) !!!

Why would the Protestants want to rebel against the status quo of the Roman Catholic church and/or the English church, the established, culturally accepted, culturally embedded religious institutions of their time?

As the Protestants read and studied God’s Holy Word, the Bible, Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments … they kept being confronted with God’s Own View regarding His Holy Word, the Bible.  In fact, there are so many examples of this, time and space cannot adequately accommodate the list of them … my encouragement to you is to look them up.  Below are some examples of these:

Jude 1:3  “… earnestly contend for the FAITH, once for all, delivered unto the saints … “

Jude 1:3 and other passages we will look at, were part and parcel and CENTRAL to the concept of SOLA SCRIPTURA.  Instead of adding to Scripture more and more religious traditions, rituals, practices, papal edicts, and more doctrine and dogmas (as the Roman Catholic and English churches were doing), these Protestants basically said “wait a minute here…” Jude 1:3 says we cannot do that anymore.  Jude 1:3 basically says (paraphrased here…) “… fight for, stand up for, contend for, and defend the Body of Beliefs we have, based ONLY upon the Bible, that was finally delivered unto us, believers in Christ …”  You see, “the FAITH” as mentioned in Jude 1:3, is a NOUN, pointing to the Precepts, Principles, and Patterns that make up our Body of Beliefs, our Belief System, which is based upon Holy Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, ALONE.  What is it that we BELIEVE in?  What is it that we are supposed to DO as Christians?  How are we to LIVE as Jesus’ disciples, as born again followers of Jesus Christ?  That, ALL, must all be based upon God’s Holy Word, the Bible, ALONE.  Yes, that is the thrust and meaning of Jude 1:3.  It basically means that when the last living Apostle of Jesus Christ died, that would be the end of the Revelation of God as Holy Scripture to all of us humans on planet earth.  When John, the Apostle, penned his last document, the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible) … Holy Scripture was SEALED and NO MORE “bible books” were to be allowed in.  I know this sounds restrictive, harsh, unreasonable, and “other worldly”.  It is!  This view is Biblical, and that is all that mattered to those Protestant Reformers.

When Jesus Christ claimed – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  (Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33)  the Protestants understood Jesus to mean the Whole Bible, from cover to cover, from Genesis through and including Revelation.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ was and is the Living Word of God (John 1:1-14) and that Jesus Christ (God, the Son), along with His Father (God, the Father), and the Holy Spirit (God, the Holy Spirit) authored the Entire Bible, from cover to cover (Genesis 1:1-2:24, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & 2 Peter 1:19-21).  The Protestants understood that God was the Author of the Bible, and they also understood that God would PRESERVE the Bible throughout the Centuries.  The Protestants understood and believed that the Proper, Correct, and Pure Proclamation of God’s Word to sinful humans would be the means for God to extend His Salvation, revealed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:8-17, especially verse 17) To them, it was so very, very important to make sure that God’s Word was correctly proclaimed, taught, preserved, translated and published to all peoples, nations, tongues, and tribes (Matt. 28:18-20).  Thus, fulfilling the Prophecy regarding the “church of Philadelphia” as seen in Revelation 3:7-13 – the prophecy of the rise of the Protestant Reformation.  And the Protestants were TRUE to their CALLING, as History has shown.  Thank God for His wonderous work in bringing about the Protestant Reformation.  Without the Protestant Reformation, we would still only have the LATIN MASS and never learn God’s Word, and salvation would be by works and NOT by Faith in Christ and His Finished Work of Redemption, alone, according to the Scriptures, alone (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Romans 10:8-13)

Here are some more of the Scriptures the Protestants used as their rationale, their reasons behind their PROTEST:

Deuteronomy 12:28-32:
(28) Be sure you obey all these instructions I’m giving you. Then things will always go well for you and your descendants because you will be doing what the LORD your God considers good and right.(29) The LORD your God will destroy the nations where you’re going and force them out of your way. You will take possession of their land and live there. (30) After they’ve been destroyed, be careful you aren’t tempted to follow their customs [traditions, rituals, religious-ways, religious practices]. Don’t even ask about their gods and say, “How did these people worship their gods? We want to do what they did.” (31) Never worship the LORD your God in the way they worship their gods, because everything they do for their gods is disgusting to the LORD. He hates it! They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods. (32) Be sure to do everything I command you. Never ADD anything to it or TAKE anything away from it.

