Sunday, November 18, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- 1-2-3 John

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

Christ, the Advocate
For seven years I had the job of being an advocate for teachers. It was my responsibility to stand and plead the case for teachers who found themselves in trouble with the administration.  Often, I had to use my influence with the administration on their behalf to resolve the problem. So, I am familiar with the role of the advocate.  This morning we will look at the advocate God offers to sinners through Jesus Christ.
 An advocate is one who undertakes for another and represents his case. He stands up and pleads for the accused, and to use his own influence on his behalf.
In the existence of this office it is implied:
 That there is an accusation against us. We are all indicted and summoned for trial. We are held as sinners and must appear to answer for our offense. There is a question pending which implicates us all, and the influence of this advocate is needed in the case.
The existence of the office shows that the situation between sinners and God is not altogether hopeless. It is not like that of the fallen angels. If it were, there could be no place for an advocate.
As a one who has committed a sin, we are not without hope.   If that were the case, we would not need an advocate.
The existence of an advocate indicates that God has compassion towards us.  It should be considered that this Advocate is provided by God, not by the sinner. Why should God furnish us an advocate at all if He were cruel and without mercy?
Some persons seem to think that the compassion displayed in the gospel plan belongs wholly and alone to Jesus Christ--that the Father is no other than a vengeful spirit. But it should be considered that Christ was appointed to this office by the Father--a fact which shows that the difficulty in the way of any sinner's being forgiven lies not in the Father's heart, but in the demands of his commandments.
Sinners are in such a condition that they cannot help themselves. If they could, there would be no demand for an advocate. If they could be saved upon the bare mercy of God, as some have supposed, there would be no need of an advocate.
The essential qualifications of an advocate for sinners.
He must not be so mixed up with the transgressors that he is a transgressor himself. He must be righteous before God; else he will himself need an advocate. Consequently, we read of our Advocate--"Jesus Christ, the righteous." It is altogether essential that He should come with clean hands before the great court.
He must be willing to undertake the advocacy, to whatever amount of self-denial, pain, or expense it may subject him. He must be willing to assume all the responsibility, or he will not succeed. What can the sinner do for himself before the court of God?
He must take an interest in the people for whom he pleads. If he lacks this, he will not succeed, especially if there are significant obstacles to be overcome, and requires work, suffering, and trial. This is the case of sinners that whoever undertakes to be their advocate must encounter great obstacles--as everyone who had ever been convicted of sin must know.
 As to the conditions of his success, it may be said:
 He must be willing to undertake the task. We are assured that such is the fact.
He must be "retained" by each sinner for himself. This is a legal term and implies that the party is needing the services of an advocate, engages him to undertake it, and agrees for himself to commit his case into the advocate's hands. It is essential that the advocate should have the entire consent of those for whom he undertakes. They must commit their whole case to him. If he sees there are certain things they must do, or certain confessions they must make to have the needed accomplishment, they must promptly do those things and make those confessions. They must put themselves entirely in his hands. For example, if he insists that they must give up all sin, they must do it; or if he asks, they must repent, they must do it without hypocrisy and without delay. If he insists, they deny themselves, they must cheerfully meet the demand.
He must have some prevailing plea. He must have something to produce before the court that will come with power and influence.
