How Many Sins Does It Take?

Genesis 3 describes the very first sin a human being committed against God. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were commanded not to touch or eat fruit from certain trees in the midst of the garden (Genesis 3:3) and did so anyway.  Many pastors out there speak of the “fall of mankind” in generalities but gloss over the glaring reality of what actually happened.  With many years of Satan’s influence, human beings for the most part see sin in terms of really evil and less evil, but guess what, it is evil no matter how we look at it.

Adam and Eve’s sin was simple disobedience and what ensued swiftly was their removal from a perfect garden paradise forever.  They didn’t murder anyone, they didn’t rape anyone, they simply disobeyed God and defiled His holiness. God could live with them until that point, but after this there was no way He could as He is perfectly righteous and holy, He could not just make an exception or He could no longer be holy.

Modernist pastors attempt to skew God’s holiness as less than holy. Lesser evils such as Adam and Eve’s sin, they preach now God must overlook because He loves His creation. The whole “hate the sin, love the sinner” nonsense has spawned from this. Make NO mistake, if God hates the sin, He also hates the sinner who has committed this sin.  All throughout Scripture and yes even in the New Testament, God has a burning rage towards all sin and thus all sinners.

However God does love His creation, this is correct. After Adam and Eve fell and the world went from a perfect garden to utter turmoil, He made them clothes (Genesis 3:21). He could of destroyed all of creation during the Great Flood (Genesis 6, 7), but chose to save 8 sinners. And no greater love than all, He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to a lonely cross to atone for the sins of His children satisfying a payment no sinner could ever pay thus restoring the rift in holiness caused by just one sin, the saved sinner now can enter the Kingdom and dwell with God with Christ’s imputed righteousness.  God chooses by His grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone to make things right.

Just one sin puts a human being on the outside of the Kingdom, deserving the wrath of God. Just one choice by God’s love to give grace through Jesus Christ repairs this eternal and infinite damage.  It is quite sad to hear how some rationalize sins, to invent new terms on what God sees as sins and when a sin is actually a sin.  Recently a Roman Catholic attempted to give me a nonsensical 3 step process as to when a sin is actually sin for example which misses the point entirely!  Could a sinner EVER presume what God deems as sin and what He doesn’t?  I’d hate to take that chance with a holy God.  For example His word lists the 10 commandments, do you really want to tell God for example when a commandment is broken and by human consortium when it isn’t?

It was just ONE sin of we which we all have committed which put us into Judgment just as our first parents, Adam and Eve.  We are none the better than they were since the beginning.  Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

David Platt put this way “you sin against a rock, you are not very guilty. You sin against man, you are guilty. You sin against an infinitely holy God, and you are INFINITELY GUILTY”.

The question is are you going to stop punching and flailing against the wind, rationalizing each of your sins, determining which sins God must accept and which He cannot?  Or are you going to accept your state as a sinner and submit to the fact that the Judge, the Almighty God, is in control, it is by His mercy and grace alone that you can be forgiven through Jesus Christ who died, yes, for each and every one of your sins.  Will you come to the Cross and plead for mercy, or will you boast in your works to God of which He views as filthy rags.

If you have not done so, repent of your sins, turn away from them and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ that He alone paid your sin debt, and by His death and resurrection He has freed you from eternal damnation and the wrath on your sins. Tomorrow might be TOO late!

How many sins does it take to be cast out by God? JUST ONE.  Stop rationalizing and start believing! 

[ By Faith We Understand ] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

 

8 Seconds

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us,
they would have continued with us;
but they went out that they might be made manifest,
that none of them were of us.

This blog post is not about the time of a successful bull-ride or the movie 8 Seconds, it is about the current attention span of society as a whole.  In a very disturbing KIA car commercial recently, they show a young woman who sings along with her radio and then goes off into a dream world, she comes back to reality while almost rear-ending the car in front of her.  KIA then notes “current research shows the average attention span of an adult is 8 seconds”, so they equipped this particular car with a braking system to prevent an accident.