Yahweh, (the LORD) God of Israel explains to the nation of Israel:
“Never worship the LORD your God in the way they worship their gods …” (Deut. 12:31)

What God is saying in the whole chapter of Deuteronomy 12 is that –>
–> WE are to Worship God, Follow God, Obey God, based upon His Instructions in His Holy Word, alone (i.e.: the Bible).  Yes, this principle includes us, this command/principle applies to New Testament, born again, disciples of Jesus Christ, today.  We are all to Worship, Follow, Love, and Obey God according to His Word, alone (SOLA SCRIPTURA – SCRIPTURE ONLY).  We are NOT supposed to mix Pagan-Rooted traditions, religious practices, rituals, beliefs, etc…  into the Worship, Following, Loving, and Obeying of the God of the Bible, PERIOD!!!  We are not even to have the names of those “gods and goddesses” on our lips when we Worship God.

But many, today, who love their man-made traditions tell me, that today, their pagan-rooted, Roman Catholic traditions no longer have those ancient meanings, anymore.  They have been “Christianized” and/or “sanctified” by “the church”, so, now, they are OK  They are not meant, now, to worship those old pagan gods, like those traditions used to do.

My reply: “when did God say that it is OK, now, to Worship God according to pagan traditions?”  Just wondering? And when did Pagan-rooted traditions, religious practices, rituals, beliefs, calendar events – finally become OK to the God of the Bible?  Can you please show me in Scripture?  Some will point to 1 Corinthians 10:31.  The problem is, that you must read all of 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 – those two chapters – the whole chapters, to understand God was NOT saying it is OK, now, to mix in Idolatry into Christianity.  Contrary to that, the Apostle Paul was stating that we need to “flee Idolatry” and anything that resembles it, for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of the lost around us.  Please re-read Deuteronomy 12:28-32 (above) and see how this relates to Worshiping God using paganistic-idolatrous practices.  God is consistent, from Old through New Testament, in His views regarding Paganism and Idolatry and our relationship to those things.

One must also look at Jesus Christ’s evaluation of two churches in Revelation 2 – Pergamum and Thyatira.  Both were called to repentance because of their blatant acceptance, tolerance, and mixtures of paganistic-idolatrous practices into their doctrine and practices.  Of course those two churches were prophetic in depicting, perfectly, the rise of the Roman Catholic church.

God’s judgment regarding Idolatry and Paganism is consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments. Never does God allow or even hint that Christians are supposed to go out and Christianize any Idolatrous/Pagan belief, ritual, practice, and/or calendar event, never, ever.  In fact, God teaches squarely against such things… from Old to New Testaments – we are to tear down, destroy, burn, avoid, expose, and to teach/preach AGAINST paganistic-idolatry.

Regarding how we are to Treat God and His Word … here are some more Instructions… :

Proverbs 30:5-6 (also see Revelation 22:18-19 – “do not add or take away from God’s Word”):
(5) Every word of God is tried and pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(6) Do NOT ADD anything to His words, or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved to be a liar.

2 Timothy 2:15:
(15) Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 – 4:4:
(3:16) Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), (3:17) So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.   (i.e.: the full sufficiency of Scripture)
(4:1) I (Paul) charge [you] (Timothy) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:
(4:2) Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
(4:3) For the time is coming when [people] will NOT tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, CHOSEN to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,
(4:4) and they will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.