Now, what plea can Christ make for the sinner? Can He say, This, is a righteous man, and not an offender against God's law or against his gospel? No. Can He plead any justification or apology?  No. He can neither deny nor excuse the fact of sin. Sometimes a criminal denies the truth, and sometimes he pleads some apology, or that he had a right to do the deed. But in the sinner's case, Christ can plead nothing of this sort at all.  There is no plea bargaining for a lesser sin.
Christ as an advocate will use no trickery, no deception; nothing of the kind. No sinner should make the least reliance on anything based on their own character.
The pleas, in this case, is not made on the question of guilt or innocence. The question made is not as is common in human courts--guilty or not guilty; Christ does not come forward to plead on that question. Our text reads, "If any man sin, we have an advocate," --implying of course that the question of sin is not up for debate. As to the fact of sin, there is no disagreement. There is no need for a jury. The only question is whether mercy can be given. The question is not at all whether the man deserves to die or is under condemnation; this fact is fully settled, and the sinner knows it. He is condemned and knows he ought to die. There is no lack of real guilt, and the question, therefore, does not need to be asked whether he is guilty nor how much guilt he had acquired. But the question comes up in entirely another shape. There is no apology to be made at all. The only question is, Can, mercy be shown, and the guilty man be pardoned? Can the execution be stopped, and can the sentence of death be set aside?
Christ will not attempt to set aside the penalty on legal grounds. By no means. Sometimes before human courts, an advocate appears and makes a motion to arrest proceedings on the ground of some error in fact or in law. But here in the sinner's case, there has been nothing done on God's part to be corrected--nothing wrong or in error.
Christ does by no means interrupt because He fears that the Father will not treat you with all the forbearance which your case will allow. But the appeal is to God's own compassion for you--to his own disposition to show mercy if by any means He can safely do it under the circumstances of the case. Our Advocate knows that as to the Father, judgment is His holy work and mercy his delight; and He accepts that the Father is entirely sincere in these declarations and in calling you all to repentance. Yet Christ does not take it for granted that because God loves to pardon, He will be able to do so, consistently with the demands of His commandments. He knows that God will show mercy--if it can be done compassionately, in consistency with the support of His Law.
But how is this to be done?
Here is the necessity for an advocate, to settle the question that it can be done within the divine government.
The Bible often brings out the fact that there was an understanding between the Father and the Son, that Christ should do certain things to honor the law and to persuade the sinner to turn from his sins, and then God would on certain conditions forgive. In theological terms, this is often called, "the covenant of redemption." It was made before the world began. It provided that if the world was created--if man should sin--then if Christ would become the substitute to bear their sins in his own body on the tree, doing so much as would render it proper for the Father to forgive, then forgiveness should be freely granted to all those who would repent of their sins and believe in Christ as their Redeemer.
It is easy to see what a simple thing it is to become a Christian. It is not going about to do some great work on your own, but it is merely to accept God’s prepared righteousness.
There are those who feel they must become better before they can come to God. Let me ask you what are you waiting for? The atonement is already made--this is prepared salvation; the question is not whether you are going to be better, but whether you will accept a prepared salvation, made ready for you.
You are condemned; you can do no works of righteousness to help yourself, yet a remedy is provided; will you accept it?
Salvation is provided and ready; will you accept it? God's method of making you righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, by taking him as your Advocate and Mediator is provided by the love of God. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Immigration Problem