Sad? I’d say so!  Think about how dangerous it is living in today’s society when car manufacturers have to be pro-active based on such a minuscule attention span.  8 seconds sounds extreme, but it is actually the truth.  How many encounters in today’s technological world have you noticed this?  If you haven’t, your attention span is most likely the average as well or less than that average. Which by the way when it is just the “average” it means more people have less than an 8 second attention span than more than 8 seconds.

False teachers out there have grasped onto this fact.  This is done by the cherry picking verses and various tag-lines which feeds a sinful heart. “You can get rich quick” for example or “send me money, and you illness will be cured” can be said in less than 8 seconds which will garner the attention of the lost.

Exposition good teachers such as John MacArthur are slowly going to the wayside because of short attention spans where a listener cannot sit through one of his 50-60 minute sermons.  I can’t say how many sermons of which I have shared with others, but discernment says about 90 percent of the time they are ignored because of the length.  As being a former Catholic, I can also attest to the sermons of a Catholic priest, the shorter the better I always thought as did most of the congregation.

So is there a solution?  Should we use the Twitter concept of a 140 characters for witnessing the Good News based on attention spans?  Is it possible to cram in the whole council of God into 8 seconds? Maybe for God Himself, but impossible for a mere human being. So there really isn’t a good solution to this problem.

However there is something we can ABSOLUTELY draw from it. Those being drawn by God will not show the short attention span!  Those not, well they will fall by wayside after 8 seconds or so.  So the tares can be exposed from the wheat so to speak, discernment says those who stay with us are of us.  You will know them by their fruit, Jesus says.  A Christian desires the word of God, they desire to commune with Him and fellowship with other Christians, the very citizens of Heaven above. A sermon could last 2 hours and if biblical sound, the Christian listener is still desiring more.

Satan might be catering to the 8 second span, but we can discern from it just the same. Discern the individual who stays with you, who is interested, who might be wrong in their thinking but is still with you, who hasn’t passed you off because you have become too boring, who is STILL listening after 8 seconds.  God is drawing His children, our job is to discern and to encourage them through His word alone.  Use this gift!  And use your time accordingly.  Don’t get frustrated because the attention span is so very quick, rather stay the course with the word of God, those who have ears to hear it will continue on with you!

 

 

The Dangers of Churchianity

Recently I noticed something that before I passed off.  For the past couple of years, my dog and I have been visiting a field right next to a Lutheran church in my neighborhood.  While seeing many cars and people enter the parking lot in two years, I have yet to have one parishioner of that particular church stop me and ask me of my salvation nor an invitation to hear the message of their church nor even a Gospel tract handed to me or left on my truck.   I am basically ignored as they wander into the church for their service.

This is the danger of a coined term called “Churchianity” which is quite different than actual Christianity.  If I ventured to guess that I polled each person who ignored me in the past couple of years right next to that church, I would say 100 percent would say they were a Christian.  They would base it on “going to church”.

But if you do read the Acts of the Apostles, the church is not a brick building with a steeple and a bell. The church is called the fellowship of believers who gather.  Born-again believers who come to fellowship in the word, exhort each other, correct and/or rebuke, and encourage.  An elder of the fellowship generally teaches the word and equips a particular flock to be an outward expression for the sake of the Gospel.  A fellowship also may invite the unsaved to hear the word preached and studied.  The attendees are the church, again the outward expression of a fellowship of believers who are equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraged to do so.

Churchianity’s outward expression?  Well it is to be closed off to the world. The “church” is viewed much like a health club membership. Attendees are more concerned what kind of donuts and coffee will be served and what is new in the “church” bulletin. There really is no Gospel sharing in Churchianity because the view of the actual church differs greatly than what Scripture describes.  Churchians are dependent on the pastor and the particular institution XYZ Church for their faith and believe by attending once or twice a week, God will produce some favor or good fortune.  Or it might be possibly guilt the Churchian attends, living like a heathen sinner all week, they believe this will make things right with God.

How to discern if your fellowship is a Churhianity church or Christian church?  View the evidence of the fruits of the attendees.  If there is a stranger in the parking lot for example, do they see sharing the Gospel to them as more important than entering the building?  If so, it possibly just is a Christian church.  Is the constant exhortation from the pastor to the attendees to go and make disciples with their neighbors? Does the pastor allow discernment of their teaching with the ultimate authority being Scripture? Does the fellowship encourage, correct, exhort it’s members through the word of God?  Is the fellowship welcoming to all believers and those being drawn by God?  Then yes, it most likely is a Christian church.

