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Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

On August 8, 2009 I linked to Dr. Albert Mohler’s blog regarding the Episcopal’s Church vote to nominate openly-homosexual candidates for bishoprick and this denomination’s open acceptance of same-sex unions. These actions are causing a major crack  and split within its walls.   Additonally, in this same post, I included an article by Aidan Wilson Tozer entitled ‘Divisions Are Not Always Bad.’ (https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/division/).

This time, with equal sadness, I learned the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] is proceeding into that same downhill direction. Again, Dr. Mohler reports on it in his website – Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness and here are some excerpts:

  • On the crucial issue of blessing same-sex unions, the ELCA now recognizes no less than four understandings. The first represents those who “are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to the Bible teaching and their understanding of natural law.” These Lutherans believe that same-sex acts represent “the grave danger of unrepentant sin.” Therefore, these Lutherans would call those struggling with same-gender attraction to a celibate lifestyle.
  • A second group of Lutherans believes “that homosexuality and even lifelong, monogamous, homosexual relationships reflect a broken world in which some relationships do not pattern themselves after the creation God intended.” Thus, these Lutherans do not except the public recognition of same-sex unions.
  • The third group of Lutherans goes so far as to believe “that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and lifelong loving and committed relationships that we experience today.” This group is ready to bless same-sex unions, but not to grant of these unions the status of marriage.
  • Finally, the report indicates that the fourth group of Lutherans is ready to affirm same-sex marriage as equal in legitimacy to heterosexual marriage. “They believe same-gender couples should avail themselves of social and legal support for themselves, their children and other dependents, and to seek the highest legal accountability available for their relationships.”

For the full article, please link to Dr. Albert Mohler’s site at: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=4325

As I have done in my previous post, I am again appending hereunder an article by A. W. Tozer written decades ago on how the church should consider the ways of the evil world. Although it did not specifically address homosexuality per se, Tozer nonetheless emphasized the, “…bound duty of all Christians to re-examine their spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible.”

Finally, every Christian MUST heed the command of God through His Word given to John:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17

 

This World: Playground or Battleground?

by A.W. Tozer from his book This World: Playground or Battleground?, Chapter 1

THINGS ARE FOR US NOT ONLY what they are – they are what we hold them to be. That is to say, our attitude toward things is likely in the long run to be more important than the things themselves. This is a common coin of knowledge, like an old dime worn smooth by use, yet it bears upon it the stamp of truth and must not be rejected simply because it is familiar.

It is strange how a fact may remain fixed, while our interpretation of the fact changes with the generations and the years. One such fact is the world in which we live. It is here and has been here through the centuries. It is a stable fact, quite unchanged by the passage of time, but how different is modern man’s view of it from the view our fathers held! Here we see plainly how great is the power of interpretation. The world is for all of us not only what it is – it is what we believe it to be. And a tremendous load of woe or weal rides on the soundness of our interpretation.

Going back no further than the times of the founding and early development of our country, we are able to see the wide gulf between our modern attitudes and those of our fathers. In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man, our fathers held, had to choose sides – he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he choose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. Men looked forward to heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them.

Sermons and songs in those days often had a martial quality about them, or perhaps a trace of homesickness. The Christian soldier thought of home and rest and reunion, and his voice grew plaintive as he sang of battle ended and victory won. But whether he was charging into enemy guns or dreaming of war’s end and the Father’s welcome home, he never forgot what kind of world he lived in – it was a battleground, and many were wounded and slain.

That view is unquestionably scriptural. Allowing for the figures and metaphors with which the Scriptures abound, it is still a solid Bible doctrine that tremendous spiritual forces are present in the world. Man, because of his spiritual nature, is caught in the middle. The evil powers are bent upon destroying him, while Christ is present to save him through the power of the gospel. To obtain deliverance he must come out on God’s side in faith and obedience. That in brief is what our fathers thought, and that, we believe, is what the Bible teaches.

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full. his, we believe, is a fair summary of the religious philosophy of modern man, openly professed by millions and tacitly held by many more millions who live out that philosophy without having given it verbal expression.

This changed attitude toward the world has had and is having its effect upon Christians, even gospel Christians who profess the faith of the Bible. By a curious juggling of the figures, they manage to add up the column wrong and yet claim to have the right answer. It sounds fantastic, but it is true.