Looking at the history of illegal immigration there have been several groups that have exploited the United States lack of enforcing immigration laws.  The unlawful entry of aliens into the United States is one of the most serious problems confronting our country today.  Since World War ll the issue of illegal entry has increased tremendously.  It is reported that there are 12.5 million aliens in the United States in an unlawful status.  This number could be higher.

One of the problems with our immigration policy is the absence of any policy regarding foreigners regarding their activities that are directed at the overthrowing of our government.  Even as far back as the 1950’s when the concern was with Communist arrested but released due to the inadequate provisions for deporting them, we have the same problem today.  We have those who openly advocate the overthrow of our government and are permitted to carry out their activities under our Constitution.

Many of the refugees and illegal immigrants today are ideologically hostile to Western Christian values upon which this country was founded.  In the first few decades of the twentieth century, the number of immigrants coming to this country brought with them ideologies that were hostile to our form of government and to capitalism. Most of these individuals joined with the Democratic Party.  Before the open-door policy of immigration, the Democratic Party was made up of rural Protestant Southerners and the urban Catholics of the North, who stood for the principles of Western Christian civilization.  These two groups had little in common politically except the opposition to the Republican Party.  By the middle of the twentieth century, the Democratic Party had been hijacked by the socialist liberals and communist from Eastern Europe.  Today the Democratic leadership has no problem in identifying themselves with progressive socialism which is no more than the ideology of communism.  It was the lack of strong immigration laws and the influx of illegal aliens in the first part of the twentieth century in which a mostly non-Christian influence changed the Democratic Party.

Before a large number of Eastern European immigrants were brought into this country the population of the United States was evenly divided between the Republicans and Democratic parties.  The control of the Democratic Party was soon taken over by a well-organized minority.  The states with the most significant number of immigrants from Eastern Europe are New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, and Michigan.  These are the same states that have a significant impact on every election. The immigration policies or lack thereof changed the political ideology of our country.  The fundamentals of freedom and liberty have been changed throughout the past seventy years due to weak immigration policies.