Just a bit of commentary on this … in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – if you will notice – it is the PEOPLE who are CHOOSING thisthe PEOPLE CHOOSE – this is a direct translation of the meaning of LAODICEA (see Revelation 3:14-22) … seeing that this is PROPHETICALLY foretelling the future about the RISE of the church of LAODICEA (see Revelation 3:14-22) – the worldly, compromising church, in which Jesus, Himself, is outside of the church, knocking on the door, attempting to come in.  Why is Jesus Christ on the OUTSIDE, knocking on the door trying to enter the church?  Because they are SELF-satisfied, SELF-Centered, and they have TURNED their hearts and ears AWAY from hearing, knowing, and following THE TRUTH and they have, INSTEAD –> believed FABLES and are following NON-BIBLICAL Traditions, rituals, beliefs, stories … etc… (please, also, see more warnings about this “turning away from the truth” or “turning away from the LOVE of the TRUTH” in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Most people will either get offended or angry at what I am saying here and those people will quickly seek to justify themselves and their tendencies (and traditions, etc…).  Please, seek to fight against this right now and have open eyes, minds, hearts, and ears. Please.  We, as humans, we LOVE our Traditions, our Rituals, our own “take” on things … instead of Surrendering to and Obeying God’s Holy Word, simply and ONLY.  Our natural tendency as humans is to LOVE our own Human, Man-Made Traditions OVER and ABOVE God’s Word …
. . . Plain and Simple !!!
If you do not believe me –> Please reread =>  2 Timothy 3:16 – 4:4 above
You must, also, read Jesus’ condemnation of Human traditions that seek to make themselves seem as if they are really from God or are really the “commandments” of God ==> in Matt. 15:1-20 & Mark 7:1-23

We, as humans, naturally, want to be liked by others, accepted by the group, and to “get along”.  This is a tendency we all have, based upon God’s Good Creation.  The problem is, when sin is influencing us, that Good Natural Tendency, drifts toward corruption.  Our natural, earthly (sinful nature inspired) tendencies are toward Babel / Babylon.   Yes, we have what I like to call it – “The Babylonian DRIFT”  –  We as humans seem to always DRIFT toward Idolatry and Selfish, Self-Centered Hedonism.   Only God’s Word, empowered by God’s Spirit actively engaged in the life of a redeemed, born again, human can overcome this natural drift.  Jesus addressed this drift, this tendency to want to “get along with others” at the expense of God and His Word, in Matthew 10:37-39:

(37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(38) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
(39) He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
– – Also Luke 14:25-27:
(25) Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
(26) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,
yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
(27) And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Jesus is saying that Family, Friends, Peers, Peer Pressure, Social and Cultural Pressure all around us are NOT supposed to affect our relationship with Christ.  If we desire to “save our life” – that is, give in to the social-cultural pressures and compromise our obedience and relationship with Christ … that is what is meant here by “save our life”.  Jesus Christ knows how we are … and we will give in, if it means we can be accepted by the “IN Crowd”, or belong to the popular group(s), or avoid torture, suffering, embarrassment, avoid being ostracized or “cast out” or being left alone, etc…  Most people will cow-tow, compromise, give in, give up, and follow the crowd to avoid suffering from these kinds pressures.  

“take up your cross, daily, and follow Me” represented following Christ when all around you are ridiculing you and pressuring you to stop following Christ and His Wordbut you continue onward to Follow Christ AND His Word, publicly.  Therefore, Jesus is not just talking about just a Personal Relationship with Him, only, without reference to how we treat His Word … God’s Word – our following, obeying, surrendering to, submitting to, standing up for, and our defense of it – God’s Word IS central to our relationship with Christ (see Jude 1:3).  Let’s READ Luke 9:23-26:

(23) Then Jesus said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
(24) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
(25) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? [e.g.: being accepted by everyone – everyone in the world loves you…]
(26) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My WORDS, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s Glory, and of the glory of holy angels.

Just in case you do not catch what Jesus is saying here look at Mark 8:34-38 :

(34) When Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also,
He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
(35) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the GOSPELS’s sake, will save it.
(36) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
(37) Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
(38) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My WORDS in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus sounds extremely serious in these passages. Yes, these truths are critically important, LIFE and DEATH Important to Jesus Christ and to us.  He is not holding anything back, He is telling it like it is.  I know it sounds harsh, restrictive with no wiggle room… and that is precisely the point here.  God’s WORD, ALONE, is supposed to be the ONLY foundation and governor of our Life, as we follow Christ in the Power of His Spirit, to the Glory of God our Father.  In Christ Alone, according to God’s Word Alone … SOLA SCRIPTURA !!!  SCRIPTURE ONLY is the CRY of the Protestant Reformation.

And this is barely, if ever heard of by the preachers, teachers, pastors from the Pulpit today .. from the TV Preachers, on the Radio waves … anymore.  No one, it seems, wants to offend anyone.  Understand this, TRUTH will always offend someone.  We need to get over this hangup we have and just PREACH GOD’s WORD simply and purely.