The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians. They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They are facing both ways, enjoying Christ “and the world, gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun – Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable. The “worship” growing out of such a view of life is as far off center as the view itself – a sort of sanctified nightclub without the champagne and the dressed-up drunks.

This whole thing has grown to be so serious that it is now the bound duty of all Christians to reexamine their spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible. Having discovered the scriptural way, they must follow it, even if to do so, they must separate themselves from much that they had accepted as real, but which now in the light of truth is seen to be false.

A right view of God and the world to come requires that we have a right view of the world in which we live and of our relationship to it. So much depends upon this that we cannot afford to be careless about it.

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4:2-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared….6:3-4 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing… – 1 Timothy 4:2-3; 6:3-4a

The worldwide Anglican union is going through seismic shift within its ranks specifically in the Episcopal Church in the United States.  The matter at hand is so important that posting the article even in my little-known weblog will at the very least benefit a handful of souls who need to be aware and forewarned of the speed of apostasy occurring within one of the recognized unions with the Body of Christ. Although this is deeply disheartening, we should not be surprised because the Holy Spirit has informed us way ahead of time what will transpire in the last days before the great day of the Lord’s return.  Please follow the link to the blog article of Dr. Albert Mohler  entitled “A House Divided?” dated August  5, 2009  (http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=4177).

What follows below is an article of A. W. Tozer from his book God Tells The Man Who Cares exhorting why divisions become a matter of urgent necessity over unity.  His thoughts are all the more relevant to us as syncretism and ecumenism become the signs of the times.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, keep the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12).

 

DIVISIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS BAD

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The First Divider

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by having neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated Church

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart.

In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

Wise Sheep

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

 

Aiden Wilson Tozer was born in Pennsylvania, in 1897. In 1919 he began pastoring the Alliance Church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. He also pastored churches in Morgantown, West Virginia; Toledo, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana; and in 1928 came to the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago. Here he ministered until November 1959, when he became pastor of the Avenue Road Church in Toronto. A sudden heart attack in 1963 ended his ministry.

 

 

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I realize that I may never be like many of the teachers whom I respect especially those who have spent a lifetime of formal biblical studies and ministry. Couple this with every Christian post in WordPress alone and I sometimes begin to think why in the world the electronic media would need another blogger like me…

Then I recalled to mind what the Bible says in Romans 12:3-7 (ESV’s heading reads Gifts of Grace)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • First – I did not possess the call to ministry at all until God gave it to me out of His sheer benevolence.
  • Second – I must not compare myself with anyone as God alone determines what I must have.
  • Third – I must not be proud but rather grateful and humble in spirit before God and men.
  • Fourth – I should not think like a ‘lone-ranger’ but must understand that I am placed by God into the Body of Jesus Christ – God’s church.
  • Fifth – I must be useful not idle, complimenting other ministries and not over-arching where Iwas not called, looking out for the well-being of others and not self-absorbed,  seeking to glorify the Lord at all cost.
  • Sixth – Having a specific ministry, God steadily shapes and hones me into the grace through which He has called me by the renewing of my mind according to the Lord’s way (Romans 12:1-2).
  • Seventh – As a consequence of being in the Lord Jesus, I should endeavor to be in step with His Spirit who empowers me to practice whatever gift God has given me, in season or out of season, for the benefit of other believers, whether a handful or a multitude, and testimony to the world, whether in peace or in persecution, concerning Jesus Christ who has reconciled sinners to God by His death and resurrection (Romans 12:9-21).

After having thought of these, I proceeded to write this bit and post it now in my blog with a better sense of where I am and why I should remain in it… because the shoe does fit.

To you who have been baptized by God’s Spirit into the Body through your faith in Jesus Christ, you certainly have received grace for a specific function within  His church.  Would you also consider meditating on these things?

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This blog still concerns the Scripture found in Matthew 4:1-11.  In my last post, we have studied how the Lord responded to satan’s barrage of temptation and lies.  Here, we look what satan did to God’s Word inorder to tempt the Lord:

 (v. 2) : “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”

Lie # 1:  Ignoring the truth.  Jesus IS the Son of God and by ignoring that truth, the tempter begins with “if”.  For sure satan knew that; Jesus was his Creator and former Master.  The Lord created him as Lucifer, the most beautiful of all angels, until inquity was found in him and he was cast out of heaven. Indeed, Jesus has the power to make bread out of  stones.  He rained down manna in the desert sufficiently  for all the Israelites to eat daily!  Yet no one has ever seen or known what manna is. Jesus is the I Am.