Churchianity fellowships however have these marks.  The attendees are dependent solely on the pastor of the church for faith and teaching.  The statement of faith of the church out-weighs the statements in Scripture.  The attendees are Gospel-void, they do not see it as their place to share the Gospel.  The church seems more of a clique of “believers” as opposed to a fellowship, where a new attendee is intimidated, chastised, or told they must clean up their act first before they will share any Good News with them.  The main thing you might hear from a member of Churchianity is “my pastor said” as opposed to “the word of God says”.  Churchianity fellowships also produce an invented laundry list of rituals and works a sinner must DO instead of believing what Jesus Christ DID.  Churchianity also employs a financial aspect, to be a “Christian” in Churchianity, the sinner must produce a certain tithe or receive a warning and then removal.  Churchanity attendees are never really comfortable attending other Christian fellowships again because Scripture is not the ultimate authority.

Flee from Churchianity if you are currently enveloped in this!  Seek only fellowship of believers who:

1. Share the Gospel as their first and foremost task

2. Declare Scripture as their ultimate authority in regards to faith and teaching

3. Elders who allow discernment, not punishment for questioning

4. Attendees who show the fruits of the Holy Spirit, welcoming every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and not casting pre-judgments or comparisons.

5. The outward expression of the fellowship can only be seen as the Light of Jesus Christ.

6. Unbelievers who drive by this church should immediately think of a member who attends there.  Funny, if we polled unbelievers of MANY churches out there I would bet a zero percent margin on this.  If the motive of the church is to share the Gospel, then ask yourself why wouldn’t most unbelievers in your particular neighborhood know what the church teaches or a member and/or the pastor.  Again, view the actual church in the Acts of the Apostles, use this as your comparison.  I assure you most people in Galatia or Ephesus or Corinth knew who Paul was, what he was generally teaching, or someone who attended his sermons, Paul did not view the church as a closed off society.

7. The attendees are NOT dependent on the pastor of the church, rather see him as an encouraging teacher who is always equipping, correcting, give new ideas to witness to others, teaching the word in boldness and in truth, etc.

8. Finally a Christian church teaches on sin and the holiness of God. If these two items are exempt from your teaching, it most likely is not a Christian fellowship.

The New Believer

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

If you are a new believer it can be a mighty strange but exhilarating time of your life. You have realized God’s grace right down to the heart and all things truly have become new. New desires, new wisdom, new friends, new family, new love for God, all things have become new, not just somethings, but ALL things.

Now with this newness of life, you realized a strangeness in that while your old friends are calling you a cult member, the fellowship of believers might also be rejecting this newness. They say it “just a phase” you are going through. Why is this?  After all, you know in your heart it is definitively NOT a phase.

Jesus explains in Matthew 13:20-22 “ But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

You might be a brand new saved Christian by the grace of God, but others will doubt, they will point fingers, some will just be in a wait and see mode, some will call it a phase. The Apostle Paul spent 10 years on his own because of this. The rest of the Apostles did not trust his conversion. But as we know, Paul went onto to be the most instrumental Apostle to the church of them all.

I can’t tell you how many people in my life viewed my conversion as a “phase”, but will say ALL of them did.  Some thought it would pass, I would return to Catholicism, some thought I would go back into doing filthy sinful things with them, and even Christians I knew at the time believed it was just a passing phase that my motive for conversion was less than truthful and when it would of passed, I would be on my merry way back into my former life.

“Forgive them for they know not what they do”

Because we can’t read the heart of others nor can we judge the future, doubt in a conversion is natural but also is suggested in discernment.  As Jesus said, some receive the word with joy and are enthusiastic to be a part of the church, but this lasts only for a little while, they fall away.  So don’t take other believers doubt in your new life as a condemnation, but do as Paul did, accept it and learn during that time from God directly through His word.