Why am I concerned about immigration policies?  The ideology of socialism in this country is a result of weak immigration policies.  It is these same weak immigration policies that are being used by Muslim refugees and immigrants that is changing our country toward Islam.

In 2028, Islam will be the largest religion with 2.2 billion believers. It is projected that by 2028 there will be 8 billion plus people on earth and over one fourth will be Muslims.  As a Christian, this concerns me.  In every country controlled by Muslims Christians are being put to death daily.

Just as the Eastern European’s influenced the Democratic party towards socialism, the Muslims are moving the Democratic party towards Islam.  Muslims are winning elections at the federal, state and local level with the help of the Democratic party.

What makes the Democrats and Muslims strange bedfellows are Muslims, for the most part, are conservative and do not support some of the policies of the Democrats.  What appeals to the Muslims is the Democratic Party has been mostly pro-immigration and promotes social welfare policies designed to help immigrants.  Along with pro-immigration, the Democrats have become the party of anti-Israel.

The Democratic party has a Deputy Chairman that has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, is a declared anti-Semitic, has connections with jihadist groups waging terrorism on the West.  This Muslim congressman received endorsements as the top candidate to assume of the helm of the DNC – support that includes the backing of former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and former Louisiana House of Representatives member David Duke (D) long time KKK member.

No, I have not forgotten how the liberal left hijacked the Republican Party.  In the 1960’s there were liberal Democrats that we're seeing the failed policies of the left and became Republican.  These are the neoconservatives of today’s Republican party.

Many neoconservatives had been Jewish intellectuals in New York City during the 1930s. They were on the political left, but strongly opposed Stalinism and some were Trotskyists. During the Cold War, they continued to oppose Stalinism and to endorse democracy. The vast majority became liberal Democrats. 

Paul Gottfried said this of the neocons,

What makes neocons most dangerous are not their isolated ghetto hang-ups, like hating Germans and Southern whites and calling everyone and his cousin an anti-Semite, but the leftist revolutionary fury they express. Goldberg Is Not the Worst" by Paul Gottfried., 20 March 2003.

These neocons are no more than “conservative socialist” who took over the hierarchy of the Republican Party.  The conservative Republican has been left out in the cold.  Every election there is the talk of electing conservative legislators to Congress and regain control of the Republican Party.  It will never happen.  Why, you ask, because the GOP hierarchy buys off 90 percent of the legislators that we send. Who and what is this GOP hierarchy? It is the vast network of elite intellectuals, bankers, and corporate leaders throughout America that make up the “neoconservative establishment.”

The intellectual sector of this hierarchy is comprised of prominent scholars and pundits such as William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the late Charles Krauthammer.   Their ideology is supported by prestigious organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Hudson Institute, and the Foreign Policy Initiative – scholarly magazines such as Foreign Affairs, Commentary, Public Interest, and The Weekly Standard.

Completing the hierarchies are the major bankers of the Federal Reserve system and the myriad of corporate moguls throughout the nation. The members of this GOP hierarchy call themselves “neoconservative” because it makes it easier for them to sell massive patriotism to the American people. Unfortunately, allegiance to the founding principles of America is not in their lexicon, they are at heart socialist.

The scholars, pundits, bankers, moguls, and institute heads of this hierarchy wield enormous power, both ideologically and financially – enough so to buy off most of the incoming patriotic congressmen. Such newcomers to Washington adopt the GOP hierarchy’s “pseudo-conservatism” soon after their arrival in the capital because they know if they don’t vote in step with neo-conservatism, they will receive no financial support for re-election from the party and its influential hierarchy.  That is one reason they hate President Trump.  He did not need their approval.

The reality is that the neocons could not win a single precinct in the United States. Yet, incoming conservatives don’t stay conservative; they are bought off.  What is impressive is that both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance.

One reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media – as op-ed writers and TV commentators – and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not approved.  The problem with the neocons is their hatred for President Trump is how they pulled liberals and even some progressives into the neocon strategies for war and more war, mainly by exploiting the Left’s disgust with President Trump.