Most Christians today in Western Civilization have no clue about their heritage as Protestants, at all.  My heart’s desire, is that those who are privileged and blessed to be pastors over congregations in which the folks love and trust them, that those preachers/teachers/pastors would teach their people the WORD of GOD again and teach them Christian History and the Protestants’ stand for God’s Word, accurately.  Maybe, the church of Philadelphia [the Protestant Reformation churches] (Revelation 3:7-13) will again come back and have that open door for the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Where have all the Protestants gone?  I think they are here, but not very vocal anymore.  Most are AFRAID, fearful of offending others and suffering the consequences of the TRUTH.  I seem to remember Jesus Christ commanding us to take up our cross, daily. Folks, that is part of bearing our cross, telling the TRUTH of God’s Word and suffering the consequences for it.  Most of us, want to just get along and NOT rock the boat.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, along with Paul that apostle, must have not received that Memo – they called out names, and named religious groups and exposed their false doctrines and false religious practices.  Where do you think the Protestants learned how to be Protestants?  They learned it from the examples of Jesus Christ and His apostles, of course.  Now that IS a real Biblical Tradition that God IS pleased with.  Protest, Expose, Cry Loudly, Protest Much – against false doctrine and paganism and compromise in the church.  Please keep up the PROTEST.

Our Next installment in this series, we will seek to look at some “lights” in the Protestant Reformation.

Until then… keep the faith (Jude 1:3) …

In Christ’s Love and Truth,

Pastor Andy Thomas
athomas@NewLifeFellowship.us
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The Importance of having a Biblical World-View – Part 4

The Importance of having a Biblical World-View – Part 4

Purpose and Motivation

Purpose has everything to do with aims, goals, objective, doing things with an end in mind. The thrust of one’s life that has definite goals in mind, spring from one’s sense of “purpose” (maybe even the sense of destiny). It is sometimes hard to define the word “purpose” without using “purpose” in the definition. It has everything to do with the “reasoning” behind why you are doing what you are doing.

Motivation, on the other hand is the “reasoning” behind the “reasoning” behind why you are doing what you are doing. WHAT? The question of “what is your motivation for why you are doing what you are doing?” is the key to this installment in this series of “The Importance of having a Biblical World-View”. The WHY behind it all. The ROOT of the “Whys” in our lives is our motivation, the motivating factors.

In crimes, when something is a horrific crime, we are left asking “what was the criminal’s motivation?” The criminal may have had a purpose or purposes, or did this crime “on purpose” … but his/her motivation is the root key of what detectives seek to investigate. Once the motivation question is found, the purpose, the aims, the goals, the objectives of that criminal seem to make more sense (of course some crime just never makes any sense, ever).

Purpose and Motivation are in the realms of the following questions:
– Why am I living?
– Why am I here on planet earth?
– What is my purpose in life?
– Do I even have a purpose or is life just aimless?

For most of us, at various times in our lives, we have asked similar questions, especially during times of reflection during life’s tragedies, or while we were young and becoming adults. It is at those times in our lives when we have these golden opportunities of pondering and reflecting  … those times are becoming rarer and rarer … in our fast-paced, information-filled, noise-filled lives. This may have been the reason, that even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, “stole away” to a quiet place to pray. Getting away and focusing on God and His Word are so vital to our lives … times in which we can gain Perspective, reflect on our Motivations and Purposes in Life as followers of God, according to His Word.

Purpose and Motivation – if those concepts are FOUNDED and ROOTED deeply in a Biblical World-View, then life makes perfect sense. It may not make sense in the midst of some circumstance we find ourselves in, but in our OVERALL view of life, we find solace … peace and joy.

Just in case you missed some of my previous posts in this series and the previous series. The teachings found there may help you, as well.