Like a sprouting plant, make no mistake, God takes extra care of new creations in Jesus Christ. He is always going to be 1000 steps ahead of you and will guide those who trust in Him.  I know from my own experience, it is a time where God wants 110% devotion and trust.  He does not want you wandering off into myths or into false teachers.  So take this time to commune with God.  Don’t rush off into a fellowship where God has not allowed.  You will know this by always staying a sprouted plant that never grows or matures despite the watering through the word of God.

Bottom line?  The world will doubt your new life, but always understand that God never doubted it!  Trust in Him, let the world doubt away.  Then just watch how He works in your life and will put you on the path for His will alone.  At the proper times, God will place other believers in your life who won’t doubt but accept you for the child of God you are.   Be patient, and allow God to guide each step.

You Are Saved? Now What?

Many have this idea of “being saved” which might of come from a parent, a pastor, a Christian friend, or even a TV show or movie. The idea is one thing, realization is another. Deep in the heart of guilty mankind is what happens after death. Is there a God, where might I end up, I have heard of heaven and I have heard of hell.  So if there is a God, how can I make sure I do not end up in that place called hell which has been described or depicted by modern society in essence as a burning oven, full of flames, and the devil running around with a pitchfork torturing wayward souls.  Some also have described it as a giant party.  But it is on the mind of many lost souls, how can I make things right with God.

So what has entered to answer that question is world religion.  A parent, pastor, or friend may give the sinner a laundry list of the must dos and don’ts. This will include various prayers, rituals, and to be “good” in your behavior as opposed to bad, and various other inventions.  Once you have done this to their satisfaction, POOF, they might just declare “you are saved”. Are you?

But now what?  You might have the declaration from another sinner, but is it really salvation? Can this be the indicator of definitive 100 percent proof? The answer is honestly NO!  This may shock some, but God is the only One who can declare a sinner saved.  Another saved sinner can only RECOGNIZE other saved sinners by their fruits.  By fruits, the main one is called repentance. When God declares a sinner saved, He breathed a new life making this sinner a new creation.  The sinner now has a regenerated heart and the very first fruit realized and shown is called repentance which is the turning away from sin and the new pursuit to be holy as God is holy.  Sorry, but if you are not repenting of sins, God has not declared you saved.

How do you know what a sin is? Again a world religion might try to tell you what are sins an what are not, but a new creation in Jesus Christ knows this by His word which is contained in the Bible, Scripture.  There is an innate desire now for His word and the seeking to grow in holiness and with this the striving to be holy. Because God is eternally holy, a saved sinner strives in every possible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit not to offend His holiness.

When God declares of sinner saved, an instantaneous action comes about from this called sanctification. Sanctification means “set apart”. God has set you apart from other sinners. With this, by the indwelling of Holy Spirit, He now is guiding each step.  It is no longer a long drawn out work to pray to God, to worship Him, it is done seamlessly and with joy.  It does NOT mean however you just seek to go to church, it means your whole life has changed in servitude to Jesus Christ. And again, this is not done to make things right with Him, He has already done this, if the living God has set up home in you, He is part of you in thoughts, words, actions, and deeds.

So then you may ask “why do I keep sinning”.  To ask this, you may not be saved based on the realization that while you certainly fail, your new action now is to repent, not to ask those type of questions.  When saved, you STOP justifying your sins and instead in earnest striving you are turning away from them once convicted.  When saved there is authentic and genuine grief over sin, realizing that Jesus went to the Cross based on those sins.  A saved sinner stops trying to rationalize bad behavior, but desires to withdraw from a sinful world into the guidance of God the Almighty and His commands now.

A saved sinner realizes assurance of salvation!  Many world religions will teach against assurance so as for the sinner to become dependent on them with that good old invented laundry list of works needed for salvation. They will try to twist Scripture and say “see, you need more works”. But what they will always fail to say is that Jesus COMPLETED the work. With assurance comes duty to the King of kings, Jesus Christ. He has prepared the list of works beforehand for you which are resultant of the salvation He alone granted. Some may be called to be teachers, some elders, some encouraging servants, some volunteers, some might be missionaries, but ALL are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

If you are saved by Jesus, the part which cannot be mistaken about you is your love for Him which is growing each day, and the great desire to share His Good News to anyone and everyone.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.