Wonder why there is such a hatred for Russia?  Look to the neocons.  People who would typically favor international cooperation toward a peaceful resolution of conflicts have joined the neocons in ratcheting up global tensions and making progress toward peace far more difficult.

The provocative “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea while tying President Trump’s hands in removing those penalties, passed the Congress without single Democrat voting no.

The only dissenting votes came from three Republican House members – Justin Amash of Michigan, Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky – and from Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate.

In other words, every Democrat present for the vote adopted the neocon position of escalating tensions with Russia and Iran. The new sanctions appear to close off hopes for peace with Russia and may push us closer to war with Iran.

There needs to be a change in our immigration policy to protect the interest of the American people from the failed policies of the progressive socialist.

Christ Through the Bible 1&2 Peter

The Returning LORD

2Peter 3

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
Remember What You Have Been Taught
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
Paul in writing to Timothy said:
2 Tim.3:12-15
…while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you learned them. From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.…
Revelation 3:3 (KJV) Jesus said:
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Signs of the Time
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Peter told them, “there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (II Peter 3:3). These are the “false teachers” and false Christians that he talked about in the second chapter, when he said, “there shall be false teachers among you” (II Peter 2:1). I think it is a mistake to think that these “false teachers” are only professors in colleges and seminaries, although it includes them.
But have you noticed that everybody is an expert on religion? Everybody thinks he knows all about it. You can’t tell them anything. You meet them on the street. You meet them in church. They are experts! Religion is the only subject that you can be an expert on without any study! Our text tells us that there will be more and more people like that in the “last days.” They are scoffers.
What is the matter with these mockers? First, they are materialists. They are content with the things of this world.  They don’t want to believe Christ is coming to judge them. Peter compared them to the people in Noah’s time (II Peter 2:5). God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah...a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Noah preached on the coming judgment. But the people would not listen! Christ spoke of them as materialists – only interested in eating and drinking, and going to parties, “until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27). Peter also spoke of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah – “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them” (II Peter 2:6). Again, their main sin was materialism. Christ said, “in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:28-29). And then Christ said,
“Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:30). 

Judgment Is Coming
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Now if Jesus is going to be the judge and his words are going to be the standard or rule by which we are judged it becomes very important that we learn what his words are. In the great sermon on the mount he said, "Not everyone who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name cast out devils and in thy name done more wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me you that work iniquity" Matthew 7:21-23. Those who do his will, will not receive this condemnation and punishment. What will you say at the judgement?
The LORD Is Coming Back
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
No one can tell us with certainty what tomorrow's weather will be except the one who causes it - God - but by listening to the weather report or looking at the sky, people use their eyes and their brains to at least make an educated guess about tomorrow's weather. Likewise, no one can tell us with certainly when the exact timing of Jesus' return will be except the one who will cause it to happen, God the Father (Mt. 12:36), but by listening to the right information sources, people can use their eyes and their brains to at least make an educated guess about how close we are to the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that when you see certain things begin to happen, "Look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near," and "when you see them happen the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:28,31). Jesus and Paul both taught that the proper way to wait for His return is to therefore be watchful, ready and sober (Matthew 24:42-44,25:13; 1 Th. 5:6).
The apostle John wrote that when Jesus appears, we who believe in Him shall become like him, and everyone having this hope in Him purifies himself (1 John 3:2,3). He also wrote that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). So two benefits of studying Bible prophecy and comparing it to world events are personal purification and a better understanding of Jesus. Besides, in 1 Th. 4:18, Christians are commanded to encourage each other with words about the return of Christ. Hebrews 10:24,25 also says that as we should regularly meet to encourage one another, especially as we see the Day of Jesus' return approaching.
The Day of The LORD
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Warning to Be Holy
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Peter told us to remember.  We have been told to beware of what is going on around us.  There are so many who call themselves Christian but are living in a delusion.
Jesus said concerning those who called Christians, "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Rev. 2:4
Do you realize the implications of what Jesus is saying? It is possible for us to do all the things we ought to do and still abandon him. We can be faithful to the church, active in outward activities, and still not love Jesus. All of our service that is not motivated by our love for Christ is worthless.
Jesus was speaking to the church at Ephesus He described them as fallen (v. 5). Here was a church that seemed like anything but a fallen church. In one statement he summed up the whole problem. Their service had become mechanical. Their worship had become routine. They did not have the old fire. There was no place for emotion.
Their devotion was gone. That spirit of giving all for God regardless of the cost was gone. But they could hate! (v. 6). They could hate sin, but they had forgotten how to love Christ.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Progressive Socialism In The Church