There is a growing number of people coming to church today who aren’t even sure that He is the Son of God and they only come to Him to see if He can really do a miracle for them, so that they might believe. 

You see, God, in His mercy would also let His children go through a time of  need before or after a time of plenty. Observing the Lord’s reply, quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, we find in that particular narrative, God intended for His people to go through the wilderness to be tested, be humbled, be provided with nothing else but manna so that they will know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. A man lives because God sustains his life. And that sustaining life is a display of God’s gracious goodness, especially to His people, so that they will not forget that He is their Good Lord, the Sustainer of Life. 

Even in the preaching of this section of Scripture, I have heard sermons ignoring the counsel of God’s truth contained in the Lord’s reply. Unless we plow through the Scriptures, we will not have a full orbed understanding of the kindness of the Lord even in lean times and be forced to take actions that may lead to sin, regret and a season of  misery.

(v. 6) : “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Lie # 2: Twisting the truth. Of course, the one who ignores the truth will twist the truth. Here, the tempter once again starts with an “if” and we already know that Jesus IS, and He will not and never be an “if”.

Here, satan parodies the Lord…we think that satan is proving that he knows the Scripture, well, it’s much more than that.  Satan, a fallen angel, was mocking the Captain of the Host (commander of the armies of angels). 

When (not if) you read Psalm 91, it clearly teaches that God is our refuge; He will deliver us the from the snare of the fowler (Psalm 91:3). It shows that we must hold fast to Him in love (Psalm 91:14).  Here again, we see that the reality of the steadfast love for God must essentially be manifested in our trust for Him even times of danger.

Yes, Jesus could have thrown Himself from the top of the temple (notice (v.5) satan’s mockery continues  as he took the Lord to the highest point of Jerusalem Temple where God’s presence was – the secret place of the Most High in Psalm 91) and angels would have surely prevented His foot from striking any stone. But our Lord loves His Father perfectly and would not at all put Him to the test but obeyed Him unreservedly.

God’s thoughts and ways are Christ’s as well…so the only wise thing for us is to pattern our thoughts and ways to Him.  Scripture twisting has steadily been becoming the norm a growing number of people in the church today, but God preserves those who are steadfast in their love for the living Word – Jesus, and the written word – Scriptures, from the snare of the one who mangles the truth – satan.

(v. 9) “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Lie # 3: Adding to the truth.   This time there was no beating around the bush, no more “if you are the Son of God” pretexts.  Although the entire creation fell into the corruption brought by man’s sin, and satan becoming the ‘god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), he does not, never did, nor will be the owner of anything.  Jesus is the Owner, was and will always be. Although satan knew that he has blinded the mind of the unbeliever, he nevertheless do not own them, nor anything in this world. Satan has added ownership to his God-permitted dominion that is why he made that offer to the Lord foolishly, and diabolically tried to entice the Lord to worship him

Since he has succeeded in deceiving the first Adam, so he thought he will succeed again. Not this time though. You see, Jesus, while in His incarnation, showed satan who is truly God to be obeyed. Jesus said, (v.10) “…be gone satan…” and (v.11) …the devil left.  Much to my chagrin, in the church, there are those who keep adding to God’s word ending up with doctrines and practices that are fit for false gods, and not the true God.

 “Do not add to His words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar”– Proverbs 30:6

Before I get accused of church-bashing, let it be clear that I am a part of this church that I am referring to above – not a local church, but the universal invisible church which is the Body of Christ where men and women throughout all the ages who are regenerated by God to repent from sin, and for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, are baptized into this body by the Spirit of God. This church of the living God is supposed to be the pillar and buttress of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and this church is founded by,  built upon, and for the one Truth-bearer – Jesus Christ.

Immediately following the narrative, we read another prophecy by Isaiah fulfilled in Jesus Christ:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”  – Matthew 4:15-16; cf Isaiah 9:1-2

Only through Him can the lie of satan be exposed. And His anouncement of the kingdom began with “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  The church needs to repent and shed herself off the lies that she allowed and tolerated, and she needs to get back to her First Love – Jesus Christ – through the enscripturated truth and work of the Holy Spirit, and be the pillar and upholder of the only truth that God has called her to be. The whole truth and nothing but the truth…so help us, Lord!

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