The Importance of having a Biblical World-View:
Part 1 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-2m)
Part 2 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-2Q)
Part 3 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-3Y)

Biblical Discernment – Missing in Action?:
Part 1 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-U)
Part 2 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-1x)
Part 3 (http://wp.me/p2Cuvd-20)

Purpose and Motivation must be based upon something, otherwise life has no meaning and no use for the living. It may seem obvious, but true, tie in the real experiential concepts of “Hope” (or the lack, thereof: “Hopelessness”) along with Joy and Peace and you have the basic core relational fruits of deep intimacy with the God of the Bible (or the fruit of lack thereof, depending on one’s situation).

We all know of cases of people we have known or have heard about whose lives are chaotic, aimless, hopeless, purposeless, lacking any real motivation or ambition to live life wholesomely … etc. We have seen the FRUIT of those kinds of lives. In fact, we might have been some of those “kinds” of people. Lacking motivation, no hope, no joy, no peace, no purpose in life brings chaos, laziness, filthiness, tremendous relational dysfunction and even death. Yes, such lives are deadly. Many criminals are bearing much of this fruit.

But there is Hope:
Based upon God’s Word the Bible, we all, as humans have some common purposes beyond just normal physical survival, safety, and comfort. We have higher, and prior purposes.

In Genesis 2 we find God creating Adam and Eve to “cultivate”, “till”, or “take care” of God’s Garden. Of course, God was speaking of the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:15-17). From the very beginning of human creation, we have had a purpose, and that is to obey God. Our purpose is to please God, obey Him, and serve Him. We were created to serve, obey, and to PLEASE God.  We are to live to PLEASE God – that is our overall, over-arching Purpose in life, according to God’s Word, the Bible.  We are NOT to live to please ourselves, or to live to please others around us, but ONLY to Please God.  This may seem crazy, in today’s world, but let me give you a few verses that illustrate this concept of Living to Please God:

Romans 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
(i.e.: “of the flesh” – unrepentant sinners, living in sin, cannot please God)

1 Corinthians 7:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord – how he may please the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to God. (see also: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of
God;

Ephesians 5:10 Try to learn what pleases the Lord. (Good News translation)

Ephesians 6:6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but pleasing God who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Now then, brothers and sisters, because of the Lord Jesus we ask and encourage you to excel in living a God-pleasing life
even more than you already do. Do this the way we taught you. (God’s Word translation)

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of
those who diligently seek Him. (yes, our Faith in God has as its aim (purpose) – to Please God).

This is just the tip of the ice-berg, so to speak, of the weight of Holy Scripture from the Old and New Testaments. If you remember some of the Old Testament accounts of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David and others who actually pleased God. What did they eventually find out in life? Their Purpose was to live for, to obey, to have deep intimacy with, to worship, and to PLEASE God. Their purpose is our purpose, still today.

Motivations – what would motivate a person to live for, to obey, to have deep intimacy with, to worship, and to PLEASE God?

What motivates people, even today, to do certain things, even very organized, well though-out, well-planned things?

1.  Fear
       a. Fear of losing one’s own, personal life
       b. Fear of losing status
       c. Fear of losing money and/or possessions
       d. Fear of losing people you love or want
             (think of hostage situations, etc…)

2. Pride – Fame – Social Status and Respect
      —   gaining, keeping, and/or growing it
     —   (can include competition of all sorts [good or evil])

3. Possessions
      —  gaining, keeping, and/or growing it

4. Revenge, Vengeance
      —  getting even with those that have harmed me …

5. Love:  Thankful and Loyal Loving response to the personal experience of Love from someone.
             (this represents the highest motivation known to humans, by the way…)

These five areas are the core of what motivates humans to do what they do, and pretty much sums up our human experience and history. We need only reflect a few minutes to think about the horrible, selfish legacy we have throughout history from Adam and Eve unto our present time. We can think quickly of empires, kingdoms, religious fanatics, and every kind of human institution abusing and slaughtering multiplied millions for some “motivation” or another of the first 4 above.  Yet, we have a very hard time trying to find that same kind of result from #5 above. It is #5, Love, as a motivating factor, that seems to be the “new kid on the block”. When did he move in?  This is the RARE Motivation, that we are not as familiar with, but it is at the very CORE of our relationship with our God and Savior.

Jesus said, “… if you love Me, keep My commandments …” (i.e.: Obey Me) (see John 14:15,21; John 15:10)
In the Great Commission, Jesus told His apostles to make disciples of Jesus from all nations, “… teaching them to OBEY everything I taught you
…” – which means to teach these new believers in Jesus Christ, to OBEY Him (see Matthew 28:18-20).