I was raised in a conservative Christian family.  The Bible was the foundation of our belief and practices.  I have never been part of a "progressive" evangelical church with a contemporary worship service.  I am not one who likes to sing songs off the wall, nor stand for thirty minutes singing the same phrase over and over.  There are those who have told me I need to get with the times because the church is changing.  Why would the church change when we serve a God that does not change? Malachi 3:6 The Hebrew writer tells us the Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and forever. Heb. 13:8   Why is it that Christians feel they must change to accommodate the world? The progressive social Christians have changed their Biblical convictions for a gospel filled with compromise weakening the message of the Gospel.
Politically I have watched the social progressives take over our country and destroy our freedoms and liberty.  I will not go silently into the dark for a socialist style of Christianity.  I keep hearing that Christianity is dead, it is now the post-Christian era.  The blame for this has been placed on traditional churches.  The accusation being made is that they have too many rules, the church is dogmatic in their beliefs, are bigoted because they fail to accept the various sins of the flesh and cannot take the popular culture of diversity of belief.
For whatever the reason there are those within the church who feel “the gospel of Christ” needs to conform to the culture.  The whole purpose of the change is to make the gospel less exclusive and soften the consequences of sin.  The message of judgment, the wrath of God and the Lake of Fire are harsh and judgmental.
The ultimate end of changing the message is always unbelief. The defining feature of those who would change the Word is based on the carnal nature and its hatred of the Gospel, its anti-Christian nature. This desire to change deviates from the commands of God and lapses into excesses.  Paul wrote to the Church at Rome concerning those who changed the message of God.  He tells us, people knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. They said they were wise, but they became fools.  Instead of acknowledging the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, and is unchanging, they traded it for the worship of idols—things made to look like humans, who get sick and die, or like birds, animals, and snakes.  People wanted only to do evil. So, God left them and let them go their sinful way. And so, they became utterly immoral and used their bodies in shameful ways with each other.  They traded the truth of God for a lie. They bowed down and worshiped the things God made instead of praising the God who created those things.
That is the condition of spirituality in the changing church.  The progressive socialist ideology has become so pervasive that most churches will tolerate abortion (murder), fornication (premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality) and almost any other violation of God's law.  The progression of the apostasy in the church today came from tolerating sin, moving to condone sin and finally accepting and practicing sin.
The expression for this type of Christianity is "cheap grace."  Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined this expression when talking about the condition of the church in Germany during World War II.  He saw the results of a progressive socialist gospel and wrote, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
Some progressive socialist religious and secular humanists’ groups believe in salvation by works and the godhood of mankind, respectively moving away from the transforming power of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
Many within the church have accepted the progressive socialist view of the changing social norms especially regarding sex, marriage, homosexuality, and abortion and are prepared to abandon the tenets of the church to appear "modern" and "inclusive." This has not brought more people to the church; instead, it has driven away many traditional Christians. The church seems to have confused compassion with moral equivalence.
Many church ministers seem to be more inclined toward Marx than Jesus Christ, and some are blatantly left wing. It appears that the wolf has entered the fold and is not sparing the sheep.
Socialism has always failed in government and will fail within the church.  Socialism is based on the flawed concept that individualism is not essential. Socialist doctrine flies in the face of Christian doctrine: Proverbs 28:19 He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.   This applies to both the physical and spiritual.  The ideas of progressive socialism are accepted when one forfeits their salvation.  When Christian denominations gave up on their traditional convictions and teachings and accepted a social gospel, they lost the right to be called Christian.
There was a time in the Church when ideas that are today accepted would have been fringe concepts.  The acceptance of same-sex marriage would have been a shocking concept and would not have been up for discussion.  Those who would have loudly raised their voices in support of same-sex marriage would have been barred from the church.  The acceptance of couples living together would have been viewed as fornication and would have been denounced as sin.  The progressive social church has opened the door for the destruction of God's design for the family.   Karl Marx would be dumbfounded at the mere thought that Christians would gladly join him in their rejection of God's plan for natural marriage and the family.
I have heard people who say they are politically conservative and Christian who has accepted the progressive social form of Christianity.  The problem is the progressive social style of Christianity has the message of "coexist," "tolerate," "condone," and even "practice," the socially acceptable sins of society to make Christianity more acceptable to the masses.  If you have not noticed the distortion of the gospel, then you are part of the problem within the church. The progressives are desperate for acceptance.  They have removed Christ out of their Christianity and are killing the message of the gospel by their compromise with the world.  The progressive socialist may claim to be Christian, but their unbiblical ideas expose them as non-Christian.  The test of one's belief is measured by the Word of God.
The false concept that we do not discuss our religion or politics has resulted in a silent culture of faith.  People who downplay the absolute truth of God’s word are promoting the illusion that they are neutral in their faith.  They tend to minimize sin, salvation, and the transforming power of the gospel.  They have learned to pick and choose which commands they will live by considering the changing culture.  They have styled their Christian life on the "nice" and "positive" aspects of the gospel.  They have forgotten the command of Jesus for us to "teach them to observe all things I have commanded you. Matt 28:20, not what we think is acceptable to the culture.
The message of the progressive socialist in the Church today is more concerned about feeling good about our lifestyle choices.  It does not matter that our lifestyle conflicts with the commands of God.  What is essential is the self-esteem we gain from being religious regardless of the sin in our lives.  The progressives have reduced God to a talisman for good luck.
Popular liberal evangelical writers and preachers tell us if we accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia, and Hollywood will finally accept Christians. Out of fear of being falsely dubbed "intolerant" or "uncompassionate," many Christians are buying into theological falsehoods. Instead of standing up as a voice for the innocent unborn or marriage as God intended, progressives are forgoing the authority of Scripture and embracing sin all in the name of tolerance. We are truly living in the days Paul warned us was coming. 
We are living in a time where what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes and not what the Bible teaches.  James says very flatly and plainly, "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Christ Through the Bible-James