Since Jesus touched upon every Old Testament book of the Bible and commissioned His disciples to write what we now call “the New Testament” …  teaching them everything from God’s Word, the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, all of it, and teaching His disciples to obey all that applies to New Testament disciples of Jesus Christ.  Obedience to Christ, Pleases Him.  We are not talking about obedience that earns us salvation.  We are talking about what genuinely “saved” people are to do in life … and that is to OBEY Jesus Christ, our Master, our King, our Lord, our Savior.  Jesus is not commanding us to OBEY Him as if we are non-thinking robots, either.  He wants us to be engaged with Him as we obey Him.

But People will not want to follow and obey Jesus Christ UNLESS…  unless they are IN LOVE with Jesus Christ.

People will have
no interest
no desire
no passion
no WANT
no motivation
                to OBEY Jesus – unless they have

  1. First, Experienced His SALVATION – the POWER of His SALVATION – the tranformational power of His Salvation…
  2. Have SURRENDERED unto Jesus Christ – so that Jesus is their Lord, King, Master, God, and Savior.

Has the sinner recognized that he or she is a sinner, indeed, fully a sinner, standing before a Holy, Wrathful and Just God?  Has the sinner repented of his or her sin and TRUSTED in Jesus Christ and His Finished work of redemption as his/her only way of salvation from sin’s just judgment from God? Does that person fully trust that what Jesus did for that person:  His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection, His Finished Redemptive Work of Salvation – does he/she believe that was ENOUGH for that repentant sinner’s SALVATION? If so, that repentant sinner is, now, a born-again, new creations in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I know of many that I have sought to encourage to read their Bible, to pray, to follow Christ after they were “supposedly” saved. Yet it was like pulling teeth. Each found an excuse in their busy lives that somehow they could not find the time to get away and pray to God, to study His word, even once during the week. They had NO MOTIVATION to fulfill part of their PURPOSE of living and following God. Their interests waned and faded away. But a true, genuine, born again, disciple of Jesus Christ is IN LOVE with Jesus Christ. This does not mean perfection, but it does go to MOTIVATION. There is a a motivating factor, a power, an energy of motivation that fuels the fires of purpose for the genuine, born again disciple of Jesus Christ. They will WANT to, have a Desire to, have a Motivation to Read God’s Word, to pray to God on a regular basis.  Godly encouragement actually does help those kinds of folks, to help reinvigorate their fire of motivation to continue onward, enduring and persevering in their purposeful life.

Without the energy and fire of biblically-based, Holy Spirit-empowered motivation, God’s purposes in our lives will tend to fade away.

If you find yourself in that weird in-between area of life and God just seems to be distant, please go back to His Word, study His Word, and spend more time seeking His face. Please seek His face in prayer, NOT for stuff and things, etc… but for more of Him in your life. Seek Him for your relationship with Him to be deeper and all that He wants your relationship with Him to be. Fuel the fires of motivation with God and His Word … this will clarify your Life Purposes.

Have you ever seen or heard those interviews by news reporters in which the interviewer asks people – “what do you live for?”
It is interesting to read some of their “life-purposes”:
– my children
– my husband
– my wife
– to party and have a good time
– to help people in need
– to learn all I can about ________
– to get as much out of life as possible
– to see the world
… and many others . . ..

I rarely, if ever, heard anyone ever say – “I live for God, to obey and please Him. That is my highest goal in life.”
Yes it is very rare indeed.

Understanding, embracing, and owning: “I live for God, to obey and please Him. That is my highest goal in life.” that is what makes the
“Biblical World-View” biblically, God’s Perspective.
God wants us to have this perspective … or really for us to have HIS PERSPECTIVE on things in life and regarding life itself.

Yes, without these truths, one cannot have a “Biblical World-View”.

My hope is that every person reading these blog posts will gain God’s Perspective, and live life to the fullest of His Highest Calling in your
life for His Glory.

Live like you mean it, for Yahweh’s Sake,

God Bless,

Pastor Andy Thomas
PastorAndy@newlifefellowship.us
New LIFE Fellowship
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