Text: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1:1

Many Bible scholars believe that the Book of James does not teach us about Christ.  One Bible scholar who felt this way was Martin Luther.  Luther said about James, ‘I praise it and hold it a good book because it sets up no doctrine of men and lays great stress upon God’s law.’ Luther ends up both blessing the book of James and to cursing it. And concerning the latter, the most devastating criticism he leveled against James was that he believed it did not teach us about Christ.
Luther is correct when he says, ‘That is the true test, by which to judge all books when we see whether they deal with Christ or not since all the Scriptures show us, Christ.’  Sadly, though, Luther went on to say that James does not pass that test.
If you were to listen to most people talk about James, and most preachers preach from the book of James, you might think that they were all students of Martin Luther! It is all too common for people to approach James as a book without Christ in it. They merely glean the essentials of James while missing him revealing Jesus.  Since this is a series of Christ Through the Bible, let us look at how James reveals Jesus Christ.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount and covers the Law of Moses and how it related to the follower of Christ.  There are many ways in which the book of James clearly echoes the sermon of Jesus. Both tackle the themes of worldliness over against heavenly-mindedness. Both deal with issues like oaths and vows, suffering well, judging others, persecution, effective prayer, and proving our faith by the fruit of good works.
And, like Jesus’ sermon, James must be read with Jesus himself in mind. In the Sermon on the Mount, who is the peacemaker, the one who is persecuted, and the pure in heart? Yes, those beatitudes belong to us believers, but only as they first belong to our Savior who spoke such blessings. Similarly, in James, who is it that has correctly endured the test (1:12), Jesus Christ? Who is the lowly one who is exalted (1:9)? Who is himself the perfect gift that has come down from the Father of lights (1:17)? And who has come to this world, from the Father, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unstained from the world in perfect righteousness (1:27)? It is the same Christ who alone can ultimately save our souls from death and cover a multitude of sins (5:20).
The book of James gives numerous commands to believers to live out by God’s strength. James has around fifty commands in just over one hundred verses. And those commands are meant to be obeyed by us. But, like all the commands in God’s Word, they describe obedience that was first and foremost lived out by Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law of God. Jesus is the one who came, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill or keep it (Matt. 5:17). It is Jesus who has really fulfilled the royal law according to the Scripture (James 2:8). So, the proper approach to the obedient Christian life is not a life of just trying harder all the time, as James is often read and preached, but a life of becoming who we are in Christ.
It is commonly believed that the James who wrote this book was James, the half-brother of Jesus. While James had a human father named Joseph, and Jesus had a heavenly Father, they yet shared the same human mother named Mary. As best we can tell, James and some of his other siblings neither believed nor followed Jesus during his earthly ministry (see Matt. 12:46–50; John 7:5).  The disciples who followed Jesus were: Simon Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.  James the brother of Jesus was not a follower.
This background makes James’ later position of leadership in the church nearly as amazing as that which a Pharisee named Saul would enjoy! It also makes the book of James the same kind of ‘not how I did it in my earlier years’ kind of treatise as that of Peter in his first epistle.
But the sibling relationship between Jesus and James ought not to be too quickly passed over. It is true that Jesus is explicitly named by James only twice, in 1:1 and 2:1. But it is wrongly inferred from this, that this is the full extent of when James had Jesus in mind when he wrote the contents of his epistle. And it is wrongly assumed that these are the only times when James wanted us to have Jesus in mind as we read this book.
The opening of New Testament letters carries more importance than we often realize. The first couple of verses provide an opportunity to present the author’s credentials. So, if you were James, the half-brother of Jesus, why not mention that connection? Would this not lend some credibility to your claims? And yet, James begins differently than we might have expected. In verse 1, he labels himself ‘a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ And in verse 1 he also calls his intended readers' spiritual exiles, ‘the twelve tribes in the Dispersion’ (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1, ‘elect exiles of the dispersion’). After giving such spiritual identity labels, James then says in verse 2, ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.’ And in the next two verses, he speaks of the goal of suffering well, that we may become ‘perfect.’
Now, if you were in that original audience, getting a letter from a man whom you knew to have had the unique privilege of growing up with JESUS, how could you not think to yourself, ‘James calls himself, not Jesus’ brother, but his servant! And James calls me his brother and speaks of me reaching this complete state!’ James is dignifying his audience of ordinary people by grouping them with himself, thereby indicating that all who are found in Christ by faith are brothers with this brother of Jesus.
In a book where he so infrequently names his brother who is the object of our faith, James calls us his brothers time and time again! And he speaks of our calling — to go down the same path that all of us know Jesus walked. It is almost as though this is James’s biography of his brother Jesus because his person and work are everywhere in this book! This is not unlike the book of Ruth, where the name of God is infrequently used, but the fingerprints of divine providence are all over it. James, the half-brother of Jesus, never intended for us to read of the wisdom that comes down from above (James 3:17–18) without thinking of Jesus, the Wisdom that has come to us from above (Matt. 11:19; 1 Cor. 1:30).
Some Christians are fond of James because they think it speaks almost exclusively of them and their obedience. But other Christians are cautious about James because, like Luther, they’re not quite sure if it says much about Jesus. Let us not find ourselves in either category. Let us be those readers who appreciate how our Savior’s obedience is described in the book, and then be challenged by faith in him to heed the many practical commands. This is a book about how we should live because it is a book about how Christ lived.
How is the ‘joy’ of trials (1:2) to be understood, unless we can understand our trials in the light of the cross, which we now bear, and understand them regarding his image, to which we are being conformed through them? How else can we not be discouraged by the discussion in chapter 2 of faith being demonstrated by our works, unless we realize that the less-than-perfect fruit of our faith is sanctified by Christ to become presentable to God? How can we read the many references in James to the final judgment that is coming, without clinging by faith to the Christ who will present us pure and undefiled to the Father? The centrality of Christ to this book and to its demands gives us the comfort of knowing that, although we are not, Jesus is that ‘perfect man’ who has perfectly bridled his body and tongue (3:2).
Some people read the book of James as if they are still living under the Old Testament Law.  They do not see Christ in the message. But if it is read in the light of Christ, we can walk in the commands it sets before us. When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, saying that we need to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), we are not discouraged to the point of giving up our efforts to be faithful. James is a book of practical holiness that is lived by the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us.
Yes, Virginia Christ is in the Book of James.